Sunday, 29 June 2008

Star Trek: TOS 2.16 - A Private Little War

Review 44 - Episode 45

The One that's a bit like the Vietnam war

This is an episode that I wasn't really liking for the first third, then it started asking some good questions and by the end I really enjoyed it.

The big question here is how go you put the genie back in the bottle? The Klingon's have been arming hill people with guns while the peaceful tribe kirk stayed with are still using bows and arrows and are going to be wiped out. Kirks solution is to arm the tribes and hopefully prevent a war once both sides realise they're equally matched. Bones thinks they'll simply end up wiping each other out. There is no easy answer here and I was impressed Trek was asking these questions.

Also thrown into the mix is Nona (Nancy Kovack) who saves Kirks life, but is also a Temptress and seduces men with her potions and beauty. In fact, Nona must be the most overt sexually provocative character ever to appear in Star Trek. The scene where she heals Kirk is the closest you'll ever get to a sex scene in Star Trek. Eyebrow raising stuff.

Spock is onboard healing after being shot and this B story is a nice departure as it is the first time Bones and Kirk have been together on an adventure. I'm not sure if they thought there was too many characters in the mix already on the planet, but it was a little odd to see him papped off. We have the usual Chapel unrequited love interest scene as well, which is a bit of a cliche even this early in the series. She just comes across so wishy washy all the time.

Odds and sods: I'm not sure why the Klingons are bothering to arm the Hill people? The albino gorilla suit with a horn on it's head doesn't quite work; 2nd episode in a row where the Prime directive has shown up and is a big issue (or not since Kirk violates it anyway)

Surprisingly good episode, and Kirks final line echoes "City on the edge of forever" for a sense of loss.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 133/220

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Star Trek: TOS 2.15 - Journey to Babel

Review 43 - Episode 44

The One with Spocks Dad

We get some more of Spocks background here which is always interesting to me and a D.C. Fontana script so good dialogue is guaranteed. I've got a couple of issues with it, but it's still a good episode.

The Enterprise is escorting over 100 ambassadors to Babel for an important conference, but people start being murdered and Sarek is dying.

This was the first time I'd seen Sarek in TOS and I can only imagine what the reaction must have been seeing Spocks parents when it aired in the 60's. I'll forgive the episode the unlikely fact that Kirk wouldn't know that these are Spocks parents for shock effect, but the estrangement between father and son is fascinating to watch. The main scene is obviously Spock choosing not to save his father but following his duty. It makes more sense why Kirk was stabbed now to me, as it seemed to come out the blue, but it was to give Spocks decision more weight. It doesn't quite ring true and Scotty has proven he's a more than capable commander, but the episode stayed true to Spock choice and Kirk has to trick Spock into going. He's suspicious, but doesn't put up to much of a fight, so he was probably thankful for the decision to be taken out his hands. Kirk suddenly getting super strength as well and being able to command the ship with a punctured lung is pushing it a bit and I'm not sure Shatners acting is quite good enough to pull it off. I wonder if Elizabeth knows that Spock was tricked into going and would have let his father die out of Vulcan principle?

The B plot, of the Orion ship and agent on the Enterprise is all left rather vague and with hindsight is just another reason to force Spock to stay on the bridge, but I like that they realise this is a big deal in Spock letting his Father die and being true to his Vulcan heritage, but also making it almost a sensible decision to stay on the bridge. It's really all about Spock and Sarek with the ambassadors on board giving the story a fresh look, but it's good stuff.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 130/215

Star Trek: TOS 2.14 - Bread and Circuses

Review 42 - Episode 43

The One with the gladiators

Hmm, not very good this one, but a couple of things make it worth a watch. Kirk, Spock and Bones beam down to a planet which is what 60's earth would be like if the Roman empire has never fallen.

Lets get the stupid part out the way first, because this episode does actually address bigger issues. A planet in space that resembles an upside down earth which has the Roman empire and all our Christian references if they has survived to the 60's is merely a throwaway line. this is much like Miri, which had a duplicate earth and no one was fussed about it.

As you can tell from the photo, this is a Trio episode, which I've discovered are really the weaker of the series. When the rest of the cast are missing, it starts to drag slightly. The big debate here is a former friend of Kirks, captain Merrik, who crashed on the planet and forced his crew to fight in gladiatorial combat on TV, whilst he was set up as a puppet king. Kirk can't simply blast his way out of trouble as that would violate the prime directive. It made me laugh though, when Marcus states that they would die before violating the directive. Kirks got a bit of a hit and miss ratio with that to say the least. He seems incapable of not changing things.

Spock and Bones have in theory a nice scene in a cell talking about Spocks human side, but it lays it on too thick and there are things that we can simply take from body language that didn't need to be said. The whole point is that they'd die for each other but can never admit to liking each other. Nice idea though.

The rest is filled with long scenes of fighting or waiting (though Kirk somehow wangles a shag which actually leads to a funny scene where Spock and Bones think he's being tortured), but only that one scene of Marcus talking about the prime directive with them really tries to examine it and Spock once again playing devils advocate and respecting their culture.

Messy, but give it a go.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 126/210

Star Trek: TOS 2.13 - The Trouble With Tribbles

Review 41 - Episode 42

The One with the fur balls

Rightly considered as possibly Treks finest comedy hour, what really shines through is the chemistry and instinctual comic timing of the regulars. it's hard to imagine this story in any if the other series and it probably speaks volumes that DS9 is the closest to pull it off.

There is no simple A story here, but lots of threads that overlap each other and come together naturally for a satisfying end. The only thing I would say is that though on first glance this appears to be an ensemble episode, it's actually only Kirk and Scotty who have the main scenes. Everyone else really just has some excellent one liners.

The Enterprise is summoned to DS-K7 to protect grain from possible Klingon sabotage. And there are tribbles on board, multiplying. I think this episode really shows what a fine comedy actor Shatner is. Never mind Captain of a star ship, his first, best destiny is in this line of work as shown in more recent years such as Boston Legal and films. But he is very subtle here and his putdowns to Baris are hilarious.

The barroom brawl is also a masterpiece in comedic scripting with Scotty showing restraint up until the Enterprise insult. The debriefing is just as much fun, with Kirks realization that insults about him were not the ignition.

The rest of the cast, bar Sulu who is AWOL now for a few episodes for some reason, all have good lines, but never really individual scenes. Spock is always with Kirk, Chekov with scotty, Bones and Uhura together. It doesn't really matter, but it's amazing that you never really notice until you think about it, and that is surely a sign of good scripting.

The final scenes, with the poisoned tribbles falling on Kirks head is one of the most iconic images in Trek and the way it brings the storylines together, including the kilingons, is excellent.

Nothing bad to say about this episode.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 124/205

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Star Trek: TOS 2.12 - I, Mudd

Review 40 - Episode 41

The One where Harry Mudd comes back

Ah yes, Harry Mudd. I despised him and his first episode when I watched it last season. So I wasn't exactly crying out for a follow up. But, surprisingly, this is actually quite good fun and Harry's quite likable. The key difference is that Kirk's a match for him this time and can go toe to toe with him in the verbal stakes and mind games. Before, he was totally overpowered and was left looking weak.

So the episodes split into 3 parts really, all daft, but lets skip through them quickly. A crewman takes control of the Enterprise and steers the ship to an unknown planet who turns out to be an android. This is quite effectively done and reminds me of a TNG episode when Data takes control of the ship, so I wonder if this was an inspiration. How he got on the ship or found the Enterprise and falsified crew records etc. is best left in the dark as it makes no sense.

We then find out Mudd has sent the android to steal the Ship, maroon the crew and he will go off and see the galaxy. This doesn't really bother the crew as their every whim is met and any pursuits or interests are in abundance. This leads to plenty of nice scenes, mostly with Chekov, who is really the bad boy of Trek in these days, the one you suspect would be smoking round the corner of engineering and having sly tea breaks. Kirks interactions with Mudd and his crew are quite enjoyable and funny to watch.

The rest of the episode is...bizarre. To make the androids self destruct, Kirk and crew start acting surreal so they cannot compute what they see. What follows is 20 minutes of improv drama dadaism, off the wall acting and some of the strangest Trek scenes ever filmed. It's so weird that it actually works, but beyond my mere words to describe. You really have to see it.

Poor Sulu is left again at the helm and has been shunted to the side in favour of the 6 others. Throwaway episode really, but worth watching for the surreal improvising.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 119/200

Monday, 23 June 2008

Star Trek: TOS 2.11 - The Deadly Years

Review 39 - Episode 40

The One where they all get really old, really fast.

I'm not going to spend long on this episode as it's mostly rather dull and has a lot of filler. Yet another high concept idea - what if the crew aged incredibly fast. How would they act and what would happen to the ship?

Well, not a lot really. Kirk, Spock, Bones all start getting old. Scotty as well, but he seems to age faster and is missing from most of the story. The trouble is, once they start making mistakes and getting senile, they have to stand down. It's common sense. But the episode still has 2 acts to fill, so we have this ridiculous situation of Kirk looking like an absolute idiot who can't remember orders and may put his ship in danger, but refuses to go. They then have a mock trial to see if he's fit and hear testimony of ALL the scene's we have just watched. God, you can see them really dragging this out. I don't think for a minute Kirk would want to stand down, but he would if he thought his ship was in danger. He's supposed to be old, not a fricking stubborn old asshole.

Speaking of which, Chekov is unaffected for some reason, yet all he does is moan that he has to have tests , while his ship mates are about to die. Seriously, he moans the entire episode. Talk about priority's.

The answer is a bit dubious as well, simply that he was scared and ran out like a girl seeing a dead body and got adrenaline pumping. Kirk then gets young and saves the day from 10 (!)Romulan ships who are about to destroy the Enterprise, brought in by a desk jockey commodore who ordered them into the neutral zone. This was quite good to watch, even if Kirk still doesn't apologise for earlier.

There are a few other weird things. Kirk looks far younger than the rest and I suspect there is some vanity on Shatners part going on here. Also, a random love interest called Wallace has a Love of older men, so Kirk still has potential to get a lay!

I did like the continuity of the Romulans and the Neutral zone and also the nod to the corbomite maneuver. It's also weird seeing them old as by Star trek 6 , they're not far off these ages. But this was a interesting idea stretched out well beyond it's potential.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 117/195

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Star Trek: TOS 2.10 - Mirror, Mirror

Review 38 - Episode 39

The One with the Parallel Universe

Yet another season 2 episode that is considered something of a classic. It's strange that this season has either the best episodes ever made for TOS or the worst. I think over the piece, season 1 may come out with a higher mark simply because there are more average episodes.

Simple concept time: What if a transporter accident sent you to an alternate universe where every one is "evil"? That's what happens here. There's plenty to like in this episode, with only a few things jarring, but nothing serious.

The best thing about it is that EVERYBODY has a chance to shine here. Kirk as always takes the main role, trying to work out exactly how this universe works and stopping the Enterprise firing on the Halkans. He's got some great scenes with the alternates and there's a quiet strength to him on the bridge as everyone about him goes OTT. His scenes with Marlena have good chemistry and I also like the nod to continuity with the mention of Chris Pike.

Spock steals the show though, with his goatee and his demeanour. He is almost our Spock, but the casual way he tortures Kyle (who is really the 8th Beatle at this point) and softly threatens Kirk is excellent. It was also great to see him in all out attack mode, taking on 4 people at a time. Of course, he ends up becoming more like the Spock we know at the very end and his compassion has far reaching consequences in DS9's mirror universes.

Bones has a quiet role, helping Scotty, but his compassion for Spock, which nearly gets him killed and marooned, is a nice touch. He simply must heal, regardless of who it is. Uhura has her best role in a long time, looking sexy in her alternate universe outfit and casually seducing Sulu to distract him, then defending herself with a blade. Sulu is brilliantly OTT, a huge scar on his face and utter evil in his eyes. It's interesting that certain characters are far more aggressively evil than others. Chekov is also good, trying to kill Kirk and then being tortured. Only Scotty really gets his usual stock scenes, but at least he gets a great conversation with Kirk when he calls him Jim, the only time in Trek history.

Wow, I've been waffling. Right, the bad things. It doesn't really make much sense that they would beam aboard in their alternates uniforms? I understand why they did it, to make it more visually dramatic and the questions it would otherwise raise, but you just have to accept it. Also, it's a bit lucky that Spock must have beamed the evil crew back at the same time Kirk and co were beaming back. And finally, the Tantalus field is one these randomly powerful alien objects that pop up in Trek and makes no sense of how it works or was fitted in his cabin. It comes across as a bit unnecessary when you have everything else going on.

Great episode and one that will have various follow ups in later series.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 115/190

Star Trek: TOS 2.9 - The Apple

Review 37 - Episode 38

The One with the Ompa Lumpas

Slightly boring episode this but a few things lift it above the bad. Kirk, Spock, Bones and Chekov beam down to a seemingly paradise planet, but his security team keep being killed by plants or exploding rocks. They can't beam back to the ship as a computer in the form of a monsters head is keeping them there and controlling the natives.

I'll say the few things I like before the many that I didn't. The planet setting is quite refreshing and there were enough plants to make the surroundings seem slightly more realistic than usual. Spock saving Kirks life was also good as was most of the banter with the Trio. Chekov had some nice scenes with Yeoman Martha Landon, who still comes across as too giggly and weak like most yeoman's, but actually had a decent fight scene! Most impressive. I really didn't buy her relationship with Chekov though.
Now on to the bad. This episode dragggged for me in places. There's far too much plodding through the jungle and watching red shirts be killed off in unusual ways (admittedly enjoyable to watch at times). There was also very strange acting on the Enterprise with Scotty and Kyle. He seemed to keep pausing after every sentence and question asked. Maybe he was adopting Shatners style of acting. Speaking of which, Kirks anguish at losing his men was a bit OTT and the sort of scene that gives Shatner a bad rep. Generally, I find him enjoyable and quite good, but he hams it up big time here, maybe because he had a slightly reduced part. It was also tiresome seeing him checking up on the Enterprise's status in it's decaying orbit. Surely viewers in the 60's didn't need to be reminded every 10 minutes of the B plot.
The tribes people looked hilarious with their strange wigs and the orange makeup reminded me of the Tango ads from a few years ago and Willie Wonkas ompa's. The strange situation of how Vaal came to be created is never explored or why it needs food and why it's shaped like a snakes head. The concepts so bizarre it could never be explained away satisfactorily. I did like Spock arguing that perhaps they should indeed leave these people alone as they had been doing fine for 2000 odd years. Indeed, Kirk is definitely breaking the prime directive and seems to get away with it. Without the ship in danger story, it would have looked quite invasive and forced, rather than a fortunate by product.
So, watchable enough episode, but hampered by rather boring long drawn out scenes and some ropey makeup.
Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 110/185

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Star Trek: TOS 2.8 - The Changeling

Review 36 - Episode 37

The One that's a bit like The Motion Picture

Tricky one this. Two or a Three? In many places it's terrible and quite boring. In other's, funny and enthralling. Bit like TMP then. What's startling to me is that this is as much a dress rehearsal for TMP as Balance of terror/Spacer Seed is for Wrath of Khan. The innocent probe sent out, becomes altered, and comes back ridiculously powerful and looking for the creator.

Right, confession time. I've had a couple of wines and Euro 2008 is intruding on my trek watching, so this might be a wee bit random. Disclaimer aside lets proceed.

There were strange references here, Kirk calling Sulu navigator and Spock barking out observations like early season 1. The 2nd half was much warmer and I suspect rewriting here, but it jars.

So the Enterprise is nearly destroyed by a robot who resembles a dustbin and beams it aboard. It's powers are frankly ridiculous including wiping out a solar system and resurrecting the dead! Kirk talks it to death and we're all right.

Kirk has some good scenes with the crew and talking to Nomad. The problem is that Nomad looks so fucking ridiculous that it's hard to take seriously rather than a god like being who can wipe out solar systems.

Spock does a mind meld with it which he pulls off well, but I'm very suspect of it working with a computer. Bones is his usual irritable self, but slightly unprofessional in goading Nomad and Chapel is sporting a Rand hair-do.

The ancillary cast have a few good scenes though. Scotty is KILLED and gets brought back to life and he's back in engineering the same day!! Uhura is caught singing and has her BRAIN wiped and somehow retrains English and all her starship skills in week? WTF? And poor Sulu is relegated to driver role.

Nah, you know what. This is a two. It's average trek without any brilliant storyline threads to save the day. And Nomad's power level are stupid. I wouldn't watch this again, but it's worth a spin.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 108/180

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Star Trek: TOS 2.7 - Wolf in the Fold

Review 35 - Episode 36

The One with Jack the Ripper

Very silly and bizarre episode this and tor the first third I thought I was going to have to wade through it But then a strange thing happened in that I started enjoying it and by the end I was amused and satisfied, even If I still didn't know what was happening really.

The action all starts very weirdly with Kirk, Bones and Scotty on a planet of hedonists (which for the 60's meant belly dancers - ooooh, risque). Kirk then invites the belly dancer over for Scotty to pull and get a shag, while her ex fiance is sitting at a nearby table watching this. Scott heads off to shag her and Kirk suggests to Bones they go and visit a place with beautiful woman. Bones cuts him off and says he knows the place, lets go. They are clearly talking about a Lap dance bar and I finally realised that they were on a Lads night out in Newcastle. They're setting off when they hear a scream and Scottys bird is dead, stabbed to death, with Scotty holding the knife.

They try to solve this by beaming down a scientist technician who is of course a blonde hottie and she goes to examine Scotty in private where she is stabbed to death and Scotty looks guilty again. It's hilarious that the murder weapon is left out on a shelf effectively and a suspected murderer of women is allowed to wander about the house freely.

A seance (!) is then attempted by the prefects wife who is killed and again Scotty's looking a wee bit suspicious. They beam up to the Enterprise where it's revealed to be jack the Ripper possessing people, Sulu is high on drugs so he won't be scared, and It ends with kirk wanting to go back to the Lap dance bar, but everybody is stoned apart from Spock, who gets his signature "lets laugh at Spocks non emotional nature" and everybody leaves happy and laughing, including Kirk, who hasn't even had the drugs.

This is bizarre, very watchable rubbish and I can't believe I seen Kirk and crew out on a stag do on Star Trek. Fantastic. Catspaw was bad. This is good-bad.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 106/175

Monday, 9 June 2008

Star Trek: TOS 2.6 - The Doomsday Machine

Review 34 - Episode 35

The One that's a bit like Moby Dick

Well, what can you say? Superb episode with lots of great scenes, but a couple of weird things I'll note at the start to get them out the way. No Uhura? No Uhura and replaced by some blonde white chick? What the hell was going on there? Chekov also MIA I can just about accept as he's new, but Uhura? It's odd, she doesn't really do much, but when she's missing it's strangely jarring. Also, Kirk in his green tunic? I'm not sure if this was to differentiate him to Decker, but along with the new sets, it almost seemed like a relaunch show.

Anyway, none of the above is really important. What we have here is a giant ship (?) that eats planets and travels across space and eats more planets. For all eternity. The Enterprise's sister ship, USS Constellation (bit odd that name if they're Constellation class, though I suspect it's retroactive and there were no classes in these days) is badly damaged and only Commodore Decker is alive onboard, his crew beamed to the supposed safety of a planet, before they were killed by the Planet eater. He's not taken it well and sets about claiming the Enterprise and attacking the Doomsday Machine.

Kirk and Scotty stuck on the Constellation have great scenes together as Kirk desperately tries to get the ship up and running and Scotty for the first time really shows what a miracle worker he is, getting the engines and phaser banks working. He also fixes the transporter's on the Enterprise and saves Kirks life by a whisker (nice to see Kyle again, who's accent wavers but I think is meant to be English)

The main drama is Decker in command of the Enterprise and Spock obviously desperate to return and collect the captain, but refusing to break star fleet rules of command. His scene with McCoy as he offers a route to get rid of Decker then takes it away in the same breath is highly amusing, yet frustrating at the same time. Spock has never seemed more Vulcan and alien in this episode. McCoy is sadly missing for most of this episode, which surprised me as I thought he'd be in cahoots with Spock to overthrow Decker. It's a fine performance by William Windom, at times level headed, yet a nervous wreck and constantly on the verge of losing it. Here is a commander who has faced his worst nightmare and lived, yet wished he was dead. The giant ship really does look like some sort of space whale and it's good there was no explanation for it or where it came from beyond an interesting theory from Kirk.

Odds and sods: Sulu is once again relegated to driver guy and I'm surprised how little he has to do in these early episodes; it's great seeing another Federation ship and this is another episode that makes the universe bigger; I had no idea Decker in The Motion Picture is supposed to be Deckers son. Makes his character more interesting.

Quite Simply, another great episode.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 103/170

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Star Trek: TOS 2.5 - Amok Time

Review 33 - Episode 34

The One were Spock Vs. Kirk

This is always considered something of a classic by Trek fans and is one of the few to have saturated other media and joe publics knowledge. It's not hard to see why. There is so much going on in this episode that it's hard to sum up, so I'll take them one at a time.

The main theme of this episode is Spock's need to return to Vulcan and experience Pon Farr, a biological need to mate that drives emotions and violence. There is a certain frustration watching this as we know Spock will die if he doesn't return home, yet he seems willing to sacrifice himself as long as his customs aren't revealed. It obviously mirrors certain aspects of religions on earth such as arranged marriages and the secrecy of rituals, but you feel like screaming at the TV "Tell him you're dying you Vulcan SOB!!" Kirk also comes across quite harsh in not simply trusting that Spock has to go home, demanding to know an answer. It's easy with hindsight to simply wonder what is the big fuss, but Vulcan rituals do seem quite intense.

This is also the first episode where Kirk, Spock and McCoy are really bonded as friends for life and the scene in the lift where Spock invites them down as friends is quite touching. Kirk putting his career on the line for Spock is also another line drawn in the sand and it's interesting watching these knowing that he will sacrifice everything for Spock in the Movies.

The Vulcan rituals actually come across quite mysterious and ancient, no mean feat given the production values on the show. A lot of this must go to Celia Lovsky who brings an authority and presence to the role of T'pau and the proceedings. I can just about forgive the fact that Spock simply doesn't just say "it's to the death captain" and no one tells Kirk before accepting the challenge. It's worth it simply to see Spock in the heat of blood lust trying to kill Kirk. The solution by McCoy is simple, yet logical, although it wouldn't be very effective if they fought with blades for the whole fight. Spocks reaction at seeing Jim alive is also brilliant and probably guarantees this top marks on it's own. The only thing is, won't T'pau be rather annoyed she's been tricked? And wouldn't Kirk never be able to officially go back to Vulcan as he's meant to be dead?

Odds and sods: Chapel appears again and is still love sick over Spock, who doesn't appreciate her soup (another great scene, Spock looking angry for the first time - in fact any scenes with Spock angry are good); Chekov and Sulu are also good with their banter over course plotting. only Uhura is left out and Scotty's MIA.

So, very important episode from the Vulcan backstory aspect and probably helped make the Trek universe deeper and more rewarding.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 98/165

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Star Trek: TOS 2.4 - Who Mourns for Adonais?

Review 32 - Episode 33

The One with the giant hand

I can't deny the image of a giant hand coming towards the enterprise isn't startling and it gets your attention but it still must be one of the silliest openings to a trek episode. Unsurprisingly, a being with "God like powers" , in this case Apollo, captures the Ship and wants the crew to worship him. Kirk, Bones, Chekov, Scotty and random love interest Palamas are trapped on the planet, whilst Spock, Uhura and occasional regular Kyle try to break free.

This is all very predictable and normally God like episodes really get my goat, but this has a few things to recommend it. Firstly, there is some great dialogue for Kirk, especially at the start with McCoy talking about Palamas being married off. Chekov also has some nice one liners and Bones is thankfully back to his normal self and not moaning about ridiculous things. Also there is a rare love interest for Scotty, though he is a bit OTT everytime she disappears.

Spock and Uhura rarely interact with each other with any meaningful dialogue, so it was nice to see Spock complimenting her and Uhura doing some engineering work. Nice change. Sulu is unfortunately doing his thing.

Finally, the actual end scene of Apollo beaten and confused, with Kirk feeling genuine sympathy for him was a surprisingly emotional scene and caught me off guard. Lovely last line as well.

Of course, when all is said and done, there's still a dirty big hand in space and the girl once again falls in love far too fast, but the final act and some unusual groupings make this quite watchable. However, the amount of Reality shifting/God like being episodes is beyond the joke, so I'm going to start a running total and see how many more we get. God I hate them.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 93/160

Number of episodes involving God Like beings or reality shifting powers: 10

Friday, 6 June 2008

Star Trek: TOS 2.3 - Friday's Child

Review 31 - Episode 32

The One with McCoys "baby"

Quite entertaining. Our Trio are on a planet trying to negotiate mining rights with warrior race when who pops up but a Klingon. Cue the quickest red shirt death ever and blatant prime directive busting and you've got scuffles and chases and a reluctant pregnant queen in tow.

I need to say here, this is the 3rd episode in a row that Kirk, Spock and Bones are on the planet and the Enterprise is dragged away or out of contact. Now I love the relationship between them, but you need to have them interacting with other characters or this may get old fast. It may be a factor of watching these in production order, but I'm not sure.

It's nice to see the Klingon's back and the hatred by Kirk even in these early episodes is strong. I would actually class this as a McCoy episode as he's got to look after the queen and baby as well as being the expert on this planet and culture. Poor Spock is sometimes just required to say dry one liners and raise an eyebrow.

The Enterprise is diverted away by a fake emergency call and once again, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura are on the bridge, doing their thing. I was quite disappointed there was no battle with the Klingon ship, but I'm sure budget reasons played a large part in it. Julie Newmar is excellent as the guest star (I've wrongly been calling Eleen a queen, but she is in all but name) and it makes a change from the usual girls who either swoon over Kirk or start crying and screaming.

Enjoyable, but I maybe expect more from Fontana.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 90/155

Star Trek: TOS 2.2 - Metamorphosis

Review 30 - Episode 31

The One with Zefram Cochrane (v.1)

An episode that's interesting more from a historical point as Cochrane would appear in First Contact many years later as a quite different character.

The Trio and Nancy, a diplomat, are hijacked in their shuttle by a mysterious force and forced to land on a planet where they meet Cochrane and mysterious force known as the Companion who loves Cochrane.

Nancy's character is quite bad in this, whining for no apparent reason and screaming uncontrollably out of the blue. McCoy also doesn't come across very well and I've noticed that the writers tend to have him argue or be annoyed even if it's a clear situation where nothing can be done and it makes him look rather silly at times. This is also the 2nd episode in a row where Kirk, Bones and Spock are marooned on a planet whist the Enterprise looks for them.

Cochrane is incredibly bland and stiff in this episode which makes it quite funny as too the womanizing, drunken bum he apparently used to be. There is also a scene where he feels completely uncomfortable with the idea of the companion loving him that reminded me of someone who finds out a girl is a boy or some sort of sexual discovery. I'm probably reading to much into it, but i think the metaphors there.

It's also a bit of a cop out that Nancy is about to die and she has been saying how she never loved, when the companion merges with her. I'm sure if she was fit and healthy is would be a different situation entirely. Also of interest is the universal translator, the 1st time it's appeared in the star trek universe. Scotty and the rest of the gang are on the bridge doing there usual thing, but at least Scotty seems to be in charge now.

It's an okay episode, but nothing startling or special, and a bit boring in places.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 87/150

Star Trek: TOS 2.1 - Catspaw

Review 29 - Episode 30

The One with the giant cat

(Since we're now into Season 2 and the cast and costumes are now established, there's no real reason to keep reviewing the episodes in production order. However, since I've started this way, I might as well continue, so this season and the next will be production order still.)

Wow. this one blew me away. With us being into Season 2, the home of the Mirror Universe and Chekov coming into the cast, I was expecting great things from these episodes. Let us hope that this 1st one I've reviewed of this Season is not a benchmark as it is without doubt one the worst hours of Trek ever produced. And I've seen some bad Voyagers.

I don't know where to start? Sulu and Scotty are on the planet and don't respond to hails. The bold trio of Kirk, Spock and Bones (who now gets his credit in the title) beam down and encounter a strange castle with witches, dungeons and black cats. Sulu and Scotty are "zombiefied" in this episode, so mainly walk very slowly around and keep a blank face. On the enterprise, Chekov is introduced with one of the strangest hair cuts ever - it's makes his head look the size of a pumpkin. There's also a new Red shirt in charge, DeSalle, who gives Chekhov a hard time, then seems to warm to him. I don't know if he's ever seen again, probably not, but seems a waste of a good part for Sulu or Scotty.

The trio on the ground are imprisoned and encounter 2 aliens with "God like powers" who can change reality, etc. Yep, this old fan favourite is back. There's lots of walking slowly in fog, following a black cat who turns into Sylvia, who is meant to be stunningly attractive, but has one of the largest barnets I have ever seen. It would give Marge Simpson a run for her money. She is of course instantly in love with Kirk and the way he seduces her is squirmy, sleazy and cringe worthy stuff. She then turns into a GIANT CAT and starts chasing them around. At the end, they are revealed to be TWO TINY PUPPETS whose strings you can clearly see and dissolve into smoke.

I mean, Squire of Gothos was bad, Mudds women was bad, but this makes them out to be masterpieces. Fucking horrendous. Never ever watch this.


Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 85/145

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Star Trek: TOS 1.29 - Operation: Annihilate.

Review 28 - Episode 29

The One with the flying jellyfish

Silly monster this episode, but there are a few things that make this worth watching. The crew visit a planet that had been infested with flying parasites that attach themselves to a host and infect them, spreading madness. Actually, this is slightly garbled, as they mention that they want to build ships and infest the galaxy, but at the same time they seem randomly violent amd kill their hosts, so slightly confusing.

The monsters look awful, like rubber vomit that is being thrown like a Frisbee. There's no getting round the fact they are so comical that it ruins any suspense or danger.

So what is good about it? Well, important from Kirks point of view as his brother, Sam and his wife are killed (again, by the monsters? What is their M.O.) and have left a child, Peter, Kirks nephew. To be honest this is quite a traumatic day for Kirk, but it doesn't really come across that he's upset much.

The other key scenes are Spock, who's now infected, and McCoy debating, squabbling and ultimately McCoy feeling guilty when he thinks he's blinded Spock for no reason. Spock and McCoy onscreen together are always good value.

It's enjoyable enough, but forgettable all the same and impossible to take seriously. Even the title is camp.


(So, here we are at the end of Season 1 of TOS. Indeed, the 1st season of ANY Trek. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. When I decided to do this trek marathon, TOS was a series that I'd never seen properly and had never had much interest in watching, even though the films and various media always referenced it. I still think you have to be in the right frame of mind to watch it and ignore the blatant sexism, dodgy special effects and clunky dialogue at times. But on the whole, it's more sophisticated than you might think and some of the technology still seems pretty future proof even now. Right, onto Season 2!)

Star Trek: TOS 1.28 - The City on the Edge of Forever

Review 27 - Episode 28

The One where Kirk goes back in time and has to make an impossible decision.

So, this has always been considered one of Trek's absolute classics, referenced in various other media and set the bar high for time travel stories involving the butterfly effect. But is it any good?

Well, yes, especially the 2nd half, but let me get a couple of issues out the way. Unfortunately, due to the time it was made, there was no follow up episodes to events like these, so we're left to surmise that there is a dirty big gateway in time that can let you alter history and change the future. This should surely be the most protected planet in the Galaxy. Also, the time travel rules for this episode, comparing it to a river where they will naturally flow together is a bit woolly, as is spock able to access future newspaper reports on his tricorder. The Guardian comes across as a giant micro fiche resource.

But frankly, none of the above matters, because at it's heart, this is about the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the one. In this case, Edith Keeler. Who Kirk has fallen in love with, but has to die, as if she lives she will cause the Nazis to take over the world through her pacifism. Right idea, wrong time as Spock notes.

Right I'm getting ahead of my self. Lets start at the start. McCoy accidentally injects himself with Cordrazine and goes crazy paranoid just at the same time the crew find a gateway through time. De Forest is excellent in this episode as he's really given a Chance to let rip and eat up the scenery, and he does it so well. His makeup is also very impressive for it's day, gradually looking like a zombie.

Kirk and Spock chase after him and through various mishaps end up working for Keeler and Spock tries build a computer out of 30's technology that will let him see what changed time. These scenes are all good and entertaining, especially as at the start of the episode their dialogue seemed slightly stilted, calling Scotty "engineer" and so on. Keeler, played by Joan Collins, is good, though Kirk falling in love with her is slightly weakened by the fact that every girl he meets is "the one".

McCoy ends up at Keelers, his paranoia wearing off and has some wry dialogue about his state of mind, but Kirk and Spock are unaware of his presence, though they ARE now aware that Keeler must die, as Spock keeps repeating. Kirk actually pushes this knowledge to one side and keeps dating her (fast mover to be honest) and saves her from falling down the stairs, which is commented on by Spock, who doesn't actually come across as cold as he did in Galileo 7, just stating the facts to Kirk and it's noticeable Kirk never lashes out at him. Nicely underplayed by the pair of them.

The final scene, as Kirk see's McCoy, embraces hims, then has to stop him saving Keeler, the woman who saved him and loved Kirk is heartbreaking and McCoys quiet rage is incredible to watch. Of course, if Kirk hadn't taken her across the road to see the film, then she would have never run back to see Kirk and McCoy, so perhaps this was all destined to happen.

The final line by Kirk in the future "let's get the hell out of here" as the eerie wind blows, is chilling and one of the best endings to any Trek. One minor downside is that Scotty, Uhura (who appears to be on the planet simply to give them screen time) and Sulu don't really have much to do, but I'm willing to let that slide. Also the Guardian, the mysterious device that can send people trough time, is rightly left as an enigma amongst the ruins, as any attempt to explain it would only ruin it's power.

Right, I've wittered on enough. Watch it, nuff said.


Monday, 2 June 2008

Star Trek: TOS 1.27 - Errand of Mercy

Review 26 - Episode 27

The One that introduces the Klingons, sans forehead

Quite a historical episode this as the Klingons are introduced, led by Kor. Kor is an excellent character, in the Khan mould, but funnier and with more cheek. He's holds his own against Kirk in their debates which is no mean feat.

The Klingons and the Federation are at war and the planet Organia is an important foothold for both. However the Organians will not lift a finger to protect themselves, frustrating Kirk and disgusting Kor. Unfortunately for me, they turn out to be, one more time, "God like beings" who effectively end the war and save Kirk and Spocks bacon with their deus ex ending. *sigh* I can't even raise emotion to be angry at the story (my God, too much star trek I think - I'm becoming Spock!), but it was a disappointing end to the story. I did like the fact that it was predicted they would become allies in the future though.

Kirk comes across badly in the last act, being written to sound more alike to the Klingons than he really is and so he can have a shameful reflection when it's all finished. There was actually far to much of Kirk and Spock in this episode as the rest of the crew were largely awol. And while I'm moaning, i'm sick of every planet either having a castle like dungeon with torches on the wall or small town 60's America. I know it's just a product of it's time, but it doesn't age well. Rant over.

I guess I'm disappointed with this because I was expecting Balance of terror 2, but it's quite enjoyable and the seeds of (many) future storylines involving Klingons are planted here.


(editors note - can I just say I'm amazed that I seem to have posted 6 reviews in one day! 3 were written late sunday night mind you, but I wouldn't be expecting this again any time soon)

Star Trek: TOS 1.26 - The Devil in the Dark

Review 25 - Episode 26

The One with the monster that looks like a man under a blanket

This won't be a long one, but there are a couple of things worth talking about.

The crew are called to a mining planet where 50 people have been killed by a strange blob monster. Turns out the Blobs eggs are being destroyed and she's protecting her young.

I appreciate the attempt to create a different type of alien, something so different we can barely comprehend. But visually, it doesn't work. Spocks mind meld, normally a safe pair of hands, is unfortunately comical and OTT and doesn't work for me.

There's a good idea in here, about Kirks willingness to destroy and Spock's instinctive nature to investigate and there are a couple of nice scenes where Spock is worried for Kirks safety and tells him to kill it and starts shouting "Jim!"

All in all, don't judge a book by it's cover. Or blanket.


Star Trek: TOS 1.25 - This Side of Paradise

Review 24 - Episode 25

The One where Spock climbs a tree

A surprisingly good episode this, as I was expecting shore leave version 2. The crew visit a planet where plants emit spores that make you, well, trippy and happy, if seriously unproductive. Once the crew start getting infected it's up to Kirk to save his ship.

This is primarily a Spock episode and once again, Nimoy gives a tour de force of the tortured Vulcan (or Vulcanian depending how early you're watch these!). He meets a girl he once dated (we think, more than a friend certainly) and once infected is able to express his love for her. Kirks reactions to these early scenes with Hippy Spock are priceless as is his dialogue with McCoy. I'm guessing here, but the credit must go to D.C. Fontana, an old school writer as everytime her name pops up, you get great dialogue scenes.

Kirk is mysteriously unaffected, and it's because he's so angry. This doesn't quite add up to be honest as he doesn't have violent rage towards Spock so should still be drugged, but no one doubts his first love is the Enterprise. In a classic scene he beams up Spock and makes him angry, even though Spock could well kill him, and we see just how strong and dangerous an angry Vulcan can be.

Spocks scene's with Leila after he is "normal" again are heart breaking and she raises the main theme of the episode. They were happy, if slightly Brain washed and their health never better. But is that a worthy trade off for not ever achieving or evolving? Its stoner's vs The Man (kindof.)

Spock gets the final line that thankfully isn't a light hearted joke at his expense when he says he was happy on the plant and yet his sense of duty to his ship and captain will always come first.


Star Trek: TOS 1.24 - Space Seed

Review 23 - Episode 24

The One with Khaaaaaaaaaaaaannn!!!

This was one I had been looking forward to for a long time. I'm sure everyone knows the story behind this episode, but just in case you don't - after The motion picture, producers wanted to go back to the star trek roots. So they watched through old episodes and came across this. And Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan was born.

So this has a lot to live up to, as ST2 is one of my favourite ever films, let alone trek storys. And at first, I wasn't sure. The Enterprise finds the Botany Bay floating in space, and rescues the crew, who are all genetically augmented superman. Khan's not as charming when he wakes up as I was expecting and the speed at which McGivers falls in love with him and helps him overthrow the ship is ridiculous. But McCoy has a lovely scene with him in sickbay when he has a knife to his throat and Bones coolly offers him advice on the best place to cut. The dinner partys also good, with Kirk getting one over him by angering him.

But it's really the 2nd half, when Khan cuts of the air to the bridge and takes control of the ship (impressive that Kirk is willing to die for his ship, silly that he makes a log entry when everyone is trying to conserve air). The scene where Khan shows Kirk in the pressure chamber and threatens the crew with his fate one by one if they don't help him sealed this as a classic episode.

And of course we have to have the mano et mano fight and Kirk (just) wins, but if he's hadn't been let out the chamber by McGivers it could have been different. Lucky. His final decision for Khan, leaving him on a desert planet is a refreshing ending to what people were expecting but it will come back to haunt him years in the future,

Really, without Ricardo's performance as Kahn this would be an average episode with a few nice scenes. But he makes it and really gives Kirk his sternest test so far. It's just a shame the 1st half is so wobbly. Still very good though.


Star Trek: TOS 1.23 - A Taste of Armageddon

Review 22 - Episode 23

The One with the war that is played out on computers but people actually die.

Yet another high concept episode. Two planets are fighting a war, but they do it through simulation on computer, where the "casualties" have to report to disintegration chambers.

There were a lot of things I liked about this episode. Scotty and McCoy on the bridge were excellent as you don't really see these two together. I also liked that Scotty was clever enough to realise that the call wouldn't be the Captain. One thing I've noticed really is that McCoy is rather superfluous in the past few episodes. Apart from the man trap he hasn't had a big story.

It's extremely hard to believe that people would actually do this and report for death calmly just because authorities tell them too, but it's enjoyable watching Kirk discussing how insane yet in a sense, logical system this is. It was amusing to see the shore party trying to make sense of the war that was happening around them, when clearly nothing was actually occurring.

There was also a fairly huge violation of the prime directive again, this time more serious I think. The planet did tell them to stay away and now Kirk may have started an interplanetary war, but that's why he's the daddy really for all the risks he takes.

A difficult high concept to swallow, but entertaining and thought provoking.


Star Trek: TOS 1.22 - The Return of the Archons

Review 21 - Episode 22

The One where people on a planet are very reserved except for festival time when they go flipping crazy.

Interesting idea this - a very reserved civilisation that are brainwashed and there is no crime or hatred, but go absolutely crazy and rape and pillage during festival time.

It's a hell of a concept and only really works because everyone is mentally drugged. A supercomputer is controlling everybody (the planet?), but there are a lot of holes. The opening with Sulu is quite unusual and refreshing for Trek as we are dropped right in it. This is also the first of many episodes where Kirk violates the prime directive when he destroys the computer.

It's a good episode, with an interesting concept, but there isn't really a lot to say about it. The festival concept isn't explained further from why they do it to how often it happens. I get the feeling there is a lot more backstory to this somewhere.