Atlantis – The Earth Bull

Now this has potential. Since Merlin finished, there’s been a lack of pseudo-historical fantasy-ish drama with added laughs on Saturday evenings. That gap has now been filled with a new series, created by the same guys who brought us Merlin, with an added dose of Misfits creator Howard Overman.

The story starts with a young man called Jason (Jack Donnelly) taking a mini-submarine in search of his missing father. He finds some wreckage and a bright light. The light grows brighter, the window of his submarine begins to break, and the next thing he knows he’s washed up on a beach, wearing nothing but the pendant his father left him.

Having found some conveniently abandoned clothes, Jason walks a short distance to an impressive walled city, where he runs into trouble with a cute two-headed lizard, even more trouble with the guards, and drops in on the not actually mythical so what’s he doing here Pythagoras (Robert Emms) and his friend Hercules (Mark Addy). Hercules is not as heroic as the legend he’s attempting to create would have you believe, and Pythagoras is a triangle-obsessed geek. Errr, right.

This being that kind of show, the next day is when the trouble starts. It’s the day when seven people will be selected to be sent into the labyrinth to meet the Minotaur, who in this version of events is supposedly a former human cursed by the gods. Atlantis is also cursed in that if seven people a year are not fed to the Minotaur, Poseidon (god of the sea, creates earthquakes, etc) will destroy the city.

After a bit of general silliness, our three heroes end up going to say hello to the Minotaur, which was very nicely created, but very easily killed.

King Minos (played by Alexander Siddig in moderately sinister mode) seems to be quite happy about this, but not as happy as his daughter Ariadne (Aiysha Hart), who’s taken a liking to Jason.

There is, as you might expect, more. There’s the Oracle who tells Jason that he was actually born in Atlantis and taken to “the other world” by his father when he was young, and that his father had returned to the city, but is now dead. But there’s something she’s not telling him – apparently he’ll be safer if he doesn’t know who he really is.

So, good silly fun. Like Merlin, it takes a relaxed attitude to its mythological and historical sources, and is all the better for that. Nice banter between the three main characters (“Whoever heard of a hero called Jason?” and “Pythagoras, you’re an idiot” come to mind), and great sets.

Worth watching.