Sunday, December 09, 2012
Cult-TV Blogging: The Starlost: "And Only Man is Vile" (October 27, 1973)
“And Only Man is Vile” isn’t exactly vile, but it’s surely he worst The Starlost (1973-1974) episode to come along since “The Goddess Calabra.”
Although terrible, that earlier episode was at least watchable due to the presence of John Colicos and Barry Morse in major roles. “And Only Man is Vile” features the great Simon Oakland (Kolchak: The Night Stalker) as a guest star, but even he can’t bring much to this particular tale which is, politely-put, sluggishly-paced.
I already wrote last week that I fell asleep in this episode three times, on three successive nights.
Since then, I fell asleep in it a fourth time, and just moments before the episode ended. Sorry folks. I failed you here.
Now, I hate it when critics complain that a film or television series is boring, because I believe “boring” is a judgment call meaning, essentially, that, a critic refuses to engage with a work of art.
Well, I may have to re-think that belief. I tried to get through this episode four times and I just couldn’t stay with it. As much as I hate to describe TV or film productions as boring…“And Only Man is Vile” is incredibly boring. The episode consists of endless scenes of Oakland watching events unfold on a view screen in his laboratory. Those scenes inevitably involve Garth, Devon and Rachel walking around an empty Leisure Village.
“And Only Man is Vile” concerns a biosphere called New Eden. There in “Leisure Village,” two doctors, Asgard (Oakland) and Tabor (Irena Mayeska) conduct experiments on the fear-filled, ignorant denizens.
These psychologists want to determine the truth about human nature, and Asgard is particularly keen to prove his theory that human beings are horrible, disloyal creatures.
To establish his point, Dr. Asgard uses a very sexy young woman, Lethe (Trudy Young) to cut a wedge between the loyal threesome of Devon (Keir Dullea), Garth (Robin Ward), and Rachel (Gay Rowan).
Lethe is gorgeous and friendly, and her first successful mark is Garth who has -- let’s face it -- been turned over by Rachel in favor of Devon. Only when the villagers threaten to kill Devon, and Garth realizes Lethe’s duplicity, does he step up to save his friend.
I have so many questions about this story, but I’m reluctant to air them all for fear that they were actually answered, and I merely dozed through them. I will state, however, that I don’t understand why Asgard and Tabor are still alive some five hundred years after the mission of the Ark began. Did they take the life-preserving serum we heard mention of in “Children of Methuselah?”
Furthermore, since Lethe uses coercive or artificial means to sway Garth, and to a lesser extent, Rachel, I’m not sure that Asgard legitimately makes his point about human nature. Sure, acting under the influence, Garth proves disloyal for a time, but it seems like the books are cooked, so-to-speak.
A commenter here last week, Neal P., cogently explained how The Starlost seems to making things up as it goes along, presenting contradictory and bizarre stories, week-after-week. “And Only Man is Vile” is especially hard to fit into any kind of coherent chronology of Ark history. Were the doctors conducting these experiments when the Ark’s catastrophe occurred? If so, why didn’t they stop their experiment and try to help people? Do they know that the ark is on a collision course with a star now, and if so, wouldn’t they stop their experiment to do something about it?
I don’t know. I’m just lost with this one.
Don’t worry, I stayed awake through next week’s selection, the abundantly silly and yet highly-entertaining “Circuit of Death.”