Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More thoughts on original Star Trek episodes

That website is fantastic. I have gotten through several more original Star Trek episodes. I realize I have not seen many of these episodes before.

"Balance of Terror" Season 1, episode 14. One of the best episodes ever. The first Romulan episode, with Mark Lenard playing the Romulan captain well before we see him playing Sarek, Spock's father, later. The chess game he plays with Kirk is fantastic, a definite inspiration for the starship battle in Wrath of Khan. Throughout the episode, the Enterprise takes "22 casualties" but we find out that only one man has died: Tomlinson, the would-be groom before the action. This is in the top ten best Star Trek episodes, throughout any of the incarnations of the franchise.

"Errand of Mercy" Season 1, episode 26. The episode that reveals the world of Organia. If you are a Star Trek fan, you constantly hear of the Organian Peace Treaty between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. These Organians are extremely powerful--what if they decided to extend their benevolence? I think it would be fun to pit the Organians against an entity like Q or Trelane. No one dies in this episode even though Spock says after the first attack that "casualties are light."

"I, Mudd" Season 2, episode 8. The return of the infamous Harry Mudd from the first season, the only returning antagonist of the original series. Heaven knows why. I guess the creators of the show could not have omnipotent enemies every week and decide to throw in a bit of levity every now and then. Several interesting aspects of this episode include an android named Mr. Norman who easily infiltrates and overtakes the Enterprise. Disgustingly easy. We find that this world of androids was created by a long-since-gone race from the Andromeda Galaxy. It was also an intriguing solution to defeating the androids. No one dies in this episode.

"Day of the Dove" Season 3, episode 7. You have to love the original series Klingons! Another malevolent space entity feeds on the emotions of hatred from the crew and Klingons. The entity can also transmute matter into swords. They said a lot of bigoted things in this episode but had the courage to combat the racial bigotry head on. "Intraship beaming" is only a theoretical possibility in this episode, but it works.

"Whom Gods Destroy" Season 3, episode 14. This episode features the Chinese grandfather from the beginning and ending of the movie Gremlins! (I only remember that because we watched it in our household very recently.) In this installment, there is a medicine, a drug, for the insane. A previous starship captain, Garth, is now criminally insane, takes over the asylum and now tries to get aboard and take over the Enterprise. All that and the fact that he has somehow learned the trick of becoming a changeling, able to transform his body into the appearance of anybody else; oh yes, and he has a green lady alien as a sidekick. One interesting aspect to this whole mess is the code "Queen to Queen's level 3" that most be answered before beam up. Kirk won't give away the code, preventing the inmates from rampaging all over the ship. My concern is that since this is such a good idea, and also works so perfectly here, wouldn't this become standard practice all the time? Sometimes, my geekiness comes out and wants to know stupid stuff like this, when obviously it was just a plot device for this episode. But wouldn't there be all sorts of code words among Federation personnel? A rotating key word for danger? This is partly why I think the novel Dune by Frank Herbert is so interesting. Yes, it takes away from any direct action, but with the intricate hand signs and code words that the Atreides family use could never be called dumb. No one dies in this episode, unless you count the green alien girl who was blown up on the surface to intimidate Kirk--why would you blow up your own gangmember? remember, he is insane. And then everything at the end is all hunky-dory with drugs that miraculously remove the homicidal and criminal tendencies.

"Requiem for Methuselah" Season 3, episode 19. Yet another powerful antagonist, this one an immortal human being that lives in seclusion with fantastic technology (with the ability to shrink the Enterprise from orbit and have it transported to a tabletop). At the beginning, three crewmen have already died from Rigellian fever--I blame these deaths on Dr. McCoy (there's a cure out there and you don't have it on hand on the flagship of the fleet?). So they have to go to a strange world where their sensors have picked up the apparently rare cure, unbeknownst to them the home of this immortal human now named Flint. One sticky wicket for me: if Flint is "shielded" from sensors and doesn't want to be found, why did he come out to greet the landing party in such a rude manner? Shouldn't he have just left them alone? Flint basically pimps Kirk out to bring out the emotions of his female android (yeah, you read that correctly). We find out that Flint was born back in 3834 BC. Before we find out the secret, I was musing about Flint's collection of rare books and priceless art masterpieces. I wondered, even if I could live forever, would I know enough to pick up and obtain masterpieces of art? No, I wouldn't, otherwise I would have hocked everything I had to buy some of those early Marvel comics when they were less than $1,000 when now they are worth tens of thousands. The basic concept of immortality intrigues me, like in Highlander. Interestingly, at the end of the episode, when Kirk is all weepy from losing his newest love, the girl android, Spock mind melds with him while he is asleep and says, "Forget."

"Dagger of the Mind" Season 1, episode 9. Another great Shakespeare reference for a title, from Macbeth. Another treatment for the criminally insane. Spock does a mind meld on the patient and he says he has never done it on a human before. I noticed that they only took the word of the doctor about "dismantling" and "destroying" the equipment of the machine. Imagine if, in the Star Trek world, this machine was improved upon. Ripe with story possiblities there. No crewman dies, although the female doctor who Kirk beams down with, for obvious romantic complications, manages to throw one person onto an electrical grid; and the "evil" doctor dies as well, with poetic justice.

"The Apple" Season 2, episode 5 where the lovely picture posted here comes in. This is a classic episode of red-shirted crewmen dying, being used as cannon fodder for the writer to show how dangerous the planet is. Handorf (?) dies from a plant shooting darts into him. Kaplan (?) is disintegrated by lightning. Marple (?) is brained to death. Mr. Mallory is blown up by the landmine rocks. Even Kirk says, "I could have prevented it all." Yet Chekhov still manages to try to get some lovin' off the short-skirted red-shirted female yeoman, even after people have been dying. This is a great Trek that even battles, a bit, philosophically with the Prime Directive. Kirk says about his superiors coming down on him for violating the Prime Directive, "I'll take my chances." Part of me says they were dead wrong, part of me says they were right. Good episode.

(Remember, numbering for the episodes comes from the website)

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