Saturday, October 28, 2017
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: The Lost Saucer: "Beautiful Downtown Atlantis" (October 4, 1975)
In “Beautiful Downtown Atlantis,” the lost saucer emerges from a time warp in the year 2385 AD, and is sucked into an ocean. It then arrives at the lost city of Atlantis.
The tyrannical ruler of the city, Nepto, captures Jerry (Jarrod Johnson) and Alice (Alice Playden), and locks them in a dungeon to prevent the strangers from leaving.
The visitors soon learn that air pollution has forced Earthlings in this future world to move underwater, away from the surface.
Worse, Nepto wants to move into the saucer and turn it into his new “tele-beam” studio. Fi (Ruth Buzzi) and Fum (Jim Nabors) will provide the entertainment.
This week, as always, the lost saucer lands in the wrong place, not 1975 Chicago, but some alien “future.” Here, the saucer docks at Atlantis, which worries Fum, since he “is not programmed for swimming.”
The under-sea location of the episode paves the way for a number of silly water-related jokes. “He looks kind of fishy to me,” says Fum, of Nepto.
Fi and Fum also perform a musical number, “Beautiful Downtown Atlantis,” before they escape from Atlantis by reversing the magnetic thrust of the saucer.
The moral of the week concerns pollution, of course. At the end of the episode, the lead characters muse about the topic. “We should warn people about what could happen if we don’t stop polluting the air.”
Pollution, proved a key worry of the dystopian-obsessed first half of the 1970’s, the subject of movies such as Soylent Green (1973), and Silent Running (1972). On Doctor Who (1963-1989), the John Pertwee era often worried about the topic too, in stories such as “The Green Death,” and at least tangentially, “Inferno.”
This Lost Saucer (1975) episode offers a child-centric approach to the material, warning of what could occur, if humanity doesn’t change its ways. The idea of humans moving underwater after an apocalypse was also “in the water” of the 1970’s, and a major plot-line in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).
As I’ve written before, the social commentary in Lost Saucer is certainly obvious -- often stated flat-out by the android duo of Fi and Fum -- but that because of the juvenile nature of the audience, this isn’t a big problem.
The Lost Saucer is silly, imaginative, and, rewardingly, about the things that matter (or that did matter, in 1975).