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Failure to Launch: Genesis II

August 5, 2013
genesis2

I had originally wanted to include a picture of Alex Kord as Dylan Hunt but I couldn’t find one. So, you’ll just have to live with this picture of Mariette Hartley as Lyra-a showing off her mutant superiority.

This was the original pilot I had in mind to launch this series of articles with given that it spawned, not only a second, but a third attempt at a tv series. Genesis II was created by Gene Roddenberry in 1973. It stars Alex Cord as Dylan Hunt and Mariette Hartley as Lyra-a. Spoilers follow so, if you have any plans to watch this in the future you might want to bail now.

The story opens with our hero Dylan Hunt, in the present day, taking a newly built subshuttle tube train from Washington DC to a secret military complex in the western US. Even though it is only given a passing mention in the pilot, I just wanted to say that this high speed underground shuttle idea is still a way ahead of its time concept given that it is even being considered today. Hunt arrives at an underground military complex where he is going to be put into suspended animation for a few days to test a hibernation process that, if successful, will be used as part of the US space program. The bad news is that shortly after he is put under, a cave-in destroys the surrounding facility and seals him in the chamber. The good news, for him anyway, is that the process works well enough to keep him alive for 154 years when a group of archeologists form the year 2133, lead by Lyra-a, find his chamber and revive him. In the further bad news department, Earth is in the process of recovering from a large scale nuclear war that destroyed civilization not long after Hunt’s accidental burial. The team that finds him is from a group known as PAX but Lyra-a is a mutant from a society of mutants called the Tyranians. When they discover Dylan is still alive, they revive him and Lyra-a is given permission by PAX to restore him to full health.

The Tyranians (a not so subtle hint about which side are the bad guys) are a mutated version of humanity with redundant circulatory systems. We learn this almost immediately when Lyra-a shows off her dual belly buttons to Dylan. She claims that the PAX people, while putting up a peace-loving front, are actually a bunch of liars who use the peaceful front as a cover for their true militaristic aspirations. Dylan, apparently distracted by Lyra-a’s belly buttons, doesn’t do a whole lot of fact checking on her story. In any case, Lyra-a and Dylan break out of the PAX complex and she takes Dylan to meet her people. Once Dylan is presented to their leaders he quickly learns that it is in fact the Tyranians and not PAX who are the giant liars. The Tyranians have an old nuclear power plant that they want Dylan to help repair and they are not very subtle about forcing the issue. They have developed these wands that can give both pain and pleasure (don’t get me started) which they use on Dylan and, as he soon learns, the other humans in the city who the Tyranians keep as a slave labor force. The Tyranian’s belief that they are the physically superior species apparently allows them to live guilt free with this arrangement.

Dylan, not being at all happy with the situation, decides to lead a slave revolt instead and “fixes” the reactor by setting it to self-destruct. And, by self-destruct I mean go off like a nuclear warhead. Dylan returns to the PAX with the liberated slaves in tow. He is rewarded for his efforts by getting yelled at by the PAX leadership for blowing up the Tyranians, especially because he used a nuke. I guess even after a century, that whole nuclear thing is still a bit of a sensitive issue. It turns out that PAX really are as peacefully as they initially claimed to be. They are also apparently the “unconditional love” style of peace-loving because they decide that Dylan can stay with them even though he just nuked the Tyranians. Their intent being, I guess, to teach him to be peaceful like them, to which my thought was good luck with that.

While I didn’t mind watching Genesis II it isn’t even remotely surprising to me that it was not picked up as a series. Alex Kord does little in the way of sell himself as leading man material. The story line which follows the classic Star Trek episode format is much weaker than your average Trek episode. It is also not a terribly challenging or deep story concept with the two societies being presented in a fairly black and white manner. Genesis II, although aired in 1973, feels much more like television we would expect to see during the 60s. Rather than pick up the pilot, CBS decided to go with a series based on the then popular Planet of the Apes franchise which didn’t work out so well for them either. Roddenberry would rework the concept, based upon the network’s comments, and create a new pilot called Planet Earth which would air one year later on ABC and which I will talking about in my next installment of Failure to Launch.

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From → History, Reviews

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