I think, and I may be wrong, when I was younger I had a fold down chart with a drawing of a huge city or complex beneath the sea. I can't remember whether this was Atlantis - but I've certainly always connected the two in my head. I think the chart was based on some film or something. But whenever I think 'Atlantis', I generally think of that, and the underwater part. I suppose everyone does.
So to set Atlantis on a dry land, in what's basically a Horrible Histories without the songs and with more fighting, it changes what you expect. It should make it more exciting. After all, that's what they did with Merlin, they changed what you would expect. Except with Merlin it worked. Atlantis is just a bit too dull.
The first episode is kind of in two parts. In fact, doing 25 minute episodes for CBBC might have been a lot better for it, as it brings to mind the old Roman Mysteries series. The first half, of about 20/25 minutes, is a bit boring. The opening scenes uses every possible cliche in the book, and the creators have chosen the most obvious and boring plot device ever. The underwater scenes are quite exciting - but then Jason turns up on the beach, conveniently finding clothes he doesn't question, and then getting chased. The chase scene feels like it's trying to be Skyfall, but in Ancient Greece (the music is very similar to the chase at the opening of the film). Then he meets Pythagoras, who's not bad, and Hercules, who's also not bad. Jason seems a bit unexciting at the minute. But it all happens very quickly. Jason sees the Oracle, but even the conversation of "why did you lie to him" after that feels like more cliches.
It's just too predictable.
Fortunately, the second half is a lot better. If it wasn't my 18th Birthday next week, then I would have loved the second half. Labyrinths, fighting a Minotaur (albeit briefly), being an adventurer from Ancient Greece, it's all great for a younger audience. But the series is, so far, seriously lacking emotional appeal, or even emotional characters. Any attempts at emotion are cliche - and I hope that changes as the series goes on. Because otherwise, 8.25 is really the wrong time slot. For a younger audience, it needs to be on earlier. It doesn't feel dark, emotional, or different enough yet. The characters are more serious (in my eyes, I relief after however many years of Merlin and Arthur), but that doesn't mean there's depth.
So although it's a jolly good adventure, it does feel a bit childish (for the time slot), a bit cliche and a bit slow. I can see the main characters progressing well, and Sarah Parish desperately needs to be in on it more 'cos frankly she was amazing. There is potential, and if the mystery (which is half-explained very quickly in the episode) becomes more complex, then it could be really good. This series can really go places.
It's just a bit too slow at the minute.
The episode lacked 'depth' in two ways. One, obviously the characters, and two, the lack of water! Setting a series in Atlantis while it's underwater would have been stunning. But - it didn't do that, and so it wasn't stunning. The team behind Merlin, who have said they're making a Merlin replacement, didn't even try to make it that different to Merlin. There's not enough difference or excitement.
I am looking forward to seeing where the series goes, and I believe that it could turn into something really good. But everything needs to up its game a bit more - as it feels like its falling short of what it should be.
By the way - I do want a soundtrack. The music was awesome.