Monday, March 12, 2012

Review: Star Trek (1966-1969) [69-80]

"Wink of an Eye" (6/10)
Some Superfasties need the Enterprise for a Thing. Horniness prevents the bad guys from succeeding. Choosing an alliance is a coin-flip.
-- I figured out what was happening before the big reveal at the 15 minute mark. I thought it'd be cooler if instead of some horny woman, Kirk had time traveled and had caused all this ruckus to prevent the Enterprise from doing something. I admire what's presented, though, including a really good Kirk moment where they tell him not to touch something so he touches it for like ten seconds. How are the aliens moving around the ship so quickly if the doors take forever to open for them? Oh well.

"That Which Survives" (5/10)
Space quake! Inexplicable being! You'd think an anti-matter constructor would find a more effective method of quote defending itself unquote.
-- Buncha residual characters in this one, and has a bit of a "The Cage" vibe. In fact, in seems like a draft of the Pilot episode. Evidence: Spock is suddenly incapable of detecting hyperbole from the eccentric Scottish engineer and is generally somewhat of a dick. Evidence: phasers can help dig graves. Evidence: most of those peripheral characters die. This plot is old space hat, but it's a bit refreshing to see a danger alien have an animation that accompanies her sudden disappearance, instead of the usual jump cut. She leaves like Mega Man sorta! Ooo hey, suspenseful seqeuence aboard the Enterprise where someone finally uses 'reverse the polarity,' ultimate solution for everything except a supercomputer. Speaking of which, a nameless redshirt just gets to shoot the fuck out of one this time 'round.

"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" (6/10)
Oh, this is the blackface/whiteface episode. Did Kirk just say "southernmost part of the galaxy"? That don't make a lick a'sense. The level of Starfleet operation I imagined from the beginning.
-- The DOP got all crazy with the zoom feature on the camera when the ship goes into Red Alert - whoa, never mind, this shit's a tour de force! It's a shame the aliens were headmakeydo, I was really enjoying the down to Earth (the southernmost, if you will) nature of the political battle. We even get a glimpse of the complex self destruct system and it's all suspenseful and shit. Badass!

"Whom Gods Destroy" (6/10)
Prisons are never your forte so stay the fuck away. A much better example of a back-and-forth between hero and villain than previously shown. Distracting boobs.
-- This one's a little all over the place, but each place seems to be well executed. The opening before the shapeshift reveal was kinda spooky. And then it wheels onto being HILARIOUS after holy shit, Kirk actually prepared for the possibility of being imitated down to the cell and taught the Enterprise crew a keyphrase. Good man! Now bang that Orion slavegirl, bang her good this second.

"The Mark of Gideon" (5/10)
A dystopian novel needs Kirk for a Thing. Pro 'needs of the many' mark. Contraception is probably a better idea, are you sure this isn't an Imitative society?
-- Kirk's getting better at this Captaining job. When he beams alone to the Enterprise replica, he immediately thinks that it's an unknown intelligence that has done it. Too bad he's off about what is actually happening (awesome in itself). Artiface, woo! It's almost a great one, but the plot kinda fizzles out in the last ten minutes when Spock beams to the Enterprise replica rather easily and makes some incredibly wild leaps in a confusing voice over.

"The Lights of Zetar" (4/10)
Oh no, a crazy ass electrical storm! Get out of its path! Hide the peripheral female charact- ooop, too late, some sort of headmakeydo is in her now.
-- Eh, this one drags a lot. We get to see the return of the pressurization chamber in this episode. I bet they've exhausted the uses for it now. I'm sad that everyone died on Memory Alpha, it sounded like a kickass planetoid. Knock another con 'needs of the many' argument onto the tally and I Didn't Like It.

"The Cloud Minders" (4/10)
George Lucas rips off the show again! Ehhhh sorta, this shit's ripping off Metropolis after all. Positive interpretation: improve working conditions. Negative interpretation: reports of a mentally deficient working class are true.
-- Someone got too literal with the social caste war, and it's clear who the bad guys are going to be before it's over. At least there's a scientific explanation and eventual solution operating behind it all. Is that any reason to fuck the Prime Directive again and do a score of illegal shit? No is the answer.

"The Way to Eden" (3/10)
Star Trek shows that in spite of being embarassingly out of touch, they are willing to co-opt a political movement for their own purposes. Fuck hippies.
-- Cry Herbert, there were a lot of songs in this. All them squares was taken over rather easily by these starchildren. Daddy-O. Y notice how that Russian woman's nose moves up and down every time she speaks? And did this brazen crossing of the Romulan Neutral Zone result in anything? In spite of liking how it turned out (ie the hippies died because they're so fucking stupid), I Hated It.

"Requiem for Methuselah" (4/10)
Good thing that robot can't aim, or the away team would have been killed before you finally told it not to kill them!
-- Here's another clear instance where Kirk flexes his power to get what he wants. Flint is not so off the case about Starfleet looking chiefly after Starfleet interests in spite of their own rules (assuming Kirk is, indeed, representing Starfleet policy accurately). You can't even make the excuse that Flint is a fascist leader this time; he only wants to be left alone. Then these assholes come in and demand a cure for something and then try to fuck his wife. But I guess the real focus of this is that a woman, even Bette Midler's clone, makes her own decisions. Strange ending ensues.

"The Savage Curtain" (5/10)
A zenith of bizarreness reached, you charming negress. To paraphrase a line from How Did This Get Made's best episode: someone said "Hey, you guys wanna do some 'shrooms and write an episode of Star Trek?"
-- And it's one that is well executed enough that I have a hard time hating it. From the rock/poop creature's lights that match what it is saying, to the (initially) correct(ish) perspective of the Enterprise's recorders, to finally the crew voicing the apt concerns with jesusfucking Abraham Lincoln coming onboard, things oddly follow an operation of logic. I like that Kirk and Spock don't "win" so much as "survive." Perhaps the best all-powerful-mediator episode, JFA Lincoln's presence is the only thing keeping it locked below the good.

"All Our Yesterdays" (6/10)
Lighthearted dealings with a strange old man lead to major problems. Less-early Holodeck genesis?! Ohh, no, looks like actual time machine.
-- Well, we could take the 'in another time' statements figuratively, and the atavachron is a giant computer simulation for criminals, hence why the away team can hear one another. But we lose the poetic nature of Spock's loss (as well as the nonsensical reason he begins to act irrationally) if we go that route. And may I say... that was one provocative cavegirl...

"Turnabout Intruder" (6/10)
Sadistic women have apparently been trying to teach us about their oppression since the late sixties... by brutally murdering helpless men.
-- Like the Buffy the Vampire Slayer body-switch two-parter "This Year's Girl" and "Who Are You?" this episode is uncommonly unshitty given the nature of the concept, with suspenseful moments and a creative showdown provided by a legal Court Martial (proving that Starfleet indeed has a much tighter system in place than the monarch/republic/whateverthehell in Sonic the Hedgehog #233). We are even gifted for the very first time: references to previous adventures. It's nice to see it go out on a high note finally, I'm looking forward to the next seas- oh, wait.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Review: Star Trek (1966-1969) [57-68]

We enter Season 3.

"Spectre of the Gun" (4/10)
More subdued opening theme, eh? Shatner doesn't look so fit. And the Enterprise seems to be missing some fill lights. And Uhura's... hair... sucks.
-- Well, the special effect on the space buoy is an improvement over the usual crap the ship comes across, disregarding the general strangeness of finding geometric objects that spin in space. Wish I could say the same for the devildoll with the glowing eyes. Did their budget take a nosedive? Will every planet be covered in impenetrable fog? Oh of course not, there'll be Earth parallels too, how silly of me to forget them. It's not a total loss in that the idea of executing someone by making them play the losing side in a reenactment of a historical event is neat, and the set that this plays out in is all abstract... and... there's a sign floating in midair! Could this be a seed of the Holodeck idea? I'll annoyingly pester Leonard Nimoy at the next convention. He loves dumb questions. Just loves em.

"Elaan of Troyius" (6/10)
A racial tete-a-tete with a spoiled princess, a dignitary immune to stab wounds, and a hidden Klingon warship off the port bow. A series of small but deadly problems need to be solved. The plot, like the general quality, is better than the title would have you believe.
-- Kirk resists the poorly set up Love Tears rather well, considering the story requirements, but I don't know why Spock wouldn't relieve him of duty, just to be safe. He even has a good recommendation from Bones. I enjoyed how straightforward and cliche-twist-free the story was, that it all boiled down to just getting the princess to Troyius without getting blown to bits. Oh, a small complaint, but it's one I have for Robinson Crusoe on Mars too. It's a shame the princess isn't some weird looking alien, like a reptile or something with long fingers, but just some hot looking human. Having her look as strange as the visiting ambassador would have upped the suspense and really driven home the "strange new worlds" theme of the show, not to mention making the biochemical tears a little more believable (Recall: barn scenes in Splice). I guess going that route means that I want Enemy Mine, but in my mind it's less stupid shut up leave me alone.

"The Paradise Syndrome" (3/10)
Earth parallel! It's one of THOSE KIND too. You know what I mean... Indians (wagon burners)... half-assed ticking clock element... Enterprise races to a piece of crumpled paper...
-- Someone didn't inform Shatner proper CPR techniques, ie you're not trying to fuck the victim. Then they zoom in on the guy who has a problem with all this WILL HE BE THE EPISODE'S VILLAIN? What the hell is HAPPENING? WHAT IN GODS NAME AM I WATCHING Still want to claim that Starfleet's Prime Directive is defended to the death? Because allowing a pre-warp civilization to be destroyed by an asteroid would be following that directive. Y'know, problems of this nature can be avoided if you resist the urge to beam down onto every planet you come across. At least the episode gives us an explanation as to why there are so many of these planets throughout the galaxy. But do The Protectors ever come back in a later episode/show? I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't. Either way, this is probably the worst thing that has ever happened on Starfleet watch. Somebody needs to lose their job.

"The Enterprise Incident" (4/10)
Initiate Implausibility Gambit reminicient of a Sonic the Hedgehog comic story. The one where Sally goes on a secret mission without telling anybody. Do you remember which issue it is? I looked but I can't seem to find it. It's one of the early ones. I won't discount the possibility of it being in the miniseries. I want to say it's before issue 25, but anything is possible. It's going to bother me so somebody please tell me.
-- Being that my favorite aspect of the show was that uncrossable Romulan neutral zone, I'm disappointed that it is broken in the first five minutes of an episode by a ridiculous Kirk. It's one of those secret missions that require impossible feats of intuition regarding enemy actions. And no War Bird? More like no "Balance of Terror." No I won't stop harping about it.

"And the Children Shall Lead" (3/10)
Rule 4675: When you beam down to a planet and see nothing but a bunch of dead bodies, beam the fuck back up. There might be a horrible disease or worse, children. Then you'll have to beam down headstones and a whole ordeal ensues with a disembodied old guy who cannot act his way out of balls.
-- There is a part where Kirk beams crewmen out into space and writes them off as dead before even a minute passes. You guys perform medical miracles all the live-long day! You can't like, TRY? The only part I enjoyed is when Chekov and Kirk started yelling at each other. A low point for certain.

"Spock's Brain" (4/10)
"His b-what?" Ugh. UGH. Bones should have been controlling Spock's body with an NES Advantage.
-- This group of female brainthieves is fucking annoying; I'da resorted to smacking them way closer to the beginning. The plot of the episode is really unclear... the women don't seem to have much of a working knowledge of their own culture and why do they need Spock's brain again? I don't know, and the Enterprise crew moves against a 'needs of the many' argument to save Spock. I should have been keeping a tally this whole time. I know of this episode's reputation, but Worst Ever? It doesn't strike me as such, especially after the previous one.

"Is There In Truth No Beauty?" (6/10)
Watch how often I get the title wrong when mentioning it to others. Some Lovecraft for you.
-- I'm surprised at how geniunely horrific this episode gets, and it's sort of a first season style episode. The concept of an alien race so ugly that they inspire madness in humans and all of these crazy precautions need to be taken is a great idea. Followed by liberal use of a fish-eye lens. Once they solved the problem I was like "Oh, how do we still have ten minutes left OH SHIT SPOCK FORGOT TO PUT ON THE GLASSES." Next time I need a body to ride around in, I know who to choose.

"The Empath" (4/10)
Leave it to Kirk to yell at a mute girl... the extremely overacty mute girl with the injury transfer powers and superhealing abilities. The show's writers find a way to set an entire episode in a dark warehouse. Bones hates underground dwellings too?!
-- Fucking ouch on the wrist wounds! Man, Star Trek has a prejudice against aliens with big heads. They's always motherfuckers. It's another powerful-mediating-race in disguise, the twist being that our heroes have to convince them to stop being assholes. Which actually isn't a twist at all.

"The Tholian Web" (6/10)
Has the starship designation Defiant been used elsewhere? Seems like it has. *takes nap, wakes up* Worf's ship from DS9/First Contact! I'm the fuckin MAN!
-- Neway, the crew's spacesuits look way more practical than they did back in "The Naked Time," if also way more ridiculous looking. There are bunch of small, silly moments in execution (more fish-eye lens!) between a bunch of cool stuff (Kirk waiting on a silent bridge in the middle of a bunch of dead bodies while they work frantically to beam him back). Spock is making a mess of things under command again, do Vulcans just suck at it like black people suck at being humble? Heh, racism. I'll stop Bonesing, Spock does a much better job this time around. And I'm especially a sucker for the web that increases in size and complexity as the episode goes on and the situation gets more dire. Is there a last-minute continuity error? Vulcans ARE capable of lying, then?

"For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" (5/10)
A dramatic terminal illness episode?! In THIS show?! Are we certain this planetary body is an asteroid? It looks a lot like a planet, what with the sky and everything. Oh I get it, it's like a thing they're doing.
-- It's strange having a 'we love Bones' episode right after a 'we love Kirk' episode, but then again, what order am I watching these things in? To be honest, I don't know how I feel about this one. There's nothing too stupid about it, but it doesn't go many places. I'd almost say it was... hollow?

"Day of the Dove" (4/10)
Steve Aylett is right: Kirk sometimes looks like a grotesque monster. Look at the way he beams down to a planet in hunched aggression. He is clearly a danger.
-- What is with this episode? Kirk tells somebody 'go to the devil,' Chekov calls the Klingons 'cossacks,' the Federation may have death camps, the Klingons complain about the violence of another culture, Chekov is overcome by what I assume is patriotism and gets the rape-urge in him... does that glowing electric ball have something to do with it? I sense another all-powerful-being episode... or it's a thinly veiled metaphor for... stem-cell research...

"Plato's Stepchildren" (4/10)
Uuuuuuuuggggghhhh, a midget is always a bad sign for a television episode, I've been known to think. Does that make me a bad person? Yes.
-- Moving on, this is also a *sound drop* Earth Parallel AND about a race with psychic (psychokinetic? PSIONIC?! headmakeydo) abilities. Just to make matters a little bit worse, the story requires DeForest Kelley to throw himself around the set, which he is the worst ever at doing. It's better than "The Squire of Gothos" because of awesome wire work and more intense villains that torture our heroes... with a surprisingly tame interracial kiss. Humph. I didn't like it, what do you want from me?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Review: Star Trek (1966-1969) [44-56]

"Bread and Circuses" (5/10)
The Enterprise away team runs afoul of fascist Romans, the result of a Starfleet surveyor going mad with power. Spock and Bones worry about Kirk as he fucks a slave girl. Machine gun action in the final act. Oh those inexplicably-existent Earth parallels.
-- I have a feeling this might be a clever speculative exercise of Roman history, more clever than I'm picking up on. I do like the portrayal of the gladiator games as filmed in front of a cheap set with canned cheers and boos. Bones and Spock alone in a cell together = also gold. I'll only mention that there's more Prime Directive WHUH stuff, some Jesus humor, and then give this one a pass.

"Journey to Babel" (6/10)
"Oooooo, a multi-racial conference! Shit's about to get nerdy real f- OH GOD WHAT THE FUCK ARE THOSE MIDGETS DRINKING?!! COLORED ROCKS?!" Vulcan philosophy delves into hardcore brass tacks area, moreso than the last episode's excusal of an oppressive dictatorship. The Enterprise gets new Phaser animation. Neato spycraft subplot.
-- Man, Spock's father was dumbed down as all hell in the Abrams movie. I won't lie: I'm gradually disliking that more. "Andorians! I swear I've seen these in later Trek shows. They look great, the makeup is improvi- Oh CHRIST sudden hallway fight with awkward Kirk wall-jump!" Kirk's whole thing about taking the bridge while injured is badass. Best episode of the season mmmmmaayyybe (the Human-Vulcan duality is incredibly heavy handed). It's almost as good as "Balance of Terror."

"A Private Little War" (3/10)
Spock is shot in the back and Kirk is bitten by a Thing. Injun allegory ensues on the western set. Spock likes it rough.
-- Let's care more about what the manipulative witchwoman does instead of the proxy war = boooooooorrring. And for all of her being unrealistically villainous, we are robbed of a good old fashioned gangrape at the end, the perfect manifestation of what her poor decisions have yielded. Recall: The Wild Bunch's "PUUTAAAAA!" scene. Now that's how ya get revenge.

"The Gamesters of Triskelion" (4/10)
Kirk really switches on the charm to seduce Boob Lady Gaga just so he can punch her in the face when she's all turned on. What exactly is a Gamester?
-- Oh, it probably means another one of these powerful collecty races. A remarkable number of these... For being so 'advanced,' they are suckers for gladiator style games. And they remind me all of Tron. This one's like a Season 1 episode, complete with the awkwardness. Good stuff in the cell scenes (again), like Chekov's transvestite and Uhura's rapey-man. I guess they all win in the end, though Kirk kills two creatures on the Brain Committee's terms and it is only on their word that they are free to go. I like the final scene of the episode. The rest...

"Obsession" (5/10)
Kirk directly challenges cowardice. A nonrecurring redshirt manages to stay alive. Moby Dick again?
-- I like the plot, but should I? I suppose 1) it's out of character for Kirk and for the rules of the Federation and 2) given the loaded title of the episode and the medical ticking clock element, I'm wrong in asserting from the beginning that Kirk is correct in hunting down the "Metamorphosis" cloud. In another episode, Kirk would be just as quick to forgive the Cloud for killing his crew as long as dialogue could be reached. After all, what did "Arena" try to teach us? And they appear to be acknowledging this by increasing the amount of emotional dissent between crew members. Well, they all come around eventually so.

"The Immunity Syndrome" (5/10)
The Crew fights giant Space Amoeba. They spend time figuring out how they hell they're going to get out of This One, and delay the big reveal midway through with confusion and things that don't operate normally.
-- You know you're in trouble when the first line is something like "I look forward to a long, peaceful, event-free vacation from the drudgeries of Starfleet duty." Why is Shatner's delivery of his line so weird? Oh okay, he's horny. Anyway, Spock provides an apportunity for George Lucas to rip off the show and then puts Bones in his place hardcore! The second half is a little boring, sadly. It's hard to say if this is better than the Star Trek: Voyager equivalent, "The Cloud," or if it's The Same for Different Reasons. This one has Bones and Spock verbal jousting, after all! And they're not there for fucking coffee.

"A Piece of the Action" (6/10)
A hyper-imitative society resulting in a strange level of inconvenience?! Fuck yes! That be Douglas Adams territory.
-- If they had done more with it, that is. Well, it does have a lot of coolness in it. It gets a shit-ton sillier once Kirk climbs into gangster garb. And not silly in the same way that "The Trouble with Tribbles" is. What I'm trying to spit out is that I felt the second half was a little lazy. However, I have been accused of hating too many things. It's ever a toss-up.

"By Any Other Name" (4/10)
Would it have killed them to have chosen a less hilarious pose for Bones and Spock to get frozen in? It really contrasts the following scene when the redskirt is killed in a disturbing manner.
-- The paralysis machines are ridiculous in general, and OF COURSE there has to be a central hub that they can take out to disable all of them at once, lest they disturbingly get turned into sugar cubes -- wait, no, Triangular Orthobicupola (yes, I had to look that shit up). That's an effective way to store prisoners! The Kelvins probably should have done that to the principle cast members, but then Kirk couldn't seduce the lady with her back hangin out, could he?

"Return to Tomorrow" (5/10)
Sulu's back! Briefly! For a... strange idea of an episode where glowing balls ride human bodies like motorcycles in order to make gross robots. That's what happened right?
In spite of it having the feel of a Season 1 episode, there's a good idea executed in an adequate manner. I like that Kirk and Spock (as themselves) don't affect the plot until the end. Speaking of which, Leonard Nimoy deserves an award for his performance as Spock as Evil Alien.

"Patterns of Force" (4/10)
Earth parallel! Are the occurance of these ever investigated? It has to be something more complex than "they wanted to use the French town set." Maybe before they solve that, they should look into why all of the "observers" that Starfleet sends end up fucking their planets into fascist nightmares.
-- On the whole, it's not as clever as "Bread and Circuses" but we do get a prophetic glimpse of a flatscreen TV. It's tough to determine its quality; its either almost almost good or barely ungood. *looks* Cat's dead, I'll put it in the latter category.

"The Ultimate Computer" (5/10)
Uh oh, a supercomputer is involved. Beware of Kirk! Seriously, though, how many more of these plots can occur before we can say that we've learned our lesson?
-- Surprisingly, they go a slightly different route and the problem is human irrationality, instead of the solution. Dear Starfleet: keep churning out these insane burnouts into the universe. You're doing wonderful work.

"The Omega Glory" (4/10)
"Enlist in Starfleet! Only 26% chance of getting turned into salt! Oh, and that rule about giving up your life and the life of your crew rather than violating the Prime Directive is flexible at best."
-- We're given the hard moral push here, and I hear tell it is because it was once considered for a pilot episode. Had that happened, perhaps we could have avoided these outright violations of a clearly stated policy in later episodes. Just avoid that whole Nazi thing altogether. The "freedom" worship word coincidence is much like the Shakespearean quotes in Brave New World. IE crap.

"Assignment: Earth" (3/10)
WHAT. Fuck this episode.
-- The Enterprise has just gone back in time willy nilly? That's weird. I was hoping they'd never use that Whateverwhatever from "The Naked Time" and "Tomorrow is Yesterday" and we could all just pretend it never happened. That the least of this episode's problems, though. What stakes does this strange alien have in humanity's survival exactly? And why is Kirk so uncharacteristically unreasonable? Oh forget it, it's an unfocused mess. The only good part was the cat lady. Mmmm.