When I was a kid, I used to go to the pool at the condo complex and try to swim like the Man from Atlantis. It didn’t work nearly as well as it appeared to on TV.
Warner Archive is a manufacture-on-demand DVD service with all sorts of great, obscure stuff from the Warner catalog. It may not warrant a wide release, but this at least gets some old favorites out there. Between the movies, TV series and Hanna-Barbera cartoons, it’s easy to spend a fortune on that site, so I was glad when they were able to send me review copies of an old favorite.
Luckily, what I had time to watch held up better than I expected for being more than 30 years old. (The show ran 1977-78.) There are so many things I look back on with nostalgia, but when I watch them now I wonder, “What was I thinking?” But this isn’t one of them.
Yes, it’s dated, but it’s still pretty cool. Not having 20 hours to watch the whole things, I watched a smattering of both sets and really enjoyed myself.
I started with the original pilot, which dragged a bit but was still a good introduction to Mark Harris (played by a pre-”Dallas” Patrick Duffy). Washed up on the beach, he falls into the care of marine scientist Elizabeth Merrill (played by a pre-”Doogie Howser, M.D.” Belinda Montgomery). He has amnesia, and everyone’s amazed he can breathe under water. He’s also strong and can swim really fast. But unlike Aquaman, he can’t talk to fish (whales are another matter).
The government steps in, of course, and he winds up agreeing to help rescue a sub that went missing. Fish-out-of-water moments ensue.
These two sets collect four TV movies and the 13 TV series episodes. And as much as I liked reacquainting myself with the series, I think I know why it didn’t last.
It started out as more straight sci-fi, but by the time the series ended, it had gotten pretty cheesey, a little too earnest and kinda preachy. A lower budget, forcing lower ambitions and worse special effects, probably didn’t help.
Duffy’s Harris is almost a prototype for “Star Trek: The Next Generation’s” Data. He doesn’t use contractions when he speaks, and he doesn’t understand the ways of humans. But he wants to learn, and the effect is often played for humor. Duffy plays the innocent very well.
Unfortunately, we were never able to discover the Man from Atlantis’ origins.
It’s also unfortunate these Warner Archive titles don’t have the budget for special features. It’d be cool to hear what Duffy and Montgomery have to say today about the roles. I’m always a sucker for those kinds of extras.
So if you fondly remember this series, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, especially with the movies. If you only get one set, get that one.