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Old January 4 2011, 01:05 AM   #16
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Re: The 2011-12 Trek Marathon

Please join in whenever you feel like it and share your thoughts on a few eps as they come up.
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Old January 9 2011, 06:35 AM   #17
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Re: The 2011-12 Trek Marathon

TOS 1x03 Mudd's Women ('11/01/04)

This is a problematic episode in that it lacks the moral approach we've come to expect from Star Trek.

I find it remarkable that drugs and prostitution passed the censor at the time, but we'll even have rape in the next one. Done right, the producers would have made a point about how those things are dealt with in a future environment. Judging from "Mudd's Women", it looks like we haven't seen much development in either department for hundreds of years. In fact it's so badly executed that it stands out as probably the most sexist episode of Star Trek (at one point the two miners speak of wanting to "try the women on").

Harry Mudd is one of the very few recurring minor characters of the Original Series. Mr. Carmel's mannerisms are entertaining and fun to watch throughout, especially in the interrogation scene, and he carries much of the episode. Still: I don't know about the 60s, but by today's standards I'd say this guy seems pretty gay.

At the end of the episode we see Childress and Eve nagging on each other like they're married with children. Shouldn't he be madly infatuated with her at least up until the moment she gets "ugly"?
Just as the venus drug had its effect on the girl's looks and she's back to her beautiful self, Kirk tells her he swapped it for a placebo and that "you either believe in yourself or you don't". I suppose we are to think that believing in yourself will perfect your make-up and hairstyle plus put the lip-gloss back on. Rather unconvincing I might say.
Eve is the only one showing some independence in the end, but eventually she stays - "today at least" - with the miner, who by all means doesn't sound like he's looking for a wife, something that in this episode is ultimately presented as a woman to cook.
What is a woman supposed to take away from this?

It's important to note that Spock of course, unlike Data, understands human behavior and seems genuinely amused / annoyed if not, to some extent, even affected by the women's "mysterious magnetic effect" as Kirk calls it. And I thought it was just three plain beautiful ladies (note that the girls' closeups are shot in extremely foggy, soft focus).
I just wish McCoy would get more of a hold on himself. Although I gotta admit it's pretty funny, it's a little embarrassing to see him like that. We also get a nice little Sulu moment.

The stuff on Mudd's neck; is Don't you feel it would be an interesting detail if instead he had a huge scar there to show he's got a history of getting into trouble? He sure is talking like a pirate.

When Mudd is talking about the (di-)lithium crystals, he says they're "worth three hundred times their weight in diamonds, thousands of times their weight in gold". Where is Starfleet getting its funds? Tuition fees? I guess someone has to pay for the exploring they do.
One other thing I was always curious about is the light sensor mechanism. How exactly does it work? It seems pretty advanced to me.

Favorite quotes:
  • "A most annoying, emotional episode." (Spock)
  • "They'll throw away the key!" (Mudd)

TOS 1x04 The Enemy Within ('11/01/05)

My first exposure to Star Trek was in 1995, when I saw The Motion Picture on afternoon TV. When only the second instance of beaming resulted in two crew members materializing as misshapen masses of flesh, naturally my impression was that this isn't exactly a safe way of traveling.

Technical difficulties have always been just as much part of Star Trek as the gadgets themselves. Transporter technology being arguably the single most recognizable piece of Trek lore, there's bound to be a handful of stories dealing with malfunctions and accidents. This is the first of many.

William Shatner's performance as evil Kirk is completely over-the-top, but for me that is exactly what makes this episode so compelling to watch. It's easily one of the better episodes in Season 1. There are many great character moments and lots of wonderful and revealing dialogue. We are also given the best yet insight into the character of Spock.
Kirk mauling Yeoman Rand might be a bit much, but who knows what kind of things an instinct-driven, utterly evil version of ourselves would do? Under those circumstances, I find the acting quite believable and not cringeworthy at all, as some people have described it.

Growing more and more indecisive, Kirk needs to accept that without his "evil" self he doesn't have what it takes to be the captain, that his darker side needs to be reintegrated. One Kirk cannot live without the other.

SPOCK: "His evil side, if you will, properly controlled and disciplined, is vital to his strength."
Brilliant. Who*would know better than Spock about control and discipline, about restraining one side of yourself? Later:

SPOCK: "I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half, submerged, constantly at war with each other. Personal experience, doctor. I survive it because my intelligence wins over both, makes them live together."
His lecturing of Kirk is a profoundly meaningful comment on what it means to be human. To hear this coming from Spock, who is "only" half a human, is really gratifying. But then again, it's only logical.

The Vulcan nerve pinch as well as McCoy's catchphrase "He's dead, Jim" debut in this episode. It's also the first time that Yeoman Rand gets to say more than just one line. In the end she too finds out about the alter ego, but even then it's a little hard to believe that she could ever look Kirk in the eye again. Especially after Spock "jokes" about "the impostor's interesting qualities". Sounds like regular harassment in the workplace to me.

The only problem I have with "Enemy Within" is the fact that no one thought about sending a shuttle down to the planet to rescue Sulu and the others. Obviously the shuttle model hadn't been finished by the time they shot this episode.
But maybe Captain Kirk's weakness had just the effect Spock foretold: the crew losing all faith, unable to act without the Yin Yang that is the captain.

An accident similar to the one in this episode occurs in "Spock Must Die!", one of the very first TOS novels (Bantam Books, 1970). In it, Spock is the one who ends up being duplicated, but unlike Kirk, he is split into two identical entities, leaving the crew rather clueless as to which one is the "real" Spock.

Favorite quotes:
  • "You can't afford the luxury of being anything less than perfect. If you do, they lose faith, and you lose command." (Spock)
  • "The intelligence, the logic. It appears your half has most of that. And perhaps that's where man's essential courage comes from." (McCoy)
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Old January 12 2011, 03:54 AM   #18
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Re: The 2011-12 Trek Marathon

TOS 1x05 The Man Trap ('11/01/06)

Star Trek was officially born September 8th 1966 when "The Man Trap" was the very first episode to air on NBC.
The decision to broadcast it before any of the other episodes we've seen this week is explained in Inside Star Trek: The Real Story:

"The Man Trap" won out because its straightforward action plot was not considered too exotic, it had the advantage of a monster to thrill the viewers, and it fulfilled the series' "strange new worlds" concept.
I guess I ain't wrong calling this an "OK", routine kind of episode. It's neither an outstanding nor an especially uninteresting example of Trek. A little slow in pacing, but spliced with nice little moments and a good climax.

To me, "Man's Trap" feels more like a "Monster of the Week" episode right out of the "X-Files", but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The salt monster is able to take the shape of anyone you want (or expect) to see. In the opening sequence it is even able to appear as a different woman to each Kirk, McCoy and Darnell. I can see that being some intriguing SF at the time.

As in "The Enemy Within", the captain's log features an "additional entry" spoken in retrospect, right after the opening credits ("Unknown to us at the time..." / "We were totally unaware that..."). This is dropped later in the series.

The scenes involving Crater are really suspenseful throughout. As he's looking for Nancy outside, we cut to her towering over another dead crew man. Creepy. The "last of its kind" part was a nice touch and I just love the distortion on Crater's voice after he gets stunned by Kirk. The sound effect used when Crater gets hit comes off as a bit comical in comparison.
Later, when the two doctors sit side by side in the conference room, everyone else is unaware that the real McCoy is actually sleeping in his quarters. Crater of course knows, but he is unwilling to identify the monster.
The episode's script was originally titled "The Unreal McCoy" and the novelization retains that name.

It's good to see a little bit more of Uhura, who we find out can speak Swahili. Her little flirt with Spock is absolutely priceless. She's clearly interested in him, so their interactions should be something to look forward to in the future.
Spock's lack of emotion is questioned once more when a death is reported to the bridge. The screenwriters do all they can to make sure we get that he's different.

Spock trying to protect Kirk ("It's killing the captain!") and repeatedly hitting Nancy / the salt monster in the face is definitely my favorite moment. At last, some emotion. Wait...did Spock get emotional there? One of the few unexpected moments in an episode that is unfortunately very predictable.

I really do not understand Crater's feelings for the creature. Not only did it murder a number of crew men, but also his own wife. Shouldn't he be the one wanting to kill the monster instead of providing for it the means to survive? I suppose in the end he got what he deserved. Poor guy.

Favorite quotes:
  • UHURA: "Tell me how your planet Vulcan looks on a lazy evening when the moon is full."
    SPOCK: "Vulcan has no moon, Miss Uhura."
    UHURA: "I'm not surprised, Mister Spock."

TOS 1x06 The Naked Time ('11/01/07)

What a great way to end the first week. From beginning to end, "The Naked Time" is full of delightful performances.

At last our characters have been properly introduced, each one of them has played a bigger role in at least one of the episodes, and uniforms will pretty much stay the way they are now.
There really is nothing negative to say about the episode itself, except that, just having gotten used to the cast of the show, I feel that its premise would've had even more of an effect if the producers had waited until later in the series to make this one. The more one is familiar with Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the others, the more their actions in "The Naked Time" contrast (and complement) their usual behavior.
So what exactly do we learn about the crew?

Sulu's playful and roguish side is brought to the surface as he gets a little too carried away with his sword practice, thinking himself a musketeer dueling the evil Cardinal Richelieu. Don Quixote taking windmills for giants, anyone?
Easy to see why George Takei called this one his favorite episode.

Spock's emotional breakdown should be part of any "Greatest Moments of Star Trek" special. It's an exceptional performance by Nimoy. It shows us that Vulcans do indeed have emotions, which they control through logic (here presented as counting).
There's a direct reference in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek to the scene where a Spock in tears admits to never having told his mother he loved her. In Abrams' version, Kirk, trying to get an emotional response from Spock, claims that "You never loved her!". The young Vulcan beats him almost unconscious after that.

Kirk is caught between his love of the Enterprise and the desire to feel some human warmth. He is more than aware of the isolation that comes with being the captain (compare "The Corbomite Maneuver": "I've already got a female to worry about. Her name is the Enterprise"). We expected Kirk to have a hidden romantic interest for Yeoman Rand when his evil duplicate took advantage of her in "The Enemy Within", and here he tells us that his position doesn't allow him to express those feelings, that there is "no beach to walk on".
What remarkable character study!

Nurse Chapel (who appears for the first time in TOS) is in love with Spock, but seems to have been able to keep it to herself until now. Their relationship as well as Spock's inability to return her affections will be the subject of a number of later episodes.

Spock's appeal on women is further explored in the novel "Spock Must Die!" (1970):

What was the source of the oddly overt response that women of all ages and degrees of experience seemed to feel toward Spock? [...]
McCoy -- on shore leave, after several drinks -- had said, "You parlor psychologists are all alike -- constantly seeking for complexities and dark, hidden motives where none probably exist. Most people are simpler than that, Jim. Our Mr. Spock, much though I hate to admit it, is a thoroughly superior specimen of the male animal -- brave, intelligent, prudent, loyal, highly placed in his society -- you name it, he's got it. What sensible woman wouldn't want such a man? But women are also practical creatures, and skeptical about men. They can see that Spock's not a whole man. That compulsive inability of his to show his emotions cripples him, and they want to try to free him of it [...] to be the whole, grownup, near-superman he hasn't quite become, and make themselves good enough for that man."
It's too bad that we don't get to see more of Lieutenant Riley. I thought Bruce Hyde's portrayal was quite refreshing.

The discovery of time warp is another historic moment and felt like a great way to end the episode, although Captain Kirk seemed a little underwhelmed at the prospect of being able to go back in time.

"The Naked Time" is essential TOS. Although the episode doesn't focus on one character in particular, there's a wealth of character development, and the episode does a fantastic job at involving the whole crew to almost the same extent. In fact, it is the only time Uhura, Rand and Chapel appear together before The Motion Picture.
Roddenberry deemed this episode so instrumental to establishing the crew that in TNG's "The Naked Now" an almost identical setting is used to give us an overview of the new crew members' character traits.

Favorite quotes:
  • "You don't rank me and you don't have pointed ears!" (Tormolen)
  • "Richelieu, beware!" (Sulu)
  • "Take D'artagnan here to sickbay" (Spock)
  • "Lieutenant Uhura, you've interrupted my song. I'm sorry that there'll be no ice cream for you tonight" (Riley)
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Old January 12 2011, 05:47 AM   #19
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Re: Trek Marathon

LOKAI of CHERON wrote: View Post
I'm doing the exact same thing - watching two episodes a day. I'm going with this order, which is supposedly chronological. I was hoping somebody might be able to comment on its accuracy?
They’re using production order for TOS. That’s OK, but I personally prefer my Stardate-based order, here.
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Old January 12 2011, 11:58 AM   #20
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Re: The 2011-12 Trek Marathon

TOS 1x07 Charlie X ('11/01/08)

Hmm, looks like we're getting into the good stuff. "Charlie X" is one of those episodes that had me right from the beginning. The acting is spot-on. Plus - again - more screen time for Uhura and Rand.

Kirk welcomes 17-year old Charlie in the transporter room and instantaneously some ominous music starts playing, signaling impending doom. The situation is awkward enough already, Captain Ramart neglecting to tell Kirk of Charlie's special power, clearly uncomfortable around the boy. Then Charlie spasms and honestly, that one looks pretty unsettling. Do we have an exorcist on board? Charlie tells us he's "trying to make people like me" and we know: whatever it is he's doing, he's doing it wrong alright.

Charlie might need a father figure, but Kirk is already starting to feel weirded out, attempting to leave this new problem with McCoy. He is lost for words as Charlie inquires about the right and wrongs of spanking Janice's rear. The scene in all it's subtlety is masterfully played by Shatner. Look at Kirk's expression after getting called out to the bridge.

CHARLIE: Can I come with you?
KIRK: I don't think so, Charlie.
Why didn't he just tell him he hates children and to stop hovering. He kinda pulled that one on Yeoman Rand AND Spock before, so I guess it's ok. I loved Kirk getting more irritated by the minute and trying to get Charlie off his back on several occasions, like when he left him to play chess with Spock.

The scene between Spock and Uhura in the common room is just enchanting. You gotta love the interaction and body language between the two here. Spock shows both irritation and amusement as Uhura tries her charms on him once again. While in "Where No Man Has Gone Before" he still referred to irritation as "one of your earthly emotions", it seems that by now he's made it part of his repertoire.
I think I fell a little for Yeoman Rand here, who is having a good time and smiling for a change. Love the close-ups on her. But in comes Charlie and silences the two love-birds. Hopefully, we'll get to see some more recreation time before the end of the season.

Yeoman Tina's a cute one, but Charlie has set his eyes on Janice. And I was thinking she wasn't going to get harassed for once. Charlie's pretty much been my personal enemy since shutting up Uhura, but this does it. I wouldn't be surprised if Rand's gonna end up a complete wreck by the end of Season 1. Watching all those episodes in succession, I think I begin to see why people keep referring to her as the sexpot.

The lighting on Charlie's face after he's let the gym master disappear is awesome to the highest degree. On a directorial level, the whole episode is flawless. The only part that stood out to me as surprisingly below average was the mask they used when the boy lets a laughing woman's face disappear. Still I found that idea remarkably original.
Charlie might still be a boy, but that doesn't change the fact that he represents a danger to the whole ship.
Roddenberry's original screenplay was fittingly titled "Charlie is God" and just as in "Where No Man Has Gone Before", our antagonist possesses powers that grow exponentially and ultimately become way too much for him to handle. Once more, our captain displays impeccable commanding skills, not allowing himself to be intimidated even in the face of the Enterprise being at Charlie's disposition.

As the Thasians take Charlie home, Kirk is visibly distraught that he couldn't save the kid. He's way too noble to be just plain relieved that Charlie's out of his hair. The glowing yellow face argues that Kirk would fail at bettering Charlie and so they take him away.
Yeoman Rand reaching out to Kirk for some emotional support was particularly moving.

"Charlie X" is all about what it means to be 17, to grow up. The kid's part is obviously written in a way for us to dislike him, but I bet there's a handful of things in this episode that anyone can relate to.
Charlie is able to do just about anything, but he can't change the way people feel. Specifically because of his near-omnipotent powers, it is all the more difficult for him to accept that there's "a million things you can have and a million things you can't".
Robert Walker Jr. does a great job of portraying Charlie, whose inner struggle is very convincingly put on display through the help of a great soundtrack and better-than-usual cinematography.

Favorite quotes:
  • "He's a boy in a man's body trying to be an adult, with the adolescent in him getting in the way" (Kirk)

TOS 1x08 Balance of Terror ('11/01/09)

After over a century of peace, the Romulan empire has launched a preemptive strike against federation outposts along the boundary of the Neutral Zone. Enterprise investigates.

"Balance of Terror" is one of the finest episodes the original Star Trek has to offer. In it we are introduced to the Romulans, a race primarily dominated by militant ideals. We're about to learn that Romulan military and political ranks are greatly influenced by ancient Roman society. It is essential viewing because it allows us a first glimpse of the Bird-of-Prey's cloaking device and reveals an important part of Trek history, some backstory on the Romulan Neutral Zone.

It isn't hard to see the similarities between this episode and a WWII "destroyer vs. submarine"-type of film. In essence, it is an adaptation of Dick Powell's 1957 motion picture "The Enemy Below", starring Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens. I watched the movie before writing this review, and have to admit that both ships' maneuvers are almost identical to those of their American and German counterparts.
The tension apparent throughout the episode, the repetitive sound effects in the background and the fact that this is the only episode in which the ship's weaponry is fired through a chain of command (Kirk to Stiles to phaser room); it all adds to the submarine feel.
Something I didn't quite get though was why the crew had to talk in hushed voices. In my opinion they might have overdone it a little at that point.

The Neutral Zone is mentioned as dividing the rest of the galaxy from planets Romulus and Remus, an obvious reference to the mythic founding brothers of Rome. The Earth-Romulan War, a five-year long conflict that occurred over a hundred years ago, brought about a peace treaty and the creation of said neutral zone. Up until now there has been no face-to-face contact nor visual ship-to-ship communication between the two parties. Now that Earth outposts 2 and 3 have been destroyed, Kirk must make a decision that might as well have consequences of intergalactic scale.

It's the most thrilling and serious episode up to this point. We can feel the responsibility that lies on Kirk's shoulders, specially when the men discuss whether or not to answer the Romulans' attack and risk intergalactic war.
Afterwards, in his own private quarters with McCoy, Kirk gives one of his famous monologues:

"I wish I were on a long sea voyage somewhere. Not too much deck tennis, no frantic dancing and no responsibilities. Why me? I look around that bridge and I see the men waiting for me to make the next move. And Bones, what if I'm wrong?
We get the same kind of exchange, impeccably scripted, between the Romulan commander and the Centurion. There's so many great dialogue in this episode, that quoting all of it would probably double this review's length. The back-and-forth between Kirk and the Romulan commander is an "Art of War" 101, Kirk desperately trying to keep the conflict to only the two ships.
Mark Lenard, who would later return as Spock's father Sarek, is terrific as the commander, a man following orders, not hungry for glory and honor. I felt a lot of sympathy for this character. Respect goes out to the screenwriters' decision to avoid a black-and-white scenario, depicting the Romulans as a worthy foe to the Federation but not necessarily as evil. Both captains acknowledge each other's intelligence and just before he self-destructs his ship, the Romulan admits that...

"...In a different reality, I could have called you friend."
The comic Alien Spotlight: Romulans (2008) functions as prologue to this episode and, although it does not include any major revelations (like the commander's name or any motivations behind the attack other than test-driving the praetor's new favorite toy), it is very faithful to the spirit of "Balance of Terror".

Lieutenant Stiles, whose family fought in the Romulan War, is absurdly prejudiced against Spock after getting first visual on the alien race and noticing the obvious likeliness to Vulcan physiognomy. By saving his life, Spock is able to regain his trust.

Just as the Enterprise is about to get hit by the Bird-of-Prey's plasma torpedo, Yeoman Rand looks for comfort at Kirk's side and he takes her into his arms. It's all very subtle and I just loved the mutual understanding there.

After the tragic death of Tomlinson, Kirk goes to the chapel to comfort Angela. He tells her that his death was not in vain. Life goes on. Fabulous ending as the credits roll over Kirk walking the ship.
The Enterprise might have won this time, but there is no reason for celebration. To quote the German commander from "Enemy Below":

"There is no honour in this war. The memories will be ugly, even if we win."
Favorite quotes:
  • "Don't destroy the one named Kirk" (McCoy)
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Old January 12 2011, 06:15 PM   #21
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Re: The 2011-12 Trek Marathon

My favorite quote from "Balance of Terror" (one of my favorite episodes of Trek):

"You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend." Romulan Commander to Kirk
“When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.” -Pres. Obama
"A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon." -Pres. Clinton
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