Man from Atlantis

RETROSPECULATIVE TV WRAP-UP: Man From Atlantis: What Have We Learned?

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Retrospeculative TV is a series in which we look at the classic shows from yesteryear as though they were new. We look at their successes, their failings (Far more frequent, really), and their unique qualities. “Man From Atlantis” is the first of these series we’ve completed since starting this feature, and as we say farewell to a shirtless, hairless young Patrick Duffy for the final time, I think it’s only fair to take a moment to contemplate what we’ve learned form the show.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Man From Atlantis: “Deadly Carnival” (Season 2, Episode 13) Series Finale

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Tuesday, June 6th, 1978: Not a massively infamous day in history. Not much happened. In California - which was part of the United States in those days - they voted in Proposition 13, which slashed property taxes. Nothing else of any great importance seems to have happened anywhere else in the world, and few seem to have noticed the important thing that transpired here. Indeed, there are no monuments to commemorate the day, no one who says “I remember where I was when…”, no flags flying at halfmast, no parades of victory for surviving it, though we certainly deserved them.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Man From Atlantis: “Siren” (Season 2, Episode 12)

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Curiouser and curiouser: Here we are at the ragged end of this clearly-failing season, in a sinking ship of a show that must have been clearly obvious to all concerned that it wasn’t going to finish out the season, down to the wire, nearing the end of its life. Beyond that, they’re almost undoubtedly still reeling from the shot of last week’s episode - “Imp” - which very likely could be the single most embarrassing science fiction-related thing in the entire decade. (Seriously, the “Triad” scenes from the original Galactica are less humiliating.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Man From Atlantis: “Imp” (Season 2, Episode 11)

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There’s a lot of negative things you can say about Man From Atlantis: You can call it stupid, boring, tedious, ignorant, stupid, anti-intellectual, vapid, insulting, infantile, incoherent, poorly written, completely un-thought-out, a waste of time for all involveand all those criticisms are bang on the money. I’ve made all of them myself, and I’m not taking any of ‘em back. But one thing the show has never been was flat-out embarrassing. Goofy, yes. So embarrassing that you actually feel badly for the actors? No.

Until now, of course.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Man From Atlantis: “Scavenger Hunt” (Season 2, Episode 10)

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I don’t have too much to say about this one, other than it isn’t completely terrible (Though unintentionally hilarious at one point), and it probably would have made a fair Fourth Season episode of Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea or a second season SeaQuest episode. Both those shows appeared to have more-or-less given up on trying to do anything non-ludicrous by that period, but they still managed to entertain (Infrequently).

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Man From Atlantis: “CW Hyde” (Season 2, Episode 9)

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Before we begin, I’d like to explain something. “Retrospeculative TV” was intended to be a once-weekly feature, but, seeing as it started in the winter doldrums at the start of the year, there really wasn’t enough new material on TV to cover, so we thought we’d pad things out a bit (read: “Entirely too much”) by doing it on two days a week until the season picked up again. Owing to my rather bad math skills, I didn’t quite realize that 17 episodes translated into four months and one week. Duh. Even now, I had to use a calculator to figure that out.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Man From Atlantis: “The Naked Montague” (Season 2, Episode 8)

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There comes a time in every geek’s life when he or she (But more likely he) realizes he’s had enough, that the show he had so much hope for has let him down in such a way that it isn’t coming back. Sadly, this is a common experience, though it tends to happen more as we get older. It makes sense, right? We’ve seen things a million times, some ideas just begin to bore us they get repeated so much, our eyes get sharper to special effects and we realize what’s good and what’s slapdash, you can spot a variation on a theme you’re already sick of a mile away, that kind of thing.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Man From Atlantis: “Crystal Water, Sudden Death” (Season 2, Episode 7)

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Oh, thank God: Mister Schubert is back. I realize he’s a hopelessly overused villain, but he’s a significant presence and his episodes generally have some kind of a plot, no matter how thin it may be. After the last couple of just-jerking-around episodes, I’m happy to see something with a little more narrative drive to it. Also: Shubert is no longer a comedic buffoon. He’s back in amiable badass mode. This is, by the way, his sixth appearance in the series, his fifth this season.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Man From Atlantis: “Shootout At Land’s End” (Season 2, Episode 6)

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I guess if I had to pick one thing about the ocean as my favorite - wow, it’d be hard to choose, wouldn’t it? - I guess, probably the thing I like most about it is the preponderance of time-portals that litter the sea floor, allowing passage to the 1880s, although gateways to alternate dimensions populated only by NBA stars is probably a close second. How about you? What’s your favorite thing about the ocean.

Yeah, that’s right, kids, Man From Atlantis’ crazy rollercoaster ride from interesting idea to utter incoherence is definitely coming to a middle. Check this crap out:

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Man From Atlantis: “Man Of War” (Season 2, Episode 5)

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Ah, memory, how you fail me in my dotage. At first I was absolutely certain I hadn’t seen this episode, but suddenly - out of nowhere - comes a line of dialog I remember, and then nothing else. Aside from one brief conversation in the middle of this episode, I have no memory of it whatsoever, but I know I must have seen it. That’s disquieting.

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