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Sometimes a television programme will startle you with its beauty, vision and heart. Unsurprisingly, this is not one of those times.

In a series that features a character like Schubert, introducing somebody more annoying than he is ought to be impossible. It's certainly hard to imagine why anybody should try to do it. Man From Atlantis, however - never a show to shirk from acts of appalling misjudgement - has not only tried, but succeeded. Spectacularly. In this deeply irritating episode, a small 'imp' from beneath the sea runs about giggling, touching everybody and making them giggle too. They're 'playing', apparently. This means that the entire cast, at various times, is running about pretending to be six - except for Mark of course, as he forever remains inexplicably immune to all forms of mind control. This is the sort of episode that the Lost In Space team had been coming up with years earlier, when they decided to abandon their sensible space show, and start making The Oh So Hilariously Madcap Adventures Of Doctor Smith instead. It's abysmal. Little Laughing Larry runs about the place playing practical jokes, whilst the entire cast look like idiots. That's pretty much the whole of the plot.

We first meet the imp on the sea floor, in a special deep sea base. He bounces in, makes everybody giggle, and causes all of the crew save one to kill themselves because it looks like fun. This makes it seem as though Laughing Larry might actually be sinister in some way, but he isn't. Turns out he has no concept of danger, and really is just trying to be fun. It might be possible to turn a story like that towards tragedy, of course, if the central character was someone other than an irritating little sod who needs killing. And if he didn't keep making the rest of the cast look like stupid would be an improvement. Roping the lone surviving member of the base's crew into helping him with his games, the imp uses Mark's permanently aggravating submarine to escape to the surface, where he continues to spread his reign of giggling mania. And how the hell did they get hold of those 'comedy' props at the bottom of the sea? Are deep sea bases usually stocked with trick revolvers? Probably best not to ask.

Realising that something is up on the base, Mark and his pointless submarine go to investigate. This mostly involves Elizabeth doing nothing, whilst Mark orders her around. He loves ordering people around when he's on that wretched sub. "Activate the airlock!"; "Open the door!" There's one poor man who seems to exist solely to stand beside the airlock, and open it whenever Mark wants to go swimming. Why Mark can't open it himself, I don't know. The poor man certainly doesn't need to be told to activate it. When he sees Mark walking towards it, he's hardly going to switch it off, is he. And it's his only job. The only thing he ever gets to do. It must drive him nuts that Mark apparently thinks he can't figure out this sole duty for himself, without being told to do it. If they don't get rid of the submarine soon, that poor man is going to lead the entire crew to mutiny. It really can't happen quickly enough.

Sorry, am I digressing? Way way down to the bottom of the sea they go. So far down, we're told, that only Mark can go to find out what's happening. Yet when he leaves the deep sea base, he brings along the sole survivor with him, in an ordinary wetsuit. So apparently they're way way down so deep that only Mark and everybody else in the world can go there. Getting our poor, giggling survivor safely aboard the world's most useless submarine, our heroes consider his condition; and Elizabeth asks Mark's opinion on the diagnosis, discussing hypnosis as a possible cause. That's two episodes in the space of three weeks where the supposedly highly qualified scientist (and medical doctor) has asked the opinion of an uneducated amnesiac in order to answer a question of psychology. Could the writers possibly make Elizabeth any more pathetic? To make it worse, Mark's even more alien than usual in this episode. He clearly doesn't know the immediate area around the research centre, and he's confusing his English; but hey, let's have Elizabeth check with him before switching on her own brain.

And then, just to make a really, really bad episode even worse, we get another of Mark's periodic moral lessons. Where he gets them from, goodness knows. He doesn't know anything about society, so how he's able to school people on how to behave in it, I don't know. I don't care either, let's be honest. Anyway, his moral guidance allows the imp to realise that he's endangering the poor giggling humans, so he leaves. I'd have preferred it if they'd blown the little inconvenience to kingdom come, but since the show got axed before he could come back, I guess I can be magnanimous.

I'll just imagine him being blown into little pieces instead.

Comments

( 6 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
ladygretchen
Apr. 20th, 2011 02:54 am (UTC)
I now have to humbly take full responsibility for this since you have resorted to hurting yourself from watching the show. My apologies. I was the one who blogged on it first-and because of my Duffy love, I am more than willing to overlook nearly everything wrong with it. I still love the concept, but unfortunately the writers were not up to par with continuity or using the beautiful ocean to the full. As for Mark suddenly knowing things and behaviors, you made good points. But I was always under the impression that he is a 'superior' man, his mind is able to grasp concepts and facts and things quickly, which is why they made him Captain of the sub. Sure he moralizes, but I was guessing because his emotions are higher plane than us base humans. And he's just a good guy. LOL.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
This episode just cracks me up, though I thought the imp would have been more sinister myself, what Pat Morita did for a buck, I tell ya! I actually liked the Sub commander, poor man tried his best to act six, then cry because his whole crew was murdered, then go back to being six. I give him props. And CW got a chance to act silly. So that was cool. And even Mark got out of character to convince them to go to the Miniature Golf place. That was seriously adorable. lol.
swordznsorcery
Apr. 20th, 2011 06:08 pm (UTC)
Not your fault. :D I've always wanted to watch MFA. It was one of the shows that my older brother and sisters watched, and that I had been too young for, so I'd always heard about it. A water-breathing man was a must-see for me! Or so I thought...

For what it's worth though, no matter how dire the series gets, I cannot find any fault with Patrick Duffy. He's doing the best he can, all the way. He's a good lead. It's just everything else that's letting him down.
ladygretchen
Apr. 21st, 2011 07:04 am (UTC)
I like that word-dire. LOL. Well, it was what it was I suppose. If they could manage to remake it or something like it, it could still be a must-see, but Duffy is my man for it. Now I need to comment on the mermaid!
ladygretchen
Apr. 21st, 2011 07:07 am (UTC)
You know while it appears that Elizabeth had 'left' the show. I realize that they filmed all this out of sequence. On the 'Mike Douglas' Interview with Patrick and Belinda he says they were in the middle of filming an episode about a mermaid. So maybe she took time off to do something in between, maybe she was sick...oh well.
iceandstars
Apr. 20th, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC)
I was going to say that not even 'Lost In Space' would stoop this far. But then - Attack Of The Carrot Men. So.

After this episode, it's really no wonder that Elizabeth left and the show got cancelled. There was really no coming back.
swordznsorcery
Apr. 20th, 2011 06:04 pm (UTC)
Yes, but at the least with the evil carrot people we had Doctor Smith as the Queen of Celery. Also, it was well written. No matter how mad and stupid LIS got, it was always written well, and apparently made by people who cared. MFA just looks like it was thrown together in the lunch hour. I feel so sorry for Patrick Duffy!

I wouldn't be surprised if Elizabeth left after this episode, certainly. I don't know what the production order was, though. I only have the TX dates.
( 6 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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