|Index||7 reviews in total|
This unusual show ran for two seasons on British TV in the 60's and was an
attempt by the BBC to emulate the success of "THE AVENGERS" and is very
similar in tone.The premise was that a Victorian gentleman adventurer called
Adam Adamant was lured into a trap by his arch-enemy The Face and frozen in
a slab of ice where he laid for over 60 years until in 1966 workmen
excavating the premises discovered him and he was thawed out. Escaping from
hospital and bewildered by the sights and sounds of contemporary London, he
is rescued by a typical 60's babe called Georgina Jones, whose grandfather
had told her tales of the adventures of Adamant whom he had known in his
youth. Together they join forces to fight crime in the present day with
Adamant using his formidable skill with sword and fist to see them through
many deadly encounters.
The hero was played with considerable panache by Gerald Harper who gave Adamant a winning combination of ruthlessness and charm. The series is rarely seen today and looks somewhat dated (it was not on film) but if ever a TV show from the 60's should be remade it is certainly this one.
I'm pleased to report that Adam Adamant remains largely as entertaining
to its fans who remember it as when first viewed 40 years back. Adamant
is the gracious man of action propelled through the marvels of
suspended animation by a devious foe, Samurai Jack-like, to the future
- an enigmatic event revisited in brief flash back by the programme
most weeks. And best of all at the start of each episode, the larger
than life mood is set splendidly by a memorable Goldfinger-like ballad,
sung by a full throated Kathy Kirby.
The first episode sets up the key situation, and all the others I have seen thereafter take place in the 60's, with the now 99 year-old, but still youthful, adventurer taking on a different bunch of foes each week - often at the unoffficial behest of the British Government, who value his peculiar, off beat talent for sniffing out dire deeds.
Aiding Adamant in his efforts is a vaguely camp, risqué limerick loving, manservant Simms - permanently installed in his discreet flat hidden above a London car park - and Miss Jones (Juliet Harmer), a young, impulsive, typically swinging sixties bird, who inevitably gets into scrapes and precipitates the main crisis each week as she gets captured. Adamant himself is amusingly disdainful of modern mores and fashions - although he does allow himself the pleasure of driving a mini one notices. He also remains impeccably dressed in the style of a 1880's gentleman, complete with spats, waist coat and a sword stick (making up an odd if dashing, figure, never made an object of derision, even by his fiercest enemies).
Those who enjoy the tongue in cheek qualities which hallmarked The Avengers will find some similarities here, not just in the dashing, Steed-like turn out of the central character (and indeed it shares at least one of that programme's writers, Brian Clemens, at times) although it has to be admitted the better known show deserves its superior reputation. The Adamant script formula is fairly rigid by comparison, with the same set ups each week - including the prompt and slightly ludicrous appearance of Miss Jones as employee in every establishment which finds itself under suspicion - and it lacks the implicit sexual magneticism, larger budget, and surreal sophistication of the other show. Despite the best charms of Miss Jones, Adamant is above real flirtation (although he is a ladies' man in his own, genteel way) an element of his character which somewhat weakens a potentially interesting relationship.
More often than not Adam confronts each week a conspiracy of some sort against the general public or public finances, whether it originates from a bunch of crooked embalmers, religious fanatics, frock designers, casino operators, record companies and soap manufacturers - or even from those who, in one episode, plan to devastate Blackpool's golden mile, with exploding light bulbs no less.
The best moments of the series are usually in the weird Adamant household, with some low level bitching usually going on between frosty, ever loyal manservant and Miss Jones. Some episodes rise to very entertaining heights, notably the one set within a fashion house this while, as Adamant kills the odd henchman with his sword stick or exposes the workings of an evil escort agency, one is reminded that not all viewers would have been youngsters. But over all, its very atmospheric fun, marvelously preserved, very much of its period if you care for the time capsule experience.
The set includes a whimsical, but ultimately not very informative, commentary on one or two shows by the now elderly Adamant (Gerald Harper) and associates, as well as a documentary and stills from the missing episodes. No less a talent than Ridley Scott worked on one episode - very much a journeyman effort - of which not all exist. Those which do are largely from the first of two seasons. Fortunately each one stands alone, enjoyable in their own right.
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!'.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I regret to say that I never saw 'Adam Adamant Lives!' at the time. My
first encounter proper was in the early 1990's when the first two
episodes came out on video. I was hooked! Sadly there were no further
releases. I got in touch with someone who had copies of the surviving
episodes ( many of appalling picture and sound quality ) and could see
that here was another innovative and inventive series from the creative
mind of Sydney Newman ( his others include 'The Avengers' and 'Dr.Who'
Placed in suspended animation by his arch-enemy 'The Face', the dashing Edwardian hero Adam Adamant ( Gerald Harper ) was found and revived in 1966, where he, aided and abetted by his sidekicks - the wide-eyed Mod Georgina Jones and 'Jeeves'-like butler William Simms, battled evil in the modern world. In 'The Sweet Smell Of Disaster', for instance, Kinthley ( Charles Tingwell ) tries to get the country hooked on the scent of a new kind of soap powder. 'The Doomsday Plan' has Dr.Mort ( Peter Vaughan ) out to fake a nuclear attack on London. 'Sing A Song Of Murder' involves pop music turning teenagers into criminals.
It was surprisingly violent at times; Adam never failed to run someone through with his sword if he thought they deserved it, and in one episode a man was impaled on a steering wheel.
Verity Lambert produced, the scripts were by amongst others Brian Clemens and Tony Williamson. Ridley Scott directed several episodes. Being a video-taped B.B.C. production, it stood no chance of competing with the more expensive filmed shows made by I.T.C., but worked well on its own terms.
Gerald Harper cut a dash as the caped Adamant, sword stick forever at the ready. There was humour in his attempts to adjust to the modern world.
Kathy Kirby sang the Bond-like theme song, and Bernard Lodge's titles blended Victoriana and '60's chic. So popular was 'Adam' that he followed 'The Avengers' into the pages of 'T.V. Comic'!
The first season outperformed 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' in the ratings in Britain. In the second year, Peter Ducrow was reintroduced as 'The Face'. Many episodes no longer exist, alas, but those that do are entertaining and amusing.
B.B.C.-4 ran a documentary - 'The Cult Of Adam Adamant' - a while back, and the series has been issued on D.V.D.
( To the unnamed author of the comment entitled 'First Episode', I see you have chosen to submit a hostile review when, by your own admission, you watched only half of the first episode. You do not seem to have grasped the fact that it was a fantasy adventure, and as such was not intended to be taken seriously. )
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Adam Adamant Lives! was created by Richard Harris and Donald Cotton. Dr
Who producer Verity Lambert also produced this series.
Edwardian adventurer Adam Adamant(Gerald Harper)is frozen in 1902 by his arch enemy. In 1960's London, he is found by workmen and revived.
Aided by Georgina Jones (Juliet Harmer), Adam continues to fight criminals and tries to adjust to a much changed world. I love the scenes in the first episode where Adam ventures out into 1960's London, he is disorientated and overwhelmed, Harper and the camera and sound capture that so well.
Harper is superb as Adamant, in this character and his performance you can find traces of John Steed and Simon Templar. He is so suave and classy, he can defend himself very well and you certainly don't want to get into a fight with him.
I love the relationship between him and Georgina, scenes between them are my favourites in the series.
I'm not really a fan of remakes, but I think a new series of this set today would work very well if done right.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Gerald Harper reprises the role of earlier hero 'Captain Moonlight' as
back-from-the-dead Adam Adamant.
The Edwardian gentleman-hero is seduced by a femme-fatale and defeated by his arch enemy. Quite why this enemy plunges him into suspended animation instead of just drowning him in the Thames is one of those riddles that have dogged master criminals for decades. He is discovered in a block of ice during demolition work, and revived in the swinging sixties. Oh Lucky Man.
During his recovery phase he falls in with a typical dolly-bird of the decade, and a reluctant (on his part) companionship develops. The decade may be swinging, but he's still a gentleman, so there's no hanky-panky takes place - bit like 'Dr Who' and his nubile assistants.
Whereas Cpt Moonlight drove a BMW Isetta bubblecar and was targeted at a kids audience, Adamant drove a Mini Cooper and was aimed at adults. Both had capes and swordsticks, both sorted out the scumbags of their time.
It was a fun idea that - like so much British TV - was so badly funded it creaked. Harper was good in his role, though a tad uncharismatic. We didn't discover much about his personality during the programs. The series descended into what all series do if they go on for long enough. Just 10 episodes would have left it as a stand-alone minor classic.
Ain't seen it since the original screening, though I believe it's out on DVD. Don't expect too much and you may enjoy it.
Having just turned off half way through the first episode, I'm afraid in my opinion Adam Adamant Lives was badly acted and had an appalling script. Adamant is meant to be an Edwardian gent, but has never come across underground trains, escalators, cars, electric lights or telephones. Of course this is a fantasy but I do expect a certain amount of internal consistency. Why not have Adamant as a Victorian detective (say having been frozen for 100 years instead of 60)? I don't feel I need to make allowances for the budget or the production values that British TV had at the time - it costs nothing to have a decent standard of script writing or acting.
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|