Funniest and Star Trekkiest moments of Gene Roddenberry's Strange New World

Strange New World, a 1975 TV pilot that just hit DVD, is based on concepts from Gene Roddenberry. And this post-apocalyptic saga is full of amazing Seventies cheese, plus some fun nods to Star Trek. Check out our favorite moments.

In Strange New World, three astronauts are sent up to a space station for an experiment into suspended animation. Why do they have to be in space to be put into suspended animation? It's never entirely clear. But while they're asleep, meteors threaten to make the planet all but uninabitable. So NASA decides to extend their sleep remotely, to 180 years. (There's nobody on their space station who's not in suspended animation, because why would you do that?)

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So our heroes wake up 180 years later to find an Earth that's been reduced to ruins. We find all this out in a three-minute prologue that feels like an extended opening credits. And then our heroes ride their shuttlecrafts down to Earth, where they have two adventures. We'll call them "Plato's Stepchildren with Clones," and "The Omega Glory with Tigers." In the first one, our heroes are dressed up in togas for no particular reason, and trapped in a perfect society, which has one evil secret — involving clones!! In the second one, two tribes are fighting a centuries-old conflict as they descend into barbarism — and one tribe has tigers!

Oh, and Roddenberry didn't actually write or produce this show, but it was based on his concepts and seems to do a pretty good job of copying his usual style.

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Anyway, it's fun for anyone who loves mid-1970s SF, and especially worth checking out for anyone who loves Star Trek. We collected some of our favorite moments above, including a couple snippets of the prologue, Captain Tony freaking out over his toga, a campy weird funeral, and the revelation... of CLONES! Also, a fight scene and one of the barbarians announcing that HE'S GOT THE SHOOTER.

You can buy it on DVD only from the Warner Archive, here.

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DISCUSSION

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J Steven York

If people haven't made the connection, "Genesis II," "Planet Earth" and this are all different pilots based on the same concept. It's not that strange when you consider that Star Trek went through two significantly different pilots, and that the final show was yet-different from both of them.

The first two pilots used the "Sub Shuttle" atomic subway as the show's "transporter" to quickly get characters in and out of the story, and added the supporting organization of "Pax" as a "Star Fleet Command." This last one abandoned those (cost?) and substituted a generic sci-fi vehicle. (The vehicle was actually a motorized vehicle about the size of a golf-cart, maybe 1/3 scale. I saw it parked on the Warner Brothers lot shortly after the pilot was filmed, just around the corner from the Walton's house for some reason.)

But the final twist is that those three unsold pilots weren't the end of it. The character Dillon Hunt and the basic concept (suspended animation, time-lost hero rebuilding a lost world out of chaos) from Genesis II were simply transplanted to space and became the series "Andromeda."