William Shatner (Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
DeForest Kelley (McCoy)
Jane Wyatt (Amanda)
Catherine Hicks (Gillian Taylor)
Robert Ellenstein (President)
John Schuck (Klingon Ambassador)
Brock Peters (Admiral Cartwright)
Grace Lee Whitney (Rand)
Majel Barrett (Chapel)
The fourth film in the series starts where the previous film left off on Vulcan, with the crew about to depart for Earth to learn of the consequences of their actions in the previous film. As they leave, a strange alien probe heads for Earth and starts tranmsitting a signal to the Earth from orbit. The signal causes mass power failure, and also disrupts the atmosphere, causing one hundred percent cloud coverage. They send out a message for nobody to come to Earth, as the planet is doomed.
En route, the main Enterprise crew inside their stolen Klingon ship pick up the signals. Uhura distorts the signal so that they can hear what it would sound like underwater, and Spock recognises the sound as the singing of the extinct humpback whale. So Kirk suggests that they go back in time and get some!
After a successful Time Warp, they arrive in 1986 San Fransisco. Kirk and Spock cry and find where the whale are kept, McCoy, Sulu and Scotty arrange for the tank to be built inside the Klingon ships hold, and Uhura and Checkov try to find a nuclear power source to collect radioactive particles to regenerate the knackered dilithium crystals. It all happens, and when they return to the present the whales talk to the probe and it buggers off. The only punishment they get for what happened in the previous film is Kirk gets demoted to Captain and is given command of the new USS Enterprise NCC 1701-A.
This is often mentioned in the same breath as film two, and whilst it’s not quite as good, it is an excellent movie. It is the only story played for laughs (I’m not saying it is a comedy, it isn’t) and some of the humour is excellent. Spock in particular, as he tries to fit into his new surroundings by using what he calls “colourful metaphors” are very funny, as is the scene where he mind melds with the whale.
The film is unabashedly conservationist, the message is hammered home with a lack of subtlety that could be off putting. Luckily, it isn’t, and there are some moments in the film that are quite tense – when they only prevent their whales being killed by whalers in the nick of time it’s quite tense, although it’s so far into the movie and you know at this point that if they loose the whales there is no time to find any more.
I like the Gillian Taylor character – she is the marine scientist who is responsible for the whales in 1986, and it is nice that she ends up going forward in time with them.
It was also nice to see both of Spocks parents again – Sarek and Amanda both appear, although not together – she is on Vulcan, he is on Earth.
It is a really nice film, and wraps up the unofficial trilogy of movies really well. This is the longest story we get in Star Trek until we get into Deep Space Nine and I have to say that after watching the third film I had to watch the fourth on the same day.
So, I’m nearly there with this cast of characters. Just two more movies to go, and after that I can only look forward to cameos of some of the characters in various of the future versions of the show… I’m going to miss them, actually.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 58
On the way to decontaminate a planet, the Enterprise crew see a shuttlecraft that was reported stolen a couple of weeks ago at Starbase Four. (Despite the fact that the footage of the shuttle clearly shows that is is Enterprise shuttle seven. Oh well). On board is a fellow called Lokai, who has a unique skin tone – he is white on one side and black on the other.
Not long after, another person from Lokai’s world arrives and claims that Lokai is a mass murderer and that he should be taken back to their home planet. In fact, he briefly takes over the Enterprise (he has the power to control these things with his mind. He also makes out that both himself and Lokai are thousands of years old).
This episode is about racism, pure and simple. It isn’t even subtle – but it is very clever. The only difference between Bele and Lokai is that their colours are opposite – one is white on the right hand side and one is white on the left. This really points out the futility of racism – it’s not even that these people have different skin tones, they simply have them on the opposite sides of their bodies. For this and this alone thsi episode stands out among others.
Sadly, the plot isn’t great. After Kirk sets the self destruct (he won’t let Bele take over the ship, but as he cannot regain control this is his only option). Kirk has threatened to use the self destuct before, but what makes this different is the way it is done – they use the same destruct codes when the Enterprise is finally destroyed for real in the third film. So eventually Bele agrees to let them finish their mission to decontaminmate the planet (the first mission of this type we see, although there are others in later series) then takes over the ship again (having disabled the self destruct) and then takes over again.
When they arrive at their home planet, everybody is dead. The war between the two opposing skin tones has killed literally everyone on the planet and the whole thing is pointless. However, Bele and Lokai beam down and try to kill each other. The Enterprise leaves and lets them get on with it.
Although not great, this episode is a lot better than some I have watched recently. I really do genuinely admire the way they did the racism storyline, it makes the point brilliantly. The rest of the episode really is a character piece.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 46
Writer: Hendrik Vollaerts
Oooh, within six weeks of the last one we have another asteroid heading for an inhabited planet! Only this time it is hollow and people live inside the asteroid. Oh, and McCoy has a terminal disease ( he has a year to live).
Now, I have no problem with the idea that a major character has a terminal illness. The problem is that in this show you know that it is thrown in arbitrarily. They will not deal with the consequences if the illness over many episodes: you know that McCoy will be cured by the end of the show. Which eliminates any threat at all.
So Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to this asteroid (which is really a spaceship) and the people who live there don’t realise that is what it is. Initially treated with suspicion, they are soon allowed to roam freely, McCoy falls in love (very quickly indeed) with Natira, and admits that he has had a lonely life. I suppose that it is nice that McCoy gets something to do, it is just that it all seems to spur of the moment, it doesn’t seem real that he would fall in love et al so quickly. He decides to stay, even after Spock and Kirk are sentenced to death for entering the Oracle control room.
The main problem with this episode is that the planet appears to be run by a(nother) supercomputer called The Oracle. The people have control devices placed inside them, and it seems that people are executed when they break the laws (although you get the impression that this doesn’t happen too often). McCoy pleas for the lives of his friends, and they are allowed to leave, McCoy remains, even though the ship is on a collision course for another planet. As he explains to Kirk, in a line I actually like, “I’m on a kind of collision course myself”. He even agrees to have the control device in his body.
It plods on. The end is nothing special, they stop the computer and fly the thing off course so there will be no collision. McCoy gets his cure.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 45
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