Revisit: The Second Hundred Years

Tor.com's recent review of The Curiosity, a literary novel by Stephen P. Kiernan, reminded me of an old television sitcom from the 1960's that had a similar starting premise, The Second Hundred Years.

image from ctva.biz
TSHY starred Monte Markham in a dual role, both as Luke, an Alaskan Gold Rush prospector buried and frozen in a 1900 avalanche, only to be found and revived in 1967, and his nearly-identical grandson Ken, an uptight banker. Luke's own son Edwin was played by senior-citizen actor Arthur O'Connell; at the start of the series Edwin is considering moving to a retirement home until Luke is discovered.

I recall that Markham was a "bright" actor, with charisma enough to play the outgoing Luke and acting chops enough to play the restrained Ken. Arthur O'Connell was a well-regarded character actor, who brought a respectable amount of dignity to a comedic role. The scripts were silly but fun, and occasionally got a little bit deeper into how what was essentially time-traveling would affect someone from the past, and how present-day people would be affected by him in turn.

(A few years after this show, Markham's career took a big hit when, in a spectacular example of miscasting, he was cast as the title character in The New Adventures of Perry Mason. This was not that many years after the original Perry Mason series had ended, and the American public still identified the character of Mason with Raymond Burr's slow-moving, grim-faced portrayal. The slim, energetic Markham's presentation flopped big-time, badly enough that the series is still remembered as one of the worst remakes ever. Markham rarely played lead roles again, though he appeared in character roles fairly frequently.)

TSHY only lasted one season, despite its two stand-out actors. With proper casting, I could see this one being revived for a modern-day version.

The pilot episode can be seen (in 3 parts) on YouTube. Not available on Netflix, or much anywhere else, alas. (There's one online DVD vendor that claims to have the full season available, but there have been a significant amount of complaints about undelivered orders and lack of response.)

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