Keeping the “failed Roddenberry pilot” train going this evening…
I’m struggling as to whether I find this better or worse than it’s direct predecessor, “Genesis II“. I’m leaning towards worse, even though most folks seem to think otherwise.
The budget has clearly gone up, and there’s an overall boost in the production values. It seems to have saved some money recycling props, locations, footage, and ideas from the original. Made me a bit sad seeing the G2 sets reduced to cameos in the background of this clunker.
As a pilot, the first half of this is terrible and lazy.
It skips over the entire introduction of “Dylan Hunt” (now played by the great John Saxon) — not even showing his misfortune via montage, save for one very brief scene — and delivers the bulk of the backstory via a narrator exposition dump and “captains log” style diary recording, slipping us into a PAX mission already in-progress. It serves a means to introduce us to the ‘team’ before jumping into what could have been any ol’ episode. (In fact, it adapts a planned Genesis II script.)
The first half is a real slog despite taking so many shortcuts. Surprisingly, the second half picks up considerably. But it’s still schlocky and cant’ seem to get out from under the shadow of Star Trek’s whole feel.
Indeed, Saxon is clearly cut from the ‘Jim Kirk’ vein of hero: a too-cunning, perfect “man’s man”, almost, but not quite, overthrowing the savage, backwards evil tribe of women with his dick alone.
And holy hell, is this thing roughly 10x more horny than Genesis II — something I dinged THAT show for. But, in comparison, it’s downright wholesome. Planet Earth is clearly Roddenberry just GOING FOR IT, pressing the limits of TV sex and violence in order to appease the network gods.
I naively called Genesis II “Roddenberry Unchained”, but this is THAT cranked to eleven.
That certain camp charm that made me enjoy Genesis II is not present here. Planet Earth is well cast, but much more blunt, far less cerebral, and somehow much less fun.
- You’ll never look at Dr. Pulaski the same way again.
- Speaking of doctors, the guy they’re looking for, to do heart surgery on a guy back at PAX headquarters, resembles quite a bit like Chuck Huber who played Dr. McCoy in the “Star Trek Continues” fan series. (And also vaguely resembles DeForest Kelley.)
- Ted Cassidy reprises his role from Genesis II as a white Native American character. It was bad enough there, at least he played the role with a bit of dignity and it wasn’t too much. It wasn’t so blatantly stereotypical as it is here. Here, it’s just… really overstepping good taste.
- This whole remake feels like it’s IQ dropped a good 50-75 points from Genesis II.
- You’ll never see another piece of media use the word “dink” so many times.
- Keep an eye out for what’s clearly an early prototype for the Klingon ridge make-up that would make it’s way into Star Trek: The Motion Picture. This is the real delight of watching these — seeing Roddenberry recycle all kinds of shit, and even the origins of things.