Sunday, December 23, 2012
Cult-TV Blogging: The Starlost: "Gallery of Fear" (November 17, 1973)
In “Gallery of Fear,” this week’s selection from The Starlost (1973 – 1974) episode canon, Devon (Keir Dullea), Garth (Robin Ward), and Rachel (Gay Rowan) are pushed -- by an ill-wind, literally -- into a strange art gallery.
In this unusual gallery, the sculptures and other works of art seem to respond to those who look at them, and the threesome is promptly met by a gorgeous woman, Daphne (Angel Tompkins) who speaks to them meaningfully about a great mind called “Magnus” who rules the realm.
The unseen Magnus is able to conjure up life-like visions from Garth and Rachel’s past, namely of their parents, and soon only Devon seems immune from his terrifying powers.
At long last, Devon realizes that Magnus is actually a super-computer constructed hundreds of years earlier in an attempt by the command crew to better handle problems on the Ark. Devon also realizes that Magnus could set the Ark back on course (and avoid the collision with the “solar star”), but Magnus demands first that Devon re-program him to become more powerful…
Like “And Only Man is Vile,” “Gallery of Fear” is a very slow-paced episode of this cheap Canadian sci-fi series.
Virtually all the action takes (tedious) place in one large gallery room, and again, much of the story doesn’t make sense as you or I would recognize it.
Why would Magnus -- the greatest mind in the galaxy -- believe for a moment that a denizen from Cypress Corners -- a Mennonite, essentially -- could successfully re-program him?
Not only is Devon untrained in any computer sciences, he’s already proven his ignorance in all things technical since he can’t change the course of the Ark on his own. In short, Magnus would have better luck if Daphne reprogrammed him, than if Devon did. His demand of Devon is idiotic.
Considering the logic of this scenario, Magnus, it seems, should agree to change the Ark’s trajectory to assure his own continued survival, and then go about finding a denizen who could reprogram him, perhaps awaking the right technical personnel from stasis (as seen in “Lazarus from the Mist”) in the process.
Like so many episodes of The Starlost, “Gallery of Fear” makes almost no logical sense whatsoever. I did enjoy the concept of a living gallery, where works of art respond to the input of those who gaze at them. Also, I liked the setting...for the first five minutes. Initially, the gallery has a sinister vibe, and some of the early moments where it is explored by the heroes are successful at generating a diabolical atmosphere.
Otherwise, this is your typical“evil computer must be destroyed!” episode, much like any we’ve seen on Star Trek (“Return of the Archons,” “A Taste of Armageddon,” “The Ultimate Computer”) or another series. But having an uneducated (if focused…) individual such as Devon be the one to outwit the ultimate computer is so ridiculous in these circumstances.
In two weeks, we pick up The Starlost again with “Mr. Smith of Manchester.” We're half way done with the series, at this point...