Dave Galanter
December 1st 1969 - December 12th 2020
He was loved.

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Superman's Pal

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,393
Subj: Sci-Fi Cinema #62 - The PAX Trilogy - Genesis II (1973) / Planet Earth (1974) / Strange New World (1975)
Posted: Mon Sep 06, 2021 at 06:54:33 pm EDT (Viewed 107 times)

Gene Roddenberry is best known for creating Star Trek in 1966. After it ended he pitched lots of new show ideas, most of which did not get picked up as series, but their pilots were sold into TV movie packages.

Genesis II (1973)

Dylan Hunt (Alex Cord) is a NASA scientist testing a new gas on himself that will put him into suspended animation for a few days. The idea is that it will help astronauts on long journeys. But his pressure chamber in the Carlsbad Caverns is buried in an earthquake. He's dug out of the ground 150 years later by members of Pax, a new government of the future.

Hunt is nursed back to health by Lyra-a (Mariette Hartley) and I'm not sure but I think they have sex. She does strip to a bikini at least to reveal she has 2 bellybuttons, which is supposedly Roddenberry's revenge for having to cover the navels on Star Trek.

Lyra-a is an outworld mutant and lures Hunt to escape the Pax city to her hometown of Tyrania which is more medieval. Their nuclear reactor has failed and they need Hunt to fix it so they can have power back. He's not sure if they can be trusted so they send him to the slave section to be punished with pain sticks until he agrees.

He mounts an escape with the help of a fellow slave played by Ted Cassidy (Addams Family's Lurch) but goes back for Lyra-a. I think both societies are just trying to survive and if this series had gone on, Hunt would probably try to make peace.

The world is lush and green again after nuclear wars of the past destroyed most of civilization.  The people of Pax tell Hunt he must never use violence against the enemy even to save them from the Tyranians. There's a Pax girl Harper-Smythe that Hunt flirts with to no avail.

They also travel around in a futuristic subway called the sub-shuttle that go 1000 kph and connects all the continents. There is a bit where Lyra-a warns Hunt about a region in their town where women keep men as pets, which I think plays into the next pilot.

There were a lot of faces from Star Trek in here. Lurch of course, also Percy Rodriguez and Majel Barrett as Pax council members.

I mostly know Alex Cord as the mysterious company man Archangel from Airwolf. I think he's better in a supporting role.

Planet Earth (1974)

This is supposed to be a standalone pilot but it does act as a direct sequel to Genesis II.  Dylan Hunt is now played by John Saxon.  He tells us that he was in suspended animation for 150 years before being woken by Pax and now he's living in 2133 AD, same as last time. He wears a Pax uniform and Ted Cassidy is now his fellow agent. The Pax girl Harper-Smythe is back and has a bigger role this time, recast with Janet Margolin.

The action starts right away as our heroes are wandering the countryside when they are attacked by mutant Kreegs whose head-ridge makeup was the basis for the Klingons in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, except these ridges are on the top of the head so they can be covered with a helmet sometimes to save time in the makeup trailer. Their Pax pal Pater Kimbridge (formerly Primus Kittridge in Genesis II?) is wounded. They get him back to Pax but they need a surgeon to save his life.

The surgeon was last seen near the town where women keep men as slaves. They decide to head there with Harper-Smythe hauling Hunt on a leash as cover. Ted Cassidy and another fellow tag along but are no help at all. A town leader played by Roddenberry fave Diana Muldaur knocks out Smythe and steals Hunt to be her slave. And that's the story, about how men are slaves and treated like livestock and sometimes used for breeding. There are a lot of women characters who cackle as they order the men around.  One of them has the Princess Leia hair buns.

Smythe works to form a rebellion among the women while Hunt fights the drugs they give him to instill fear and compliance. During a lucid moment he gets Muldaur drunk as a prelude to breeding but is too tired to escape.

Overall it was a better episode with more action and our heroes making smart decisions. Supposedly it was based on an unproduced idea Roddenberry had for a Star Trek episode called "Poodle Town."  I think Rod had a penchant for hot ladies and a pinch of sleaze.

Strange New World (1975)

Everyone notes this as a spiritual successor to the other two but since it doesn't share any producers, writers or directors I could find (certainly not Roddenberry), I'm not sure how they were able to reuse concepts.

John Saxon is back but now he's called Tony Vico. He and two other astronauts start on a space station run by Pax in the 1990s when the Earth is decimated by meteor showers.  They go into suspended animation for 180 years and then take a shuttle down to the planet to see what's left.

They have a nice armored vehicle to roam the land which seems have regrown into a paradise since the disaster.  That seems to be the common thread in these.

Vico's pals are an older doctor Dr. Scott and a female Dr. Crowley. They first find themselves following a Pax radio signal and then they get beamed out of their car into a city where they wake up in togas.

This society is made up of clones, including dozens of Reb Browns.  Apparently radiation from the disaster made them infertile and cloning was the only way to survive. But each generation has less immunity to disease. They start out asking for blood donations but then they want to kill our heroes for parts.

Our three astronauts escape the city and find themselves foraging in a forest region. Dr. Crowley is taken by a primitive tribe. Vico finds allies in a group who have been exiled out of the village for theft and branded with a "P" for Poachers. But in the village, Crowley makes friends with a primitive played by Gerritt Graham. The village's book of laws comes from a Forest Service manual and they want to put her on trial for poaching as well.

The heroes rescue her and attempt to make peace between the two tribes.

This is the rare pilot that gives you a taste of the episodic nature of the show to come by splitting the action into two separate stories. It's interesting that I found two versions of this show - one was probably a DVD rip and had the city story first, the other was recorded off TV and had the primitive story first.

Catherine "Daisy Duke" Bach has a small role as a toga girl.

I would say out of the three that Planet Earth was the most enjoyable with its town of women, heroes operating out of a base location, butt-kicking lady sidekick and such. Genesis II did the most world-building with Pax and the underground network of subways.

None of these showed the promise of Star Trek's pilots as far as I'm concerned. But wasn't Rod working on Phase II of ST at this point?

The character Dylan Hunt and the concept of him being a man from the past who arrives in the future was reused in Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda with Kevin Sorbo in the title role, a show that Majel Barrett-Roddenberry produced after Gene's death that ran for 5 seasons. In this version instead of a world government called PAX it's a pan-galactic government called the Commonwealth.

Watch Genesis II on Youtube.
Watch Strange New World on Youtube.

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