Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Fall Movies 2013 Special Birthday Edition

Posted by Gerald on September 29, 2013

Birthday Movies – Genesis II (John Llewellyn Moxey, 1973) & Planet Earth (Marc Daniels, 1974): My good friend Dana Hatcher bought me these two movies (and a third I haven’t watched yet) for my birthday. We’d talked about them several times and I’ve been thinking about getting them for a long time (more for nostalgia than anything else), but just never convinced myself to spend the money. In many ways, the perfect gift is something you want, but would never get for yourself. I’m reviewing these together because they are sort of the same project. Gene Roddenberry, post-“Star Trek” – made several failed pilots for CBS. One of those projects got reworked into three separate forms. These are the first two. Genesis II is the story of hunky scientist Dylan Hunt (played by failed series all-star Alex Cord). Dylan was put is suspended animation in 1979 as an experiment but due to Unforeseen Circumstances winds up awakening in the year 2133, where he has to use his overwhelming hairy studliness (this was the 1970s) to deal with a post-apocalyptic world. He is found by a group of future hippies who call themselves “Pax” (’cause that means Peace, you know, man) and winds up helping them deal with rebuilding civilization in said post-apocalyptic yadda… This film gives his origin story and how he has to overcome evil mutant Mariette Hartley (whose mutation seems to be having two navels and an aversion to concealing clothing – not that I’m complaining – her hottness comes from her human half) and her evil slave-owning mutant brethren. It is wonderful 70’s Roddenberry cheese. The series idea would have had Hunt leading a Pax team in adventures across the post-apocalyptic etc…

Planet Earth was a reworking of this after CBS rejected “Genesis II” in favor of the live-action “Planet of the Apes” series – which was cancelled after about 11 episodes or some such. We pick up with the story of Dylan Hunt – now played by 70s TV movie all-star John Saxon – the same characters, but re-cast (except for Isiah – correct spelling – a sort of post-apocalyptic Indian played by Ted Cassidy; Lurch in “The Addams Family” and a multiple guest star and voice actor on “Star Trek”). Some of the sets and shooting locations were new (Pax was supposed to be in Carlsbad Caverns in the first movie – I think they filmed exteriors at Century City for this one). Marc Daniels, who directed, was a veteran of 12 “Star Trek” episodes. This movie resembles that show in a way “Genesis II” didn’t. Had they simply replaced John Saxon with William Shatner, you couldn’t have told this wasn’t an episode of “Star Trek”. The team has to rescue a guy from a matriarchal society run by “Star Trek” vet Diana Muldaur. Of course, Hunt has to seduce her. Of course, she – and all the other women – are overcome with his manliness. This even has the little joke character beat at the end that closed most original “Star Trek” episodes. Even some of the incidental music sounded like “Star Trek”. Again – just lovely.

Of course, Majel Barrett was in both of them.

Birthday Present Movie #3 – The Questor Tapes (Richard Colla, 1974): This is the third movie given me for my 50th birthday by my good friend Dana Hatcher, who is having surgery tomorrow. Frankly, I couldn’t think of a better way to salute him and our friendship than to watch an obscure made-for-tv 1974 pilot movie. This thing is one of a series of pilots produced by Gene Roddenberry between the original Star Trek and The Next Generation. The story was written by D.C. Fontana based on an idea from Gene Coon – familiar names if you know your Trek. It tells the story of Questor, a mysterious android, played by Robert Foxworthy. He is assisted by a pre-MASH Mike Ferrell. In other words, just my kind of thing. Questor is clearly the basis for the later character of Data. He is an android who has been denied human emotions but strives for them. He was created by a mysterious inventor whom he feels compelled to find. He also at one point delivers the line “I am fully functional” concerning sex and at another point fixes loaded dice with his bare hands in order to win a craps game in a casino – both of which Data did as well. No cat – but then the series was never picked up so we can’t know what might have happened later. Fun stuff.

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