Archive for January, 2010

Trekathon 048: A Private Little War (TOS)

January 31st, 2010

The Vietnam war analogy here could not be clearer. Mainly because Kirk takes the little time out two-thirds of the way through the mission to make it painfully clear through a direct reference. But that said it’s a pretty sophisticated analogy for the time (1968 in this case). Kirk is pretty clearly stuck with no good options – arm his side, violating the prime directive and causing an escalating war, or do nothing and cede the planet to the Klingons and leave his side to die.

I found the whole ‘women are seductive and will manipulate you’ side plot an unwanted distraction by comparison, clearly an example of Star Trek’s relatively unevolved attitude towards women (oh, and another example of the midriff rule in action).

48 down, 689 to go. Now 14 episodes behind, or 415 minutes (depending on how you’re counting).

Trekathon 047: The Immunity Syndrome (TOS)

January 31st, 2010

Another slow developing episode, which turns out to really be about McCoy and Spock’s relationship. This is the first time that the real complexities have been clear, and it seems like this is an important building block in the relationship that can be seen in the Star Trek films. The competition between McCoy and Spock to volunteer for the suicide mission is great, and McCoy’s emotions as he follows Spock on the mission are quite believable.

47 down, 690 to go.

Trekathon 046: A Piece of the Action (TOS)

January 31st, 2010

So here’s my problem with this episode – there couldn’t be a clearer example of the importance of strictly adhering to the non-interference Prime Directive. The damage that can be done to a culture by even relatively innocuous material (OK, fine, maybe the extent of the mimicry is a little unbelievable) is extensive. But does this influence Kirk in his later decisions? I bet not…

But the episode is tremendous fun, and Spock does look great in a suit. Shatner Also clearly had a fantastic time chewing the scenery when posing as a gangster.

46 down, 691 to go.

Trekathon 045: The Gamesters of Triskelion (TOS)

January 31st, 2010

Whoops, that was a little bit of a hiatus. Sorry! Between holidays, work and weddings (OK, and Mass Effect 2) no time for Star Trek until today. So I’m now 18 episodes behind. Better get a move on…

Gamesters is a nice episode a little bit undermined by not really having enough content to fill the whole episode. Having three immortal brains force Kirk to fight for sport was nice, but more could have been done – maybe force him to fight Chekhov, for instance. The highlight was actually the cutaway scenes, with Spock defending his decisions against McCoy and Scotty. That section really highlighted Spock’s relationships outside of Kirk, and gave the episode something a bit different.

45 down, 692 to go.

Trekathon 044: The Trouble with Tribbles (TOS)

January 21st, 2010

A beloved Star Trek classic. Does it hold up?

I think so. It’s mainly an episode played for laughs, but the laughs are pretty good ones. The story rolls along nice and quickly, and there are some nice character moments for Mr Scott.

(One of he surprising things from watching all this Star Trek is how big a part Scotty has. By stereotype he does little other than say ‘the engines cannae take it’, but he’s gotten quite a few substantial plot lines so far).

The tribbles aren’t exactly the greatest special effect ever – they really needed Graeme Garden from the Goodies to show them how to bring a small ball of fur to life.

And I’m not sure Mr Scott’s beaming the tribbles onto the Klingon ship was much better than sending them into space – the Klingons, after all, are going to hunt down and kill every single one of them.

One thing I am getting sick of: the ‘Russians invented everything’ joke from Chekhov. It just makes him seem like an idiot.

44 down, 693 to go.

Trekathon 043: The Wolf in the Fold (TOS)

January 21st, 2010

The inevitable ‘Jack the Ripper’ episode.

I thought it all went pretty well, really. The usual problems with mystery episodes like this is that you know the regular cast member is innocent. But they did a good job here in making Scotty look not just plausible as a suspect, but positively guilty.

Things went off the rails a little bit in the final act, once the identity of the killer is known and McCoy is injecting everyone with happy juice to prevent fear and anger. It just wasn’t as interesting as what had gone before in the episode.

43 down, 694 to go.

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.