Edwardian adventurer Adam Adamant is frozen alive in a block of ice by his arch-nemesis The Face in 1902 ; in 1966 workmen discover him and he is revived, perfectly preserved... but ...
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Edwardian adventurer Adam Adamant is frozen alive in a block of ice by his arch-nemesis The Face in 1902 ; in 1966 workmen discover him and he is revived, perfectly preserved... but completely bewildered by his new environment, "swinging 60's" London, until he meets up with the beautiful Georgina Jones, who helps him adapt - and before long, he is back to adventuring, solving crime & fighting evil wherever it may lurk... Written by
Adam Adamant Lives! is very much a product of it's time. Produced by Verity Lambert (fresh from Doctor Who) and created by 'The Avengers' creator Sydney Newman, the show was made on a shoestring budget by the BBC on a disorientating mixture of film and videotape. With one episode being produced every week the production is understandably often shaky and rushed, but nonetheless some excellent material was produced during its short run between 1966-1967. The show's central protagonist is the wonderful Adam Adamant, a hero from Victorian times, who during an encounter with his mortal enemy 'The Face' is cryogenic-ally frozen and remains hidden in this frozen state for 64 years, eventually being re-discovered again in 1966. The casting is excellent, Gerald Harper gives a wonderful performance as Adam Adamant, a hero from the Victorian era, unaccustomed and often outraged by the starkly different society he has been thrown into. Harper plays the character as a pure gentlemen, a charmer to the ladies despite his naivety of modern times, and they often serve as a enticement towards danger for Adamant in the series! Juliet Harmer makes an excellent sidekick in the form of Georgina Jones, a young woman who is the epitome of 1960's Swinging Britain and the wonderful Jack May as the Butler Simms who always can be relied upon to add a touch of humour to the programme. The show is quite rightly a cult, it's premise is nothing less than inspired and certainly extremely memorable, earning the programme much following during its forty odd years existence. The opening episode 'A Vintage Year for Scoundrels' with a guest performance from the brilliant Freda Jackson is good fun and sets up the story nicely. Unfortunately the following episodes are generally quite poor, both 'More Deadly Than The Sword' and 'Allah Is Not Always With You' feature dreadful racial stereotypes which date the programme considerably. Thankfully the series improved as it went along with the excellent 'The Sweet Smell of Disaster' by Robert Banks Stewart, no doubt an influence for the classic Doctor Who story 'Terror of the Autons' and the Brian Clemens script 'The Terribly Happy Embalmers' which put the programme as close as it has ever been to 'The Avengers' territory, Clemens notably being a regular writer and later producer for 'The Avengers'. Many see Adam Adamant Lives! as a attempt to emulate the success of the aforementioned programme, and there are certainly many similarities. In terms of production values Adam Adamant Lives! could never really compete. As the programme stuck rigidly to the common practice of film and videotape production, 'The Avengers' had just premiered its fourth season with Diana Rigg's Emma Peel as the new sidekick and new glittering production values which included an extra week for production (every episode was recorded in two weeks) and with American backing behind them, 'The Avengers' team also had a lot more money behind them. Adam Adamant Lives! could never afford the slick style of 'The Avengers'. As a result of this the direction of the programme is quite often industry standard for the time, making it easily distinguishable from the polished direction of 'The Avengers' or any of the ITC action series it was competing against during its original run. However, there are some exceptions. The excellent Ridley Scott shows off some of his early talent in the only surviving episode he directed 'The League of Uncharitable Ladies' which comes complete with some slick location footage and freeze frames aplenty and the late Paul Ciappessoni also directed some memorable work, as did the excellent Moira Armstrong who helmed probably the finest existing episode 'Black Echo' an early episode from the second season with a guest appearance from legendary actress Gladys Cooper. The show ran for two seasons and 29 episodes before being cancelled in 1967 after it failed to continue with any considerable success. Verity Lambert would later consider the show as a bit of a failure and it's a shame that it was never given the chance to grow on audiences, and perhaps more importantly that it was never given a bigger budget. Certainly the 17 episodes that remain are a mixed bag of the brilliant, to the quirky to the downright awful. Other than the episodes already mentioned, essential viewing includes 'The Last Sacrifice', 'Sing a Song of Murder', 'The Village of Evil' and 'A Sinister Sort of Service'. It is a tragic shame like so many other series that 12 episodes of Adam Adamant Lives! are missing, only two episodes exist from the Second Season and seeing as they are two of the best it is a great disappointment that more does not exist. Despite its flaws Adam Adamant Lives! is a fascinating piece of 60's television, one which brilliance often lies in its fantastic premise and performances from the lead actors rather than its execution. Not a classic, but worth a watch. To use a frequently used cliché 'They don't make them like this anymore!'.
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