NBC Movie of the Week, Originally aired May 21, 1977
One of the last gems I found on YouTube in the ‘08/’09 period was this tv pilot which I thoroughly enjoyed. As a more casual Star Trek fan I was also intrigued by the fact that this was created and written by Gene Roddenberry and it’s unfortunate it didn’t make into a series.
Robert Culp plays William Sebastian, a brilliant and well known criminologist who has been dabbling in and researching the occult. His theory is that the more heinous murders committed by humans that had no definable logic in motive must have been committed due to other more powerful and unseen forces. As a result of his flirtations with the dark side and backing out of a deal with the devil, he has just one minor problem: He has a hole in his heart, like a dagger or some object has been shoved through it.
A little healing black magic from his housekeeper, Lillith (Mrs. Gene Roddenberry – Majel Barrett), Sebastian is able to continue to live and walk around. But the spell does not offer a permanent fix. Sebastian has to find the doll that the object is impaled in.
He has been asked to look into a case in England at the request of Anitra Cyon (Ann Bell), who believes her brother, Geoffrey (James Villiers), is under the influence of evil supernatural forces which has contributed to his sudden and extensive wealth. In order to proceed with the case, Sebastian will need help from his former partner, Dr. “Hamm” Hamilton (Gig Young.) The movie opens with Hamm’s arrival at Sebastian’s home – having been requested there by telegram – and this great voice over to set the tone for the movie.
“I come here to meet a man I vowed never to see again. He was vain, arrogant, selfish, but his brilliance was still irresistible. He was also dangerous – never to me – but this evening began for both of us, a slide into horrors unimaginable, a descent into a corner of hell….”
Sebastian explains about the hole in his heart and asks for Hamm’s help with the case in England. Initially Hamm says no, after all, he has some issues of his own going on including a more than casual drinking habit and is facing an inquiry by the hospital he works for. He reconsiders after learning about Sebastian’s condition but suggests that Sebastian didn’t need a compulsive drinker as an assistant. The good doctor’s drinking habits, however, were corrected by Lilith.