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Failure to Launch: Strange New World

September 1, 2013

The new PAX team, mercifully not attempting to rock the loin cloth.

The third and final attempt to realize a post-apocalypse genre tv series. Actually, I should probably specify Earth based post-apocalypse series as the concept would be much later resurrected as Andromeda which is a space based series. This time the pilot was done without Gene Roddenberry but, retained John Saxon. PAX is the only name held over from the previous two attempts. This time, John Saxon is playing Anthony Vico and he is joined by Dr. William Scott and Dr. Allison Crowley played by Keene Curtis and Kathleen Miller, respectively.
Spoilers do follow although I doubt many will care.

Strange New World is easily the weakest of the three pilots based on the post-apocalypse concept started by Roddenberry with Genesis II. The visual effects budget for this production was pretty light, at least it looked that way to me. One of the surprising features of this pilot is that it was actually two distinct stories with the obvious intent of breaking it into two episodes should the series be picked up and later syndicated. This concept is quite ahead of its time for 1975. The first story is clearly inspired by the movie Zardoz that came out a year earlier. After landing back on Earth from their space station, the team is trying to trace down PAX facilites that may have survived. In the process of tracking what they think is a PAX signal, the team is teleported (maybe? it wasn’t exactly clear on viewing) into a futuristic city. In this utopian looking society people are mercifully dressed in Roman style togas, as opposed to the loin cloth we saw Sean Connery wear, and they apparently live forever. There are also these mysteriously masked servants all over the place. The cities’ leader, named Surgeon, is clearly having memory difficulties. The secret to the citizens’ immortality is clones that are made for them to repair their aging bodies. It turns out the masked folks walking around the city are the clones and that they wear the masks because, as someone says, it is kind of ackward being waited upon by copies of yourself that you’ll later be using for parts. On top of this, there is another problem in that the population have cloned themselves so many times that their genetic material is somehow starting to fail, so the new arrivals are valuable as they are fresh genetic stock. Needless to say, our heroes aren’t exactly excited about this plan. The situation is resolved using the same method employed in Zardoz which ends up being not good for the cities’ inhabitants.

The second story is a touch more mundane as the PAX team comes across what turns out to be the remnants of an ancient zoo. The humans living in the area are broken into two factions. One group are hunters trying to live off the animals while the other group are the descendents of the zoo managers who are using an old book of fish and game wildlife regulations as a set rules for their society. Trouble between the groups arises from the “wardens” trying to impose their rules on the hunters. One of the team members being kidnapped by the hunters draws our characters into the situation. Ultimately, things are resolved with the two sides agreeing to a kind of peace settlement. I apologize if this doesn’t sound terribly exciting but, there’s only so much I can do as a reviewer with the material I am given.

It comes as no surprise that Strange New World never got picked up as the stories are weak and feature less than inspired writing. This, in turn, doesn’t give the actors a whole lot to work with so even the best of performances would go largely unnoticed. Between this and the earlier mentioned weak visual effects, the pilot had a hard time holding my interest. I would only recommend this to serious fans of genre tv history.


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