Lucan first aired as an ABC mid-season replacement on May 22nd, 1977 with a successful Pilot film. In a strange move, Lucan was constantly 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, but the final episode doesn’t offer closure, so 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. Thus, the series took even more cues from The Incredible Hulk, and both shows were inspired by two other classic and wildly popular shows – The Fugitive (1963) and Kung Fu.
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 as a love interest 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 afterward in movies and television had to live up to its greatness in both special effects and storytelling.
Lucan is not Superman, he doesn’t wear a red cape and red underwear, he prefers moccasins and a brown leather jacket. He is fairly honest about his identity. Lucan is reminiscent of Tarzan, David/Bruce Banner from The Incredible Hulk, and Mark Harris from Man From Atlantis, with shades of Spiderman and Wolverine tossed in.
Perhaps above all inspirations, Lucan resembles a twentieth Century, American version of Mowgli, a young Indian boy raised by animals in the wild from Rudyard Kipling’s novel, The Jungle Book.