Written by Pirata Hermosa
In 1973 writer/producer Gene Roddenberry with the help of director John Llewellyn Moxey introduced another view of the future to the public in the shape of a made-for-TV movie. In 2009, Warner Brothers has made it available as part of their Archive Collection, and as common with the collection there are no special features.
People familiar with Roddenberry through his famous creation Star Trek know that he has a very optimistic look into the future of mankind. In Genesis II you can see sparks of that hope for the future, but it’s quite a bit darker.
The year is 1979 and NASA scientist, Dylan Hunt (Alex Cord), has come across a major breakthrough. Long-distance space travel has always been a hurdle for astronauts. In order for them to explore the vast expanse of space they needed a way to keep from dying of old age before they reached their destination. But Dylan has found the answer and has been able to successfully place lab rats in suspended animation for 10 years while the rats age only one day.
Once a discovery has been thoroughly tested, the next step is to test it on a human subject. That volunteer is none other than Dylan himself. Just moments after entering suspended animation, an earthquake strikes the underground facility in Carlsbad Canyon, burying the entire facility and leaving him trapped inside the pressure chamber.
Expecting to only be asleep for a few days, Dylan awakens in the year 2133 when a group of people called the PAX discover the hidden chamber and revive him from his long sleep. While he slowly recovers from the effects of his 154-year slumber, Dylan learns that there have been a lot of changes to the world. The planet has been devastated by nuclear war and only a handful of human settlements remain.
In order to help with his rehabilitation and teach him about the ways of the new world, the PAX make a huge mistake by assigning Lyra-a (Mariette Hartley) to be his caretaker. She may have voluntarily joined the PAX, but she is actually a spy sent by the Tyranians, a group of mutated humans that live near the ancient city of Phoenix.
After poisoning Dylan’s mind against the PAX, Lyra-a takes him to meet her people. At first the Tyranian society seems to be one of culture, comfort and luxury, but it doesn’t take long for Dylan to see that they rule with an iron fist and have subjugated regular humans to work as slaves. And when he finds out that the true reason he was brought there is to fix their failing nuclear reactor he organizes a slave rebellion.
The premise of the story is an interesting concept, but it really fails due to the limited format of a 74-minute TV movie. There is not nearly enough time for the audience to become acquainted with the new world and connect with all of the different characters to form any type of attachment. The most obvious example of the rushed plotline comes at the end when Dylan stays behind to save his friends from capture, but then manages to escape, return to the PAX, and destroy the reactor in about a minute. Even a strategically placed commercial break wouldn’t be able to slow down the pacing. It feels like an entire chapter is missing.
For Roddenberry fans it’s a nice addition to your collection. Not only does it give you a glimpse into other concepts the creator of Star Trek had, but there are a number of interesting production techniques they both share. The font used on the cover and in the credits is exactly the same, automatic doors make a familiar whooshing sound, the Tyranian stim weapons sound like a phaser on overload, and the background music has that same futuristic tone that leaves you feeling like Captain Kirk could stroll in at any moment.