Man from Atlantis was a short-lived American science fiction television series that ran for 17 episodes on the NBC Network during the 1977–1978 season, following on from four successful made-for-television movies that had aired on in early 1977. A number of sources prepend the word The to the title, however the actual on-screen title of the series, plus the title used for spin-off novels and comic books, does not include the article.
Because of the unique nature of the series, NBC commissioned four movies of the show during the 1977 season (exceeding ABC's record of 3 for The Six Million Dollar Man):
- The Man from Atlantis (4 March 1977)
- The Death Scouts (22 April 1977)
- The Killer Spores (17 May 1977)
- The Disappearances (20 June 1977)
The series starred Patrick Duffy as Mark Harris
, believed to be a survivor from the lost civilization of Atlantis. Possessed of exceptional abilities, including the ability to breathe underwater and withstand extreme depth pressures, Harris is subsequently recruited by a secret organization that explores the depths of the ocean in a futuristic submarine, the Cetacean.
Victor Buono played Mr. Schubert, a recurring villain of the pilot and the series. Belinda Montgomery was Dr. Elizabeth Merrill
, the main supporting character, apparently loosely inspired by the 1940s Timely-Atlas comic book character Betty Dean, who often managed to calm down Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner when he felt angered with the behavior of surface people. Merrill fills a very similar role in the movie and series, and in both works of fiction there are strong hints of romantic interest underneath the surface.
Man from Atlantis is notable as being the first American TV series to be shown in the People's Republic of China in 1980, with the title 大西洋底来的人, which translates to The Man from the Bottom of Atlantic. It was at the moment when Gang of Four lost power to Deng Xiaoping, and the science research began to get attention, along with economical development. In Brazil it was named O Homem do Fundo do Mar, which translates to The Man from the Deep Sea. It has developed a small cult classic following, mostly science fiction fans of the many 1970s era. The series has not been released on DVD.
There are persistent rumors that Man from Atlantis was originally meant to be a Namor series. This rumor is incorrect. Namor himself is a "Man from Atlantis" (actually a king) in the Marvel comics, and artist Frank Robbins had been involved with both characters in the late 1970s. Frank Robbins was never connected with Man From Atlantis TV series, he only worked on the comic strip adaption.
Another incorrect rumor is that the show's quick cancellation allowed Duffy to start work on Dallas, a popular series. Duffy joined the Dallas cast sometime later where he would co-star for the next decade. Belinda Montgomery also went on to a substantial acting career following the series.