Condemned to be stoned to death for heresy (daring to question the Elders), Devon escapes Cypress Corners with his love Rachel. Her betrothed, Garth, follows to bring her back. They find ... See full summary »
Condemned to be stoned to death for heresy (daring to question the Elders), Devon escapes Cypress Corners with his love Rachel. Her betrothed, Garth, follows to bring her back. They find they're on the Earthship Ark, headed for destruction. Written by
Ellison writes extensively about his troubled experiences with the producers of this series, and why he insisted on the use of his pseudonym, in the introduction to the novelization of his original script. The novelization, "Phoenix Without Ashes", was written by Edward Bryant and published by Fawcett Books in 1975. See more »
Insolent doubter Devon (Keir Dullea) is a pariah in his agrarian community Cypress Corners. He has been denied the right to marry his beloved Rachel (Gay Rowan) who is instead promised to village blacksmith Garth (Robin Ward). Garth doesn't love Rachel but he has been given her troth and resents Devon's claim to her.
Devon doesn't understand why the computer/god the villagers worship would will Rachel to Garth instead of him. When he goes to confront the village elders he discovers they have been programming the computer to voice their own dictates. He runs to tell the others and try to claim Rachel as his.
They don't believe him and chase after him to stone him to death. He escapes through a portal into a hi-tech labyrinth and via a very condescending and rude computer program learns that he is on the Ark - a 200 mile long spaceship. Cypress Corners - his whole world until moments earlier was merely a colony within a biosphere amongst the other biospheres which are remnants of a destroyed home world called Earth - a civilization which disintegrated in its 23rd century.
Devon - written off as dead in Cypress Corners returns and escapes with Rachel. Garth follows setting the stage for their adventures aboard the Ark.
Canadian TV producers (Glen-Warren Productions which would become most famous for its long-running series - The Littest Hobo, a goofy show about a stray pooch that did good deeds) saw the opportunity to create a science fiction TV to emulate the syndication success of Star Trek.
With Keir Dullea - the star of 2001: A Space Odyssey as lead and Harlan Ellison - a veteran fiction writer who had scripted episodes of Star Trek and the Outer Limits as creator how could they go wrong? By shooting it on video on a cheap sound-stage in Scarborough - that's how! Ellison disowned the show before the broadcast of the first episode.
The blue-screen technology and varieties of cheap process shots were the special effects and looked as though they were also used for TV weather reports. Four decades ago this was still industry standard flawed though it was but video tape by this time was generally used to shoot sitcoms, news and sporting events - not hour-long tele-plays.
The CTV production facility (It was shot at CFTO studios in Agincourt - a production facility where they shot the infamous sitcom The Trouble With Tracy just a few years earler) was wholly inadequate for the production - one which had cheap set pieces that looked like re-painted scrap materials. The resulting poor production value torpedoed the poorly-rated show.
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