Archive for January, 2010

Trekathon 042: Obsession (TOS)

January 21st, 2010

Captain Ahab, ahem, I mean Kirk, chases after a creature that once nearly killed him to the point of endangering his ship and crew.

Gee, I wonder where they got the idea for that plot?

Moby Dick plagiarism accusations aside this is a clever episode. The part when McCoy and Spock have to ask Kirk about his state of mind is well done, and rests on the relationship between the three that has been established in the series so far. The creature itself is a bit dull (aren’t most of the mysterious energy beings), with just enough characteristics to engage the plot, not enough to make it interesting. Shoot first again appears to be the order of the day for Kirk.

Five pure red shirts, taking the total to nine. More than in the rest of the series put together! How ironic that all of their red corpuscles were taken. The Red Shirt massacre seems to be getting a move on.

(I also noticed that there was a subtle reference to this episode in the 2009 movie: Uhura is initially assigned to the USS Farragut, which is Kirk’s first ship here).

42 down, 695 to go.

Trekathon 041: The Deadly Years (TOS)

January 21st, 2010

A subtle call back to the first episode here, with the Enterprise doing another check of remote scientists.

The ‘comedy old people’ bit gets old. Yes, we get it: old people are cranky and have arthritis. I thought the makeup was pretty good for the time, and it was a nice touch to have the alien Vulcan physiology produce a different reaction in Spock.

I had a characterisation problem in this episode – I just didn’t believe that Kirk is the kind of person who would hang on to command when his faculties were failing. Maybe you could blame that on the ageing, but I think the show has established previously that he would easily hand over command to Spock when needed.

It’s suggested early in the episode that it might be a Romulan plot. It’s a pretty clever one if it is (after all, they never explain what caused that comet to emit the radiation). Think about it – by seeding remote scientific colonies with these diseases you could wipe out half of the command staff of Star Fleet.

Laugh of the episode: “That’s a stupid place to hang a mirror.” Yes, yes it is.

The other callbacks (the Romulans and the Corbomite) show that Star Trek is starting to build its mythology, slowly but surely.

41 down, 696 to go.

Trekathon 040: Friday’s Child (TOS)

January 20th, 2010

The return of the Klingons. And another example of ‘what Prime Directive’, although with a bit more justification than in most instances here.

This episode’s moral has actually improved a bit. The idea of the difficulties of obeying a culture’s rules at the expense of your own is something that has become more important in recent times.

Not that Kirk, Spock and McCoy spend very much longer than they have to obeying the rules of the natives. But for a change the situation they find themselves in is more to do with actions outside their control, which makes this episode play a lot better than Errand of Mercy.

The Klingons are still developing – here they’re far more sneaky and duplicitous than warrior like. Errand of Mercy was far better at establishing the culture for the future.

Another pure Red Shirt in this episode, the fourth. And is it just me, or has Scotty been spending more time in command lately than Kirk?

(Oh, and hello again, Vasquez Rocks).

40 down, 697 to go. And that’s 2,000 minutes watched.

Trekathon 039: Journey to Babel (TOS)

January 20th, 2010

Spock gets a family, and unlike Kirk’s relatives last season these ones get to live.

While the episode was a lot of fun, I had some problems with the premise. Why would you cram a starship full of disputing delegations – surely a few different starships are the way to go here. Still, the overall plot of the episode is more complex than average, drawing together multiple threads. And Star Trek gets its first Cantina scene, with the many different species seen in some of the scenes. It gives a sense of diversity that was entirely missing from season one.

It seems to me that there are an awful lot of people around who aren’t very familiar with the ways that Vulcans think. For instance, people who have commanded Vulcans for years, or been married to them for years. It seems every time this plot comes along there is a call for ‘more human emotions’ – seems like the diversity training on the Enterprise could do with a bit more work.

39 down, 698 to go.

Trekathon 038: Metamorphosis (TOS)

January 19th, 2010

Another episode with an important later tie-in, with Zefram Cochrane making his first appearance. He’ll be back in the movie First Contact. He must have aged in a pretty strange way, judging from the later movie. Also, I look forward to some eventual explanation as to why he was described as “Zefram Cochrane of Alpha Centauri”.

This isn’t that bad an episode. It’s an interesting idea, the mysterious energy entity that falls in love. Actually, so far the Star Trek cliche of the energy entity hasn’t been used that much so far – this is the first one that’s a pure ball of energy really.

And I cheered a little at McCoy’s line that Kirk forgets he’s also a diplomat, not just a soldier. It’s nice to see that just blowing stuff up blindly isn’t the solution this time. Another of the interesting contrasts to later Star Trek of course is just how often the force approach does seem to work.

(BTW, wasn’t the Galileo shuttlecraft destroyed last season?)

38 down, 699 to go. And back on schedule.

Trekathon 037: I, Mudd (TOS)

January 19th, 2010

So, what was the first protagonist to recur on Star Trek?

The Romulans? No.

The Kinglons? No.

The Mirror Universe? No.

Nope, none of those, or any other of the protagonists from the good episode. No, it’s Harry Mudd. Star of what I thought was the worst episode of Season 1.

Again, this episode is mainly played for laughs. It’s a bit more successful than last time, because we start from a position of knowing a lot more about all the characters involved. Still, it all drags on for far longer than it’s really welcome for.

An unwelcome trend developing in this season is repetition. In this case, the resolution of the episode is fundamentally the same as in The Changeling, just a few short episodes ago.

As an aside, it seems that Harry Mudd is the forerunner of Cory Doctorow: “Knowledge, Sir, should be free to all”.

37 down, 700 to go.