Archive for January, 2010

Trekathon 036: Catspaw (TOS)

January 19th, 2010

I was not previously aware that Star Trek had done a Halloween episode.

All things considered, I think I preferred it when I didn’t know.

I couldn’t shake the impression that the genesis of this episode was simply in ‘hey, why don’t we have a halloween episode’, rather than any of the other plot points. This makes the rest of the plot feel like something that was just thrown together on a whiteboard over lunchtime.

The episode did manage to create a little something interesting by emphasising the conflict between the two aliens, rather than anything with the regular crew. And it was nice to see truly alien aliens, rather than ‘humans with a different skin colour’, even if they are just on screen for a minute.

(One thing I did like was the use of a cat as the scary monster. I don’t imagine it was hard to get the cat into the role).

The writing for Spock seemed particularly poor this episode. Spock is unemotional, sure, but he seemed almost entirely disengaged from the events in this episode, as if he wasn’t really there.

Still, all that said, I laughed for a good minute on Spock’s line “Don’t let her touch the wand, Captain”. Generally good advice for any of the women Kirk meets around his missions.

(By the way, if you’re counting: out of the 7 episodes of Season 2, 4 of them have involved super powerful aliens with mysterious technology. Time for a new plot device…)

36 down, 701 to go.

Trekathon 035: The Doomsday Machine (TOS)

January 19th, 2010

Star Trek so far hasn’t been quite as ‘preachy’ in its messages as later shows.

This, however, was a bit of an exception. The ‘nuclear weapons are bad’ bit was way too direct. And a little nonsensical – there doesn’t seem to be a lot of connection in my mind between nuclear weapons and autonomous planet killing machines.

Things develop quite nicely through the episode, and there is a nice sense of the powerlessness of the Enterprise compared to the ship. it’s interesting that the crew seem much more willing to accept this in a ship, whereas anything planet borne and it’s ‘break out the ship’s phasers’.

Still, overall this was a pretty average episode – nothing spectacularly great, and nothing spectacularly poor.

35 down, 702 to go.

Trekathon 034: The Apple (TOS)

January 19th, 2010

One thing they never really show in Star Trek is the sexual harassment contact officer. It must be a full time position on Kirk’s enterprise, with Mr Chekhov off for the compulsory class this week.1

Once again, Kirk shows a complete disregard of the Prime Directive. I wonder why the writers even came up with it in the first place – it seems strange given the America of the 1960s. But it’s pretty clear that in Kirk’s mind the Prime Directive goes exactly as far as his own approval dictates.

There is some very effective writing in this episode. The moment when the lead native shows the others how to kill is actually quite chilling.

Kirk needs a few more techniques for resolving conflict: “blow up the source of the mysterious powers” from orbit got used just 4 episodes ago.

A side note: clearly credits are worth a lot. Mr Spock is an officer who has done several years at the academy, as well as another 10 years on the Enterprise, and his training has cost 122,000. That would cost well over a million in current prices in reality, far more for a pilot.

Another example of pure Red Shirt in this episode. That’s 3 so far out of 34 episodes. I’d feel pretty comfortable with the red shirt based on the evidence to date. The second one (Mallory) doesn’t count – he had a name, and survived almost half the episode.

34 down, 703 to go. 5.13% complete.

  1. Maybe that’s what the counsellor in Next Generation was meant to spend most of their time on. 

Trekathon 033: Mirror, Mirror (TOS)

January 19th, 2010

A Star Trek episode so iconic that it has entered into common usage. Everyone knows that your evil universe counterpart has a beard.

Again, the episode gives Kirk a chance for some good acting, with his brief appearance as the mirror universe Kirk. There’s also an opportunity for a lot of interesting work from the secondary characters such as Chekov or Sulu.

Overall I’d say this is one of the two or three best episodes that I’ve seen so far.

Great trek moment: The mirror universe, with its inevitable counterpart, the evil universe beard. It would also seem from the costumes that short skirts = good, midriff tops = evil.

(It takes a pretty special episode to push Spock mind melding with McCoy off the list…)

There’s also, I think, an appearance of something looking a lot like a replicator. This is the second time (there was one in Tomorrow is Yesterday as well). Not sure if it’s a replicator or not.

33 down, 704 to go.

Trekathon 032: The Changeling (TOS)

January 19th, 2010

Ah, the good old ‘talk the all powerful computer into a logical inconsistency’ ploy.

Pretty sure we have Isaac Asimov to blame for that one.

If I remember the first Star Trek movie properly, it’s a bit of a plot hole there that this episode never gets mentioned there. Oh, we’re facing an earth probe modified by an alien race? Gee, does that ring any bells at all for anyone?

The other obvious tie in to later Star Trek here is the alien probe that wants to understand and then eliminate organic life. Could very easily have written a Borg tie-in, but no one seems to have done so.

The episode itself is a pretty good one. A nice cheap ship-based episode, although not a lot of chance for anyone except Kirk to do much. The big discordant moment was the ‘Oh, Uhura’s been mind wiped? Gee, that’ll take us weeks to retain her’. They could have found a better way to reset the episode at the end.

32 down, 705 to go.

Trekathon 031: Who Mourns for Adonais? (TOS)

January 18th, 2010

My first question after watching this episode was ‘who on Earth is Adonais’?

It’s a strange episode title, easily the strangest so far.

As an episode, it’s not bad, overall. The ‘what if the gods where from the skies’ thing was actually fairly new: Erich von Daniken’s book Chariots of the Gods wouldn’t actually be published until the year after this episode aired. Chekov gets his first substantial appearance this episode, although it’s not exactly wonderful in terms of his character development. Scotty gets a lot more, although he doesn’t really work as the lovelorn type: surely he’s more practical than that.

Another example of apparent sexism: strange things change the male cast member costumes: “what’s going on?”. Female cast members: “Oh, how pretty”. Not sure how much of this is the 60s, and how much is Gene Roddenberry. The character of Lt Palmas isn’t so much a person as a convenient locus for the plot.

31 down, 706 to go. I’ve slipped a little behind due to a weekend off, but I’ll catch up this week.