Roddenberry’s The Questor Tapes Revived

Gene Roddenberry, famed creator of Star Trek, attempted many times to launch additional sci-fi television programs during the 1970s, resulting in a number of unsold television pilots that were aired as made-for-TV movies. Two of these, Genesis II and Planet Earth, were released through Warner Archive last year. A third, The Questor Tapes (originally broadcast January 23rd, 1974 on NBC), is being revived by Roddenberry Productions and Imagine Television. According to TrekMovie, Rod Roddenberry (Gene’s son) will help develop the new series and Tim Minear is currently being courted to produce it. The announcement was made on Wednesday (January 20th) at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences TV Hall of Fame Ceremony, during which Gene Roddenberry was posthumously inducted. See The New York Post, The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Times Arts Beat for more.

5 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Good luck to Rod and Imagine Television in trying to sell another version of “QUESTOR”. I hate to sound cynical, but, come on- does anyone REALLY want to see a new version of something that already failed as a unsold pilot almost 37 years ago?

  • DuMont says:

    I would be interested in seeing this finally going to series 35 years later, and with Mr. Roddenberry’s son at the helm to assure and preserve his fathers integrity. The subject matter for THE QUESTOR TAPES’ would be a nice fit for writer-producer Mr. Tim Minear, who might bring on frequent collaborator Mr. Joss Whedon to help sell it to one of the big networks.

    Back in the ’70s, there were reports that NBC was willing to do a 13-episode pick-up of the series, but a spat with Mr. Gene Roddenberry over concept, casting and character arcs led him to back away from going to series. Mr. Roddenberry already had series scripts developed, but he had also had his fill of dealing with exasperating network interference.

    Any chance of a series eventually coming to be through the artful song and dance with NBC network executives surely went up in a wisp of smoke when NBC finally got around to airing the pilot on Wednesday January 23rd, 1974.

    THE QUESTOR TAPES aired at 9 pm (out of ‘Chase’, a cop show that had just moved over to Wednesday night at 8 pm) and it garnered a measly 11.8HH/18%. Granted it was up against CBS’s top 10 hit series ‘Cannon’ at 9 pm and ‘Kojak’ at 10 pm, but what really did it in was that it aired against the last hour of a special ‘ABC Wednesday Movie of the Week: PRAY FOR THE WILDCATS’, which got a 23.6HH/35%.

    NBC encored THE QUESTOR TAPES ON Wednesday July 7, 1974, and the pilot pulled in a similar 11.0HH/21%, edged out by a repeat of the ‘ABC Wednesday Movie of the Week: HIJACK’ (11.9HH/24%).

    It is interesting to compare ratings for THE QUESTOR TAPES to the other unsold pilots from Mr. Gene Roddenberry:
    -> GENESIS II was aired first by CBS on Friday March 23, 1973 as the second half of a double-feature of ‘The CBS Friday Movie’ at 9:30 pm and got a very good 20.5HH/37%. The Eye encored the pilot on Friday June 22, 1973, and it again got a decent (for a Friday in summer) 12.0HH/26%.
    -> PLANET EARTH was aired by ABC at 8 pm on Tuesday April 23, 1974 as part of the ‘ABC Tuesday Movie of the Week’ and attracted a 23.0HH/36%, and then encored on Saturday August 24th, 1974 at 8 pm within the ‘The ABC Suspense Movie’ umbrella and got a weaker 9.0HH/19%.
    -> SPECTRE, aired by NBC on May 21, 1977 as part of its long-running ‘NBC Saturday Night at the Movies’ franchise and it garnered a pretty decent 14.9HH/31%, but was never encored.

    After Mr. Roddenberry had gone through all the hurry-up-and-wait hair-pulling of the network pilot development process only to end up with four unsold pilots, he no doubt gave up once and for all on network television and instead went the route of feature films and selling his series via the syndicated distribution model (the sale of the two UPN series occurred after his passing).

    If I were to go back to the library of Mr. Roddenberry looking for a series to re-develop, it would be ‘The West Point Story’, a CBS series from 1956-57 that was cancelled and then picked up by ABC for the 1957-58 season. Surely, in these times where the military plays such a large role in our society, we can have a series that looks at the lives of servicepeople, other than the CBS murder-mystery series…I’d go back to those old Roddenberry scripts (which were supposedly all based on real-life incidents through history), update them and expand the storytelling, and pitch it to a network as a ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ at Annapolis!

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    “THE WEST POINT STORY”, forgotten and obscure as it is, is owned by Sony Pictures Television, as they acquired the MGM/United Artists TV library (UA acquired Ziv Television, the original producer of the series, in 1960). Anthology series just aren’t that popular with viewers these days [even an attempt to create a regular host for “WEST POINT”, Donald May’s “Cadet Charles C. Thompson”, didn’t work out, and he was phased out by the middle of the first season]. It would have to be a “miraculous” pitch for Sony to even convince ANY network (or local stations) in scheduling a new version, ‘DuMont’….

    But who knows? Maybe an updated version of “THE QUESTOR TAPES” does have a chance, what with most cable and broadcast networks scheduling “sci-fi” series these days…

  • Chuck Collins says:

    Considering the constant popularity of the horror genre, a remake of “SPECTRE” seems to be a more logical and fruitful choice.

    The story of “QUESTOR” has already been shown via the character of Data on “STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.”

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Yes, “Data” is a “distant cousin” of “Questor” {Gene: “Okay, I’m gonna make him part of the Enterprise crew, and let’s see if anyone notices the difference”}…and if Paramount Television had been any “greedier”, they would have asked Roddenberry to spin off HIS character into his own series (and wouldn’t that have been ironic?). As for “SPECTRE”, one proposed revival at a time- let’s see how far THIS proposal ends up!

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