Pilot #1: Man from Atlantis
A man washes up on shore…
…and he’s apparently the last citizen of Atlantis.
When doctors try to revive a man (Duffy) who’s turning blue and can’t breathe properly (and also has strange webbed hands), a female oceanographer, Dr. Merrill (Mongomery), convinces them to hand him over to her. She takes Mark to the water, pushes him under and he’s suddenly revived.
The Man from Atlantis, given the name Mark Harris, is taken to a Navy base where a series of tests are run on him. He swims incredibly fast, can withstand huge pressure under water, has weird looking eyes that are light sensitive and he can’t stay above water for too long. Dr. Merrill’s commander wants to use Mark’s special talents to retrieve a submarine that’s been lost; Mark agrees and he discovers an undersea lab run by a Dr. Schubert (Buono) who intends to destroy all of humanity on land by simultaneously launching every nuclear missile.
Most reviewers cite a nostalgic factor for liking the series while pointing out that the resulting weekly show didn’t do too well and was cancelled pretty soon (after 13 episodes). I’ve never seen the show but I’m such a sucker for 70’s TV and most of what I’ve seen (in the comedy – drama – suspense department) has been hugely entertaining so I took a gamble on this; thinking to myself that I have yet to give an adventure/sci-fi series a look. Well; this Pilot episode is quite OK in most respects.
It’s actually pretty slow moving and Mark doesn’t agree to go on the mission to retrieve the submarine until a good half hour in. Up until then it’s mostly fun watching the “fish out of water” routine where this Aquatic man tries to adjust to this new world. The “swim-scenes” are well done; Mark racing a dolphin is executed with skill and all the underwater sequences look good. Once Mark discovers the underwater lab (a pretty effective and good looking scene when he tracks the submarine and enters the facility) you kinda’ get a feel for what kind of adventures are in store for him and the film changes gears.
The idea of a scientist attempting to destroy everything on land and create a underwater utopia of sorts is, at best, somewhat worn out in sci-fi terms at least (also; “The Spy who Loved Me”, the James Bond flick, had a very similar scenario – and released the same year). The bracelets the scientist puts on his kidnapped workers, which effectively brainwash them into submission, does enhance the sci-fi feel the film is obviously trying to squeeze in.
Everything is resolved in a very benign way with no violence or bad language. It’s very kid-friendly so it’s no wonder why grown up reviewers who caught this initially on TV get all nostalgic. For a 70’s TV show; it looks good enough; Budget wise this must have been at least average to semi-expensive.
Duffy looks good in just his swim trunks and looks great when he’s swimming like a dolphin. He’s not shown great leading man potential for a series just yet but it’s sill early in the game.
Overall; a decent pilot and I’m looking forward to the rest.