Sunday, October 11, 2009

From the Dust Bin: Genesis II (TV)

Back on September 23, I made a blatant request for help in locating DVD's of a few 1970's era sci-fi pilots that I hadn't seen in years. One of the nice folks who follow the ravings that I post here in the Catacombs, stepped up and sent me a disk with AVI files for damn near all of the ones that I was looking for.

Thanks to Jim Shelley, my own personal October film festival got a a little bit brighter. Jim is a net developer and web designer from my own home state. You should all go over to Jim's blog [here] and check out all of the cool comics-related stuff that he regularly features there.

Since I plan on profiling all five of the movies that Jim sent, let's get started with the first of three attempts by the late Gene Roddenberry to launch a new science fiction franchise built around the same basic premise. Created and written by Roddenberry in 1973, Genesis II was made for the CBS television network; but executives turned it down in favor of the Planet of the Apes series, thinking that the network could have only one science fiction show on its schedule at a time. Those guys would probably have never made it these days either, but it turned out to be pretty good 70's-era science fiction.

Scientist Dylan Hunt (Alex Cord; above left) places himself into suspended animation, for what is intended to be a few days, in a remote Carlsbad Defense Command cavern in 1979 to research the new technique before extending the process to Earth’s astronaut program. However the cavern is buried during an earthquake and Dylan isn't recovered until the year 2133. During the 154 years he spends asleep, war has broken out forcing the world's scientists into rebellion against the military. Developed into a society called Pax their goal is to preserve the best of mankind’s achievements. However upon his revival, Hunt meets the mutant known as Lyra-a (Mariette Hartley), whose people, the Tyranians plan to become rulers of the slowly recovering world. Dylan is tricked by Lyra-a in order to use his knowledge of the past to repair their failing nuclear generator and bring their plans to fruition. A Pax team is dispatched, via underground sub-shuttle tube (pictured; above center), to rescue Dylan Hunt or stop him from destroying the future.

Veteran character actors Ted Cassidy, Percy Rodrigues, Titos Vandis, Harvey Jason, Majel Barrett and Lynne Marta are also featured. The sets, special effects and costuming are fairly standard for the decade in which this telefilm originally aired, and the acting particularly by Cord & Hartley, is very good. The makings for a decent genre series are definitely present, and kudos to Roddenberry for trying to forge a show out of this idea more than once. Considering that Planet of the Apes failed to grab an audience, its perhaps unlikely that Genesis II would have fared any better, but I've always like this pilot and wished that it had been given a full seasons chance anyway.

Next up we'll take a look at the second pilot effort and the actor who eventually took over the role of Dylan Hunt in a more action-oriented outing the following year.


Jim Shelley said...

Excellent review - Glad you are putting the movies to such good use!

Booksteve said...

I'v read where Alex Cord could be an extremely difficult actor and that he had some pretty odd beliefs but I enjoy his intense performance here.