“He’s strong because his father’s a god, not because he goes to the gym every day,” Mark Addy told reporters at a summer press conference about his portrayal of the Greek demigod Hercules in the new BBC America series Atlantis — a portrayal that did not require the near-50 Addy to get in any sort of muscular shape. “Our director,” he continued, “the front page of her copy of the script has an old painting with Hercules peeing. Drunken, naked Hercules just having a pee. That’s the kind of guy that this one is.”
And that’s the kind of show that Atlantis is, throwing conventional notions of Greek mythology out the window and coming up with a fun fantasy drama akin to how Merlin reimagined the Arthurian legend (in fact, the three creators of Atlantis all worked on Merlin).
Atlantis joins BBC America’s Supernatural Saturday lineup as it brings to life Greek myths, heroes and monsters. The show is set around young Jason (Jack Donnelly), who finds himself in the lost city of Atlantis. There, with the help of new friends Hercules and Pythagoras (Robert Emms), he embarks on a voyage that takes him from confronting snake-haired Medusa (Jemima Rooper) and facing off with the Minotaur to doing battle at Troy. The series also stars Alysha Hart as Ariadne, Sarah Parish as Queen Pasiphaë and Juliet Stevenson as the Oracle.
It’s good fun, and recalls shows like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess in its combination of action and some tongue-in-cheek humor. And it shouldn’t hurt Atlantis at all that it premieres on Nov. 23, amid BBC America’s programming surrounding the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who.
Atlantis premieres Nov. 23 at 9pm ET/PT on BBC America.
Jason (Jack Donnelly), Hercules (Mark Addy) and Pythagoras (Robert Emms) in Atlantis: © Nick Briggs/BBC America