|Posted on June 13, 2012 at 7:55 AM|
Our blog chain topic for June is “Pursuit,” and I found myself in a quandary where to focus my remarks. So many scenes in sci-fi are about reaching the finish line first, or about chasing and being chased. I finally wrote one about Starfleet’s ongoing war with the Romulans; as of last week, the blog had been ready to go. Then I saw Gene Roddenberry’s 1974 movie The Questor Tapes for the first time in years, and I felt it had a lot more potential for carrying the theme than anything else. Look for the Romulan one at the top of September.
Roddenberry made a total of five movies after Trek: one was a total piece of trash, the others rehashed some old and tired ideas about men’s relations women, about finding a world of peace and discovering it’s oppressive and emotion driven. And the main characters usually had very loose morals—if it can be called “morality.” The name Pax showed up a lot, whether it was a world, a city, or a company. I compare this idea to the first season of the new Doctor Who with “Bad Wolf” woven through the stories, and the second season with “Torchwood.” Like Pax, the words were meaningless, even when the reason was found.
Of these movies, only The Questor Tapes grabbed my attention. The story centers on a laboratory whose technicians are making a new android. At first it looks like a rubber mannequin, or like an Auton on Doctor Who. The first brain inputs fail to bring it to life, so the technicians quit and consider scrapping the whole project. This is the brainchild of Dr. Emil Vaslovik, who has disappeared and is currently presumed dead.
After they shut everything down and try to figure out what went wrong, the android activates, studies human facial features, and literally fixes its face to appear human. He calls himself Questor after the name of the project, and dresses in the standard suit and tie of the day; this makes him look a lot like Robert Foxworth (who did a stellar job playing him, by the way).
Yup, you’re also seeing Mike Farrell (B.J. Hunnycutt of M*A*S*H) playing Questor’s closest companion in the movie. Other stars include John Vernon and Dana Wynter.
Anyway, for a subservient robot, Questor practically strong-arms Jerry Robinson fly to England to find Questor’s “creator.” The adventure takes them to a gambling casino, and to the mansion of one Lady Helena. All during the journey, Questor keeps talking about an “aquatic vehicle” as a key to his pursuit. That vehicle, as it turns out, is a mockup of Noah’s Ark in the park, and it in turn leads them to Mount Ararat.
Here’s where the clever, engaging, and fascinating first hour becomes a platform for Roddenberry’s weird philosophies. For instance, why did they manufacture an android? As Robinson explains to Dr. Darro (Vernon), “A functioning android could change the shape of the world. The space program, undersea exploration. It could change industry, agriculture; it could eliminate poverty, hunger, drudgery.”
Hear the alarm bells? You can almost hear Nomad crying out, “Error! Error! Must purify.” How can one machine do all this?
Twice Noah’s story is called “legend,” but we who know God’s Word have faith to believe it is history, just as described. Sure, the physical evidence is shrouded in political intrigue, cover-ups, and posturing. It is next to impossible to accumulate enough physical evidence to prove it’s real. However, I feel very strongly that it is, meaning the event is hardly legend. The Bible never lies. If God says it happened, it happened.
But the ultimate conclusion has nothing to do with the Ark, which makes me wonder why it was even brought up. The bulk of the story is Questor in pursuit of Vaslovik. “Can you inform me why I must find the creator?” he asks Robinson.
Robinson replies, “I’m beginning to wonder that myself … a lot.”
Another time he says, “We humans spend a lot of time sorta seeking our creator, too. But you cannot be committing immoral acts to do it.”
Questor answers, “Then it seems logical for you to come with me to guide me in these areas of morality.”
It would be, except that Robinson’s morality is as abysmal as Roddenberry’s. When they meet Lady Helena, who had known Vaslovik personally, she lives in a mansion with servants and proves to be a cordial hostess. However, a great portion of senseless dialog centers on whether Robinson should make love to Helena to gain information. Most women I know would feel like sides of beef if two men vied for her “affections” this way.
Fortunately, the sex never happens, but she does impart what they need to know. She tells Jerry, “This world is fragmented by international and national jealousies, and greed. Do you realize that there isn’t one place on this earth where you look past a border and see what is needed there; and if you look past another border and find what is there to help?”
Is she aware that there isn’t one place on this earth where you can find God? Never mind borders, man’s salvation relies on our acceptance of the Savior. “Salvation is found in no one else [but Jesus], for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Helena continues: “Emil didn’t want to control the world to change it. If he could just save a life here or there, or let a young man somewhere to become the leader, or the teacher that he was meant to be.”
Shoot, any man can find these things by adhering to God’s Word. But not only do the half-baked philosophies not stop there, but soon they feel downright doughy.
The episode comes down to a perfectly round cave, which opens by turning a flat rock on a boulder. (Though this is supposedly set on Mount Ararat, the slopes are way too gentle to be the real one.) Passing through a corridor that resembles the horta’s path in “Devil in the Dark,” Questor leads Robinson to a series of slabs, and on each slab lies a man—all but the nearest one. Vaslovik rests on the next slab down, staring straight up as though in a trance.
“Since the dawn of this world,” he says, “each of us has, at the end of his time, assembled his own replacement. … We protect, but we do not interfere. Man must make his own way. We can guide him, but always without his knowledge.”
So what is he saying here? That ancient civilizations could make androids? Nobody with at least two connecting brain cells can possibly believe this. Yet it’s presented as though it’s a foregone conclusion.
1) “Each of us has … assembled his replacement.” With what? Stones, knives, and bearskins? 2) “We protect, but we do not interfere.” This sounds like the Prime Directive, another ill-thought out concept popular in Trek. God protects us, guides our technological advances. And though He does not exactly interfere, He does spend a lot of time drawing men to Himself. 3) “Man must make his own way.” No place in Scripture supports this idea. In our pursuit of the meaning of life, God makes our ways easier, for without Him we are nothing (John 15:5c). 4) “We can guide him, but always without his knowledge.” Typically God lets it be known what He is doing, why He’s doing it, and how we should respond.
Most of all, Robinson says, “We humans spend a lot of time sorta seeking our creator,” but this too is a faulty perception. We really don’t have to pursue God. He pursues us. All we have to do is stop running and let Him catch up.
It continually amazes me how many sci-fi writers, performers, producers, and directors will dismiss the idea of Jesus being the Savior, deeming it too wild to believe, then pull up ideas like these to replace it—ideas from the abyss of ludicry. Wouldn’t it be simpler just to believe the facts in the Bible?
“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels” (2 Timothy 2:22-23).
MAY THEME: “NURTURE”
JUNE THEME: “PURSUIT”
June 13: Victor Travison: “In Pursuit of the Creator?”
JUNE THEME: “PURSUIT”
June 14: Terrie Thorpe at Light for the Journey
June 15: Pauline Creeden at Hosanna’s Christian Reader
June 16: Kristena Tunstall at Mommy’s Angel in Heaven
June 16: Holly Michael at Holly Michael’s Writing Straight
June 18: Keith Wallis at Wordsculptures
June 19: Tracy Krauss at Expression Express