From the Archive: Man from Atlantis (1977-1978)
Programs of this era included The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, The Amazing Spider-Man, and even a set of very poor Captain America TV-movies starring Reb Brown (!).
What these many disco decade superhero productions share is a sunshiny overall atmosphere and a total -- even will full -- denial of the vast cynicism of their time period.
Created post-Watergate and post-Vietnam War, these superheroes served as innocent, pure-hearted protectors who always fought for America, defending it from Soviets, space monsters, underwater monsters, robots...you name it. The angst and broodiness we have come to expect post-"Dark Age" (The Dark Knight, The Crow, Blade, etc.) did not yet exist. But the Americana shows -- while charming and good for curiosity viewing -- were also strangely childish and occasionally downright slipshod in terms of production values.
That's a different guy.
Where Namor was the arrogant grandson of King Thakorr and alternately known as “the Avenging Son of Atlantis” or the “Prince of Blood," Mark Harris was a water-breather of a different stripe. He was a peaceful, even-tempered gentleman who more closely resembled Star Trek's popular Mr. Spock -- a friendly, peaceful resident alien -- than an angry avenger from under the sea. Spock had pointed ears; Harris had webbed fingers.
Ultimately, The Man from Atlantis got flushed by NBC after the seventeenth and last episode, which aired on June 6, 1978. Star Patrick Duffy re-bounded with a starring role on the CBS soap opera Dallas starting in 1980.
Today, the sort-of-silly, sort-of-charming Man From Atlantis remains a nostalgic favorite for many Generation X-ers, and is finally available on DVD through the Warner Archive. Any day now, someone is certain to re-imagine the series...