|Atalanta (Nora-Jane Noone)|
Trouble sleeping? No worries, the BBC has a cure - in the form of its ponderous inaction serial, Atlantis, that is plodding towards some sort of season finale in a few weeks.
With its liberal reshaping of known Greek mythology, Atlantis is trying to position itself as the new Xena, but it is totally devoid of the camp charm and knowing wit of The Warrior Princess.
Matters aren't helped by a lead character burdened with the personality of a tree trunk and a side-kick (Pythagoras) with even less charisma.
As has been the case throughout this sorry series, it's left to Mark Addy's Hercules to carry this week's episode, The Price Of Hope.
Not even cameos from Being Human's Jason Watkins or Citizen Smith himself Robert Lindsay as inventor Daedalus can't lift this tedious affair out of the gutter.
Our heroes are looking for a cure for Medusa's curse and Pythagoras learns from Daedalus - who translates the runic engravings on Pandora's Box - that Hercules must sacrifice himself to return Medusa to normal.
Pythagoras decides to keep this from Hercules, who has already set off to find his snake-haired beloved, and our heroes end up being captured by brutal gang of bandits who use them for sport in a literal 'man hunt'.
This unnecessarily drawn-out piece of padding all takes place in the same ten square yards of hilly woodland that features every other week in Atlantis (if events are not happening in the city or desert, then it's these woodlands).
After much running about, our heroes are saved by the huntress Atalanta (Nora-Jane Noone), the show's first true eye-candy, who then disappears as mysteriously as she first appeared with the promise of a future meeting (and the suggestion of a possible romantic attachment to Jason).
The episode's climax - in which nothing really happens - has Hercules, Jason and Pythagoras finding Medusa in a cave. Hercules - having discovered what Pythagoras knew - is willing to allow her to petrify him (does that count as "sacrificing himself"? I guess so, even though technically he wouldn't be dead), but then - shock, horror - a revelation is made about Jason's occasionally-mentioned "powers".
There is much to mock in this tiresome episode, but of particular comedic note is the way - more often that not - when Jason and Pythagoras get into a fight (and who wouldn't want to punch these two in the face?) their opponents patiently stand around while our heroes deliver their latest 'amusing' shtick before swinging the next blow.
I don't know whether this is the fault of the script, the director or the quality of the supporting extras, but it is particularly noticeable during the bar-room brawl scene.
Even by Atlantis's usual low standards, The Price Of Hope - written by Misfits' Howard Overman - was a patchy affair, clumsily trying to manoeuvre a lot of pieces into position for the two-part season finale that airs in a couple of weeks.
The big problem is we just don't care. None of the characters - even Hercules - are that endearing, none of the plots or sub-plots we've been exposed to so far are in the least bit interesting and the whole show feels like a school pantomime that somehow found its way onto Saturday evening primetime television.
It makes the first season of Merlin seem like Shakespeare in comparison and serves as a reminder of how excellent that show got and what a tragedy it was that it was wound up after a mere five seasons.