People’s Lib

Comically fearful of feminist ideas and women’s liberation, Planet Earth pushes John Saxon into a masculine terror – a place where women enslave men. Imagine Planet of the Apes (no doubt where the inspiration stems from), but dominating females instead of gorillas. In that comparison, the context sounds worst still.

One of three attempts by Gene Roddenberry to jump start a TV series set in a post-apocalyptic America, the sequel to Genesis II falls to its exaggerations. Nuanced this is not. This land, formed after men unleashed nukes one another, became a hyper-feminist dreamscape. The “Women of Ruth” drug men through the food supply, make them work the fields (because why waste the animals?), and the select few become “breeders.” Planet Earth makes that sound unappealing too.

In 2020, Planet Earth is primarily early ‘70s camp

By the end, Saxon dupes his captor Marg (Diana Muldaur), in an equally crude manner that suggests no woman can resist a man’s sexuality. It’s like Planet Earth’s safety valve, turned before the finish as to save face. Surely Planet Earth can’t submit in total, so rather than use intellect to escape, everything comes back to sex and male control.

There’s no middle ground; Roddenberry’s story jumps between extremes, from “women’s lib gone mad,” to Gestapo-like, deformed soldiers brutalizing their way through society. Saxon’s ploy means returning to a former normalcy, which again, isn’t some idealized social equality. Rather, it’s submissive women falling drunk, unable to resist advances.

Before arriving in the camp, a medical emergency forces the peaceful PAX team (established in Genesis II) to consider their trip. Isiah (Ted Cassidy) prays for healing, to which another doctor replies, “Let the savage pray.” Nothing is made of it though. Saxon makes a disgusted face, yet it’s clear bias remains in this future world. It’s a suggestion of how Women of Ruth came to be: Survivors locked to a singular way of life, isolated in individual societies, steadfast in believing their way is right. Roddenberry whiffs gender equality (egregiously), but stumbled on a parable for a social media-driven, partisan world. That piece of Planet Earth, tiny as it is, holds relevancy now.

In 2020, Planet Earth is primarily early ‘70s camp, if capturing a sliver of validity in its goofy construct.

Video

Paired on the same disc with Genesis II, encoding space isn’t an issue. A thin grain structure barely appears as is, readily resolved by the compression. That allows excellent definition to show through, facial detail and other textures exquisite. There’s not much in world design terms, yet stitching on costumes and environments shine in HD. Resolution never wavers.

Spot-on color gives primaries a boost, reds and blues rich in appearance. Flesh tones hit their mark around this often Earth-toned palette. Pleasing greenery surrounds much of Planet Earth, dense and pure.

Without fault, the print itself suffers no damage or dirt. It’s not faded either, pushing high contrast images consistently. When needed, black levels reach a deep, satisfying grade, at zero cost to shadow detail. Beautiful vintage TV here on this disc.

Audio

Sufficient DTS-HD let’s dialog flow. Like the video, there’s no damage; hiss and popping are absent. Small scoring touches bring crisp highs, along with at least a little range. Clarity is high enough to detect lines dubbed in post compared to those recorded on set.

Extras

Nada.

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Planet Earth
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Dated and not the forward-thinking parable it intended to be, Planet Earth comes across as high camp when viewed today.

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