11 September 2003 | secragt
arguably roddenberry's greatest effort
IMHO this is one of the best sci-fi TV movies ever. For once they gave Roddenberry some money and it shows up on the screen, particularly in the stirring climax which still works today. The plot is witty and features a few nice surprises. The performances are uniformly solid. In particular, Robert Foxworthy brings surprising warmth and depth to what was obviously the prototype to the DATA character from STTNG; it is probably the best acting job Foxworthy ever did, which is doubly impressive since he is supposed to be playing an emotionless android. In fact, he slips in plenty of emotion, but the insertions are subtle and well-handled. Mike Farrell (right before his own far more lengthy and lucrative insertion in MASH) is also at the top of his game as the humanistic scientist and guide for Questor. John Vernon, fresh off all those venomous villain roles from MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, is reliably intimidating as the aggressive (but ultimately conscientious) antagonist.
Why does QUESTOR still resonate thirty years later? Frankly, because all of the questions about what makes man unique are only more relevant today with the advent of cloning and super microchips which make today's computers even more intelligent and capable than the fiction Roddenberry envisioned back in '73. Most of the things forecast in QUESTOR have come to pass from the creation of the internet to the polarization of the class system and symbiosis of the world economy. Man will always question his place / role in the universe and QUESTOR gets to that issue of self-awareness and "what is my purpose" as productively and entertainingly as any other sci-fi offering I can think of. It's also thought-provoking and while it momentarily lurches toward preaching at the end, somehow it all comes out just right.
So why didn't it make it to series? My hunch is that since ABC had already added THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN on their fall schedule the feeling was that QUESTOR was too similar (or "too cerebral," which was the reason the original Star Trek pilot didn't fly.) The truth is, it probably would have been difficult to maintain the quality of the pilot given the limited format. However, it would have been an interesting try and I think it would have probably been more insightful than THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN. 9/10