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.

Lectures in Quantum History for the Advanced Undergraduate – Volume I – First Contact – Part 3

So, on Thursdays I usually headed downtown for dinner at the Club.  The food was okay.  The service was slow.  The drink selection was limited.  The dues were outrageous.  But the company was never bad.  Not that it was always exceptional, but it was never annoying.  There was a rule against annoying.  You could be boring or quiet but if management saw you annoying one of the other guests you would be gone very soon, and you wouldn’t be back.  Or rather you might be back but the Club would be gone.  It was a by-invitation-only organization that could and did change venue seemingly at random.  If you didn’t show up for a week (or a month or a decade) no one would bat an eye when you showed up next.  But if you didn’t get a change of venue notice then your presence was no longer desired.  So, who was invited?  Well any member could recommend a new member.  But only the Owner sent out invites.  And if someone was brought along by any member uninvited then both men would not be returning.  Oh, and all members were men.  Also, a rule.  The first few times a new member attended he might mention the lack of women as an oddity (or even a relief) but soon it just became the norm.  Now you might think that such an arrangement would dissolve sooner or later due to the friction that such arbitrary rules would create.  Or that the desire to continue in such a seemingly mediocre establishment would not be strong enough to maintain a decent showing.  You’d be wrong.  On any given night twenty patrons would be in attendance.  Some nights there might be forty.  This popularity must be attributed to the ability of the Owner to pick men.  He had a profile that provided almost fool-proof selection.  His vetting process was scrupulous and thorough.  The selection failures were few and so far, the fallout from these had always been repairable.  Apparently, his damage control methods were effective and discrete.

So, what was the profile?  Married with children, wife raised the kids and made a home for the family, husband supported the family (employed or a businessman), over thirty-five years of age and intolerant of the presence of idiots.  Who decided what idiocy was limited to?  In this case the Owner.  He looked for signs and circumstances.  Negative evidence was probably more important than positive.  A lack of bumper stickers with slogans like Coexist and Tolerance was a given.  The absence of financial support for any organization that explicitly or implicitly supported involuntary redistribution of wealth was a bare minimum requirement.  Mostly he used second hand accounts followed up by field work.  He was very thorough.  There were no idiots.  Finally, the smoking prohibition.  You were prohibited from bothering anybody who wanted to smoke.  There was a no-smoking section but that was pretty empty most nights.

Oh, and once a year you had to be able to tell a truly interesting story.  So, either you were someone who had interesting things happening in your life or you had to be a great story teller.  Either would do.  Of course, how would you know if the story were true?  Well, you couldn’t ask (another rule).

So, it was a Thursday.  It was a warm night for early October.  Barely jacket weather.  No clouds and a bright moon.  When I arrived, I was greeted at the front desk by Dave and buzzed in to the main hall.  I could see it was a slow night, maybe twenty-five patrons were milling around and waiting for seating.  I noticed the Owner (Dan) standing in a corner talking to a new face.  I headed over to say hi and find out what was on the menu.

“Hey Dan, what’s good tonight?”

“If you ask me, nothing.  I’d stick with the chicken fried steak.  Unless you’re well insured, then go with the fish.”

“Wow.  That’s grim.  Maybe you should lie until the new members have ordered the special.”

“I’m not worried.  Have you met Jim?”

“Nice to meet you Jim.”

“Jim, this is John.  He’s a regular.  Guess his wife is sick of looking at him.”

“On the contrary, I’m adored and pampered by the missus.  I only come here to allow her a night to visit her family.  When she gets home from seeing her sisters, suddenly I seem like more of a catch compared with her brothers in law.  They’re quite a group.”

“Hi John.  Nice to meet you.  Yeah, I know what you mean.  My wife’s got three sisters and from how they describe their husbands I’m guessing someone’s going to be on a most wanted show sooner or later.”

Dan broke in:

“So, Jim here is new, can you introduce him around and find a spot for him?”

“Sure.  Jim, you interested in some penny ante poker before dinner?”

“I like poker, but I’m a pretty lousy player.  I tend to bet over enthusiastically.”

“Great, you’ll be the most popular guy here tonight.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.  Seriously I’ve only got a few bucks in my pocket.  Will that get me through?”

“Sure, it really is penny ante.  We only use money to keep it from getting too boring.  Mostly we play to slow us down while we’re scarfing down cold cuts.  Come on.  I’ll introduce you to the boys.”

We headed over to a table of regulars that had a few empty seats.  I introduced Jim and we all got to talking about the latest travesty in D.C.  This proved very popular with everyone.  Within five minutes Jim was right in the thick of the grumbling and indistinguishable from the veterans.  A few minutes later the waiter came by and took our orders.  As I mentioned earlier the food was so-so.  But tonight, rib-eye was on the menu and the steak was usually very good.  I think it was something Dan liked so we benefited from his choice in that respect.  I ordered it along with a couple of baked potatoes and got back to the conversation.  Consensus had built to the effect that if Obama was not actually Satan then at the very least, he was a close relation.  The usual fifty-seven states and “corpseman” jokes were worked over again and everyone settled in for the dinner.  Someone asked Jim where he was from.  “I’m originally from Brooklyn but I’ve been living in various places in New England for the last twenty plus years”.  This elicited the obligatory “pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd” responses and a few heartfelt shots at the Sox and Pats from the mostly New York City group.  He laughed it off and said he was a die-hard Yankees fan but that he didn’t pay any mind to the rabid New England fans.  “Mostly I just wait for the bad years and feign sympathy while they wallow in misery.  It really is fun to watch.”  Then I asked Jim if he had given his first annual story yet.  He looked troubled and confessed that he was dreading it.  “I’m not much of a public speaker.  It’s gonna be like getting a root canal without Novocain.”  “Hey, it’s a piece of cake.  First of all, have a couple of belts before you get started and we don’t get started until we move into the sitting room.  The chairs are very comfortable in there and really reduce the stress levels.  Concentrate on someone sitting next to you and it won’t seem like public speaking.  More like just a bull-session.”  After that we got caught up in an argument over whether “The Maltese Falcon” was a better Bogey movie than “Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”  This lasted about half an hour and introduced all kinds of heretical views and produced much heat but almost no light.  Luckily at that point the food arrived.  Sure enough, the rib eye was just about perfect.  By the time I was done with the second spud and was sopping up a little juice with a hunk of  French bread I had reached what I imagined Gautama must have been hoping for when he started sitting cross-legged under that tree.

The beer and wine were flowing pretty freely at our table and the dishes had been removed and someone asked if we should start the card game up again but there were no takers so we wandered into the sitting room and the group continued with a discussion on the latest movie.  It was a science fiction adventure yarn with Earth being invaded by super-intelligent lobsters from the Andromeda Galaxy.  Many rude comments were expressed over the lack of actual proof that shellfish had what it takes to invent a really convincing warp drive.  Interestingly, Jim was extremely quiet when disparagement of the idea that extraterrestrials might visit the Earth was being discussed.

Dan showed up and instructed the wait staff and the members to drag the chairs into the traditional half circle around the speaker’s seat by the fire place.  By this point I could see that the crowd was about thirty men.  And surprisingly Dan was leading Jim over to the speaker’s chair.  As he settled himself in, I could tell that he was pretty nervous.  Dan introduced Jim as a new member and applauded him for the courage to tell his story on his first night in the club.  Jim thanked him, looked around the circle nervously and cleared his throat.  Everyone expected him to proceed so a very noticeable silence built up for about two minutes while Jim seemed to be staring at his feet.  Finally I could see several men fidgeting in their chairs and scratching their faces in a sort of impatient way.  Then Jim cleared his throat again and began.

“As the subject of my story I’d like to tell you how I saved the Earth almost single-handedly from interstellar invasion.”

I could tell it was going to be a really good Thursday.

Lectures in Quantum History for the Advanced Undergraduate – Volume I – First Contact – Part 2

Professor Gordrow arranged his thoughts and began his lecture again.  “Now before I was interrupted, I was touching on the general topic of First Contact and I mentioned the classic Earth example.  But to provide the background for that remarkable event I will remind you neophytes of the underlying mathematics.  As anyone who has the intelligence to understand it knows Gordrow’s First Theorem of Quantum Chrono-Cosmo-Moiro-Dynamics states that when the probability of historical change uniformly approaches zero in a volume of space that continues to increase toward infinity then the quantum time-space probability reversal will be centered on the asymptotic fault line.  This theory in fact was proven following the First Contact we are considering.  At that time Earth was at the periphery of a rapidly expanding galactic civilization that had spread from the galactic core over the course of a billion years and was now so rapidly expanding that the odds of any possible combination of events halting its engulfment of the entire Milky Way galaxy was essentially zero.  What a perfect test of the theory!  Now if you inspect the terms in the denominator of the third term you’ll see …”

“But Professor Gordrow!” exclaimed Dorson Tendandren.  Gordrow radiated annoyance and shot back, “Why are you interrupting me now you idiot?”  Dorson continued, “Professor none of this is clear to me.  How could such a regression occur?  What possible sequence of events could reverse such an unstoppable force and in such a short time?  It seems inconceivable.  Can you show us the historical record?”  Gordrow was disgusted and his aura reflected it.  “Show you?  What is this kindergarten?  Would you like me to sing you a lullaby too?  Would you like me to count from one to a googolplex just to prove that there are numbers in between?  Wasting my time in this way is a sin against intelligence and a victory for entropy and just one more fatal step toward the heat death of the universe.  Neophyte Tendandren, I intend to see that you suffer exquisitely during my final exam.  I will recommend to the professional board that your truest vocational assignment would be as gravitational ballast.”

Professor Gordrow summoned his composure for a moment and continued.  “For the intellectually challenged who are very temporarily among us I will now play the historical record of the singularity event.  Those with normal intelligence are free to take a nap.  Dolts, attend!”

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.

Lectures in Quantum History for the Advanced Undergraduate – Volume I – First Contact – Part 1

[I’m working on an outline for a series of stories.  Here’s a starting point for the framework.

photog]

 

Dorn had been daydreaming through the first period of his Quant class and now he realized he had lost the thread of Professor Gordrow’s lecture just as the professor called on him.  “Well, neophyte Dorn, I notice that your cortical penumbra hasn’t changed potential since the lecture began, so you must already know everything I’ve transmitted.”  “Yes, your sagacity, I mean no, your sagacity.”  “Well which is it?  Are you now conversant in the primary examples of the seven first order patterns of First Contact, or aren’t you?  Answer me, you vacuous waste of neutrinos.”

Hearing the question, Dorn relaxed, for he had spent last semester studying First Contact under the foremost Quantum Historian in the Multiverse, Banstat Fabobble.  For this reason, Dorn confidently answered, “Yes your sagacity I am.”  “Well then tell the class what you think is the most unlikely quantum outcome for any First Contact scenario.”  Dorn raised his transmission to the highest polite output level and declared, “As proven by Fabobble’s first theorem of interspecial dynamics, no species below the level of independent interstellar travel can ever compete successfully against a species above that level.  In fact, it’s axiomatic.”  Feeling very proud of himself Dorn allowed his cortical penumbra to pulse through the electrogravitic spectrum for a noticeable time.

Professor Gordrow replied, “Very glibly stated Dorn, and also utterly wrong!  Banstat Fabobble is a hack and a fraud who has made his reputation kowtowing to administrative nincompoops who wouldn’t recognize a quantum paradox if it swallowed up their own boring corner of the multiverse.”  Dorn’s penumbra shriveled up and he retreated to the periphery of the academic cloud and Professor Gordrow continued.

“Now attend to what I say.  Every First Contact is unique and the seven first order patterns account for barely 99.999999999% of all known cases.  This leaves an infinity of less probable cases, of which some subset, which itself includes an infinity of examples is composed of just the type that that fathead Fabobble claims is impossible.”

“If it please your sagacity, can you give us an example?” asked a nervous thought from the front of the class.  Gordrow was silent for a moment and then continued.  “Of course, I can.  In fact, I’ll use the most famous First Contact of all.  I’ll use Earth.”  “But Earth’s First Contact was a case of two advanced races meeting in neutral space” corrected the nervous interlocuter.  “Hah!” exclaimed Gordrow, “that is what we teach the dust clouds before they coalesce.  But you are ready for the messy truth.  Record this data.  Attend!”

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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