Alexander the Great “Pilot” (part 3 of 7)
When we return, we’re at the base camp of the Greek army. A soldier by the name of Karonos enters a tent and declares to everyone assembled that there’s still no sign of Alexander, and he wants to call off the search. And Karonos is played by (future) Oscar-nominated actor-director John Cassevetes, who at the time was doing a lot of bit roles on TV. Of course, a few years after this, his career took off in a big way thanks to The Dirty Dozen and Rosemary’s Baby.
An older gentleman named Antigonus wants to continue the search for Alexander. Antigonus is played by Joseph Cotten, and it’s about damn time somebody from Citizen Kane showed up in the Agony Booth! Although, I had always assumed it would be Orson Welles doing the voice of Unicron in Transformers: The Movie. [Orson Welles finally did show up on this site after all, but not for voicing Unicron. —2010 Albert]
Karonos argues that they can’t look for Alexander forever, because the Persian forces are gathering in great numbers. As proof, he has a sentry bring in a captured Persian prisoner. The prisoner reluctantly confirms, “The sun, it darkens in the dust of Memnon’s army.” Those crazy Persians, always talking in haikus, or something.
Also, it’s hard not to notice that the “Persian” is obviously a white guy with some dark makeup on, but this sort of thing was par for the course on TV at the time. Hell, even the Klingons were just white guys in brown face paint.
Another soldier in the room by the name of Aristander provides much-needed exposition when he yells, “Memnon! I thought he was killed last year at Issus!” This is historically accurate, in that Memnon actually was one of King Darius’ main generals, but also wildly inaccurate, in that the Battle of Issus was Alexander’s key victory over Darius, being the battle that ultimately sent Darius into exile. Which is completely contradicted by the events of this episode.
But as proof of how intertwined ‘60s dramatic television was in those days, the actor playing Aristander, Robert Fortier, also appeared on the Star Trek episode “By Any Other Name”, where he played an alien who got drunk with Scotty. Not only that, but he also appeared with William Shatner in Incubus, the only full-length movie ever filmed entirely in Esperanto. And it appears he passed away just this past January (of 2005), so yikes, the Agony Booth Death Curse strikes again.
So, yeah. This episode. The Persian prisoner defiantly states that General Memnon lives. “He will crush you as he would step on a beetle!” Damn! That’s a lot of smack talk for a prisoner of war. Predictably, Aristander belts him across the jaw.