Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 7 – Catspaw

Robert Bloch, the sf&f writer who also wrote Psycho wrote this episode.  This episode aired on October 27th 1967 and back then tv shows would have a holiday episode for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.  For the most part, these kinds of shows couldn’t be accommodated on a science fiction series like Star Trek but for some reason they went out of their way to make this travesty.

The Enterprise is exploring a lifeless world.  Sulu, Scotty and a red shirt have fallen out of communication on the surface.  The red shirt calls to be beamed up and when he appears on the Enterprise, he drops down dead.  Now a “spooky” voice tells the Enterprise that the planet is cursed.  Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down and find a silly Halloween set.  There is a castle complete with skeleton filled dungeon, black cat, witches and fog.

We meet a wizard, Korob and his familiar, a black cat who is also a “beautiful” woman named Sylvia.  They have captured Sulu and Scotty and zombified them.  Eventually they zombify McCoy.   They can play tricks like taking a little model of the Enterprise and holding it over a candle to make the real ship start to overheat.  We find out the aliens are creatures from another galaxy and of course they don’t have emotions or other fun stuff so Sylvia makes a play for Kirk.  Kirk pretends to like her but she figures out he’s faking and gets angry.  Now Korob frees them from the dungeon and nervously tells them that they must escape because Sylvia has gone nuts and will destroy them all including him.

She turns into a giant black cat and hunts down and kills Korob by smashing him under a dungeon door.  As he’s dying Korob reveals that the source of their power is a magic wand.  At the key moment Kirk smashes the wand and everything returns to reality.  No castle, no fog and Korob and Sylvia are now these little six-inch figures that look like they are made of colored pipe cleaners.  Scotty, Sulu and McCoy are unzombified and unaware of what has gone on.  Then they go back to the ship.

Even back in 1967 when I was ten years old, I knew this episode sucked.  It has nothing.  They couldn’t even give us a really good-looking woman with not much clothing.  It was all bad.  It isn’t even redeemed by Shatner mockery points.  It’s a waste of time except as an anthropological study on early television holiday tie-ins.  I give it a 3 // 1.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 6 – The Doomsday Machine

The Enterprise comes upon two adjacent inhabited solar systems that have had their planets reduced to rubble.  Heading into the next solar system they receive a garbled distress signal from the Federation Star Ship Constellation.  When they reach the solar system, they find that all the planets except for the inner two have been destroyed.

As they navigate through the debris field, they discover the badly damaged Constellation drifting in space.  Sensors determine that parts of the ship are still habitable but the warp drive and transporters are destroyed and the bridge has been depressurized.  Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and some red shirts beam aboard and discover that the crew is missing.  While investigating the auxiliary control room they discover the ship’s commander Commodore Decker (played by well known character actor William Windom) slumped over the control console in heavy shock.  McCoy revives him with a medication and Decker relates to them that some device of mammoth proportions, “miles long,” was destroying the fourth planet of the system when they arrived and so the Constellation attacked it with all it’s phaser weaponry but with the machine’s hull made of “pure neutronium” it had not effect.  The Planet Killer counterattacked with a beam of “pure antiprotons” and disabled the Constellation.  To save his crew Decker beamed them down to the third planet and stayed with the ship.  After the Constellation could no longer move the device ignored it and went back to destroying the planets.  Decker’s crew called him and begged him to help them as the machine destroyed the planet, they were on but he had no way to save them and this is what led to his breakdown.  Kirk speculates that the device is a Doomsday Machine unleashed in some long-forgotten war that destroyed both sides, leaving the machine to travel on indefinitely destroying everything in its path and using the debris from the planets it destroys as fuel.

Kirk sends McCoy and Decker back to the Enterprise and stays along with Scotty and the engineering team to reactivate the Constellation.  Scotty is tasked with getting the impulse engines working and the rest of the team attempts to get the main view screen of the auxiliary control room functional.

Meanwhile back at the Enterprise Spock is towing the Constellation along and intends to head away from the subspace interference associated with the Planet Killer and warn Starfleet that the device is headed for the most populous area of the galaxy.  Communication with the Constellation is cut off by interference and when Commodore Decker reaches the bridge, he relieves Spock of command and orders the Enterprise to attack the Planet Killer.  And of course, this goes very badly.  In the course of delivering a series of totally ineffective phaser blasts to the hull of the device the Enterprise is caught by a tractor beam and is slowly pulled toward the maw of the Planet Killer.

At this point Kirk gets visual sensors back on line in time to see the Enterprise heading for annihilation.  Scotty provides Kirk with impulse power and some phaser capability.  Kirk attacks the Planet Killer and this gives the Enterprise the chance to escape.  Kirk contacts Spock and orders him to relieve Decker.  Decker escapes from an escort and steals a shuttle craft and despite pleading by Kirk flies it directly into the maw of the device.  The explosion of the shuttle craft’s small engine damages the Planet Killer by a small but definite amount.  Kirk theorizes that exploding the impulse engines of the Constellation inside the device might destroy the Doomsday Machine.

Scotty rigs a 30 second delay to provide Kirk with time to escape the Constellation before detonation.  As the Constellation comes within a few hundred miles of the device Kirk pushes the timer and calls to be beamed out.  But the transporter was damaged during the battle with the Planet Killer and we get the comical scene of Kirk getting closer and closer to destruction and anxiously reminding Spock he needs to be saved.  Spock provides monotonous reminders to Scotty of the imminent demise of Kirk while the engineer works feverishly to repair the transporter’s something or other.  And of course, Kirk makes it out with nothing to spare and his atoms scrambling in the air as the transporter manages to collect him together out of the hellish nuclear inferno set off inside the Doomsday Machine by the Constellation’s self destruction.  We get some prattle between Kirk and Spock about the Constellation’s detonation which is like a hydrogen bomb, the 20th century’s doomsday device, being used to destroy a different doomsday device.

This is a great episode.  The writer, Norman Spinrad, although not an author I preferred was a competent science fiction writer so he has crafted an interesting science fiction story.  The Decker character is given a good part as the Captain Ahab trying to get his White Whale.  Kirk gets to add a little humor to the situation of his transporter malfunction problem and he actually does this admirably.  He even gets to tell Scotty he earned his pay.  There really isn’t too much Shatner acting to mock but this episode doesn’t need it.  I’ll call it a 10 // 0.   This is as good as it gets for Star Trek.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 5 – The Apple

Kirk beams down to Gamma Trianguli VI with Dr. McCoy, Ensign Chekov, Spock, Yeoman Martha Landon (a pretty blonde named Celeste Yarnall) and several expendable red shirts.  We’re really not sure why the hell they’re there but we find out it resembles a tropical paradise that contains plants that shoot poisonous darts and rocks that explode if you step on them.  In fact, three red shirts die in these fashions and one of the plants almost gets Kirk but Spock pushes him aside and gets the darts in himself.  Of course, Spock survives but while attempting to beam back to the ship to help him, we find out that some force on the planet has neutralized the transporter and is also pulling the Enterprise toward the planet with a tractor beam.

We now meet the inhabitants of the planet.  They look like some combination of non-violent sheep with surfer dudes sporting platinum blond hairdos and wearing towels around their waists.  They work for a godlike idol named Vaal that inhabits a rock formation in the shape of a dragon’s head.  It has a force field around it and seems to be the power that is attacking the Enterprise.  Spock states that is some kind of machine.  The People of Vaal feed it the exploding rocks once a day and that seems to be the source of Vaal’s power.  Vaal controls the people and forbids them to procreate but feeds them and controls the environment so that they virtually live forever.  They are childlike and annoying.

When Yeoman Landon finds out that they don’t have sex she wonders how they would replace someone who dies by accident.  And the male members of the landing party look around sheepishly at each other until Spock hems and haws through a statement that Vaal will provide some kind of instructions.  McCoy makes a sarcastic comment to the effect that he’d like to see a machine try to provide those instructions.

While the situation of the Enterprise becomes more critical Kirk and Spock try to figure out a way to neutralize Vaal.  Spock warns that destroying Vaal would violate the prime directive.  Kirk indicates that he’s not concerned about that.  Meanwhile Chekov and Yeoman Landon are observed kissing by a couple of the People of Vaal.  Luckily, it’s 1967 so they are a man and a woman and when they experiment with this new behavior, I don’t have to turn the tv off.  But Vaal is not equally as happy about this behavior as I am and instructs his people to kill all the Enterprise personnel.  When the male People of Vaal attack the crew, they manage to kill one red shirt from behind by bashing his head in with a big stick.  But without the element of surprise these lame losers are quickly pummeled and disarmed by the Enterprise crew.  Even Yeoman Landon is able to kick the butts of these feeble skirt wearing sissies.

Now Kirk comes up with a plan.  He imprisons the People of Vaal thus preventing them from feeding Vaal while simultaneously he instructs Scotty back on the Enterprise to fire its phasers continuously at the force field of Vaal.  Sure enough Vaal quickly runs out of reserve power and is destroyed by the phasers.  Kirk tells the People of Vaal that they will learn to enjoy life without Vaal and will learn to take care of themselves and have their own lives and families as men and women are supposed to.

The final scene on the Enterprise has Spock trying to make the point that destroying Vaal is equivalent to forcing the People of Vaal out of the Garden of Eden.  Kirk counters by saying that essentially Spock is equating Kirk with Satan.  Kirk follows up by asking Spock if anyone on the Enterprise even remotely resembles Satan to which Spock guardedly says there is not.

This is sort of a companion piece to “Who Mourns for Adonais.”  Once again, a godlike creature holds a group of humanoids in thrall to serve it while providing the people with a life of ease.  And in both cases the Enterprise destroys the alien power source with its phasers.  There are definitely more humorous passages in this episode than usual including the first time that Kirk has to “fire” Scotty when he can’t perform the impossible.  And of course, he rehires him when he performs some other technical miracle instead.

There are a few scenes where Kirk displays anxiety over the death of some of the red shirts.  He whines about how he should have seen the dangers coming.  This is the extant of the Shatner mockery points.  Also, he gives Spock some grief for saving his life and there is the Satan shtick at the end.  There is a pretty girl in the episode and Chekov manages to get a few jokes about Russia into the script.  But it’s a relatively silly plot and the People of Vaal are like wimpy pajama boys so it does have a certain annoying quality.

Taken all in all I’ll call it a 7  //  5.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 4 – Mirror, Mirror

Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and Uhura go down to a planet whose inhabitants are called Halkans.  Maybe the planet is called Halka, but who knows?  The Halkans are lame looking pacifists who refuse to let the Federation mine dilithium crystals on their planet because they might use it for violence.  The guy who plays the head of the Halkan Council had a strange looking head and is dressed like a girl as far as I could tell.

Kirk tells them to think it over and he calls the enterprise to beam them up.  There is an ion storm (of course) raging in space and as the party is beaming up, they first appear in the Enterprise transporter room then disappear again.  Immediately afterward we see the landing party materialize in the transporter room but something is wrong.  The landing party is wearing uniforms that differ from normal.  Uhura has a bare midriff and the men have different shirts and all of them have daggers on their thighs.  Also, the ship has some kind of strange insignia and Mr. Spock is sporting a beard.

Kirk figures out that they aren’t on their own Enterprise and plays along with Spock concerning their apparent surprise.  He claims that the transporter malfunction has shaken them up and they need to go to sickbay for Bones to examine them.  Meanwhile we observe that on this Enterprise any mistakes are punished by means of a torture device called an “agonizer.”  Using the computer Kirk discovers that in this universe the Federation is an Empire and Halkans will have to be massacred to pay for their refusal to allow mining of their dilithium crytals.

When the crew find out that Kirk declines to wipe out the Halkans they see their chance to overthrow him.  Chekov and his followers attack Kirk as he heads for his cabin.  Luckily one of Chekov’s men turns on the conspirators and disintegrates them with his phaser leaving Chekov to be hauled off to the “Agony Booth” where he should have been allowed to die but Kirk eventually spares him and sends him to confinement in his cabin.

Kirk and his landing party figure out that an ion storm has somehow cause a rift between parallel universes (of course) and their only chance to return is to trigger the same phenomenon artificially.  To set this up Scotty and McCoy go to the engineering area and at the critical moment Uhura will have to throw herself at Sulu to distract him from his security board so he won’t notice the engineering changes.  As soon as it is clear she then slaps Sulu across the face and pulls a knife on him to escape his very un-Takei-like behavior.

Meanwhile Spock has informed Kirk that even though he would prefer not being Captain he will be forced to assassinate Kirk if he does not comply with the Empire’s order to annihilate the Halkans.  When Kirk reaches his cabin, he finds the Captain’s Woman, Marlena lounging on his bed and acting very familiar.  She demonstrates the Tantalus Field device that Kirk uses to disintegrate his enemies at a distance.  Kirk fences words and wrestles with her a little to show her he is still interested in her as a partner.

When Kirk and his group meet up in sickbay prior to going to the transporter Spock shows up and attempts to arrest the Captain but a fight ensues and eventually Kirk smashes a sculpture of a human skull over Spock’s head and knocks him unconscious.  While McCoy stays in sickbay to save Spock’s life the rest of the group heads to the transporter room there they are met by Sulu and his hit squad who intend to kill Kirk and Spock and take over the ship.  Marlena uses the Tantalus field and kills all the assassins except Sulu whom Kirk knocks out.

Meanwhile back in sickbay Spock regains consciousness and overpowers McCoy and uses the Vulcan mind meld to find out what is going on.  Back at the transporter Marlena shows up and tries to force the landing party to take her along.  Uhura overpowers her and takes away her phaser.  Spock and McCoy show up and Kirk tells Spock that he should use the Tantalus Field to take over the ship and work to turn the Empire into a more logical and benign Federation.  Spock allows the landing party to leave and they end up on the Federation Enterprise.

In the final scene on the bridge Bones tells Spock that he thought the beard was a distinct improvement for Spock.  Spock informs them that the naked aggression and open dishonesty of the other landing party was distinctly refreshing.  Finally, a new officer Marlena shows up and after an obvious look of recognition by Kirk that Spock notes, Kirk dissembles and says that she seems like a “nice, likeable girl.”  And he thinks they might become friends.

Here was a chance for Chekov and Sulu to have some fun and be bad guys.  Even Uhura was able to get some screen time playing around with Sulu and even getting tossed around during the fight with Spock.  Kirk and Spock got to wrestle and tumble around sickbay and Scotty and McCoy also were given a few scenes.  There was one scene on the real Enterprise where Spock is having the fake landing party tossed into the brig and fake Kirk is trying to bargain with Spock for his release, promising him power and threatening to string him up by his “Vulcan ears” if he doesn’t.

All in all, it’s kind of a fun episode.  Let’s call it a 7.  As far as Shatner mockery points, Kirk does swagger around in his sportier more swashbuckling uniform and he does act goofier than usual but I wouldn’t say more than a 5.  That makes this a   7 // 5.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 3 – The Changeling

The Enterprise is responding to a signal from the Malurian system.  But upon scanning the solar system they find that all of the four billion people there are dead.  They are attacked by an incredibly potent enemy that drains the ship’s deflector shield in a few blasts.  Kirk attempts to reason with the unseen enemy.  He names himself James Kirk in his address and the enemy seems to break off the attack at this mention.  We find out that a small three-foot-long robotic device that calls itself Nomad is the attacker.  It agrees to break off the attack and come aboard the ship.  We learn that Nomad was an Earth probe from the 21st century.  Nomad has mistaken James Kirk for its creator, Dr. Jackson Roykirk.  We eventually learn that the original Nomad was a probe designed and programmed to seek out interstellar life.  It was damaged and somehow merged with an alien probe called Tan Ru that was also damaged.  Tan Ru was enormously powerful and had as its mission to sterilize soil samples for planetary colony evaluation.  Once the two probes were integrated, their new mission was to seek out biological life and if it was imperfect, which it always was, to sterilize it.  This explained what had happened to the Malurian system.

Nomad starts exploring the Enterprise with unsurprisingly dire results.  He hears Lt Uhura singing and he analyzes her mind and finds it irrational so he erases her memory.  When Scotty attempts to come to her aid Nomad strikes him with an energy bolt that kills the engineer.  When Kirk complains that Nomad has destroyed on of the creator’s “units” Nomad agrees to repair the dead human.  And he does, much to the amazement of Dr. McCoy.  Kirk attempts to immobilize Nomad in a containment cell but Nomad leaves and when his two guards attempt to stop him, he disintegrates them.  Nomad repeats this action once again in another scene.

Kirk becomes exasperated with Nomad’s casual destruction of biological units and tells Nomad that Kirk himself is a biological unit.  This is a big mistake.  Nomad decides that he should sterilize the Enterprise and then head back to the point of origin, Earth, to decide how to eliminate imperfection there too.  Kirk hits on a plan and tells his men to stand by with anti-grav units to transport Nomad when Kirk gives his command.

Kirk tells Nomad that he is not the creator.  That he has mistaken James Kirk for Jackson Roykirk.  And since that is an error, Nomad is himself imperfect.  And since all imperfection must be sterilized Nomad must sterilize himself.  As Nomad’s processor attempts to reconcile this fact.  Kirk has his crew use the anti-grav units to carry Nomad to the transporter and right before he gives to signal to beam Nomad off the ship, he says to Nomad, sterilize the imperfection.  Kirk watches through a view screen as an intense flash signals that Nomad has sterilized himself right out of existence.

While Mr. Spock bemoans the loss of such an amazing creation Kirk observes that the machine thought Kirk was its mother.  He adds, “You saw what it did for Scott.  What a doctor it would have made.  My son, the doctor.  Kind of gets you right here, doesn’t it?”

I really like this episode.  The plot is a well thought up science fiction story that provides the Enterprise crew with something different from the usual human dramas that typically develop.  The plot device of Kirk outsmarting a machine is one that is repeated several times in the series but in this episode, it is used to good effect and the humorous ending is especially well done.  There is no Shatner mockery points to be found in this episode so I’ll give this a  9 // 0.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 2 – Who Mourns for Adonais?

In this episode the Enterprise is surveying an uninhabited planet when a force field in the shape of a giant hand grabs hold of the ship.  Then an image of a man with laurel leaves around his head contacts the ship and tells them that they will follow in the footsteps of their ancestors Agamemnon, Odysseus and worship him.  He proves that he can crush the ship if they defy him and so Kirk, Scotty, Bones, Chekov and a pretty blonde-haired anthropology officer named Carolyn beam down.  The image orders Spock to stay aboard because his demeanor reminds him of Pan whom he always found boring.  Kirk tells Spock to investigate Apollo and figure out a way to escape from him.

On the planet they find a small Greek temple with a stone seat on which is sitting the god Apollo.  He tells them that he has been waiting five thousand years for humans to reach his home.  He wants the crew of the Enterprise to migrate to the surface after which he’ll destroy the ship and turn them into a tribe of pastoralists who will worship him as their god.  He also wants Carolyn to bear a family of young gods by him and to show her his interest he dresses her in a revealing ancient Greek costume.  Carolyn is very receptive and seems to be in love with Apollo.  Meanwhile Kirk and the rest of the men try to convince Apollo that they’ve outgrown the Olympian gods and won’t become his devotees.  Scotty who is in love with Carolyn several times tries to interfere with Apollo’s attention to her and each time he gets punished a little more painfully.  Apollo tells Carolyn that he has been waiting alone because the other gods, Hera, Zeus, Aphrodite, Athena and the rest, gave up and dematerialized.

Meanwhile Spock has been working out a plan.  He has figured out a way to poke holes in the force field that the ship can communicate through and fire phasers through.  He tells Kirk that he has located the source of power as the temple.  Bones identifies an organ in Apollo’s chest that could be the conduit for the power from the temple to be wielded by Apollo.  Kirk convinces Carolyn to spurn Apollo and while he is distracted by her he has the Enterprise attack the temple.  After a short battle between Apollo and the ship, the temple is disintegrated.  Apollo now mourns for universe that no longer needs gods and calls to his comrades, Hera, Zeus, Aphrodite and Athena and asks them to take him away to their abode out of the normal universe.  He disappears from the world and Kirk muses whether it would’ve been so bad to gather a few laurel leaves.

This is a silly episode that has some things going for it.  First off there is the pretty girl in the slinky dress.  That can’t be bad.  Secondly the discussion about the classical Greek gods adds some interest.  Thirdly the actor playing Apollo has some presence and in the end dialog where he bemoans his fate, he does a good job.  The banter between Kirk, Bones and Chekov has its moments.  I’ll be kind and give this an 8.

As far as a Shatner mockery score, there is one scene where Kirk defies Apollo and in return Apollo remotely chokes the breath out of Kirk so we get Shatner making a goofy face while clutching at his throat as if he can’t breathe.  So, let’s call the whole thing 8 // 6.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 1 – Amok Time

The first episode of the second season is notable for a couple of reasons.  It’s the first appearance of Ensign Chekov.  He is a young man with a really bad Russian accent and a Beatles haircut which differed from the rest of the crew with a more military cut.  The other distinction is that this episode features the first details of Vulcan.  Mr. Spock is going through a Vulcan physiological syndrome that requires him to return to Vulcan to perform an ancient mating ritual or else die from the suppression of the metabolic process involved.  The visible manifestations of this syndrome include clear irritability and tremors in his hands.  When the always annoying Nurse Chapel brings him a bowl of Vulcan soup Spock scream at her and throws the bowl out of his cabin into the corridor.  When the video screen on the desk in his cabin interrupts him he smashes it flat with his bare hand.

Kirk has been ordered to proceed in all haste to a diplomatic occasion on another planet but in order to save Spock from dying he disobeys his orders and brings Spock to Vulcan.  When they arrive Kirk and McCoy agree to act as Spock’s entourage during the ceremony.  There we meet the prospective bride, T’Pring.  She’s decently good looking.  We also meet the leader of Spock’s tribe, T’Pau.  She on the other hand is an old battle axe.  Now we find out that a Vulcan marriage has the potential to involve a battle to the death for the bride’s hand.  And that’s what T’Pring demands.  And as is her right she selects the challenger.  But instead of selecting her real choice, a doofus named Stonn, she picks Kirk.  Kirk is afraid that if he refuses that Stonn will kill the weakened Spock in the combat.  So, he agrees to battle Spock, unaware, at first, that it is to the death.  The first round involves a weapon that has a large semicircular razor on one side of a pole with a cudgel on the other side.  Spock immediately slices through Kirk’s shirt and chest with it and Kirk barely manages to avoid death.  In the next round the weapon is a combination bolo and garroting band.  Before they get going McCoy gets permission to inject Kirk with a medicine that will allow Kirk to breath better in the low air pressure on Vulcan.

This time the contest does not go well and Spock chokes Kirk to death.  McCoy returns to the ship with Kirk’s body.  Spock questions T’Pring as to her motive in choosing Kirk.  She explains that she was unwilling to be the wife of an absentee legendary husband and so she reasoned that if Kirk won, he would not want her and if Spock won, he would also reject her for her betrayal.  Spock commends her on her logic and warns Stonn that winning T’Pring might not be as good a deal as he currently thinks it to be.

The payoff for the show comes as Spock takes his leave of T’Pau.  They flash their Vulcan gang sign with the space between the third and fourth digits and Spock gives her the “live long and prosper” line.  She repeats it to him but his comeback is, “I shall do neither, for I have killed my captain and my friend.”  Upon meeting Dr. McCoy, Spock informs him that he intends to hand over his command to Scotty but behind Spock a visibly living James Kirk replies, “Don’t you think you better check with me first?”  Spock in surprise and then delight breaks into a broad smile and grabs Kirk by the arms and exclaims “Captain! Jim!”  McCoy explains that what he injected into Kirk was a drug that would temporarily simulate death.  When McCoy questions Spock about his apparent emotional outburst on seeing Kirk alive Spock goes into a song and dance about how it was merely logical relief to see that he had not killed Kirk.  McCoy says it is all very logical but as Kirk and Spock are leaving, he says in a loud voice, “in a pig’s eye.”

And as the final straightening out of the plot we hear that Starfleet Command retroactively agrees to a request from T’Pau to allow the Enterprise to stop over at Vulcan.  Apparently, she is indeed a very heavy hitter in the galaxy.  So, Kirk is off the hook.

Interestingly this episode was written by Theodore Sturgeon who was a very talented but erratic science fiction writer at the time.  As a tv show it has a lot going for it.  We get to watch Kirk and Spock dance around the uncomfortable dynamic of their friendship and Spock’s discomfort with addressing his Human/Vulcan emotional baggage.  I especially enjoyed Spock screaming at Nurse Chapel.  I’ve always despised the character and the chance to see her abused by Spock whom she obviously pines for was vey funny.  What can I say, I’m a monster.

There is also an enormous amount of hokey ritual on Vulcan with gongs, bells on some kind of shaking rack that looks really stupid.  There are funny weapons.  T’Pau is carried around on a litter by two attendants.  They’ve got all the funny words they use for the various parts of the ritual.  There are the silly names T’Pring and T’Pau.  It’s so much fun.  And the friendship between Kirk and Spock is actually well done.  When Spock answers T’Pau about his bleak future it hits just the right chord.  The scene where Spock realizes that Kirk isn’t dead works to great effect with Kirk’s line coming off as very comical and effective.  I give this episode a 9.

As for Shatner mockery points, what more could you ask for.  There is the sliced shirt, the rolling around and the minor tumbling moves.  Plus, Kirk gets to be strangled and play dead.  It’s great.  This is a 9 // 7.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 28 – Operation: Annihilate!

The Enterprise heads for the colony on Deneva where a form of madness has broken out.  They detect a Denevan space ship heading for the planet’s sun and just as it burns up the ship’s occupant declares that he is free.  We learn that Captain Kirk’s brother Sam and his wife and son are on Deneva.  And when the landing party reaches Deneva they find that the inhabitants have gone crazy and that Kirk’s brother is dead.  Kirk’s sister-in-law and nephew are beamed up in critical condition.  Interestingly enough Deneva looks just like a 1960s college campus in California for some reason.  Meanwhile the landing party discovers an amorphous parasite that infects the inhabitants by biting them on the back.  One of them bites Spock and he becomes possessed by the creature.  Eventually Spock learns to overcome the pain and he helps Dr. McCoy find a cure for the infection.  Finally, they figure out that the extremely strong light levels near a star is what destroys the parasite.  To test it out they expose Spock to an extremely high light level and it works.  The parasite is gone but Spock is made blind.  But then McCoy realizes that ultraviolet light would have destroyed the parasite without blinding the host.  With this knowledge the Enterprise is able to cure the population of Deneva.  And it turns out that Spock’s blindness is temporary because Vulcan anatomy includes an inner eyelid.

Well, this is the last episode of the first season and comparing it to the rest of the season I’d say it was just about an average story.  The parasite plot is actually sort of a rip-off of Heinlein’s “The Puppet Masters.”  Spock being infected and fighting off the effects is slightly interesting and the blinding was a nice little twist but honestly there isn’t a lot here.  And just to make sure there was a curse on the episode they dragged Nurse Chapel into the story to add her patented boredom to the mix.  The best description for this one is meh.

6 // 1  That’s the most I can give it.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 28 – The City on the Edge of Forever

The episode starts out on the Enterprise bridge with lights flickering and the crew throwing themselves from side to side to simulate turbulence.  Spock says some mumbo jumbo about the temporal fluctuations.  Suddenly Sulu’s control panel explodes and he is hurled to the deck.  McCoy gives him an injection of cordrazine and Sulu immediately responds and recovers.  But another bump of turbulence causes McCoy to accidentally inject himself with a massive overdose of the drug which turns him into a raving paranoid fleeing imaginary assassins.  In this state he overpowers a transporter operator and beams himself down to a planet in the vicinity of the Enterprise.

Kirk and Spock and a landing party beam down to the planet and discover a strange quadrilateral shaped stone aperture that talks and is the source of the time distortions.  It says it is the Guardian of Forever and the aperture is a time portal through which it is possible to access the past.  We see scenes that are supposed to represent ancient Egypt and Rome.  But as the images begin to portray more modern times McCoy jumps out of the background where he is lurking and runs through the portal.

Just then Uhuru who very unusually is on this landing party tells Kirk that her conversation with the Enterprise has been interrupted.  The Guardian informs them that McCoy’s entrance into the past has disrupted the time stream and the Enterprise and the whole Federation no longer exist.  This puts a damper on the proceedings.

Spock says that using his “tricorder” readings he can allow himself and Kirk to jump into the past slightly in advance of McCoy’s entrance time and in that way, they can figure out how he disrupts history and hopefully prevent it.

They end up in 1930 New York City and meet Edith Keeler (played by a young and attractive Joan Collins) who runs a Street Mission, sort of a homeless shelter for the indigent during the Great Depression.  She gives Kirk and Spock odd jobs to allow them to earn money.  Spock uses their earnings to build a computer interface to extract information from his tricorder from the portal recordings he made earlier.  When Kirk badgers him about his progress he replies that the available resources are primitive.  Later when Edith sees his electronics project and asks him what he is doing he replies, “”I’m attempting to construct a mnemonic memory circuit, using stone knives and bearskins.”  And that line may have been the highlight of the episode.

Right on schedule Kirk falls in love with Edith.  And just then Spock discovers that the event that causes the alteration in time is McCoy preventing a car from running down and killing Edith Keeler.  Surviving, she goes on to head a pacifist movement in the United States and thereby delays the United States entry into World War II long enough to allow the Nazis to invent the atom bomb and win the war.  This puts another damper on the proceedings.

Shortly afterwards McCoy appears in the vicinity of the Street Mission and unbeknownst to Kirk and Spock Edith takes him in and shelters him at the mission.  That night when Edith and Kirk are going to a Clark Gable movie, she mentions McCoy’s name.  Kirk tells Edith to stay right where she is and runs back across the street toward the mission where, right on cue, McCoy and Spock are both standing on the street.  The three shipmates joyfully meet but, just as any woman would, Edith disobeys Kirk and starts jaywalking across the wide street in the path of a speeding truck.  Kirk looks up and is about to run to Edith when Spock warns him not to.  Just then McCoy sees Edith’s plight and would have jumped to her aid except that Kirk subdues him with his arms.  Edith is struck and killed and McCoy tells Kirk that he could have saved her and exclaims, “Do you know what you just did?”  Spock speaks for the dazed Kirk saying in a subdued voice, “He knows, Doctor. He knows.”

The time travelers return to the Guardian of Forever who announces that the time stream has been restored to its original course.  When the landing party contacts the Enterprise and asks Kirk for orders he sullenly replies, “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

This episode is known because the original script was written by a well-known science fiction author Harlan Ellison.  And the episode won a Hugo Award which back then was still considered a distinction.

Despite the sobering ending, the show includes a number of humorous exchanges between Spock and Kirk and in general strikes me as extremely well written.  There isn’t any Shatner mockery aspect worth mentioning so I ‘ll give this an 8 // 1.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 27 – The Alternative Factor

I want to start by stating, unequivocally, that this episode is easily the worst episode so far in the series.  It’s as if they forgot to order a story and then just had one of the stage hands write it at the last minute.  It’s really that bad.

The Enterprise is near an uninhabited planet when suddenly a huge surge of energy followed by a “winking out of mass from the nearby planet tells Spock that some sort of rift in time-space has occurred.  And after it occurs the sensors pick up a life form on the planet and Spock and Kirk beam down to find out what it is.

They find a man running around on some desert mountains screaming about a monster that has killed off his world.  He falls off the cliff and is brought back to the Enterprise to receive medical attention and to be questioned on the strange phenomena associated with his presence.

When he comes to the man whose name is Lazarus tells Kirk that he is chasing after a monster in the likeness of a man that destroyed his world.  He goes on and on about it and acts pretty crazy.  Kirk agrees to go down to the planet with Lazarus and search for the monster.  While on the planet Lazarus claims to see the monster and goes running into the hills looking for him.   While this is going on some really cheesy special effects occur that are supposed to reflect the meeting up of two universes; one matter and one anti-matter.  Basically, an image of the trifid nebula is shown superimposed over a negative image of Lazarus fighting with someone.  It’s remarkably bad.  Eventually Lazarus shows up again and warns Kirk of a large rock falling down the mountain and then Lazarus falls down the mountain again.  Remarkably he survives again and once again is dragged back to the Enterprise to be patched up and interrogated.

When Lazarus hears that the Enterprise has dilithium crystals he demands to be given some of them to allow him to recharge his ship and find his enemy.  After being refused we see Lazarus stealing the crystals in the engineering department. When Kirk locates Lazarus, he denies that he stole the crystals and claims the monster stole them.  In the next scene Lazarus starts a fire in engineering as a diversion and steals more crystals then beams down to the planet.

Now Kirk is really ticked off so he beams down to the planet and finds Lazarus installing the crystals in his ship but just as Kirk reached the open ship he is transported into the other universe.  There he meets the monster.  It’s an identical version of Lazarus except he isn’t a raving lunatic.  This anti-matter version of Lazarus explains that he stole the first dilithium crystals and he plans to trap Lazarus in an interdimensional chamber that connects the universes but once they are there together, he intends to seal off both exits and remain trapped with his insane twin for “all time.”  By doing this he will save both universes from being destroyed by the matter/anti-matter annihilation that would occur if the two Lazari met in one universe.

Kirk agrees to the plan and goes back to the crazy Lazarus and after a truly pathetic excuse for a wrestling match throws Lazarus through the portal.  They go back to the Enterprise and Spock declares that everything is back to normal and both universes are safe.  Kirk ends off by saying, “yes for you and me, but what of Lazarus, what of Lazarus?  Imagine being trapped for all eternity with a madman at your throat.”

What can I say?  The plot stinks, the dialog stinks and it looks like they shot the whole thing in a couple of hours.  The best part of the episode is when Kirk speaks to the sane Lazarus and he explains in two minutes what the whole mish mash of a show is supposed to mean.  If only he could have met up with him at the beginning of the show, we could have skipped the whole thing and saved forty minutes that could have been better spent cleaning the dust off my computer monitor.  As for the Shatner mockery let’s say the “what of Lazarus” thing and the wrestling match were pretty mockable the best I can do for this whole thing is 2 // 6.  It should be avoided by all except Star Trek aficionados.

 

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