Sunday, October 26, 2008

1.21 - The Return of the Archons

The Enterprise crew stumbles upon a strange society of peaceful and tranquil people that dress in turn of the 20th century Earth clothes. Kirk and Spock beam down with a landing crew just before "festival" which apparently is 12 hours of rioting in the streets, debauchery and promiscuous sex (rape?). It's not long before the crew is discovered as outsiders, as not part of the "body" and a couple of guys in robes take them away. Everyone refers to a fellow named Landru, about being incorporated into the bigger whole where they will find peace and tranquility. Thankfully Kirk and Spock run into a rebel of sorts who pretends to perform the ritual procedure to incorporate them but really intends to help them destroy Landru. Turns out Landru is a computer and has been running the society with the ideals of a machine. Order, peace, tranquility, but no soul. This even freaks out Spock a bit. Using the power of logic, Kirk gets the machine to destroy itself, convincing it that it was behaving contrary to the real good of the "body". The day is saved!

The thing that struck me most about this episode was that all the parts of the "body", who acted in a fairly mindless manner, referred to others as "my friend. "Joy be yours and tranquility my friend." "Joy to you all friends." Reminds me of someone...

Great line - Spock punches one of the robed guards and Kirk asks "Isn't that somewhat old fashioned?"

Overall - 7
Camp - 1

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Charlie X - 1.2

The Enterprise receives a new passenger from a small science vessel the Antares - Charlie Evans, a 17 year old boy. Charlie was the sole survivor of a transport ship that crashed on the planet Thasus when he was 3 and for 14 years, he lived by himself. The captain of the Antares gives Kirk the mission of bringing him to his only living relatives on the colony Alpha V. Soon enough though, the crew of the Enterprise learns that Charlie is no normal 17 year old Earth boy.

Seeing that Charlie is having trouble adjusting to human society, Kirk realizes he needs a father figure. He tries to get McCoy to assume the role, but ends up taking it on himself as Charlie seems to trust and relate to him. Kirk is in over his head though as Charlie's powers are revealed. The boy can transmute matter with his mind, making playing cards change face, turning girls into lizards and destroying the Antares among other things. It's hard enough to parent a 17 year old male, but one with uncontrollable powers... well that's a bit tricky.

Charlie is completely given to his emotions, lashing out when he doesn't get what he wants when he wants it. The world is completely unfair to him and he doesn't understand why people are so "mean" to him. Just like any other teenager but even more so due to his years of isolation that prevented him from learning how society functions.

I think the episode works well. It creates an atmosphere of fear both of Charlie and for Charlie. Kirk tries to help him, but probably would have had problems with a normal teenage boy, nevermind one that can make people disappear when he gets angry. The struggle to provide guidance to the boy weighs heavily on him and it seems like he's experiencing a mixture of frustration and failure.

The best line of the show comes when Kirk is trying to explain to Charlie why slapping Yeoman Rand's behind was inappropriate. As he fumbles for reasons Kirk blurts out - "Well... uh... there's no right way to hit a woman."

Overall : 7
Camp : 2 (for Charlie making Spock uncontrollably recite lines of poetry)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Galileo Seven - 1.16

The Enterprise is en route to Makus III to deliver medical supplies, a mission overseen by High Commissioner Ferris. On their route is a quasar-like formation Murasaki 312, which Kirk feels compelled to investigate despite the time sensitive nature of their mission. Ferris disapproves of this diversion, but Kirk insists that they are obliged to check things out and have plenty of time before the rendezvous on Makus III. He sends Mr Spock, Scotty, Dr. McCoy, Lieutenants Latimer, Gaetano, and Boma, and Yeoman Mears on the shuttle Galileo to investigate the formation. Unsurprisingly, things start to go wrong and the shuttle is pulled into Murasaki 312 and crash lands on a thankfully class M planet without radio communication and an inoperable shuttle. Even better, the planet is populated by giant furry creatures that like to spear things.

This is Spock's first command situation, as Bones points out and he proceeds logically, of course. Logical command, as Spock soon learns, is not always the best kind of command. At least when dealing with non-logical beings. Two crew-men end up killed by the creatures and the rest of the crew get more and more frustrated with Spock's logic. In such a desperate situation, his cool-headed rationality inflames them even more. Mr Scott eventually rigs up a fix to the shuttle using the power from their phasers that will get them into orbit where hopefully the Enterprise will see them and where they will be out of most of the ion interference. However, by this time, Ferris has forced Kirk to give up the search so they can make it to Markus III in time.

Things look pretty bleak for the shuttle crew and it seems clear that logic has failed. In a move that seems somewhat spontaneous, Spock jettisons the rest of the shuttle's fuel and ignites it. This ensures them that their orbit will decay rapidly and they will burn up in less than 10 minutes. The idea is that the burning fuel was to act as a flare, but Spock knows that the Enterprise has since abandoned them and will likely not see their signal. Lucky for them, they do and the crew gets beamed aboard at the last minute.

Back on the bridge, Kirk asks Spock about his decision. To him, it seems like a decision driven by desperation... a very emotional response to the situation. Spock insists that he arrived at this "desperate" act by logical means. The episode ends with the whole bridge crew laughing at Spock's stubbornness.

On the whole, "The Galileo Seven" proves to be an interesting commentary on the balance between emotion and logic in command.

Overall : 7
Camp : 4 (for the silly furry monsters alone)

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Alternative Factor - 1.27

This is a pretty simplistic episode - matter universe man discovers anti-matter universe man, gets all weirded out and seeks to destroy him, involving the Enterprise in the process. The problem is eventually resolved and the door between the two universes closed before anything or one gets destroyed. Nothing particularly moving or exciting. The special effects though were extensive; they must have had the effects department working in shifts!

Overall : 5
Camp : 1

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Squire of Gothos - 1.17

This episode begins on the bridge. McCoy is enjoying himself a nice cup of space coffee, as is Kirk, and Sulu and most everyone on the bridge. Interesting detail. With cups precariously perched on important equipment, I thought for sure something disastrous was about to happen, but alas, the coffee turns out to be, well just coffee. Suddenly Sulu disappears (his space coffee sadly still sitting on the helm)! A few seconds later, so does Kirk. A strange message appears on one of the screens written in ye olde blackletter script - "Greetings and Felicitations!" This is followed by "Hip hip hoorah" and "Tallyho!" Mr Spock jumps into action, quickly taking command and assembling a landing party to beam down. McCoy, Lt. DeSalle and geophysicist Karl Jaeger arrive on the surface and find an interesting looking castle. The inside is decorated straight out of the Middle Ages, with the exception of two statues that look remarkably like Kirk and Sulu.

There they also find an inhabitant of this fine planet, a General Trelane (retired), also known as the Squire of Gothos. He has some interesting powers involving the transformation of matter into anything he wishes (eg, making the castle out of the planet's natural surroundings, modifying the atmosphere, snatching Kirk and Sulu out of space). He admits to observing Earth with great interest and says he didn't believe it's inhabitants to be capable of space travel. Kirk informs him that the planet "Gothos" is 900 light years from Earth and that Earthicans of 900 years ago were indeed not capable of such space travel. "How fallible of me!" is his response.

Mr Trelane seems quite delighted with his new companions and a bit of a game ensues. He's unwilling to let them leave, even when Spock manages to beam the landing party aboard, the squire follows, this time taking the entire bridge crew back. He at least throws them a dinner party this time, however the crew soon finds his food tasteless. Odd. Some dancing ensues, Kirk destroys a mirror he believes to be the key to Trelane's "powers." It's not entirely, but it breaks enough of his creation to allow everyone to escape back to the ship and speed away to safety.

But it's not that easy! They soon find themselves on a collision course with the planet Gothos! Every evasive maneuver is useless. Finally Kirk decides to go down to the planet himself and straighten things out. When he beams down, he finds himself in a courtroom and a trial ensues with Trelane as the judge. Perhaps an inspiration for Encounter at Farpoint (though Kirk is only on trial for his crimes, not all of humanities)? Kirk convinces the squire that simply executing him would be no fun and suggests a hunt. The captain tries to contact the Enterprise as he's being chased by the sword wielding Trelane. Unable to contact his ship and about to be slain by his opponent, things look a little desperate for Kirk. Thankfully at that moment two green clouds appear and proceed to scold the squire. Turns out, these energy clouds are his parents and Trelane, nothing but a child, given too much lee-way to create and run his own planet and abuse his toys. The "mother" cloud apologizes to Kirk and he is allowed to return to his ship, where he commands Sulu to set course for their original destination of Colony Beta VI.

This is certainly one of the sillier episodes I've seen - clearly the basis for the Futurama episode Where No Fan Has Gone Before (a favorite of mine). It's mostly a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-like message about overindulging children - "Stop that nonsense at once! Or you'll not be permitted to make any more planets!"

Overall : 5
Camp : 8

On the edge of the final frontier

Somehow, I managed to completely miss out on Star Trek as a kid (more on that later maybe). As an adult, I've decided to go back and catch up on what I've been missing. I've watched most of The Next Generation series and am now watching The Original Series. The purpose of this blog is to record this experience, episode by episode. I've watched a lot of the first season, but I plan to go back to them. My entries will not be in order, but I will title them by the order in which they aired originally.