Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Phoenix (1982)

The Phoenix
Stars: Judson Scott, Richard Lynch, E. G. Marshall
5 episodes

In Short: Kung Fu meets Chariots of the Gods

Long ago, in a remote corner of the world, ancient astronauts landed from a distant planet with a gift for mankind: The Phoenix. For a thousand years, he has waited, suspended in time. Now, he is awakened to complete his mission. He searches for his partner, Mira, for only she knows his ultimate assignment on Earth. Dependent on the sun for his strength and survival, endowed with a superior intelligence, he has fully developed the powers of the human mind. Relentlessly pursued by those who seek to control him, he must stay free. The Phoenix.

I'm not sure what more I can say that that overlong, somewhat clunky opening voice-over to The Phoenix didn't cover but I'll give it a shot. The gift for mankind, The Phoenix, is also known as Bennu of the Golden Light, who has various special powers and, as noted above, is looking for his companion, Mira. The alien villain in all of this is Yago, who serves as one of Bennu's adversaries. Justin Preminger (played by Richard Lynch) is his human adversary, a government agent who's out to get Bennu, for reasons I'm not clear on. On the flipside, there's a scientist, Dr. Ward Frazier (E. G. Marshall), who is on his side. That's about the size of things. I suspect that not much of a story arc played out in the 90-minute pilot and four hour-long episodes but there you have it.

Of Note:
A pilot and four episodes aired. Four more episodes were written but never produced.
Scott best known acting role is probably Joachim, right hand man to Khan Noonien Singh, in the 1982 film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Observed: (1/2) In Search of Mira
Back in the day the TV show Kung Fu made a great impact on me. I haven't seen it for about forty years now and I'm not sure if I want to find out whether it holds up. Which is a bit beside the point, which is that there's a lot about The Phoenix that reminds me of Kung Fu.

I'll also say that while I try to embark on each of these reviews with an open mind, I wasn't expecting much from The Phoenix. As Wikipedia puts it, "The plot revolved around an ancient extraterrestrial named Bennu of the Golden Light, who is discovered in a sarcophagus in Peru and awakened in the 20th Century." Which was a description that didn't inspire much confidence. But in summary, I'd say that while the episode wasn't that bad it also wasn't anything to write home about.

The thrust of the thing is that Bennu finds himself in New Mexico, where he has run afoul of various baddies, including the aforementioned government agent who is out to get him. But he also comes across a kindly rancher who lives with his (young, single, attractive) daughter and they take him in for a time. Before it's all said and done Bennu and his benefactors have dealt with the baddies, with Bennu displaying some of his special alien powers along the way. For a time it looks like he might not escape the clutches of those who were out to get him but of course he does.

All of which played out pretty much like a standard good vs. bad adventure type plot with a bit of alien whimsy thrown in for good measure. Perhaps the most notable thing about Bennu is how he tended to resemble Qwai Chang Caine, David Carradine's character in Kung Fu. A character who mostly conducted himself like a pacifist, who was slow to anger (if he ever got there at all) and who only displayed his formidable ass whipping skills when circumstances became dire. Which seemed to be at least once per show, but I digress.

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