TV preview: Breaking Bad | Atlantis

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So, you’re a young, curly-headed 21st Century chap and you go deep-sea diving to the wreck of your late father’s boat, when you accidentally get caught in a magic tide or something which leaves you washed up naked on an idyllic shore.

Atlantis
Today, BBC1, 8:25pm

Bryan Cranston, below left, with Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad

Bryan Cranston, below left, with Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad

Netflix, available from Monday

Spying some abandoned clothes and sandals on the beach, you put them on, conveniently now dressed to blend in with the lost civilisation of Atlantis where you are shortly to get into a tussle with the Minotaur, make eyes at Princess Ariadne, pal up with an ageing Hercules (played by Mark Addy) and have Poseidon’s Oracle (Juliet Stevenson) give you vague advice.

OK. We’ll go with that. But what I want to know is, why do you put on the leather wristlets? At what point in this unexpected turn of events do you, Jason, destined later to be ‘of the Argonauts,’ think, “Hmm, these Ancient Greek-era togs are fine, but a few funky accessories would really set them off,” or possibly, “It’s balmy enough here that I can spend a few minutes displaying my abs in slow motion, but my wrists are a tad chilly”? Is there, perchance, a branch of Ye Olde Urban Outfitters in Atlantis?

Well, perhaps it doesn’t matter. I remember wondering how Camelot had tomatoes before the discovery of the Americas when Merlin began and that family fantasy went on to be a pretty big success for the BBC. In fact, Atlantis is ‘from the makers of Merlin’ as they say, so it is completely designed for Saturday evenings in the months when Doctor Who isn’t on. It fulfils that remit perfectly well, though its timeslot is daft – it’s a 5:45pm show if ever I saw one.

Older viewers will recognise that it borrows liberally from the usual old Greek myths, while younger ones will just assume it’s ripping off the Percy Jackson series. Maths teachers, however, will be happy to see Pythagoras as the hero’s nerdy best friend. Sadly he so far doesn’t seem to be involved in any love triangles.

For many, the biggest thing on TV this week isn’t on TV at all: it’s the finale of Breaking Bad, which is only available here online. Some people are breathlessly waiting to see how Walter White’s tragedy ends; others are sick of hearing about how good this show is that they can’t access. Why the series never found a mainstream home here is an interesting question, though one becoming less relevant every month as people insist upon new ways to see what they want to watch.

But – apologies to those left out of the loop – its sheer entertainment value overrides all that. It’s not the best TV show of all time: labels like that are meaningless since tastes and trends vary, not to mention genres. It has been, though, a terrific example of what TV can achieve as an art-form, bringing intense thrills, moral dilemmas, bizarre comedy and superb performances, direction and world-building together, right into (at least some of) our homes. However it ends, what’s even more intriguing is what will follow it.

DON’T MISS

MUSICAL

Glee

Friday, Sky 1, 8pm

Though future episodes of the high school musical show will be coloured by the death of star Cory Monteith (Finn), the first in the new series leaves that aside for now to celebrate the music of The Beatles.

SCIENCE

Porn On The Brain

Monday, Channel 4, 10pm

Former Loaded editor Martin Daubney investigates whether porn images really do affect teenage brains.

DOCUMENTARY

Unreported World

Friday, Channel 4, 7:30pm

The reportage series returns with a powerful story about secret women’s refuges for those fleeing violence or forced marriages, as the country’s hardliners try to roll back women’s rights.

COMEDY

Citizen Khan

Friday, BBC1, 9:30pm

Adil Ray’s sitcom set in Birmingham about self-styled Asian community leader/penny-pincher Mr Khan and his long-suffering family returns. When his daughter fails her exams, Khan comes up with a plan.