Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 06 – Spectre of the Gun

In this one, an alien race with telepathic powers decides to kill Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty and Chekov by forcing them to re-enact the Gunfight at the OK Corral as the Clantons.  I can see why CBS would be glad to film this episode.  They could reuse some of the old sets from their Rawhide series.

They were kind enough to throw in a pretty girl as the love interest for Chekov and we did get some western style background music.  The whole thing had a kind of Twilight Zone feel to it.  The plot device that is used to save our friends is the realization that none of the western setup is actually real so that if Kirk and friends know that the bullets aren’t real then they won’t be harmed by them.

So, the majority of the episode is Kirk, Chekov and McCoy interacting with the Earps and other townspeople while Spock builds a gas bomb that when tested on a skeptical Scotty doesn’t work.  But its failure confirms for Spock that the world they are inhabiting is an illusion that can’t harm them if they can ignore it.  At some point one of the Earps that is in love with Chekov’s girlfriend shoots Chekov and apparently kills him.  But at the end of the show when Chekov ends up alive McCoy explains it by saying that to Chekov the only thing that was real was the girl.  Now that doesn’t make a lot of sense because he did act like he had been shot when it happened but that’s what they give us to hide the plot hole so I guess we’ll have to live with it.

The climax is the gunfight.  Spock has prepared his human friends with the Vulcan mind-meld so that they will thoroughly believe the bullets are fake and so they will not be harmed.  The Earps blast away at the four Enterprise crewman and we see the fence behind the crewmen splintered by sustained gunfire as the Earps empty all their guns.  Then Kirk beats up Wyatt Earp and draws his gun as if to shoot him but then changes his mind and throws the gun away.  Almost immediately Kirk and company find themselves back on the Enterprise and discover that Chekov is unharmed.  The alien changes his mind about earthmen and decides he wants to be friends.  The show ends with Kirk and Spock discussing the violent nature of humans and how they have overcome it.

This is not a highly creative script.  The plot is similar to several that preceded it.  The acting and the dialog are just average and there wasn’t even much humor to make it more interesting.  Scotty did get to comment approvingly on the bourbon that the town had to offer for his drinking pleasure.  And Chekov was a source of amusement as the crew tried to drag him away from the woman who was infatuated with him. Shatner didn’t have much chance to show off his overacting ability.

I’ll give this a 5 // 2.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 05 – Is There in Truth No Beauty?

Ah, finally a third season episode that doesn’t make you run screaming.  It’s not great but it’s far from awful.

This one involves a blind telepathic human woman named Miranda Jones who is the attaché of a creature called a medusan.  He is described as an energy being but he is so visually hideous that a human that looks at him will be instantly rendered insane.  For this reason, the medusan, Kollos,  travels around in a low, wide, rectangular, metal garbage can with a hinged lid.  But once the lid starts to open, we get a glimpse of Fourth of July sparklers and then scary music starts to play.

Spock and Miranda are in competition for the attentions of Kollos.  Miranda is jealous because if Spock wears a red filter over his eyes, he can look directly at Kollos without going mad, whereas Miranda, being blind, can’t see him at all.  If none of this makes any sense to you, welcome to the club.  Anyway, some other guy Lawrence Marvick, who both loves Miranda and designed the Enterprise is along on the trip.  He is trying to dissuade Miranda from going off to live with Kollos instead of shacking up with him.  When she rebuffs his pleas, this guy goes to kill Kollos with a phaser but, big surprise, before he can shoot Kollos he goes mad and runs away.

Marvick runs to the engine room and after beating up Scotty and three or four red shirts he hijacks the Enterprise and sends it out of the galaxy at Warp 9.5!  And as you well know that almost Warp 10!  He dies shortly after accomplishing this feat and the crew find themselves outside the galaxy in an area of intergalactic space where there are pretty lights and no highway signs.  We are told that they are in a space time continuum.  Of course, I thought we were all in the space time continuum, but whatever.  They are hopelessly lost!

So now the plan is for Spock to fuse his mind with Kollos because medusans have built in GPS in their sparkler.  This works but after getting them back into the galaxy and within satellite coverage, Spock forgets to put on his visor and sees Kollos which drives him mad.  Now he beats up Kirk and McCoy and Sulu and Chekov for a couple of minutes until Kirk stuns him with a phaser.  At this point Spock is dying and only Miranda might be able to save him by some kind of telepathic chiropractic manipulation.  But when time has passed and results have not been forthcoming Kirk runs into the sick bay and yells at Miranda and manhandles her a little bit.  This seems to have the desired effect and Miranda brings Spock back to his good old Vulcan self.  After that there are a few apologies and then Miranda takes her garbage pail and leaves.

As I mentioned, this is not an awful episode.  Some of the highlights are Scotty wearing his kilt to a fancy dinner for Miranda, Kirk showing off the Enterprise Florist Shop where he allows a blind woman to stick herself with a thorn on one of the lousy roses they have growing there. And let’s not forget the cool wavy lights in the extra-galactic dead zone.   But possibly the bright spot of the episode is Leonard Nimoy acting as Kollos during their fusion.  We see a very human and friendly character experiencing human senses and greeting all the people that he knows from being Spock as if seeing them for the first time.  It’s a naturalistic portrayal that I found enjoyable.

I’ll give this episode a 6 // 2.  There was very little hysterics from Shatner, thus the low number in the Shatner Mockery Index.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 04 – And the Children Shall Lead

There seems to be a footrace on between finishing this third season of reviews and terminal Star Trek overdose.  Seriously, we had better reach a decent episode soon.  And this one is no exception.  My dog could have written this thing.  And I’m not talking about the smart dog.

The Enterprise is desperately summoned to planet blah blah blah.  Kirk, Spock and McCoy find all the adults have suicided and the children are happily unconcerned by the carnage.  After Spock detects alien life readings coming from a cave, he and Kirk enter it and Kirk becomes panicky like a whiny infant and runs out.  Spock relates the history of the planet including a race of space marauders that was destroyed by its victims.

McCoy spouts some psycho-babble about the kids being in some kind of denial shock over the death of their parents and warns Kirk not to ask them any questions.  Back on the ship the children prove to be a pack of creepy pushy losers who quickly alienate everyone they meet.  But when they’re alone the children reveal their awful secret.  They form a circle and chant some moronic doggerel about a “friendly angel.”  And an apparition appears that looks like a fat gay guy in a moo-moo.  This is the Gorgan, one of the race of space marauders that was supposedly eliminated long ago.  His life force is kept going by controlling the minds of other beings.  This creature forced the adults on his planet to kill themselves and has seduced the children with promises of unrestricted Nintendo viewing and endless dessert to help him hijack the Enterprise and bring it to planet blah blah blah where they can kill millions of people and corrupt millions of gullible children with the same lies.  Coincidentally some people have suggested that the actor playing the Gorgan looks like Alan Hale Jr., the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island.  But it’s not.  It’s Melvin Belli, a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer who must have been forced to play this part under a contempt of court ruling.

Anyway, the kids are able to make the crew see things that aren’t there and think things that they normally wouldn’t believe.  With the result that Sulu won’t allow anyone to change the ship’s course when it’s headed in the wrong direction and Chekov attempts to arrest Captain Kirk without cause.  But the most egregious example is that Kirk becomes panicked at the idea that he has “lost command.”  Once again, he starts behaving like a three-year-old who has wet his pants.  Finally, Spock has to call him “Jim” and rally his flagging manhood by telling Kirk that he’s in command.  Now re-invigorated in his knowledge that his authority had not been neutered Kirk pinches a few yeoman butts and jumps into action.

He uses a recording of the friendly angel chant to summon the Gorgan and then show the children video of their happy days with their parents and then photos of their parents dead to convince them that the Gorgan is a complete jerk.  Once they stop believing in the Gorgan his apparition begins to decompose and his face melts like wax and he disappears.  With everything back to normal Kirk orders Sulu to change course for Star Base blah blah blah.

The End

This show was trash from beginning to end.  I disliked everyone.  The weird kids, the Gorgan, the parents, the crew and especially Bill Shatner.  His unmanly panic attack was degrading even for the viewers.  He is an awful actor and deserves all the opprobrium I can think up.  But by the same token this episode has the highest Shatner mockery value that can be.  So, the show gets a zero and the Shatner index is a ten.  That is phenomenal.

0  //  10

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 03 – The Paradise Syndrome

I’ve mentioned this before but I think it’s necessary to reiterate that the third season episodes are truly awful.

Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to a planet that will be struck by an asteroid within a couple of months.  It is inhabited by American Indians.  Spock immediately chimes in that they are made up of a population that is a combination of Navajo, Mohican, and Delaware tribes.  Now, how in hell he’d know this looking at them walking around on the edge of a lake is a complete mystery to me.  And just to make the plot more absurd they have less than thirty minutes to get back to the Enterprise and travel at Warp 9 toward the asteroid before it’s too late to deflect the asteroid from its collision course.  So of course, while Spock and McCoy are doing whatever, Kirk manages to get lost.  He’s standing in front of an alien obelisk and when he communicates with the Enterprise it somehow activates a hidden trapdoor on the spot Kirk is standing and he falls into the hidden chamber where he manages to get electrocuted by the alien mechanism and loses his memory.  As an aside, for the “Shatner Mockery” rating of this episode it must be noted that Shatner performs one of his most spastic instances of the pain face.  This is the one he does when he’s really suffering badly.   It’s hard to compare these things but I’d say it’s one of his all-time worst occurrences.  This will earn him high marks for this episode.

Because Kirk is hidden inside of the obelisk Spock and McCoy waste precious time looking for him.  When they finally return to the Enterprise without him, they are already too late.  They reach the asteroid but neither their deflector beam nor the phasers are able to neutralize the threat of the asteroid.  In addition, the overloading of the Enterprise’s engines by the phaser bombardment destroys the warp drive and now the Enterprise, on impulse power, is barely able to stay ahead of the asteroid as they both head back to the planet on a trajectory that will take about two months.  Apparently, the crew will be barely a few hours ahead of the asteroid and will need to locate Kirk and attempt to find a way to save the planet.  As an aside while the Enterprise engines are being destroyed Scotty is lamenting their fate, moaning, “Oh my poor bearings!”  Apparently, the warp drive has ball bearings.  Who knew?

Meanwhile back on the planet, Kirk awakens inside the obelisk but he can no longer remember who he is or why he is there.  He wanders out of the obelisk and is immediately declared the first wizard deluxe (or at least a god) and assigned the task of stopping the darkening of the sky which is clearly the approach of the asteroid.  We find out that the Indians were placed on this planet by an advanced species that liked moving humanoids around the galaxy.  The obelisk is actually a very powerful deflector beam that is supposed to be controlled by the medicine man of the tribe.  But the present medicine man’s father died before passing the training down to his son.  Now seeing that Kirk (or Kirock as he painfully named himself while trying to remember his own name) is a god they make him the medicine man and give him the priestess, Miramanee to be his wife.  This supremely ticks off the medicine man because he’s not only lost his job but also his main squeeze.  The medicine man attacks Kirock with a knife and finds out that Kirk can bleed.  He taunts him with the phrase, “Behold the god that bleeds!”  This is one of two plot devices that this episode stole from classic movies.  This same device of the bleeding god occurs in the book and movie “The Man Who Would be King” by Rudyard Kipling.  The other theft occurs when Kirock is being considered for godhood.  A boy is brought into the wigwam by the women and they tell the chief that he was trapped under water and drowned.  The medicine man declares him dead but Kirock performs artificial respiration and saves the boy.  This clinches his inclusion in the pantheon of useful deities.  This scene is lifted from the movie, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre where the old prospector, Howard performs a similar resuscitation on a Mexican Indian boy.

So Kirock and Miramanee are shacked up and she is pregnant with James Tiberius Jr.  But the asteroid arrives and Kirock is dragged to the obelisk and is told to take care of the asteroid.  He stands there with his arms in the air telling the asteroid to go away.  When that doesn’t work the medicine man goads the tribe to start pelting Kirock with foam rocks about the size of cabbages.  It’s funny to watch them bouncing off of him.  Miramanee runs to protect him and is stoned too.  Just then Spock and McCoy beam down and the natives scatter and run for the hills.  Spock uses the Vulcan mind meld on Kirock to remind him that he’s Kirk.  Also, Spock has figured out that the entrance to the obelisk is sound activated so Kirk recreates his call to the Enterprise at the beginning of the story and the trapdoor opens.  Spock pushes a button and the deflector beams takes care of the asteroid.  Easy peasy.

But the highly advanced medicine of Dr. McCoy, the vaunted surgical techniques that could reattach Spock’s brain in the last episode, somehow are unable to repair or replace the damage that Miramanee sustained by being pelted with cabbage sized foam rocks.  So, she dies the beautiful death in Kirock’s manly arms.  A last note, the actress who played Miramanee is indeed a beautiful young woman.

The End.

This was even worse than it sounds.  Shatner turns his powers of bad acting up to eleven.  It’s all there.  Shoulder rolls and some kind of a stripper pole swing kick during his fight with the medicine man.  There are frequent expressions that are supposed to be painful struggles against amnesia but more resemble a case of constipation.  And when Kirock is semiconscious on the obelisk steps after being stoned he keeps calling out Miramanee’s name and it is truly maudlin.

So once again we have an episode that rates a very low number as a dramatic story but as an example of Shatner’s ham acting is a stellar sample.

Let’s say 2 // 10.

Season Three does it again!

Transatlantic Tunnel (1935) – A Science Fiction Movie Review

This is such an awful movie that I thought I should start off with a clear statement to that effect.  The script is unbelievably bad.  And with a script this bad it wouldn’t really help if the cast were first rate because even Lawrence Olivier would sound like an idiot saying idiotic things.  But this is not a first-rate cast.

Richard Dix “stars” as Richard McAllan a brilliant engineer who has already built a tunnel under the English Channel.  Not satisfied with that he’s now going to build a tunnel under the Atlantic Ocean from England to the United States.  Well, good for him.  But his wife is unhappy because the daughter of one of the financial backers has the hots for her husband and has blonde hair that’s blonder than hers.  And blondie keeps dragging her husband away to publicity shoots in New York.  So somehow this convinces her to go work in the tunnel as a nurse without her husband knowing.  And she ends up with “tunnel fever” and goes blind.  So, for reasons that don’t make any sense to the audience she leaves her husband and raises their son up alone until he’s old enough to get killed “working in the tunnel.”  Apparently, the tunnel designers picked a route that had an active volcano directly in the path of the drill.  And in order to contain the destruction caused by the raging volcano McAllan is forced to shut the isolation doors trapping McAllan Jr. and sending him to a fiery death.  When McAllan explains this death to his blind wife it sounds like he’s trying to find the bright side of this unfortunate situation.  It’s really quite extraordinary.  It’s as if the dialog were written by someone who had never met humans and had been raised by google-bots.

Finally, when the tunnel is somehow completed the President of the United States and the British Prime Minister announce it to their respective nations as if it were the second coming of the Lord.  Somehow the tunnel would bring on world peace and defense budgets would be slashed to nothing and prosperity would engulf humanity.  I’m really not sure why shipping things from Europe to America somewhat faster would achieve all that.  But there was a lot of cheering.  Go Anglosphere!  Next, I guess a tunnel between Australia and California would really make the world a greater place.  I think I’m really feeling that tunnel fever now.

And there are problems beyond just a bad plot and dialog.  The tunnel sets and the props like the pressure suits they wear are quite silly looking.  And the investors and the public gyrate between giddy elation and stark terror on an almost constant basis.    There’s even a murder plot going on between two of the venture capitalists funding the project.  It all seems to have been strung together from odds and ends out of a bucket of spare ideas for movie plot devices.  I would say, unless you really enjoy bad old sci-fi movies skip this turkey.

Yasujirō Ozu’s Noriko Trilogy – A Movie Review – Part 3 – Tokyo Story

Yasujirō Ozu’s Noriko Trilogy – A Movie Review – Part 1 – Late Spring

Yasujirō Ozu’s Noriko Trilogy – A Movie Review – Part 2 – Early Summer

 

In the third installment of the Noriko trilogy, Tokyo Story (1953), Setsuko Hara, once again, plays a young Japanese woman named Noriko.  But in this story Noriko is less of a central player.  In this tale the main action involves the visit of an elderly mother and father to visit their children living in Tokyo.  Shūkichi and Tomi Hirayama have two sons and daughters and they have a daughter-in-law, Noriko, from their son who was killed in the war.  The youngest daughter lives at home with them in the country.  Their eldest son, Kōichi is a pediatrician in Tokyo and has two sons.  The eldest daughter Shige is married and runs a hairdressing salon there too. Neither Koichi or Shige is anxious for the parents to stay with them.  After tossing them back and forth for several days they split the cost for the two elderly people to stay at a resort spa.  But the wild nightlife disturbs the sleep of Shūkichi and Tomi so they are at last forced to accept Noriko’s hospitality.  She is very gracious and generous with her time and her meager resources.  Both Shūkichi and Tomi express how grateful they are for her generosity and her mother-in-law especially tells her that she is sad that Noriko has not remarried and restarted her life.

Shortly after Shūkichi and Tomi return home to the country Tomi becomes critically ill and the family assembles at her bedside.  When she dies the children attend the funeral but all of them leave hurriedly for home except Noriko.  She remains with Shūkichi for several days during the bereavement.  The youngest daughter, Kyōko complains bitterly to Noriko about the selfishness of her brothers and sister.  But Noriko defends them saying that grown children have their own lives and it is inevitable that they will drift apart from their parents.

On the day that Noriko must return to Tokyo for work Shūkichi speaks to her about his happiness at the treatment she showed to her parents-in-law whereas his own children showed such callous disregard for their parents.  He gives Noriko a pocket watch that belonged to Tomi.  Noriko humbly claims that she showed no such generosity but was actually very selfish.  Then Shūkichi renews his entreaties for her to remarry.  Finally, after repeated inquiries she admits that she has been very lonely and she weeps.  Afterwards we see Noriko deep in thought on the train ride home.

Despite the very sympathetic portrayal of Noriko and the very unflattering picture that we have of Koichi, Shige and their families, we are forced to somewhat believe the opinion that it is inevitable that grown children become so absorbed by their own lives that they appear selfish to their parents.  But admitting that much we are charmed by the respect, affection and generosity that Noriko lavishes on her mother- and father-in-law.  Ozu must be making the point that the modern world was forcing the abandonment of the old culture that lavished respect on elders as a primary virtue and replacing it with the Western cult of commercial success.

It is a well-made film.  The parents and Noriko are sensitively portrayed and even the slightly caricatured siblings are well acted.  Many of the details of the story provide human interest.  One example is the doctor’s sons displaying childish anger at their father reneging on a promised outing on account of a sick patient needing attention.  Their peevishness in the face of an unavoidable disappointment rings true to anyone who has raised a family.

I’ll include a conclusion for the whole series here.  Ozu has shown how the changing world the Japanese found themselves in impacted the roles and behavior of each family member but most especially the younger women whose lives were shunted away from the traditional template that girls typically followed on their way to becoming wives and mothers.  The various versions of “Noriko” act as the barometer to indicate to her family that something very different is happening in their world.

These stories have appeal far beyond the Japanese public they were made for.  The roles of women have radically shifted even again in our most recent times.  And exploring the fallout from this change and noting the value that the traditional roles that women play in family life possess are worthwhile exercises.  I recommend the Noriko trilogy for anyone who sees the value in the stories I have described in these reviews.

Yasujirō Ozu’s Noriko Trilogy – A Movie Review – Part 2 – Early Summer

Yasujirō Ozu’s Noriko Trilogy – A Movie Review – Part 1 – Late Spring

 

In this second installment of the series, “Early Summer” (1951) the Noriko character has several differences from her situation in the first movie.  Here she lives in a house with both her parents and also her older brother’s family.  The older brother is a doctor and has a wife and two young sons.  Noriko has a clerical position in a commercial firm.  She has reached the age where her parents are starting to worry that she has not yet married.  Her employer hears of this and suggests that a friend of his would make a very suitable husband.  The fact that he is about fifteen years older than Noriko and comes from a higher social stratum than Noriko doesn’t strike her family as a problem.  Noriko’s brother and parents apply continuous pressure to get her to agree to the arranged marriage.  Noriko talks to her married and single friends and confides that she has great reservations about this match.

One of her neighbors is a doctor, a friend of her brother’s named Kenkichi Yabe.  Kenkichi is moving to a remote rural area to assume a government medical position.  He is a widower with a child and Noriko has always felt close to him.  Kenkichi’s mother, Tami is also a good friend of Noriko’s.  While she is preparing for the move Tami mentions to Noriko that she had always hoped that her son would have married Noriko.  Impulsively Noriko agrees to marry the widower.  The mother is overjoyed and tells her son who also seems pleased with the idea of marrying Noriko and have her share his new life in the country.

But Noriko’s parents and other family are shocked and distressed.  They feel that Noriko is throwing away a privileged and desirable marriage to raise another woman’s child and live in a less affluent and less interesting environment.  They try to change her mind.  But she is adamant and they eventually become reconciled to her decision.  When she speaks to her family about her sudden choice, she reveals that the idea of marriage wasn’t the thing she was afraid of but rather she feared being in an environment without friendship.  When Tami unexpectedly mentions her wish for Noriko to be her daughter-in-law it provided Noriko with an avenue to combine marriage with a familiar and friendly environment.  She would start out with a mother-in-law who was already on her side.

The movie ends with the family preparing for the various changes that are occurring.  Noriko is preparing for her marriage and move to the country.  And her parents are moving in with an uncle who has a large house that they will stay in from then on.  In this way the son will have more room for his growing family.  All of these things are seen as the natural progression for the time in each of their lives.

“Early Summer” is not fraught with the tragedy of loneliness found in “Late Spring.”  But it plays up the anxieties that young women are prey to as their families barter their lives in the old practice of arranged marriages.  What Noriko wisely and luckily chooses is to combine her natural role as a bride and a mother with the opportunity of holding onto the familiar and proven relationship with the Yabes.  Her chances of living a happy, if less affluent, life are improved immensely.  This is seen as a consequence of a woman’s changing role in post-war Japan.

Early summer is a pleasant film with some engaging characters and much human interest.  I find “Late Spring” a more compelling movie but “Early Summer” makes an interesting variation on the theme of young women in post-war Japan.  I think it is well worth the time to view after the first installment has been watched.

Yasujirō Ozu’s Noriko Trilogy – A Movie Review – Part 1 – Late Spring

Japanese director Yasujirō Ozu has been rated one of the best film directors of all time by his peers.  Toward the end of his career, he produced three films (Late Spring (1949), Early Summer (1951) and Tokyo Story (1953)) that are variations on a theme.  The three stories have as their center a young woman named Noriko.  Actually, the three films are about three different Norikos.  But they are all played by the same actress, Setsuko Hara and all three of the women are each living through the contradictions and confusion of a young woman’s life in post-war Japan.

In “Late Spring” the Noriko character is in her late twenties, the only child of Professor Shukichi Somiya.  Her mother had died sometime earlier and Noriko has been keeping her father’s house.  But her father and her aunt are concerned that she won’t get married and will end up alone once her father dies.  But Noriko feels that she would be happiest caring for her father and rejects the idea of marriage.  But the Professor decides to take away her rationale by claiming he is remarrying.  Noriko is outraged by this development considering the idea almost obscene.  But once she adjusts to this situation she relents and meets the suitor her aunt has picked out for her.  And maybe unsurprisingly she finds herself interested in this man.  The aunt takes this interest as acceptance and sets up the wedding.

Now father and daughter travel for one last holiday together to the cultural center Kyoto.  While there Noriko begs her father to allow her to stay with him regardless of whether he remarries.  She declares that she believes she will be happiest remaining in his home.  But her father corrects her.  He explains that human life has its own structure that cannot be profitably ignored.  He indicates that her marriage is the next step in her life and that his part in her life must end for that to proceed.  And she accepts his argument and agrees to marriage.  But it is clear that she feels great sorrow at leaving him.  The marriage is celebrated and Professor Shukichi returns home and there we end the movie with him grief stricken by the loss of his dear daughter.

Americans will find many conventions in Japanese manners strange especially those of the women which seem quite affected.  And one scene that takes place in a Noh theater with the odd appearance of the actors and the weird chanting seemed absolutely bizarre to me.

But the deep affection of the father and daughter shine through the movie and make the double-sided heartbreak of their separation real for us.  For the Japanese women of that generation the disruptions of traditional life caused by the American Occupation, the economic hardships of their defeat in war and the introduction of western customs and practices like divorce and women in the workplace made their place in society confusing and frightening and losing the stability and familiarity of the family setting was disorienting.  Ozu showcases these new realities throughout the movie in the persons of the supporting cast but Noriko and her father are the center around which these aunts, cousins and friends revolve.

Although Tokyo Story is considered the strongest of the three movies in this series, I confess that I like “Late Spring” best.  I guess I’m a rank sentimentalist.  I find myself approving the old man’s wisdom in explaining to his daughter the necessities that time and biological life place especially on young women.  And at the same time, I can submerge myself in the awful grief that a father could feel at the loss of a daughter, a daughter that has become his only companion in old age.  This paradox is at the heart of what it means to be a mortal.  We each have only a short window to wear the various parts that we can play.  Son or daughter, brother or sister, grandson or granddaughter, husband or wife, father or mother, aunt or uncle, grandfather or grandmother.  And if we hesitate too long the chance is lost.  And even if we are willing to play our part fate can deny us our chance.

I don’t know if this is one of the “greatest films of all time” but I think it’s a thoughtful and moving portrayal of a father and a daughter.  If that might interest you and you are willing to read subtitles you might enjoy this film.  I recommend it.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 02 – The Enterprise Incident

So, the good news is that this second episode of Season 3 is a thousand times better than its predecessor, Spock’s Brain.  The bad news is that’s still pretty close to nothing.

The show opens up with Kirk walking around the bridge petulantly berating Chekov and Spock for being Chekov and Spock.  He seems irritated, as if his underwear had been sprinkled with crushed fiberglass or something.  Suddenly he orders Sulu to change course and enter the Romulan neutral zone.  Soon they pass through the neutral zone and enter Romulan space where they are quickly surrounded by three Romulan war ships that apparently were cloaked and monitoring the Enterprise before it entered Romulan space.  For some reason we are told that the ships are of Klingon design.  We are left to assume that Desilu didn’t have any Romulan plastic models laying around for Season 3.  Personally, I think they should have used potatoes.  I think potatoes would make great alien spaceships.  But I digress.

Soon the Romulan commander demands that Kirk and Spock beam aboard her ship and answer for their illegal incursion.  We find out the Romulan commander is a woman and she has the hots for Spock.  It seems that Vulcans and Romulans are related and Spock’s pointy ears do it for her.  During interrogation Spock volunteers that Kirk entered Romulan space without Federation permission and has been acting erratically.  Kirk reacts to this betrayal by foaming at the mouth and shrieking at Spock that he will kill him.

During a later encounter Kirk attempts to assault Spock but is killed when Spock uses the Vulcan “death grip.”  When Kirk’s body is returned to the Enterprise for composting, we discover that Spock only temporarily deactivated Kirk to make him appear dead.  McCoy operates on Kirk’s ears to make him look like a Romulan and then Kirk is transported back to the Romulan ship to assist Spock in stealing the cloaking device.

Meanwhile Spock and the Romulan commander are engaging in some kind of erotic hand touching.  Spock is holding his hand in the Vulcan salute configuration and I think she was too.  And they kind of move their hands together like it’s sex or something.  It’s really difficult to say if this is more ridiculous or annoying to watch.  Maybe embarrassing is the right description.  Anyway, the whole thing gets interrupted when word of Kirk’s theft of the cloaking device reaches the commander.

Spock is sentenced to death by a slow painful method which is not described but probably resembled the thing with the finger touching that we had to watch.  While Scotty displays his usual lack of engineering ability in taking way too long to hook up the cloaking device to the Enterprise’s deflector shield, Kirk attempts to provide him with enough time by running away at Warp 9.  You know I always thought they couldn’t go faster than Warp 8.  Maybe they got a new fuel injector.  Anyway, Spock is stalling his execution by providing a statement about his guilt.  He recites the Declaration of Independence and was just starting on the “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” when Scotty got the cloaking device hooked up and Kirk then lets the transporter crew beam Spock aboard.  The lady commander sees Spock starting to sparkle so she grabs hold of him and gets dragged onto the Enterprise with him.  Spock apologizes to her for playing with her fingers under false pretenses.  There is some joking about Kirk’s ear surgery.  Then it mercifully ends.

With respect to my rating, I give very high marks on the Shatner mockery scale.  When Kirk was flipping out about Spock’s treachery Shatner gave of his best.  His eyes were bulging out of his head and his mouth was twisted into a grimace of agony.  I think he was channeling his feelings about the show’s imminent cancellation.  As for the show as legitimate entertainment, it wasn’t that bad.  It was somewhere in the five or six range.

Let’s call it a 5 // 9.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 01 – Spock’s Brain

I had completely forgotten how truly awful this episode is.

An alien spacecraft using ion drive approaches the Enterprise.  A go-go dancer complete with big hair, go-go boots, micro-dress and vinyl bustier beams aboard the Enterprise bridge knocks out the crew and micro-surgically removes Spock’s brain and takes it away.  You would think that would be enough, but there’s more.

McCoy somehow manages to put Spock’s brainless body on life support but warns Kirk that he can only survive for 24 hours without his brain.  The Enterprise follows the ion trail to a planet that is covered by Ice Age glaciation but has some kind of energy source below the surface.  On the surface are largish humanoid Neolithic men who attack the Enterprise landing party.  A captured man of the tribe who call themselves the Morg warns the crew of the Eymorg, the “givers of pain and delight.”  We find out that the Eymorg are the women who live below the surface and have energy weapons that they use to torture the surface-dwelling men if they don’t take out the garbage and perform their more delightful husbandly duties on schedule.

Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and Spock’s body proceed to the Underground Kingdom of the Go-Go Dancers.  Spock’s body is controlled by McCoy using some kind of Nintendo joystick device.  Once there, Kirk and company battle it out with the go-go dancers and eventually get the upper hand.  It seems Spock’s Brain is being used as a sort of thermostat to control the climate control in the underground lair.  The head go-go dancer refuses to put Spock’s brain back in his body so McCoy has to use the “educator” helmet to learn how to perform the surgery.  But halfway through the operation McCoy begins to forget how to do it so they reattach Spock’s vocal cords and he coaches McCoy through the rest of the surgery.  Kirk tells the head go-go dancer that without Spock’s brain they will have to return to the surface and learn to control their men through the more conventional method of nagging them.

Watching this episode has really depressed me.  I have to watch the rest of season three before I can end this task and this episode has hammered home just how bad it will be.  There is nothing good about this episode.  The script is beyond poor.  They even forgot some of the conventions of their “technology.”  They referred to the ion drive of the aliens as highly advanced whereas ion drive is the much less sophisticated and slower impulse power that the Enterprise uses when its warp engines are unavailable.  The dialog between Kirk and the bridge crew when they are debating which planet is likely to be the one they are looking for sounds like a family trying to decide which restaurant to stop at during a long trip, “Wendy’s or Dairy Queen?”

The tribesmen on the planet have the worst wigs and beards I’ve ever seen on this or any show.  The go-go dancers don’t have any meaningful dialog beyond saying, “I don’t understand.”  And McCoy tries so hard to project horror at the removal of Spock’s brain that his facial expression looks more like someone suffering a stroke.  In general, all the actors look confused and dispirited.  Even Shatner looks sullen.  I don’t think he really wanted the brain back.  He just wanted his paycheck and maybe the head go-go dancer’s phone number.

This episode is awful on all levels so I will award it a 1 // 2.