BBC Lets Down Viewers: Atlantis Sank Mid-Story

[SPOILER ALERT: Contains mild spoilers for those who have not yet seen Season 2.]

Having thoroughly enjoyed both Merlin & Misfits, I was delighted when their respective creators teamed up to fill the vacant Saturday evening slot left by Merlin’s rather abrupt cancellation with a new show called Atlantis.

Like shows such as Grimm & Once Upon a Time, Atlantis successfully managed to combine characters and concepts from different myths and legends.  The tried & tested combination of drama & comedy seemed to serve the show well, although some of the character motivation seemed a little tenuous, some episodes were a bit too light-hearted to be taken seriously, and the sharp contrast between the Wales & Morocco filming locations was not very well disguised.

Series 2 brought a welcome return to our favourite characters and an encouraging shift to somewhat darker, grittier storylines.  The only aspect of the series that came across as less than convincing was Jason’s thankfully fleeting flirtation with “the dark side”.

The series 2 finale was gripping (even if Pythagoras’s sudden revelation was rather unexpected) and started to set up what was clearly going to be the search for the golden fleece.

Sadly, that quest is something that Atlantis fans will never see due to the BBC’s untimely cancellation of the series.  The decision appears to have been made following a dip in the show’s mid-season ratings, which seems short-sighted given that the ratings later picked up.

I feel the BBC has really let viewers down here.  We are used to commercial, ratings-chasing American broadcasters ending a series on a cliffhanger: this happened with The Nowhere Man, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Tru Calling, to name but a few.  Even for commercial broadcasters this is a poor way of treating their customers, who have invested many hours of their time getting to know the characters and following the storyline.

It’s a pretty poor show for the BBC to do it, given that we pay for this out of the licence fee.  Come on BBC: if you have set up the premise, deliver the goods and tell us the story you promised.  If you don’t know whether a series will get renewed, don’t leave it on a cliffhanger.