Friday, March 21, 2014

Old Trek through New Eyes (part II)

Here's part I just in case you're interested in reading my outsider's perspective on the original Star Trek series.  Part II is below.  Hopefully, I don't trash your beloved episodes too badly.  For the most part, I think it's a great show.

"The Apple" -  I think this one was pretty good.  Not only did I see it about a month ago, but one or both of my kids kept yapping before the end.  If memory serves, I watched it twice because the first time around didn't leave me with much of an impression.  Pretty much the same story with these ancient episodes: the first few minutes before the credits are intriguing, the problem or dilemma set up during the following minutes is good, then there's several minutes of establishing some kind of mood or explaining the complexities of some civilization or Star Fleet protocol which bogs everything down and just seems to make the time drag on before the real action happens and everything gets interesting again.  If we're lucky, there's some kind of closure.

The lizard cave was cool in this one.  The race of humanoids looked pretty silly.  Sorry, I can't remember anything else noteworthy about "The Apple"  Oh yeah, Chekov.

"The Doomsday Machine" -  The captain must go down with his ship.  Like in Doctor Who, some of the best episodes require a total asshole to work off or against.  Commodore Matt Decker fits the bill here.

A lot of theorizing gets the job done - it's some kind of doomsday weapon built as a deterrent or universal suicide machine by someone or something at some point... perhaps.  Whatever it is, planets just get in the way and are soon destroyed by the thing.

Everyone wants a crack at harpooning this Moby Dick in space.  Somehow, it has a vulnerable spot and using the abandoned starship to implode just inside its maw does the trick.  I don't remember seeing this ultimate machine die on screen, but maybe it did.  However, I do remember feeling the build-up of rhetoric about how unstoppable it was right up until the moment they stopped it.

"Catspaw" - This is a gothic medieval episode for better or worse.  Why a landing party beamed down in the first place, I don't know.  But those guys are now missing.  The real landing party needs to find them... along with a witch, Uncle Fester / Anton LaVey, skeleton, black cat, and creepy castle full of cobwebs and probably clanky chains.

Magic, zombies, and a magic scepter/transmuter.  Apparently, the transmuter made these little bugs into gothic weirdos capable of destroying the Enterprise.  Oh yeah, I remember Kirk starting to seduce the witch lady and then not all of a sudden.  That pissed her off.

"I, Mudd" - Oh, fuck no!  Are you serious?  Mudd in another goddamned episode when there are so many other characters and ideas that actually should be revisited?  Hey, I love sexy 60's women, too, but this episode is just too ridiculous.  Female androids, logic defeats them, Mudd defeated and punished via his nagging wife, the end.  Lame.

"Metamorphosis" - I'm not sure which pile this one should go in.  Kind of an interesting idea and execution, but not much happens and that time-drag period I mentioned earlier went into high gear in this episode.  It's all too coincidental and just when you think Metamorphosis is going in one direction, it goes in another - but not in a cool, spontaneous way.

At least it had that sappy, romantic happy ending which is something I appreciate even though I'm probably the last guy you'd think would appreciate something like that.

"Journey to Babel" - This was a good one.  Finally, some more aliens - a couple we've never seen before.  The pig-mask guys weren't that awesome, but the blue-white aliens I liked.  Spock's dad is being just as much of a dick as you'd assume he would be.  Spock's mom is an odd mixture of supportive and unreasonable in her own way.

The diplomacy and what ends up happening is interesting, although Spock's dad almost dying seemed to take up most of the time.

"Friday's Child" - Funny costumes aside, this episode wasn't bad at all.  The blonde was hot and the way McCoy dealt with her embodied that 60's sexism that I find endearingly awesome.

Why knock a sleeping man unconscious with a rock?  Because that's how it's done, I guess.  Oh yeah, and we're treated to an Amish Klingon.  Bet you wish you'd thought of that, Encounter Critical!  The interplay between honesty and savagery was fascinating, as Spock would say.

"The Deadly Years" - It takes a lot to run a starship like the Enterprise, and being old means that you start to suck... or something like that.  Why so much of the episode and that episode's resident asshole spent so much time on a competency hearing instead of finding a way to stop the rapid aging is beyond me.  I guess some writer wanted to prove his point.

The saving grace of "The Deadly Years" is the ruse involving that Romulan ship.  Nice one, Kirk!

"Obsession" - Kind of a familiar feel to this one, but ultimately successful, I think.  Obsession is about some alien life form which Kirk had dealt with before... or maybe he didn't deal with it properly.

Kirk looks back at his actions years ago and reprimands some kid that might have acted a couple seconds too late.  The alien looked pretty cool and I liked the honey-sweet scent of it before it struck.  However, once it went into space and threatened to invade a bunch of planets or whatever, I kind of threw up my hands.  The writer wanted this thing to be "the ultimate killer" just like a dozen other Star Trek episodes.  Nope, can't have it both ways pal.  This can either be a complex creature on a single planet that the Enterprise crew deals with or something in space that the ship itself has to handle... pick one and stay with it!

"Wolf in the Fold" - Yay, shore leave on a planet where "I dream of Jeanie" girls are belly dancing all the way to the space bank!  Scotty's about to finally get some when she's murdered.  And then another and another.  Finally, the small bald guy with the wuss voice becomes some terrible demon / Jack the Ripper.  WTF?!?

This episode is almost worth watching for the sheer gall of the writer responsible.

"The Trouble with Tribbles" -  This was pretty good.  Lighthearted and fairly interesting.  It was meant to be somewhat comedic, so I'm not going to rip on it.

"The Gamesters of Triskelion" - This guy is channeling Anton LaVey even more than the Gothic Avenger (not a real guy).  Nice.  Between him and the green-haired broad, that's all the episode you need.  Plus, there's gladiatorial fighting.  And the 3 brains of the operation was a cool reveal and another high point for the episode.  Definitely one of the better entries for season 2.

The "what is thing called kissing?" stuff is kind of fun, but after awhile I can see this getting old.  Hopefully, it's not repeated too often.  And then Kirk just kind of dumps her green-haired ass (her ass doesn't actually have green hair, that I know of).  Just like that.  In life, there are girls you want to bring back to your starship/planet/civilization and girls you would rather leave behind.

"A Piece of the Action" - Oh man.  Leave a thousand books on a planet and no one even bothers to get a library card.  Leave just one book and suddenly everyone is slavishly obedient to the text.  Bigger than the bible, some gangster story changes the entire culture of a planet into a 1920's gangster... I just can't.  Next!

"The Immunity Syndrome" - And now we know where George Lucas got Obi-wan's "a thousand voices crying out at once and then suddenly silenced" shtick.  Thanks, Spocks!

Anyway, this one got kind of weird quickly.  A negative energy barrier is penetrated after discovering some kind of alien thing that destroyed a Vulcan ship.  An 11,000 mile wide amoeba.  Spock and McCoy fight over who gets to go on the suicide mission into the amoeba.  Spock wins.  An anti-matter bomb is created by Scotty and it's bye bye amoeba.

I guess this episode was pretty good.  I don't know, there's just something about this show that I like but can't seem to love.  Whatever it is, "The Immunity Syndrome" has it in spades.

"A Private Little War" - I remember liking the Klingon in this one.  The peaceful "good guys" that Kirk knows are kind of worthless.  The most memorable thing is the spicy little savage beauty named Nona.  She's the epitome of a Satanic Witch (yes, another Anton LaVey reference).  The way she moves, thinks, feels, and uses her feminine wiles to prey upon those she considers usable... fascinating!  It's a shame that she jumped from one bed/side to another too many times.

"Return to Tomorrow" - This is another high point.  A distress call, an ancient civilization cast in ruin, a plea for help, three survivors in some alien consciousness-receptacle... awesome stuff!

The betrayal is easy to see from a ways off, yet almost impossible to notice when you're right there in it.  Plus, the benefits seem to outweigh the danger.  I thought the android idea was a good one, but no half-measures for this race.  They seem to be all-or-nothing type beings.  And so they choose oblivion after some kissing, of course.

"Patterns of Force" - Even though I've always been fascinated by WWII and Nazi Germany, I was still mildly disappointed in this one.  It stretches my disbelief too far.  Of course, I understand the budgetary limitations... there was probably a perfectly good WWII set with costumes just 50' away.  Why not use them?  Well, cause then audiences have to sit through "Patterns of Force" decades later.  That's why!

But as a moral lesson, it could have been worse.

"By Any Other Name" - This is another good one.  Almost two in a row, Star Trek.  Are you trying to spoil me?  The woman is hot, the aliens are far superior, and it seems there's no escape.  Things move really quickly in this episode.  Almost too quickly.  Before you know it, they're well on their way to the aliens' home planet and the Enterprise crew is reduced to a handful.

Making use of the aliens' human form is an imaginative idea.  Although, the getting drunk thing was pretty much comic relief and the make-out sessions seemed a bit corny.  Though, the jealousy angle worked.

However, it ends just as swiftly as it began.  Suddenly, the aliens see reason, hug it out, and decide they can all live together in one big happy galaxy.  Kind of a lame ending to such a cool build up.  This one could have been a two-parter and taken its time.

"The Omega Glory" - So many questions!  Why are they senseless violet barbarians in the beginning and then persecuted statesmen by the end?  Why the communist vs yankee thing?  I suppose the episode's resident asshole kind of had an excuse - the planet had vitalizing properties.  But it's all just too far fetched for my palate, I'm afraid.  C- at best.

"The Ultimate Computer" -  I really liked this one.  From the start, you can feel Kirk's uneasiness.  The audience relates to his possible redundancy.  So unfair!  However, the M5 super-computer is totally bananas.  Yay!

The only thing that pissed me off about this one was the ending.  Where was the closure for Kirk and the asshole who called him some useless starship part?  Kirk needed to look Commodore Wesley in the eye and tell him that no one could ever take his place.  After all, Wesley is almost as culpable as Daystrom for all those tragic deaths.  But we don't get that.  Instead, we get some banter about gambling, hunches, compassion, and computer logic bullshit.  That last 3 minutes we were robbed of might have been the most dramatic and important of the entire season.  So, that's a shame the writer never bothered do put it on camera.

"Bread and Circuses" - Should have been called "A Pattern of Lame".  We've been treated to this same exact premise many times... and by now it's played out.  Plus the late 1960's police uniforms next to Roman togas and machine guns just irritated the hell out of me.

But this is the first time I remember hearing of a "Prime Directive".  Makes sense, but doesn't the Enterprise and her crew break that directive like every third episode?

"Assignment: Earth" - Interesting.  I think it was mostly successful.  Teri Garr was a pleasant surprise.  Is that what young women were wearing back then?  Fascinating.  (Tired of that word yet?)  Why is the time period of the episode 1968 when it's supposed to be about something in the future?  Were super-power countries like the US about to put nuclear missiles on space platforms?  That doesn't make sense to me.

The mystery is decent, but all-in-all this episode feels more like Get Smart or an American version of The Avengers.  Not really my cup of tea.

"Spock's Brain" - Primitive cavemen speak English and they have no word for "women"... typical.  Overall, I enjoyed this one.  Spock has an impressive brain so why not harvest it for a central computer in the bowels of your native planet - again ravaged by nuclear war or something.  But this brings up something that bothers me about Star Trek - Spock is too awesome.  He has every advantage (strength, constitution, cool ninja like moves, super-intelligence, etc.) and what are his disadvantages?  He can't tell a proper joke and is sometimes too loyal or logical.  Really?  It's like Spock is Superman and everyone else is Hawkeye or Jimmy Olson.  Kind of ridiculous.

Anyway, as much as I'm amused by the idea of hot, scifi-scantily clad women with the reasoning capacity of a child, I just can't get behind the concept.  It's like the Eloi from The Time Machine had a helmet of brilliant ideas and just used it often enough to keep the air circulating and the water running.  Doesn't add up.  But nice try, writer.  Still better than average.

"The Enterprise Incident" - Most titles are either so vague I can't remember anything about it from the name alone (like this one) or they're hyper-specific and silly like "Spock's Brain".

This is the 2nd episode of season three and my last entry for this post.  It's been a bumpy ride.  Ok, let's get to it.

Has Captain Kirk gone mad?  Of course not!  There must be either a clever scheme or outside influence of the evil alien kind.  Which is it?  The former, apparently.  At least, the ruse is a good one.  And it works.  The Romulan cloaking device is stolen right under that Romulan milf's nose.  Nice one, Spock.  And he seems genuinely sorry that she was deceived in such a manner.  So, that's another half-Vulcan power - he's a true gentlemen.  Gah!  Spock's so awesome I almost hate him!

There's a Vulcan death-grip, too?!?  I don't believe it's not real.  After all, Spock is too perfect.  So perfect that he's displeased with the way Kirk looks with those ears, eyebrows, and hint-of-green eyeshadow.  "Get thee to a surgeon, Captain!"


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