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Series / Man from Atlantis

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Mark and Elizabeth. Note the webbing.

Man from Atlantis is an underwater-themed series that ran from 1977 to 1978 and was preceded by a pilot movie and three television films.

Patrick Duffy starred as an amnesiac "water-breathing man" with webbed hands and feet who is discovered unconscious on a beach. Dr. Elizabeth Merrill, a scientist, restores him to health by placing him underwater, names him Mark Harris, and takes him under her wing. Mark is found to have extraordinary swimming ability, great speed and strength, highly-developed senses including the ability to see in very low light, and a need to return to water every few hours. These abilities and Mark's resistance to water pressure at great depths lead to a covert assignment for the U.S. Navy, after which Mark chooses to join Elizabeth at the Foundation for Oceanic Research, an organization which conducts secret government missions in addition to science. The Foundation has a very nice submarine, known as the Cetacean.


Mark often has to deal with the latest scheme of Mr. Schubert, a wealthy, power-hungry, larger-than-life villain. Schubert is often played with a comic tone, especially in episodes including Brent, Schubert's goofy right-hand man. Another source of trouble is charming con man Jake Muldoon, but Muldoon always ends up helping Mark to save the day.

This series provides examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: Usually given about a dozen lines per episode, C.W. Crawford is the focus of "C.W. Hyde".
  • Alien Among Us: In "The Death Scouts", two aliens assume human form and attempt to gather information on humans by going among them. But they have trouble fitting in and are sometimes overly aggressive.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: In "Man O'War" Schubert breeds a giant carnivorous jellyfish.
  • Attack of the Town Festival: In "Man O'War" an international long-distance swimming meet is threatened by a (huge) jellyfish.
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  • Body Surf: The spores in "Killer Spores" do a lot of this.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Schubert, similar to Bond villains in several ways, does this:
    • In the pilot movie, he places Mark and Commander Roth into a large cage suspended over water. He then pushes a lever, the cage starts descending... and Schubert leaves.
    • In "Crystal Water, Sudden Death", he blinds Mark and then keeps him prisoner, although unfettered and barely guarded. Mark eventually recovers his sight, escapes, and ends up defeating Schubert.
  • Collapsing Lair: This happens to Schubert's underwater base in the pilot movie.
  • Cowboy Episode: In "Shoot-Out at Land's End", Mark is mysteriously drawn to a location and finds himself in the Old West.
  • Didn't See That Coming: In the pilot movie, Schubert only learns that Mark can breathe underwater after he places Mark in a drowning-type deathtrap.
  • Drowning Pit: In the pilot movie, Schubert places Mark and Commander Roth into a large cage which is then lowered into the water (this occurs before Schubert understands Mark's nature).
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Dr. Smith's installation in "The Disappearances" qualifies.
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned: In "The Disappearances", Dr. Smith maintains control of most of her staff by having them bathe in "happy water".
  • Evil Feels Good: In "C.W. Hyde", C.W. can't resist sipping a liquid that makes him charismatic, fearless... and immoral.
    C.W.: Mark, you don't realize what I've done under the influence. I have stolen, I have lied, I've fallen in with the kind of people only a monster would fall in with. The most incredible thing about it: I've enjoyed it.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: In the pilot movie, Schubert has a scientist working on developing "homo aquatis" - the water-breathing man.
  • Explosive Instrumentation:
    • Much of Schubert's equipment ends up exploding.
    • A computer at the Foundation suffers from this in "Imp".
    • In "Siren", the Cetacean's systems suffer from the amplified siren's song.
  • Fish out of Water: Mark. Although seeming quite alien in the pilot movie, he quickly adapts to the world of humans, yet continues to occasionally have moments of innocence and naïveté.
  • Green Aesop: Touched on in "The Disappearances". Miller and Elizabeth explain to Mark that humans are using up natural resources so fast on land, they will soon need to get them from the sea. Mark asks "And when that is gone?" before a call interrupts the discussion.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: In "C.W. Hyde", the villainous Luke Calendar turns good after being doused with a personality-altering liquid.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • In "Siren", Mark manages to turn Stringer's amplified siren song against him.
    • In the pilot movie, Mark uses one of Schubert's mind-control bracelets to control Schubert.
  • Hollywood Natives: In "Scavenger Hunt" the natives have most of the standard characteristics, including a willingness to sacrifice girls to "the powerful one".
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Downplayed in "Killer Spores". A space probe returns to Earth with intelligent alien spores which seem hostile, taking control of numerous people. Mark claims that the spores were transported to Earth against their will and consider humans to have invaded their territory with the probe. The spores end up demanding to go back home - if not sent home immediately, they promise to remain and cause mankind's destruction by influencing his natural warlike tendencies.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: In "C.W. Hyde", C.W. drinks a liquid which temporarily transforms his personality - and also causes him to sprout a lot of new hair.
  • Just Between You and Me: In the pilot movie, Schubert shows Mark around his facilities while explaining his motivations and, finally, his plan.
  • Kidnapped by the Call: In the pilot movie, Mark refuses to go and search for the missing Seaquest submarine. However, when Mark tries to return to the ocean, Admiral Pierce prevents him. Elizabeth eventually succeeds in working out "a deal" whereby Mark will go on the mission and then be free to leave.
  • Kidnapped Scientist:
    • Schubert's scientists in the pilot movie are close to this trope since they have been deprived of free will.
    • The scientists in "The Disappearances" are similarly affected.
  • Lady Land: "The Disappearances" has elements of this. Besides Dr. Smith herself, most of the scientists seem to be female, whereas the technicians and security are men. However, Dick Stoneman does seem to have an important position in the hierarchy.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Mary Smith in "The Disappearances" has a good number of the characteristics.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout:
    • In "Melt Down", Mark uses his sonar to block the microwaves from Schubert's phase shifter, eventually destroying the device.
    • The siren's song in "Siren" has a narcotic effect, but when amplified can induce loss of consciousness, cause electrical overloads to equipment, and even "damage the cerebral cortex".
  • Mind-Control Device:
  • Nature Lover: Mark, although his attachment to natural things is always displayed in the context of the place he came from... the sea.
  • New Era Speech: In the pilot movie, Schubert gives such a speech to the scientists who will people his new world.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: In the pilot movie, Schubert treats Mark as a guest while attempting to find out who he is and to convince Mark to join in with his scheme.
  • Not Himself:
    • In "Killer Spores", the spores take over quite a number of people, including C.W. and even Mark. All of their victims act strangely.
    • "C.W. Hyde" has C.W.'s personality transformed by his drinking a liquid.
  • No Water Proofing In The Future: Most of Schubert's computers and equipment in the pilot movie explode when seawater rushes into the control room.
  • People in Rubber Suits: Oscar from "Scavenger Hunt".
  • Phlebotinum Battery: Mark will weaken and die if he does not periodically return to water.
    • In "Killer Spores" he is close to death in the desert, and Elizabeth saves him by having a helicopter drop him into the nearest body of water, a swimming pool.
    • In "The Disappearances" he is locked in a shed overnight and comes close to dying as a result.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: In "Shoot-Out at Land's End", Billy is wild and fun-loving - just the opposite of Mark.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The spores from "Killer Spores" are able to take over humans. They initially do so in order to learn about humanity. When they decide to communicate with Mark, they take over Miller and Elizabeth.
  • Race Against the Clock: In "Killer Spores", the spores demand that Mark get them onto a rocket which will blast off in four hours.
  • Relocating the Explosion: In "The Disappearances", Mark removes a limpet mine from the hull of the Cetacean and swims away with it to a safe distance.
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist: In "Melt Down", Brent seems quite unhappy about spreading death and destruction.
  • Reluctant Monster: Oscar from "Scavenger Hunt" is not at all malicious, just playing a role.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: In the pilot movie, Mark is presumed dead after Commander Roth and the scientists leave the collapsing base without him.
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: Stringer and his pirates in "Siren". They also have a submarine.
  • Sensor Suspense:
    • There is some of this in the pilot movie as Elizabeth tracks Mark as a blip on a screen.
    • This occurs in "The Death Scouts" as the crew of the Cetacean "loses" Mark's blip when he enters the alien base.
  • Shock and Awe: The aliens in "The Death Scouts" can produce electric discharges from their bodies.
  • Sirens Are Mermaids: The siren in "Siren" certainly is.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Marks understands the language of whales. In "The Disappearances" he attempts to communicate with carp.
  • Spock Speak: Mark uses a mild form of this continually.
  • Starfish Language: In "Crystal Water, Sudden Death" the "click people" speak... in clicks!
  • Strange Salute: In "Crystal Water, Sudden Death" the "click people" hold up a hand with fingers spread.
  • Stunned Silence: In the pilot movie, the normally talkative Ernie undergoes this for just a moment when he sees Mark doff his diving suit at 200 feet.
  • Submarine Pirates: "Siren". While investigating the mysterious loss of three ships in one part of the ocean, Mark and the crew of the Cetacean encounter a submarine operated by a modern-day pirate. The pirate has captured a mermaid that can produce a hypnotic siren song, which mesmerizes anyone who hears it, even Mark.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In the episode "Siren", Elizabeth is explained to be in Washington at the behest of a Senate committee. She is replaced by Dr. Jenny Reynolds, who not only takes over Elizabeth's duties on board the Cetacean, but also displays similar behavior, reactions, and speech to Elizabeth's.
  • Synchronization: In "Shoot-Out at Land's End", Mark feels what Billy feels.
  • Technically Naked Shapeshifter: The aliens in "The Death Scouts" assume the forms of the divers they abduct. This includes not only their bodies, but their diving suits as well.
  • Technology Porn: Some episodes include elaborate standard sequences showing operations when the Cetacean is departing or arriving.
  • The Ark: In "The Disappearances", Dr. Smith believes that Earth will soon destroy itself, but she plans to launch a spaceship - named "Ararat" - to carry a chosen few to "virgin, unspoiled, green worlds".
  • The Imp: In "Imp", Moby mostly fits this trope. He seems like he might be malevolent at times, but it turns out he just wants to have fun.
  • The Only One: In "Siren", Mark's buried memories provide the means to save Amanda when no one else can.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: In "The Death Scouts", Mark is recovering from a nasty back wound after being electrocuted by the aliens. Elizabeth tells him "you must rest" before she and Miller go off in the Cetacean to look for the aliens on the ocean floor. Shortly after, Mark gets out of his water tank, has the radio operator put some seaweed on his injury, and is soon fit to dive into the ocean and catch up with the submarine.
  • Thirsty Desert: In "Killer Spores", the spores take over Mark and have him flee into the desert... not a good place for an aquatic being.
  • Time Bomb: The worldwide missile-launching signal from the pilot movie is set to be sent at the end of a 15-minute countdown which "cannot be stopped".
  • Trust Me, I'm an X: In "Killer Spores", Elizabeth gets access to one of the spores' victims by telling the attending paramedic "I'm a doctor".
  • Turned Against Their Masters: In "The Mudworm" Scubert's Mudworm robot goes renegade and starts attacking shipping. It later attacks Schubert himself.
  • Twin Switch: In "Shoot-Out at Land's End", Billy goes
  • Underwater Base:
    • Schubert has a very large, elaborate one in the pilot movie.
    • The aliens in "The Death Scouts" have one full of mysterious-looking technology.
    • Moby first appears in one in "Imp".
  • Unusual Pets for Unusual People: The siren in "Siren" has a pet sponge.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: In the pilot movie, Schubert intends to have humanity "start all over again" in a world of his conception after the "one last big war" which he will start.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene:
    • Mark spends a lot of time dressed only in a pair of swimming trunks.
    • The security guards from "The Disappearances" are quite well-muscled... and permanently shirtless.
  • Walking Swimsuit Scene: This trope is Mark all over. Most of his screen time throughout the series was him in swimming trunks, either on land or underwater.
  • We Can Rule Together: In "The Disappearances", Dr. Smith ends up quite taken with Mark, offering him a choice place in her new world.
    Dr. Smith: He is bright. Perhaps I'll add his name to my list. Shall I add yours?
    Mark: Mine?
    Dr. Smith: We'd make a pair, Mark. You and I. What's to stop us?
  • We Have Ways of Making You Talk: In "Siren", Stringer provides a perfect illustration before using his method on Trevanian.
  • We Will Meet Again: At the end of the pilot movie, Mark leaves Schubert to his fate. However, before Mark can escape the collapsing base, Schubert talks to him over an intercom and implies that this will not be their last meeting.
  • Wicked Cultured: Schubert loves (and plays) classical music, and always has fine food and drink on hand.
  • Worthy Opponent: In "Melt Down", Schubert appreciates the abilities of the Cetacean's crew.
    Brent: It's a vessel of some kind, I think...
    Schubert: Couuurse, it's the Cetacean, who else could have found the source? Ooo, they are good, aren't they? It's a pity we're going to have to step on them.