Reviews: Gene Roddenberry’s ‘Genesis II’ & ‘Planet Earth’ | TrekMovie.com
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Reviews: Gene Roddenberry’s ‘Genesis II’ & ‘Planet Earth’ October 23, 2009

by Jeff Bond , Filed under: DVD/Blu-ray,Review,Sci-Fi,TOS , trackback

In the 1970s, between the end of Star Trek The Original series and the first Star Trek feature film, Gene Roddenberry developed a number of sci-fi TV pilots, which aired as TV movies, but never made it to series. Now Warner Brothers has made Genesis II and Planet Earth available via their video-on-demand DVD program. See below for our thorough review of both titles.

 

REVIEW: Roddenberry’s Lost 70s Pilots

In the early seventies with studios and the media just beginning to see the success of the original Star Trek in syndication, Gene Roddenberry’s reputation as the creator of a low-rated, cancelled television series was being rethought, and the producer found himself attaining celebrity status at burgeoning Star Trek conventions across the country. Roddenberry and his ideas were once again marketable and he began a series of attempts to get a new science fiction series on network television. The first two projects strangely followed a similar path to the original Star Trek—two pilots for what was essentially the same series about humanity picking up the pieces of civilization in the aftermath of nuclear war, and a Buck Rogers-like character put in suspended animation in the 20th century only to awaken and eventually become a leader in this strange new world.

Genesis II

Genesis II, directed by John Lewelyn Moxey and written and produced by Roddenberry, was the first stab at this idea. Alex Cord stars as Dylan Hunt, who’s using himself as a human guinea pig in experiments in suspended animation being conducted deep underground in Carlsbad Caverns when an earthquake cuts him off from his staff. Hunt is awakened in the year 2133 by three citizens of Pax, a hidden underground society. The rescuers are Isaac Kimbridge (Percy Rodriguez), one of the high council members of Pax, Harper-Smythe (Lynne Marta), a high-spirited young woman, and Lyra-a (Mariette Hartley), a mutant “Tyranian” who secretly warns Hunt that Pax is an oppressive, warlike society holding him hostage. Eventually Lyra-a helps Hunt escape to Tyrania, but as its name implies, Lyra-a’s home city is a tyranny of super strong (they have twin circulatory systems as indicated by Lyra-a’s double navel) but arrogant and hedonistic mutants who rule a slave underclass with cylindrical “stim” weapons that give pain or pleasure through hypersonic waves. Hunt eventually encounters agents from Pax infiltrating Tyrania, among them the hulking Isiah (Ted Cassidy), a powerful white Comanche, and Singh (Harvey Jason), an intellectual. As they explain, Pax too is exactly what it sounds like—a society of peace devoted to preserving the best cultural elements of the past. Hunt helps the Pax team foment a revolution among the oppressed Tyranian “helpers” and helps the Pax team escape, but at the last minute remains behind to help the disgraced Lyra-a by repairing Tyrania’s faltering nuclear power station. Eventually he returns to Pax and reveals that he has set the nuclear reactor to explode in order to prevent the Tyranians from using nuclear missile technology against Pax.


Pax team finds Hunt

Genesis II was released with some fanfare in 1973, with coverage in TV Guide and national newspapers, mostly enthusiastic about Roddenberry’s return to television and the Star Trek-like elements of Genesis II. Mariette Hartley’s double-naveled amazon mutant got the lion’s share of the coverage, with Roddenberry reportedly declaring that he gave the character two navels to make up for the fact that network censors didn’t allow him to show navels on Star Trek (if such a rule existed, Roddenberry got around it well before Genesis II). The pilot did feature a lot of Trek staples: a diverse cast of characters, notions of sexual and political equality placed alongside visions of cruel oppression, lots of sexual innuendo, women (and men) in revealing costumes, interesting gadgetry (an impressive “sub shuttle” system linking the world through underground tunnels, the collapsible stim torture devices and Pax stun guns that fired miniature darts). The idea was to create an earthbound (and thus relatable and easily filmable) locale for a series that would allow for the Trek concept of outlandish “alien” societies, but this time they would be even more recognizable offshoots of our own social trends.


Lyra-a has two navels

Like Roddenberry’s first Star Trek pilot, “The Cage,” Genesis II is often static and intellectual. The show ran in a 90-minute time slot and is 74 minutes long, but there’s practically no action for the first 40 minutes, almost half the show’s running time. Alex Cord also paralleled Jeffrey Hunter from “The Cage” as a dark, intriguing but somewhat cold potential leading man. Cord was a former rodeo rider with a lot of initial experience in Westerns, including some spaghetti westerns midway through his career—this stood him in good stead in Genesis II’s horse riding scenes. But his thick, wavy hair, bristling mustache and somewhat cold-blooded line delivery gave him an oddly creepy, seventies porn star quality. This actually helps some of the drama in the pilot by making Hunt unpredictable and hard to read, especially late in the game when it seems he may be betraying his saviors from Pax.


Cord as Hunt, wielding Pax dart gun

Several veterans from Star Trek make appearances in Genesis II, notably Percy Rodriguez (Commodore Stone from “Court Martial”), Majel Barrett (as a Pax elder), Mariette Hartley from “All Our Yesterdays” and Ted Cassidy from “What Are Little Girls Made of?” Hartley actually makes the strongest impression, and not just because of her fetishized costumes and the trademark all-American beauty that had made her a popular TV guest star since the sixties. Lyra-a is easily the most interesting character in the story, a woman who infiltrates Pax society, plies Hunt with lies about his rescuers, then quickly and believably transitions from an earnest ally to a dangerous and cruel Tyranian leader. Hartley’s best moment might be her bursting into a cavern of terrified “helpers” and shouting an order for obedience, her face flushed with a righteous fury we haven’t seen in her character until this moment. Of course Lyra-a is crippled by the one vulnerability so many Star Trek sirens were unable to overcome: their weakness for the show’s leading man. If anything
Genesis II’s storyline gets redundant with one too many scenes of Lyra-a rescuing Hunt from the Tyranian leaders only to beg him to help her standing by repairing their power source.


You must promise not to kill again

The program has other problems too. As his co-producer on his first television program since Star Trek, Roddenberry hired Paul Rapp, whose previous work consists mostly of Roger Corman cheapies. That shows in the look of the production, which is wildly uneven and often downright unattractive. Most of the money seems to have gone into the sub shuttle vehicle station and miniature effects (Genesis II’s version of Star Trek’s transporter), which are quite convincing and interesting. There’s a nice matte painting of Tyrania and the Tyranian council sets are impressive, but the mix of location work and small, low budget set pieces frequently gives the show a chintzy look (the Pax council chamber is particularly cramped and disappointing), especially in its frequent underground scenes both in Pax and Tyrania.


Sub shuttle station

Looking back on the program without the benefit of nostalgia you’ll find a playground of unintentional laughs. The arch performances of the Tyranian elders in their wigs and Flesh Gordon peek-a-boo outfits are the stuff of Saturday Night Live skits—sometimes Genesis II comes off as a parody of dated, socially aware sci fi drama. It doesn’t help that Leon Haskins from Hogan’s Heroes and the preacher from Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles make appearances. Perhaps worst of all is a collection of horrendous Shirley Temple wigs for the Tyranian “helpers” that make every one of these characters we’re supposed to pity look ridiculous. Nevertheless Genesis II got a Hugo award nomination for best dramatic presentation and produced some initial excitement, but did not lead to a series commitment from CBS—they instead went for Planet of the Apes, which only lasted one season. Ironically Genesis II (and the later Planet Earth) owes more than a little to
Planet of the Apes, with its idea of a 20th century man flung forward in time to an “upside down” post-apocalyptic civilization.


Insert porn title here

Genesis II, like many TV pilots and TV movies from the seventies, never got an official home video or DVD release and apart from some syndicated TV airings has been little seen since its 1973 debut. Until now fans have had to contend with bootleg videos and DVDs that are of extremely poor quality, most looking like multi-generation copies of videotapes of broadcasts of the movie. While the Warner Archive DVD is minimal in terms of features and packaging, the picture quality, detail and color balance is excellent, with the pilot looking every bit as good as it did during its original broadcast. Since purchasers buy these directly online I suppose the box art doesn’t matter all that much but the Genesis II cover art is confounding— it seems to feature two unidentified female background players and makes the pilot look like some seventies mother/daughter after school special.


Tyrania matte painting

Planet Earth

With the large, standing sub shuttle set from Genesis II still intact, Roddenberry attempted to pitch the series concept to ABC and put together a second pilot. In many ways Planet Earth is a huge improvement on Genesis II, even though the basic plotline of the first movie is more interesting on its face. The second pilot keys off a throwaway line from the first in which Hartley’s Lyra-a tells Hunt he’s lucky he wasn’t caught in the “women’s country,” where men are treated as beasts of burden. In effect Planet Earth is just another episode in a very short-lived series, and it even demonstrates some of the limitations of the format, since in some ways it’s a retread of the first pilot’s idea of Dylan and his team infiltrating an oppressive society in order to foment a revolution.


Sub shuttle station is back in Planet Earth

As with Star Trek’s “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” Roddenberry recast his lead, brought in a co-writer (Juanita Bartlett, who quickly went on to the hugely popular The Rockford Files), and made sure to avoid the dour and heavy, intellectual tone of Genesis II to make Planet Earth action-packed, light and fun. In doing so he probably got as close to the original feel of the first Star Trek series as he ever would in future efforts. Despite the fact that Planet Earth is in many ways a different show on another network, Roddenberry took full advantage of the groundwork laid in Genesis II. The second pilot shows Dylan Hunt (now played by John Saxon) as a Pax team leader, with a brief flashback showing Hunt and his team (Ted Cassidy, the only returning cast member from Genesis II as Isiah, Janet Margolin as Harper-Smythe, and Christopher Cary as Baylock, a scientist and “esper” who can heal with his mind). Rai Tasco plays “Pater” Kimbridge, basically the same character played by Percy Rodriguez in Genesis II. In a sequence very similar to the opening of the Roddenberry-written Trek episode “A Private Little War,” the flashback shows Hunt and his team escaping from the steampunk, militaristic “Kreegs” only to see Kimbridge shot before they can board a sub shuttle. After the leader is brought back to Pax, the search is on for a missing physician who can do the heart surgery that can save Kimbridge’s life.


Margolin’s Harper with captive Hunt, now played by John Saxon

Hearing that the missing physician, Jonathan Conner (!), had disappeared in a part of the country ruled by an amazon society called the Sisters of Ruth, Hunt and his team split up, with Hunt and Harper-Smythe infiltrating the matriarchy by telling the female leaders that Hunt is Harper-Smythe’s “property” and that she wants to join the matriarchy. One of the amazons’ leaders, Marg (Diana Muldaur), quickly challenges Harper-Smythe for the ownership of Hunt and takes him for herself, leaving Harper-Smythe to navigate the society alone. When Marg puts Hunt up for auction he finds Isiah and Baylock up for bid as well—cowering with a mysterious fear that all the male slaves—or “dinks,” of the society share. Hunt eventually seduces Marg while Harper-Smythe locates Conner (Jim Antonio), who has discovered the matriarchy’s secret of drugging the dinks’ food to keep them docile and compliant. Conner gets an antidote into the food just in time for the dinks to help fend off an attack by the Kreeg, leading the women to rethink their approach to the dinks and vote to withdraw the drug and deal with the dinks on an equal basis.


Muldaur as Marg

Planet Earth manages to outdo Genesis II on almost every level. Roddenberry hired producer Robert Justman and director Marc Daniels, both Star Trek veterans, and the result is a show that is bright, energetic and impressive-looking. The already well-done Pax sub shuttle station set is improved by art director Robert Kinoshita (who had worked on both Forbidden Planet and Lost in Space), while Bill Theiss’ mustard-colored jumpsuit uniforms give the Pax team a clean futuristic look. Even the props are uprated, with the Pax communicators and dart guns refinished with brighter details that give them the eye catching look of the Star Trek phasers and communicators.


New Dart Gun, one of the jazzed up props in Planet Earth

The opening scenes quickly and efficiently establish the format as focusing on action and character. The Kreeg, with their proto-Klingon forehead spines and steam-powered war wagons, are interesting villains, driven by the mindless need for conflict, and the establishing scenes for the Pax team effortlessly sketch out strong character traits. As Hunt, Saxon is immediately more warm and Kirk-like than the dour Alex Cord—interesting since Saxon was much better known for playing crazed villains than heroes. His teasing relationship with Janet Margolin’s Harper-Smythe doesn’t carry the overtones of sexual harassment that Cord’s scenes with Lynne Marta did in the first pilot. Ted Cassidy has a nice moment where he’s tempted to use one of the Kreeg rifles to return fire on them during the Pax team’s escape, but instead he furiously smashes the offending weapon against a wall. Baylock is probably the least textured character of the team but he makes an effective impression as an intellectual operative with unusual insight. Whether Percy Rodriguez was available or not, his presence as Kimbridge is missed—but since the character does little more here than get shot, disappear through most of the story and reappear for a warm wrap-up, the role didn’t call for a higher profile actor.


Klingon-like Kreeg warrior

“Special guest star” Diana Muldaur is also a Star Trek vet, with two appearances in classic Trek (and of course her one year regular stint as Dr. Pulaski in TNG). She’s effectively arrogant and patrician as Marg, selling the conflict between her and Harper-Smythe as well as some later amusing scenes between her and Saxon. The overall quality of performance in Planet Earth is much better than what’s obtained in Genesis II, and Marc Daniels deserves credit for that. Whatever you think of the style of acting on the original series, the show was rigorously rehearsed (something that William Shatner reportedly demanded), giving it an edge on much of the dramatic television of the period. You can see some of that theatrical approach in Planet Earth, particularly in the scenes between Muldaur and Saxon, which have the give and take of live theater. This in particular helps the humorous interplay that makes Planet Earth more “fun” than Genesis II. The pilot is also well-paced and edited, with several rhyming cuts and a nice transition between one of the amazons explaining how posturing, arrogant males destroyed the world to a scene of the bellicose Kreeg warriors who function as a satire of the military mindset.


Harper fights Marg

I’ve always been a sucker for Janet Margolin’s Harper-Smythe—in fact I’ll go down on record as saying she’s my favorite Roddenberry-created female character. Her template, interestingly, is not Yeoman Rand or Uhura, but one of Roddenberry’s earlier inspirations: the tomboyish Yeoman Colt from “The Cage.” Like Colt, Harper-Smythe is efficient and comfortable in “away team” situations, and seems to have a sense of humor as well as a keen sense of her own failings. Both characters harbor not-so-secret feelings for their commanders, and both find themselves outted and embarrassed by those feelings over the course of their stories. Janet Margolin isn’t a great actress but she’s attractive in an appealing androgynous way that was unusual for the period, when big-haired models or glamorous hippy chicks were more common. Harper-Smythe isn’t exactly Ellen Ripley but she’s shown as adept at combat when required, whipping both Marg and another Sister of Ruth when the situation demands it. It’s unfortunate that she winds up a helpless hostage to the Kreeg at the episode’s climax, getting knocked around and sidelined while Marg gets in at least a punch or two. I love Harper-Smythe’s moment with the mysterious John Conner when the Pax physician asks who Hunt is (after finding Harper-Smythe in a compromising position with the drugged Saxon): “My team leader,” she says ruefully, eyes rolling a little at her own poor judgment. There’s another moment when Harper-Smythe strong-arms one of the amazon leaders who’s invited her into her home. “I came her for directions and I’m damn well going to get them!” she growls as she pins the woman’s arm behind her back. This mirrors a scene in Genesis II in which the shock wave from a nuclear explosion Hunt has triggered strikes on a Pax lookout just as a mother has brought her young children out to see the stars. There and in the Planet Earth scene, the heroes witness the effect of their own violence on children, forcing them to rethink the use of force—a very effective and intelligent pacifistic touch from Roddenberry. For Harper-Smythe, the balance of what passed for a “kick-ass” female action hero and a vulnerable young woman working out her position in her society and vis-à-vis Hunt’s strange leader would have made for an attractive weekly character I think.


Not in front of the children

Planet Earth has never won plaudits for what seems its condescending depiction of a matriarchal society, but at least credit Roddenberry (always a target for classic Trek’s miniskirted sexism) for hiring Juanita Bartlett to give the teleplay a female perspective. I would credit Bartlett for the lion’s share of the script’s clever and playful sexual politics and dialogue—as her work on The Rockford Files would quickly prove, she was one of the smartest writers working in television, and a Planet Earth series with her as story editor could have been very promising. While Genesis II featured a number of unintentionally funny lines, Planet Earth’s humor is nothing if not intentional, right down to the diminutive, humiliating term “dink” for the matriarchy’s male slaves. It grates on the ear but has a nice payoff in a scene between Harper-Smythe and Conner as the two discuss Hunt’s chances of winning over Marg, which Conner says will depend on Hunt’s understanding of female psychology. “I don’t think he knows the first thing about it,” Harper-Smythe says. “Well,” Conner replies, “You never know about us dinks.”

The pilot climaxes with a tense showdown between the Kreeg, the Sisters of Ruth, the dinks and Hunt’s Pax team, and with limited resources Marc Daniels manages to make it relatively exciting. You have to love Saxon delivering a full-on Captain Kirk drop-kick to a Kreeg and the huge Isiah jumping a fence on horseback to wade into the battle.


Kreeg War Wagon

Roddenberry hired Harry Sukman to score both pilots, an odd choice considering the availability of all of the original Trek’s superb and experienced composers, from Sandy Courage, Fred Steiner and Gerald Fried to George Duning and Sol Kaplan. Sukman did have a few sci fi credits—two fifties films, Riders to the Stars and the ridiculous robot thriller Gog, and the waterlogged 1966 Ivan Tors adventure Around the World Beneath the Sea. Sukman wrote a nice, exciting theme for Genesis II with a particularly sweeping bridge that doubles as an effectively exotic love theme for Hunt and Lyra-a. His Planet Earth theme is bombastic and action-oriented but far less memorable—although he is good at giving the plight of the oppressed in both shows a grim, semi-biblical epic feeling. For some reason Sukman gets into a weird Batman area in scoring the final action scene in Planet Earth with some brass stylings worthy of Nelson Riddle—you almost expect a few BAM! and POW! cartoon balloons to pop onscreen. In another musical note (pun intended), the harpsichordist in the house Harper-Smythe first goes to for shelter is Craig Hundley (nee Huxley), seen in the Trek episode “And the Children Shall Lead” and the inventor of the Blaster Beam instrument used in the V’ger cues in Jerry Goldsmith’s
Star Trek – The Motion Picture score.

For all its strengths, Planet Earth failed to earn a series commitment from ABC (they perhaps wisely chose The Six Million Dollar Man, which became a huge hit for them). Oddly enough, John Saxon starred in one final attempt to position the concept as a series, the 1975 pilot Strange New World, which was directed by Robert Butler—the man who’d directed Star Trek’s “The Cage” pilot in 1964. This time there was no involvement from Roddenberry and once again, the pilot failed to sell, burying the concept for good—but it was also produced by Warner Bros, so at least we may see an archival DVD of it some day. Genesis II and Planet Earth shared a lot of the vices of seventies science fiction—endless location shooting in the scrub brush of Southern California, winking sexuality and a lot of indifferently-staged stunt man action. But the concept also showed some promise and has a particular appeal as a kind of earthbound Star Trek. Several concepts and plotlines from the show later appeared in other Roddenberry productions from
Star Trek – The Motion Picture to Andromeda, which revived the character name Dylan Hunt. But none quite captured the appeal of Planet Earth, which was made just close enough to the original Star Trek episodes to capture a little bit of their particular energy, style and humor. Roddenberry was quoted at the time as pointing out that despite its seemingly depressing post-apocalypse setting, the Genesis II/Planet Earth concept was perhaps even more inherently optimistic than Star Trek. “The concept of the show says look, we can survive even this, the destruction of our civilization,” Roddenberry said, and the pilot’s (stock) footage of a natural wilderness re-emerging from the crush of urban sprawl and blight still gets that message across. Particularly now on a world running out of resources and threatening to heat up to the point of uninhabitability, there’s an appeal to the idea of starting over.

Available now
Both Genesis II and Planet Earth are available on DVD now for $19.95 each via Warner Bros. Archive. DVDs have no special features.

You can also get both titles in a value-pack for $29.99 at the WB Shop.

CLIPS:

 

Comments

1. entropy - October 23, 2009

ITs not the future without a mustache that screams Alpha Male

2. The Rusted Robot - October 23, 2009

If it was $20 for Genesis 2, on blu-ray, that would be awesome….I loved that show as a kid

3. Scott - October 23, 2009

Actually the plot line for “Planet Earth” came from one of the story ideas for “Genesis II” called “Poodle Shop”. Roddenberry had about a dozen story idea ready to go for “Genesis II.”

4. bill hiro - October 23, 2009

This is a rare occasion when I agree with every word in a review.

Well done, Mr. Bond.

5. JERRY - October 23, 2009

I remember having a huge crush on Janet Margolin’s Harper-Smythe.

6. Daoud - October 23, 2009

#5 Amen. She was a unique actress in Roddenberry’s best effort at creating a well-crafted female role. Sad she died from cancer at middle age:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Margolin

K/O could take a page from this character if they decide to introduce a altered universe Janice Rand.

7. Adam Bomb 1701 - October 23, 2009

I remember an article in TV Guide about “Genesis II” back in March, 1973. It showed how the sub-shuttle really moved along – it was pulled by a truck, probably a Ford F-150. When I saw “Star Trek – The Motion Picture” in 1979, the shot of Kirk’s air-tram coasting in its track made me think that the tram was made mobile the same way. Still do, every time I play my DVD of the flick.

8. Thomas Jensen - October 23, 2009

Great review of both efforts, except for that comment on the planet warming, there are been no “global warming” since 1998. In fact, the trend toward warming is reversing.

9. CmdrR - October 23, 2009

Both pilots show the possibilities of a series, which is their job. I tend to think more highly of Genesis II, mainly because of Cord and Hartley. I’m just not a John Saxon fan, although I couldn’t point to any particular reason.
But, Mariette Hartley’s double-a. Mmmmm. Now THAT’s some good tv.

10. Robert Bernardo - October 23, 2009

Jeff Bond wrote:

> …his thick, wavy hair, bristling mustache and somewhat cold-blooded
> line delivery gave [Cord] an oddly creepy, seventies porn star quality.

Hey, that worked for him as Archangel in Airwolf! :) Cue the Sylvester Levay theme music!

11. No Khan - October 23, 2009

Whats with that crappy Genesis II cover. I would have no idea what its about by that cover.

Know what they are I bought both of them.I just wish they were on Blu-ray.

12. Marian Ciobanu - October 23, 2009

- These pilots shows influenced shows like TNG..ANROMEDA..and SLIDERS…excellent review indeed..!!..

13. Horatio - October 23, 2009

I still think Genisis II is the better effort, so I have to differ from the review. Earth II just seems like a cheap SF TV series to me (Not that I still don’t like it!). I guess I just prefer the more serious tone in Gen2.

The subshuttle still rocks all these years later.

14. John Hazard - October 23, 2009

I love “Planet Earth” it would have made a good series (by 70′s TV standards). It’s got some details, like the uniforms & chest mounted communicators, that are a precursor to TNG. Roddenberry never threw anything away.

Another great Roddenberry seventies pilot- “Spectre” starring Robert Culp as an occult criminologist. That would have been a great show.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2ZMdnjqEjg

15. Imrahil - October 23, 2009

Oh no! The Saxon-Batch is back!

16. Jeff Bond - October 23, 2009

Regarding blu-ray, you’re probably seeing all the level of detail you really want to see out of these shows–they really look great and every bit as good as they did during their original broadcast, plus any upconverting blu-ray player will add to the sharpness. After that you’re really starting to see the seams, especially on Genesis II where the production itself is pretty grungy.

I am incredibly relieved to hear global warming has been solved though–that’s a load off my mind!

17. bill hiro - October 23, 2009

Very forward thinking of you. The BBC not a reliable enough source? Or did you bother to look at it?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8299079.stm

18. Capt Mike of the Terran Empire - October 23, 2009

Hey Jeff that was a excellent review and I would be thrilled to see the 2 Dvds. I remember a little bit of Earth 2 when the Nuclear bomb exploded but that’s it.

19. Jeff Bond - October 23, 2009

Yes, I bothered to look at it–if you read the whole article it looks like an equal balance of ‘cooling’ vs. ‘continuing to warm’ “experts’ and I doubt one BBC article is going to settle the question. You’ll find that I’m very very “anti global warming”–should global warming be discovered to be a hoax invented by the tree huggers there’s just about no one on this planet who would be more pleased than yours truly. But let’s check in at the end of the century and see who’s right…

20. TD - October 23, 2009

I remember seeing these on TV when I was a kid. Loved Planet Earth- Saxon & Cassidy were great!

21. Jim Nightshade - October 24, 2009

haha i never thought of alex cord looking porno like with his 70s moustache–i guess so did burt reynolds and tom selleck? I think i liked genesis 2 better because it was more cerebral, cept for the porn star hero hehehe–im never gonna be able to watch him without laughing now! But the non porno CLIMAX to the first movie was much stronger with paxes shockbfinding out dylan set the nuclear plant to explode, then the shock of the kids seeing the flash and feeling the shock wave-scaring them–it was a very effective scene showing the barbarism of warfare carried to its nuclear finality by humanity in the past-showing how smart and stupid we were at the same time–and pax was also shocked that he killed a few people blowing up the plant as well even tho he saved paxs life by depriving the bad guys of the nuclear weapons technology they insisted he was wrong n primitive for causing loss of life even tho it was an enemies-by this pax was shown as being the ultimate pacifists–scientists who refuse to use technology for any loss of life-how different our history may be if the scientists that came up with the nuclear bomb felt that way-shades of edith keeler(please dont due me harlan)-Anyway that ending is very memorable and classic roddenberry to me-

22. Jim Nightshade - October 24, 2009

opps meant please dont sue me harlan hehe derned typos

23. Ken1w - October 24, 2009

More than the character name “Dylan Hunt” made it to Andromeda. There was a male “Harper” (Seamus Harper) and genitally-modified “Tyr” Anasazi (instead of the mutant “Tyranian”). And there was a fall of civilization, suspended animation for the hero (this time using a black hole), and the show’s ongoing mission to restore civilization – this time at the galactic scale (and with spaceships). Andromeda could have been great instead of just OK, but at least it became a series that lasted a few years.

24. TrekkieJan - October 24, 2009

Not sure I’ll watch these, but I thoroughly enjoyed the reviews! Nice writing!

25. Reed Farrington - October 24, 2009

I thoroughly enjoyed your observations and information regarding these two Roddenberry pilots, Mr. Bond. With the success of Star Trek in reruns and Star Trek conventions when these pilots were made, I’m surprised that there wasn’t a forward-looking network executive that would take a chance on any of these Roddenberry creations. One would think that they wouldn’t have relied so much on Nielsen ratings in Roddenberry’s case.

Based on the review paragraph regarding the music in the pilots, I assume that the writer of this review is the same Jeff Bond who wrote “The Music of Star Trek.” I highly recommend this book for anyone who has any interest in the music of Star Trek.

26. Son of a Maui Portagee - October 24, 2009

FWIW, the “scrub brush” surrounding many of the buildings on the campus of the University of California, Riverside as well as the structures themselves served as Tyrania in GENESIS II.

27. Eli - October 24, 2009

I don’t mean to detract from the actual subject of this article, but I do find it interesting that in the entire ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’ debate that no one ever takes the behavior of the sun into account.

You know, that big bright hot thing in the sky that keeps us warm and alive while we sit on this rock floating about in the cold vastness of space?

Since 1998, there has been no sun spot activity on the surface of the sun and the temperature trends on Earth are being reflected on the other planets as well.

Plus, there’s that famous Time magazine cover from the 1970′s suggesting we were in for an ice age.

There’s actually evidence to suggest that the global temperature goes on 30 year cycles. There’s also evidence to suggest that the build up of carbon-dioxide over the past number of years has contributed to new growth and expansion of the South American rain forests. If I remember my 7th grade science class right, trees and plants breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale more oxygen.

Could the planet be healing itself?

28. EdDR - October 24, 2009

Don’t forget another of Gene’s pilots ” The Questor Tapes”. definitely one that can be updated. And I had heard the rumor that our military was interested in Gene’s concept of the Sub-Terranean transport system and that rumors are that they do have something like it to go from base to base in certain areas.

29. EdDR - October 24, 2009

I do believe there was one more pilot based on Genesis II/Planet Earth, except that PAX was in a space station up in earth orbit

30. EdDR - October 25, 2009

that pilot was called Strange New World. Gene did not have a direct attachment with that production.

31. Anthony Thompson - October 25, 2009

8.

“There are been no “global warming” since 1998″. The grammar of this statement from Mr. Jensen says all you need to know about climate change deniers.

32. John Gill - October 25, 2009

A very interesting and enjoyable review of both pilots, although I doubt I will by the first one, the second with Saxon will be ordered after I get off this page. I remember seeing both of these on Network Television when I was a kid, but they both seemed too cerebral (seriously) for a 10-year old at the time. I remember losing interest in Genesis II half-way through it, and Planet Earth just didn’t get through to me at that age, but I watched the whole thing mainly because Roddenberrry’s name was on it.

33. Avro Arrow - October 25, 2009

I think I’d actually be interested in purchasing these, but unfortunately Warner doesn’t ship their Archive Collection outside of the U.S. Anyone know of another (legal) source where a Canadian could buy them?

34. Matt Wright - October 25, 2009

Thanks for the detailed reviews, I’ve been wondering if either of these were worth a look.

35. Daoud - October 26, 2009

“Climate change deniers”? Oh my… such language.

Everyone knows the climate changes. We call it “weather”. ;)

But there has been no warming since 1998. But there was quite a bit of it in the twenty years before! The temperature differential is still in the aggregate warmer.

What was interesting about Roddenberry’s post-apocalyptic stories, was the apocalyptic event was unimportant. It was just the motivation to tell the stories of “other worlds” without leaving this one.

As his ideas continue to get reused (a la Andromeda, and Earth: Final Conflict), I really hope someone gives PAX another go. In the hands of Ron Moore… it would be really slick.

Questor Tapes would need a title change. Why would an advanced technology use tape? Shouldn’t it be the Questor Quantum Bubbles? Of course, Data in TNG was the remake of Questor.

36. Son of a Maui Portagee - October 26, 2009

35.

They could always go back to its Turing machine roots where the word was intended only to describe an abstract storage medium and not necessarily a literal tape machine. The only trouble is that somehow somewhere in the intro it would have to be explained that “tapes” are a historic abstract synonym for the android’s memories.

And while I’m at it literal tapes aren’t exactly obsolete when it comes to archival storage. For example, DS9 and TNG were mastered to videotape in their original productions and are still archived in situ.

37. Jack - October 26, 2009

Where’s this global warming ended in ’98 stuff coming from? Did I miss a press conference?

Happy these are out — they were tough to watch in segments on YouTube.

And interesting point about Trek being so well-rehearsed. I’d never read that before.

38. Vernon Wilmer - October 26, 2009

Awesome! All those Star Trek actors, and John Saxon too! And now we see where Leia’s starpuff hairdo originally came from…

39. Thomas Jensen - October 26, 2009

#31 Yes, it was one big typo. Very snarky of you to notice. But I was in a rush to teach my chemistry class. Perhaps you’ll investigate the issue rather then base your opinion on my rushed post. If anyones in denial, it’s you and your poorly thought out position on “global warming”. If it’s so inportant to you to elimate carbon dioxide to help the planet, perhaps you should quit breathing.

40. Trevor - October 26, 2009

I love how the door sound on Genesis II is the same used on I Dream of Jeannie when she smoked out of her bottle.

41. 790 - October 26, 2009

This looks like the campiest sci fi ever.

I must have this on dvd,

42. trekker77 - October 26, 2009

how about global chillin’? actually, it’s starting to feel a little “cold” on this message board … laters

43. Jeff Bond - October 27, 2009

Speaking of global cooling, whoops!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091026/ap_on_sc/us_sci_global_cooling

44. Thomas Jensen - October 28, 2009

And to further explore global warming, uh, climate change…

http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/10/gore_and_google_pants_on_fire.html

45. Jeff Bond - October 28, 2009

Wow, an “award winning former television meteorologist.” Now I REALLY feel better. So we have a VERY lengthy yahoo article with tons of sources and a fairly scholarly tone versus an article from someone who hates Al Gore, writes like a snarky comedian and hails from the renowned website “American Thinker” which I’m absolutely SURE is totally unbiased. Who’s the next expert, Glenn Beck? Like I said before, if global warming turns out to be a hoax, no one will be happier about it than me–I like snow and cold and would prefer that my children be able to experience them. In fact I get all excited when I get pointed to articles like this, and then when I actually read them they are so loaded with their agendas that they just don’t convince. “Award winning former television meteorologist”? Er, how about SCIENTISTS? I hear they actually know stuff.

46. Thomas Jensen - October 29, 2009

Interesting. You invalidate all the information in the article because of it’s author, writing style and the website. And this renders all the information useless? The facts in the article can be verified easily.

Obviously you can get the information for yourself. It’s the old argument that those who aren’t qualified shouldn’t comment. Many in the American meteorological society are of the same opinion as the author of the article. Everyone has a bias, you’ve made yours very apparent, but this scam has been tried before early in the 20th century and again, in the 1970′s when global cooling was declared to be a crisis.

The bottom line is that our government will use the proposed “solutions” to man-made global warming to alter American lifestyles and sovereignty in ways never before contemplated during our lifetime. Not to mention separating your hard earned cash from your wallet. This is a political issue, concerning economic control, not a scientific reality.

I’ll give it another shot and raise the bar; this is a well-researched book you can pursue in part on this site. We use this in our physical sciences classes.

Thanks for the review, I’ve ordered Genesis II and Planet Earth and look forward to both.

http://books.google.com/books?id=DJxlzuOdK2IC&dq=Global+Warming&source=gbs_navlinks_s

47. Vir Cotto - November 25, 2009

Remember these 2 movies from when I was a kid. They had potential as a series, too bad they never got the chance to try it. Is there a website that has a photo of the subshuttle system map – I know there was one on the wall of the subshuttle station in one or both of the movies.

Ah yes, global warming. With the recent leaking of the emails and documents from one of those climate change groups that revealed manipulated, excluding data which doesnt support warming and deliberated faked data designed to create warming hysteria. It seems as if the new deniers are now those who follow the likes of Al Gore who has made north of $100 million promoting the man made global warming scam.

48. Adam Bomb 1701 - April 26, 2011

The DVD’s are still available, with much improved artwork. And, “Strange New World” is now available from the Warner Archive too. Try this:

http://www.wbshop.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-WB-Site/default/Search-Show?q=genesis+II

49. Ashley Pomeroy - May 12, 2011

You know, when I decided to look up those cheesy old 70s Gene Roddenberry pilots that were shown on BBC2 years ago, and find out what the heck was going on, I didn’t realise that the global warming debate would be done and dusted in the comments! Completely settled and solved for the ages. Because quite frankly I was bored and upset with all the other comments threads on the internet that don’t mention global warming.

I really just logged in to say that (a) Janet Margolin’s “look” in this was about ten years ahead of its time and (b) in the picture captioned “Not in front of the children”, your mouse pointer is touching that lady’s thigh.

Just brushing against it. Which is kinky.

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