Imaginatively and wryly scripted by Jonathan Glassner, this second consecutive sci-fi adventure syndicated by the Prime Time Entertainment Network consortium (following the recently launched “Babylon 5”) happily has more on its mind than digital effects and futuristic hardware — although it hums with plenty of that stuff, too.
The not-too-distant future in this case is locked into a loftier mind-set. Genetic experimentation has not quite worked out as planned. A disastrous fountain-of-youth drug has turned most of humanity into mutants. A bastion of sanity exists at Island City, including lucky souls (e.g., Brenda Strong’s ageless doctor, Pete Koch’s half-mutant with a heart of gold) whose genes responded to the “youth injections.”
With ripe touches that might have sprung from “Brave New World,” Island City residents wear color-coded implants on their chests that identify their gene structure.
Society is genetically divided between normal humanity living in the isolated , impregnable Island City and superpsychotics, aka “recessives”– hulking savages with lousy genes who violently prowl the rest of Earth.
Once past the show’s hokey opening sequence, in which the principals are introduced with real-life Hollywood resume pix that segue into their futuristic characters, the movie becomes a moderately provocative ride.
The production design (by Curtis A. Schnell), contrasting desert squalor and the gleaming Island City, is brushed with visionary detail. As for the plot, Island City’s staunch commander (the earnest Kevin Conroy) and a gorgeous brunette (Constance Marie) lead friendly commandos into the wasteland in search of a comrade in peril.
But the plot’s the least of it. A lightness of tone and some disturbing ideas steer this sci-fi ship.