Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek 1.22 (Space Seed)

First Aired: February 16, 1967

Cast:
John Winston (Lt. Kyle)
Ricardo Montalban (Khan Noonien Singh)
Madlyn Rhue (Marla McGivers)
Blaisdell Makee (Lt. Spinelli)
Mark Tobin (Joaquin)
Kathy Ahart (Crew Woman)
Writer: Marc Daniels
Of course, this episode has taken on a greater significance since the eighties when the second movie The Wrath of Khan revisited the character. In 1996 apparently World War III was all about eugenics, and the survivors escaped in a space vessel, the SS Botany Bay. Of course, I will ignore the fact that this little piece of history never came true – perhaps it was something that happened that certain people knew about. Perhaps certain terrorist outrages that happened before 1996 were actually down to the so called “super men”. I am rationalising it too much: in Star Trek history this actually happened.
So, what was bad about this episode. Well, for a start, Marla McGivers (the crew historian that boards the Botany Bay with Kirk and company) falls for Khan when he is asleep, before she has even spoken to him. I know if you are interested in history then the chance to interact with it would be very exciting, but to interact horizontally (which is clearly her intent from before he even awakes) is just not going to tell you much about the past.
In fact, this character is the weak link in the episode. She just falls into Khan’s spell far too easily, he almost has to do nothing. I cannot believe that anybody serving in StarFleet would be that easy to influence. Then, later, she has a change of heart and saves Kirk. Puh-lease!
Oh, and the two stuntment playing both Kirk and Khan are obviously neither actor. It is just rubbish.
The standoff between Kirk and Khan on the other hand is superb – both intellectual and physical, they both rise to the occasion and deliver some solidly and believable characters. Yes, even Shatner!
Montalban’s performance is utterly compelling – you can see why the producer of the second film chose to revisit this character. He plays the part wonderfully – he has a kind of delivery that apparently the actor developed for the character, and he also used the original episode to try and work the character out fifteen or so years later, and he did a wonderful job. The character is portrayed the same way in both episodes, and you can only congratulate Montalban for that.
At the end, they dump Khan, his followers and McGivers on the planet Ceti Alpha Five. And we all know what happens next!
McGivers doesn’t die in this episode, so I cannot include her as a crew death, even though she is dead by the time everyone meets again in the film.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 25
Score: 8/10
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August 31, 2007 Posted by | khan, people from the past | | 2 Comments

Star Trek 1.21 (Return of the Archons)

First Aired: February 9, 1967

Cast:
Ralph Maurer (Bilar)
Christopher Held (Crewman Lindstrom)
Morgan Farley (Hacom)
Charles Macaulay (Landru)
Sid Haig (First Lawgiver)
Brioni Farrell (Tula)
Torin Thatcher (Marplon)
Harry Townes (Reger)
Writer: Boris Sobelman
The episode starts with an officer called O’Neil running away from what looks like a pair of Ori from Stargate SG1. I checked, but I had indeed put the correct disc in.
It was a bad start. The planet looks rather like Earth from the past, so the main cast get to wear historical Earth costumes and walk around what looks like the same back lot that Miri was filmed in. Then everyone starts banging on about The Red Hour. Which is at exactly six o’clock, and we see the clock. So they even have the same clocks as we do, and presumably 24 hour days.
I can remember most episodes of the classic Star Trek series. Yet somehow, this one had vanished into the murky recesses of my brain. (I read the blurb on the sleeve notes, and that really didn’t help either. I had a thought in my mind that it might be the Fizzbin episode, but it wasn’t). Now they are going on about Landru all the time. I think it’s coming back to me – this is the first episode about a crappy supercomputer.
The hooded guys (The Ori-alike) speak with echoey voices likes computers. They kill people. They keep going on about Landru. It is starting to piss me off.
I really struggled with this. I kept losing interest (oh the dangers of having an internet connection nearby when watching a crap episode) and had to start again three times! (I only bothered because I didn’t want to miss any crew deaths. Not that there were any in the first half!)
Well, nearly two hours later (what with the rewatches) yes it turned out to be a shitty computer. This is one of the worst pieces of crap that I have watched so far!
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 25
Score: 3/10

August 31, 2007 Posted by | super computers | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 1.20 (Court-Martial)

First Aired: February 2, 1967

Cast:
Percy Rodriguez (Commodore Stone)
Elisha Cook Jr. (Samuel T. Cogley)
Joan Marshall (Lt. Areel Shaw)
Hagan Beggs (Lt. Hansen)
Win de Lugo (Timothy)
Alice Rawlings (Jamie Finney)
Nancy Wong (Personnel Officer)
William Meader (Space Command Rep. Lindstrom)
Bart Conrad (Captain Krasnowsky)
Reginald Lal Singh (Captain Chandra)
Richard Webb (Lt. Commander Benjamin Finney)

Writer: Stephen W. Carabatsos & Don M. Mankiewicz

This episode is filmed on many of the same sets as The Menagerie, and indeed they were filmed next to each other. On the original video release, they released them in production order not transmission order. Next to each other it all looked rather cheap, but luckily this far apart it works fine.
The story is a little similar as well – Kirk is being Court-Martialled again (which at a brief glance looks like a continuity error, as Commodore Stone says this has never happened to a Starfleet Captain before. But then the man holding the court martial in The Menagerie was not real anyway)
It starts badly with a screaming family member blaming Kirk. She just needed a slap. And it gets worse when we find out that the prosecutor at the trial turns out to be one of Kirks old shags.
I did like Kirks attorney, Samuel Cogley. The guys never uses a computer and we see a room with books just strewn everywhere. There is something endearing – and very feasible – about a man living in the 23rd Century who rejects the modern world in favour of good old fashioned paper. I imagine there wouldn’t be many of them but somehow I just warmed to him.
As episodes go this one is standard fair. That is not to say the idea 0f a court based drama cannot work on an episode of Star Trek, as was proven in the second season of ST:TNG with The Measure of a Man. The end is a bit of a cop out – the person who allegedly died faked it to get revenge on Kirk for an earlier incident. Oh, but didn’t tell his daughter. Git.
Oh, and the “white sound device” that McCoy uses towards the end of the episode is highly shite. It is literally a microphone with some red sticky tape around it.
Oh, and in the big fight at the end Kirks shirt gets ripped. Again. I need to start looking at where they ripped – it is possible they have two or three standard ripped shirts. On this one, the right shoulder is ripped, hanging down at the front, although the black collar band is intact. The rip reveals all the shoulder and right pecs. If I see it again, I shall refer to this shirt as Ripped Shirt #1.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 25
Score: 6/10

August 29, 2007 Posted by | exes | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.19 (Tomorrow is Yesterday)

First Aired: January 26, 1967

Cast:
Roger Perry (Capt. John Christopher)
Hal Lynch (Air Police Sergeant)
Richard Merrifield (Technician Webb)
Ed Peck (Col. Fellini)
Mark Dempsey (Air Force Captain)
Jim Spencer (Air Policeman)
Sherri Townsend (Crew Woman)
Writer: D.C. Fontana
What’s going on? Confusingly, the episode starts in the modern day (well, modern for when it was made). The USAF scrambles at the sight of a real UFO, then suddenly you see the Enterprise in the skies of modern day Earth! It’s a quick teaser, but a really cool one!
When they are directly persued by a fighter pilot, rather than shoot him down, they lock a tractor beam on his plane, but it is not built to take that stress and breaks up so they beam the pilot up, but they cannot give him too much information on who and what they are. The history books also point to the fact that an ancestor of his does something vital in the future, so they have to put him back somehow!
The pilot, John Christopher, is played really well by Roger Perry – his sense of wonder and awe is excellent, but he also kind of takes everything in his stride.
We have the first incident of a silly computer – the ships computer has been given a personality by an all female refit team, and it wants to get into Kirks pants. Ugh.
This is an early example of a comedy episode that is very funny but also managed to not be very silly. The peril the crew are in is real enough, but there are some nice moments, such as when they are forced to beam up a military policeman, and when Kirk is kidnapped on Earth and told they will lock him away for 200 years. He gives a wry grin and says that that would be about right!
The way the end the episode is a bit twee, but I let them off: this is Trek done right and is one of the best.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 25
Score: 8/10

August 28, 2007 Posted by | contemporary earth, time travel | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 1.18 (Arena)

First Aired: January 19, 1967

Cast:
Jerry Ayres (Lt. O’Herlihy)
Grant Woods (Lt. Cmdr. Kelowitz)
Tom Troupe (Lt. Harold)
James Farley (Lt. Lang)
Carole Shelyne (Metron)
Sean Kenney (Lt. DePaul)
Writers: Gene L. Coon
This episode is one of the most well known of the original run. The basic idea has been copies many times, however I do admit that my knowledge of the genre before this show is rather limited, so whilst I am assuming that the original Star Trek series did it first, I am also first to admit that I could be wrong.
The actual area that they beam down to – the outpost on Cestus 3 – is pretty good. The destruction looks to be on quite a large scale, and when the outpost is once again attacked, this time with our heroes on the ground, it is pretty realistic (apart from one bush that explodes twice!!)
Also, the effects for what is a photon torpedo and what is a phaser seems to have settled down now. I don’t recall if I mentioned it on here, but in an earlier episode we hear the call for a phaser blast and we see the effect for what we now call a photon torpedo. Picky bugger, aren’t I?
The Enterprise persues the ship of the aliens that destroyed the colony, with the intention of destroying it when another race – the Metrons – intervene and throw the captains of both ships onto a planet and they are left to fight it out man to man. The rest of the crews can watch the fight (yes, it’s reality television folks! Interestingly, a recent episode of the UK comedy Hyperdrive does the same, only they add the reality TV element, and when the crew of the HMS Camden Lock finally manage to contact their crew, instead of giving them information on how to escape, they give them all feedback on how they are coming across!)
The Gorn captain is a man in a very bad rubber suit who makes silly animal noises, and in fact the second half of the episode is Kirk running around trying to kill the Gorn whilst the Gorn runs around trying to kill him! Interestingly, the Gorn race apparently turn up again in an episode of Enterprise but are done using CGI. I look forward to that!
The end is a little obvious – Kirk shows The Quality of Mercy (TM) and the Metrons let the Enterprise live to fight another day. This is one of those okay episodes – it ain’t crap and it ain’t great.
Crew Deaths: 2
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 25
Score: 7/10

August 28, 2007 Posted by | monsters, super beings | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 1.17 (The Squire of Gothos)

First Aired: January 12, 1967

Cast:
William Campbell (Trelane)
Richard Carlyle (Lt. Carl Jaeger)
Michael Barrier (II) (Lt. Vincent DeSalle)
Venita Wolf (Yeoman Teresa Ross)
Writer: Paul Schneider (II)
This episode is another one that is not great but is a potentially great idea. The main character – the Squire of Gothos – is a being that can convert matter to energy then back to matter (in the same form or even a different form) pretty much at will. So in other words, he can alter matter with his mind. He is very like the Q being that appears in ST:TNG and what I like about this episode is that there is nothing concrete to say that Trelane (the Squire) is not a member of the Q continuum.
I am going to be a boring fan here and continue with my Q comparison. Like Q, he is able to flit about from place to place. (There is a scene on the bridge where Kirk tells him to get off his ship, just like Picard did later with Q!) Trelane is able to teach Uhura to play the piano at the click of his fingers, or change clothes. He described humans as “wonderfully barbaric” a line I am sure Q comes out with. He can chase the Enterprise with a planet. But it is also clear that he has never visited Earth – a small patch of his planet is like Earth only without the substance – the fire has not heat, the wine no taste. He is also bound to a mechanical device that effectively creates his power, which is hidden behind a mirror. Then he puts Kirk on Trial, and behaves as judge, jury and executioner (okay, he doesn’t get to do the execution bit, obviously!)
The big revelation at the end, where 2 other members of Trelanes race (his parents?) take him away because he has been a naughty child kind of extend the possibility that Trelane is a young Q and the planet and the device methods of training. The Q character from the later shows is also shown to be a maverick – they are not all like him, they have a non-interference policy that when Q breaks it gets him into a lot of trouble.
So, this episode is okay, it just raises some intriguing possibilities for the future!
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 23
Score: 6/10

August 19, 2007 Posted by | super beings | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.16 (The Galileo Seven)

First Aired: January 5, 1967

Cast:
Don Marshall (Lt. Boma)
John Crawford (High Commissioner Ferris)
Peter Marko (Crewman Gaetano)
Phyllis Douglas (Yeoman Mears)
Rees Vaughn (Crewman Latimer)
Grant Woods (Lt. Cmdr. Kelowitz)
Robert Maffei (Creature)
Writers: Shimon Wincelberg, Oliver Crawford
Oh. No Rand. Maybe she has gone.
So, a shuttle from the Enterprise crashes on a planet, with Spock, McCoy, Scott and four others. Having not watched this for a while, my guess is that the four “unknowns” will die, and the others will survive.
I think this is the first time that we have seen a shuttle from the Enterprise. (The one we saw in part one of The Menagerie was from the space station, although these are clearly the same sets!!) This episode is supposed to be a classic. But it is about seven people trapped on a planet being killed off by yeti-like monsters. What is to like? The only plus side to The Galileo Seven is that we notch up a few more crew deaths! (One on another landing party, 2 on the Galileo).
Crew Deaths: 3
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 23
Score: 3/10

August 8, 2007 Posted by | monsters | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 1.15 (Shore Leave)

First Aired: December 29, 1966

Cast:
Emily Banks (Yeoman Tonia Barrows)
Oliver McGowan (Caretaker)
Perry Lopez (Lt. Esteban Rodriguez)
Bruce Mars (Finnegan)
Barbara Baldavin (Specialist Mary Teller)
Marcia Brown (Alice in Wonderland)
Sebastian Tom (Samurai)
Shirley Bonne (Ruth)
Writer: Theodore Sturgeon
The first thing I noticed was that Kirks’ Yeoman was not Janice Rand. I know she only featured up to a certain point in the first series, so it is possible that we won’t see her again (until the movies, of course!) Of course, they were shot in a different order to the one in which they were transmitted, so it is possible that we will see her again.
Kirk says “erm” in the middle of announcing the stardate. I suspect that it was at attempt to show that Kirk was in need of a break, but it just sounds like Shatner fluffed his line and they couldn’t be bothered to go for a retake.
There is lots of outside filming in this episode, and it really stands out. There have been others (such as Miri) but it’s nice to see actual countryside and not a crappy soundstage.
I was impressed that the tiger was actually there with them – when I first saw it I assumed that it was a stock footage shot, but later you get to see it in shot with Kirk and Spock (only with a bloody big chain round its neck!)
This is a famously silly episode, but it is quite fun. There really isn’t enough plot to fill the full fifty minutes, and the long fight at the end (in which, yes, Kirk gets his shirt ripped) just seems like it’s there to fill time. A couple of crewmembers die, including McCoy, however they all get bought back to life by the end, so this episode scores zero there!
So, nice use of locations, some good comic moments, but ultimately over long and a bit silly.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 20
Score: 6

August 8, 2007 Posted by | androids, exes, super beings | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.14 (Balance of Terror)

First Aired: December 15, 1966

Cast:
Mark Lenard (Romulan Commander)
Paul Comi (Lt. Andrew Stiles)
Lawrence Montaigne (Decius)
Stephen Mines (Lt. Robert Tomlinson)
Barbara Baldavin (Specialist Angela Martine)
Garry Walberg (Commander Hansen)
John Warburton (The Centurion)
Writer: Paul Schneider (II)
This is the very first time that we see the Romulans! (It’s just a shame that the lead Romulan is played by the same actor who later plays Spocks father Sarek in this series, several of the movies and even a couple of episodes of ST:TNG). It starts with a wedding that never quite happens, and you just know that by the end of the episode, one of the not-quite-married couple will be dead. (Which in a way is a good thing. The crew death count has been static on this blog for far too long!)
This is the first time we see things like Neutral Zones, and cloaking devices, and there is also a statement made that Humans have never clapped eyes on Romulans, and that they have a primitive war about a century ago. I also know that Romulans appear on episodes of Enterprise so I am looking forward to getting that far ahead with my viewing to see how they deal with that. (I have not seen all of Enterprise yet – when I finally review them for this blog it will be the first time I have watched the later episodes!)
The moment we first see a Romulan is truly drop jaw – they resemble Vulcans. With the forty years of stuff that has come since, we are all used to this fact, but when I watched this the first thing I wondered was if it was a cost saving exercise, to stop the producers coming up with a new design of alien. Perhaps I am too cynical, however you soon forget all of that. Mark Lenard, who plays the Romulan Commander, is a truly excellent actor, and I love watching him in this, and I am so glad we get to see so much more of him in the future.
The Enterprise persues the Romulan vessel, and it basically becomes a game of cat and mouse between the two vessels, both of them firing at each other and inflicting damage. There is a minor irritant here – the special effect used whenever Kirk calls for phaser fire is what we become used to as photon torpedo fire. No big deal, it just stood out.
The two commanders try and psyche each other out, playing tricks on each other, playing dead etc, trying to work the other out. It ends inevitably, with the destruction of the Romulan vessel, but again, I like this since it has the wit not to paint the Romulans as cardboard bad guys – their commander is painted, like Kirk, as a man of honour caught in a situation honour demands that he must deal with, even though he would rather not. Kirk even offers to save the survivors, and there is a final conversation between the commanders over the viewscreen. It is a good scene, and reminds me somewhat of the second movie – the two protragonists never get to actually meet.
So, another good one. This cannot last for long. Can it?
Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 20
Score: 8/10

August 8, 2007 Posted by | romulans | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.13 (The Concsience of the King)

First Aired: December 8, 1966

Cast:
Arnold Moss (Anton Karidian)
Barbara Anderson (Lenore Karidian)
William Sargent (Dr. Thomas Leighton)
Natalie Norwick (Martha Leighton)
David Troy (Lt. Larry Matson)
Karl Bruck (King Duncan)
Marc Adams (Hamlet)
Bruce Hyde (Lt. Kevin Thomas Riley)
Writer: Barry Trivers
This is an interesting episode, and I don’t think there’s another like it, certainly not in the original Star Trek series, anyway. The idea – that a former mass murdering dictator can hide as an actor – comes from a more innocent age. Whilst Kirk uses the computer to compare photographs of the two men and track the fact that the history of the actor doesn’t exist before Kodos the executioner vanishes, I don’t think the writer understood that such technology would ensure that such a deception would be impossible. I don’t hold that against the episode though.
There is a nice cameo in this episode from Kevin Riley, who was last seen in The Naked Time earlier this season. He is in this episode long enough to get sung at by Uhura then have an attempt on his life (he is one of two remaining people who can visually identify Kodos, the other being Kirk). Riley was a potentially fun character, but I don’t think we see him again after this episode. Which is a shame.
Kirk and Kodos do not really meet until well into the episode, and by that scene the audience pretty much knows that Karidian is Kodos. The scene where Kirk makes the actor read out the speech that Kodos made as he sends 4000 people to their deaths is excellent. I like the fact that the actions of Kodos are not black and white – had a rescue ship not arrived early, then his actions would have saved the lives of the rest of the colonists, and he would possibly have been declared a hero. He’s not an “evil” bad guy, he has been judged bad by history because of the way things played out. I like that distinction.
I also like the twist at the end, the fact that the murderer (as I said, of the nine that could have identified Kodos, only two, Kirk and Riley are left) was not Kodos, but his daughter trying to protect the identity of her father (he didn’t even know that she knew about his past).
It’s better than most. In fact, the way it plays out and the intelligence of it come from a later time – this episode would not have looked out of place in one of the later Trek shows. And yes, that is meant to be a compliment!
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 19
Score: 8/10

August 8, 2007 Posted by | kevin riley, theatre | | Leave a comment