Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek 1.14 (Balance of Terror)

First Aired: December 15, 1966

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 |

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