The Star Wars Holiday Special's, first, and only, broadcast on
November 17, 1978, on CBS, is an infamous entry in the Star Wars canon. The plot centers around
Han Solo getting his faithful Wookie co-pilot Chewbacca back to his home planet
Kashyyyk for the Life Day celebration. Of course, Imperial troops are after them
and the bulk of the story shifts between the search for the two rebels and
small vignettes of everyday life on the Wookie home planet. Widely regarded as an embarrassing flop, the show has nonetheless acquired a cult following. Two segments and the complete
program are provided below from the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel.
Various problems quickly emerge. First, the special is modeled as a variety show — a then-popular format near the end of its lifetime on American TV. Layered with songs, dance, humorous sketches, and not-so-witty one-liners, the result feels like your grandparents' version of Star Wars. The special effects typify late 70s video and computer technology. Blue screen
chroma key effects are rather obvious. Instead of custom-built futuristic-looking
computer housings, off-the-shelf systems are used, like repurposed commercial desktop
computers, or cassette tape players disguised as data playback decks, with a little electronic flash to jazz it up, resulting in very cheap-looking stage props.
The special features several set pieces, including Harvey Korman in two short segments where he plays
an alien chef and a malfunctioning robot. The alien chef bit is the better of
the two items, showcasing Korman’s knack for accents and broad comedy;
however, the malfunctioning robot bit is just painfully slow and unfunny. On a side note, famed fashion designer Bob Mackie, who previously worked with Korman on The Carol Burnett Show, did the costumes for the special. Ralph McQuarrie, tasked with making the preliminary concept drawings for Star Wars, did the illustrations. Also, James Earl Jones gets his first on-screen credit as the voice of Darth Vader.
Diahann Carroll sings "This
Minute Now" to Chewbacca’s father, Itchy, in a virtual reality set-up (who seems to be enjoying it just a little too much). The Jefferson Starship shows up
as a hologram performing “Light the Sky on Fire,” which, notably, is Marty Balin's last recorded performance with the group until 1993, having departed the band in October 1978 (see clip below). Bea Arthur (Maude, The Golden Girls) plays a
bartender at the Mos Eisley Cantina, trading banal dialogue with an enamored
alien barfly played by Harvey Korman before closing out the segment with an entirely forgettable song.
Carrie Fisher solves the age-old question of “Are there lyrics to the Star Wars
theme?” and immediately makes us regret the answer. To her credit, however, the young Fisher has
a surprisingly pleasant singing voice, apparently having inherited the vocal cords of her parents,
Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.
Other segments include
holographic circus acrobats played by the Wazzan Troupe Dancers and Art Carney
fumbling about trying to put Imperial troops off the scent of Han and
Chewy. Bruce Vilanch, one of the writers, in a December 2008 Vanity Fair article, noted that Lucas insisted
that no subtitles be used with the Wookies, which meant that someone who spoke
English had to be around in every scene in order to repeat what the Wookies
said in their own language. This slowed down the action and dumbed-down the story, as if that were even possible.
Of course, the stand-out segment
is the animated sequence introducing Boba Fett to the Stars Wars universe (see below). The impact was immediate and fans couldn’t get
enough of the grim, mysterious, cunning bounty hunter. While Darth Vader is a
great villain, he’s the sort of character you save for the epic showdown. Fett
fills in the space in-between, providing a sense of danger and threat to the protagonists without overusing the primary antagonist.
George Lucas, whose participation in the production was minimal, was so embarrassed
by the final result that he disowned the program and once famously said that if
he could destroy every copy, he would. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending
on your opinion, fans who videotaped the program on early VCRs preserved the
show and shared bootlegs at conventions, where I first came across it in 1992 after having seen it on TV during its only broadcast in 1978. Despite all that,
and probably a little to Lucas’ chagrin, the program has secured such a unique
place in the hearts of Star Wars fans
that it is considered a canonical work.
For me, The Star Wars Holiday Special holds a nostalgic place. It
aired exactly two weeks before my mother moved us out of the family home after
the divorce from my father. In her rush to move, and recognizing the realities
of going from a house to a small apartment, she left almost all of my toys
behind, including my precious Stars Wars
figures, as well as many other relics of my childhood. In that sense,
our experiences can raise a simple piece of overblown pop culture ephemera, such
as The Star Wars Holiday Special, into
something a little more significant than if judged on its artistic merits
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a ubiquitous part of the
holiday season; so much so, in fact, that it is easy to overlook the power of
this simple story. Two of my favorite iterations of this classic tale include
the 1970 musical version Scrooge,
starring Albert Finney, and the 1971 animated version, A Christmas Carol, starring Alastair Sim recreating his role from
the superlative 1951 film version, also titled Scrooge. Both are available below form the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube
For me, the exuberant musical
version Scrooge (1970) is a must-see
for the holiday season. Though receiving mixed reviews at the time of its
theatrical release, this version received wide airplay in the 1970s and 1980s,
consequently gaining many Baby Boomer fans.Albert Finney and Alec Guinness star as Scrooge and Marley,
respectively, and fans of British TV and film will notice many familiar faces,
including Gordon Jackson (The Great
Escape and Upstairs, Downstairs),
Roy Kinnear (Help!, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,
and The Three Musketeers), andAnton Rogers (The Prisoner, May to December,
and Upstairs, Downstairs). The
choreography is tight and a number of songs, including “A Christmas Carol,”
“December the 25th,” “I Like Life,” “Happiness,” and “Thank You Very Much,”
linger long in the mind well after the film is over.
The film was nominated for
several Academy and Golden Globe awards and was later turned into a stage
production in 1992 starring Anthony Newly in the title role. The full version is available below from the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel.
1971’s animated A Christmas Carol is a brief 25 minutes,
but all the essential elements from the book are covered, reminding one just
how short a story it is. The animation can be both whimsical and dark, and,
indeed, this is a darker version of Dickins' story. At its heart, A Christmas Carol is more of a ghost
story than a traditional feel-good Yuletide tale. In fact, the full title
of the book is A Christmas Carol. Being a
Ghost Story of Christmas; yet, despite that, it has an optimistic and life-affirming message.
As the film progresses, the
imagery grow more disturbing, evocative of Edward Gorey's work in tone, if not
in composition. This is apparent in such scenes as when the Ghost of Christmas
Yet To Come visits, and is so intense that it may frighten some younger
viewers. Alastair Sim ably demonstrates that he is the quintessential Ebenezer
Scrooge and his performance provides the character with depth, nuance, and
subtlety. The legendary Chuck Jones, of Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes fame, lends
his hand as executive producer. First released on TV, which I remember seeing, it was given a theatrical
release and won a 1972 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film (which led to
the rule banning programs first broadcast on TV from Oscar consideration). This
is as much an underrated classic as ever there was one and deserves much wider
appreciation by the general public. The full version is available below from the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel.
The giant Earthship Ark — man’s greatest and final
achievement — out of control, drifting through deep space over 800 years into
the far future. Its passengers, descendants of the last survivors of the dead
planet Earth, locked in separate worlds, their destination long forgotten, heading for destruction unless three young people can save the Starlost!
— Opening Narration to The Starlost
The Starlost is a 16-episode Canadian science-fiction television
series that aired from 1973 to 1974 in both Canada and the United States. The
series is usually derided as among the worst sci-fi series ever produced, and
while that accusation is mired in a lot of hyperbole, the show, nevertheless,
is an example of a good idea with lots of promise and fine actors that was
penny-pinched by producers with little knowledge of science-fiction, or writing
in general. Series creator and awarded-winning bestselling sci-fi author Harlan
Ellison disliked the series so much, he disowned it before the first episode
aired and was credited under the pseudonym "Cordwainer Bird."The complete
series is available below from a dedicated Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube Channel.
The series was intended to be a
co-production of the BBC and 20th Century Fox for prime-time viewing with the
hope it would be shot in London. Unfortunately, the BBC declined; however, the
Canadian CTV television network joined in, though with less funding, and the series was broadcasted in Canada and syndicated in the United States to a total of 48 stations. Because of the loss of the BBC's potential investment, the budget was much smaller as were the
Toronto studios the series was eventually filmed in. Both restrictions contributed
to the general dissatisfaction from Ellison and his departure from the series.
How many episodes Ellison
developed story ideas for is not quite certain from the information available. The
pitch film (below), likely produced by the late Spring/early Summer of 1973, features footage from Trumbull's Silent Running (1972) and promoted the use of the ill-fated Magicam system (more about that later). Some details are different, such as Dullea's character's name being Victor Rann (spelling of the last name unsure) instead of Devon. Notably, Ellison is referred to by his real name rather than Cordwainer Bird, the name he used as his series credit (indicating his dislike) after leaving the production in September 1973. The film also indicates Ellison would be contributing six scripts, but
which those were are unclear. He authored the story for the first episode, "Voyage of Discovery." but
the Internet Movie Database credits him with contributing to every episode as "creator,"
including the episode "The Goddess Calabra" based on a
story by Ursula K. Le Guin (The Lathe of Heaven, see separate
article on Aeolus 13 Umbra). Consequently, the writing credits listed below
reflect those indicated on the episode credits themselves, or as otherwise noted.
The series originated in February
1973 when a 20th Century Fox television producer, Robert Kline, asked Ellison
to develop a prime time science fiction TV series of eight episodes, which he
would then pitch to the BBC as a co-production. Ellison was cold to the idea of
limited-run series, but Kline persisted and Ellison eventually tossed out the
idea for what would become The Starlost.
While Ellison was certainly a creative genius, Douglas Trumball, who would co-executive
produce the series, explored a similar idea of a biosphere ship in 1972’s Silent Running, so one wonders if
Ellison wasn't just spinning off that idea to some degree.
Sci-fi author Ben Bova served as science
advisor and, much to his dismay at working with producers who had such little
concern for technical accuracy, left after the first episode aired. He later
used the experience as the basis for his novel The Starcrossed.
The per episode production budget
in 1973 for The Starlost was
approximately US$100,000, or about US$569,560 in 2018. This was a little bit
less than what an average episode of Star
Trek: The Original Series cost in 1966 when the same US$100,000 equals approximately US$780,409 in 2018, so the same amount of money bought more in 1966 than it did in 1973. To put it in better perspective,
the per episode budget for the live-action Saturday morning children’s series Jason of Star Command (see separate article on Aeolus 13 Umbra) produced a few
years later in 1978 by the notoriously cheap Filmation, was US$200,000, or approximately
US$773,454 in 2018. The Starlost's budget should have been about US$50,000 more in 1973 dollars to compensate for inflation and keep it on par with other sci-fi shows of the era.
Starlost (left to right), Garth, Devon, and Rachel, look at a star rising above the massive Earthship Ark for the first time from the ruined main bridge.
The series takes place on the
immense Earthship Ark, containing the last remnants of the planet Earth, in the year 2790. The
Ark is approximately 200 miles (320 km) long and 50 miles (80 km) wide and home
to dozens of self-contained biospheres, each containing a unique culture, totaling about three million people. An accident four hundred years in their
past isolated the biospheres from each other and set the vessel on a direct
course for an eventual collision with a star.
not very helpful computer.
The lead in the series is Keir
Dullea, who played Dave Bowman in 2001: A
Space Odyssey. Dullea plays Devon, a farmer in an agricultural Amish-like
community in one of the biospheres. The action in the series begins when Devon's love interest Rachel (Gay Rowen) is betrothed to another man, Garth
(Robin Ward). This causes Devon to begin questioning the authorities, their way
of life, and mysterious aspects of their existence, such as why the sun moves
as it does, where the water comes from, and what lies beyond the door marked, "Beyond
is Death." Chased by the villagers, Devon makes his escape from the biosphere
and discovers that he is on the Earthship Ark and that it is headed into a
star. In order to save the ship, and the biospheres, Devon must find the backup
bridge and restart the main engines. Unfortunately, the ship’s main computer is
damaged and not always useful. Further, after 400 years, there
seems to be no records of where the backup bridge is, so with
help from Rachel and a wary Garth, the trio begins a journey of exploration and
Making the protagonists
agricultural workers unfamiliar with technology at first seems like a nice
trick to present a logical scenario for the inevitable long expository common
to sci-fi. Indeed, Devon, Rachel, and Garth are stand-ins for the viewers and
their need for information about the Ark mirrors or own, so at first this seems
like a convenient literary device. Nevertheless, it quickly becomes apparent
that this often results in such plot holes as Devon, a farmer from a technically
backwards society, frequently operating technology far outside his primitive
skill set. After viewing the series, it may have been better for at least one
of the three protagonists to be from a more technologically advanced biosphere.
For sci-fi fans of the 1970s, the
special effects of The Starlost are
somewhat on par with Blake’s 7 and Dr. Who of the same time period. Gerry
Anderson’s UFO(1970-1973) and Space: 1999(1975-1977) show clearly superior effects work,
as do the live-action Saturday morning series Space Academy(1977) and Jason of Star Command (1978-1979) (click on links for reviews of the aforementioned
series on Aeolus 13 Umbra). While the shots of Earthship Ark are impressive and
the modeling detailed, they lack movement due to the limitations of the technology. The lighting is poor, the backgrounds are dull, and star fields almost virtually absent. Consequently, for a show that takes place in outer space, very little is seen of it.
Part of the pitch of The Starlost to Ellison, as detailed in
his essay "Somehow, I Don’t Think We’re In Kansas, Toto," in the preface to the
novelization of Ellison’s script for the pilot episode by Edward Bryant (Phoenix Without Ashes), was
that video, rather than film, would allow for high production values at a lower
cost. Not only were the promised superior special effects not forthcoming, but the use of video
tape rather than film further cheapened the look of an already financially-strapped
venture. The results were not what were anticipated by either the actors or the
TV stations that syndicated the series.
As previously noted, director/producer
Douglas Trumbull released the film Silent
Running in 1972 featuring a similar vessel with biospheres. Trumbull touted
his Magicam system as a way to allow actors to move inside an effects shot and provide a heightened sense of realism. An example is provided in the pitch film, but Magicam, still in its
early development, was a troubled and problematic system that was eventually
abandoned for the series. As Trumbull’s effects ability is amply demonstrated
in such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey,
Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Blade Runner, the technical problems
with The Starlost were not with him,
but with the production companies 20th Century-Fox Television, CTV Television
Network, and Glen Warren Productions, who quite literally nickel-and-dimed the
series into an early death.
The video effects, despite some
occasional creative applications, are generally just random functions from
an early video effects generator board. I am somewhat familiar with the technology from
interning at a public access television station in the early 1980s. If that was
all they could afford, it was a penny-pinching production indeed.
The studio they filmed in was so
small even shots of long corridors were difficult. In the first episode, "Voyage of Discovery," a simple shot of a long corridor
(at the 41:40 time mark) needed a blue screen effect to accomplish the shot. In the scene, Dullea and Rowen are recorded on tape looking towards the camera. Then, Ward is recorded on the other side of the corridor looking at a blue screen, upon which the footage of Dullea and Rowen is later inserted over in post-production.It seems like a complicated and expensive fix to accommodate an inferior studio they had to use because of budgetary limitations. Another technique to show long corridors was to have a
full-scale photo-realistic painting simply mounted to one side of a doorway. On
a 70s-era 19 inch, or smaller, color cathode-ray tube TV, the effect probably
wasn’t very noticeable; however, on today’s high-definition TVs it is clearly
Pisces scout ship makes a pass below the Earthship Ark. The difference in
quality between the two vessels in this shot is even greater on high-definition
Other than the impressive
Earthship Ark, the other spaceships that do make the occasional appearance,
such as the Astro-Medic ship or Pisces scout ship, look hastily conceived, or, in the case of Oro's flying saucer, just outright ridiculous. When the buildings inside the biospheres are shown, as in "Mr. Smith of Manchester," they look more like children’s toys just repainted and thrown together. Matte paintings would
have been the better choice for such scenes and it is curious why they are not used.
The use of matte shots, where
scenery is painted on glass with an area left clear for previously shot footage
to be played through, allows for actors to move through various fanciful
locations without the cost involved in creating such sets. Curiously, this
technique is not really utilized (likely for budgetary reasons) despite having
had been used in sci-fi movies for decades prior to The Starlost, and their use could have provided a sense of space in
a series where much of the action takes place inside a room of some sort, apart from a very few exceptions, such as Devon’s EVA in the episode "Farthing's Comet." The Magicam system
was meant to replace, or at least supplement, this process, but it proved to be
an unreliable alternative at the time of the series.
Keir Dullea is an accomplished
actor and was well-known even before his role in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Gay Rowen and Robin Ward keep pace with
Dullea, and Ward’s Garth makes for a good foil to Dullea’s Devon. The guest
stars feature an array of talented character actors who have appeared in
various sci-fi series of the era and later, including John Colicos, Commander
Kor, Star Trek: The Original Series and Deep Space Nine and Baltor in Battlestar Galactica (1978); Barry Morse,
Prof. Victor Bergman, Space: 1999; Lloyd
Bochner, Commandant Leiter, Battlestar
Galactica (1978) episodes "Baltar's Escape" and "Greetings from Earth";
Simon Oakland, Kolchak: The Night Stalker;
Donnelly Rhodes, Dr. Cottle, Battlestar
Galactica (2004); and Walter Koenig, Ensign Chekov, Star Trek: The Original Series, and Alfred Bester in Babylon 5. Indeed, the actors often,
with some exceptions, generally rise above the material they’re given to work
with, but it is seldom enough to move an episode into the “must-see” category.
In the end, The Starlost frequently leaves the viewer unsatisfied. Despite an intriguing
premise, too often the phrase “If only they had done things differently,” comes
to mind. That happens in even the best of series at times, but with The Starlost it is more the rule than the exception. That's not to say there aren't a few good episodes, but there are distracting inconsistencies. Devon, Rachel, and Garth, despite being from a
primitive agricultural community become pretty adept at using highly advanced
technology. Despite meeting an array of people on the Ark, including medical
staff, security officers, scientists, artificially intelligent computers, and the
various biosphere residents, few seem particularly concerned that the ship is
headed straight into a star. A scout ship travels 10 years at near light-speed,
but the crew seems ignorant of the time dilation effect which results in them
being over 400 years out of time. Although the Ark is highly technically advanced
and automated, the one robot seen (in the episode "The Return of Oro") looks like an antiquated relic from a 1930s Flash
Gordon or Buck Rogers film serial.
The anti-war and environmental themes, questioning authority, and the concept of three
young people who come from an agricultural, communal society to try and save
the Earth are very 1970s sorts of ideas, so the series in some ways typifies the
era in which it was produced. The use of video tape, video board effects generators,
and early computers provides a point of research for TV and film production historians,
but more as oddities and as examples of what not to do.
If you enjoy 1970s sci-fi, or just want to see what all the controversy is about, at least some episodes of The Starlost are worth checking out,
such as "Voyage of Discovery," "The Alien Oro," and "Circuit of Death." Indeed, these episodes are the only ones I can
recall after first watching the series back in 1973. If I can remember even
those few episodes from a long-forgotten series I haven’t seen in 45 years,
there must be something pretty good about it after all . . . or something awfully,
if not gloriously, bad.
The Starlost: The Complete Series
by G. Jack Urso. Click on the links below to view the episodes
Aeolus 13 Umbra Starlost TV YouTube channel!
Cast(left to right): Keir Dullea (Devon),Gay Rowen (Rachel),Robin
Episode 1: "Voyage of Discovery"| Original Airdate: September 22, 1973 | Writer: Harlan
Ellison (as Cordwainer Bird) (story), Norman Klenman (teleplay)
Devon, a young man from a small
agricultural community, accidently finds out his world is actually part of an
immense spacecraft, the Earthship Ark, comprised of dozens of huge biodomes,
and on a collision course with a star! Condemned by his people when he shares
this knowledge, Devon escapes with his friends Rachel and Garth to try and save
the ship and the last remnants of the dead planet Earth. Guest Star: Sterling
Hayden (The Godfather).
Episode 2: "Lazarus from the Mist"|Original Airdate: September 29, 1973 | Writers: Doug Hall, Don Wallace
Devolved descendants of the Ark’s
security forces capture Garth. Meanwhile Devon and Rachel discover some of the ship's
engineers in suspended animation and revive one of them to help them repair the
Ark. Note: The entire action takes place mainly on two sets which creates a
claustrophobic feeling, a periodic issue with the cash-strapped series.
Episode 3: "The Goddess Calabra"|Original Airdate: October 6, 1973 | Writers: Ursula K. Le Guin (story), Martin
Devon, Rachel, and Garth discover
the Omicron biosphere where only men live. The governor decides to marry Rachel
who resembles a goddess the men worship. Guest Star: John Colicos (Commander
Kor, Star Trek: The Original Series and Deep Space Nine; Baltor, Battlestar Galactica (1978); and Barry
Morse Prof. Victor Bergman, Space: 1999).
Note: The costuming is cartoonish and anachronistic for a future society. The
final fight between Colicos’ and Dullea’s characters is poorly choreographed
Episode 4: "The Pisces"|Original
Airdate: October 13, 1973 | Writer: Norman Klenman
A scout ship from the Ark returns
after a ten-year voyage travelling near the speed of light, but while only
ten-years have passed for the crew, over four hundred years have passed on the
Ark due to the time dilation effect. Guest star: Lloyd Bochner (Commandant
Leiter, Battlestar Galactica (1978)
episodes “Baltar's Escape” and “Greetings from Earth”). Note: This episode is
largely a talkfest and it seems incongruous for scientists in the year 2790 to
be ignorant of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity as it applies to the time
Episode 5: "Children of Methuselah" |
Original Airdate: October 20, 1973 | Writers: Jonah Royston, George Ghent
Devon, Rachel, and Garth find what
may be the backup bridge, but it’s manned by a group of immortal children with
psychic powers who believe they have been navigating the Ark for hundreds of
years — or have they? Note: It is not convincingly explained why the adults
abandoned the children and it seems to be more of a last-minute afterthought to
resolve a plot hole. Additionally, the child actors performances wildly vary
and are less convincing than the children’s performances in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode
“And the Children Shall Lead,” for example.
Leisure Village, a biosphere with
deceptively peaceful scenery, turns out to be an experiment in creating a superior
breed of savage humans through survival of the fittest. Guest Star: Simon
Oakland (Kolchak: The Night Stalker).
Episode 7: "The Alien Oro"| Original Airdate: November 3, 1973 | Writers: Mort
Forer, Marian Waldman
An alien, Oro, who crashed into
the Earthship Ark, has been gathering parts from the giant spacecraft to repair
his ship and return home. Garth, however, falls for a woman with Oro who must
leave the Ark with the alien if she is to live. Guest Star: Walter Koenig (Ensign
Chekov, Star Trek: The Original Series;
Alfred Bester, Babylon 5).
Episode 8: "Circuit of Death"|Original
Airdate: November 10, 1973 | Writer: Norman Klenman
An angry, bitter man, Dr.
Richards, sets the Ark to self-destruct and tries to escape with his daughter;
however, when his escape ship is unable to leave, he and Devon must undergo a
dangerous process to shrink themselves to microscopic size in order to
deactivate the self-destruct and save the Ark and his daughter. Guest Star: Percy
Rodrigues (Star Trek: The Original Series
episode “Court Martial”). Note: Despite being heavy in expository elements, and
dubious scientific technobabble, this episode is regarded as one of the most
Episode 9: "Gallery of Fear"|Original
Airdate: November 17, 1973 | Writers: Alf Harris (as Alfred Harris), and George
Magnus, an artificially
intelligent sociopathic computer, tries to trick Devon, Rachel, and Garth into helping
complete his programming so he has complete autonomy and control. Keir Dullea (2001, A Space Odyssey), however, has
some prior experience with psycho A.I. computers that he puts to use in this
episode. Note: Magnus’ sexy, but illusionary, servant woman has abilities that
seem to have not been well-thought out (she can hand out drinks, but can’t
press buttons), and Devon, Rachel, and Garth, seem to keep falling for Magnus’
tricks even though they know he is trying to deceive them.
Episode 10: "Mr. Smith of Manchester"| Original Airdate:November 24, 1973 | Writers: Arthur Heinemann,
The tyrannical ruler of a
highly-industrialized polluted biosphere dedicated to making weapons tries to
convince Devon, Rachel, and Garth to show him, and his army, the way out. Guest
Star: Ed Ames (Mingo, Daniel Boone).
Note: The biosphere’s buildings look little more than a children’s playset
filmed by high school students.
Episode 11: "Astro-Medics"|Original Airdate: December 1, 1973 | Writers: Paul Schneider, Martin Lager
Devon is injured and Rachel calls
for help, which arrives in the form of a medical ship orbiting the Ark;
however, an alien ship requesting assistance forces the medical staff to decide
whether to continuing helping Devon or leave him and assist the aliens. Note:
Despite knowing of the Ark’s trajectory into a star, the medical staff seems
little concerned about it.
Episode 12: "The Implant People"|Original Airdate: December 8, 1973 |
Writers: Helen French, Martin Lager, John Meredyth Lucas (uncredited), Allen
Devon, Rachel, and Garth are
taken captive in a biosphere where the workers are controlled by implants and
the lower classes starved. With the leader unaware of what is happening, her
assistant plots to take over. Guest Star: Donnelly Rhodes (Dr. Cottle, Battlestar Galactica (2004)). Note: Shot
in about five indoor sets, the episode as a claustrophobic feeling and the
brief shot of the biosphere’s buildings look like various parts of a children’s
playset cobbled together.
Episode 13: "The Return of Oro"|Original Airdate: December 15, 1973 | Writer: Alex C. James
Oro the alien revisits Earthship
Ark with promises to repair the ship and bring them to his home world of Exar,
but is he telling the truth? Of course not, and the episode ends with Oro being
abandoned by his people, stranded on Earthship Ark, and on the run from the
Ark’s security forces. Guest Star: Walter Koenig (Ensign Chekov, Star Trek: The Original Series; Alfred
Bester, Babylon 5). Note: The robot,
Tau Zeta, has completely useless arms and looks like a refugee from a 1930’s Buck Rogers serial.
Episode 14: "Farthing's Comet"|Original Airdate: December 22, 1973 | Writer:
A scientist alters the Ark's
course to pass through a comet's tail so he can study it; Devon must make an
EVA to rewire a panel so the service reactors can be fired again; cometary
debris damages the biospheres. Guest Star: Edward Andrews (The Twilight Zone episodes "Third from the Sun" and "You Drive"). Note:
Why in the year 2790 do people need to wear 1950’s style black horn-rimmed
glasses? Additionally, Devon, for a farmer, seems to be particularly well-adept
at Extravehicular Activity (EVA) and piloting a small craft despite never
having piloted a vessel before.
Episode 15: "The Beehive"| Original Airdate: December 29, 1973 |
Writer: Norman Klenman
GIANT MUTANT MIND-CONTROLLING
BEES! ‘Nuff said.
Episode 16: "Space Precinct"|Original Airdate: January 5, 1974 | Writer: Martin
Garth is recruited by the
Inter-Ark police to help put an end to an interplanetary war, but gets framed
for a crime he didn’t commit. Note: Despite being the Inter-Ark police, they
show no concern over Oro the alien running around on the Ark or the fact the
ship is headed straight for a star.
Episode 17: "God That Died" | Original Airdate: Unproduced |
Episode 18: "People in the Dark" | Original Airdate: Unproduced |
Note: The Starlog Photo
Guidebook TV Episode Guides Volume 1 (1981) and the Internet Movie Database list "God That Died” and "People in
the Dark"as the unproduced episodes 17 and 18, respectively. Additionally, in the late 1980s,
five “movies” comprised of editing together two episodes each were released for
broadcast on cable television. These include: