Atlantis, BBC1, series review: ‘Game of Thrones’ without the sex, violence or laughs? No thanks

Atlantis is still a family show at heart, intended to appeal to  adults and children alike. That’s a difficult tone to perfect

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The Independent Culture

Atlantis is back on BBC1 for a second series – and it’s gone dark as all fantasy adventures must eventually.

Why couldn’t Doctor Who, Batman or Harry Potter retain their original sunny outlook? It’s a mystery fit for The Oracle, aka Juliet Stevenson.

In practice, a darker Atlantis meant the series opening with a funeral and a war. Following her father’s death, Ariadne (Aiysha Hart) was queen, but evil step-mum Pasiphae (Sarah Parish) was determined to take the throne. Ariadne called on Jason (Jack Donnelly) and his sidekicks to retrieve the stolen MacGuffin – sorry, Palladium – without which Atlantis was doomed.

“You have my word I will not fail you,” said Jason solemnly. He then held the queen’s glance for an over-long moment as their earnest expressions reflected each other back and forth into infinity. This would have been a good time for Hercules (Mark Addy) to interject with a pun, but it seemed in dark Atlantis even the comic foil has been subdued.

Now that Ariadne is the Khaleesi-like queen – beautiful, noble and surrounded by adoring male protectors – Atlantis’s transformation into a PG-rated Game of Thrones is complete. She even had a treacherous new adviser, Sarpedon, played by Robert Pugh, who was Craster in Game of Thrones before someone slit his throat in series three.

No one is slitting anyone’s throat  in Atlantis, of course. It’s still a family  show at heart, intended to appeal to  adults and children alike. That’s a difficult tone to perfect and Atlantis hasn’t quite done so yet. What’s wanted is a fantasy adventure with added sophistication;  this was only a fantasy-adventure minus  the laughs.

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