This Saturday Come for the Doctor, Stay for the Atlantis on BBC America

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Atlantis is a new 13 part series premiering on BBC America Saturday night at 9PM ET/8 PM CT immediately after the second screening of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special (“The Day of the Doctor” will premier at 2:50PM ET and then run again at 7PM ET).

I’ve had a chance to watch the first several episodes, and I can see why they want to run this after Doctor Who. Like Doctor Who, Atlantis provides another hour(ish) worth of entertainment that you can enjoy along with your kids. There are cool and scary monsters along with some smart writing and acting with a series mystery arch that is slowly revealing itself. If you are looking for lessons in Greek mythology, this is not the place to go. However the writers weave all of those tales into the tapestry of the stories making them recognizable, but not too predictable

Atlantis is set (you guessed it) in the legendary city of Atlantis, which is on an island somewhere in the Atlantic ocean, but in a distant past of legend. The hero of story, Jason, is from modern times, but goes looking for his father’s remains, lost at sea. As he descends in his one man sub, a bright light blinds him, and the next thing he knows he’s washing up on a beach. After some mis-adventures, he finds himself in the company of two friends, Pythagoras and Hercules.

What I like most about Atlantis is the way it plays with the stories behind the myths, taking well know characters and giving them some unexpected spins. This includes a Falstaffian portrayal of Hercules. Unlike the Hercules of so many TV shows, this Herc is fat, a bit lazy, a blowhard, but with a good heart. In many ways a much more believable and ultimately likable character than the legends would have you believe..

Atlantis was created by Howard Overman (Misfits), Julian Murphy (Merlin) and Johnny Capps (Merlin). The cast includes Mark Addy (Game of Thrones), Jemima Rooper (One Man, Two Guvnors, Hex), Juliet Stevenson (The Hour), Sarah Parish (Hatfields & McCoys), Robert Emms (War Horse), Aiysha Hart (About Time) and Jack Donnelly (Dancing On The Edge).

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