There are 4 episodes of The Starlost on disc 2 and the first is Children of Methuselahwhich aired October 20 1973. Devon, Rachel and Garth find the back up Bridge. They do have a bit of trouble getting in and they find some dull children behind the door. They are all dressed in white jumpsuits with red sashes and huge black numbers on them. Number1 is the Captain and he's a bit of an officious prick. The kids have no names, only numbers. Lucky for them they seem to have the same numbers as on their uniforms. The bunch of them have been working on the backup bridge since the Ark left the Earth hundreds of years ago. They had been given a serum at the start of the voyage that keeps their bodies at the same age they were then they lifted off. There's a drug to start their growing up when they reach planet fall. They are very serious children who don't play, only work seriously. They can give people pain with their minds. You have to wonder what the thought was to have them stuck at such a young age, both in contest of the story and what the writers were thinking. Their brains, the kids not necessarily the writers, aren't totally developed yet. It would have been more sensible to have them about 20, near or at their peak physical and mental capabilities. I think a lot of the interesting ideas, especially ones that might look good on tv, were acted on without someone thinking it though. A lot of these writers were not sf writers and probably not even sf readers.
That's the pleasure center up on the left. You pop in and a machine stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain so you don't go crazy. Notice the nice green foam beds. More green foam. It's everywhere on the Ark. Rachel teaches the kids blind man's bluff and the Captain gives them all shit for it when he finds them having fun. Fun is wasteful energy. The kids think they are in charge of the Ark since the accident and don't believe Devon when he says the ship is fated to plunge into a star sometime in the near future. The Captain and the kids laugh at the farmers from Cyprus Corners. Isn't that just like children, not listening. The Captain plans to kill Devon and Garth and have Rachel babysit the smaller kids. Didn't I tell you he was a prick. A couple of the kids help the trio escape but they are captured and brought before the Captain. A sudden emergency gives Devon the chance to show the kids that the whole thing was just a simulation. Crushed, their whole world turned upside down, the kids let Devon, Rachel and Garth go. Devon promises he will come for them if they find the real back up bridge. One of the more interesting ideas for an episode and it just isn't handled well enough to make you go "hey, that was pretty good." Like most of the episodes on the show there are occasional bits of nice work but it's quickly followed by some bit of stupidity or a poorly framed shot or badly blocked scene. Look at Rachel's close up in that screen capture on the left. Half of the shot has an arm in front of her face. Was it an accident or was it planned. If it was planned who would do that? It's not a becoming shot for Rachel and there seems to be no real reason for it to be shot that way. A minute or so later we see a shot with #5 looking through the partially opened door. It's a similar idea and it works so much better. The episode reminded me of the Star Trek episode Miri, with kids in control, but it's a distant reminder. If you aren't Fred Friedberger you'll think Miri is pretty good and it's certainly better than COM. Sadly even the worst Star Trek episode is better than the best in The Starlost.
In Only Man Is Vile, which aired a week later, the trio stumble into a science experiment at a health spa. There seems to be no one at the spa but soon they hear a young woman crying. They get her to lie on some green foam. I think it helps you relax and it feels nice on your bum. She tells them her name is Lethe. Something horrible happened to scare everyone off and they left her behind. Simon Oakland is a mad scientist who uses the crying girl to turn the trio against each other with drugs and trickery. Simon believes man will turn to distrust and self interest but he can't not interfere with his subjects to get his results. Some scientist's are dicks, huh. Especially in tv shows or movies. All the scientist's I know are mostly nerds, some are cool. Simon has been doing this experiment for a while and it always comes out that people turn on each other. Yeah, cause they're drugged and tricked. Some experiment. The trio prove to the be ones that go against the trend and it mostly comes out ok in the end. Another one where the idea was better than the execution. Still there is all that green foam. Nice, huh. Look at Garth chillin' there with Lethe on that round bench covered in green foam. He got all into her but she was just screwing with hi mind. Oh well, he hasn't got time for romance, he's got the Ark to save.
The trio have nice new silver lame jump suits in Circuit Of Death which aired November 10 1973. It guest stars Percy Rodrigues as an electronics engineer who knows the Ark is doomed. Rather than try to fix it he decides to blow it up. Puts everyone out of the misery he knows is coming. Of course he's not going to stay when he blows the ship up. He's taking the little space ship that would be used to salvage the last records of the human race. He'll use that ship to carry him and his daughter off somewhere. She's not too happy with the plan but why would he listen to her. When the escape ship malfunctions he has to stop the auto destruct mechanism he started. So there's a countdown clock ticking in this episode. Maybe they weren't so common in 1973 but I rarely like them anymore. The escape pod has walls that are covered in green foam. That'll keep the records safe I guess. It was rather dark in there so I lightened up the picture a bit using the new photo editing features added by Typepad.
In order to stop the big bam boom Percy enlists Devon's help to go into the computer and change some circuits. Lying on couches they are teleported into the machine. They don't actually leave the couch, there's some fancy technology. They have all sorts of amazing gear on the Ark but no one seems to use it for good. That's people for ya. You get a good idea and some asshole comes along and fucks it up. Devon and the engineer manage to get the job done and it's off to the next dome. Plenty to see on that huge ship. I hope they get to the naughty dome soon. Another episode where the main premise is pretty good but the supporting details aren't as well written as could be. The interior of the computer looks so poor.
In Gallery Of Fear, first broadcast November 17 1973, Devon, Rachel and Garth come across a weird art gallery that was created by an AI computer named Magnus. Magnus can create solid matter with some technical mumbo-jumbo. Turns out he's a power hungry SOB and that fills the whole episode with problems. Magnus is trying to get re-programmed so he can take over the Ark. He needs someone human to do it. Luckily he can't trick any of the trio into doing it. He does give them some nice new clothes.
Angel Tompkins guest stars as Daphne. We later find out she's really one of Magnus's projections. There's hardly anyone who wouldn't want that app, huh. Angel did a lot of tv in a career that started in 1968 and ran through 1992. She guest stared on a lot of popular tv shows. While trying to manipulate the trio Magnus makes Devon look really ugly and Garth attacks him thinking he's a monster of some sort. I think makeup artists should attack the guy who did that makeup, maybe beat some talent into him. It's pretty awful. Devon stands up to Magnus and then destroys him. All the art disappears as do their new clothes. Nope. They get their old clothes back. They leave the area and in the hallway another AI computer threatens them for destroying Magnus. Yeah, go ahead computer, try to kill the only people on the ship who are trying to save your sorry silicon ass. There's hardly any I in those AI's that's for sure. The green foam only appears at the end of the episode when they leave the area and step on a piece of it in front of the doorway. Maybe they were running out of green foam. I imagine it's a finite resource in outer space. The megolmaniac computer has been done a few times in film and tv but this isn't one of the better ones. It's not awful, in fact it's got a couple of good bits and some of the scenes with Angel are ok. She can actually act somewhat better than the rest of the trio who continue to be wooden. Soon the third disc will come and I'll see if I can get through that one.