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Old March 23 2014, 10:32 PM   #40
BigSnake
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Re: Robert Sawyer goes off on "Return of the Archons"

Well, having watched it again (albeit not on BluRay) I think it holds up rather better than Sawyer gives it credit for. I agree with Lance about the creepy atmosphere that it achieves at times, and I don't think its fine cast of character actors is wasted at all. And I smiled to hear the immortal line "We are not Archons, Marplon."

Yes, the visual design does take Hodgkin's Law too far. And there is a pacing problem, I think, in that it takes too long to get to the final confrontation with Landru -- which is far, far too easily argued into seeing itself as "the Evil" and self-destructing as a result. Interesting, though, that Landru's ideology is posited as a mirror of the Federation's and also given the name "Prime Directive." (And what Kirk says about violating the Prime Directive in this case is that the PD applies only to "a living, growing culture.")

I can see why Sawyer felt Kirk was a bit flip about things. I think the impression really comes from the last few minutes. Having destroyed Landru, Kirk is completely casual -- quite arrogantly so -- about the consequences, saying dismissively to Marplon (who saved his life and his crew, might I add) "you're on your own now, I hope you're up to it" and quipping to the now-unguided Lawgivers that they'd better ditch the robes and look for new jobs. That feels really, really off, like he takes Marplon's help as his princely due and like it doesn't occur to him that genuine anarchy might now be in the works, the kind of anarchy that Landru rose to combat. Given the "Festival" they witnessed on their arrival, that glib unconcern is hugely out of place.

It's nice that they leave a "sociologist" and a "team of experts" behind to help "restore the planet's culture to a human form," I guess; but his placid grin when Lindstrom reports on their way out that they've already had outbreaks of violence -- "it may not be paradise, but it's certainly human" -- is pretty jarring, too. This was the problem with the backslapping-exit-joke format that TOS used to wrap things up; it gave the impression that the crew went jaunting merrily on their way in the certainty of a job well done no matter what kind of awful mess they left behind. Even if they were given no choice in making the mess, it still rings a false note here.
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Last edited by BigSnake; March 24 2014 at 12:00 AM.
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