ABC’s Masters of Science Fiction #4 The Discarded

In the last of the four episodes airing, out of the six that ABC has of Masters of Science Fiction, we find a group of mutants living on a space ship and slowly going mad. Brain Dennehy stars as a man with a really big arm. John Hurt, best known to sci fi fans as the unfortunate crew member that had the Alien burst out of his chest, here has a whole second person sticking out of his chest. This is science fiction as morality play, but it would be nice if someone in the story had some morals.
The mutants look and act much like every other group of mutants you have seen in sci fi over the years. Not the cute and perky mutants of the X-Men, more the barely living mutants of old. I am most reminded of the Martians in the cheesy science fiction film Total Recall, but there is also a resemblance to the zombies in the last couple of Living Dead films. Written science fiction is much better at this kind of thing than filmed science fiction, the mind is much better at imagining things. The effects still just look like effects.
The story is like all the others in this series in that they picked the most predictable and prosaic of Harlen Ellison’s countless short stories to make into an episode. Again the acting was good and the special effects were well within acceptable limits, but it was not great science fiction. Not as bad as episode #2, which I didn’t even bother to review, but certainly no where near the consistent greatness of the original Twilight Zone. The Twilight Zone overcame it’s poor effects with amazingly good stories. That isn’t happening with Masters of Science Fiction.
Jonathan Frakes, Commander Riker of Star Trek Next Gen, directed with his usual attention to details. All the little science fiction touches of plants and lights and grotesque body parts were given there moments. Jerry was a Man, while out of date by forty or fifty years, is still the better episode.
Which brings me to the common complaints that I keep reading that ABC has been mean to this show for not giving it LOST’s time slot and ordering a full twenty-six episodes. This is a bad show. Summer cannon fodder is all that it deserves. I can only image how bad the two unaired shows must be. But at least they did air four of them, which is more than the brain trust at the WB could be bothered to do with the Pilot they had made for Lost In Space.
Having said that, I will say that ABC did not give it much of a chance. The two or three times I saw ads for the show, they were an odd mixture of footage from all the episodes. The only image that really stuck was the one of the Cyclops Cheerleader strutting down a corridor. Not only was this cheerful character out of place, it was bafflingly out of place. This story is about desperate people killing themselves and the rest of the people treating their still warm bodies as trash to be spaced as soon as possible. No one on this ship is happy or clean or walking with a bounce in their step. Except this one-eyed girl in a cheerleader’s costume that makes a twenty second appearance and is featured in the commercials for the show. WTF?
This is the best science fiction that ABC can whip up? No, it’s not. LOST is great science fiction, even if it may never have an ending that we are happy with. So I will hope that ABC can make more shows like LOST and fewer shows like Masters of Science Fiction.

Jon Herrera

Jon Herrera

Writer, Photographer, Blogger.
Jon Herrera

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Writer, Photographer, Blogger.

Posted in abc's masters of science fiction, science fiction television

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