Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek 1.8 (Miri)

First Aired: October 27, 1966

Cast:
Kim Darby (Miri)
Michael J. Pollard (Jahn)
Keith Taylor (Jahn’s Friend)
Kellie Flanagan (Blonde Girl)
Steven McEveety (Redheaded Boy)
Jim Goodwin (Lt. John Farrell)
John Megna (Little Boy)
Writer: Adrian Spies
In this episode, the Enterprise crew find a planet just like Earth and beam down to a back lot on the Paramount estate. There, they find lots of children, behaving like nutters, including one girl called Miri whom is almost old enough for Kirk to bone. But he doesn’t. They all get a disease that kills all adults. But they find a cure.
Aaaargh! This is supposed to be a classic episode. What annoys me. Well, for a start Janice Rand is one of the crew that beams down with Kirk, Spock and McCoy. And all she does is glares at Spock and Kirk as they talk (well, she has about three lines) and she gets really jealous of Miri, who likes Kirk. This is a classic idea – in fact, the basic idea is very similar to the idea behind the creation of the Reavers in Serenity. However, the fact that all the children behave like, well, children, despite the fact that they are over 300 years old… the idea is a good one. The story, as I said, is regarded as a classic. Yet it just annoyed me. The childish behaviour of the kids is stereotypical, badly acted, annoying, and the Miri character herself, whilst engaging, could have been a little more risque in the way they handled her, but in fact she is just a silly young girl falling in love (who just happens to be about 300 and about to go mental).
We get some more moments that Kirk and Rand like each other – this is one strand that it would have been interesting to see how it would have developed if Rand hadn’t left so suddenly later in the first season.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 19
Score: 4/10

July 29, 2007 Posted by | disease/sickness, primitive cultures | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.7 (What are little girls made of?)

First Aired: October 20, 1966

Cast:
Michael Strong (Dr. Roger Korby)
Sherry Jackson (Andrea)
Ted Cassidy (Ruk)
Harry Basch (Dr. Brown)
Budd Albright (Rayburn)
Writer: Robert Bloch
This episode has good points as well as bad. The most frustrating thing is that we already have themes repeated from earlier in the series – and bearing in mind that this is episode seven…
In this episode, we get to see another Kirk lookalike, just as we did in the episode before last. Okay, this one is a robot (or android or whatever) and we have already seen similarities between other episodes. Perhaps they should have looked at showing the episodes in a different order – I am watching them as the DVD presents them, which is in transmission order not production order.
The good: Ruk is massive, it really does look like he can easily throw Shatner around. Sherry Jackson, the actress who plays Andrea, is rather lovely – normally the sixties look doesn’t do much for me, but she looks fantastic. It is also nice that one of the background regulars – in this case Christine Chapel – has a large part to play in the episode. And the effects when there are two Kirks are pretty good for the time. The food they eat in the meal about halfway through the episode looks like a current brand of dried dog food. (I list that as a good as it made me laugh!)
The end became a little melodramatic. The twist, that Christine’s ex was a robot, was somewhat obvious, and the idea that all the robots destroyed the race that made them is not new. In fact, I am sure it will be repeated at some point soon!
So, okay, but not great.
Crew Deaths: 2
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 19
Score: 5/10

July 29, 2007 Posted by | androids, doubles or duplicates, exes | | 3 Comments

Star Trek 1.6 (Mudd’s Women)

First Aired: October 13, 1966

Cast:
Roger C. Carmel (Harry Mudd)
Karen Steele (I) (Eve McHuron)
Maggie Thrett (Ruth Bonaventure)
Susan Denberg (Magda Kovas)
Jim Goodwin (Lt. John Farrell)
Gene Dynarski (Ben Chilress)
Jon Kowal (Herm Gossett)
Seamon Glass (Benton)
Jerry Foxworth (Security Guard)
Writer: Stephen Kandel
Oh dear. After run of good episodes, along comes this one. Mudd’s women have this immediate effect on the men of the Enterprise – possibly because they can only see them in soft focus. There is something distinctly unsexy about these three women, possibly due to the fashions and what was considered sexy in the sixties. The mens’ reaction is sleazy, stereotypical crap.
We also have a couple of Trek cliches appear here for the first time – McCoys dislike of the transporter as a means of travel, and the “the ship they were on has exploded but they haven’t quite materialised yet” nonsense. Later they call it the pattern stuck in the buffer or some such nonsense.
Kirk confines Mudd to quarters but notes that the women are having an almost hypnotic effect on the men. But at no point does he think of confining them to quarters? No. And why not? Because apparently men from the 23rd century are only capable of thinking with their dicks.
At one point Harry Mudd uses an Enterprise communicator to talk to some miners in advance of arriving. So why didn’t Uhura (who is wearing yellow instead of red for some reason and it really doesn’t suit her!) pick up on this?
Oh, and the women aren’t all they appear to be. Didn’t I see that five episodes ago?
Harry Mudd was probably a great character in his day. Sadly he, like the episode in general, have dated rather badly. This really is not one of the best.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 17
Score: 4/10

July 29, 2007 Posted by | harry mudd, shape shifters | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.5 (The Enemy Within)

First Aired: October 6, 1966

Cast:
Edward Madden (Technician Fisher)
Garland Thompson (Technician Wilson)
Jim Goodwin (Lt. John Farrell)
Writer: Richard Matheson
“Captains’ Log. Specimen gathering mission on planet Alpha177. Unknown to any of us during this time, a duplicate of me, some strange alter ego had been created by the transporter malfunction.” Aaaaargh! They’ve only gone and done it again. There is no way that be could have recorded that as a log. I am hoping that this crap method of narration goes away soon – I have not noticed it before and it is really starting to piss me off!!!
That being said, there are a couple of extremely adult moments in this episode. Kirk is split into two halves, and the “evil” half (for want of a better description) stalks Yeoman Rand (who he admitted to quite liking in the previous episode under the influence of the virus) and he pretty much tries to rape her – it is well acted and filmed and is a horrible moment, adult in the true, non-Torchwood sense of the word.
A couple of thoughts though. There are men trapped on the planet below (including Sulu) and the temperature is about to drop to well below freezing. These man cannot be beamed up or they may also be split like Kirk. Scotty tries to beam heaters down, which are also split in two and won’t work. Fine, but don’t they have shuttles aboard the ship? They certainly do later on in the first series, but this early on obviously the hadn’t thought about it, but you would have hoped that there would be some technobabble explanation as to why they can’t use them.
It is also an interesting idea that the negative side of Kirk provides the strength that enables him to Captain the ship.
The first half of the episode is excellent, but once they capture the “evil” Kirk, it slows down a bit, and the final moments when Evil Kirk rampages around the ship are a little melodramatic. I can’t believe that an organisation with any idea of what security was would leave Evil Kirk unguarded in the sick bay, which really renders the last ten minutes as totally unbelievable. Spock should have just shot both of them (on stun) and been done with it, but no, instead he lets them fight it out on the bridge. Hmmm. Not convinced.
It would have been an 8/10 it it wasn’t for that ending, which really let down an excellent first half.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 17
Score: 6/10

July 26, 2007 Posted by | doubles or duplicates, transporter problems | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.4 (The Naked Time)

First Aired: September 29, 1966

Cast:
Stewart Moss (Joe Tormolen)
Bruce Hyde (Lt. Kevin Thomas Riley)
William Knight (Amorous Crewman)
John Bellah (Laughing Crewman)

Writer: John D.F. Black

I am very familiar with this episode for two reasons – firstly, I like it, and secondly I had not realised how similar the Next Generation remake (The Naked Now) was!

Also, this is the first episode of the run that has all of the season one regulars in place – Uhura, Rand, Sulu, Scotty, Chapel, Kirk, Spock, McCoy – all are there. And it’s so cool to have them!

The plot moves along at a nice pace, and there is time for some enjoyable, and funny, character moments, but as their situation gets more serious, as the ship stops working and the planet starts to break up, there is a real sense of tension, even though you know in your heart of hears that they are going to survive. It is great watching everyone going bonkers, with only a few people remaining sane. The frustration on Shatners face as Kirk has to deal with the degenerating situation are great, Sulu going mental with a sword (surely one of the most iconic images of any character within the show) is a lot of fun, Kevin Riley taking over engineering and demanding ice cream and singing over the intercom is also funny when it could have got annoying. We also find out for the first time that Chapel has a thing for Spock.

One gripe – there is a Captains Log that says, and I quote, “…our need for efficiency critical, but unknown to us, a totally new and unusual disease has been bought aboard.” How the hell can you do a Captains log that basically says “however, unbeknown to us…” It just sticks out. The Captains Log cannot be used to communicate something that the Captain does not know at the time. It’s just bollocks.

Generally, this is a fun episode, the only part I was not convinced by was the last few moments where Kirk and Spock fight and this somehow cures Spock and he thinks up the formula for a “never been done before” cold start on the Enterprise engines and it causes them to go back in time in a way that is not at all relevant to the story and serves it in no way whatsoever. Yep, Kirk does the timewarp a few years before the cast of Rocky Horror! It is a slightly hokey ending that lets down an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable episode.

Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 17
Score: 7/10

July 26, 2007 Posted by | disease/sickness, kevin riley, time travel | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 1.3 (Where No Man Has Gone Before)

First Aired: September 22, 1966

Cast:
James Doohan (Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery Scott)
Gary Lockwood (Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell)
Sally Kellerman (Dr. Elizabeth Dehner)
Lloyd Haynes (Lt. Lloyd Alden)
Andrea Dromm (Yeoman Smith)
Paul Carr (I) (Lt. Lee Kelso)
Paul Fix (Dr. Piper)
Writer: Samuel A. Peeples
My first thought watching this episode was the difference in the uniforms. For those non trekkies out where (and if that’s you, seriously, why are you reading this?) this episode was the pilot show for what became the series (in fact, it was the second pilot to be shot, the first one having been rejected). So the uniforms are the same as the designs from the original pilot The Cage which is repackaged later in the first season as the two part story The Menagerie. I have no problem with the fact that the uniforms change, but to establish the look in the previous two then change it here, only to have it change back next week is silly. (You can just imagine the memo telling people to revert back to the old uniforms, then a week later another one coming down saying “no actually, change back”. I bet Kirk lost his rag when that came though!!) Anyhow, for the uniforms to make sense, this episode should have been shown first! But hey, it’s the first time we see Scotty so I can’t complain! No Uhura though. And a different Doctor.
The story is a bit of a standard “person gets a power, and gets too big for his boots” story. As Mitchel’s power grows and they realise that they are going to struggle to contain him, they take him down to a planet and hold him prisoner, with the aim of leaving him there. I admit my attention did wander as I watched this the first time, then I realised I hadn’t been keeping a death count, so I wound back to the beginning and started again! Good thing I did, as Spock (almost casually!) announces that there are 9 dead after the engines burn out!
It’s not a bad episode, but right after Charlie X it does feel a bit soon for a story about a human with powers that everyone has to tread eggshells around. And even though the ultimate resolution is very different, somehow this episode just does not work as well. There is too much screen time for non regulars – as a new viewer, I want to know about the people that I have been introduced to over the last two weeks. And as there is no McCoy, Uhura or Rand somehow the episode feels somewhat empty.
The final moments are the kind of thing that quickly became a Star Trek cliche (the fight, the ripped shirt and the unconvincing polystyrene rocks) , and watching the genesis of that cliche here did nothing further to endear me to the episode. And Mitchell cannot know Kirk as well as he thought he did, as he got his middle name wrong on the tombstone! So all in all this is worth watching as pilot but it really is not the best this series has to offer.
Crewman Death Count: 12
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 16
Score: 6/10

July 26, 2007 Posted by | super beings | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 1.2 (Charlie X)

First Aired: 15th September 1966

Cast:
Robert Walker Jr. (Charlie Evans)
Charles Stewart (Capt. Ramart)
Dallas Mitchell (Tom Nellis)
Don Eitner (Navigator)
Patricia McNulty (Yeoman Tina Lawton)
John Bellah (Crewman #1)
Garland Thompson (Crewman #2)
Abraham Sofaer (The Thasian)
Writer: D.C. Fontana
This is much more like it! This episode is much more what I expect – and enjoy – about the original Star Trek series. The premise is a little more “real” than in the previous episode – I can believe that a young lad that has spent many years by himself would be emotionally stunted. The “fish out of water” stuff where he struggles to fit into a society that he doesn’t really understand are really well realised, as is his sense of wonder that there is a bigger world. I think the actor played the part brilliantly well – and as the episode goes on, and you realise that he is actually capable of almost anything since he has not developed his moral compass, some of the material gets really chilling.
The secondary regulars get some nice stuff to do here as well. Although Uhura’s song is annoying, I really liked the resigned way Spock went ahead with it. This is the second episode where both Uhura and Rand get some decent involvement in the story, pity it was not a sign of things to come. Also absent from this episode is good old Scotty. Again. I hope he’s in episode three, I miss him!
There is one niggle though. The crew of the Cargo Vessel Antarres do anything to get rid of him as soon as possible, presumably knowing what he is capable of. Of course, it could be that Janice Rand is his first true “victim” and the crew of the Antarres have only experienced the kind of thing he did to Uhura after her song, but I somehow doubt it. Knowing what he was capable of and not passing it on to the Enterprise crew was criminally negligent. They deserved to die. Harsh but fair.
The ending was a little silly, I would much rather that Kirk had had to make a difficult decision and deal with him, it was a bit of a cop out at the end having the Thasians take him away. But since the rest of the episode was so good, I will overlook that!
Crewman Death Count: 0 (as they all get bought back).
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 4
Score: 8/10

July 24, 2007 Posted by | songs, super beings | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.1 (The Man Trap)

First Aired: September 8, 1966

Cast:
William Shatner (Captain James Tiberius Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock)
DeForest Kelley (Dr. Leonard McCoy)
Grace Lee Whitney (Yeoman Janice Rand)

George Takei (Lt. Sulu)
Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura)
Jeanne Bal (Nancy Crater)
Alfred Ryder (Prof. Robert Crater)
Bruce Watson (Crewman Darnell)
Michael Zaslow (Crewman Green)
Vince Howard (Crewman)
Francine Pyne (Nancy III)

Writer: George Clayton Johnson

Although not the first episode to be produced, this was the first one aired. There are some differences between this and what becomes the established series – the first is the treatment of the regulars other that Kirk, Spock and McCoy. They all seem to get some actual character development, something that you do not see that often in later episodes.

It is slow in places, especially after the quick-fire editing we are used to in modern television. There are some moments of sexism (especially the references to Yeoman Rand) that, whilst being the kind of things men no doubt would say in the modern age, just wouldn’t get shown on TV. Also the opening scene where everyone sees a different woman are not handled that well, and as for Crewman Darnell almost drooling all over Nancy… well, he deserved to die, that’s all I can say!
The soundstage representing the planet is also very basic even by Star Trek standards, however I am always impressed by the Enterprise. Okay, so the technology seems wrong by the standards of today, but there is still something enduring about the design of the ship, especially the interior. They were able to set most of a two part story from the final season of Enterprise within a very similar ship and it still looked great!
The story on this one is okay – in a way I feel that what is going on is a bit obvious, and I am never totally convinced by the character of Professor Crater – I don’t see that anyone would let as many people die to protect this secret, especially after the creature killed his wife.
The regulars are on fine form in this story. Kirk is very direct with McCoy about the death of his crewman early on, and this story gives an unusual focus on the good Doctor. I also really enjoyed the opening scene where Uhura tries to employ Spock in idle conversation, and Rand and Sulu in Sulu’s quarters with his plants. The only regular who does not appear is Scotty.
So, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The transformations of the creature are rather basic, and the monster at the end… somehow I don’t think any human could fall in love with that, even if it could change shape! So, not one of the best.
Crewman Death Count: 4
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 4
Score: 4/10

July 24, 2007 Posted by | exes, monsters | | 1 Comment