Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek 3.10 (Plato’s Stepchildren)

Cast:
Michael Dunn (Alexander)
Liam Sullivan(Parmen)
Barbara Babcock(Philana)
Ted Scott(Eraclitus)
Derek Partridge(Dionyd)

Writer: Meyer Dolinsky

I really hate this episode.  In fact, it was not shown by the BBC in the UK until 1993 – they decided during the original run that it could not be shown because of the sadism in certain scenes.  This is possible.  I would rather follow the line used once by a British comedian called Jasper Carrott.  “Why’s it banned?  ‘Cos it’s crap!”

The basic idea is that a group of aliens with telekinetic powers have lived alone on their planet for years.  Now there are only 38, but they have lived for thousands of years.  However, they have no immune systems left and have started falling ill.  McCoy cures the illness easily, and so is told he will be staying.  The Platonians disable the Enterprise, and torture Spock and Kirk to get McCoy to agree to stay.

The torture scenes are bloody silly.  I am not sure what the production team wanted to do, because there is one scene that is so cringeworthy and silly it spoils the whole episode.  This is the moment when Alexander rides on the back of Kirk like a horse, complete with Kirk making horse noises.  It is utter, utter crap.

This episode is also renowned because it contains American TV’s first interracial kiss.  Bollocks.  Both Kirk and Uhura are being controlled by the Platonians at this point – the action is not voluntary.  So in fact what we have here is technically the worlds first televised interracial sexual assault.  Brilliant.  Well done.

Spock is forced to dance and cry.  I cannot say anything good about this utter turd of an episode.  Well done BBC for not showing the bloody thing for 25 years! 

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

May 7, 2008 Posted by | earth based culture, mind control, songs, super beings | | 2 Comments

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 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 2.21 (Patterns of Force)

Cast:
Ralph Maurer (S.S. Lieutenant)
Gilbert Green (S.S. Major)
Chuck Courtney(Davod)
William Wintersole(Abrom)
Patrick Horgan(Eneg)
David Brian (John Gill)
Skip Homeier(Melakon)
Valora Noland(Daras)
Richard Evans (Isak)
Peter Canon (Gestapo Lieutenant)

Writer: John Meredyth Lucas

Oh God here we go again.  I really liked the episode before this, but Patterns of Force more than makes up for it.  This episode is about a culture that has managed to get greater technology than they should have had and also they are mimicking an earth culture – in this case, Nazi Germany.

I don’t know what to say other than this is a complete load of rubbish.  It seems like a mix of bits of other episodes, all mixed up.  It is also not very subtle – the neighbouring planet is called “Zion” of something like that, and all the names of the characters are just jewish names with the odd letter changed – Isak, Davod, Abrom and so forth.

There is lots of running around and getting captured and escaping anf getting captured again, and the way that Kirk and company manage to get through the security of the Nazi HQ by pretending to be a camera crew filming proceedings.

I don’t know what else to say.  The original idea – that they have to find a Federation observer who has gone missing – gets lost quite quickly, even though it is quickly revealed that this man is the Fuhrer, but being kept drugged and just used a a figurehead.  And the way everyone turns at the end, the kind of “I can’t believe how we have been behaving but we’re bloody well going to stop it at once” is just drivel.

This episode has, due to the content, never been shown in Germany.  Lucky Germany.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 40
Score: 2/10

April 17, 2008 Posted by | earth based culture, mind meld | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 2.17 (A Piece of the Action)

Cast:
Anthony Caruso(Bela Oxmyx)
Vic Tayback(Jojo Krako)
Lee Delano(Kalo)
John Harmon(Tepo)
Sheldon Collins (Tough Kid)
Dyanne Thorne (Girl #1)
Sharyn Hillyer (Girl #2)
Buddy Garion (Hood)
Steven Marlo(Zabo)

Writers: Gene L. Coon, David P. Harmon

The basic concept of this episode is this: a century ago, a starship (the Horizon) visits a primitive culture, and accidentally leaves behind a book called “Chicago Mobs of the Twenties” and somehow the people on the planet use the thing as a template.  So the whole planet is a ghastly 1920s throwback.  The bloke in charge of the planet wants the crew of the Enterprise to give them enough “heaters” to successfully dominate the planet.

The problem is this: when the Horizonvisited in the past, the prime directive has not really been invoked, so there were no real rules governing what that crew did.  Of course, in the more enlightened 22nd Century this is not allowed, and Scotty (in charge of the ship again) finds that he is unable to fulfil these demands – and the consequences are that the Boss will send the crew members back to the Enterprise… in boxes!

One of the moments I don’t hate so much is the sequence where Kirk makes up a nonsense card game (called Fizbin) to disctact their guards and escape.  The rules just get silly – they change depending on the day of the week or the time of day, and it is pretty funny.  Except on a Tuesday, of course.

The power play stuff (Kirk soon gets captured by the other boss that wants to rule (the city?  The world?  It’s never made that clear) and this other boss also wants weapons.  Of course, Kirk won’t play ball.

I think this episode is meant to be funny, it is certainly played for laughs.  Moments are funny – such as Kirk trying to drive a car.  He can’t figure out the clutch, and the car lurches up the road like something out of a dodgy sitcom.

The only thing that is at all impressive is the period detail – the cars, the guns, and the sets (I am guessing that it was filmed on a backlot, the same one used in countless other stories).

There is no sense of threat, and it’s just not funny.  And there are a couple of moments when Kirk runs out in front of a car and you just want someone to shout out “watch where you’re going you dumb ass” like in the fourth film.  But really there is nothing to recommend this one.  And where did Kirk learn how to talk 1920’s Chicago gangster?  Give it a miss.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 40
Score: 2/10

 

April 13, 2008 Posted by | earth based culture | | Leave a comment