Cancelled Before It Began: Irwin Allen’s The Man from the 25th Century

By | July 3, 2015

man-from-25th-centuryIrwin Allen is well known as the king of cheesy, campy sci fi television having given us of the 60’s shows Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, The Land of the Giants, and Time Tunnel.  But he hoped to have yet another sci fi show under his belt at the end of that decade which would have been titled The Man from the 25th Century.  A short pilot for this was produced which focused on a human who had been kidnapped by aliens five hundred years more advanced than us (meaning the title was a misnomer because he’s not from the future, just a more advanced civilization).  These aliens plan to invade Earth and they have trained this human as an advanced scout whose primary mission will be to take out an alien defense network (the “Radial Umbrella”) the humans are trying to put in place.  But he ends up having a last minute change of heart and turns against the aliens and decides to rejoin the human race and help in the fight against these invaders.  This show is sometimes referred to as a potential spin-off from Lost in Space, but only insofar as it would have appeared on that show as a backdoor pilot.  The lead character would have encountered the Robinsons and would have recounted the events of the pilot to explain how his battle against the aliens began.  How he would have met up with them then made it back to Earth without bringing them (and thus ending Lost in Space) was never revealed as the series and LiS episode was scrapped.  But a short presentation film was put together starring James Darren (formerly of Allen’s The Time Tunnel).  You can see it on YouTube at this link, and it is an interesting concept for a series.  Think of it as a darker twist on the Star Trek episode “Assignment: Earth” (also a backdoor pilot) where the aliens want to conquer the human race instead of help it.  It definitely had a grimmer tone and less camp than Irwin Allen’s other shows and could have developed into a decent series.  Of course Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space both started out with a more serious bent before descending into the bad camp that brought us lobster men, killer toys, space hillbillies, and walking, talking carrots, so there’s no telling how things would have played out if The Man from the 25th Century had gone to series.  Still, its a fun bit of 60’s cheesiness and a throwback to the best of Allen’s output.  Definitely worth checking out for fans of his work or anyone who wants a brief look at a 60’s sci fi show that could have been.

Aired: Never Aired

Starring: James Darren, John Napier, Ford Rainey, John Crawford

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