PLANET EARTH was Gene Roddenberry’s second pilot based on concepts used in the Genesis II project. John Saxon took the role of Dylan Hunt in this one and Ted Cassidy returned as Isiah, the “savage” that was a member of PAX. The only other holdover was Majel Barrett Roddenberry in a minor role as one of PAX’s ruling council.
This one jumps right into the action as the PAX team led by Dylan is accompanying Pater Kimbridge back from a survey when they are attacked by agroup of militaristic mutant humans known as the Kreeg. Though they escape through the underground tubes that connect all the continents, Kimbridge is severely wounded and needs immediate surgery to survive. PAX’s best surgeon is two weeks away in Europe and the next best shot disappeared on a mission a year before.
Dylan’s Pax team, consisting of Isiah, Harper-Smythe, and Baylock, an ESPer, is sent looking for him into an area known to be controlled by an Amazon society known as The Confederacy of Ruth where the males are nothing more than farm animals and breeding stock, controlled by a drug placed in their gruel that induces fear and blind obedience.
Farm animals because they are more easily trained, care for themselves, and raise their own food. They are bought and sold, fought over, like one would any animal. As a sign of the times this pilot was produced, Dylan refers to it as women’s lib gone mad.
Dylan splits the team and goes in with Harper-Smythe as her captive. Immediately, he is claimed by Marg(Diana Muldaur), one of the women leaders and the only one who knows the formula for the control drug. H-S has to fight her to reclaim her “property” and win the respect of the other women who didn’t like outside ideas polluting their society.
They find the doctor they are looking for and learn that he’s not under the drug, having recognized it even in his former polluted state and weaned himself. The last year has been spent piling up the antidote with the intention of slipping it into the gruel distributed from Marg’s lands each day.
It becomes Dylan’s job to distract Marg, who has an interest in him(shades of Jim “Tomcat” Kirk), while they slip the antidote into the gruel and escape to save Kimbridge. And lucky they do as the Kreeg are coming to attack and gain the drug.
All ends well. Or at least as twentieth century man wants things to end anyway.
PLANET EARTH didn’t sell as a series either. A third attempt was made using some of the concepts, without Gene Roddenberry, and It’s one I never saw. As far as I know, it’s never been made available on DVD as have the first two efforts.
What I have learned of this one, STRANGE NEW WORLD, is that the Earth was destroyed by a swarm of giant meteors and PAX had changed the orbit of their space station just in time so that it was sent into a new orbit around the sun that returned it to Earth’s vicinity one hundred-eighty years later, awakening the three astronauts from suspended animation. They were to return to Earth and free the hundreds of PAX members from their suspended animation in underground bunkers. If that one had gone to series, presumably they would have set out to explore and rebuild Earth.
And if all this seems familiar, some years later, elements from all three were used for the series, Andromeda, “created” by Gene Roddenberry in 2000, nine years after his death. Kevin Sorbo was Dylan Hunt, captain of a sentient starship that had been caught on the event horizon of a black hole, keeping him in suspended animation for three hundred years. When rescued, Hunt is horrified to learn that the Systems Commonwealth has collapsed while he slept and sets out with the crew of the salvage ship that pulled him and his starship out to restore peace and harmony throughout the systems. And we know how well that worked out.