Thursday, September 13, 2012

The 37's

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Abducted by aliens 434 years apart, brave airship captains meet by chance on a distant world.

The impossible discovery of a manure-caked farm truck from 1937 drifting in the void of space leads Voyager into mystery! They spare no expense, circumstance, or pomp to land on a planet in search of an S.O.S. from an airplane of the same historical vintage.

Which leads to the uncorking of a batch of random frozen abductees including famed pilot Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred. Missing since 1937, because they were in a cave tens of thousands of light years away. It's always the last place you look...

Frayed nerves and disoriented (read: drunk) navigator leads to a hostage situation, defused mainly by the laser fire of the locals. Beneath their wacky felt helmets they are humans: a slave class taken from Earth centuries ago, who revolted against their Briori masters and destroyed their galaxy-hopping kidnap wagon.

In the belief that he is dying, Fred Noonan confesses his love for Amelia, but Fred's simple sucking chest wound is all in a day's work for Voyager's holodoc.

Love and settling down becomes the question of the day. Of the 152 crewmen on Voyager, who wants to live on a perfectly paradisaical planet with nice humans in three very affordable offscreen cities we're told are very nice, and who wants to devote their lives to the long, lonely journey home?

"The 37's" has such a wonderful premise it's easy to overlook the fact that it runs out of steam and mumbles to itself towards the end. (An apt metaphor for the series as a whole, if you ask me.)

And I could have used, oh, about a dozen more answers. Why would these Briori travel to the other end of the galaxy for slaves when there's easier pickings within a few hundred light-years? Why ONLY humans and not a mix of cultures? Why ONLY the 1930's? How did they take enough humans to breed viably without anyone noticing, and WHY would they bother being sneaky about it if they had no reason to fear retribution? If they started with 1930's knowledge and overthrew their whip-crackers centuries ago, why hasn't this colony developed space travel yet? They are going to find themselves picking space cotton again for the Kazon or organ-harvested by the Vidiians if Amelia doesn't start pointing their eyes heavenward.

A few months back, I saw a documentary demonstrating a theory that the real Earhart and Noonan could have made land but been devoured alive by crabs (making the "crashed into the sea" hypothesis a lot more appealing). That particular histo-doc offered little in the way of answers about how the crabs ate AN AIRPLANE, however. So I'll reserve judgement and just admire that plucky aviatrix, dead or alive for all time.

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