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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > Star Trek - Original Series

Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

View Poll Results: Which episode is better?
Bem 1 5.00%
Albatross 19 95.00%
Voters: 20. You may not vote on this poll

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Old February 26 2011, 03:54 PM   #1
Botany Bay
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TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

Each week two TAS episodes will face off against each other.

If you have time, watch them both, then vote for the one you think is best to get it through to the next round...the loser gets eliminated.

So, to kick off Round 1 :

Bem vs. Albatross
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Old February 26 2011, 07:25 PM   #2
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

"Albatross," no question. It's an interesting glimpse into McCoy's past, it sets up an effective dilemma with McCoy's arrest, it features an interesting alien race in the Draymians, and it doesn't get too silly in its sci-fi, beyond the astronomical error of auroras existing in space rather than being atmospheric phenomena. (But it could be rationalized if you assume there's a particularly dense interplanetary medium in the system, maybe an unusually active star that sends out lots of plasma and has an expansive magnetic field, or something. The "plague" could be some kind of radiation sickness.) It's a bit unusual for TAS in that it's a story that could've been told on TOS with little change beyond making the Draymians more humanoid. That makes it less imaginative than a lot of the episodes, but less silly than some.

"BEM" is fairly mediocre. The idea of a colony creature, a conscious entity consisting of several autonomous parts, is interesting, but not well-executed here; it's hard to believe such an entity could evolve such a humanoid body plan. And the way the parts just levitate through the air is silly. (I prefer the Foster novelization, where the torso walks on its hands and the head crawls on little cilia that come out of the neck.) And the whole "powerful alien entity judges humans until we convince it of our principles" angle has been done.
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Old February 26 2011, 07:49 PM   #3
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

^^ Spot on. Except for the elaborate aliens "Albatross" could have been a TOS episode. It was quite well done.
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Old February 26 2011, 08:55 PM   #4
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

Christopher wrote: View Post
(But it could be rationalized if you assume there's a particularly dense interplanetary medium in the system, maybe an unusually active star that sends out lots of plasma and has an expansive magnetic field, or something. The "plague" could be some kind of radiation sickness.)
Possibly similar to the phenomena responsible for the ship shaking "ion storms" from TOS and a few other sequal series?

Yeah, "Albatross" is probably one of my 3 or 4 favorite TAS eps. In addition to those elements Christopher noted, I especially love the Draymians; their homeworld/culture, and the fact that the cartoon actually dealt with the death of an entire population. The stowaway scene is a little simplistic but it works, given that it was a relatively short cartoon aimed at kids.

"BEM" is interesting in concept (colony creature, powerful yet protective non-corporeal alien) but falls flat in the silly ditch when the dude's parts start to float.
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Old February 26 2011, 09:21 PM   #5
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

Yes, much the same for me.
BEM isn't bad, just kinda bleh. Albatross I really like a lot.
A really cool story, good McCoy eps. One of my top TAS faves.
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Old February 26 2011, 09:24 PM   #6
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

Albatross...period.
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Old February 26 2011, 09:29 PM   #7
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

Basill wrote: View Post
Possibly similar to the phenomena responsible for the ship shaking "ion storms" from TOS and a few other sequal series?
An ion storm is actually a real thing, sort of. It's an alternate name for a coronal mass ejection, a massive burst of stellar wind. This is a comparatively dense outburst of highly energetic ions (hydrogen nuclei, free electrons, some heavier ions), and can have quite a lot of energy. When a CME hits Earth, even with our magnetic field shielding us, it can cause electrical line failures and power outages, as well as creating a radiation hazard for high-altitude aircraft, let alone astronauts. A CME could certainly be dangerous for a spaceship.

(Although it's not a very common or formal name for a CME, and I bet it's mainly used by astronomers who are also Trek/SF fans.)

And yes, CMEs do cause auroras in Earth's atmosphere when they strike our magnetic field. But that's a far cry from getting auroras in interplanetary space. Auroras happen because the solar wind particles channeled by Earth's magnetic field collide with nitrogen and oxygen molecules in the atmosphere, exciting or ionizing them and causing them to give off light when they return to ground state. So auroras shouldn't be possible in airless space.
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Old February 27 2011, 02:36 AM   #8
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

Definitely "Albatross." From the weird-looking aliens and their voices to the peek into McCoy's past to the plague victims changing colors, it grabs your attention from the get-go. I particularly like when they beam down to Dramia II and the atmosphere that they find there. "Plagues seldom leave behind fields of flowers and dancing children." Indeed. Not your typical kiddie-fare here.
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Old February 27 2011, 04:08 AM   #9
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

^^ Really debunks the notion that TAS was for kiddies. It was for a general audience and dared to deal with ideas that you weren't going to find in any other Saturday morning cartoon.
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Old March 4 2011, 01:51 PM   #10
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

Albatross.

Just watched this one again for the first time in ages, and it's worth the praise it's getting in this thread. Definitely could have been a live action episode.

Even at twenty-odd minutes long, BEM is hard work to sit through, and looks like it is about to get a deserved beheading from the voters of TrekBBS.

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Old March 4 2011, 03:09 PM   #11
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

"BEM" is a disappointment for stupid reasons. All it would have taken was a little smart thinking. BEM is a colony creature and as such he needed to be shown in a smart manner. As soon as you start seeing his body parts going off on their own every which way the character's credibility is completely shattered.

Greg Bear's novel Anvil Of Stars is one good way to depict a colony creature and if TAS had done this "BEM" would probably be remembered more fondly.

Curiously TNG did a first season episode very much like "BEM" called "Justice." It also bombed but for completely different reasons.

Too bad because in both cases there is a worthwhile story buried within each.

"The Infinite Vulcan" is another cool story and very visually exciting episode...until you get to the fifty foot Spock and Keniclius. Then your brain gets a serious spasm of If they had kept the clones normal sized then there would have been nothing to complain about.
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Old March 5 2011, 05:13 AM   #12
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

Yeah, all the body parts floating around was kind of lame. When I rewatched this on DVD, I turned on David Gerrold's commentary, he had a few interesting comments about it originally being submitted for the live-action show. His original idea was for a strong short actor carrying another lighter short actor on top of his shoulders and that they would be costumed as a 2-part alien. The top part would jump down off the bottom part and walk around as separate beings. Why this couldn't have been shown in the final animated form instead of all this floating stuff is the big question.

He introduced the idea of Spock having a logical reason for being prejudiced against Bem since Bem was a "practical joker" but I never saw much of this idea surviving to the final script. Perhaps it was just as well.

He also claimed that it was Gene Roddenberry that wanted the crew to find "god" on the planet. So he had to write that part into the script that Nichelle ended up doing the voice for.

I may be wrong but I seem to remember that giant clones and talking plants weren't part of Walter Koenig's original script for "The Infinite Vulcan" either.
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Old March 5 2011, 03:46 PM   #13
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

^Well, the TAS producers wanted elements that were visually striking and impossible to achieve in live action. If you've seen Bantam's Star Trek: The New Voyages 2 anthology, it contains a rejected Russell Bates script, "The Patient Parasites," which was turned down because it didn't have anything in it that couldn't have been done in live action. Bates went on to team up with animation writer David Wise and write "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth," an episode with a winged-snake alien "god," a vast holographic city, and a menagerie full of alien beasts, so he definitely learned from the rejection.

Indeed, as I suggested before, that makes it strange that "Albatross" sold at all, given that it has nothing (aside from the design of the aliens) that couldn't have been done in live action. Maybe it was the strength of the story that sold it despite that.
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Old March 5 2011, 03:56 PM   #14
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

When I read Alan Dean Foster's adaptations it make sit a lot easier to accept some of these stories. I think the Phylosians and the idea of plantile intelligence are cool. I've always liked "The Infinite Vulcan" and in print I don't have to be faced with fifty foot clones.
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Old March 5 2011, 05:13 PM   #15
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

"The Infinite Vulcan" gets a lot of flak but I like it, too.

I don't know why clone Spock has to be fifty feet tall.
I have no problem accepting it, if there was a reason.

The Eugenics War scientist who still survives by cloning himself after centuries? And is still up to no good? That's interesting and good. And sentient plant life? More interesting aliens that no other Trek has ever attempted.
New and unique ideas there, I like it.
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