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"It appears that 1966 has a great deal of capacity for a man of my talents."
Adam Adamant Lives! was the BBC's answer to The Avengers, but less successful. Produced in black and white, it ran for two seasons from 1966 to 1967. Repeats have been rare, but BBC 4 now shows the occasional episode. All of the surviving episodes were released on DVD in 2006, with script PDFs for the missing ones.
In the pilot, the eponymous Edwardian gentleman adventurer (played by Gerald Harper) was betrayed by his fiancee Louise and frozen in a block of ice by his nemesis The Face. 64 years later he was dug up by some workmen and thawed out, not much the worse for wear but very disoriented. Georgina Jones (Juliet Harmer), a swinging chick and dedicated Adamant fan, found him wandering around central London and took him home. Saving her from a murderous protection racket was his first step in resuming his adventuring career.
Subsequent episodes established more of a formula. Either Adam or Georgina would stumble upon a plot, usually involving some technofantasy element (clothes that kill their wearers, washing powder with an addictive scent, etc.). Adam would forbid Georgina to investigate, but she would anyway. Then he would have to rescue her as well as solving the case. In the better stories they would solve it together. In episode 2 Adam employed a former seaside entertainer Willaim Simms (Jack May) as a valet. One of the show's highlights was the constant bickering between Simms and Georgina.
There was never much romance between the two leads. Georgina hero-worshipped Adam to the point of stalking him (in one episode she followed him all the way to Japan and disguised herself as a geisha to get near him) but his attitude to her was always more paternal. He would, however, frequently be attracted to female villains. His blind spot was that he could never believe a woman to be capable of evil, no matter how many evil women he met.
Adam Adamant Lives! provides examples of:
- A God Am I
- Arch Enemy: The Face.
- As the Good Book Says...
- Celibate Hero: Between his code of chivalry and a bad romantic past, Adam consistantly avoids the advances women, and the few times he is interested in someone they are working for the villain in the episode.
- Combat Pragmatist: For a gentleman with a high moral code in most things, Adam can be quite the dirty fighter, from trashcan lids to chairs, from kicking a man when he's down to hitting a woman (only if she is directly about to kill someone else), he'll usually take a villain and his or her mooks down by whatever means possible.
- Cool Car: Semi-averted. Adam drives a Mini Cooper S, a fairly humdrum compact car, but with an expensively remodelled interior.
- Crucified Hero Shot
- Cultured Badass
- Deadly Dodging
- Deadpan Snarker: Adam's valet Simms, usually toward Georgina.
- Decoy Damsel: Often used successfully against Adam, and is perhaps his only Achilles Heel
- Dissonant Laughter: Adam often does this in the midst of a fight.
- Duel to the Death: With foils in "The Terribly Happy Embalmers", with a fellow Sword Cane carrier in "Sing a Song of Murder", and with fists in "Beauty is an Ugly Word".
- Faked Rip Van Winkle: Done in reverse in the episode "A Slight Case Of Reincarnation"
- Fangirl: Georgina Jones grew up on stories of Adam and constantly stalks him.
- Femme Fatale: Initially, Louise with The Face. Also applies to almost all of the women Adam meets in the sixties, with the exception of Georgina. His belief in the purity of womanhood, despite Louise's betrayal, always allows them to get the better of him.
- Fictional Counterpart: One episode had a club with girls with Playboy Bunny-like outfits (but trimmed with feathers instead of ears and a tail).
- Fish Out of Temporal Water
- Forgot About His Powers: Adam's intelligence quotient, perception, and many of his skills seem to frequently increase or decrease as the plot demands; something he didn't fall for in a previous episode, he falls for in another, especially when it comes to suspecting women.
- Gentleman Adventurer
- Gentleman Snarker
- Human Popsicle: the main concept. Later we discover that The Face had himself frozen after Adam.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Simms, as far as Georgina is concerned.
- May Contain Evil: "The Sweet Smell of Disaster".
- Missing Episode: most of the second season and part of the first were lost in a BBC archive purge.
- More Deadly Than the Male: The women tend to be far more ruthless than the men in the series.
- Once an Episode: In most of the first series episodes, whenever Adam is knocked out we see a montage of his original defeat and hear Louise saying "So clever, yet so vulnerable... so vulnerable..."
- Many episodes also include a scene where Simms composes a limerick by way of comment on the situation (all of which were written by Dick Vosburgh).
- Religion of Evil: "The Village of Evil".
- Sword Cane: Adam's trademark weapon.
- Tear Jerker: In "Black Echo", when Adam finally learns the truth about Louise's fate. (Unfortunately, although this episode survives it has the worst sound and picture quality.)
- The Sixties
- Town with a Dark Secret: "The Village of Evil".
- Utopia Justifies the Means
- Values Dissonance: Part of the appeal of the show is that, unlike other characters who have been transported to the future, Adam dislikes the 60s and never fully adjusts to it.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Charity, Faith, and Hope in "The League of Uncharitable Ladies"