Sunday, May 31, 2015

At Flashbak: Sci-Fi TV and the Story of Adam and Eve

"The Biblical story of Adam and Eve depicts the first human couple in history. The duo was created by God to live in the Garden of Eden, but expelled after tasting fruit from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. 

The Book of Genesis enumerates the children and descendants of Adam and Eve, our ancestors in human generations.

But significantly, science-fiction television has often re-written the Adam and Eve story, perhaps because it is a tale of new beginnings, a kind of origin story.

The Adam and Eve paradigm appeared memorably on two episodes of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone (1959 – 1964). 

In “Two,” an apocalyptic war has destroyed civilization, leaving only two survivors.  One is an American soldier, played by Charles Bronson. The other is a Russian soldier, played by Elizabeth Montgomery. 

In a ruined metropolis, these individuals eye each other suspiciously for a time, unable at first to let go of the hatred that fueled their global conflict.  Over time, however, the duo accepts their situation, and each other. 

In the episode’s denouement, the female soldier – wearing a wedding dress she has found in an abandoned store -- and the male soldier march off together. It is clear they will begin the human race a second time, as Adam and Eve Mark II.

“Probe 7 Over and Out,” another Twilight Zone episode, follows a very similar trajectory.  A male soldier, Cook (Richard Basehart) lands his spaceship on a habitable world, only to learn that his home planet has been destroyed in a nuclear war.  

As he familiarizes himself with his new world, Cook encounters another alien, a beautiful woman refugee from the planet “Norda.”  He introduces himself as Adam Cook.  She is Eve Norda.  They call the planet “Irth,” and share a seppla (apple?) in a garden.

Star Trek’s (1966 – 1969) original pilot, “The Cage” offers a variation on the Adam and Eve story too. Here, Captain Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) is captured by the aliens of planet Talos IV. The Talosians hope that he will mate with another human, Vina (Susan Oliver) and that together they will become the father and mother of a new human race; ones destined to dwell on the desolate planet surface and perform the hard physical labor that the fragile Talosians cannot. 

Although the Talosians tempt Captain Pike with visions of Vina in different settings -- and indeed as different women -- he refuses to be an accomplice in the plan to create a race of human slaves.  One such fantasy involves Captain Pike and Vina in a picnic in a kind of garden, subtly evoking the Adam and Eve story.

Intriguingly, Star Trek’s second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before" also features resonances of the Adam and Eve tale.  In this episode, Kirk must prevent the birth of a new super-human race.  The Adam and Eve of that race are Gary Mitchell (Gary Lockwood) and Dr. Dehner (Sally Kellerman), powerful “God” like beings with telepathic and telekinetic powers. Several scenes show Dehner and Mitchell in a garden, sampling alien fruit."

1 comment:

  1. John good article. The best and my favorites in science-fiction television have dealt with Adam & Eve.