4 September 2006 | FilmFlaneur
Have an Adam Adamant
I'm pleased to report that Adam Adamant remains largely as entertaining to its fans who remember it as when first viewed 40 years back. Adamant is the gracious man of action propelled through the marvels of suspended animation by a devious foe, Samurai Jack-like, to the future - an enigmatic event revisited in brief flash back by the programme most weeks. And best of all at the start of each episode, the larger than life mood is set splendidly by a memorable Goldfinger-like ballad, sung by a full throated Kathy Kirby.
The first episode sets up the key situation, and all the others I have seen thereafter take place in the 60's, with the now 99 year-old, but still youthful, adventurer taking on a different bunch of foes each week - often at the unoffficial behest of the British Government, who value his peculiar, off beat talent for sniffing out dire deeds.
Aiding Adamant in his efforts is a vaguely camp, risqué limerick loving, manservant Simms - permanently installed in his discreet flat hidden above a London car park - and Miss Jones (Juliet Harmer), a young, impulsive, typically swinging sixties bird, who inevitably gets into scrapes and precipitates the main crisis each week as she gets captured. Adamant himself is amusingly disdainful of modern mores and fashions - although he does allow himself the pleasure of driving a mini one notices. He also remains impeccably dressed in the style of a 1880's gentleman, complete with spats, waist coat and a sword stick (making up an odd if dashing, figure, never made an object of derision, even by his fiercest enemies).
Those who enjoy the tongue in cheek qualities which hallmarked The Avengers will find some similarities here, not just in the dashing, Steed-like turn out of the central character (and indeed it shares at least one of that programme's writers, Brian Clemens, at times) although it has to be admitted the better known show deserves its superior reputation. The Adamant script formula is fairly rigid by comparison, with the same set ups each week - including the prompt and slightly ludicrous appearance of Miss Jones as employee in every establishment which finds itself under suspicion - and it lacks the implicit sexual magneticism, larger budget, and surreal sophistication of the other show. Despite the best charms of Miss Jones, Adamant is above real flirtation (although he is a ladies' man in his own, genteel way) an element of his character which somewhat weakens a potentially interesting relationship.
More often than not Adam confronts each week a conspiracy of some sort against the general public or public finances, whether it originates from a bunch of crooked embalmers, religious fanatics, frock designers, casino operators, record companies and soap manufacturers - or even from those who, in one episode, plan to devastate Blackpool's golden mile, with exploding light bulbs no less.
The best moments of the series are usually in the weird Adamant household, with some low level bitching usually going on between frosty, ever loyal manservant and Miss Jones. Some episodes rise to very entertaining heights, notably the one set within a fashion house this while, as Adamant kills the odd henchman with his sword stick or exposes the workings of an evil escort agency, one is reminded that not all viewers would have been youngsters. But over all, its very atmospheric fun, marvelously preserved, very much of its period if you care for the time capsule experience.
The set includes a whimsical, but ultimately not very informative, commentary on one or two shows by the now elderly Adamant (Gerald Harper) and associates, as well as a documentary and stills from the missing episodes. No less a talent than Ridley Scott worked on one episode - very much a journeyman effort - of which not all exist. Those which do are largely from the first of two seasons. Fortunately each one stands alone, enjoyable in their own right.