Tuesday, 11 September 2018


[Favourite of the Month] Man from Atlantis, the US sci-fi television series aired on NBC in 1977-1978, is now available on DVD in France thanks to LCJ Éditions. This set contains the 90-minute pilot and the three TV movies which preceded 13 one-hour episodes.
Patrick Duffy, before becoming famous with Dallas, stars in his first major role. He plays a humanoid with webbed hands who can breath underwater and swim very fast (amongst many abilities). Amnesiac but believed to be the last citizen of Atlantis, he's named "Mark Harris". Mark  works with Dr. Elizabeth Merrill of the Foundation for Oceanic Research to learn about humans while she tries to discover more about him. The foundation investigates strange aquatic phenomenona with a sophisticated submarine called the Cetacean.

Belinda J. Montgomery co-stars as Dr. Merrill. She later portrayed Sonny Crockett's ex-wife in Miami Vice and Katherine Howser in Doogie Howser, M.D. Mark Harris looks like a not too distant cousin of comic book superheroes Aquaman and Sub-Mariner. Man from Atlantis also bears similarities with the original Star Trek series. Herbert F. Solow, creator of MFA with Mayo Simon (1), was the senior executive in charge of Star Trek, Mission: Impossible and Mannix for Lucille Ball's studio Desilu. Following the success of a pilot shown by NBC in March 1977, the network ordered three TV movies aired between May and June of the same year. Solow exec produced Man from Atlantis for his own Solow Production Company

- Man from Atlantis (Pilot): Written by Mayo Simon and directed by Lee H. Katzin (Space: 1999, Mission: Impossible). Mark Harris is confronted with the wealthy Mr. Schubert, who has lured scientists into his secret base beneath the sea. The extraordinary Victor Buono, whose résumé includes villains King Tut in the Batman 1966 series and Count Manzeppi in The Wild Wild West, steals the movie as Schubert.

- Man from Atlantis II - The Death Scouts: Penned by Robert Lewin and directed by Marc Daniels (another Star Trek veteran). Mysterious creatures possess the bodies of two scuba divers. Mark Harris is convinced they hold answers about his identity. Kenneth Tigar (Dr. Miller Simon) and Alan Fudge (C.W. Crawford) join the regular cast of the TV movies. Only the latter returned in the weekly series.

- Man from Atlantis III - Killer Spores: Alien spores take over Mark's body in order to find a way to return home. Fred Beir plays the captain of the Cetacean. Written by John D.F. Black (Shaft, Hawaii Five O). Directed by Reza Badiyi.

- Man from Atlantis IV - The Disappearances: Elizabeth and other scientists are kidnapped and brainwashed by Dr. Mary Smith. She uses them for a very special space project. Written by Luther Murdoch & Jerry Sohl and directed by Charles Dubin.

The Man from Atlantis one-hour series aired on NBC from September 1977 to June 1978. Victor Buono came back in five episodes. In France, the TV movies and the series arrived in 1979 on TF1 as L'homme qui venait de l'Atlantide (2). In 1980, MFA was one of the first two American dramas broadcast in China (with Garrrison's Gorillas). The 4-disc DVD set from LCJ consists in the pilot and the three TV films remastered, in French or English (with subtitles). They're enjoyable and full of familiar faces: Burr DeBenning, James B. Sikking (Hill Street Blues, Doogy Howser, M.D.), Darleen Carr (The Streets of San Francisco), Dennis Redfield (Dallas), etc. The music composed by Fred Karlin is absolutely superb.

(1) Daniel B. Rosenthal devised the format.
(2) It became L'homme de l'Atlantide for repeats.


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