Man from Atlantis   Leave a comment

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Okay, I’ll admit it: I had a crush on this guy.  I’ll also admit to being, what, 15 at the time too.  But in my teenage head, Patrick Duffy…er…Mark Harris had it going on.  Strangely, one of my best friends in the universe, Marc Harrison (whose names strangely seemed familiar and made me wonder about where exactly was he from) didn’t think the same way.

Anyway, just look at him: angry, wet, confused.  If you saw this guy wash up on the shore, complete with gills and webbed hands/feet, and naked too, wouldn’t you think this was some kind of college frat prank?  How’d you react when this being woke up, didn’t know who he was or where he came from?  I admit, I’d be scratching my head, too.  “Sure, buddy, I know…it’s those Delta Taus again, eh?  All right, who put the ‘shroom in your booze?”

Sadly enough, it wasn’t me that found him, since he washed up on California (I think, anyway) and I lived in New Jersey, where other sorts of stuff managed to find their way on our beaches.  That honor was left to Dr. Elizabeth Merrill, who discovered him, saw real potential and made him whole again.

And BOY! could he swim!  There Mark was, in that weird swimming motion with his hands to his sides, a bit like a jackknife under water.  Since I grew up on the ocean, I tried this maneuver regularly, generally managing to get copious amounts of water up my nose (or bang into people).

Mark sure caught the attention of the US Navy and, as the United States government generally does, found a purpose for him.  They recruited him to find a lost submarine filled with important people (as if the regular crew didn’t count).  After deciding this person has to be the last remaining survivor of Atlantis (which I believed existed under my ocean, but what do I know), the Foundation for Oceanic Research thinks he’s pretty cool too.  They offer him a job and although Mark first demurs, he changes his mind and, much to the delight of Dr. Merrill, stays.

Of course, every show worth its salt needs a boo-hiss character, and MFA had Schubert.  He was a forward-thinking kind of scientist, largely misinterpreted and ill-understood.  Aren’t they all?  In his arsenal he had, of all things, giant microwaves to melt polar ice caps.  Strangely enough, if Schubert had survived long enough to be around today, he’d realize how unnecessary that instrument of evil is, since they’re melting anyway due to the effects of climate change…unless Schubert is behind this…and the giant microwaves are REALLY the culprit…

Schubert also altered genetics to create a monstrous jellyfish designed to wreak terror on the unsuspecting innocent.  That’s a common plot theme now, but in 1977 that was rather amazing.  He even devised a weapon to knock out satellites, a common occurrence as well in sci-fi.

Unwittingly foreshadowing the future, Mark meets his twin Billy in a Wild West Town, although Billy’s webbing has been removed.  A short time later, Patrick Duffy plays Bobby in that other Wild West town, Dallas.  He doesn’t have webbing in this one, but he dies and miraculously appears in the shower.  That’s pretty close to washing up on shore and saying you don’t remember who you are or where you came from.

Probably the most shocking thing about MFA is that while it aired in the UK, it beat Dr. Who in the ratings.

What a shame this show with such potential only lived for four movies and 13 episodes.  My teenage heart was crushed.  Still, I always had in the back of my mind Mark Harris would wash up on my Jersey shore, ready to launch a new adventure.

I’m still waiting…

Posted April 28, 2014 by seleneymoon in Sci-Fi TV Shows, science fiction

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