Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict

1997-2002, Alliance et al

With the (latent) wild success and amazingly long life of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry's name alone would seem to have become gold. Sadly, just because Trek was a winner, it didn't necessarily follow that everything else he penned would do likewise. Roddenberry had attempted to launch a multitude of sci-fi series in his post-Trek career, including Genesis II, Planet Earth, and The Questor Tapes, none of which made it past the pilot stage. After his death, there seemed to be a rush to claim properties that his wife Majel Barrett helped unearth. Its premise (literally) scribbled on a napkin, Earth was the first series she helped develop posthumously; see also Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda.

It was off to a hopeful start: the relatively high production values, inspired writing and earnest performances of the first season reflected the care and respect the producers invested in the property; indeed, had it maintained this course, Earth would have been quite good. Unfortunately, beginning with the second season, the quality took a serious nosedive, to the point that it actually became tedious to watch; I wound up fast-forwarding through many episodes, slowing down just for scenes featuring Ron Sandoval—Von Flores was an underrated actor, I believe, and the only one to survive the show's entire run. Each new season was retooled, with the fifth and last feeling like an altogether different series. One got the sense poor Majel was struggling mightily to keep a sinking ship afloat if only to preserve Roddenberry's good name.

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