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The Immortal (1970)

The Immortal (1970)


THE PREMISE:

Ben Richards is a man with a job he loves and a girl he loves. He's just an average guy -- except for one thing. His O negative blood has the unique quality to keep him free from every disease, and from aging. "You're practically immortal," the doctor tells him.

Ben believes in helping people. He offers to tell the billionaire who was brought back from the brink of death by a transfusion about his blood so research can be conducted. The physician protests Ben's offer because the doctor has seen the lengths that people -- especially people with money -- will go to in order to squeeze another day of life out of their existence. Despite the warning, Ben meets the billionaire, and is promptly caged to be the personal fountain of youth for the man. Ben escapes and is forced to go on the run, leaving behind his girlfriend and his job in order to stay out the clutches of those who hunt him. He's just one man, and the man who leads the hunt -- Fletcher -- has unlimited resources and money thanks to the billionaire he works for.

"I gotta live free," Ben declares, but can he remain free with the odds against him? And, can he find his biological brother, who was adopted by another family, to warn him about those who would cage them for their selfish purposes?

THE CHARACTERS:

Ben Richards has strange qualities in the hemoglobin of his blood that keeps him from aging, from getting diseases, or even from contracting a head cold. He worked as a test driver for a subsidiary of the vast empire owned by the billionaire who receives a regeneration of his body through a transfusion of Ben's blood. The transfusion's effects, however, are only temporary. He is kept on the run with the hired hunters always seemingly one step behind him (or, in a few cases, one step ahead of him). He was adopted, so he doesn't know if his biologic parents are still alive and have this same gift. He knows he has a brother, Jason, who might likewise be blessed with the miraculous blood properties. Ben doesn't mind helping people along the way, but he's always looking over his shoulder for the men who would imprison him while he seeks to find his brother, who was adopted by another family, before Fletcher does.

Fletcher is in charge of tracking Ben Richards down and putting him in custody of his billionaire boss so Ben can be tapped for a pint of his unique blood any time necessary. He also has to try to find Jason Richards and lure him into a trap before he can be warned about Maitland's true intentions. Fletcher's temper is short, his funds are unlimited thanks to his boss, and his scruples are nonexistent. He thinks nothing of injuring someone, or even allowing someone to be killed in order to capture his prey.

Arthur Maitland is the billionaire who wants Ben Richards for his own personal blood bank. Maitland has a number of companies, some with names (such as the "National Research Institute") that ostensibly sound as though Maitland seeks to serve all of humanity. In truth, he is a power-hungry man who will spend his entire fortune in order to control Ben Richards and Ben's brother permanently.

Jordan Braddock, Fletcher's first employer, was also the first man to encounter Ben's special blood. Injured in a plane crash, a transfusion of Ben's blood not only healed his crash injuries but also cured the diseases he suffered from. As the effects of Ben's blood wore off, he set about a frantic search for Ben in hopes of a transfusion to return him from death's door one more time.

THE ACTORS:

Christopher George once considered becoming a priest in the Greek Orthodox church. He became an actor instead, appearing as a guest star in a number of series before starring in ABC's World War II drama The Rat Patrol. He appeared in a number of movies as well, including three John Wayne classics, El Dorado, Chisum, and The Shootest. His wife, Lynda Day George, appeared in the "Man on a Punched Card" episode of The Immortal. George was one of the first celebrities to pose fully nude in Playgirl magazine (in 1975). His niece is Vannah White of Wheel of Fortune fame. Chris George died of a heart attack on November 22, 1983.

Don Knight was a gifted British actor who brilliantly portrayed the heartless man chasing after Ben. He had a long and varied acting career, but The Immortal was, sadly, his only starring role, even though his name inexplicably never appeared in the opening credits (only listed as "guest star" in the closing credits). He died from a stroke on August 18, 1997. Knight's son has a web site dedicated to his father's career.

David Brian played Maitland, a man talked about more than seen in the series. He did appear in two episodes ("Sylvia" and "Reflections on a Lost Tomorrow"). He died in 1993 after a career that spanned over 40 years in acting.

Barry Sullivan was Jordan Braddock, Ben's former employer. He appeared in the pilot movie and in one episode ("To the Gods Alone"). He first appeared in the 1943 film The Woman of the Town, going on to star in near three dozen films as well as over 100 television programs. Sullivan died June 6, 1994 of a respiratory ailment. His daughter, Jenny Sullivan, is also an actor (best known for appearing in V) and a writer.

THE HISTORY:

As a series, The Immortal never stood a chance. It aired on ABC, but was constantly being pre-empted for other shows. The series that held great promise, with a Fugitive-like plot, survived only a pilot movie (an ABC Movie of the Week) and 15 episodes before being canceled.

THE LEGACY:

The Immortal, like other series with short runs, managed to build a cult following over the years. Thanks to reruns that aired on the Sci-Fi Channel in the late 1990s, a new generation was introduced to this unique drama.

  • Currently 9/10
9/10 (2 Votes cast)


Episode Info

Final: 1x15 -- Brother's Keeper (Jan/14/1971)


Ben has found a man named Jason Richards. The man also grew up in an orphanage, but he cannot remember the details due to a head injury. Unfortunately, Fletcher has also found the man and offers him $20,000 to spend six months at the National Research Institute. Jason desperately needs the money, but what if he truly is Ben's brother and has the same unique blood?
Cast
Christopher George (1)Christopher George (1)
As Ben Richards
Don KnightDon Knight
As Fletcher

Reviews

FourWalls

Reviews: 2
An Underappreciated Show That Was Never Given a Ch...Rating: 3 likes, 0 dislikes

When The Immortal first appeared on ABC, it was a 90-minute Tuesday Movie of the Week. The network decided to make a series based on the movie, which premiered in September 1970. The series lasted only 15 episodes, never getting an opportunity to develop an audience. Ironically, after over 35 years, the show does still have a cult following that remembers it fondly. Read more

Review posted on Monday, October 9th 2006 at 3:24 pm

1 review available
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Crew

Creator: Robert Specht
Producer: Howie Horwitz
Based On The Works Of: James Gunn (1)

View full crew list
Recurring Guests

Carol Lynley as Sylvia Cartwright (2 eps)
Barry Sullivan as Jordan Braddock (2 eps)
David Brian as Arthur Maitland (2 eps)
Frank Orsatti as Thug #2 (2 eps)
Bill Burton as Thug #3 (2 eps)

View All Recurring Guests

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