Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Questor Tapes (1974)

Director: Richard A. Colla

Writers: Gene Roddenberry, Gene L. Coon

Composer: Gil Melle

Starring: Robert Foxworth, Mike Farrell, John Vernon, Lew Ayres, James Shigeta, Robert Douglas, Dana Wynter, Ellen Weston, Majel Barrett, Reuben Singer, Walter Koenig, Fred Sadoff, Gerald Peters, Eyde Girard, Alan Caillou, Lal Baum, Patti Cubbison, Ian Abercrombie

More info: IMDb

Plot: Project Questor is brainchild of the genius Dr. Vaslovik: he developed plans to build an android super-human. Although he's disappeared and half of his programming tape was erased in the attempt to decode it, his former colleagues continue the project and finally succeed. But Vaslovik seems to have installed a secret program in Questor's brain: He flees and starts to search for Vaslovik. Since half of his knowledge is missing, he needs the help of Jerry Robinson, who's now under suspect of having stolen the android.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

Here's a neat curiosity of a sci-fi TV movie from the mid-70s.  It's got a strong cast and a somewhat interesting story.  I say somewhat because the picture has several moments where it gets bogged down in the standard non-human observations about humans that we've seen before and since.  What makes the film interesting is the ending.  It's just all kinds of unexpected and out there.  What Darro (Vernon) does at the end was nice.  Didn't see that coming.  Foxworth does a fine job as the android, Questor.  His near-monotone voice (well, more monotoned than most people) was perfect and soothing.  Nice.  John Vernon is simply fun no matter what he does.  Look for STAR TREK regulars Majel Barrett and Walter Koenig in small roles.  That was neat.  And what was it about music written for TV shows in the 1970s that made them all sound alike?  Gil Melle's score is so typical with its orchestration and themes that you can tell in two seconds what medium it was written for.  I'm aware that film/TV scores can be trendy and to have certain cycles of evolution but music for 70s TV is so distinctive and often bland.  Eagah!  It doesn't hurt the picture, it's just an observation.  I didn't think of this as a pilot until the last exchange of dialogue suggests there are more adventures to be had.  I just watched it as a one-off TV movie written by the guy who created STAR TREK. It's not a game changer but it's not that bad, either.

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