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Saturday, September 6, 2014

'Beyond Westworld' CS DVD: Sending in a Robot to do an Anarchist's Job

Beyond Westworld
The Warner Archive complete series DVD release of the 1980 scifi action-adventure series "Beyond Westworld" is both a terrific follow-up to one of the best ever scifi films and a great companion to the Unreal TV reviewed Archive DVD release of "Wizards and Warriors" from the same era.

Another special thing about this set is that the listing for "Beyond" indicates that the final two episodes, which the Archive set includes, never aired. The "lost" episode  titled "Takeover," which centers around an effort to bring the science in the series up a notch, is one of the best of the entire run.

The film "Westworld," which is based on a Michael Crichton novel, tells the tale of an amusement park full of realistic androids run amok. "Beyond" commences in the aftermath of that disaster and explains in the pilot that mad scientist Simon Quaid is behind said mayhem. This exposition includes the logic behind that sabotage and the motive of Quaid for the robot-executed schemes around which the five "Beyond" episodes are centered.

The following scene, courtesy of YouTube, of a scene from the "Beyond" pilot provides an excellent Cliff Notes version of the lore of the show and the style in which it is conveyed.IN many ways, it shows how this series is similar to the Unreal TV reviewed '70s scifi show "Search."

Private security executive John Moore in "Beyond" typically learns of the nature of the evil scheme of the week early in the episode. Much of the drama relates both to discovering which of the not-so-usual suspects is one of the robots that Quaid controls and the manner in which said automaton is to fulfill that nefarious deed.

A HUGE plot hole that likely plays a role in the premature demise of the series is that the arrival of the apparently disguisephobic Moore on the scene rapidly alerts Quaid to the threat to fulfilling his objective.

The pilot centers around Quaid replacing a member of the crew of a nuclear submarine with a robot for a fairly obvious purpose. This leads to a wonderfully campy showdown between the robot and Moore that is reminiscent of a similar scene in a May 1982 episode of "Mork and Mindy."

Believe it or not, the second "Beyond" episode is notably for adding soon-to-be "The Greatest American Hero" and "Hotel" star Connie Selleca to the cast as Moore's equally disguisephobic sidekick. Having her Pamela Williams go undercover as a cheerleader for a professional football team contributes a terrific "Charlie's Angels" vibe to this episode.

Considering that the third "Beyond" episode is the best of the lot, it is sad that it is the final one that airs. Wonderful unintentional humor relates both to the episode title "Sound of Terror" appearing over the featured totally late '70s/early '80s music playing painfully badly (DVD music rights issue?) and casting Rene Auberjonois of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Warehouse 13" as a stereotypical moderately successful rocker.

Overall fun in the series relates to the efforts of Moore and Williams to detect sweat and other bodily characteristics in their efforts to eliminate possibilities regarding the identity of the robot, using assorted weaknesses of the robots to level the battlefield, and watching Russell Johnson of "Gilligan's Island" play a scientist who lacks the ethics and morals of The Professor.

The well-blended terrific elements described above makes "Beyond" an especially appetizing cheese platter for fanboys and a nice treat for all fans of action-adventure shows and/or '80s television fare.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Beyond" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.