The effects are great, the combination of studio and location filming shot hundreds of miles apart works well – but it’s becoming increasingly clear that Atlantis is going to have a major job on its hands to persuade viewers that it isn’t Merlin with the serial numbers filed off.
We start with a young girl being chased and attacked by a creature, and an old man coming to the young hero for help, which he agrees to give, even over the objections of his friends. There are further ambiguous comments from someone who knows the fate of the lead (and Juliet Stevenson gets the necessary clichéd dialogue). There are comedy moments, some of which are slapstick, others loosely based on character. There’s a chase sequence combining effects and live action. There isn’t a dragon – this week – or moments with the rulers, but we do get a well-choreographed fight. So far, so very similar.
One of the twists of Merlin was that we were introduced to characters whom the audience knew had certain fates. The wrinkle that Atlantis adds to try to get around this is that Jason, who has spent time in the ‘other world’ (i.e. ours), is aware of the stories. The trouble is that this fight against destiny is also what was at the heart of Merlin’s character…
It’s a little grittier than Merlin’s earlier seasons and very competently put together, but Atlantis needs to produce character-based stories to hold the audience, and not rely on attractive leads or comedy drunkenness, and lots of hints about drama yet to come!
Verdict: Watchable entertainment, but by no means “appointment” viewing. 6/10