Through the many years of television, there have been thousands of TV shows created. Usually only the cream of the crop last for multiple seasons, and go on to live vividly in the memories of the people who enjoyed them. There are also the shows that captured people’s imaginations, and even though they didn’t last too long, are still widely remembered. Then there are those shows that only ran a few episodes or a short season or two, but were so good, they’ve not totally faded from memory yet. These are the shows I’m talking about. Shows that are worth seeking out if you’ve never watched them before. Here’s five of these shows that are nearly lost to time.
The Man From Atlantis
The Man From Atlantis only lasted for one season of 13 episodes, and ran on NBC during the 1977-1978 season. The series actually began as a series of 4 made for television movies, and based on the ratings success of these movies, a TV series was given the green light.
The Man From Atlantis starred Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing on Dallas) as an amnesiac man who is given the name of Mark Harris, and he’s believed to be the only surviving citizen of the lost civilization of Atlantis. He has extraordinary powers, such as the ability to breathe underwater, and endure extreme depth pressures. He also has superhuman strength, and his hands and feet are webbed. His weakness though is that his eyes are unusually sensitive to light.
Yesterdayland Archives | Man From Atlantis
Following his discovery, he is recruited by The Foundation of Oceanic Research, which is a government agency that conducts top-secret research and explores the depths of the ocean in a sophisticated submarine.
The Man From Atlantis was an early attempt at a superhero television show, coming along in the same time frame as Wonder Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman. It enjoyed a few brief runs in syndication, but episodes of this show haven’t seen the light of day in years.
Code Red ran in the 1981-1982 season on ABC, and starred Lorne Green as Battalion Fire Chief Joe Rorchek, who is in command of the “Station 1” fire department task force in Los Angeles. Besides fighting fires, the show also centered on Joe Rorcheck’s family, some of whom like elder sons Ted and Chris, serve as firemen under his direct command. Rorchek’s pre-teen adopted son Danny Blake serves as a member of the Firefighter’s Explorer Organization.
The show began as a television movie and morphed into a series. Given that the series ran on Sunday nights, most episodes ended with a lesson where a cast member addressed the audience with a message about fire safety or first aid.
Would it surprise you to know that the popular and long running hit series ER wasn’t the first medical show with that name on television? Would it also surprise you to learn that George Clooney starred in this original E/R show as well as the mega-hit most people think of?
The original E/R was a half hour sitcom series that ran on CBS in the 1984-1985 season. The show was set in the emergency room of the fictional Clark Street Hospital in Chicago, IL, and the stories were centered around the happenings in the ER and the lives of the doctors who work there.
The show was cancelled after 22 episodes for low ratings, mainly due to competition from The A-Team that aired at the same time on rival network NBC. Lifetime Television ran the show in reruns in the early 90’s as well.
Outlaws was an hour-long action-dram that ran on Saturday nights on CBS in the 1986-1987 season. It debuted as a 2-hour pilot movie, and was followed by 11 episodes. The initial story may have been a little hard to follow, as it featured a band of old west outlaws and the sheriff chasing them being struck by lightning and transported through time to present day Houston, TX where they all team up and start a detective agency.
The show featured the Double Eagle Detection Agency helping right wrongs, protect the downtrodden, and fight off drug lords and gang leaders, all while trying to adapt to modern times. Unfortunately, it was slotted on Saturday nights, which at the time was the lowest watched night of broadcast television. Even though the series pilot movie had very high ratings, future episodes drew fewer and fewer viewers until it was cancelled, and its final episode aired with virtually no promotion at all.
Jack of All Trades
Jack of All Trades was a half hour action-comedy series that ran for 2 seasons in 2000 and 2001, and was part of the Action Pack syndication package that also brought us Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and Xena: Warrior Princess. It starred Bruce Campbell as Jack Stiles, an American secret agent sent by President Jefferson to the French controlled island of Pulau-Pulau at the turn of the 19th century.
Heavily influenced by the 60’s show Wild Wild West, Jack of All Trades featured Jack using all sorts of hand crafted and unique weapons, and also featured a Bruce Campbell staple…the one-line joke. The ratings were steady during the first season, but dropped off sharply during the second, causing the show to be cancelled before a full second season could be finished.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip down memory lane, and I hope you come back next week for part 2 of this series on Nearly Forgotten TV Shows. Until then, let me know in the comments which of these shows you fondly remember, and what other shows should be remembered by more people?