Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Mario de Monti, Jul 19, 2013.
I'd ask shatner next month but I doubt that he remembers
True, but with the difference being that Spock's offhand remark was about Kirk's ability to pass himself off as a Nazi, while Dr. Boyce was asking whether Capt. Pike could really see himself as an Orion trader dealing in slaves.
...And the joke is on Pike, because the answer is, yes, he could. And will.
It's a funny picture of a hero that "The Cage" paints. First, the skipper receives an SOS and tells his crew to ignore it, then goes to bed! The very next thing, he considers resigning! And then we learn that he dreams of horses, hellfire and being a slave trader...
Mario, I am American born but just got back from Germany last month. I understand your sensitivity to the possibly offensive humor in the ep. The WHOLE episode is a kind of a joke since television doesn't provide an adequate budget to depict the large crowds necessary to create the atmosphere of a "Nazi" planet. There just weren't enough extras, and the whole episode trucks in almost pure cliche. It's all so silly, humor just naturally bubbles to the surface. This is the reason why a large number of fans find Patterns of Force "corny" and insincere. You just can't take such a serious subject as Nazism and turn it into a plastic screenplay for a television episode. It is easy to understand why this episode was not shown in Germany for decades.
I am constrained to point out that other Trek episodes offend specific parties. For example, Shatner joking in "City on the Edge of Forever" that "My friend is obviously Chinese". Or in Turnabout Intruder when Kirk says that captain isn't a position that Janice Lester "merits by temperament or training." Turnabout Intruder is a total turnoff to women, I know that. And I know that "Elan of Troyius" is highly offensive to some Asian women. And of course if I was a Vulcan, I would indeed find the entire series highly offensive, since both Kirk and McCoy are constantly taking racist jabs at Spock.
~ Mr Atoz
Years ago (circa 2000) on another bboard, a German guy informed us that Star Trek, the whole series, was originally syndicated in Germany with a phony translation of the dialog. He said it made the episodes juvenile and often quite silly, and adults did not understand how the show could be playing to grown-ups in America.
Then sometime around the late 1980s or 90s, I don't know when, Germany finally got an honest translation of the show and viewers were quite surprised. The film series apparently motivated the revamping of Germany's syndication version.
I can't really vouch for this story but it was from a credible source at the time, a well-respected poster.
I've heard the same thing.
Apparently, you are correct. German wikipedia says that the episodes were drastically shortened, serious dialog replaced with barbed comments, and plots simplified. If I understand this correct, Pon Far was not a sexual process, but a fever.
That rings a bell: didn't it recently get mentioned somewhere (it had to be on TrekBBS) that at least one other country besides Germany sanitized "Amok Time" to make it sexless? And Spock's whole combat with Kirk was played as a fever dream that never really happened? (That could be still be a cool episode, btw).
OK, the fact that Mario is German puts things in a new light. To answer the fundamental question, yes, I think that you see this differently because you're German. What I don't see is how somebody can laugh at Hogan's Heroes, but take this one humorous line so seriously. As others have pointed out, there's always room for a little comic relief in "serious" episodes. And honestly, you might feel differently because of the subject matter, but this isn't an unusually serious episode of Trek in its tone or approach. Trek is just an adventure show at heart, and putting the crew on the "Nazi planet" wouldn't have been treated any more "somber and grave" than putting them on the "Roman planet" or the "post-apocalyptic America" planet.
To offer a better American parallel than the slave trader example...try altering the scenario to one where Kirk is disguising himself as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. If Spock had told Kirk he made a convincing Klansman, I think that would have been seen as tasteless and offensive by many Americans.
Not bothered by the line, but I'm only an American of German descent. Point taken about a similar line being more offensive had it been set in the South, and was about slavery/KKK.
**laughs at Bad Thought's location. Howdy, neighbor!**
Once again, thank you all for your input, it´s truly interesting to hear all these opinions
Since the matter came up, let me say a few words about the German dubbing of TOS:
It´s true, that for German TV the episodes were shortened by 5-10 minutes to fit the German broadcasting slots. But only "Amok Time" was actually altered plot-wise - it was in fact "twisted" and actually re-cut(!), so that Spock appered to have some sort of a fever and his fight with Kirk was only a "fever dream". The German title for the episode was "Weltraum-Fieber" ("Space Fever").
It´s also true, that the German dub was filled with jokes, funny remarks and silly lines, which took the seriousness out of most episodes. But, to tell you the truth, I always enjoyed this "lightened" German take on TOS (well, I grew up with it) and still do. It´s like having the best of both worlds, where I can choose between the serious and correct original version or the German one that lets me experience TOS in a completely different way.
Anyway, when TOS-R came along, they re-included the scenes that were taken out decades earlier, so that for the first time the episodes could be shown uncut on German TV. However, since many of the "lost" scenes had not been dubbed originally, they had to be dubbed now, using different voices/actors for these scenes. And this "new" dub doesn´t have any of the added humor of the old dub, which is probably what people talk about as a "new German version". It was in fact just these "extra" scenes that had different voices and a different, more serious mood.
"Patterns of Force" however is a completely different story: It had indeed been banned for decades and thus wasn´t dubbed originally. When it was finally allowed to be shown (sometime in the 90s, IIRC) they used the old voice actors for the dub, who had of course gotten older and their voices "showed" that. Additionally, the dialogue was not humorous at all, but a more or less direct translation of the English version.
Maybe that´s another reason, why I can´t see POF as comedic, because the "serious" German dub, combined with the "older" voices gave it a completely different feel, than the old, comedic dubs I was used to. And maybe that even carried over to the English version for me - I´m still having a hard time seeing it as humorous.
As to "Hogan´s Heroes": I truly and thoroughly enjoy it, it´s great comedy with fun characters. And like I said before, I´m not at all offended by that kind of humor or jokes, just like I´m not offended by Spock´s remark in POF - I just never understood it as being a joke.
Being German living in Germany all my life I never had a serious problem with the line. I know that for some Germans the mere mention of anything Nazi-related in a not so serious tone can be considered too much, and I certainly understand that sensitivity, but personally, I don't feel there should be anything which can't be joked about. Spock's line to Kirk is meant in a light-hearted way, and I never saw it as anything other than that.
As for the original German dub produced in the 70s: I was never a fan of that version of TOS. Growing up that was all I had, and I think for a long time it was the reason why I couldn't take the series very seriously. When I first saw the original versions on VHS I was blown away by the earnestness and I fell in love with it instantly. Today it's my favorite Trek after DS9.
I can't get behind the thought process of those people responsible for the "funny" German dub of TOS. Why try to make it into a show for children? Why the constant mispronounciation of certain names and terminologies (for some reason Kirk always calls Chekov "Pane", for example).
Actually, most of those originally cut scenes were reinstated when the show was released on DVD in 2004. This is also the time when a lot of dialog was re-dubbed by different voice actors for those "new" scenes.
I think it's a bad idea to try to evaluate how bad that line or that episode was in the context of today. The question is: was it seen as bad back when it aired ? My impression is that no.
I always took it to be funny, given the context. TOS frequently made light of terrible situations, and Patterns of Force is simply the one with possibly the most obvious contrast.
Patterns of Force was never banned here in Germany. Back in the 70's when the ZDF bought the rights to Star Trek they didn't choose the episode and thus it was never overdubbed. Later when Sat.1 did a re-run in the early 90's they too didn't bother with the episode because then it was rated "16 years and above" (while every other episode was "12 and above") and with that rating they could've only shown it after 10 PM, thus they decided against using the episode. But it was then (around 1994 i think) released on VHS and sold in stores. I even remember ads in magazines for it. I understand that some people have some problems with that episode, especially today when everybody is so political correct but i think some germans react a bit extreme to a line that was clearly meant as a joke. Even the german Star Trek Index in their review about the episode complained about it for no apparent reason other than "oh my god they make fun about Nazis!" Especially since it's not that much different to...say Indiana Jones and all the Nazis and the jokes about them.
@Mario and M: great information, thanks a lot. With all the changes, were the characterizations also vastly different? Was Kirk shown to be more impulsive, brazen, or gung ho (I'm thinking of the line from 99 Luftballons, "Jeder war ein großer Krieger/
Hielten sich für Captain Kirk")?
I could imagine that Germans have already grown tired of all those Nazi comparisons. Just like French grow tired of those stupid surrender jokes. It's been sixty years, almost 4 generations. Seriously, there is no responsibility left for what their ancestors did. I've been to Germany a couple of times, they are fine people.
Spock's comment "You should make a very convincing Nazi" is pretty much careless and thoughtless, and something Spock wouldn't say.
Why not? It's a factually perfectly accurate comment, and could well be Spock's idea of encouraging small talk to make Kirk feel confident about the mission.
Spock would have no antipathy towards speaking ill or well about the Nazis. To him, all humans are barbaric apes anyway, present company sometimes excluded for niceness' sake.
^ Yes. In effect, Spock is trying to say "Relax, Jim. You'll be able to succeed at this charade."
Well, he did say it, therefore it is. It's also in keeping with the sort of wry comments Spock makes throughout the series.
All this serves to show that Spock did in fact have some understanding of humour. And, really, with a human mother and his dual heritage as well as decades of exposure and experience with humans in Starfleet how could he not?
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