Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Star Trek Readers!

In those archaic times before streaming, DVD, VHS, or even cable, when color was a new thing on the small tube which was in most people's homes in the late 60's getting hold of a permanent version of your favorite film thing was more difficult. One common way to do it was to convert the movie or TV show to printed form, it was not the ideal but it was a fascinating opportunity to hold the thing you loved in your two hands. And it offered in the best of cases an opportunity to witness variations on a theme. 

James Blish was already an established science fiction writer when he was tapped to tranlate the scripts for Star Trek into short story form. There was exceedingly little merchandising associated with Star Trek in its earliest days and the paperback series from Bantam Books was among the best. Blish was a mature man when he got the gig, his reputation established by his remarkable Cities in Flight series and his novel A Case of Conscience which had garnered a Hugo Award. Blish was a member of early science fiction fandom and a member of The Futurian Science Fiction Society. Bantam tapped Blish to adapt the Star Trek series and he had a steady gig working these shows up until his death. His final few adaptations were unfinished by his wife J.A. Lawrence completed the work. Blish also contributed a new novel to the canon, Spock Must Die!, the second novel inspired by the series and the first to be directed toward an adult audience. 

Reading these Star Trek stories is a different kind of pleasure than watching the episodes. The latter I've seen many times, but despite having purchased the stories collected in four omnibus editions from the Science Fiction Book Club decades ago, this is my first time reading all of the stories through. I have the series in paperback tucked away somewhere in the house, but it would be a task indeed to turn them up. 

The characters as developed by Blish are a bit testier with one another than in the TV show. Spock's character in particular seems to have a somewhat different presentation, and we find his odd Vulcanite ways literally alienate him from the rest of the crew. There is though an animus towards him from Bones and Scotty not evident in the TV show. The friendly bickering between Bones and Spock is largely absent from these stories. Also we don't get so many sub-plots and that's often refreshing, making the narratives more focused and effective. Some of the same virtues which expressed themselves in the shorter animated series seem to operate in the short stories as well. One detail is that Blish takes steps to explain the myriad human-like races encountered by suggesting early colonization before the days of the Federation. It makes stories like "Miri" make a lot more sense. 

The volumes I'm using are not complete. The twelfth and final volume is not included. But you can find those stories at the Internet Archive at this link. All of the paperbacks are here for your online enjoyment. These are stories for fans of the series and I don't for a moment suggest that these stories are substitutes for the Star Trek television show, but they are wonderful relics of bygone days when things were much more difficult to get. 

After completing three of the collections, Blish was also hoping to take the two Harry Mudd stories from the series and create fresh material using that popular character. Spock Must Die! was published in 1970 and was of course in response the enormous popularity of Leonard Nimoy's TV creation.  If one Spock was good, then two must be better. But that's not true when one of them is an evil twin. Let me add that I will likely be spoiling plot details as I discuss this fifty plus year old novel, so if you have plans to read it I recommend it but don't go much further. 

The Enterprise finds itself of the other side of the universe when war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire breaks out. Peace had been kept according to the Organian Peace Treaty which derived from one of my favorite episode "An Errand of Mercy". Blish mentions the treaty a few times in his stories. He's careful to create a continuity between his stories, one which is not evident in the series itself. In order to find out what's up it's decided to use experimental techniques and the transporter to whisk Mr. Spock across distant space to Organia. The result is a duplicate Spock and much of the story deals with finding out which Spock is the original. Ultimately the evil Spock heads out to cause more trouble on Organia and Kirk and his team follow. They find the world behind a weird force screen set up by the Klingons. They ultimately defeat the false Spock and bring down the shield, leaving the Organians free to deal with duplicitous Klingons. Their decision is to confine the Klingons to their home world for one thousand years. So clearly this story cannot fit into anything of later Trek lore. But in the Blish-verse it seems that's the case.

I found Blish's original treatment of the characters fascinating to borrow a familiar phrase. He especially gives Bones a more intellectual approach and less of the pure emotion often seen on the show. Kirk is a leader just as on the show, but perhaps a wee bit more cold blooded. Spock seems about right, though perhaps more mysterious and it's often remarked that his cold demeanor is off putting to the crew. One thing which is odd about this story is the length of time it takes, which is months to unravel. Blish seems to treat space travel with a bit more respect as to time and size, remarking in a particular battle that the hardest thing about space war is finding the enemy in such a vast arena. This is a dandy read and highly recommended if you can find it. And as it turns out you can at this Internet Archive link

This long visit with Star Trek this month and last has been a real treat. Time to move on to other things. Live long and prosper. 

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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Galaxy Quest!

Many consider Galaxy Quest one of the best "Star Trek" movies ever made. There's no doubt that this movie doesn't exist without the long cultural shadow of Gene Roddenberry's TV creation. The enormous societal impact of the vintage TV series and the movies which followed are ingrained into the background understanding of those keen to listen. Especially good fodder are the nigh legendary relationships between the actors who portrayed the characters on Star Trek. Without taking any position on the on and off feuds between certain actors over the decades, it is that very celebrity gossip which fuels this movie, along with some of the most renowned cliches the show spawned. 

For those few of you who might not know, the story begins at a fan convention honoring the TV heroes of the show Galaxy Quest. The lead on the show was Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) who is estranged from his other castmates who are jealous of his higher profile. He learns of their enmity and grows bitter just before he is contacted by the Thermians, an alien race menaced by an intergalactic dictator named Sarris. The Thermians believe the show Galaxy Quest was real. Naismith thinks he's just getting a good payday and tries to get his castmates Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver), Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman), Fred Kwan (Tony Shalloub), Tommy Webber (Daryl Mitchell) and a "Red Shirt" (Sam Rockwell). Before they know it, they are all in space headed into real danger aboard a space ship which is an exact replica of the Galaxy Quest's ship the Protector. 

The  Thermians are much of what makes the movie sing. They are hilarious creations, who look somewhat human but are far from it. They are naive and gentle people who the crew come to appreciate and like even when it becomes clear the whole gang is over their heads when it comes to real-life interstellar menaces. That menace is relentless and death for all seems inevitable. Help only comes when Nesmith remembers how much his fans know about the show, and taps that nerd knowledge to help fend off imminent death. 

I cannot possibly spoil this flicker for anyone who has not enjoyed it already, but much of the fun comes from the way the heroes mirror the cast of the original Star Trek, not imitate, but evoke. The feud between Shatner and the others is captured with fun and some stings. We are seeing workmates and sometime friends who have forever been thrown together by their fame and now by their shared danger. 

Galaxy Quest is tremendous fun and his highly recommended to all Star Trek fans, and even those who might not be. Tomorrow we wrap this Star Trek thing up. 

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Monday, May 29, 2023

Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country!

Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country wraps up the big screen saga of the original crew of the mighty Enterprise (almost). (There is one more movie which shows Captain Kirk's ultimate fate and hands off the big screen franchise to "The Next Generation" of Enterprise crew members.) This is one of my favorite of these movies overall and great way to wrap up this run of flicks which had hit both some high and low points over the dozen years or so over which the movies had run. Sadly Gene Roddenberry had passed away before this movie hit theaters, and it is appropriately enough dedicated to him. 

Klingons have always been a blessing and a bit of curse for the Star Trek universe. They are among the earliest antagonists in the show's history, albeit confined in look to the make-up limitations of the 60's. When we meet them in the film franchise they are much more ferocious and savage looking. A Klingon captain kills Kirk's son in the third movie and a Klingon Bird of Prey becomes the ship of necessity in the fourth movie for the wayward crew. A rogue Klingon captain supplies some required opposition in the fifth movie as well. In this second movie featuring them, the make-up is altered to allow for more expression from the actors and that's a fantastic move. By this time we'd seen Klingons on The Next Generation and they all looked more or less like lions, often undistinguishable from a distance. 

This movie is marked by tremendous acting outings from not only our regulars but from guest stars  such as David Warner, Brock Peters, and especially Christopher Plummer. The latter as a Shakespeare-spouting Klingon warlord is magnificent in every scene he appears in. Rarely have I been so disappointed to see a good villain dispatched. Series regulars Rene Auberjonois and Michael Dorn also show up in surprising roles. It's a great cast and even the sexy Kim Cattrall is not wasted as a gorgeous Vulcan. 

The plot is simple enough. Praxis, the mining moon of the Klingon home world explodes and assures that the society will be poisoned beyond repair withing fifty years. The first Federation ship to discover this is the Excelsior commanded by Captain Sulu. This moment is seized upon by both those who seek peace and those who want to end the long cold war between these cultures. When a peace envoy is murdered Kirk is accused and along with Bones is sentenced to a penal planet. It's up to Spock and the Enterprise crew to get to bottom of this murder mystery while Kirk and Bones work to free themselves. Everything ends up counting on the Enterprise reaching peace talks before more sabotage wrecks them and assures a deadly all-out war. 

The movie's themes of racial animus are well developed, and giving some of those dark thoughs to our heroes gives the movie a greater depth. They too have a journey ahead of them to learn the error of their dark emotions.  The echoes of the end of the Cold War are also welcomed, placing all of the characters in a historically transitory state, not unlike the reality of the movie cast itself which is moving on from things Star Trek. This movie has great pace. It's the second outing as director for Nicholas Meyer who also directed The Wrath of Khan. Some regard the latter as the best Trek flick, but I demure on that point. It's still a good one and I think this one is even better. I rank Star Trek VI as my second favorite among the the six original-cast Star Trek flicks. Here's my list:

1. Star Trek - The Motion Picture

2. Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country

3. Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan


4. Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home

5. Star Trek III - The Search for Spock

6. Star Trek V - The Final Frontier

Let me take a moment to praise the poster art of Bob Peak. His graces all of the posters for the series and are at once dramatic and handsome. They have a wonderful unity when viewed together. 

Star Trek was a fantastic television series which despite network enmity was able to survive and thrive in syndication. It became more than a show, it became a cult for its most ardent fans and the need for a movie was inevitable. The movies made using the original cast of the show are incredibly fun for me. The later incarnations of the Star Tek legacy are all good, some great, but the nothing can ever recapture the magic of that first show. It was like a bolt form the blue, from Gene Roddenberry's mind and assisted by his many stalwart helpers. It transformed those who watched it and felt compelled to watch  again and again. Many argue which is better - Star Wars or  Star Trek. I don't engage in that debate, but I will say without qualm that Star Trek is the more hopeful and inspiring of the two, the one that makes me fear the future just a little less, becaue there are people who are inspired by the show in it still. 

I'm not quite done with Star Trek yet. There is another movie some regard as one of the best "Star Trek" movies. More on that tomorrow. 

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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Star Trek V - The Final Frontier!

Star Trek V The Final Frontier is the worst of these classic Star Trek movies. I'm glad William Shatner got to direct a movie, but sadly this ain't a good one. The major reason is that the search for God which is the central mission of this movie is just too plain on the nose. One might argue that all stories are more or less searches for evidence of the divine, an order to things and setting that order right. But to actually just go and look for the diety is a bit obvious. 

All our friends from the bridge of the Enterprise are back in a movie which sees the gang and an ill-fitted ship sent on a mission to the "Planet of Peace", a lone sentinel of what is possible where Humans, Romulans, and Klingons all hold some sway. It's an impoverished land and ripe for a messiah of sorts. What they get is what Bones calls a "passionate Vulcan". He turns out to be much more than that and is in fact Spock's actual half-brother named Sybok. He hijacks the Enterprise with surprising ease and off they hop across the galactic barrier a third time. (The movie seems to forget the Enterprise crossed this barrier twice in the regular series.) They find "God" but he ain't what he seems at all. 

There is a lot to bicker about in this mess of a movie. It seems to be operating on the smallest budget yet for one of these big screen events and feels as much like a big time Roger Corman effort than a true big studio effort. The acting seems a bit too perfunctory and the characters are too easily fit together. The story doesn't create the tension its supposed to and by the time we find God we're checking our watches. 

The crew of the Enterprise are also showing their ages. It's been ten years since they began making these movies and over twenty since the beginning of the legendary television series. We've watched these characters (and actors) grow older and it's beginning to show. Much comment is made about age, and that's fine, but Uhuru's fan dance was ill advised, as were most of the fighting the others engaged in at times. We need either younger action heroes or a director who can hide the rigors of age. 

This is a terrible movie, but that's on the Star Trek movie scale, so it's not without merits. There are some great moments of humor, such as Spock's unexpected arrival near the peak of El Capitan. Still I rate this one number six out of the six movies made the original crew. It's a Star Trek movie and that's not nothing, but it's a feeble one. We had become spoiled by the time this one arrived. But things get better. 

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Saturday, May 27, 2023

Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home!

Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home completes the trio of stories which began with The Wrath of Khan and continued in The Search for Spock. In a decided shift in tone, this movie is much lighter in tone and in fact functions as defacto comedy for many of its minutes. Leonard Nimoy is again directing his castmates who welcome one newcomer to the show this time out. 

This is a time travel story, something well examined by the vintage series in which our heroes travelled at various points to 1932, 1967 and 1968. So a trip to 1986, the year this movie was released seemed perfectly in keeping with the Star Trek tradition. The reason for that trip is pretty perfunctory as is the plot which surrounds the time travel excursion. The point of this movie is to get our familiar Enterprise crew in the relatively barbaric world of the 20th century so we can see them romp and caper to fulfill a rather hair-brained mission.

Yet another probe descends upon Earth (a well-designed probe but too soon after the debut movie's V'Ger) and sends a signal which is not answered. For reasons unrevealed that results in the probe beginning a process which seems intent on bringing down civilization on the planet. Into this mess fly our heroes after three months on Vulcan where Spock was undergoing treatment after his resurrection in the previous. The crew lost the Enterprise in a flaming spectacle in the last movie and so are flying to Earth in a Klingon Bird of Prey to face the consequences of their actions in the last movie. They find the threat to Earth, diagnose that only a whale will save the day. Since no whales survived into the 23rd century, they time travel to 1986 to pick up a few. 

The beauty of watching our familiar crew try to pass as normal in the rough and tumble 20th century is humorous to say the least, especially moments such as when Scotty tries to talk to a computer or when Spock tries to come to some terms with the concept of cursing. Lots is said and done, but it's help of a whale expert named Gillian Taylor (played by Catherine Hicks) who assists them  that makes their impossible mission possible. We see them reconfigure the Bird of Prey to hold the whales and we see them pick up the whales for transport to the future where they will do the most good. Soon after bringing the whales to future Earth the probe gets its desired message and wanders away, the Earth is saved. 

This is a finale for the series it always felt like to me. The show was supposed to stop here as we find our heroes intact for the most part and even given a shiny new Enterprise to play with by the movie's end. The big screen saga feels complete, but it was not to be. I rate this one as fourth in my ordering of the original movies. It's highly entertaining, but aside from some rather familiar ecological themes lacks much heft, but then that wasn't the point of this one. It sure is the point of the next one. More on that next time. 

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Friday, May 26, 2023

Star Trek III - The Search For Spock!

Star Trek III - The Search for Spock is a direct sequel to the previous installment and picks up its story mere days after the former film. Leonard Nimoy gets to sit in the director chair for this one. We are in the same universe we were introduced to last time, with all the same overwrought fashion gear on full display. Our cast will have lots of opportunities to wear clothes not issued by Star Fleet and the looks are singular to say the least. 

The Genesis project has become an interstellar problem and while going back to investigate the results of the new planet which had been created by an unplanned use of the project, we follow Savik, a Vulcan introduced in the last movie (played by Kirstie Alley then and by Robin Curtis this time) and Kirk's son David to that planet where they find more than they bargained for. Not only do they discover deadly Klingons desperate to get the secret and willing to kill to do so, they find that the body of Spock, sent to the planet after his demise in the last movie has regenerated. 

But Spock is literally not all there as his "Katra" had been implanted into the mind of Dr. McCoy before Spock's passing. It becomes the duty of Kirk and his loyal crew to bring McCoy and Spock's mind back to Genesis, despite Star Fleet orders to the contrary. Much happens on the planet, which we learn is not as successful as had first been surmised. The Klingons still see great virtue in the project as a weapon and it's up to our heroes to save the day, though they cannot save everyone. 

Christopher Lloyd is dandy as the Klingon commander and John Larroquette shows up also in full Klingon regalia. This movie has always felt smaller to me than its predecessor. Perhaps that because it doesn't ask us to meet new concepts, but merely contend with the unintended consequences of those we've already encountered in the previous film. Things happen, people die, and are reborn, but somehow it all seems less important. 

There is some dandy humor in the movie, blended with some old-fashioned action as the crew work in tandem to steal the ultimately doomed Enterprise. The characters are so comfortable with one another and Nimoy's direction is so deft that we get some of the best interplay in the series. It's light-hearted and often funny in small ways. The movie only makes as much sense as it needs to make, but that's mostly true of any of these science fiction efforts. 

By this third entry, the Star Trek fan has been well fed for a few years with new adventures. I rate this one number five in my list of overall films in this series. It's lack of anything really fresh makes it feel too familiar and leaves the viewer unchallenged. But the story is not over, as the next movie makes clear. Next stop is Earth which is having a whaling problem. 

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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Star Trek II - The Wrath Of Khan!

Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan is often cited as the favorites of folks who pay attention to the original series of movies. And it is a entertaining and sometimes thrilling entry, but a smaller budget and a less idealistic vision make this movie less than its predecessor, if admittedly more accessible in classic movie style. Gene Roddenberry had been forced out of control of the series after critics were lukewarm on the initial movie. None of the sequels sold more tickets, but success wasn't enough for Paramount. 

Otherwise, all our favorites are back, albeit in brand new outfits. The sleek modernistic look of the first film has been thrown over for costumes and clothing which are filled to be utter brim with pockets. Everything in this movie seems to have pockets. This is a darker world than the one we left last time, a tad gloomier and a bit more in keeping with the sci-fi designs made popular by Star Wars. This is not a gleaming universe, but one filled with shadows. And in those shadows, we find Khan Noonien Singh. 

Ricardo Montalban is outstanding in the role of Khan, the time-lost 20th century genetically enhanced superman who along with is minions were deposited on a rough-hewn planet decades before by Captain Kirk and his crew. The movie does a grand job of welding itself to the continuity of the original series, though I am always at a loss watching it how Star Fleet lost track of the number of planets in the Alpha Ceti system. The threat of Khan and his supermen is almost unleashed once again, but this time, as the title suggests, wrath gets in the way. 

The story waxes upon the notion of aging and since we have a veteran team of actors, it's a reasonable choice for thematic development. There's a generational shift in this story as Kirk meets his son, and the woman who gave birth to him. Both are scientists working on a project dubbed "Genesis" which is all about renewal and rejuvenation. The desire for the vigor of youth and the regrets which come inevitably with age and the choices made are not insignificant themes. Not as sci-fi worthy in their own right as the absolute seeking of knowledge from the first movie, but not bad. 

The final battle between Kirk's Enterprise and Khan's own stolen starship is phenomenal and the scene of the Enterprise looming up out of the mists of space behind Khan's vessel is my favorite moment in the movie. It's a scene which evokes the submarine battles of war pictures past. The contest between Kirk and Khan is a costly one, and the death count is high and those deaths are bloody. This is a more traditionally violent movie than its predecessor. The sacrifice of Spock is considered by many an emotional high point of the series and I don't disagree. 

With a new production team, this movie is really presented (following the Star Wars model yet again) as the first part of an ongoing story which will occupy to various degrees the next two installments of the movie series. We will learn more about Genesis and what it is capable of in the next flick. For all its virtues, I rate Star Trek II my third favorite of the original spate of movies. Next time we join the Search for Spock. 

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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Star Trek - The Motion Picture!

Star Trek The Motion Picture is my favorite Star Trek movie. I know that's controversial in a tiny way since most fans of the franchise consider this first big screen adaptation of Gene Roddenberry's television sci-fi show to be a misfire. That despite a big budget (thanks to the success of the Star Wars franchise) and the presence of big-league director Robert Wise (The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Andromeda Strain). Gene Roddenberry is in charge for the most part, the movie growing out of his failed plans to relaunch the series on television. Movies were changing and science fiction spectacles costing lots of money were a reasonably safe bet. 

The original cast was brought back, the fans would have accepted nothing else. A recasting of the roles would have been a disaster and only decades and the deaths of many of the originals made it possible decades later with phalanx of films. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelly, George Takai, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett, Walter Koenig, and James Doohan were all back for this new sleek rendition of the franchise. Two new actors join the crew --  Persis Khambata and Stephen Collins. 

One reason I'm so enamored with this movie is that looks and feels like what a big screen Star Trek movie ought to be, a deluxe version of the episodes. The story of V'Ger, an unimaginable enormous and dangerous probe from the depths of space reminds a veteran Star Trek fan of "The Changeling", an episode from the second season of the show. Toss in some evocative early sequences featuring those pesky Klingons (actually speaking Klingon for the first time), a devastating transporter accident, some generational conflict, and a whisper of unusual but inviting space sex and you have a heady brew for any Trek fan I would have thought. 

I for one will never forget the thrill as Kirk is treated to a evocative and nigh erotic encounter with the Enterprise. We follow the beloved star craft over every single curve of her fresh new metallic skin, finally getting to see some of the secrets long hidden by stingy TV budgets and the limits of film technology. The ship is thoroughly reimagined, and this time filled with more aliens than just a single Vulcan. (The cartoon show from Filmation had pointed the way on this point.) 

We are treated to stunning views of a future Earth as well Vulcan itself, a landscape filled with cyclopean statues. The movie does first and foremost what any such sci-fi flicker must do, it transports us to another time and place and introduces us to people we are interested in doing things which matter. Admittedly watching the director's cut means the show is a leisurely one, but then after so many years denied fresh Star Trek stories, no one ought to complain. But they do. 

Some suggest the movie is a bit sterile and lacks the thrumming of heated human emotions. But this is a movie which follows three traditions. It's a big-screen science fiction flick in the order set into motion by the success of Star Wars. It's a big budget blow up of a beloved science fiction television show. But it also is a movie which seems to me clearly to follow the tradition of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey which sought to make space and man's place in it epic. The slow but relentless penetration of the alien cloud and the probe that projected it forms a fantastic metaphor for man's quest for dispelling mystery and seeking both knowledge and understanding. The crisis is not resolved until both have been achieved. This movie has high aspirations and the money and talent to deliver. I think it does. 

I am going to review and rate all of the original Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. I rate this first effort number one. Gene Roddenberry wanted Star Trek to be about big ideas and none of the movies aspires to this goal as well as this first one he had a direct hand in. He'd be pushed away from the later movies. None of the sequels succeed, in my eye, to equal it in scale and scope and its ability to convince me that I am in another time and place. In this writer's eye, they never did it better. 

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Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The Questor Tapes!

The Questor Tapes is regarded by many as the best non-Star Trek sci-fi project Gene Roddenberry ever concocted. And I'd likely have to agree. One of my favorite Trek episodes is "Assignment: Earth" which has a human trained by aliens over many centuries return to the planet to oversee our entry into the regions beyond our atmosphere. This show has a similar premise. 

The story begins showing us the creation of an android, one whose components were built by a vanished genius named Emil Vaslovik (Lew Ayres). The android's construction is overseen by Jerry Robinson (Mike Farrell) and a team led by Geoffrey Darrow (John Vernon), but the due to interference with the final plans it seems the android did not activate. Later when everyone is gone from the lab, Questor (Robert Foxworth) does indeed activate and goes in search of Jerry who he hopes will help him find Vaslovik. The two become international fugitives and seek the help of Lady Helena Trimble (Dany Wynter) a notorious information broker in England. With her help they get a clue which does indeed lead them to Vaslovik and the full secret of Questor's creation. 

This is a dandy show, especially the beginning in the lab where Questor is created. Some outstanding effects really help sell his creation. The ending is equally impressive with a fantastic final location for the finale. The problem with this above average effort is the stuff in between, the stuff which frankly would likely resemble the proposed series episodes. Questor and Jerry fumble around as cops look for them, using Questor's talents to cheat at gambling (if that's possible), and gain access to forbidden places. This might well have been a decent show, given half a chance. Robert Foxworth was very impressive as Questor and while I'm not a Farrell fan, he did good work here as well. The show did create one relic in The Questor Tapes novelization by D.C. Fontana. 

But based on my readings about the show, the network once again injected itself unwisely into the development of a Gene Roddenberry project, eventually driving him away and alienating one of the key cast members. Mike Farrell was at one point written out of the show and given little heads up about it, and then was asked to return later which he wisely declined. The saga of how NBC stifled and eventually killed off this Roddenberry offering is a tragic tale, one repeated all too often in the heyday of network television. Roddenberry's TV experience had been a tad woeful, but he'd eventually find solace and success when he retooled Star Trek for syndication. He also got to revisit his ideas about androids by including in that "Next Generation" cast a character named "Data". Perhaps you've heard of him. 

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