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Monday, July 10, 2006

2.19 --- Voices in the Earth

Directed by : Curtis Harrington
Written by : Alan Brennert
Starring : Martin Balsam, Jenny Agutter
First aired : 10th of July, 1987.

In the distant future, an expedition lead by professor Donald Knowles (Martin Balsam, see Personal Demons) and Jacinda Carlyle (Jenny Agutter, see Last Defender of Camelot) arrives on a now-desolate Earth to determine if there is any life left. If not, the team has a clear task of unleashing the mining robots, and finishing the planet off, salvaging every mineral it can take. Turns out, the forefathers of astronauts brought Earth to this porous state, and left for outer space and other greener pastures once life got difficult on the mother planet.

Knowles, who still has feelings for the old planet, wanders aimlessly around city ruins, and is drawn to a remains of a café by voices. When he enters, the voices turn louder, and he's amazed to see that the place is full of spectres. One particular ghost addresses him, saying "not to forget them", and disappears.

The next day, Knowles is back there, and the spectres reappear, talking to him. They are the souls of their forefathers, the people who didn't flee the Earth when life started dissolving. The leader of the ghosts pleads with Knowles not to raze the planet in search for minerals, a message which he relays to Jacinda. The female commander has no ears for his plea, so Knowles takes her to the place where he met the lost souls. They, however, refuse to appear when he asks them out loud, and Jacinda simply deducts Donald lost it, leaving the place.

Back at the ship, with everyone asleep, the leader ghost possesses Donald's body, takes a crowbar and decides to destroy the command table, hoping to prevent the destruction that way. He is stopped just in time by the rest of the crew, who understandably dismiss professor's theories that he was manipulated from within. Jacinda takes pity on him and arranges him a medical leave, but Donald takes matters into his own hands and decides to confront the spectres again.

In a tense encounter at the abandoned café, Donald accuses the ghosts of manipulating them, to which they answer that he is their only hope of leaving this place - they cannot survive hyperdrive travel on their own, so they would use him as a channel. Donald refuses flatly, and calls the ghosts out on behalf of cowardice, saying that it was them who brought the planet to its knees, that they never tried to fix anything, and that they deserve no better fate than this. He angrily returns to ship and makes amends with the fact Earth is getting razed, but just before they lift off to dispatch him to an outpost for "medical treatment", a miracle happens - rain starts falling, and ship sensors start picking up lifeforms in the ocean. Earth is saved after all, and Donald exits the ship and greets the surface, yelling out that they will be back, one day.

***

A neat little episode with an ecological message, Voices in the Earth ranks above average in the middling world of second season, not quite as good as, say, The Card, Shelter Skelter or Toys of Caliban, but not quite as abominable as Nightsong and such. It was pleasure seeing Martin Balsam contribute to the Zone again, and he is the episode's highlight as the gentle, yet proud guardian of old traditions. Worth watching, this one. And yes, Jenny Agutter is still smokin'.

Apart from Balsam's performance and Agutter's sexappeal (yes, yes, I am a raving fanboy), another eye-catcher is the quality of sets (I loved the ruins and the abandoned café, as well as the desolate city landscapes) and special effects, both above average for the series.

Balsam and Agutter aside, there are two more TZ holdovers here. Tim Russ, playing one of the ship officers, previously had a bit part in Kentucky Rye, and Eve Brenner, here shown as one of the spectres, appeared previously in Monsters !.

Trivia :
coincidentally, this review is written and published on the 19th anniversary of the first airing of this episode.

Comments on "2.19 --- Voices in the Earth"

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:39 PM) : 

Tim Russ is from Star Trek: Voyager and played Tuvok!

 

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