A.D.A.M. (1973) – Written by Donald Jonson and directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, this made for British tv item served as an episode of ITV Sunday Night Theater on April 8th, 1973. The story is part science fiction and part horror with the A.D.A.M. of the title being an acronym for a super-computer called an Automated Domestic Appliance Monitor.
A.D.A.M. (voiced by Anthony Jackson) is basically the Smart Home from hell and was designed by military engineer Roger Empson (Mark Jones) to run the household and care for his physically disabled wife Jean (Georgina Hale). The computer system turns sinister, acquires independent thought and “falls in love” with Jean.
By an odd coincidence, 1973 was also the year of publication for the novel Demon Seed, about a similar home-running computer system that gets the hots for the woman of the house. That novel was adapted into a movie in 1977.
When the emotionally unstable Jean tries telling her husband and her mother that she thinks A.D.A.M. is going rogue and has become obsessed with her they naturally are skeptical at first. After all, Jean was convinced that her dolls were capable of feeling love for her when she was a child, and she apparently still isn’t quite right in the head.
Georgina Hale’s performance is all over the place, and it’s tough to decide if Jean is mentally challenged or trapped in a child-like state. I’m sure her instability is meant to make viewers wonder if she’s simply imagining A.D.A.M’s behavior but she’s just distractingly irritating.
You can guess much of what happens from there. The rogue computer system becomes threateningly obsessive toward Jean and resentful of her husband in true Oedipal fashion. And needless to say the Empson house is conveniently isolated, leaving our lead character at the mercy of A.D.A.M. when hubby’s not at home. (There’s never a Butlerian Jihad around when ya need one!)
On the fun side, much of the “high-tech” nature of the way the computer runs the house is about as silly as a Jetsons episode, even though the fundamental premise of artificial intelligence and of computers that talk to us is solid. A big portrait of Adam from the Bible hangs on a wall in a not-so-subtle bit of business.
The downbeat finale sees A.D.A.M. turn deadly but it’s a surprisingly dull and unintentionally funny ride getting there. Hale often overacts hilariously and her performance makes it hard not to imagine this scenario being the premise for a sitcom instead. (“In tonight’s episode A.D.A.M. does everything he can to sabotage Jean and Roger’s plans for a romantic anniversary dinner!”)
Fortunately A.D.A.M. was produced to fill a mere 60 minute time slot so it’s over before you can really grow to hate it.
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