Starhunter–The Divinity Cluster (2000)   5 comments

Title Card for Starhunter

EPISODE #1

There are two main types of science fiction:  good and bad.  The latter consists of glorified shoot’em up scenarios and/or cardboard cutout characters.  The former, however, is intelligent.  Starhunter, an excellent Canadian series, fits into this category.

Let us begin with the main characters.

Rudolpho De Luna

Rudolph De Luna owns the ship Trans Utopian, called the Tulip for short.  He appears via transmissions, always at the beginning of each episode, as well as other times during episodes.  Rudolpho is generally mercenary, interested in profits, although he does not lack any human sensitivity.  He needs the money for various reasons, including expenses associated with parties and women.

Above:  The Trans Utopian (The Tulip)

The Trans Utopian is a ship far past its prime.  A large vessel, it is a former luxury cruise liner, but almost all of it is shut down because its three-person crew cannot maintain such a huge ship.  The interior is a bizarre combination of technology and faded Victorian grace, and the Tulip, as its crew prefers to call it, is often in need of replacement parts.

The Tulip is a character in its own right, as its A.I., Caravaggio, pictured below.

Caravaggio

Given the small crew compliment, the role of the A.I. is crucial.  He does everything from play cards to maintain basic ship operations and handle communications.

Michael Pare as Dante Montana

Dante Montana, a bounty hunter, is a former farmer.  He has been a bounty hunter for ten years.  As he says in the voiceover during the opening montage, he is really looking for his kidnapped son, Travis.  A decade ago, Raiders (former special operations soldiers rendered sterile and in rebellion against civil authorities) killed Dante’s wife and kidnapped their son.  (The raiders, being unable to reproduce, add to their numbers kidnapping, which they call “liberation.”)  Dante is a dour and single-minded man.

Claudette Roche as Lucretia “Luc” Scott

Lucretia “Luc” Scott is the security officer Rudolpho has placed on board the Tulip.  She is quite capable of defending herself, given her military background.  Luc does have a vulnerable side, though.  She craves a simple dinner with her emotionally distant father, Darius.

Tanya Allen as Percy Montana

Percy Montana, Dante Montana’s niece, is a survivor of the attack that led to the death of Dante’s wife, Penny, and the abduction of Travis.  Dante is quite protective of her, rarely permitting her to leave the Tulip, of which she is the engineer.  Quirky, lonely, intelligent, and emotionally stunted, Percy sleeps with a teddy bear, changes the color highlights (often red and green) in her hair often, and can switch quickly from her tomboyish ways to girly-girlishness.  Nobody says, “Damn, I’m good!” so endearingly.  And she is about to become an adult, a fact of which Dante is aware.

Tanya Allen brings Percy Montana to vivacious life, and I like posting screen captures of her in the role.

Now, on with the story within the first episode, The Divinity Cluster.

Three million years ago, members of an alien species visited Earth and inserted four genes into the human genome.  These remain dormant and undiscovered until the Twenty-Third Century.

A vessel of this design appears later in the series.

The year is 2275.  Earth is barely habitable, although millions of people still live there.  Most humans live elsewhere in the solar system, in places ranging from Mars to terraformed moons of gas giant planets.  The solar system is divided politically into entities such as the Mars Federation, the Saturn Federation, and the Jupiter Federation.  Law enforcement in the stars can be as spotty as it was on Earth in the old days, so there is much demand for bounty hunters.

Eccleston

Dr. Eccleston is a geneticist unlike any other.  He can move from one side of a large room to another so fast that nobody can see him move, and he can levitate.  He also needs to inject himself with a mysterious substance frequently, when he experiences tremors.  Eccleston is a pioneer.  He is the man who discovered those four alien genes, which he calls the Divinity Cluster.  When humans have unlocked the secrets of the Cluster, he says, people will become as gods.  He can move so quickly and levitate because he has been activating his Divinity Cluster genes.

Early in the episode, Eccleston sends a very attractive female agent to kill a balding, middle-aged geneticist, who works for the Orchard.  What is the Orchard?  I am glad you have asked.

Darius Scott

The Orchard is an elite organization determined to control the Divinity Cluster.  Immediately, this means suppressing knowledge of its existence.  Eccleston, late of the Orchard, is a problem for them, for he intends to reveal the existence of the Divinity Cluster to the general public.

Darius Scott is in frequent contact with his daughter, Lucretia, whose real job on board the Tulip is to search for evidence of the Divinity Cluster.  He is one of the most sympathetic members of the Orchard, on organization of well-groomed people, most of whom are creeps not above assassination if they think that action justified.

MacDuff

MacDuff is an old friend of Dante, as well as Percy’s godfather.  A bounty hunter, MacDuff gave Dante his first bounty hunting assignment ten years ago.  In 2275, however, MacDuff has an inoperable cancerous tumor in his brain.  So he seeks money wherever he can get it, including the Orchard, which has hired him to track down Eccleston, who is on the Moonport at Earth’s natural satellite.

Dante needs the money, too.  Darius, via Luc, has offered the same job to Dante, who owes Rudolpho four years back rent.  Dante and Luc are about to track down Eccleston at the Moonport when the geneticist walks on board the Tulip with MacDuff and Percy.  Eccleston is in control, and even injects MacDuff with a substance that cures his cancer and removes the brain tumor.  Eccleston also takes the Tulip to Earth.

Debris Blown Off the Trans Utopian

Earth interceptors attack the Trans Utopian, causing more external damage, but Dante manages to get the ship to the homeworld intact.

New Los Angeles

Eccleston and Luc arrive at New Los Angeles, with Dante, Percy, and MacDuff close behind in the Trans Utopian.  The Tulip has just one functional shuttle, and Eccleston and absconded with it, so how else is Dante supposed to pursue Eccleston?

(By the way, the city is New Los Angeles because the “killer earthquake” of 2156 devastated the old city, which never recovered.)

Eccleston arrives at a New Los Angeles facility from which he can broadcast the existence of the Divinity Cluster to the general public.  Orchard paramilitary forces attack, but they cannot kill the mutated geneticist.  They can and do, however, destroy the transmitter, to terminate the broadcast.

Eccleston Entering Another Dimension

Eccleston enters another dimension.  He seems to die, as far as observers are concerned, but he reappears in episode #22 with a report from where he has been.  Most importantly, he is forever beyond the control of the Orchard.

Back on the Tulip, MacDuff departs and Dante resumes his quest for his kidnapped son.

This episode establishes the universe of Starhunter, a series that improves with repeated viewings.  Seemingly isolated episodes actually tie into each other and a conspiracy, the full scope of which becomes evident only in episode #22.  Many facts become plain during the season, and some of the pertain to Dante’s quest for his son.  Starhunter reflects rather tight plotting.

The series also has an edge.  As much as I like Star Trek in most of its incarnations, I recognize that Gene Roddenberry’s most famous franchise is rather “safe,” often to the detriment of good storytelling.  Our heroic characters have flaws, swear on occasion, are not always heroic, and find themselves trapped in circumstances beyond their comprehension.  Starhunter contains an atmosphere of paranoia borne of a vague awareness of skulduggery.  There is real peril for the human race, and the Orchard is not trustworthy.  The series has a realistic perspective on human nature.

The music of the series has become a regular part of the figurative stereo system between my ears.  The end credits cue is an especially memorable work of art.

If you, O reader, have not experienced Starhunter, I invite you to delve into it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2010 COMMON ERA

I used the Power DVD program to capture images from a legal and purchased DVD.

Posted December 9, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Starhunter (2000-2001)

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