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Man From Atlantis: Death Scouts

Another one that's slightly better in book form. I don't usually think that TV novelisations are better, but this show is clearly one of the exceptions. To be fair to it, this is basically a good story - or could have been. Mark is very much an alien here, with little to no understanding of how society works. He certainly has no comprehension of lying, and his desperation to find out more about his people is quite endearing. Odd title, though. Are they scouts? They never let on. And there's very little death. But anyway. Some people out pleasure boating are dragged into the sea by some giant novelty gloves (I am being cruel. There is nothing wrong with the special effects when compared to other shows of the same vintage). Shortly afterwards, having either been cloned or had their bodies taken over, they appear on land, wandering about in much the same vague fashion as Mark does. Due to a misunderstanding over what he thinks is the twin of the symbol on his swimming shorts, Mark believes them to be his people, which they use to their advantage.

Nothing much happens, though. This seems to be a criticism that I have for this show a lot. There's a nice scene early on when the creatures attack Mark and blast him with electrical energy, leading to him curing himself with seaweed. I like how he retreats to his tank to recuperate, and also the fact that he's too weak to help Elizabeth check out a lead. He needs to stay in the water, which gives her the chance to do something for a change, however briefly. As with the first film though, there's precious little sense of dramatic tension, and the risk of an electric shock, however painful, isn't nearly as deathly as the title would suggest. Just as Mark never seemed to be in any real danger from Schubert, he never seems to be in any real danger here. Nobody does, save for the people in the boat at the beginning of the episode - the only time when there's any real sense of fear or proper excitement. Elizabeth has precious little to do, and her engaging but largely pointless assistant, Miller, has even less.

The 'death scouts' themselves, despite being neither especially deathly, nor especially scouty, are perfectly well played. They have a good scene early on, where they try to find themselves suitable food in an alien city, whilst heavily confused by everything going on around them. Again, though, they're not given much to do. Why are they on Earth? We're never told, because all they do is wander around being confused, before lapsing into disarray when the female falls for Mark. They came to Earth, they swam about for a bit, and then they killed themselves. Which was convenient of them I suppose, since it saved the heroes from having to do anything much except talk amongst themselves.

I can't help thinking that the creators of this show didn't really stop to think it through properly. There are some nice ideas knocking around here, but none of them ever seem to go anywhere. Maybe it needs to be longer, so that Mark's belief that he's found some of his people gets a chance to develop into something; so that the aliens get a chance to do something, and perhaps be a bit more dangerous; so that Elizabeth and Miller actually get to have a point for once. As it is, it's all a bit dull. I appreciate that the show is still finding its feet, and perhaps hasn't quite decided yet what it wants to be, but for an adventure show, there's still precious little real adventure. On the plus side, Mark remains a very engaging lead, but he badly needs to be given more to do. As it stands, his main challenge seems to be shirtless posing - and an adventure show really does need quite a lot more going for it than that.

Comments

( 8 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
ladygretchen
Mar. 29th, 2011 02:58 am (UTC)
Great review! I also wondered what was so deathly and scoutly about these two. Not much. I think you will be fairly more impressed with 'Killer spores.' I really do.
I didn't quite understand these scouts, were they really water breathers? What made them decide to take the form, but have webbed hands? I got a kick out of the fact that the scuba suits were their real skin. yick. It reminds me of that alien take over scene in Men in Black with Farmer Vincent D'onofrio. blah! I sort of pictured something like that having happened, because if they just took over their human bodies, they would be hampered by the human limitations, right? They couldn't survive at those depths or for that long under the water using a human's lungs and body.

I think the show needed more creative writers…like me! I like to see people in peril so they needed much more of Elizabeth getting in trouble. If Schubert wanted Mark so much, he should have had her kidnapped more often. LOL. I did like Miller, but alas, he also didn't have a point, as you said.
But funny you say this is better in book form. I will agree, even though I haven't read these books, I'm going to hunt for them online. But I am having fun writing my MFA fanfic. Already six chapters into it, yes it has Schubert, but it also has a mermaid and Mark's Origins and peril and spots of romance. It's a fish stew. :D
swordznsorcery
Mar. 29th, 2011 06:08 pm (UTC)
I've seen "Killer Spores". Can't say that I was very impressed with it, I'm afraid.

Good point about the limits of the human body. They must have re-created the people rather than simply doing some body-snatching. And it was a neat idea having their suits being their skin, yes. That's probably about as complimentary about MFA as I'm likely to get, though. ;) You may not want to read the other reviews!
ladygretchen
Mar. 29th, 2011 06:39 pm (UTC)
ROFLOL! I can take it! Good or bad, I always enjoy your reviews! Thanks to you saying the books were better, I went ahead and ordered three old copies. I figured you would like KS if only for the fact that there was more going on. Those fireflies were kind of creepy with what they did to humans!
iceandstars
Mar. 29th, 2011 04:13 pm (UTC)
I agree about the book. It's about twice as long for one thing, so the "Are they Mark's people?" storyline actually had time to go somewhere. For my money 'The Disappearances' is probably the best of the films. You seen it yet?
swordznsorcery
Mar. 29th, 2011 06:05 pm (UTC)
I think I've seen all of the episodes now. I've been watching them in a strange mixed up combo with "My Two Dads". And I definitely agree about "The Disappearances". Not very eventful, but not a bad basic idea.
iceandstars
Mar. 30th, 2011 01:00 am (UTC)
'My Two Dads'! Fit of exclamation marks!!! Will htere be 'My Two Dads' posting, because I need to read that. Seriously. Need. I loved that show! talk about a blast from the past.

PS: !!!!!!!!!!!
swordznsorcery
Mar. 30th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
Yes, there'll probably be wittering about M2D. Soon as I can get my brain to make some sense.
iceandstars
Mar. 31st, 2011 12:01 am (UTC)
So... never then. :D

I'll look forward to it.
( 8 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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