Friday, August 05, 2016
Ranking Man from Atlantis, Best to Worst
Man from Atlantis (Pilot Film; 1977): The original TV movie introduces Mark Harris and his world with aplomb; and a healthy bit of social commentary.
“Shoot Out At Land’s End” (November 8 1977): Mark encounters a twin brother in the Old West town of Land’s End. The episode gives a crucial “bread crumb” about Mark’s past, and the existence of others like him (perhaps even from the same family.)
The Disappearances (Telefilm; June 20, 1977): Mark must rescue Elizabeth from a scientist who is building a space ark. The story gives Elizabeth something of interest to do, for a change and also includes a suspenseful scene of the Cetacean under attack by a guided torpedo.
Killer Spores (Telefilm; May 17, 1977): Incorporeal aliens -- and perhaps the source of mythology about demonic possession – arrive on Earth, and need Mark’s help to return to space. A good story because it captures the commentary aspect of the original, and explores the very ‘70s notion that sometimes communication between different being simply is not possible.
“Melt Down” (September 22 1977): A perfectly satisfactory premiere episode of the weekly series. Dr. Schubert is accelerating global climate change and holds the world for ransom. He will stop his efforts if Mark surrenders himself. The undercurrent of this story -- Mark’s responsibility to others, and sense of guilt -- elevates the standard story.
“The Naked Montague” (December 6, 1977): A weird, weird story in which Mark ends up in a Shakespearean drama, Romeo and Juliet. The story makes no sense at all, and yet the hour proves nonetheless, to be suspenseful.
“The Mud Worm” (September 13, 1977): Schubert creates a deep sea probe that might actually be alive. The story doesn’t fully explore its notions of a machine with artificial intelligence, or end in a way that makes much sense.
The Deadly Scouts (May 7, 1977): Mark attempts to stop two aliens who may be from his world. The second TV movie has some real values (including Mark’s desperation to be reunited with his people), but features a tacked on and unnecessary love story.
“Crystal Water, Sudden Death” (November 22, 1977): Mark must defend a race of innocent beings in a protected underwater world from the exploitation of Mr. Schubert. This episode features some genuinely good ideas, none of which are treated with particular inspiration.
“Giant” (October 25, 1977): This episode introduces the series to the idea of doorways in the oceans to other world, other realities.
“Scavenger Hunt” (April 18, 1978): The rogue, Muldoon (Ted Neeley) returns, along with a two-headed sea horse, Oscar. The episode features a neat monsters, and Ted Cassidy, two bonuses in another story of air-breathers exploiting a natural environment and its population (see: “Crystal Water, Sudden Death.”)
“Siren” (May 2, 1978): Mark must save a siren child from captivity. One of the few episodes of the series in which Mark encounters another denizen of the sea.
“The Hawk of Mu” (October 18, 1977): Another Schubert show. This one has Mark teaming up with the villain’s awkward daughter.
“Deadly Carnival” (June 6, 1978): The final episode. It features no Cetacean, and no Elizabeth. Instead, Mark goes undercover at a circus to catch two thieves. Go generic it could be an episode from any 1970s superhero show. It also rehashes the love-story/romance from The Deadly Scouts.
“C.W. Hyde” (December 13, 1977); A strange formula gets spilled in C.W.’s coffee and he turns into a hairy brute. One of the all-time lamest – and most inconsequential -- episodes.
“Imp” (April 25, 1978): A child-like being from the undersea world (played by Pat Morita) turns people into laughing fools by touch. The battle royale occurs at a putt-putt course. Another weak, embarrassing episode.
“Man O’War” (November 1, 1977): Mark goes head-to-head with Schubert’s giant jellyfish, which looks like a birthday party balloon. Need I say more?