Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: Star Trek (1966-1969) [01-10]

[Blogger Kernunrex started a Star Trek marathon a long time ago. I don't know if he ever had time to finish it, but I'll dedicate this to his ongoing efforts to review things every Halloween; plus the whole "screencap of title card" is his idea.]

"The Cage" (5/10)
Captain Pike and his crew of intrepids run afoul of superbraniacs bent on collecting races around the universe in search of a cure. Y'know, like Dark City.
--In this "pilot" we are given an oddly (even brilliantly) specific glimpse into the design and vision of a show set in outer space. There are things in this episode I wish had carried over into the actual show, like the way the crew works together in a tight and efficient manner (Number One is a badass). I even like Captain Pike's direct and cold methods of command. It drags in places, the plot is a bit lacking, but overall it's not bad.

"Where No Man Has Gone Before" (4/10)
Captain Kirk and his crew run afoul of an edgespace that embues only two crew members with superpowers. Human psychics are common? ... Midichlorians?
--The "real pilot" with an adventure involving really painful contact lenses and my least favorite plot device ever: psychic abilities. Psionic abilities, whatever. Not as tight of a vision as "The Cage," and there are some weird attempts to make the characters relatable. In between there is much world-building that I really appreciate, and roles are clearly defined. Even the matte paintings are kinda incredible. It's a shame the story ends up where it does: a stupid fight scene, and two characters with great recurrence potential (Gary Mitchell and Elizabeth Dehner) are killed.

"The Corbomite Manuever" (4/10)
A spinning thing that emits danger music whenever it is onscreen won't leave the Enterprise alone. A mutually assured destruction bluff ensues, spoiler alert. God hates a c(lint)(h)oward, spoiler alert.
--If they had moved some money into making the enemy less dumb looking, this would have served as a better pilot episode than "Where No Man Has Gone Before." I prefer an intense space battle over exploring a strange planet and getting infected with a germ or meeting a psychic or getting infected by a psychic germ that you meet... but what do I know? A little... a little is the answer...

"Mudd's Women" (3/10)
The most annoying fatman in the Universe does some sneaky things and isn't stopped for an excruciating amount of time. And- dammit, does this episode not have a title card?
--An attempt to build the larger world and drive a harder Western-in-space comparison falls flat on its... space... horse. I guess it's about old school wife traffiking to deep territory settlers. The hell it focuses on that, though. The music would have you believe that this is a "funny" episode -- hence why the Enterprise crew is acting so stupidly around so-so women, but especially the guards tasked with watching Mudd, I mean, shouldn't they report half of the things he is loudly proclaiming?! I don't like it and you can't make me.

"The Enemy Within" (5/10)
Kirk is split into good and evil parts, inspiring countless books, movies, videogame shadow bosses, and at least five episodes of Family Matters.
--Transporter accident! "How often do these things happen?" I also wonder. If Bones is ever in an administrative position, you can bet your ass he'll outlaw these goddamned things. Does the ship not have a shuttle craft at this point? This ticking clock element gets awfully close to the wire. Situations like these double-troubles highlight a need for some sort of backup plan. A keyphrase you can repeat to loved ones, so that they know it is you. If it's a case where the evil version already knows it, you have to constantly mutiliate yourself for identification. Or print out some colored bracelets, like at the local fair. What a hassle.

"The Man Trap" (3/10)
A salt vampire grows impatient and kills unimportant people without an apparent strategy. Why not beeline for the salt storage? And Bones didn't learn his lesson from Mudd's Women.
--A big time WHATTHEFUCK episode grown from, I suspect, drugs or childish optimism. Like a horror film, minor people die, a main character acts foolishly, a bunch of things happen and then it's over. Not so much a reflection of a real fear, unless the shapeshifter represents Communism? Uhhhhhh... they'll have to BUY my salt? No, that doesn't work.

"The Naked Time" (5/10)
A highly contagious supergerm infects the crew after someone is stupid enough to remove their glove in a room clearly housing something infectious and weird. Moderately dangerous wackiness ensues.
--A lot of fuss is made over getting drunk. Yeah, I know it's like a hyperdrunkedness but jesus. Well, I'll give it a pass because it results in some surprisingly heavy character material. And... time travel? Sure, time travel. In terms of the show reaching its potential quality, we aren't quite there yet, but it's a good sign of what territory it is capable of traversing.

"Charlie X" (4/10)
A punk-ass uses mental powers for everything except learning how to interact with other people. The close-ups and the extreme facial expressions don't help the crew realize that he's evil early on.
--So, another psychic thing. Psionic thing, fuck you. Can't say I blame this little bastard for hitting on Yeoman Rand so hard... there's something about her... something HOT but anyhow, the actors are really beginning to like each other, character interactions are getting much more fluid... for better or worse. A mostly disposable episode given the weak theme of fatherhood (?) and a resolution outside of the Enterprise's control. No tragic lamentation here. Good riddance.

"Balance of Terror" (6/10)
An uncrossable neutral zone. A cloaked ship off the port bow. A mysterious unseen race of people. And then shit really takes off. HOOOOOOOOO YES.
--A history buff wrote this episode. You know how I know? There is very little moral posturing. Sure, there's a heavy-handed racism subplot, but the main plot is all turn-based battle badassery between two captains and their ships, with only slightly mismatched skills in intuition. I hope it's not the case, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is the best episode of the Original Series.

"What Are Little Girls Made Of?" (3/10)
A madman makes robots way too advanced for the setting of the show. Kirk demonstrates a time-tested robot killing ability rivaled only by Megaman. The nurse gets to do something.
--Another episode written by someone on a weird drug trip. And another instance where a keyphrase would have helped differentiate between the real Kirk and the one who is acting suspicious. It could be something as simple as "This sentence is false," the ultimate self-destruct command. Starfleet should really keep these geniuses under surveillance, they succumb to madness so easily.


  1. Hey cool. Good to see you back. Are you going to watch the movies and TNG, as well? Oh, and the cartoon?

    I bought all of TOS when they first came out in season sets years ago. I think I got through the first three episodes before putting it back on the shelf and never touching it again. I'd seen most of it all ready when I was a kid.

    1. We'll see about the animated series, and possibly the first four movies. Next Generation might have to wait awhile, what with Person of Interest, Grimm, Endgame, and Once Upon a Time to torture m'self with.