×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: BBC America’s ‘Atlantis’

Brits' latest mythological tea-time show doesn't do much more than tread water

With:

Jack Donnelly, Mark Addy, Robert Emms, Jemima Rooper, Aiysha Hart, Sarah Parish, Juliet Stevenson, Alexander Siddig

Essentially another British tea-time show with an inordinately good cast around the fringes, “Atlantis” plunges right into its reimagining of Greek mythology, where only the names (Hercules, Pythagoras, Medusa) bear much resemblance to our perceptions. Playful but thin, this good-looking hour (partly lensed in Morocco) is filled with portentous dialogue – yet another youthful protagonist told time and again of his “great destiny” – and an affordable dollop of CGI creatures. It’s not bad, but don’t come to BBC America’s latest import burdened by high expectations, since this ship doesn’t do much more than tread water.

In that respect, the show falls squarely in the vein of previous series like “Merlin” (which comes from that skein’s creative team) and “Sinbad,” U.K. productions with presold names that found a home, if only marginal viewership, on content-hungry U.S. channels.

Young Jason (Jack Donnelly) is introduced as he prepares for a deep-sea submarine dive, looking to uncover the truth about what happened to his long-missing father. A gush of water later, he awakens on the beach of a strange land known as Atlantis, where he soon encounters Pythagoras (Robert Emms) – a bookish sort who knows all the angles (heh heh) – and Hercules (Mark Addy), who, his name notwithstanding, is not only paunchy but has yet to meet a threat from which he won’t run away.

In short order, Jason visits the Oracle (Juliet Stevenson), who tells him, “Only you can bring an end to the people’s fear and suffering.” Still, if you’re waiting for something to specifically explain why that’s so in the three episodes previewed of this 13-episode series – the last of which unleashes a pretty obvious “Gladiator” homage – odds are you’ll wind up feeling fleeced.

Addy is a pretty inspired choice as this not-so-heroic reworking of Hercules, while Sarah Parish plays the mysterious (and initially, underused) evil queen, and Aiysha Hart the beautiful princess, as the series careens through threats like the Minotaur and murderous crones.

Ultimately, though, there’s a certain sloppiness to this latest mythological mishmash, which joins BBC America’s Supernatural Saturdays franchise, piggybacking on a “Dr. Who” special. And while one suspects Jason will have to wait a while before being reunited with that sub in which his journey began, about the best one can say regarding this leaky vehicle is that it proves slightly better than substandard.

TV Review: BBC America's 'Atlantis'

(Series; BBC America, Sat. Nov. 23, 9 p.m.)

Production:

Filmed in Wales and Morocco by Urban Myth Films and BBC Cymru Wales.

Crew:

Executive producers, Johnny Capps, Julian Murphy, Howard Overman, Bethan Jones; director, Justin Molotnikov; writer, Overman; camera, Dale McCready; production designer, Paul Cripps; editor, Simon Reglar; music, Rob Lane; casting, Andy Pryor. 60 MIN.

Cast:

Jack Donnelly, Mark Addy, Robert Emms, Jemima Rooper, Aiysha Hart, Sarah Parish, Juliet Stevenson, Alexander Siddig

More TV

  • Tammy Filler Nathan Najarian NBC

    E! Expands News Coverage, Brings 'Today' Vet Tammy Filler Aboard (EXCLUSIVE)

    E! is expanding its entertainment-news programming, with plans to add three more hours of coverage to its linear schedule in 2020, Variety has learned. To help spearhead the effort, the cable channel is bringing aboard Tammy Filler, a veteran producer on NBC’s “Today,” to lead creative and production for E! News. The expansion of news [...]

  • Armando Iannucci

    Armando Iannucci Space Comedy 'Avenue 5' Ordered to Series at HBO

    HBO has given a series order to the comedy “Avenue 5” from creator Armando Iannucci. The series is described as a space tourism comedy set forty years in the future when the solar system is everyone’s oyster. Hugh Laurie stars as Ryan Clark, the captain of the space cruise ship Avenue 5. The series also [...]

  • NCIS Los Angeles and NCIS New

    'NCIS: Los Angeles' and 'NCIS: New Orleans' Renewed at CBS

    CBS has renewed “NCIS: Los Angeles” for an 11th season, and “NCIS: New Orleans” for a sixth season. Both action drama are spinoffs of “NCIS,” which was renewed in early April. “NCIS: Los Angeles” follows a Naval Criminal Investigative Service division based in the City of Angels that is tasked with catching dangerous and elusive [...]

  • BRAZILIAN FLAGFRENCH OPEN TENNIS, PARIS, FRANCE

    Brazil’s Ancine Freezes Incentives, Threatening Film-TV Industry Paralysis

    Brazil’s Ancine agency, its foremost public-sector source of film funding, has frozen all of its incentive programs, potentially near paralyzing new production in Latin America’s biggest film-TV industry. The dramatic decision, which has left Brazil’s industry is a state of shock and intense fear for its future, comes as it has taken further hits. In [...]

  • TV Shows to Watch the Week

    TV Shows to Watch the Week of April 22, 2019: 'Gentleman Jack' and the NFL Draft

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Gentleman Jack” debuts on HBO, and “Kobra Kai” season two drops on YouTube [...]

  • Steve Golin The Revenant Spotlight Producer

    Steve Golin, Prolific Producer and Founder of Anonymous Content, Dies at 64

    Steve Golin, an Oscar-winning producer who was founder and CEO of Anonymous Content, died Sunday in Los Angeles of cancer. He was 64. Golin was a pioneer in blending the business of talent management with production. Anonymous Content, which Golin founded in 1999, worked with a stable of big name artists such as Steven Soderbergh, [...]

  • The Iron Throne, which has been

    'Game of Thrones': Six Books for Fans to Read

    As the final season of “Game of Thrones” draws to a close, we’ve found six best-selling books that keep the stories of Westeros and beyond alive. From the original novels that inspired the hit HBO show, to collectible tomes that highlight behind-the-scenes secrets, these books make a great addition to your bookcase, whether you’re a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content