Hey folks, Valkor here. It's kinda unusual to see a television series spawned from several television movies. Usually it's a pilot that kicks things off and then you get the series. However with Warner Bros latest entry into the Warner Archive Collection "Man from Atlantis: The Complete TV Movies Collections", the series was built on top of four television films. You can't make this stuff up!
First things first, let's get some back story on this waterlogged series of films. Man from Atlantis stars Patrick Duffy as an aquatic amnesiac named Mark Harris, who suddenly washes ashore with no memory of who he is or his past. However it's believed that he might be the last known survivor from the lost city of Atlantis. Mark gets recruited by the "Foundation for Oceanic Research" where his talents and abilities are explored; we learn that Mark can breathe underwater, swim in depths no human or human device can withstand, has super strength, and he has this freakish swim, which he does using his webbed hands and feet. But Mark isn't without his weaknesses, for instance he can't be out of water for too long and his eyes are sensitive to light. Other main characters and members of the Foundation are Dr. Elizabeth Merrill (Belinda Montgomery) and C.W. Crawford Jr. (Alan Fudge) who work with Mark in a sort of "you help us, we'll help you" relationship. Of course there are other characters and you'll meet them as the films progress.
In total there're four films on a two disc set with no additional extras and each film has been remastered for the highest quality. Highlights include:
Man from Atlantis (TV Pilot) – Mark is discovered washed up on a lone beach. Unconscious, he's brought into a hospital where doctors try their best to revive him. But his condition seem to be getting worse. Dr. Elizabeth Merrill steps in and notices something odd about the man and asks that he be taken back to the beach where he fully regains consciousness. He's then taken to a navy base, where it's discovered that this aquatic man, now known as Mark Harris, might be a survivor from the lost city of Atlantis and that he has a series of special abilities such as being able to breathe underwater and swim into the deepest depths of the ocean. It is these abilities that come into play when Mark is asked to assist the Navy on a mission to seek out a missing sub. Deep beneath the ocean, Mark discovers an underwater sea lab run by a man named Shubert (Victor Buono) who tricks scientists to work for him and then gives them special mind controlling bracelets, which have no affect on Mark. Ultimately Mark saves the day and it is believed that Shubert died when the lab exploded… but in the second film the lab is there along with the sub, all now property of FOR…
The Death Scouts – when a bunch of boaters first discover some acidic goop and later vanish, FOR (Foundation for Oceanic Research) is called in to investigate. Mark discovers some weird rocks and a ship with a logo that's the same as the one on his trunks. It's later revealed that the ship belongs to two beings who appear and act similar to Mark appear and when they are together they produce an electrical charge used to take out anyone that gets in their way. Could these two beings hold the key to Mark's origins?
Killer Spores – FOR is asked by NASA to retrieve a probe that's about to splash back down to earth, and their sub just happens to be closest to it. When Mark goes out to retrieve the probe, he comes back acting rather odd – he talks about one thing and then forgets, plus he laughs, which is completely out of character for him. As it turns out the probe was covered with living spores that have started to take over. FOR wants them killed, but Mark has a better idea.
The Disappearances – Dr. Merrill is suddenly kidnapped when inspecting a vessel and taken to a remote island that's head up by one Dr. Mary Smith. Mary wants to start a utopian society and needs Elizabeth to assist in aquatic research. Of course Elizabeth is against it, but when she takes a dip into a spa bath, she suddenly has a change of heart. An FBI agent visits FOR and informs Mark and company of the kidnapping of scientists and ELizabeth (seems like we've tread these waters before…). So, Mark along with Dr. Miller Simon, comb through the FBI's files, deducing where Elizabeth was taken and with the FOR sub head out to rescue her. However both men are captured and dipped into the mind controlling spa bath. But we all know that that sorta device doesn't work on Mark and it's up to him to save the day.
The films did spawn a TV series which lasted for one season, and I'll also be reviewing later this month. Four classic television films, two discs, all with Patrick Duffy sporting the tightest yellow shorts you've ever seen on a man. How can anyone not wanna sign up for this? And with that out of the way, let's dive into the TOV Breakdown.
I'll admit, I thought I'd be bored out my mind watching these four films; me and the 70's just don't sit all that well together. Imagine my surprise when I find that these are some quality and entertaining TV movies. The films are dark in tone, not too complex in their stories, the pacing is a bit slow but nothing that will put you to sleep, and I have to say very well acted. Duffy's Mark Harris is creepy with his emotionless features, but you gotta love the innocence he portrays. Though sci-fi in nature, the special effects aren't anything to write home about, but this isn't something we'd blame on the show as it was put out in the late 70's and for what its worth, I think the effects are ok in a cheesy sorta way. I mentioned before that the films were remastered and they all four films look fantastic; colors are sharp, bold, and leap off the screen. When you see Mark Harris's eyes, you will be amazed. Great stuff.
There's really no continuity involved and really there should be something to bridge each episode. Again I mentioned before that Shubert's lab and sub get taken over by FOR… how did that happen?
The Man from Atlantis: The Complete TV Movies Collections is available now and though not for everyone, I believe these films are worth getting the once over. For 70's films, I find that charming and entertaining and I highly recommend them. And out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving Man from Atlantis TV Movies a 3.5 and they've been Valkor Viewed, TOV Approved!