Thursday, March 31, 2011

Poll Problems!

Very strange: this afternoon, at least a hundred votes seem to have disappeared from the current Space: 1970 "Saturday Morning Sci-Fi" Poll tabulations. Obviously, there's some weird - and damned frustrating - glitch in the Blogger Polls at fault.

I guess that means everyone can vote again.

Captain's bLog: 0331.11

  March was the biggest month ever for Space: 1970 in terms of traffic and number of posts (what can I say, I've been on a roll - even if most of them were art posts). Admittedly, there was a bit of recycling - I slipped a couple of re-posts in there; so many new readers were hitting the site that I wanted to give some of my favorite early posts a little more exposure. Total traffic exceeded the previous record (November 2010) by about 35%, and total page views almost doubled. The page views thing is slightly cooler to me than the increased traffic; it suggests that regardless of what brings someone here (that Battlestar Galactica disco album cover, for instance), people are hanging around to see what else Space: 1970 might have to offer.

  There are now more than 500 "likes" on the Space: 1970 Facebook page, too.

   Enjoyed re-visiting Close Encounters of the Third Kind on Blu-Ray over the weekend. I think it was the first time since seeing it in the theater at age 13 that I've seen the original theatrical cut of the film. As I recall, only the "Special Edition" was available on VHS during the 80s, and the DVD that I owned only had the extended "Director's Cut." Fortunately, the new Blu-Ray contains (thanks to seamless branching) all three versions. The video transfer is gorgeous, by the way - very "film-like" with great contrasts and beautiful colors. I haven't delved into the supplemental features yet, but I'm looking forward to checking them out.
•  As I said in my last "Captain's bLog" entry, I've been busy with other writing assignments, which is why this blog leaned so heavily on image-based posts in March. Hopefully, over the next month or so, I'll have time to write up some more substantial posts - more essays, "Favorite Episodes," and reviews. Of course, I'll still showcase any cool art or photos I come across...

•  Speaking of "other writing assignments.... I haven't mentioned it here before, but fans of 1970s science fiction and fantasy television might be interested to know that I write comic books for Moonstone Books based on the Seventies' TV show, Kolchak: The Night Stalker. A couple years ago they published a 3-issue miniseries I wrote, called Kolchak Tales: Night Stalker of the Living Dead (collected in the Kolchak Tales: Monsters Among Us trade paperback), and I'm currently writing the ongoing, Kolchak: The Night Stalker Files series for the company. The first two issues are available now, with issue #3 due out in a month or so.

The trade paperback can be purchased from your local comics shop or Amazon (Kolchak The Night Stalker: Monsters Among Us (Kolchak Tales)) and the first two issues of the Kolchak: The Night Stalker Files ongoing series can also be found at better comic shops or can be ordered directly from the publisher.

   And, while I'm self-promoting... if anyone is interested in learning more about the arrested adolescent who spends too much time on this blog when he should be working on other things - i.e., yours truly - you can check out my homepage at Atomic Pulp. There, you'll find information about my various writing projects (including my other blogs). And don't forget to check out my DVD and Blu-Ray review site, DVD Late Show.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Vintage VHS Art: The Future Belongs To John Saxon!

I recently ordered and received the Warners Archive DVDs of Planet Earth and Strange New World, the TV movie/pilot follow-ups to Gene Roddenberry's Genesis II (which I collectively refer to as the "PAX Trilogy"). I'll be reviewing both of these John Saxon-starring flicks over the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime here's the art that covered the VHS home video releases of the titles in the 1980s.

I love old VHS box art....

ADDENDUM: Courtesy of Space: 1970 reader Jerome Wybon, here's a French variation on the Planet Earth video art:


For a few years in the early-to-mid-Seventies, producer John Dark and director Kevin Connor made a series of fantasy adventure movies based on and/or inspired by the works of pulp writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan. These films (all starring beefy TV cowboy Doug McClure) were The Land That Time Forgot, The People That Time Forgot, At The Earth's Core and Warlords of Atlantis. Produced by England's Amicus Studios, and released in the United States by American International Pictures in 1975, Land is one of the last old-fashioned fantasy films produced before Star Wars came along and re-defined the genre forever.

Doug McClure (you may remember him from such TV series as The Virginian and movies like Humanoids From The Deep and The House Where Evil Dwells), stars as Bowen Tyler, an American passenger on a British liner that is torpedoed by a German U-Boat during the first World War. When the U-boat surfaces, a handful of survivors, led by the gung ho American, manage to take control of the sub.

After McClure demands that the Germans take them to a neutral port, the two crews battle back and forth for command of the submarine until they somehow manage to get hopelessly lost. Just as supplies are about to run out, they come across the lost continent of Caprona, and discover that it is a world where evolution works differently, and dinosaurs still exist (along with cavemen).

The story is pure classic pulp, with plenty of hair-breadth escapes, fistfights, gun battles, volcanic explosions, and a great climax. There's plenty of rugged, two-fisted action, and a true sense of wonder to the film that should entertain all but the most thoroughly jaded.

Many of today's viewers may laugh at the puppet and mechanical dinosaurs (although the pleisosaur that attacks the submarine still looks pretty cool to me), and the make up on the Neanderthals is admittedly pretty shoddy. But the miniature work is excellent, the action scenes are well-staged, and while nobody's going to win an Oscar here, the performances by the cast of talented British character actors (especially Susan Penhaligon, who makes a delightful damsel in distress, and Anthony Ainsley as the sinister Dietz) are just right for a movie like this.

Land was one of my favorite adventure films when I was growing up, and I still enjoy it today.

The People That Time Forgot, American International Pictures' sequel to Land, was released in the Summer of 1977. A square-jawed aviator, played by Patrick Wayne, son of John, and star of the same year's Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger, leads an expedition to the prehistoric island of Caprona in search of adventurer Doug McClure, still marooned there after the events of the previous film. The expedition consists of Wayne, his mechanic (Shane Rimmer; The Spy Who Loved Me), a female reporter (Sarah Douglas; Superman 2, Beastmaster 2, Space: 1999), and a paleontologist (character actor Thorley Walters). After their biplane is forced down by an attacking pterodactyl, the adventurers discover a beautiful cavegirl (the gorgeous Dana Gillespie), who eventually leads them to Skull Mountain and the evil, samurai-like Nagas, who have McClure locked away in their skeleton-strewn dungeon.

People is a full-blooded, old-fashioned Saturday matinee adventure, with vicious cavemen, clunky (mechanical) dinosaurs, an evil Tor Johnson lookalike, volcanic eruptions, swordplay and plenty of heroic derring-do. As in his Sinbad film, Wayne makes an handsome, whitebread, hero, while Douglas, an underrated actress who's appeared in tons of fantasy films, makes the most of her spunky girl reporter role. Gillespie provides the eye-candy, and Walters and Rimmer provide solid support. McClure, who shows up late in the film, looks a little tired of these cut-rate lost world epics, but acquits himself adequately.

The production design and special effects have a charming, nostalgic cheesiness about them, with obvious matte paintings, miniatures and mechanical monsters adding to the cliffhanging fun. Although primitive by today's high-tech standards, I'll take this kind of hand-crafted filmmaking over today's CGI-dominated 3D toons any day. The photography is magnificent, making good use of the rugged, prehistoric-looking locations, and the score by John Scott is rousing, if a bit spare.

Fox/MGM released both films on their "Midnite Movies" label several years ago, and eventually paired them up on one double-feature disc. The disc includes trailers for each feature, and that's it. Both movies look great, presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the original mono soundtracks are crisp, clear and devoid of background hiss. If you can still find it, it's a great deal for just a few bucks. The Land That Time Forgot/The People That Time Forgot

Now, if Fox/MGM would release Warlords of Atlantis, my Dark/Connor/McClure collection would be complete!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN (1976) TV Guide Art by Bob Peak

This vintage TV Guide cover sports a nice Six Million Dollar Man graphic by artist Bob Peak (and the more I look at it, the more I'm convinced that Peak did, indeed, also paint THIS Man From Atlantis cover).

For those of you too young to remember, the "Paper Panic" that the headline references was a non-existent toilet paper shortage that Johnny Carson joked about one night during his monologue on The Tonight Show. The next day, millions of viewers went out and bought up all the TP they could get their hands on... leading to a real shortage!

Ah... the 70s.

New Space: 1970 Poll

I thought it was time for another Space: 1970 reader's poll. This one is really for the Seventies Star Kids: "Which 70s Saturday Morning Live-Action Sci-Fi Kid's Show Was Your Favorite?"

For this poll,although I've excluded animated series, I've included super-hero shows and sci-fi comedies. If I've forgotten your favorite, be sure to let me know in the comments!

Monday, March 28, 2011

STAR WARS (1977) Paperback Cover Art

This familiar painting by John Berkey graced the cover of the Ballantine Books Star Wars novelization (penned by Alan Dean Foster writing as "George Lucas") through numerous paperback printings. But this is the first time I've come across it uncropped and uncluttered by text.

He also was the artist responsible for the beautiful X-Wing/TIE Fighter "dogfight" art print that was originally an insert in the Star Wars soundtrack LPs.

Reportedly, Berkey, who composed a couple of the most recognizable Star Wars illustrations of the era, never actually saw the movie! Over the next few years, he did create a few more pieces of art for the franchise, including art for Parker Bros.' Return of the Jedi "Death Star Battle" game cartridge in '83.

The artist passed away in April of 2008.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rerun: THE STARLOST (1973)

(This is a re-post of an article originally posted in November of 2009.)

Like many other things in my life, I first discovered the existence of The Starlost through the pages of Starlog magazine in the mid-70's. I learned there that it had been a short-lived 1973 television series created by Harlan Ellison, who, dissatisfied by the final product, had chosen to use his pen name of "Cordwainer Bird" in the credits.

I also knew that Keir Dullea, of 2001: A Space Odyssey, played the lead role of Devon, a young Amish man who discovers that his small world of Cypress Corners is actually an artificial biosphere, one of many that make up the Earthship Ark – a vast multi-generation spacecraft. Venturing beyond his own artificial world, he discovers that a cataclysmic accident several hundred years before killed the command crew of the Ark, and it is now crippled and off-course, heading directly toward a star. With his friends Rachel (Gay Rowan) and Garth (Robin Ward), Devon searches the Ark for some way to correct the ship's course, or for someone knowledgeable enough save it and the millions of people isolated in their own biospheres – most of whom are unaware that they are on a spaceship at all.

And that was about it.

In the late 80's I came across a paperback copy of Phoenix Without Ashes, Edward Bryant's novelization of Ellison's original pilot script for the series. The introduction to the book – by Ellison himself – detailed the series' troubled production and the reasons for the acclaimed author's unhappiness with the show. The novel was pretty good, and piqued my interest, but as the series had only run for 16 episodes and was virtually unseen in syndication, I figured I'd never see the show. Which disappointed me, because I love 70's sci-fi television, no matter how bad its reputation.

Well, considering all the obscurities that have been dug up and released on DVD in the last decade, I should have guessed that somebody would put it on digital disc eventually, and sure enough, the folks at VCI Entertainment have done just that. All 16 episodes of the Canadian-produced show are now available on a compact, 4-disc set.

Produced on a very small budget, the show was shot on videotape and featured modular sets that could be disassembled and reassembled in different configurations to suggest new sections of the vast Earthship Ark. There was also extensive use of chromakey (bluescreen), which enabled the production team to drop the actors "into" miniature sets, which saved even more money. Too bad most of the miniatures were pretty unconvincing.

The videotape filming, sets and costumes give the series a look similar to Doctor Who episodes of the same vintage, but The Starlost doesn't have the same charismatic characters or ambitious storylines and unbridled imagination of Who. In fact, it's pretty mundane all around.

The stories started out okay – if overly cliched – but soon devolved into silliness, with the sort of ludicrous faux science that was common in the era's sci-fi TV. And that's a real shame since some decent guest stars appeared on the show, including familiar genre faces John Colicos (the original Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek), Barry Morse (Space: 1999), Simon Oakland (Kolchak: The Night Stalker), and Walter Koenig (Star Trek, Babylon 5).

Still, I found myself growing somewhat fond of Devon, Garth and Rachel, and I thought that most of the episodes were - at least - entertaining.

Nonetheless, I can completely understand why Ellison disowned the show, and why noted science fiction writer Ben Bova was embarrassed to be credited as the series' "science advisor" – he was completely ignored by the producers, but they kept his name in the credits for the publicity value. Same with special effects ace Douglas Trumbull (2001, Silent Running, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), who quit the show before the first episode was shot, but remained credited as a producer for the entire run.

VCI's DVD set includes all 16 episodes on 4 discs, packed into one standard-sized case. The transfers are sharp and clean, but as noted above, the show was shot on videotape, so the picture quality is far from perfect, with some minor video "noise" and some bleeding colors. It's probably better than it looked on TV in '73, though. The only extra is a presentation reel used to pitch the syndicated series to independent stations before production, hosted by Dullea and Trumbull. In this short film, the series is verbally described by Dullea, accompanied by stock effects shots from Trumbull's then-recent feature, Silent Running.

The Starlost is a classic missed opportunity – with Ellison, Bova and Trumbull aboard, it should have been something remarkable, and revolutionary. Unfortunately, the realities of independent television production, and the bad judgment of the producers resulted instead in an artistic and commercial misfire, interesting only to die hard fans of 70's genre television like myself.

If you consider yourself such a fan, then VCI's set is worth checking out. Buy it from Amazon here: The Starlost - The Complete Series

Friday, March 25, 2011

STAR TREK ANIMATED SERIES (1973) Home Video Artwork

This art - by an unknown (but vaguely familiar) artist - graced the VHS packaging for Paramount Home Video's releases of Filmation's Star Trek - The Animated Series during the late 80s-early 90s.

It doesn't look like anything actually created at Filmation in the 70s; it's a bit too dynamic to have come out of that studio, and the Enterprise appears to be based on the feature film version of the NCC-1701, rather than the cartoon version. Also, what's with the pirate boots?

I'm guessing that it was probably something commissioned specifically for the VHS releases by Paramount. In any case, I think it's a great piece of Trek artwork! Colorful, exciting and really capturing the Star Trek feel.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rerun: THE WAR IN SPACE (1977)

Here's a re-post of one of my earliest Space: 1970 articles. When I posted the War In Space TV promo last month, it was evident from the comments that a lot of the site's current readers were unfamiliar with the movie, so here's my original review of Toho Studios' fun entry into the 70's space opera sweepstakes... again.

From director Jun Fukuda and special effects wiz Nakano Teruyoshi, the creators of several Seventies’ Godzilla epics, comes Toho Studios’ 1977 interstellar adventure, The War In Space (Wakusei Daisenso).

Conceived by Toho Studios as a fast Star Wars cash-in, the final film owes as much to Gerry Anderson’s television shows UFO and Space: 1999 and the Japanese studios’ own Sixties sci-fi thrillers Atragon and Battle in Outer Space as it does to George Lucas’ intergalactic epic.

In the (then-future) year of 1988, UFOs attack the Earth. While the invaders are devastating New York, Paris, Tokyo and the world’s other major cities, a team of scientists race to complete a space battleship called Ghoten. Once launched, the ship and its crew head for Venus, to counterattack the aliens. Along the way, the only female crewmember (lovely Yuko Asano) is kidnapped by the green-skinned, Roman-helmeted alien leader and his horned wookie, UFOs engage in high-speed dogfights with the Earth fighters above the barren Venusian landscape, and space ships explode impressively.

The old school, handcrafted special effects work – finely detailed miniatures on mostly-invisible wires – is expertly executed and effective. The spaceships, in a decidedly Asian conceit, resemble sea-faring vessels, and the alien flagship is specifically modeled on ancient Roman sailing ship designs. The Ghoten features a huge drill bit (shades of Atragon!) and cool, giant revolvers that fire missiles and are also used to launch sleek, one-man fighters. The UFOs are original and unique. Made on a fraction of Star Wars’ budget, The War in Space demonstrates that ingenuity and imagination can carry the day even when money’s tight.

A few years ago, Discotek Media released The War in Space for the first time on U.S. home video (I believe) on DVD with a brilliant 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, completely restored and remastered. Audio options included both the original Japanese language track and an English dub, presented in both the original mono and in a newly created 5.1 remix. The Japanese track is preferable, as it’s stronger and more robust. Discotek also included a bevy of cool bonus features, including a fascinating video interview with special effects director Nakano Teruyoshi, the original theatrical trailer, an extensive still gallery, and an informative booklet that includes poster art, spaceship design sketches and liner notes.

As a fan of 70's outer space epics and Japanese fantasy films, I’ve been wanting to see this movie ever since I saw the poster art in a 1978 issue of Fantastic Films magazine. It took almost 30 years, but I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a terrific presentation of a great old-fashioned space opera, and I recommend it highly.

Click HERE to watch the original theatrical trailer. The DVD is still available through Amazon: War in Space

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Coming Attractions: LOGAN'S RUN (1976) Theatrical Trailer

I recently re-watched my Logan's Run Blu-Ray disc and thoroughly enjoyed it. In my opinion, it holds up pretty well, and is a highly entertaining 70s sci-fi adventure film.

Sure, there are some logic problems in the script, and some of the effects shots look dated (although, surprisingly, the miniatures of the City of Domes actually look a bit more real in HD instead of less; the only thing that really betrays them is the use of water on the tabletop sets), but there's a lot to like in there, too. Great production design, good cast, and plenty of interesting ideas - even if not all of them make much sense.

Here's the original theatrical trailer.

MAN FROM ATLANTIS Marvel Comics Cover Gallery

John Buscema/Joe Sinnot
Ernie Chan
Alan Weiss
Gil Kane/Tony DeZuniga
Pablo Marcos
Ernie Chan
Ed Hannigan/Rudy Nebres
The Man From Atlantis comic book from Marvel was actually pretty awesome, with a mix of adapted TV stories and new adventures by writer Bill Mantlo - including a batshit insane concluding three-parter set in an Arctic lost world that also featured technologically-assisted talking dogs that prefigured the ones in Up by almost 30 years! Mantlo was always something of a twisted genius. Most issues were illustrated by the veteran team of Frank Robbins and Frank Springer.

Heroic aqua-man Mark Harris was pitted against some formidable adversaries - villains included not only the TV show's Mr. Schubert, but a high-tech super pirate named Skorba, as well. It was a really fun series that could tell stories beyond the budgets of the television series. Unfortunately, the show was a ratings flop, and the comic died quickly.

I bought the first two issues when they came out, but no longer have them. I picked up three of the later ones last fall, and hope to complete the set one of these days. I liked the book a lot.

Cover scans courtesy of the Grand Comics Database.

 Bonus: Gene Colan & Frank Giacoia's original art for a Mark Harris pin-up that appeared in the double-sized first issue:

If You Like Space: 1970...

Let me indulge in some shameless self-promotion for a moment... Some of the DVD reviews on this blog originally appeared in my DVD Late Show review column, which I have been writing regularly (mostly) for the last six years. The column originally debuted on filmmaker Kevin Smith's Movie Poop Shoot website in 2005 as a bi-weekly feature. Subsequent incarnations of the column appeared online at Quick Stop Entertainment and, later, Forces of Geek. Several print installments also appeared in IDW Publishing's DOOMED magazine.

A year ago this January, I moved the feature to its own, dedicated website - DVD Late Show. New reviews - between 1 and six new articles, depending on what I have on hand - generally appear there weekly, and the archive contains over 550 DVD and Blu-Ray reviews - mostly sci-fi, fantasy, horror and action films/TV. If you enjoy the reviews and my other articles here at Space: 1970, you'll find a lot more of the same at the Late Show.

PLEASE check out the site, and if you find it entertaining and/or helpful, bookmark it, Follow It, "Like" it on Facebook, and make it a regular stop. Spread the word, link to it - I'd really like to make it as successful as this site has turned out to be. Thanks, guys.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Yesterday I posted that the Hanna-Barbara animated series Valley of the Dinosaurs was coming to Manufacture-on-Demand DVD-R from Warner Archives. Well, I also should have mentioned that the studio is now also offering the 1977 dino-flick, The Last Dinosaur, as well.

Originally airing on prime time TV in the United States, The Last Dinosaur stars Richard Boone as millionaire big game hunter Masten Thrust(!), who leads a exploratory expedition into a prehistoric world hidden beneath the polar ice cap. There, along with other prehistoric creatures, the hunter discovers the ultimate game - a ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex!

This Japanese/American co-production was produced by animation studio Rankin/Bass and Tsuburaya Productions, the makers of Ultraman. It also stars Joan Van Ark and Steven Keats.  This new DVD-R disc from Warners Archive marks the first time the movie has been legally available on video in the U.S. and contains the original 106 minute international theatrical cut - which has never even been seen in this country before.

Needless to say, this is on my Wish List; like most 70s Star Kids, I loved dinosaurs - and dinosaur sci-fi, like Land of the Lost and this movie, which I watched on TV when it originally aired - as much as I did spaceships and aliens.


"My name is Dylan Hunt. My story begins on the day on which I died." 

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.

The story begins in 1979, where, deep in a government facility built in Carlsbad Caverns, NASA Scientist Dylan Hunt (Alex Cord) is the subject of a suspended animation experiment. Unfortunately, the experiment has just begun when a tremor triggers a cave-in that  buries his hibernation chamber under tons of rock.

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.

Hunt is placed in the care of Lyra-a (the lovely Mariette Hartley), a member of PAX who joined them from a mutant race known as Tyranians. The Tyranians are genetically superior to humans, with double circulatory systems (like Time Lords!) and thus, two navels.

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.

Anyway, to make a long synopsis short, Hunt discovers that the mutant Tyranians are (imagine!) a decadent, evil race that keep humans as slaves and their only interest in Hunt is in his value as a scientist. Their city is powered by a 20th Century nuclear generator, and they need Hunt to repair and maintain it. Hunt is rescued by an undercover team from PAX - one of many teams that the PAX group sends out to secretly "help" other post-Apocalyptic societies - and with their assistance, starts a slave revolt before escaping the Tyranian city....

The show possesses a lot of Roddenberry hallmarks, like a sometimes creepy preoccupation with sex (it isn't spelled out, but it's clear that sexual stimulation is required to bring Hunt out of his hibernation state, which is why Lyra-a got the job as his nurse), and the idea that the war-ravaged Earth is now divided into a multitude of isolated, diverse cultures - each of which can be used to comment on some modern-day issue. But it also exhibits an interesting reversal of Star Trek's "Prime Directive;" whereas Kirk & company were expressly forbidden to interfere in the development of other cultures, PAX instead sees themselves as 22nd Century Mary Worths, with  a  responsibility to "guide" (even through covert infiltration and acts of subversion) other societies toward their idealistic, pacifistic view of "civilization."

It's an interesting - if morally questionable - premise, with a lot potential to be explored in an ongoing series.

 The look/production design of the show isn't bad. The citizens of PAX are shown wearing very "Earthy," almost Medieval peasant-looking clothes, while the Tyranians favor pseudo-Roman togas. The Carlsbad Cavern setting for PAX is rather nicely designed, with colorful stalactites and stalagmites, and the subshuttle is a cool-looking transport.

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...

Unfortunately, in a repeat of his experiences in trying to sell Star Trek a decade before, the network found the Genesis II pilot "too cerebral," and, as directed by veteran John Llewellyn Moxey, too talky and lacking in action (although, to fair, the climactic slave revolt is pretty well staged and shot). They also found lead Alex Cord to be too intellectual, and lacking the charisma desired in a TV series hero. CBS passed on the show, choosing instead to go with Fox's small-screen version of Planet of the Apes

But Warner Brothers seemed to still have some faith in Roddenberry and his concept, and persuaded ABC to finance a second pilot, this time called Planet Earth, the following year. (I'll be covering that one when my disc arrives next week).

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!"