LOST TV WEEK: The Phoenix (1981)

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’s 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 trek for 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.

In 1981, a young Sam (Becca was just a glimmer at this point) was obsessed was science fiction, ancient aliens and television. This TV movie — and the four episodes that followed — were repeatedly discussed in the Panico household as a show that seemed to have such promise and then suddenly just disappeared.

Judson Scott (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) played Bennu, an ancient astronaut who is awakened from suspended animation within an Incan pyramid. He’s constantly on the run, as the government wants to either control or cut him up (they’re led by Richard Lynch from Bad Dreams).

In the movie, he acquires a love interest who is killed as a result of his escape. The whole movie is pretty dark, actually, setting Bennu up as someone above human emotion and morality who learns how important life on our planet is. His home planet is called Aurica in the movie, but Eidebran for the series.

He has plenty of powers, too. Physical levitation, telepathy, astral projection, precognition, clairvoyance and telekinesis, which are all helped by his Phoenix Amulet and its ability to draw use solar energy.

Beyond Richard Lynch’s Justin Preminger antagonist, Bennu must also contend with another alien named Yago. Just like our hero uses the sun, he uses our moon. It’s hinted that Lucifer and Dracula are both fictionalized versions of this villain, who can deafen with his Bells of Thon and has a musical instrument named the Black Moonball that allows him to teleport or change his appearance. Even more interesting to me, at least, is that his original name in the show was to be Aiwaz, the angel who read The Book of the Law to Crowley!

Bennu isn’t all alone, though. He’s helped by Dr. Ward Frazier (E.G. Marshall, Creepshow) and spends the series searching for his mate, Mira (Sheila Frazier, Super Fly).

The show was created by Anthony Lawrence, who wrote several Elvis movies and created the TV series The Sixth Sense that was often syndicated along with Night Gallery. And get this, a few of the episodes were directed by Douglas Hickox (Theater of Blood)!

There’s never been an actual release of this series, but you can find it on iOffer and other grey market sites.

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