Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek 3.5 (Is there in truth no beauty?)

Cast:

Diana Muldaur (Dr. Miranda Jones), 
David Frankham(Larry Marvick) 

Writer: Jean Lisette Aroeste

Diana Muldaur is back!  It is a shame, as she was only in Star Trek what seems like a few episodes ago (less than ten) and she is so recognisable it just seems a shame they didn’t either cast someone else or hold this episode back a bit!

As for the actual story, it resolved around the Medusan ambassador, who  is kept in a box because his appearance drives people insane.  Naturally, Spock is resistant to this, but he does wear a red visor just in case.  So does the ambassadors personal assistant, Miranda Jones (Muldaur).

This episode features the first appearance of the IDIC symbol, an important symbol in the Vulcan culture, standing for Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination.  The symbol and the reference turn up lots of times in most of the Trek series.

Then the Enterprise gets lost (it goes too fast and enters a space/time continuum, is Spocks rather rubbish explanation) and only the Medusan can navigate them back to the known galaxy, so Spock has to meld with the alien to operate the controls.  Oh, and there is a line about the fact that Miranda would be unable to fly the ship as she is blind, and there is no way a blind person could pilot a starship, apparently!

Again, once there is the mind meld, Nimoy gets to do emotions as the ambassador melds with him to enable him to fly the ship home, which he does with ease.  However, when finishing the meld he forgets to put a visor on, and goes a bit mad for a bit (he is half human, after all!)  But all is soon resolved.

This episode is rather lightweight, not a lot really happens and the bit where Spock sees the ambassador almost seems tacked on because the episode underan by ten minutes.  Fairly unmemorable.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 45
Score: 5/10

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April 30, 2008 Posted by | formless creature, mind control, mind meld | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 3.4 (And the children shall lead)

Cast:
Craig Hundley (Tommy Starnes)
James Wellman (Prof. Starnes)
Melvin Belli (Gorgan)
Pamelyn Ferdin (Mary Janowski)
Caesar Belli (Steve O’Connel)
Mark Robert Brown (Don Linden)
Brian Tochi (Ray Tsing Tao)
Lou Elias (Technician #1)

Writer: Edward J. Lakso

This is reputedly one of the very worst episodes ever made.  I am unable to agree.  It’s not very good, but I have seen far worse since this project began.  The Enterprise visits a planet where the adults all seem to have killed themselves, leaving only the kids.  Only they are not bothered.

The main problem is that the child actors are the stars of this episode, and they are not all that good.  And once the kids start playing with people’s perceptions of what is going on it just is embarassing.  The scene where Kirk breaks down at the realisation that he has lost the Enterprise is pathetic.  Uhura seeing an older version of her self is dreadful, and I just don’t get why Sulu sees a knife kaleidascope!

It’s not all bad.  The kids cause the Enterprise to be taken out of orbit of the planet, but they trick everyones perception so that the crew think they are still in orbit rather than space.  So when they beam the security people into space, that is quite creepy.

The ritual thing that the kids use to summon the angel is embarassing – in fairness to the kids, they always look pretty embarassed when they are doing it.  And the stabbing motion the kids do when altering perceptions looks pretty silly.  (In fact, it rather looks like they are miming something else, but you’ll have to have seen the Buffy episode The Hush to get that one!)  And the fact that Spock just plays a recording of the chant the kids do in order to summon the angel for himself – just plain silly.  And they break the hold this thing has on the kids by playing some home movies of the kids before the parents died.

The final end of the angel is just silly, and we end up with a bridge full of crying kids.  Nice.

Crew Deaths: 2
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 45
Score: 4/10

April 29, 2008 Posted by | mind control, ship/station taken over, super beings | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 3.3 (The Paradise Syndrome)

Cast:

Sabrina Scharf(Miramanee)
Rudy Solari (Salish)
Richard Hale (II)(Chief Goro)
Naomi Pollack (Indian Woman)
John Lindesmith (Engineer)
Peter Virgo Jr.(Lumo)
Lamont Laird (Indian Boy)

Writer: Margaret Armen

This isn’t bad at all.  In fact, the opening moments of the episode actually take a few moments to show you the setting that the story is set in – a nice shot that shows how nice it is.  Even the opening scene takes things slowly, when the three people in the landing party (Kirk, Spock and McCoy) having a look around and taking a sneaky peek at the Native American Indian culture on the planet.

Now, the problem is that in a couple of months time, this planet will be hit by an asteroid and destroyed.  And the point beyond which the Enterprise will be incapable of deflecting it is rapidly approaching, yet they still have a look around!

For once, the Earth based culture works really well, and the other thing I like about this episode is that it is set over two months, as a damaged Enterprise runs just ahead of the asteroid after their failed deflection attempt.  Kirk even gets married and gets his wife pregnant in this episode (don’t worry, she dies before she has the baby!)

The final solution is a bit obvious, but there is something about the way this episode deals with Kirks relationship that is nice rather than hokey.  And if you think about it, Spock is Captain of the ship for two months as they head back to the planet.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 43
Score: 7/10

April 28, 2008 Posted by | asteroid, earth based culture, mind meld, primitive cultures, saving a planet | | 2 Comments

Star Trek 3.2 (The Enterprise Incident)

Cast:
Joanne Linville (Romulan Commander)
Jack Donner (Romulan Subcommander Tal)
Richard Compton (Romulan Technical Officer)
Robert Gentile (Romulan Technician)
Mike Howden (Romulan Guard)
Gordon Coffey (Romulan Soldier)

Writer: D.C. Fontana

Luckily, the travesty that is Spock’s Brain if followed by something with much more sunstance.  The Enterprise Incident is a rare episode featuring the Romulans from the classic series – in fact, in the third episode to feature them it is also only the second time we have seen them.

Kirk appears to be going a bit mental, and during this he orders the Enterprise into the Romulan Neutral Zone, at which point the ship is quickly captured by three Romulan vessels (now using the Klingon Bird of Prey design, which was apparently done to save money, as we had already seen this vessel in an episode that had already been shot (but not shown).

The whole things is a massive con in which Kirks mission is to steal the Romulans new cloaking device.  This he does by a trick in which Spock appears to accidentally kill Kirk in front of the Romulans, the death is certified by a Romulan doctor.  Kirk is then surgically altered to look like a Romulan (the surgical alteration is a trick often used in later versions of Star Trek but I think it is the only time it is employed in the original series).

Considering the third season of this show has such a bad reputation, the quality of this episode is unexpected.  The acting is good, and it tries to paint the Romulans as more than just warmongers (although they were always one of the more complex races on this show.)  The one part that doesn’t quite ring true however is the (female) Romulan commanders infatuation with Spock.  And also Kirk beams aboard the Romulan ship too easily – don’t they have sensors?

So they steal the cloaking device and connect it to the Entperprise – something very rare indeed, a Federation ship with a cloak.  We get to see something similar in an equally excellent Next Generation episode, and collaboration with the Romulans in the Dominion War in Deep Space Nine means that they fit (and operate) the device aboard the USS Defiant.  But it is very rare.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 43
Score: 7.5/10

April 25, 2008 Posted by | cloaking devices, romulans, surgically altered | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 3.1 (Spock’s Brain)

Cast:
Marj Dusay (Kara)
James Daris(Morg)
Sheila Leighton(Luma)

Writer: Gene L. Coon

Spock’s Brain has been stolen from his body.  And they have twenty four hours to find it and restore it or his body will not even stay alive on the life support system.  Yes, really.

It gets sillier.  When they locate the place the brain is, they take Spock with them, his arms and legs operated by a remote control so he can walk around.  Yes, really.

It’s all played so seriously.  I have read somewhere that the shows new producer really didn’t like shows that were played for laughs (such as last seasons The Trouble with Tribbles) so he decided that the show could be taken more seriously.  And that is why this episode is so utterly shit – had it been played for laughs they actually might have got away with such a silly story.

Another wonderful cliche turns up in this episode – the spectre of yet another rock throwing, primitive culture rears its ugly head.

They people on the planet are using the brain to run their city – and they are not advanced as they don’t have to be.  They can be taught, using a teaching machine, to do certain things – for example one learned how to do the surgery on Spock to remove his brain – but the knowledge only lasts a few hours.  And this is how this daft episode is resolved – McCoy downloads the knowledge, put the brain back and everything is hunky dory.  Oh, but he loses the knowledge halfway through but still manages to fix the brain back into place.  Oh, and he connects Spocks vocal cords first so Spock can talk him through the rest of the operation.  Utter crap.

The title logo has changed from this episode – from the old yellow to blue.  Scotty has also done something daft with his hair on this episode – perhaps they should have called the episode Scotty’s Hair.

Just laugh at it.  Then your brain might not explode.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 43
Score: 2/10

April 24, 2008 Posted by | primitive cultures, theft of body parts | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 2.26 (Assignment: Earth)

Cast:
Robert Lansing (Gary Seven)
Teri Garr (Roberta Lincoln)
Don Keefer (Cromwell)
Lincoln Demyan (Sgt. Lipton)
Morgan Jones(Col. Nesvig)
Bruce Mars (Charlie)
Ted Gehring (Policeman)

Writers: Gene Roddenberry, Art Wallace

This episode was actually meant to be a pilot for another show, starring Robert Lansing as Gary Seven.  The Enterprise is sent back to 1968 to gather some information covertly, but they intercept a long distance transporter beam from a far off planet to Earth in 1968.

Gary Seven is there to prevent Earth from destroying itself, on this occasion the USA is launching a nuclear weapon into space, and he wants to stop it.  But due to the Enterprise interfering, it almost crashes in Europe and causes a war!  They sort it all out, and the Enterprise leaves.

It’s not that it’s terrible (although it isn’t that good either) but the Enterprise crew are in the episode an awful lot less – it really is Gary Seven’s episode, the actor even gets a guest star credit at the start.  Of course, it never made it to a series, and it’s easy to see why – it’s quite bland.  The Gary Seven character is rather like an inferior version of Doctor Who– he even has a device that looks and is overused just like the sonic screwdriver.  Being set on modern day Earth resembles the Pertwee era, only without the military backup, so perhaps he was actually working for Torchwood NY!

So, rather bland, and a silly bit at the end with the shape shifting cat.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 43
Score: 5/10

April 23, 2008 Posted by | contemporary earth, shape shifters, time travel | | 3 Comments

Star Trek 2.25 (Bread and Circuses)

Cast:
William Smithers(Capt. R. M. Merik)
Logan Ramsey (Claudius Marcus)
Ian Wolfe(Septimus)
William Bramley (Policeman)
Rhodes Reason(Flavius)
Jack Perkins (Master of Games)
Max Kleven(Maximus)
Lois Jewell (Drusilla)

Writers: Gene L. Coon, Gene Roddenberry, John Kneubuhl

Oh Lord protect me from another bloody Earth based culture.  This time it’s the Romans, only the civilisation never fell, and this planet is a contemporary version (at least, with the 1960s) of what that culture would become.  We even find out that ancient Roman times have the same history – Caeser etc, that only changed when the Empire never fell.  So at least it’s not based on a book that some berk dropped on an away mission.

So, I am already yawning at the total and utter unoriginality of the concept.  Then we find out that their leader is actually Merik, the Captain of a ship that vanished six years ago.  It turns out that whilst on the planet Merik met a Roman, who convinced him that no other planets should know about this one.  So Merik orders his own people down, and those that could adapt still live in the Roman culture and the others are all dead.  Merik orders Kirk to get all of his people to beam down, which of course he resists.  I don’t buy Merik and his behaviour, once again we have a StarFleet Captain behaving in a way that is just not realistic.

The one thing I do quite like is the character Claudius Marcus.  He has clearly learned about StarFleet from Merik and knows about things like the Prime DIrective, so it is quite a good moment when he talks Kirk through his options and, with some smugness it must be said, discounts them all as against that Directive.

Then Kirk and company end up fighting on a live TV Gladiator fight, and whilst the cliche of the fight is annoying, I like the fact that it is shot on a bad set (that is meantto be a bad set) with canned applause and a live commentary!

Another good moment is the exchange between Spock and McCoy in (yet another) prison cell.  It is basically an argument, with McCoy having a go at the fact that Spock has no emotions, yet Spock reveals (in a non emotional way, of course) that he is worried about Kirk (who is not in the cell with them, but shagging some blond beauty).

Whilst the idea behind the episode is a hokey Trek cliche that, frankly, is starting to piss me off, it is managed much better in this show.  Good dialogue, some nice ideas and a couple of really good characters rescue it from being a stupid mess like, say, Patterns of Force.  There needed to be less episodes based on Earth cultures on this show, but of the few that get away with it, this is one of the better ones.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 43
Score: 7/10

April 22, 2008 Posted by | earth based culture, rogue captains | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 2.24 (The Ultimate Computer)

Cast:
William Marshall (Dr. Richard Daystrom)
Barry Russo (Commodore Robert Wesley)

Writer: D.C. Fontana

On paper, this sounds like another rubbish episode.  Doctor Richard Daystrom is the person who invented the computer systems that starships are based on now.  His latest invention is the M5 computer – a machine that is capable if running a Starship with a minimum crew.  It eventually goes slightly insane and attacks an ore freighter and ultimately other ships.

Why do I like this?  Well, there is quite a nice and intelligent conversation at the start.  Kirks initial reaction is that he thinks it’s a bad idea and doesn’t trust it, but after that he has a chat with McCoy about why he doesn’t like it, and asks his friend if it could simply be that a machine that leaves a Starship Captain redundant gives him a lack of prestige.  It is a nice moment, and makes the whole set up seem less hokey.

The computer thinks like a person because it has been programmed to mimick the human mind – sadly, Daystrom has used his own mind and this is the fatal flaw.  He made a breakthough that changed the face of computing in his mid twenties (ah, got it, he’s a nerd!) and had nowhere to go after that.  Now in his mid forties he wants something that is a revolutionary, and this is supposed to be it.

There is just enough of a glimpse into Daystrom’s background (he felt like he was laughed at behind his back when he was a young genius, he also believes in God, which is a rare admission in Trek) to make his breakdown and fall from grace realistic.  The M5 kills lots of people aboard the four ships sent to take him out, eventually Daystrom gets through to the machine and convinces it that it is guilty of murder, a sin.  So it shuts down, and everyone survives.

The action is tense, and this one is a lot of fun.

Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 43
Score: 7/10

April 21, 2008 Posted by | inside another stafleet ship, ship/station taken over, super computers | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 2.23 (The Omega Glory)

Cast:
Morgan Woodward (Capt. Ronald Tracey)
Roy Jenson (Cloud William)
Irene Kelly(Sirah)
Morgan Farley (Yang Scholar)
Lloyd Kino (Wu)
Frank Atienza (Executioner)

Writer:  Gene Roddenberry

You know what, I am getting pretty fed up of seeing primitive civilisations, either ones based on earth cultures or not.  This time round, the Enterprise comes across an empty ship, the USS Exeter.  They beam across and find all the crew are dead, and that they are infected so cannot return to the Enterprise.  So they beam down to the surface of the planet, and find the Captain of the Exeter, Ron Tracey, who has realised that something in the planet keeps humans alive a long longer than they would normally – Tracey thinks if McCoy can find out what it is, they will have the Fountain of Youth

As McCoy investigates, he finds out that if the Exeter crew had simply stayed on the surface of the planet they would have built up a natural immunity and survived.

Tracey is mental.  There is no way someone would end up behaving like this – they must psychologically profile every captain to make sure there is nothing in his past or behaviour that could make him do this.  He won’t let anyone beam back to the Enterprise, and he insists that Kirk supplies him weapons for the war that he is involved in.

Something else odd has happened.  I don’t think Scotty is aboard, because Sulu is acting Captain with Kirk not there.  This stands out, because he has been in hardly any episodes this season, and now suddenly he is back.

Oh, and then the crap revelation of parallel development.  One side is called the Yangs (yankees) and the others something based on the American Indians.  When one of the Yangs walks in with a Stars and Stripes and the incidental music goes all “land of the free” the rubbish score I was going to give this episode plummeted.  They even have their own constitution which is almost word for word the same as the American one.  Oh, and they have a Holy Bible with a picture of Satan which looks almost exactly like Spock.  I think I have lost the will to live.

So then Kirk has to fight Ron Tracey.  Can you guess who wins?

Utter crap.  The worst yet, which is a shame as the first ten minutes were quite promising.

Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 42
Score: 0.5/10

April 19, 2008 Posted by | primitive cultures, rogue captains | | 2 Comments

Star Trek 2.22 (By Any Other Name)

Cast:
Warren Stevens(Rojan)
Barbara Bouchet(Kelinda)
Stewart Moss(Hanar)
Robert Fortier(Tomar)
Lezlie Dalton(Drea)
Carl Byrd (Lt. Shea)
Julie Cobb (Yeoman Leslie Thompson)

Writer: Jerome Bixby, D.C. Fontana

Yay, I remember this one when I was a kid!  Actually, I don’t remember the whole episode but the sequence where two members of the crew are turned into little cubes that contain their essence, which can be restored if undamaged, then one is crushed in front of Kirk.  This death really upset me as a kid, and atypically it is the pretty young Yeoman that dies, not the redshirt.

A group of aliens, lead by Rojan, want to get back to the Andromeda galaxy, to give them the message that this galaxy is fit for takeover.  They posses weapons that can paralyse people, and they take over the Enterprise in a matter of moments.  They then start to modify it to get it ready for travel between galaxies – in fact, it is modified so much that it can do Warp Eleven!  Later episodes suggest that the maximum possible speed is Warp 10, but perhaps they have re calibrated the Warp Scale by then.

So off they go and head for the Andromeda galaxy, but first they have got to get through the energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy – somewhere they have visited before.  Scott rigs the ship to self destruct when it goes through, so that the aliens won’t get home and bring more of their kind, but they don’t do it.  Once the Enterprise is through the barrier, all non essential personnel are turned into cubes.  Including Uhura and Checkov.  In fact everyone apart from Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty.

Once on their way, the Kelvans (the aliens) start to show an interest in some of the things humans do – they respond to stimulation of the senses.  So Scotty gets one of them horrendously drunk – they start on the Saurian Brandy, and progess through Scottys drink collection to something that is green.  (A joke done again with Data in The Next Generation.)

Kirk meanwhile tries to interest the female Kelvan in sex, by sticking his tongue down her throat (it expresses warth and love, apparently).  This makes Rojan very jealous.  Also, McCoy injects one of the others with what he tells him is vitamins, but actually it is stimulants.

Anyhow, these things together enable the few remaining crew to get the paralysers off the Kelvans and talk them around.

I quite like this episode.  It’s a bit silly in places (especially the second half, after such a serious start) but somehow it works and I like it.

Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 41
Score: 7/10

April 18, 2008 Posted by | drunk, self destruct, ship/station taken over | | Leave a comment