Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 26 – Assignment: Earth

This the last episode of season 2.  We are told at the beginning of the episode that the Enterprise has been sent back in time to 1968 by means of blah, blah, blah.  They are there to do research.  By a remarkable coincidence they intercept an enormously powerful transporter beam coming from 1,000 light years away.  The beam deposits a seemingly human man holding a black cat.

The man identifies himself as Gary Seven (played by Robert Lansing), a human agent of a far off highly advanced race that he claims maintains a population of humans to visit Earth and influence human history in a way that limits the possibility of self-destruction.  Gary tries to convince Kirk to let him continue on to Earth to fulfill his mission which is to harmlessly but frighteningly destroy a nuclear weapon during a launch into orbit.  Kirk is unsure of Seven’s story and refuses to release him without proof of the truth of his story.  He fears that Seven is an alien enemy trying to destroy Earth by triggering WW III.

Seven manages to escape from detention on the Enterprise and proceeds to his base in New York City.  There he finds out that the agents meant to sabotage the orbital rocket have died in a car crash.  He must go himself to the Florida rocket launch and program the rocket to explode 100 miles above Russia thus convincing the Americans and their enemies that keeping H-bombs orbiting the Earth is a very bad idea.

At this point a woman hired by his two late associates to be their receptionist, Roberta Lincoln (played by a very young Teri Garr in a miniskirt) shows up and further confuses Gary Seven’s mission.  Meanwhile the Enterprise has identified the destination Seven transported to and sends Kirk and Spock dressed in mid-century American clothes.  They get into an altercation with Roberta and she manages to send for the police.  Gary Seven transports to the rocket launch location before Kirk and Spock reach him.  Meanwhile the NYPD shows up and Kirk has Scotty beam the two policemen and himself and Spock to the Enterprise.  The two policemen are stunned by their transportation.  Kirk and Spock exit the transporter and Scotty returns the officers to Earth before they can recover their wits.

Kirk now knows that Gary Seven has reached the rocket base and he and Spock decide to go there to stop Seven’s plan.  They are immediately arrested by the base’s armed guards and hauled off to, of all places, the mission control location.  Gary Seven is now on the gantry next to the rocket and has begun reprogramming the rocket.  At this point back on the Enterprise Scotty locates Gary Seven on the side of the rocket and attempts to beam him aboard the Enterprise.  But as Seven begins to materialize in the Enterprise transporter Roberta Lincoln fiddles aimlessly with the controls of the transporter in New York and the machine finds Gary Seven and brings him to New York.  How’s that for ridiculous!

After that we have Roberta Lincoln realizing that Seven can’t be from the CIA and knocking him out with a metal box.  Then Kirk and Spock, who in the interim have been rescued from detention by Scotty, show up and use up all but a few seconds of time needed to detonate the bomb in the upper atmosphere.  Shatner uses his confused face to let us know he isn’t sure whether he should do the only reasonable thing and let Seven prevent the nuke from reaching Earth.  Spock has to bless his decision by saying there is no information to make a logical decision so Kirk’s human intuition is the only choice.  Kirk says, “Do it!”  And the show comes to a blessed ending in the glare of a thermonuclear explosion at exactly 104 miles above the ground.

In the epilogue we learn that history had recorded that the bomb did go off at that altitude and was the impetus for nuclear negotiations between the United States and Russia.  And Spock informs Seven and Lincoln that they will have interesting adventures together in the near future.  We then see that Seven’s cat Isis can also transform herself into a scantily clad and buxom woman and when Roberta questions Gary about this female rival, “Who’s that?”  She transforms back into a cat in time for Gary to tell Roberta, “That’s my cat.”

Okay, let’s go over this a little bit.  This episode was a sort of pilot for a spin-off starring Lansing and Garr that never happened.  And I will say that these two were definitely a notch above the caliber of most of the guest stars.  They both had good presence, some comedic timing and decent acting skills.  The script although filled with improbabilities piled on ridiculous coincidences moved along quickly and reached a satisfying climax without Shatner breaking out too much of his classic emoting.  In fact, having Lansing and Garr dominate the air time was extremely refreshing.  And this is one of the few episodes I can think of where Dr. McCoy has almost no time on screen.  So, it’s a real win/win.

I would say this in one of the good episodes.  As mentioned above Shatner doesn’t get to use much of his bag of painful tricks so the Shatner mockery value will be sort of low.  Let’s call this an 8 // 3.

Larry Correia Teases a TV Deal

Larry posted about a convention he was Guest of Honor for (FantaSci in Raleigh-Durham).  And then he teased a TV deal he has.

“Also during that I asked Toni if I could talk about something else really cool, she gave me permission and I mentioned a new TV deal (contracts are in the mail!). Except I just realized before I blab about that on the internet, I should probably wait for her official announcement before posting more. But stay tuned, it’s really awesome news.”

Can I imagine a Monster Hunters International tv show?  Well yeah!  And of course I already have Adam Baldwin as Agent Franks.

Be still my defibrillating heart!

Well, to be continued when Larry lets the other shoe drop.  But this sounds like fun.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 25 – Bread and Circuses

Holy absurdity Batman, here we go again with “Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development.”  It wasn’t enough to have Yangs and Kohms in the episode The Omega Glory.  Now we get a planet that has the Roman Empire.  But wait there’s more.  Rome survives into the twentieth century and their version of General Motors advertises for their latest car model, the Jupiter 8, by sponsoring televised gladiatorial games on their version of Wide World of Sports.  Oh the pain, the pain.

Six years earlier a merchant ship the “The Beagle” went missing.  Captain R.M. Merik commanded the ship and is known to Kirk because he washed out at the academy because he was a doofus.  The Enterprise finds the wrecked ship and Kirk, Spock and McCoy head down to the planet to find the crew.  There they are immediately captured, of course, and we find out that Merik is now emperor and called Merikus (nice latinizing).  And he’s persecuting the Sun worshippers.

Blah, blah, blah, Spock and McCoy are forced into the gladiatorial arena.  Blah, blah, blah, Kirk is enticed by the pretty blonde slave.  Blah, blah, blah, Scotty uses some engineering rigamarole to save the landing party when they’re about to be skewered.  Merik dies nobly after being a cowardly worm for the last six years.  Landing party escapes and leaves the planet alone because of the prime directive.  Spock jibber jabbers about the illogic of sun worship and Uhura corrects them that it isn’t “the sun up in the sky, it’s the Son of God.”

Great googly moogly.  They must have had nothing.  Okay, as parody there is some value here.  When the gladiator Flavius fails to convincingly attack McCoy in the arena one of the roman legionnaires whips him and threatens to have a special episode on television devoted to his death in the arena.  The tv announcer at the gladiatorial show is obviously done for laughs and is actually quite funny as satire of live tv production.  He has dials to allow him to add in cheering, boos, catcalls and laughter.  So as comedy the show has some value.  But what are the science fiction fans to make of this.  I guess that Star Trek had devolved into Gilligan’s Island.

The scenes with Kirk and the blonde slave girl allows at least a modicum of Shatner mockery value so I’ll give the episode a 4 // 5.

24APR2021 – OCF Update

I’ve been going through some of the “Oscar Nominated” movies that TCM runs for a month before the Oscars Ceremony.  Lately they have been adding in films from the 1970’s, 80’s and even later.  It’s interesting that some movies that I saw when they came out back in the old days really didn’t age well. As an example there was a movie, “Mona Lisa” from 1986.  It was Bob Hoskins break out role.  He earned an Oscar for best actor.  It’s about a small time London crook who is assigned to drive a high priced black hooker to her hotel appointments.  The story revolves around his emotional involvement with the woman and his attempt to help her save an underaged girl who has been swallowed up by the sex trade.  Some things in the movie are interesting but the grittiness of the portrayal of the sex trade in 1980’s London is a bit much to watch.  I didn’t remember it being so ugly and so extremely downbeat.  And that movie is just one example.  Especially in the 1970s the attempt to portray realism ended up making for a very tawdry product.  There are exceptions but it is worth commenting on as a feature of the era.

I have been remiss in finishing off season two of Star Trek and then finishing out season three.  It’s because I really am not in the mood for it.  I’ve been wanting to start the Jackie Gleason series, “The Honeymooners.”  But I am going to rededicate myself to slogging through the rest of Star Trek.  It has to be done.  But I may decide to start the Honeymooners before I finish.  There’s nothing wrong with a little variety.

I spent today outside working in the fields.  I have some of the scariest thorn bushes growing at the borders of my woods.  The trunks of these things get as thick as saplings, two or three inches thick.  If I wait until summer they will form an impenetrable wall of thorn brambles.  The thorns are bigger than the ones you find on roses.  They are formidable.  And we had some invasive trees to remove.  There are Russian Olive trees that have gotten way out of control.  So I went back there with my triangular saw and my large pruning shears and attacked them with all the enthusiasm I could muster.  I’ll have to say I was surprised how much satisfaction you can get from beating up on brush.  It was tiring but when I finished the job I felt better than I have in weeks.  Physical activity takes your mind off the political madness going on.  Sure it is temporary but I really did clear my head.

So with renewed enthusiasm I say to this fallen land we live in, “Bring it on, bring it on!”

Chernobyl (2019) – A TV Series Review

A good friend sent me the DVDs for the HBO five-part-series “Chernobyl.”  Most people are relatively familiar with the 1986 nuclear power plant catastrophe in the Soviet Union (present day Ukraine) by that name and lately there has been a lot of attention paid to the exclusion zone around the plant and how the environment around the plant has begun returning to a wild state without people inhabiting it.  And the disaster at Chernobyl was a very important event both for the Soviet Union and for the world because of the amount of negative sentiment that this failure cast on both the Soviet Union and also the nuclear power industry.  In fact, Gorbachev was said to have written in his memoirs that Chernobyl was the root cause of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

But it is important to state that this film history is a dramatic representation of the events and deviates in several particulars from the actual events.  And in general, the producers have amplified many of the details to make the story more compelling.  Whether there is an ideological component to this amplification is of course hard to say.  But whatever the motivation the dramatic effect is definitely compelling.

The main protagonist of the series is Valery Legasov, a senior Soviet scientist who takes the lead in first convincing the Soviet administration that a terrible disaster has occurred, then advising the emergency operation on how to mitigate the ongoing catastrophe and finally to expose the actual cause of the catastrophe and force the authorities to take the steps necessary to prevent another occurrence.

Other important characters include Boris Shcherbina a central government official who is reluctantly appointed to investigate and then execute the emergency actions needed to cope with the disaster on the ground; Vasily and Lyudmilla Ignatenko, a fire fighter and his wife who are among those who are exposed directly to the results of the hellish radiation levels existing at the site of the explosion; and finally, Ulana Khomyuk, a nuclear scientist who in actuality didn’t exist.  She is a composite of all the nuclear scientists who aided Legasov in his investigation of the causes of the Chernobyl disaster.  Since most people are more or less aware of the historical event let me get down to my reactions to the series.

The first episode is as riveting as a science fiction horror film.    When the explosion occurs the nuclear plant control room staff are told by the chief engineer on duty, Anatoly Dyatlov, that they are only dealing with a small fire caused by a hydrogen explosion in an auxiliary tank.  It appears he is in denial and he orders his crew and the arriving fire fighters to battle the blaze as if it is a normal fire.  Because of this they are effectively fed into the jaws of hell.

As Dyatlov and his superiors try to convince the Soviet officials that the disaster is a small unimportant event, Legasov starts to hear the evidence and at a meeting that includes Mikhail Gorbachev he declares that what has really occurred is the unthinkable.  That the reactor core has exploded and is now strewing enriched uranium into the air, contaminating the Soviet Union and Europe for thousands of miles around and killing anyone who comes close to the source.  When Boris Shcherbina objects that Legasov is just speculating Gorbachev tells him to go with Legasov to Chernobyl and get the facts.

From there the series follows this team to Chernobyl and chronicles their efforts to solve a problem that has never been seen before by humanity.  Interweaved are the stories of the others whose lives have been destroyed by their proximity to the disaster.  Soldiers, scientists, helicopter pilots, miners, doctors and nurses, government officials and family members.  And after the action on the ground there is a trial to lay the blame for Chernobyl at someone’s feet.  And it is at this trial that we finally find out exactly what went on in the control room right before the explosion and we get to see how the Soviet Union handles the truth.

It’s a harrowing story.  And it is well acted.  None of the actors are familiar to me but they are very good.  And mixed in with the horror there are personal moments that touch the viewer.  There are even a very few moments of humor.  I found I had a good deal of empathy for even some of the less noble characters.  They were human beings confronted with inhuman force.  And some of them acquitted themselves with intelligence and bravery.  That makes for a powerful story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xulAgMNK5Jk

 

Finding the Good in Today’s World – Part 1

Going through the news and what passes for entertainment today is a pretty grim process.  It seems it’s woke wreckage and infantilism all the way down.  But if you let the mainstream media and the progressives in New York and Hollywood blind you to what else is out there then you’ve played into their hands.  Admittedly, it is work to “find the good” but it’s not an impossible task.

I’ll confess, I often fall back on complaining about how bad things have gotten and longing for the good old days.  But that doesn’t help anyone.  And in my defense, I do reviews of books, movies, tv shows and country music.  I do get a small but steady search traffic for those things and so I can claim that I do my small part for increasing the knowledge base of people interested in “finding the good.”  But I think it’s a good idea to put together information in an organized form and maybe supplement it with some comments.  After all I am what the idiot children call an “opinion leader” which I guess is a synonym for opinionated jerk.  So here goes.

First things first.  I believe in owning physical copies.  I buy paper books, CDs and DVDs.  I think some of the things I like will be cancelled by the industries that own them and will disappear.  And now we see Disney putting warnings on their old movies and publishers eliminating Dr. Seuss.  Well, okay.  Of course, I’ll need to buy a good supply of DVD players.  But they’re so cheap that it’s reasonable to do.  I’ve got a few hundred DVDs and a few hundred CDs and I used to have thousands of books but I pared that back a good deal and now it’s a few hundred of those.

And owning the physical copies means if I want to watch “The Sting” or read “Huckleberry Finn” I don’t have to search for a streaming service that hasn’t cancelled these works because they use forbidden words or ideas.  That’s enormously powerful.  And convenient.  Most of the streaming services only possess a small fraction of the “good” things you might want to see or hear or read.  Just yesterday I read that the BBC is going back and expurgating the “racist” dialog that they’ve discovered in John Cleese’s “Fawlty Towers” tv show.  John Cleese is a pompous fool who now regrets the thought policing that he and his generation introduced.  But I have the DVDs for that show and if I want to be reminded of when he actually was funny, I can watch them, so-called racism and all!

The next thing that you can use when looking for the good is chronological.  Basically, anything created before 1960 is probably free from systemic cultural poisoning.  Now granted there were plenty of leftists even back then but they had not captured the arts completely.  So, for instance, if you look at the book or movie awards from those years you will note that most of the books and movies are readable or watchable.  There are of course exceptions.  But compare that to the winners of book and movie awards today.  For me an Academy Award from the last decade or so is almost a guarantee that the movie is unwatchable psychobabble or celebrates disgusting sexual deviancy.  Nowadays it takes a review from someone I trust to get me to watch a movie or read a book.

So, I’ve gone on for a page with generalities.  In the next installments of this series, I’ll pick one area and provide some recommendations on things I’ve found that are good.  But just to get the ball rolling I’ll throw out one recommendation.

Modern television show: “Justified

Here is a show that ran from 2010 to 2015 that was based on stories by Elmore Leonard, a truly great crime writer and running to almost eighty episodes and there isn’t a bad episode in the bunch.  That’s pretty rare.  Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy and Walton Goggins give highly entertaining and nuanced performances and even a racist, sexist homophobe such as myself will admit that Hollywood didn’t screw this show up somehow.  Camera Girl and I have re-watched this series every few years and we still enjoy every episode.  I hope I never wear out the fun of watching it.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 24 – The Ultimate Computer

And yet another iconic episode.  Dr. Richard Daystrom is the genius who as a very young man invented the computer systems that are currently used on all Federation star ships.  Now Daystrom has progressed to a new computer the M-5 that can run a star ship without a human captain or almost any crew at all.  Commodore Bob Wesley has selected the Enterprise to test out the new system by setting up a war game between the Enterprise and four other star ships.

Daystrom comes aboard to set up the M-5 and continuously antagonizes Kirk and McCoy by stressing the fact that the M-5 will eliminate the need for a star ship captain and most of the crew.  Spock on the other hand is very familiar with Daystrom’s work and once the testing of the system commences, he agrees that the M-5’s performance far exceeds the results expected from a human crew and captain.

But in route to the second war game trial, the M-5 randomly attacks and destroys an ore freighter that luckily had no crew.  In addition, when Scotty’s engineering staff attempts to de-energize the M-5 the machine vaporizes one of the red shirts and employs a force field to prevent any human intervention in its control of the Enterprise.  After unsuccessfully trying to outwit the machine and disconnect it from the ship’s controls they are forced to watch in horror as the M-5 attacks the four star ships with full powered weapons.  One ship is completely incapacitated and its entire crew killed.  Commodore Wesley gets permission to use his remaining ships to destroy the Enterprise.  At this point we learn that the M-5 is acting illogically because it was constructed from the “engrams” of Dr. Daystrom’s own brain who as it turns out is mentally unstable.  This explains Daystrom’s very personal relationship with the machine and his erratic behavior now reinforces the fact that M-5 is quite mad.

In a final attempt to prevent the M-5 from destroying the remaining star ships Daystrom attempts to reason with the computer.  He attempts to convince M-5 that killing humans is murder and against the laws of man and God.  But Daystrom begins to identify with his creation and begins justifying self-preservation as the M-5’s right.  He begins ranting about the unfairness of how he was treated after his initial successes and finally he starts to gloat over M-5’s superiority over its human opponents.  Finally, he has to be sedated and hauled away to sick bay.

Kirk takes over and finishes the job of convincing M-5 that it is guilty of murder.  Unfortunately, he does too good a job and the computer decides to commit suicide by deactivating itself and thereby leave the Enterprise vulnerable to destruction by the Star Fleet squadron.  Scotty is able to restore only the shields but not communications.  Kirk orders the shields to remain lowered and he gambles that Bob Wesley will break off the attack rather than destroy the defenseless ship at least until the situation can be clarified.  When this succeeds Kirk explains to Spock that he gambled on Wesley’s humanity.  McCoy then uses this human virtue to assail Spock’s seeming preference for machines over humans.  Spock reiterates his already stated preference for humans over machines but states that a computer that has McCoy’s mental makeup would spout so much illogic that it would be a great source of amusement.  The End.

Everybody loves this episode.  When the M-5 flawlessly passes the first war game against the star ships, Commodore Wesley congratulates the M-5 on its performance and also sends his greetings to Captain Dunsail.  When he hears this Kirk storms off the bridge while the rest of the bridge officers look shocked.  When McCoy asks “who the blazes is Dunsail?”  Spock explains that dunsail is a term used at Starfleet Academy to describe a part serving no useful purpose.

McCoy goes to Kirk’s cabin to give him some medicinal alcohol.  Kirk admits to feeling useless and asks McCoy whether he himself is guilty of vanity, fearing the loss of his prestige as captain  McCoy tells him to ask Jim Kirk because Jim Kirk is an honest guy.  But sixty million Americans were yelling that night at their tv’s saying, “Yes you conceited blowhard, you strutting prima donna, that’s what this is about!”

But Kirk does have one great line.  When the M-5 shuts itself off.  Kirk yells to Scotty to go down to engineering and permanently deactivate the M-5.  His final words to the engineer are to shout, “PULL THE PLUG ON IT!”

The other attraction in this episode is the characterization of Doctor Daystrom.  He has both delusions of grandeur and a persecution complex.  At one point while he was reasoning with the M-5 he attempted to salve the computer’s feelings about being in error and when the machine stated its record of achievement Daystrom concurred stating, “Yes, I am great, you are great.”  Then when he went completely bonkers, he started reciting his grievances against his colleagues, “They laughed behind my back at the boy genius and got rich on my invention, my work!”

I really like this episode.  Two blowhards sharing the stage, Daystrom and Kirk.  Wonderful.

9  //  6.

Update:  Chemist had some good feedback that I thought I’d share:

“With all due respect Photog, you missed the best line in the show. It was McCoy’s to Kirk:
“Did you see the love light in Spock’s eyes? The right computer finally came along.”
Epic.”

 

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 23 – The Omega Glory

In the highest circles of the Shatner-Khan hierarchy there is no more sacred text than “Eed plebnista” and “norkon forden perfectunun.”  One of my oldest acquaintances has been heard to spontaneously break out into this phrase with no visible rationale.  Because of these tendencies I tackle this review with great trepidation.  If I get it wrong there could be serious blowback.

The Enterprise is sent to planet blah,blah,blah to find out what has become of the Starship Exeter.  It’s found circling the planet and Kirk, McCoy, Spock and a redshirt fully primed for certain death beam over to the Exeter.  There they find a bunch of empty uniforms dribbling rock salt from the sleeves and pant cuffs.  Surprise, surprise, everybody’s dead and a video clip tells them that a disease brought up from the planet was the cause.  Being warned to beam down to the planet immediately they do so and find out that the lone survivor is Captain Tracey of the Exeter and he is engaged in Prime Directive defying aid to the Kohms in their war with the savage Yangs.  And unsurprisingly the Yangs are the descendants of the defeated white Yankees and the Kohms are the victorious Chinese Communists who won a biological weapons war and occupied the Yangs homeland.

But the Yangs are finishing off a long reconquest of their homeland and even with Captain Tracey’s fire boxes (phasers) the Kohms are in big trouble.  Tracey captures the Enterprise party and demands that Kirk provide him with ten more phasers with three extra power packs for each.  When the redshirt reaches for his phaser Tracey disintegrates him.  We also find out tha the disease that killed off the Exeter would have been harmless if the crew members had stayed just a short time longer on planet blah,blah,blah and now all of them could return to the Enterprise without risk to the ship or themselves.  But Tracey has discovered that the inhabitants live to be over a thousand years old and he is convinced that the secret to this amazing longevity can be discovered by McCoy and then sold by Tracey to the highest bidder once he’s beaten of the Yangs.  McCoy debunks the theory and says the longevity is just a natural byproduct of the survival after the bioweapon ordeal.

Meanwhile there is all this tuh-doing between Kirk and Tracey and a Yang prisoner who we find out is the Yang Chief Cloud Williams and his wife.  Finally Spock and Kirk escape from jail.  But eventually the Yangs attack the Kohms and we get to hear Tracey makes his horrified report of the battle, “They sacrificed hundreds just to draw us out in the open and then they came and they came.  We drained four of our phasers and they still came.  We killed thousands and they still came!”  Good times, good times.

So the Yangs capture all of the Federation personnel.  When the Yangs break out an antique American flag and Cloud Williams starts reciting a really garbled version of the Pledge of Allegiance Kirk completes the pledge and now Cloud wants Kirk to explain how he knows their sacred words.  But whereas Kirk wants to explain that they are from another world Tracey claims that Kirk and his crew are devils.  He uses as proof the fact that Spock has pointed ears and no heart.  Cloud Williams is unclear who to believe and asks if  Kirk can complete the most sacred of their texts which only a chief would know.  He starts it with “Eed plebnista.”  But Kirk can’t figure out what it is.  So instead he claims trial by combat against Tracey to the death.  Spock uses Vulcan mind games to get one of the Yang women to trigger a communicator and an armed landing party arrives with Sulu in command just as Kirk defeats Tracey but refuses to kill him.

Now hearing a few more of the words, “norkon forden perfectunun,” Kirk figures out that it’s the preamble to the Constitution and recites it and then gives Cloud and his tribal circle a civics lesson.  And then somehow they head back to the Enterprise, even though Sulu and the others are now infected with a disease that will dehydrate them down to bath salts within minutes.  The End.

“Eed plebnista” indeed.  There’s just so much to love about this episode.  Tracey beats up Kirk several times in the episode.  Shatner’s overacting while giving the Yangs their civics lesson.  And Tracey is so great in his angry intensity.  He wants that immortality drug and the power it will give him.  He comes up with that great “He has no hearrrrt!” line about Spock and finally he has his great narration of the Yang attack.

This gets a    10   //   7.

Last Man Standing – The Final Season – A Television Review

When this show came out in 2011 it was clever, funny, and the main character Mike Baxter, played by Tim Allen, was decidedly right wing and outspoken.  When Donald Trump won the presidency, ABC cancelled the show.  Fox brought it back a few years ago but apparently the writers were either lobotomized or warned to castrate the show to make it acceptable to their woke corporate masters.

At this point it truly is unwatchable.  The two older daughters and their husbands have been infantilized into mewling morons prattling on about inanities that would embarrass a five-year-old to admit to.  The characters at Mike’s work place are not quite as imbecilic as Mike’s children but it’s close.  And I’ll have to say Tim Allen isn’t looking well.  I guess he’s getting up there because he seems weak, almost frail.  Maybe it’s just the effect of being forced to go through the motions on a show that’s been gutted and then put on display as a trophy and a warning to anyone who dares to dispute the primacy of the narrative.

Farewell Tim Allen.  You had a good run.  You should have quit while you were ahead.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 22 – By Any Other Name

We’re now deep, deep into Season 2 and the amount of “humor” employed by some of the principal characters is obvious to see.  And the costume department has obviously run out of ideas.  In this episode the aliens are dressed as if they found their clothes in a dumpster behind a second-rate department store.  The men are wearing some kind of polyester leisure suit-like apparel while the women are wearing jump suits from which the backs have been cut off from the waist up.

The Enterprise is summoned by a distress signal to an uninhabited planet.  Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and two red shirts beam down to the planet.  There they find a man and a woman, Rojan and Kelinda, who claim they are creatures from the Andromeda Galaxy seeking new worlds because their own galaxy will become uninhabitable within ten thousand years.  They announce that they will commandeer the Enterprise to return home in order to begin an invasion of our galaxy by their people, the Kelvans.  It will be a multi-generational voyage taking three hundred years even at Warp 11 speed.

And using their neural paralysis field devices they disarm and capture the landing party while the other three Kelvans beam aboard the Enterprise and take over the ship.  In addition to the paralysis field, they can also freeze dry humans down into polyhedral bricks, about the size of a softball, made of what appears to be poorly made porous Styrofoam.  When the landing party attempts to escape Rojan has one of his associates turn the two red shirts into these efficient and stackable human pellets.  Rojan then crumbles one of the blocks with his bare hands and restores the other one to inefficient but mobile form.  We then find out that the crumbled crewman was the pretty young girl.  When he realizes this Kirk appears devastated.  Apparently, he hadn’t yet had a chance to put the moves on this yeoman and now he never would!

Back on the ship, the whole crew except for Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty are freeze dried for easy storage.  It’s especially pleasurable to see Uhura and Chekov singled out for treatment.  In one scene Kirk rounds the corner in a corridor of the Enterprise and sees the blocks strewn along the floor along with the odd computer tablet and i-pod.  When Spock had unsuccessfully attempted to mind meld with Kelinda in a scene that I have left out of my plot summary he got an image of a huge hundred-tentacled creature that is the true form of the Kelvans.  Realizing that the Kelvans were unused to sensory stimulation or emotions in their original forms he speculates that if the humans can overstimulate the Kelvans’ senses and emotions they might become vulnerable to attack.  And so much hilarity ensues during this plan.

Scotty takes one of the Kelvans, Tomar, to his cabin and starts introducing him to the wonders of grain alcohol.  Eventually Tomar becomes stupefied and collapses, as does Scotty.  McCoy takes another of the Kelvans, Hanar, aside and under the subterfuge of a medical examination starts giving him “vitamin” injections that are actually some kind of stimulant that raises his anxiety levels to monumental levels.  This has him complaining bitterly to Rojan about the incompetence of that commander’s plan.  This gets him confined to his cabin.

Meanwhile Kirk makes a beeline for Kelinda and starts pouring on the old Shatner charm.  He’s pawing her and kissing her all around the rec room.  I forgot to mention that Kelinda is played by Barbara Bouchet who is a very attractive looking actress.  She played Miss Moneypenny in one of the Bond films and is at the very high end of attractive female Star Trek guest stars.  While playing three-dimensional chess with Rojan Spock mentions that Kirk is putting the moves on Kelinda and this really ticks Rojan off.  So, he hunts them down and gets into a really spastic fistfight with Kirk.  During the fight Kirk keeps up a line of argument to the effect that by the time the three-hundred-year voyage to the Andromeda Galaxy is complete, the descendants of Rojan and his crew will no longer be Kelvans.  They will be completely human and have no desire to help the Kelvans.

He convinces Rojan to give up their voyage to Andromeda and allow the Federation to find uninhabited worlds in our galaxy for the other Kelvans to colonize while Rojan and Kelinda and the other three Kelvans will somehow form a very small colony on the uninhabited world that the Enterprise found them on.  The fact that there are only two female Kelvans and three male Kelvans is not explored further on this episode.  But to my way of thinking there is bound to be trouble in that very small paradise.

To my way of thinking the two highlights of the show are Rojan crushing the polyhedral salt lick made out of Yeoman Thompson with his fingers and Scotty hugging his empty centuries-old bottle of Scotch whiskey to his face and crooning to it, “we did it” after Tomar collapses in a drunken stupor.  And one small note, in the new enhanced graphics of the DVDs I have the Andromeda Galaxy image is very nice.

Now that nuttiness and hilarity is the order of the day on the Enterprise it’s much easier to enjoy the episodes.  Hopefully the people making the show are going along with the joke because adventure certainly isn’t the point.  Kirk wrestling with the pretty alien and McCoy and Scotty providing comic relief sort of works.

As far as Shatner mockery points, he gives some of his patented pathos when the yeoman is crumbled but it isn’t very extreme.  I’ll give this episode an     8  //  5.