The only problem, of course, is that Gene Roddenberry's name is found nowhere in the credits of Strange New World, now available on DVD through the magnificent and indispensable Warner Archive.
Indeed, Roddenberry reportedly passed on this third series attempt, even though it stars Planet Earth lead actor John Saxon, utilizes the "PAX" name from the earlier pilots, and features the same general story of men from the present waking-up in a post-apocalyptic future and attempting to restore the auspices of human civilization in a newly barbarous world.
With Saxon's Vico wearing a red toga, and the lush green community grounds all around, plus several athletic young folks in colorful stretchy suits, this portion of the show resembles Boorman's Zardoz (1974), at least superficially. There's the sense of a surrounding "dark ages" while inside a protected compound, one group of Eternals (Eternans?) live in a kind of stagnant, unchanging paradise. The outsider in both situations -- Connery in a loincloth in Zardoz and Saxon in a toga in Strange New World -- represents the change agent.
In the end, Vico recommends the rangers alter their culture to incorporate the poachers. The rangers, who live by the ancient "Code of Fish and Wild Life" manual realize that the book's words were "written for a different time," and must be updated to meet the challenges of today, not the past.
In other words, there's the optimism of Star Trek present in the concept, but it's tempered (dramatically) by the fact that a new dark ages comes before man's ascent to the maturity (and the stars?). That idea is more cogently conveyed in Genesis II and Planet Earth, both of which showcase a functioning PAX organization in the future of the New Dark Ages, one replete with Trekkian-like uniforms, ethnically-diverse members, and high-tech equipment. All of that is missing in Strange New World: It's basically just three astronauts (in grimy outfits, no less), roaming around in a boxy RV, looking for signs of life. The optimism factor is largely absent. PAX is a relic of the past, absent in the present, and only a vague hope for the future.
The second tale in Strange New World is actually slightly more optimistic. It does breach a rapprochement between rangers and poachers, but it's also kind of dark and gritty. The photography in this portion of the film is particularly strong: Strange New World looks authentically like a feature film. But it feels only intermittently Roddenberry-ian, to coin a phrase.
TV series such as Ark II (1975), Logan's Run (1977) and films such as Damnation Alley (1977) all featured heroes broaching new, strange cultures each week in nifty, futuristic vehicles. The Vesta Explorer seen here is a pretty cool ride though it receives relatively little screen time.
The touches I like most in Strange New World are almost throwaway ones. You'll notice, for instance, that Allison wears a wedding ring and makes brief mention of her lost husband and daughter...an interesting character touch that might have proven valuable in continuing stories. What if Vico and Allison fell in love?
Also, Keene Curtis is very good as Dr. Scott here, at first tempted by the medical knowledge available in Eterna and then, in the second story, willing to settle down, to "slow down" and "start living." There's every possibility that had Strange New World gone to series that these two supporting characters would have made very interesting counterpoints to Saxon's heroic but dour Vico. Would they have lost the passion for their mission, and just wanted to settle down somewhere?
Finally, being a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I especially enjoyed the moment in Strange New World wherein John Saxon decked Chunk Beefslab -- Reb Brown ("Space Mutiny") -- but then had to face an army of Reb Brown clones.