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.
The show was based loosely on the first chapter of science fiction novelist James E. Gunn's 1962 novel The Immortals and starred Christopher George (who had previously starred in another ABC series -- The Rat Patrol) as Ben Richards, a test car driver who has a rare blood condition that makes him immune from everything -- sickness, diseases, poison, and old age. A transfusion passes those immunities on to the recipient as well, but the effect of a transfusion is only temporary.
Old billionaires will pay anything to stay alive, and two in particular -- Jordan Braddock in the pilot movie and in the episode "To the Gods Alone" and Arthur Maitland for the remainder of the series -- have no problem spending whatever it takes to capture Ben so they can get a transfusion whenever the effects of Ben's miraculous blood wears off. Maitland's chief of hunting down Ben Richards is Fletcher (his first name is never given), played exceptionally by Don Knight. Fletcher enjoys the hunt so much it appears that the money he will make is almost an afterthought. He is brutally cold and single-minded.
The show was not unlike the emmensely popular David Jansen series The Fugitive, in that Ben was always on the run, always looking over his shoulder for a sign of Fletcher, and never really certain of who he can trust. Unfortunately, ABC pulled the plug before the series had a chance to develop.
The Immortal was not typical science fiction. There were no spaceships, no monsters from other planets, and no intergallactic battles. The thing that made Ben special -- his blood -- was never shown. In an era of 2001, Star Trek, and Irwin Allen's great works (Lost in Space, Land of the Giants, The Time Tunnel), that may have been the show's undoing. Still, the Sci-Fi Channel showed the series in its entirity, allowing a new generation to discover this special show that ABC allowed to die too quickly.
Review posted on Monday, October 9th 2006 at 3:24 pm