Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 20 – Court Martial

Kirk is on trial for the wrongful death of one of his officers.  Lt. Commander Finney, the records officer, was in an ion pod (whatever that is) during an ion storm and according to the Enterprise’s computer telemetry Kirk jettisoned the pod prematurely before a red alert was declared.  The court martial featured one of Kirk’s old girlfriends as the prosecutor and Elisha Cook Jr. as his defense attorney.  We see a video clip of Kirk jettisoning the pod before the red alert status occurs.  This evidence seems to seal Kirk’s fate.  After this scene we hear Kirk telling Spock that at least Spock’s next captain might not be able to beat Spock at chess.  After hearing this Spock raises an eyebrow.

In the next scene we see Spock in his cabin playing chess against the computer.  McCoy enters and berates Spock for his unfeeling frivolous actions while Kirk’s career is in jeopardy.  Spock explains that he has just beaten the computer five times in a row.  Even McCoy recognizes that this is an impossibility.  They rush down to the trial and Kirk’s lawyer reconvenes the trial on the Enterprise where we learn that Finney is not dead but hidden on the Enterprise and is responsible for faking the accusatory video evidence against Kirk.  In a climactic scene Kirk fights Finney and after a vicious shirt tearing fight defeats Finney and saves the Enterprise from crashing by pulling loose a couple of electrical cables.

As silly as this episode sounds it was actually fun.  Seeing Shatner calmly shrug off the cold shoulder he was getting from his peers at the star base where the trial was taking place was interesting.  And Elisha Cook Jr. was amusing as the eccentric lawyer who preferred paper books to computer files.  The courtroom drama was fairly entertaining.  All in all, I’d say it was a 7.

 

The Shatner mockery index was low.  It really didn’t break a 4.

7 // 4

Brad Paisley – A Country Music Review

Paisley’s been around since 1998 and has had a long string of hits.  He is a favorite of concert goers.  I like his comical songs best.  Among the best are:

  • I’m Gonna Miss Her
  • Alcohol
  • Ticks
  • I’m Still a Guy
  • Online
  • Crushin’ It
  • Celebrity

And as a husband I think of “I’m Gonna Miss Her” as a masculine anthem.

 

But Brad has other types of songs.  He can write a love song or a serious or a sad song and some of them are pretty good like:

  • This Is Country Music
  • A Man Don’t Have to Die
  • Toothbrush
  • Waitin’ On a Woman

All in all he’ got a lot of good music.  Of late I think he’s had a falling off.  But his earlier hits are solid and I still enjoy them, especially the comical ones.

And, of course, he gets extra points for his relationship with Bill Shatner.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 19 – Tomorrow is Yesterday

In this episode the Enterprise is inexplicably sent back in time by getting too close to a “black star.”  I guess that’s supposed to be a black hole.  They find themselves in Earth’s upper atmosphere above Cape Kennedy right before the first moon shot.  A jet fighter is sent up to investigate the “UFO.”  The Enterprise locates the fighter jet, and fearing that it might have a nuclear weapon, grabs it with a tractor beam.  But this destroys the plane and the pilot is beamed aboard the Enterprise to save his life.

Spock informs Kirk that the pilot cannot be released back to Earth because his knowledge of the Enterprise would alter history.  But then Spock discovers that the pilot’s yet-to-be-born son will be an important man in the future of space exploration.  Therefore, the pilot must be returned or that would change history.

After that Kirk and Sulu beam down to an Air Force base to retrieve evidence from the wreckage of the jet that would prove the Enterprise was a real UFO.  This leads to another man being beamed aboard the Enterprise.  At this point the writers put the plot mercifully to bed.  The Enterprise would fly very fast toward the sun ending up even farther back in the past and then “slingshot” back out and start going forward in time.  Somehow, when they reached the time where each of the men captured from the past had been affected by the Enterprise they would be beamed into the spot where their bodies were.  So, we see the pilot in his plane and suddenly we see the appearance of someone being beamed into his location.  But somehow after the beaming occurs the pilot no longer remembers anything about the Enterprise and goes about his mission and returns to Earth.

And the Enterprise hurtles into the future at faster than Warp Factor 8 and in order to prevent overshooting their “present,” Scotty puts on the brakes and the crew pitches back and forth in their chairs.  They’ve made it home and everyone is happy.

So, this is the first-time travel episode.  So that’s something.  But it’s kind of meh.  The pretense of a rationale for how they went back in time and the even flimsier logic for how they retuned wouldn’t convince the lowliest of geeks.  Spock and Bones bickering about the fate of Kirk during his burglary is kind of contrived and silly.

As for Shatner mockery points, he does get a scene where he has a fist fight with three or four Air Force servicemen.  He gets to roll around a bit and throw some pretty phony looking punches.  But it’s also nothing to write home about.

If you’re interested in the nostalgia of seeing the Enterprise interact with 1960s Americans, I could throw an extra point in and call this a six.  Put that together with the Shatner score and I’ll call this a 6 // 5.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 18 – Arena

The Enterprise reaches the Cestus III Outpost and after Kirk and company beam down, they find they have been lured into a trap.  The outpost has been destroyed and the enemy attacks the Enterprise landing party.  Kirk and Spock fight off the attack and once back on the Enterprise chase the enemy into unexplored territory.  But before they can overtake their target both ships are frozen in place and a voice announces that an outside entity, the Metrons, is putting a stop to the fight.  Because the Metrons consider the violence exhibited by the Humans and Gorns (the name of the race on the enemy ship) as barbaric they will minimize the destruction.  Kirk and the Gorn captain will be transported to a barren planet where their personal combat will decide which of the two ships will be destroyed and which will be spared.

The Gorn and Kirk show up on a barren planet that looks a lot like southern California.  The Gorn looks like and is a man in a really phony rubber dinosaur suit.  It turns out the Gorn is inhumanly strong and tough but pathetically slow.  Kirk rolls a boulder on him but to no effect.  And just to put some drama into the situation, Kirk runs into a trap and injures his leg so the possibility that the Gorn might eventually catch him won’t seem completely implausible.

Kirk was given a device to record his thoughts during the trial but the Gorn is able to hear his every word and thereby judge how badly Kirk is hurt.  The Gorn offers to kill Kirk mercifully if he will stop running.  Kirk exchanges insults with the Gorn over their treachery at the   Cestus III Outpost.  But the Gorn claims that the base itself was an act of war by invading their territory.  Eventually the Enterprise bridge is also given an audio-visual transmission of the combat.  And so, Spock is able to annoyingly claim that the humans deserved to be wiped out for unknowingly settling Cestus III in enemy territory.  Also, he cheers on Kirk’s gradual identification of the ingredients for a weapon.  Kirk finds a bamboo cylinder, a rope-like vine, potassium nitrate, sulphur, coal and large sharp diamond crystals.  He converts these into a makeshift firearm.  Just in the (painfully slow} nick of time, he shoots the Gorn.  But instead of finishing him off with the Gorn’s own stone knife, Kirk calls to the Metrons and refuses the kill.  An effeminate young man in a khiton shows up and congratulates Kirk for only being a semi-savage.  He tells Kirk that he will release the Gorn ship and promises to check back with humanity in a few thousand years when they may be ready to dialog with his people.

Kirk returns to the Enterprise and the ship mysteriously finds itself 500 parsecs away from their former position.  Kirk and Spock muse on their changed ideas about the definition of civilization.

Okay, so this is mostly an amusing episode.  The only thing that really annoys me is the idea that Kirk, Spock and McCoy think that if humans accidentally colonized an uninhabited planet that turns out to be in some other race’s home range that they deserve to be massacred.  This is just so self-hating that I would expect it to come from Picard but not Kirk.

That aside, watching Kirk fight a man in a rubber dinosaur suit in slow-motion can’t be anything but comedy gold.  Shatner rolls around and grimaces and gives us a great show.  The Gorn hisses like a snake so he can be heard like a half a mile away.  It’s wonderful.

I’ll give this episode a 9 // 8.

Johnny Cash – American IV – The Man Comes Around

At the end of his life Johnny Cash recorded a multi-album project.  Listening to this album it’s unmistakable that we’re listening to a man at the end of his life.  His voice is in tatters but for some of these songs it’s actually quite effective.  The songs were a very divergent group that crossed over popular styles that spanned generations.  There’s everything from modern songs like Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” to old standards like “Danny Boy” and “We’ll Meet Again.”  And he included pop songs from the 1960s and 1970s like the Beatles’ “In My Life,” the Eagles’ “Desperado” and Simon and Garfunkle’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”  He also includes several country western standards like “Sam Hall” and “Streets of Laredo.”  But the highlight of the album is the title song “The Man Comes Around.”  It’s a dark vision of the Judgement Day.  Cash claims that some of the lines came to him in a strange dream.  I listen to this song when I’m feeling particularly pessimistic about the future.

Not all the songs work for me.  And I’ll guess that not everyone will agree with my picks but here they are:

  • The Man Comes Around
  • I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
  • Streets of Laredo
  • Sam Hall

For older die-hard fans of Cash this will be a bitter-sweet experience because of the circumstances of this music.  But I think the title song is a very stirring song that’s worth a listen by country music fans.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 17 – The Squire of Gothos

I’ve liked this episode since the time I saw the original broadcast.  The story can be considered science fiction but I prefer to think of it as comedy.

The Enterprise is in route to some star base when in the middle of a starless void they detect a planet where none should be.  Attempting to avoid it both Sulu and Kirk disappear from the bridge.  Spock assumes command and even the planet has a poisonous atmosphere he beams down a rescue party headed by McCoy.  They find themselves in an Earth-normal environment and enter a building that appears to be a medieval castle.  There they find Sulu and Kirk statue-like in an apparent stasis.  Then they hear someone playing the harpsichord and someone calling himself General Trelayne, the Squire of Gothos, introduces himself to them and releasing Kirk and Sulu to consciousness invites the crew to be his guests.  But guest is just a euphemism for captive.  He toys with the crew members but meanwhile Spock has located Kirk and company on the planet and beams them to the Enterprise.  Trelayne shows up on the bridge of the Enterprise and returns Kirk and the landing party back to Gothos.  He also adds Spock and Kirk’s new Yeoman Teresa Rose who, of course, is a fetching blonde played by an actress named Venita Wolf.

Realizing that Trelayne doesn’t intend to release them Kirk figures out an escape plan.  He guesses that the device that Trelayne uses to perform the various miraculous transformations of matter and energy is hidden in the ornamental mirror in the castle hall.  Kirk uses Trelayne dancing with Yeoman Ross as an excuse to challenge Trelayne to a duel.  When Trelayne fires his pistol into the air Kirk diverts his own shot to destroying the mirror and the mechanism behind it.  Transporting back to the ship while Trelayne is powerless Kirk orders the Enterprise depart the vicinity of Gothos at top speed but before he can warp out of the system, they observe the planet Gothos somehow in front of them again.  After several more futile attempts at escape Kirk heads back to the planet instructing Spock to wait a short time and then leave the system at full speed.

Trelayne is dressed as an English magistrate and he condemns Kirk to death for treason.  But Kirk convinces him that hanging would be boring and instead Trelayne should hunt Kirk for an exciting experience.  While Kirk is hiding, he tries desperately to call the Enterprise on his communicator and tell them to run while Trelayne is distracted but the signal is blocked.  Finally, Trelayne traps Kirk and prepares to kill him with a sabre.  But Kirk knocks the sword out of Trelayne’s hand and slaps him in the face calling him a child.  Just then two voices, a man’s and a woman’s, are heard and Kirk and Trelayne look up to see two shining globes of light.  The voices come from these globes and they turn out to be energy beings and in fact Trelayne’s parents.  They berate Trelayne for mistreating his “predators,” meaning the enterprise crew, and tell him that play time is over and he must come home.  Then Trelayne assumes the tone and diction of a petulant child who doesn’t want to quit playing.  He tells his parents that they promised him he could have Gothos for his plaything and that he was winning against Kirk.  The voices continue to berate him and repeat, “No Trelayne,” to all his entreaties. At least he keeps repeating, “But I woulda won,” over and over again as he slowly fades away.  Afterwards, the voices apologize to Kirk for their son’s misbehavior and promise to let him return to the enterprise without further interference.

Back on the bridge Spock asks Kirk how Trelayne should be characterized in their report.  When Spock rejects the title of God of War, Kirk suggests a little boy, and a very naughty little boy at that.

As I stated above, I’ve always enjoyed this episode as a pure comedy and nothing else.  The Trelayne character is enjoyable as a selfish petulant child who loves play acting and posturing.  There’s nothing much to this story but the clash of Trelayne’s and Kirk’s personalities and even that is just a pretense to allow Trelayne to perform his tour de force.  There is the pretty girl hanging around which is nice.  But these things and the payoff joke at the end are enough.  I give this a 9.  On the Kirk side, he does a shoulder roll or two and some minor acrobatics but nothing really embarrassing so let’s call it a 9 // 2.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 16 – The Galileo Seven

The Enterprise is on a mission to deliver medical supplies to a planet that is being ravaged by a plague.  But on route they find a quasar-like object and since these are a high priority of the Enterprise, they send out a shuttle craft (the Galileo Seven of the title) with a crew that includes Spock, McCoy and Scott.  But as soon as the shuttle craft nears the object, the radiation from the quasar drives the shuttle craft off target and damages its communication and navigation controls.

Meanwhile back on the Enterprise Kirk is aware that the shuttle craft has gone missing and that locating and rescuing the crew will be extremely difficult.  On top of this they have on board, Commissioner Farris, whose mission it is to ensure that the Enterprise delivers the medical supplies on time and he has put Kirk on notice that one minute past the scheduled time Farris will assume command of the Enterprise and force it to leave the shuttle crew to perish.

Meanwhile the shuttle craft has crash landed on a planet that is inhabited by twelve-foot tall cave men who hurl equally gigantic spears with deadly force.  Within minutes of landing one of the red shirts is speared.  Spock shows no sorrow for this death and gains the animosity of most of the crew.  When a second crewman is killed by the cave men because of Spock’s ineffective leadership there is almost open revolt and Spock is almost shocked by how poorly his logical approach has fared.

And on the Enterprise the crew has been carrying out a systematic but hopeless search for the shuttle craft on the planet.  Commissioner Farris spends all of his face time badgering Kirk and performing a countdown to their departure time.  He truly is an annoying jerk.  Finally, time runs out and Kirk begins leaving the solar system at slowest speed.

After discovering that their fuel is depleted, they have Scotty repower the shuttle with the phasers they’ve been using to fight off the cave men.  They determine that the power will allow them to reach orbit.  But when the cave men start to attack the ship, they sacrifice some of the power for a high-powered lift off and now barely have enough power to reach orbit.  Based on schedule they know that the Enterprise has already left orbit but Spock decides to forfeit their ability to stay in orbit for a chance to attract the Enterprise’s attention with a rapid burn off of their fuel, basically a flare.  And of course, it works and at the very last minute as the shuttle craft is burning up in re-entry, the shuttle crew is rescued by the transporter.

The episode is centered on the shortcomings of a leader who does not have empathy in his psyche.  Spock is unable to inspire confidence in his crew and his lack of understanding of how the illogical cave men will react results in the death of one of his men.  But finally, when fiery death was staring him in the face he resorted to a desperate intuitive plan and succeeded.  All of this was slightly interesting.  But at the end of the episode when Spock and McCoy are on the bridge with Kirk and he refuses to admit that he acted illogically they accuse him of being stubborn and he agrees.  Then they all start laughing as if this was something hilarious.  This looked incredibly phony.

Alright, so what do I do with this episode?  This is one of those psychological episodes so I should probably go easy on the set up.  But the planetary scenery and the cave men and their artifacts look as incredibly hokey as anything seen on Star Trek.  Then there is the annoying Commissioner counting down the minutes and Kirk snapping back at him in frustration.  But the crew growling at Spock and his incompetent leadership are kind of amusing.  Let’s say a score of 6.  As for Shatner, his only chance for bad acting is the fake laughing at the end of the episode.  But that’s hardly a stellar performance for him.  I’ll say 6 // 4.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 15 – Shore Leave

Shore Leave is sort of a fantasy episode wrapped in a sci-fi costume.  It was written by Theodore Sturgeon who was a very good, very unconventional science fiction author of the time.  But from my point of view this story is just an excuse to allow the cast to run around and emote.  Accordingly, it will have a lower episode score but a higher Shatner mockery score.

The Enterprise is exploring a new planet that needs cataloging.  The crew including Captain Kirk are extremely weary from recent emergencies that they have encountered during their extended mission.  Kirk is considering using this seemingly idyllic planet as a location for shore leave for the crew.  During the exploration the landing party encounters some inexplicably strange things.  McCoy meets the White Rabbit and Alice from Wonderland.  When Captain Kirk beams down with his new yeoman, a fetching young woman named Tonia Barrows who is a worthy successor to Yeoman Janice Rand, they also begin to run into impossible things.  Yeoman Barrows is manhandled by a swashbuckling man who resembles her idea of the womanizer Don Juan.  Kirk meets his nemesis from Starfleet Academy, an upperclassman named Finnegan, who back then, tormented him with practical jokes.  Sulu finds a pistol that he has always wanted to try and meets a samurai who chases him with a sword.  Other landing party members are chased by a tiger and strafed by a WW II fighter plane.  And finally, after Yeoman Barrows puts on a medieval princess’s ball gown Doctor McCoy is run through with the lance of a knight on a black charger.

Mr. Spock beams down to inform the landing party that a mysterious force is draining the Enterprise of energy.  He surmises that the strange encounters are some kind of manufactured creations meant to give life to the thoughts that the various crewmen are thinking at the time.  Finally, Kirk chases down Finnegan and they have an epic fist fight after which Spock notes that Kirk very much enjoyed giving Finnegan the comeuppance he earned long ago.  Spock theorizes that the phenomena are meant to be amusements for the participants.  But Kirk reminds him that McCoy is dead.

At this point a man in a long funny robe shows up and tells them he is the caretaker of this world and that his people use it as an amusement park on which to relax.  When Kirk complains that McCoy is dead, of course, McCoy walks back into the scene accompanied by two chorus girls wearing some feathers here and there and each holding onto one of his arms.  Yeoman Barrows who has shown some proprietary interest in McCoy demands an explanation for the girls and McCoy confirms that he happened to be thinking of a cabaret and the dancers just showed up.  The caretaker confirms that no permanent damage will happen on this pleasure world and offers to Kirk the opportunity for his crew to take a greatly needed shore leave and he agrees.

I am of two minds about the intrinsic merits of this episode.  It is somewhat amusing in a broad and casual way.  But I think it goes overboard.  The plot is clearly absurd.  And it’s a departure from the story arc of the series.  The thin plot is fleshed out with the landing party running back and forth reacting to all the strange people and things they encounter.  I’d give it a score of 6 for the episode rank.

But for Shatner mockery it gets points for the fist fight with Finnegan.  Shatner gives of his best.  He rolls around in the dirt and flips and tumbles all over the place.  He even manages to rip away half of his shirt.  And while he doesn’t give us any of his most spastic facial expressions, he does give us a fair number of overwrought expressions and exclamations.  Let’s give it a 7 on the Shatner scale.

So, there we are,  6 // 7.  That’s makes it a fairly balance experience for the Star Trek connoisseur.

Tobey Keith – A Country Music Review

Since nothing new has caught my attention in Country lately I’ve decided to do retrospectives on some of my favorite artists.  I’ll start with Tobey Keith.  I consider Tobey one of the most successful Country Music singers.  He has quite a number of songs that are truly excellent.  These are songs that you can play over any number of times without wearing them out.  And Keith has a variety of song types.  He has serious patriotic ones, comic ones and ones that sing about the vicissitudes of modern life.  He has a strong pleasant voice and he uses both country and western melodies with occasional rock and other music types.

Another aspect of Tobey Keith is his unashamed patriotism and his well-known support for the military.  Keith performed in Iraq during the war and embraced charities that helped the wounded soldiers and penned the song American Soldier as a tribute to the fighting men.

So, Tobey writes his own songs, has produced twenty-five albums, won numerous awards and is worth over five hundred million dollars.  Not bad for a country boy from Oklahoma.  But all that is beside the point.  He has a boatload of good country music and if you go through his greatest hits, you’re bound to find several that you’ll enjoy.  Well, at least, I think you will.

Here are a number of songs that I especially enjoy in the categories I’ve grouped them in.

Americana

Courtesy of The Red, White & Blue (The Angry American)

Made in America

American Soldier

Beer for My Horses

Should’ve Been A Cowboy

 

Modern Life

How Do You Like Me Now?

Whiskey Girl

Get Drunk and Be Somebody

Clancy’s Tavern

Stays in Mexico

 

Comic

Big Blue Note

As Good as I Once Was

Red Solo Cup

Get Out of My Car

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 14 – Balance of Terror

Another good episode with no Shatner mockery score worth mentioning.  In this episode, the Enterprise is operating close to the Romulan Neutral Zone and has to come in aid of the border surveillance bases that the Federation maintains there.  The Romulans have been quiet since a war fought a century ago but a distress call reveals that an invisible ship has destroyed three of the bases.  Surveilling the mystery ship at a distance Kirk discovers that the Romulans have a cloaking device that makes their ship almost indetectable and they have a super weapon that no shield can stop.  But he also finds their weaknesses.  While cloaked the ship cannot use its weaponry and the Romulan ship does not possess warp drive but must proceed at the slow speeds of an impulse engine.  While eavesdropping on a Romulan transmission they discover that Romulans look like Vulcans and are indeed an offshoot of Mr. Spock’s home planet.  And he informs Kirk that these people are not like the modern logical peaceful Vulcans but instead are fearsome warriors.

Kirk and the Romulan commander play a cat and mouse game in which each tries to anticipate the actions of the other and get the advantage needed to survive.  There are several twists and turns and also tension within the Enterprise as an officer whose family was decimated during the century old war with the Romulans suspects Mr Spock of loyalties toward his distant kinsmen.

For fans of old WW II submarine movies, you’ll see some of the same tactics used here.  At one point the enemy jettisons some materials as debris to fool the Enterprise into thinking the Romulan ship had been destroyed.  In another scene silent running is used to fool the enemy into thinking the Enterprise is incapacitated.

The whole episode is very capably scripted and the acting is some of the best seen in the series.  The actor who plays the Romulan Commander, Mark Lenard went on to play Spock’s father in a later episode and in several of the movies.  The interplay between Kirk and the Romulan Commander is the highlight of the show and the final conversation between them is an excellent set piece that Shatner performed admirably and in an unusually understated style.  No exaggerated emoting going on.

This is a 9//0 episode.  Well done.