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July 25, 2013 1:12 PM
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TCA: BBC America's 'Atlantis' Promises to Play 'Fast and Loose' With Myths; 'Broadchurch' Traces a Child Murder

'Broadchurch' BBC America

Aside from the "Doctor Who" and "An Adventure in Space and Time" fuss, BBC America had a new coproduction and an acclaimed murder mystery to present at the TCA press tour this summer. "Atlantis" is the recently announced new fantasy series currently just over halfway through shooting in Morocco and Wales.

The trailer played for the press was, as BBC America's Richard De Croce pointed out, a world premiere, the first being showed, and it looked similar in tone to "Merlin," the last show from co-creators Johnny Capps and Howard Overman -- a mashup of Greek mythology, drama and humor that looked like the kind of show that would go over well with BBC America's core audience, though not one with obvious potential to breakout beyond that.

"I'm sure there will be some Greek scholars who get very angry about what we've done."

Capps and Overman came to TCA to present the series with two of the stars, Jemima Rooper, who plays a not yet snake-haired Medusa and Mark Addy, who plays an unconventional Hercules ("for a fat 50-year-old actor, it's brilliant"). (Jack Donnelly, who plays Jason, wasn't present.) Of the way "Atlantis" plays "fast and loose" with familiar myths, Overman said that "there's a vast treasure chest of characters and stories we can draw on. We'll use what works. I'm sure there will be some Greek scholars who get very angry about what we've done."

"The tone of the show is very dark," Capps added, "but we wanted to have fun as well... the dynamic of our three heroes always give us this great sense of humor and heart." This will include nods to the ultimate fate of the land on which the story is unfolding. "The god that everybody worships in Atlantis is Poseidon," he said. "We tip a wink all the time to this sense that there's this impending doom, even though it won't be arriving anytime soon." While there will be magic, the series won't feature the direct involvement of gods, though while we "won't see them," there will be an episode in which the characters go down to Hades. The 13-episode series will premiere Saturday, November 23.

"Broadchurch," an eight-part mystery about the murder of a child in a small coastal town in England, is set to premiere on August 7th in the U.S.  The series, which is actually startlingly compelling, became a social media phenomenon in the U.K. when it premiered there in March.

Olivia Colman ("Tyrannosaur"), who plays a local detective partnered with a new arrival played by David Tennant, was at TCA to discuss the series with co-star Jodie Whittaker, who plays the mother of the dead boy, and David Bradley, who played one of the town residents. "None of us are method, and I think it's be very unhealthy to carry that with you," Colman observed of the grief and distress that the death causes in the small community. "This is the worst possible thing you can imagine -- it's very easy to access how awful that is."

The identity of the murderer was a secret kept from the cast, who were only given the scripts for the sixth, seventh and eighth episodes further along in production. Colman and Whittaker noted that the cast would vote for who they thought the culprit was by placing stickers under the character they suspected on a chart in the makeup van. Asked about the complete nature of the story (which concludes after eight episodes, but will be back for another round), Colman said that creator/writer Chris Chibnall "wanted is to conclude, he wanted to award the people who'd come with on this journey."

The question of the shorter nature of British dramas was raised as well, with Colman noting she doesn't think they're necessarily inherently better than the longer runs in the U.S. "We buy all the box sets in the U.K. We completely love them, but we can't do that in the U.K. -- you can imagine the response, it's too much money for a start."

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