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Monday, 9 December 2013

Atlantis: The Price Of Hope

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.

8 comments:

  1. I watched the first episode last month and it sucked. Badly. I think I was about halfway through before I decided that I would pass on the rest of the series.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is truly awful. I'm only sticking with it to be able to say I reviewed the whole season, but it doesn't get any better.

      While it's far from being "the worst thing ever on TV", it is so lifeless and uninspired that I can't understand what motivates the average viewer to stick with it.

      And yet it has somehow earned a second season (which I can safely say I won't be touching with a barge pole).

      Delete
  2. Tim, don't hold it in. Tell us what you really think. Man, it sounds like a real stinker of a show.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You wouldn't believe how dire this is! It's now showing on BBC America (on Saturdays) if you're feeling particularly masochistic ;-)

      Delete
  3. Burdened with the personality of a tree trunk. Oh my gosh, I never heard that before. I will have to barrow it at some point because that is too good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you ;) I find bad TV and movies far more entertaining to review than good stuff as it inspires me to constantly reach for new ways to describe dreadful material. When it's good I find myself simply saying: it's good, you should watch it. But with awful shows I find I'm far more creative ;)

      Delete
  4. I wonder why they decided to call it Atlantis. Why not just do it as a dramatisation of the original Greek myths? I've not seen that much of the series but do they even bring in any of the original Atlantis mythology?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's called Atlantis because that's a good, commercial buzzword. If it was called something more appropriate the Beeb fear it would scare a young audience off as it might be something (shock, horror) "educational". ;-)

      They don't even seem to have bothered to make it an island. In fact, since the first episode I don't think there's even been any mention of the sea.

      No, this is a dumb programme all round that I still can't believe has merited a second season.

      Delete

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