Genesis II (1973)

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Genesis II (1973)

Post  BoG on Sat Apr 17, 2010 4:21 pm

Gene Roddenberry first tried to get a new sf series started after Star Trek with this pilot.  I'm pretty sure I saw this when it was first aired on TV; I got myself a DVD-R of the telefilm about 5 years ago. As usual, it only plays in half of the players I try it in. Then... the Warner Brothers Archive site finally provided it.
This is the story of scientist Dylan Hunt, placed in suspended animation for a one week test when a huge quake hits; the chamber in which Hunt is resting is buried; he stays as he is, asleep & unchanged, for about 150 years. He is finally found and uncovered in year 2133 by members of a pacifistic society called PAX, who live in the complex in Carlsbad Caverns originally established by the U.S. government and military. Alex Cord, as the central character of Dylan Hunt, caught out of time, is a bit dull; he was the rising new star in the late sixties but it never really panned out for him because he's always uninteresting.

There is a slave-master society,  actually a tribe of superior mutants - they have two hearts, indicated by the two navels, and have superior strength and endurance. Mariette Hartley, usually in demure roles, plays one of these mutants and she's probably the most interesting character. In fact, this entire concept of a new, superior race is what caught my attention when I first saw this. She tricks Dylan into joining her and almost turns him against PAX (peace), the benevolent society.
Roddenberry, as usual, tested the boundaries of what was allowed on TV back then, such as frank talk about sex and this domination aspect of the cruel slavemaster regime. These overlords use a variation of a 'pain stick' using sonics to inflict different levels of pain, a little weapon for sadists; but, it can also be used to instill pleasure. Obviously, the most famous parallel in our reality was the Nazi regime. Of course, it's all very tame now and even quaint.

Percy Rodrigues plays the leader of PAX and Ted Cassidy is a tall American Indian who works for the good guys. Majel Barrett (nurse Chapel on Star Trek) also shows up as a PAX council member. The ending is strangely anti-climactic & uneventful, and this may have caused problems for Roddenberry in getting a TV series out of this. Of the actors, only Ted Cassidy returned in the redo the following year, Planet Earth, though Barrett is also credited in some small role. BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10
I find some very intriguing parallels between this telefilm and its reworking "Planet Earth" and the experiences Roddenberry had in getting Star Trek started. For Star Trek, Roddenberry first presented the pilot "The Cage," which was rejected as too cerebral. He then was given a chance with a 2nd pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," which had more action. Here too, Genesis II didn't make the cut - I'm guessing for similar reasons as "The Cage."

After "Genesis II," Roddenberry tried "Planet Earth," a more action-oriented version of this film. Unfortunately, "Planet Earth" didn't result in a TV series either. I can almost imagine Roddenberry's frustration back then: he may have thought things had changed in the seventies as far as network executives being less close-minded; but, history repeats itself and once again he is told to 'spiff it up.' And, to top it off, no TV series even after a 2nd try.

Star Trek TOS actor alert: several in this one - besides Barrett,  Rodrigues played a commodore in Court Martial; Hartley played Spock's lover in All Our Yesterdays; and Cassidy was Ruk in What Are Little Girls Made of?
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