After Star Trek was canceled, Gene Roddenberry tried his hardest to prove he wasn’t going to be a one project sci-fi legend. He built up major ties in the science fiction community that he couldn’t let it all go for naught and merely write cop shows. Genesis II was his next big TV project. Instead of launching into outer space, he pushed mankind into the future.
Dylan Hunt (Airwolf‘s Alex Cord) entered suspended animation as part of a NASA experiment to make astronauts ready for long space missions. Things go a little wrong when a natural disaster strikes. Instead of a few days, he’s stuck inside the underground lab for 154 years. He’s brought out of the coma by Lyra-a (Polaroid spokeswoman Mariette Hartley). She’s a mutant with two belly buttons. Turns out there was a nasty war and it’s not exactly a peaceful world he discovers. Not sure who started what, but the mutants call themselves Tyranians. Lyra-a claims she’s rebelled against her people and has joined Pax. This is a society made up of peace loving scientists who pick through man’s old technology to find solutions for their future times.
Once she seduces Hunt, she gets him to distrust the Pax. They escape using a subway shuttle that zips around the globe. Once they arrive in her city, he discovers the Tyranians are tyrannical! They enslave humans to serve them like work animals and pets. They need Hunt to help them rebuild their nuclear power plant so they can finish off Pax and control the globe. He resists, but seems doomed to be stuck in the Tyranian town. Pax agents that have infiltrated the Tyranians want to help him escape. The top Pax agent is Ted Cassidy (Addams Family‘s Lurch). Can Hunt avoid the temptation of selling out mankind for a chance to hook up with a two belly buttoned Hartley? Doesn’t quite have the same ring as Captain Kirk’s lust for green skinned alien ladies.
As an early ‘70s TV movie, Genesis II is silly enough to be entertaining. Cord’s leading man qualities are completely overridden by his amazing mustache. Cassidy gets a chance to shine as a good guy instead of merely the hulking henchman of a diabolical scientist. It’s hard to imagine this working into a weekly series at this level.
Gene didn’t give up on the ideas at the core of Genesis II. He retooled it the next year as Planet Earth with John Saxon (Enter the Dragon) and Ted Cassidy. It didn’t go beyond the pilot movie. (Planet Earth is also available at the WB Shop.) The network and studio tried one more shot at the idea without Roddenberry’s input with Strange New World. It also ended up merely a TV movie pilot. Nearly a decade after his death, the idea would finally become a long running series as Andromeda starring Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) as Captain Dylan Hunt. Sometimes it takes a while for an idea to gain a footing. Part of science fiction is having a vision of the future.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The image looks fine for a pilot TV series. There’s occasional dust on the screen, but no major blemishes. The audio is mono. The audio mix isn’t too complicated. The levels are fine for dialogue and score. Nothing that will test your speaker system.
Genesis II used to end up on Sunday afternoon TV back in the late ‘70s. It was goofy then and it’s still dorky as an Earthbound Buck Rogers. Nobody on the school bus knew it was supposed to be part of a series. The film does have a real ending instead of merely setting up plotlines for future episodes so it satisfies as a TV movie. If you’re a Star Trek fanatic, you owe yourself a viewing.
Warner Archive presents Genesis II. Directed by: John Llewellyn Moxey. Starring: Alex Cord, Mariette Hartley and Ted Cassidy. Written by: Gene Roddenberry. Running time: 74 minutes. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: October 10, 2009 Available at the WB Shop.
Tags: Reviews, Star Trek