Monday, February 13, 2017

Ask JKM a Question: Lucan (From the Archive)


A reader, Ulysses G. asks:

"Have you ever seen or written about Lucan, that 1977-8 tv series? It seems to be completely forgotten today."

"I can never forget it however. It's not on DVD. But it was about a boy who was raised by wolves, and then he has to adapt to the real world as an adult. Starred Kevin Brophy. I did just recently see the pilot episode/movie of it and wish I could see the rest of the episodes all over again. Just curious."

Great question! I have never written before about Lucan, and, in fact, its very existence totally slipped my mind.  And yet, I too remember watching the series as a child.

For those who don't recall Lucan (1977 - 1978), you described it very well.  The concept began as made-for-tv movie, before becoming a short-lived series on ABC.  The series starred Kevin Brophy as a young man who was raised by wolves, then captured by hunters in Minnesota, and indoctrinated into "civilization" at a university by a professor played by John Randolph.


The idea informing Lucan was something like Francois Truffaut's The Wild Child (1970) meets The Man from Atlantis (1976) meets The Fugitive.

Young Lucan had to learn about society and tame his savage ways at the same time he conquered his amnesia about his early, human identity.  In the series, he was pursued by a bounty hunter (Don Gordon) while he attempted to "find himself" and otherwise help out innocent people. 

Like the Man from Atlantis, Lucan boasted inhuman powers, namely wolf instincts and heightened senses.  This "strange creature" had trouble making the transition from "savagery" to "civilization," but as a I recall, it was always clear that his heart was in the right place.  I have vivid memories of seeing his eyes "glow" like a wolf's, and the image on the left for a novel tie-in seems to bear this out.

Lucan ran for about a dozen hour-long episodes, on Monday nights from Christmas 1977 to early summer of 1978.

Like you, I'd love to see a complete series DVD release, but as you also (correctly) note, this series is extremely obscure, and, alas, forgotten.  Thank you for jogging my memory, and reminding us all of another 1970s treasure that should be excavated and made available.

3 comments:

  1. I remember LUCAN. This could be rebooted today, although they would probably make him a werewolf!

    SGB

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  2. Sheri3:36 AM

    Ah, Lucan! I remember it, too, and I recall that he was able to call on his wolfpack for help. His eyes glowed when he became especially angry and his wolfen instincts surfaced. I recall Ned Beatty on the show also.

    It not only seemed to be a reconstruction of the story of "The Wild Child", but also was very timely because it arrived on the heels of 1977 or 1978 news reports about a feral boy discovered in the forests of India--Shamdeo? Shambeo? "The Wild Child", Victor of Aveyron, was also the subject of a late 1970's episode of "In Search Of", narrated by Leonard Nimoy. European and especially French lore is full of these feral children stories, and French author Serge Aroles examined archival records and determined Victor did not fit the profile of a feral child. There was an equally controversial case, Marie-Angélique, known as the Wild Girl of Champaign or the Wild Child of Songy, who Aroles discovered was not a hoax--as French authorities had thought--but whose story was confused. She had not been raised by wolves in France but was in fact a Fox Native American found running feral in what is now Wisconsin, and sent to live in France to be "humanized".

    Lucan, with his vaguely Native American antecedents, seemed to be a kind of amalgamation Victor and Marie-Antoinette. There is a Lucan fan site on the web!

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  3. Here is the In Search Of "wild Children" episode:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSN_UFP2-1w

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