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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Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 26 – Errand of Mercy

Kirk and Spock beam down to the planet Organia to attempt to convince the inhabitants that they need to permit the Federation to

Defend their planet against the Klingons.  The Enterprise destroys an attacking Klingon ship but Kirk gives Sulu orders to retreat and bring the Federation fleet if a Klingon fleet appears.  And that is exactly what happens.  Now Kirk and Spock are trapped on the planet as a Klingon army occupies the town.  The Organians are completely non-violent and completely unconcerned by Kirk’s dire description of what life under a Klingon occupation would entail.  But they are anxious to protect Kirk and Spock and disguise them to prevent them being killed as Federation agents.

The Klingon Commander attempts to intimidate the Organians but is aggravated by their placid and agreeable manner.  It becomes apparent that both Kirk and Kor despise the Organians for their passivity and what they think is lack of courage.  Kirk and Spock begin guerrilla operations against the Klingons but they are quickly discovered and the Organians reveal their identities to forestall the Klingons using their mind sifter on the two officers to learn the truth.  Apparently, the mind sifter would also destroy their minds in the process of reading them.  Kor brings Kirk into his office and congratulates Kirk for his legendary exploits as the Enterprise’s captain.  He gives Kirk the chance to reveal information on the Star Fleet’s location.  But does not begrudge Kirk his resistance but merely tells him that he and Spock will be destroyed the following day under the action of the mind sifter.

While Kirk and Spock anticipate their fate suddenly the head Organian, Ayelborne, opens their cell door and offers them escape.  Confused but with no other choice they follow him.  After another futile attempt at convincing the Organians to resist the occupation, Kirk and Spock return to the Klingon headquarters with the plan of kidnapping Kor to force the Klingons to stop the mass killings until the Federation fleet can arrive.

When they break in on Kor in his office he seems unafraid and he reveals that his office contains a surveillance camera and immediately four Klingons enter with weapons drawn.  Kirk and Spock aim at the Klingons but simultaneously both the Klingons and the Federation officers fling their weapons away as if they were red hot.  Immediately following, we shift the scene to the Enterprise bridge where Sulu is preparing to give orders for the Federation fleet to fire on the Klingon fleet.  But simultaneously all the crew jump out of their seats as if they were in pain.

The Organians enter the office and reveal to both sides that they are not backward villagers but highly advanced beings who have outgrown the need for material bodies.  These advanced beings inform the Klingons and Kirk and Spock that they will not permit the war.  The Organians announce that on both Klingon and Earth an image of himself is announcing to both sides that they will not be permitted to go to war.  Both Kirk and Kor are highly incensed that the Organians would dare to interfere with their war.  Finally, Kor laments to Kirk that it is a pity it was prevented because it would have been a glorious war.

Back on the Enterprise Kirk feels embarrassed at how bloodthirsty he acted in front of the Organians.  Spock defends him saying that there is no shame in being less advanced than a race with a million years more evolution than humans possess.

This episode’s story is simple but reasonably well done.  Also, the dialog between Kirk and Spock has several funny exchanges.  When Kirk asks Spock how likely they are to succeed in their attempt to kidnap Kor, Spock replies that it is hard to be precise but he calculated the odds as 7,429.7 to 1.  Kirk reflected for a second and asks if he didn’t think that was close enough and Spock replies that he always endeavors to be precise.   On the merits I’ll give it a 7.

On the Shatner mockery scale there is much to enjoy here beyond the usual shoulder rolls and grunting.  When Kirk is explaining to the Organians the danger of being conquered by the Klingons, Shatner’s inflection is almost identical to the way it was parodied so wonderfully by Kevin Polack in his classic imitation of Shatner.  For that reason, I give this episode a 7 // 8.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 25 – The Devil in the Dark

The Enterprise is summoned to a mining planet that is experiencing a series of killings.  Some sort of underground monster is killing the men by means of a highly corrosive chemical that eats away the body leaving just some ashes.

Kirk, Spock and McCoy lead the investigation.  Administrator Vanderberg explains that a few months ago the miners opened up a new level and shortly afterwards the attacks began.  While listening to his story Spock noticed a spherical silver mineral specimen on Vanderberg’s desk and asks him about it.  Vanderberg tells him that thousands of these nodules were discovered on the new level.

Spock theorizes that the monster may be a silicon-based lifeform and advises that a more powerful phaser weapon be used to attack the creature.  When Spock discovers that the creature is the only one of its kind in the area, he states that destroying it would be a crime against science.  Kirk states that killing the creature is the only choice available.

After several more deaths the creature steals the circulation pump for the colony nuclear reactor.  Emergency repairs by Scotty allow a temporary reprieve but very shortly the colony will need to evacuate or suffer a meltdown.  Finally, Kirk and Spock find the creature and wound it with their phasers.  Eventually they corner it and seeing that the creature seems intelligent Kirk changes his mind about killing it and lets Spock mind meld with it to find out where it has hidden the pump and why it is attacking the colonists.

Meanwhile Kirk summons McCoy to heal the badly wounded creature.  When Kirk orders him to help the creature, McCoy makes one of his trademark statements, “I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!”  Spock performs his mind meld and discovers that the Horta is a peaceful creature.  It is the only one around because every fifty thousand years all the Hortas but one die off and the remaining one guards the eggs and serves as mother to a whole generation of Hortas.  When the miners opened the new level, they unconcernedly destroyed thousands of the silicon nodules which, of course, are the Horta’s eggs.  The angry colonists calm down once they realize that they were the original aggressors and can find a way to live and let live with the Hortas.  But Spock reminds them that all this may be moot because the Horta is badly wounded.  Suddenly McCoy speaks up and says that the Horta will survive.  He had the Enterprise beam down a hundred pounds of thermo-concrete and he troweled it on the wound and it will form a bandage until the Horta heals.  He becomes so excited he yells out, “Why I can cure rainy day!”

As the Enterprise is preparing to depart the planet, we hear from Vanderberg that the baby Hortas are hatching out and they are providing the miners with tunnels to help them find minerals more quickly.  So, everybody’s happy.

This episode has a lot of things going on.  There is some interesting interaction between Kirk and Spock.  Spock exhibits human emotion when he thinks Kirk is in danger.  In fact, in a radio exchange during a cave in Spock calls him Jim, which doesn’t sound very Vulcan.  The story is definitely interesting although the secret of the silicon nodules is fairly transparent.  Bones, of course has the best lines in the episode.  But there is a dark side.  During his mind meld with the Horta Spock takes on the voice and facial expressions of an hysterical woman.  The weeping and agonizing are awful to have to watch.

My rating.  As a show the grade is 8!  Shatner mocking isn’t a thing here but for this episode I’ll substitute mockery of Spock.  The mind meld is awful and deserves a 9.  Total score 8 // 9.

 

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Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 24 – This Side of Paradise

This episode is unique in that for the majority of the episode Spock reacts like a normal emotional human.

The Enterprise is sent to a recently colonized planet to confirm that the colonists have succumbed to the effects of deadly Berthold rays, which apparently are very bad.  But when they arrive, they find the colonists very much alive and in perfect health.  McCoy discovers that not only are they healthy but show remarkable signs of regeneration such as self-repaired lung damage and regrown organs that had been surgically removed.  In addition, one of the colonists, Leila (played by the very attractive Jill Ireland) is an acquaintance of Spock’s.  She had been in love with him when she knew him previously though he never reciprocated the feeling.  She asks Spock to go see some plant life that was important to the investigation into why the colonists had survived.  When she brings him into a field, she points to a flower shaped like a lily and when Spock approaches it, a puff of pollen blows into his face.  After exhibiting pain from the exposure, suddenly Spock began behaving as a human expressing happiness to see Leila.  He kisses her and they talk about how the plant spores protect the colonists from the Berthold rays.  And Spock agrees to stay with Leila and live on the planet.

Meanwhile Kirk has been telling the colony leader Elias Sandoval (played by talented character actor Frank Overton) that the Enterprise will be evacuating all the colonists to a nearby star base.  Sandoval placidly refuses.  When Kirk attempts to call Spock on his communicator, at first, no one answers.  This is when we cut back to Spock sitting with his head in Leila’s lap watching the clouds in the sky and acting like a man in love.  Finally, he answers the call and tells Kirk that he isn’t leaving the planet and to stop bothering him.

Kirk and several crewmen search for Spock.  When they find him, he’s swinging on a tree branch and smiling like a man without a care in the world.  When Kirk demands an explanation, he brings them to one of the lilies and all the crewmen except Kirk are sprayed with spores and begin acting like Spock.  Eventually everyone but Kirk are controlled by the spores and begin to transport down to the planet from the Enterprise.  Kirk is basically in despair because without his crew he cannot even leave the star system with the Enterprise.  Finally, a lily that is on board the ship sprays spores onto Kirk’s face and he becomes like the others.  He calls Spock and tells him that he will be joining them soon on the surface of the planet.  Kirk goes to his cabin and collects his effects (which he packs into a very recognizable samsonite carrying case) but as he is looking at one of his Star Fleet medals, he becomes angry and this has the effect of shaking off the control by the spores.  Kirk then dictates a captain’s log to let us know that his plan is to lure Spock back onto the Enterprise in order to get him angry enough to escape the control of the spores.  He adds that considering the much greater strength of a Vulcan he is taking a dangerous risk by angering the very emotional Spock.  And that’s what he does.  He calls Spock a half-breed and a traitor out of a race of traitors.  Spock flips out and throws Kirk around the transporter room.  Bu the plan works and Spock overcomes the spore control and assumes his normal Vulcan persona.  Together Spock and Kirk rig a subsonic noise that irritates the colonists and crewmen and they all start fighting and then come to their senses.  Leila says a sorrowful goodbye to Spock and everyone heads up to the Enterprise.  On board Kirk asks Spock to describe his experience and he replies, “I’ve little to say about it Captain, except that for the first time in my life, I was happy.”

This was a pretty good episode.  Let’s call it a 7.  As far as mockery, there were some pretty good payoffs.  When Kirk is throwing off the control of the spores, he is hunched over in a pose that I guess is supposed to be towering rage.  It looks more like constipation.  During his baiting of Spock, he taunts him in a voice that is more whiny petulance than anger.  And perhaps the most embarrassing aspect of the whole episode is the awful southern accent that Doctor McCoy affects when he is controlled by the spores.  He blathers on about mint juleps and other inane things.  Terrible.

So, I’ll call this a 7 // 6.