The Moral of this Week's Atlantis: Never Leave Hercules on Watch

We're getting wacky with the Bacchae this week on Atlantis, which continues to be a zippy little mythic adventure show. And once again, the best bits involve Hercules, who's Sir John Falstaff with a little bit of Vila from Blake's 7 mixed in. Observe in this handy clip.

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Basically, when you leave Hercules watching your priceless store of Frankincense, it's not long for this world. Love the almost-goat-kissing, and the denial thereof. Hercules' only real talent is for talking his way out of the massive scrapes his laziness and uselessness get him into, and it's pretty awesome. Later in the episode, Herc is once again left on watch by the fire, and immediately gets led off into a trap where he's nearly killed by Maenads, the followers of Dionysos. Love Hercules explaining that he can tell the difference between a monkey and a girl, most of the time.

The rest of the episode is pretty fun too — but sees a huge power-up for Jason, who was kind of lovably useless in the first episode. The gang are going to rescue an old man's daughter from the Bacchae, and Herc falls for another one of the newly recruited acolytes of Dioysos — Medusa, who has an unfortunate destiny ahead of her. Jason and Medusa are tossed into the pit with Dionysos' satyrs — but they won't attack Jason because he's a demigod or something. And later on, Jason, who couldn't hold a sword last week, manages to Kirk-fight half a dozen Maenads in hand-to-hand combat.

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Meanwhile, this show is trying to have it both ways a little bit — Jason knows who Pythagoras is because he's from the 21st century and studied math. And he knows who Medusa is, sort of, because he skimmed Edith Hamilton once. But he doesn't know who Jason is, in the mythology? He probably just skipped a chapter.

All in all, still an exceedingly fun show, made a billion times better by Herc.

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DISCUSSION

This episode was less engaging than the first. The cast isn't really grabbing me. Mark Addy is okay, sort of an English Jackie Gleason (or Fred Flintstone, a role he's actually played), but the other leads are kind of bland and I'm not seeing much chemistry among them yet. It's nice to see Juliet Stevenson, though. I was trying to remember where I knew her from, and it turns out she played Antigone in a TV adaptation of the Oedipus cycle back in the '80s. I remember being very impressed by her performance there.

As for Jason knowing about the mythological Jason, I'm not sure it'd apply here, since they seem to be going a different route. This Jason does pretty much seem to be a demigod, which is not the case with the mythic hero; that's actually Herakles's thing. (Hmm, maybe show-Hercules ends up taking credit for Jason's deeds?) And last week they put Jason in the role of Theseus, slayer of the Minotaur. And here they're hooking him up with Medusa somehow. This is a hodgepodge of mythology and so far nothing about it is connected to Jason and the Argonauts, except perhaps for Hercules's presence, since he was briefly part of the Argo's crew in the myths (but then, who wasn't?).

The show does seem to be based heavily on the idea that the myth of Atlantis was inspired by Minoan Crete. They've got King Minos, Ariadne, and the Labyrinth, and next week features Minoan bull-jumping — pretty much the only Minoan element the show isn't using is their famous breast-baring female fashion sense. They might as well just call the show CRETE rather than ATLANTIS.