Tuesday, March 22, 2011
GENESIS II (1973)
In the early 1970s, Star Trek became an unprecedented success in television syndication. Though not considered a success during its initial network run (despite surviving for three seasons), the unexpected - and unexpectedly profitable - popularity of Trek in the after-market and as a merchandising bonanza, surprised more than a few TV executives, and changed their perception of the show's creator somewhat. After several years as something of a TV industry pariah, Gene Roddenberry now found himself to be a desirable commodity... if he could deliver another cash machine like Star Trek.
Well, he gave it a shot - several times.
Warner Brothers Television and CBS decided to give him his first chance, and financed a science fiction pilot film called Genesis II. The premise borrowed liberally from the old Buck Rogers movie serial as well as from Trek - but eschewed the exotic outer space locales prominent in those sources, and the expensive special effects that they would have required.
In 2133, the chamber is uncovered and Hunt is revived by members of a community called PAX - descendants of survivors of a nuclear war who have made the Caverns their home. The leaders of PAX (as their name would suggest) claim that they are a pacifistic society that works to preserve human civilization.
Although suspicious of her, the PAXians are unaware that she is a spy for her people, and whenever they're not around, she works to discredit PAX to Hunt. She actually manages to convince him that they're bad guys - and he's rather easily convinced, because, like most Roddenberry heroes, Hunt's a horndog, and Lyra-a is the hottest chick in the cave - and they "escape" from the PAX complex via the high-speed underground subshuttle, which was part of the 1979 Carlsbad facility, and is somehow still working.
It's an interesting - if morally questionable - premise, with a lot potential to be explored in an ongoing series.
Upon my most recent viewing of Genesis II, however, I was struck by how much Roddenberry's pilot borrowed from the 1939 Buck Rogers serial produced by Universal Studios. Not only do both storylines deal with revived 20th Century men in a post-Apocalyptic Earth setting, but both feature good guys living in a hidden underground mountain complex, bad guys (who keep slaves) living in a futuristic city... and the Buck Rogers serial even features the characters using an underground subshuttle similar to the one seen in Genesis II (the Buck shuttle was located on Saturn, but, still)! Hmmm...
The DVD-R of Genesis II from Warner Archives is extraordinarily good-looking, even on my HD-TV. The 1.33:1 "full-frame" transfer is remarkably strong, considering its age, with virtually no distracting print damage or dirt. Colors are bright, and details are sharp. No extra features are provided.
The Warners archive site still doesn't accept my debit card, so I ordered it through a third party dealer at Amazon. Even with shipping, I got a brand-new, unopened disc for about the same price as buying it directly from the Warners Archive site. You can buy it direct from Amazon, too, of course: Genesis II
Dylan Hunt will return... in Planet Earth, the second installment of the "PAX Trilogy!"