Lucan first aired on the ABC Network as a mid-season replacement on May 22nd, 1977. This Pilot film was successful and was picked up for a series. But Lucan was constantly put on hiatus and bounced between Monday and Tuesday nights. This sadly never allowed the series to develop a true audience or fan following. According to one magazine source, the show was only meant to be a mini-series. That would’ve been fine, and preferable, since the final episode doesn’t offer closure. It’s a sure thing Lucan was meant to continue.
In mid-season, the series added a fugitive spin to the plot and Lucan was hunted for a crime and death he didn’t commit. The series then took even more cues from The Incredible Hulk, and both shows were inspired by two other classics – The Fugitive (1963) and Kung Fu. (1972)
Lucan was a semi-anthology series since the titular character didn’t stay in the same place for long. Lucan boasted an impressive array of guest-stars – Stockard Channing and Ned Beatty played a father and daughter in the Pilot, and familiar TV actors such as Don Gordon (Prentiss), John Randolph (Dr. Hoagland), Robert Reed, Regis Philbin, Leslie Nielsen, Celeste Holm, and Stephanie Zimbalist appeared.
Lucan aired during the bourgeoning superhero genre of television – The Six Million dollar man, Bionic Woman, Man From Atlantis, The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Spiderman, Isis, Shaazam etc…all competed on the airwaves with varying degrees of success during the 1970’s.
In 1978, Superman: The Movie turned the superhero genre on its ear and everything since has attempted to live up and surpass its greatness in both special effects and storytelling.
Lucan, the character, isn’t Superman, he doesn’t wear a red cape and red underwear. He prefers moccasins, jeans, and a brown leather jacket. He’s fairly honest about his identity. He sees no reason to lie. Lucan is reminiscent of Tarzan for his “wild child” ways, David/Bruce Banner from The Incredible Hulk for his good Samaritan nature, and Mark Harris from Man From Atlantis for his simple but wise worldview based off nature. He also depicts shades of Spiderman – A young college man that gets a “wolf” sense when there’s trouble. And Wolverine – he can revert to wolfish behavior when cornered or protecting someone.
Perhaps above all inspirations, Lucan resembles a twentieth Century, American version of Mowgli, a bright-eyed and perceptive young Indian boy raised by animals in the wild from Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel, The Jungle Book.