With Doctor Who cancelled, Adam Adamant Lives! was the BBC's primary family telefantasy series of the late sixties. It attracted a lot of writers, directors, etc. who might otherwise have worked on DW. And they brought some ideas with them that would have been used in DW instead if it had survived.
Season three of AAL saw the introduction of some definite sf/fantasy elements into the series, starting with "The Abominable Snowmen" about Adam and his companions helping the army fight robot Yetis in the London Underground. This story, a two parter, had a lengthy flashback sequence to Adam's first encounter to with the Yetis in a Tibetan monastery decades earlier.
Later in the season, he prevented a seaweed creature from taking over a gas refinery, and be reunited with the army to stop a Electroman invasion. (The Electromen were AAL's first proper alien race, and fans loved the shots of them marching down the steps by St. Paul's Cathedral. They quickly became a cult favourite and were brought back again in later stories.)
Despite this, there were still many traditional Adam Adamant Lives! stories throughout the season, where Adam fought the usual mix of master criminals, mad scientists and eccentric villains. Indeed, you could even argue that the Electromen's ally Tobias Vaughn, head of International Cybermatics, fits into this category.
However, the new material did attract more fans, so the new script editor Barry Letts responded by giving the show a radical revamp for season four. With the sixties giving way to the seventies, production switched to colour, there were more two and three-part stories alongside the single episodes. More importantly this season also saw another increase in the sf/fantasy content, including monsters such as Plastechs, Silurians, alien ambassadors and Primords.
Using traditional bad-guy characters in these science-fantasy stories, such as Professor Stahlmann in "Inferno", helped bridge the gap between the two styles. "Inferno" itself, however, is best remembered for the sequence where Adam is knocked out by a Primord and dreams he's in a strange, parallel universe where his companions Miss Georgina Jones and Simms don't know him and are working with Stahlman rather than against him. What could have been a clumsy cliché was made to work by the script emphasising the hero's sense of alienation and loneliness. Letts felt this had been missing from the character, who had been starting to settle into modern life too easily.
A further attempt at returning the character to his roots happened when season five took the unusual step of brining back Adam's arch-nemesis The Face as a recurring villain in every story, albeit as an ally of various invading aliens.Although this did lead to a certain feeling of repetition (especially in the second half of the season) this was more than made up for by the variety of monsters, including old favourites such as the Plastechs, as well as new creations like the Mind Machine and the Axons. There were some great set-piece moments, such as when the Face, calling himself "Revd. Facies" (from the Latin for Face) summons Satan himself in "The Daevils".
At the end of the season six opener, "Day of the Electromen", Adam acquired a portable time machine from time-travelling guerillas. It would become a running theme for the rest of the season, as he tried to fix it to return him to his own time. One failed experiment took him and his companion Miss Jones to the far future and the planet Peladon.
The Face also made two appearances in this season, escaping from prison with the help of survivors from Atlantis in "The Sea Demons"; then stealing Adam's time machine in "The Underwater Menace" to help his Atlantean allies change history by preventing the sinking of Atlantis in the first place. This is the story where the Face, disguised as a Greek professor, famously cries out "Nozink in ze vorld can shtop me now!" Of course, Adam and his companions did.
There were more time travel gimmicks in "The Three Adam Adamants", the first story of season 7. Adam was still trying to get the guerilla's time machine to send him back to Edwardian times, but accidentally summoned himself as a much younger and older man (played by Ian Marter and William Hartnell) to the present instead. Together with Simms and Miss Jones, they all were transported to the graveyard realm of an evil, godlike Death figure. The younger Adam sacrificed himself, allowing Death to kill him. In doing so he created a paradox, since the two older Adams hadn't died that way. Death's absolute power over life and, well, death had been broken, and his realm shattered.
This story is best remembered for the fanfiction it inspired, especially crossovers with an obscure old series call Doctor Who. In particular, fanzines were full of tales that Dr. Who himself was Adam as an old man, and that his Tardis was an enhanced version of Adam's handheld time machine.
There's no doubt that this story were popular with the fans, as was another story this season which had the Face teaming up with the Electromen to spread war across the galaxy. However, the stars Gerald Harper and Juliet Harmer were concerned that this was no longer the show they had originally agreed to work for, and was now just relying on gimmicks. They wanted to leave. And so in the season finale, Adam and Gerorgina married, and left to explore the Amazon together.
Smith & Simms
But the BBC weren't going to let a successful franchise slip out of their hands so easily. The commissioned a spin-off series, focussing on Adam's other companion and butler, Simms, who had been left behind in England. In theory, this could have worked, but unfortunately, the decision was made to team him up with a feisty journalist called Sarah Jane Smith - an independent character who really didn't need a butler tagging along after her as she investigated time warriors, dinosaurs and giant spiders. The pair of them just never had the same chemistry as Adam and Miss Jones. The ratings dropped, and Smith & Simms wasn't renewed for a second season.