Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Botany Bay, May 4, 2014.
This week, on trial before the jury of the TOS forum, it's Court Martial.
Rated it a 7. A decent episode and one of my wife's favorite. I was really surprised how many difficulties they had while filming it and how it was considered a really bad episode. At this point I'm not sure if its bad and I have just seen it so many times that I love it!
This episode is chock-full of story holes. I don't suppose we need to rehash the "WTF is an ion pod anyway?" discussion. And it fails as courtroom drama. Cogley offers no defense at all, while it's Spock who saves Kirk's ass by proving that the computer made a mistake and/or had been tampered with, and therefore its records couldn't be trusted.
As for the damning evidence being a visual record of Kirk's finger pressing a button -- it should have been obvious to the prosecution that photos, films and video recordings can be altered and manipulated.
Still, the episode is watchable thanks to a memorable performance by veteran character actor Elisha Cook Jr. I love his jacket!
Star Trek is full of holes. This is about the words and the drama. (Kinda like the ep is about "books, my boy, books!") Love it. Classic example of Star Trek's running ambivalence about technology.
I love how easily it is to eject the pod. Just with a press of the button.
What if the ship were rocking (like say they were in an ion storm) and someone accidentally grabbed onto Kirk's chair. ION Pod guy/girl gone. Ooops.
Yeh in retrospect Cogley was useless. But the 'courtroom drama' was played out on the bridge of the Enterprise IMO.
I don't understand how changing the finger-pressing button tape would affect Spock's chess computer program. Also I'll dispute Spock's chess logic. What if he programmed the chess program on a bad day? What if Spock had learnt some new moves since he programmed the computer?
Still despite this its a pretty good episode IMO. Lots of drama and tension. I give it 7/10
I think that developments in computer technology after the 1960s sort of make it more plausible that tampering with flight recorder data would screw up a chess program. I mean, a future system like that would be built to be absolutely and totally tampering-proof from ground up - meaning even a hypercompetent expert with all the passwords and clearances (Finney) would have to do something fundamental to the entire system to gain access to the data, and would leave traces. And he'd realize he'd leave those traces, so he'd erase them from wherever he could - meaning they'd remain in places where he wouldn't be clever or lucky enough to look.
I love the fact that Cogley was useless and his books even more so. That if anything is classic TV courtroom drama: the private eye employed by the lawyer does all the work, and the useless old fool just quotes platitudes and wins the case solely thanks to the evidence from the exciting legwork. The message is clear, even if the opposite of what the writer wanted to tell...
(In in-universe terms, Cogley probably was a very smart lawyer. Going for no-contest all the way and letting Kirk lose the case with grace was the very best he, his client or anybody involved could hope for; it would save what there was to be saved of Kirk's career, by not unduly antagonizing his employer. In which case he was also a very quick-witted individual, assimilating in an eyeblink the novel prospect of his client actually being not guilty...)
I give it a shaky "6."
It's clear this episode was rushed into production and/or poorly edited, given the following egregious logic/continuity errors:
1. The beginning of the first act showing the Kirk's Court Martial board members having a drink in the bar. This is before Kirk even is set (up) to stand trail. But at the beginning of the second act, Kirk says in his log, "The officers who will comprise my court-martial board are proceeding to Starbase Eleven. Meanwhile, repairs on the Enterprise are almost complete." Was the bar not part of Starbase 11? Were they just 'proceeding' from the bar to the base????
2. Some red shirt lieutenant pointedly harasses Kirk about Finney's death. I always wondered why Kirk didn't give him and the others a severe dressing down--junior officers should never get away with such behavior towards a senior officer. Turns out the character "Timothy" was thought to be another Starship captain by the director (Marc Daniels), not a lowly junior officer. Didn't Daniels notice that Shatner's uniform had a lot more stripes than Timothy's? What was Bill Theiss told about this character?
3. Isn't it a bit beyond belief that anyone, old friend or not, from the SJA office would be discussing the case before the trial with the defendant, even admitting to him that she will be the prosecuting attorney???
^^^1. See my review of the script via link in my sig. Reordered scenes created the discontinuity of the officers being there "before" they proceeded there.
One to the fourth power. Beaten and sobbing.
Cogley was pretty useless, agreed. Kirk should have hired Spock to defend him.
Lots of good commentary in this thread already.
I give it an 8. Yes there are plot holes, but it is wonderfully theatrical. On TV, saving an innocent man's career is supposed to be "a theatric." Shatner gets some high-drama speeches and a fistfight, which in turn provide spots for the music editor to put great stuff in. Nimoy's preference for Spock to be central to the plot and "motivating the action" is well-served. And Spock gets some great dialog, too.
True, the panel of judges were cyphers, so much so that the director got away with using them (in their one costumes) as extras in the bar before they were supposed arrive on the planet. But it worked: nobody in the casual viewing audience would notice it, especially before the home video era. But okay, in our all-knowing TrekCore era, the seams are showing.
Countering that, the guests are great. Commodore Stone, Areel Shaw, Ben Finney, and Jamie Finney are all strongly played, distinctive characters with good speeches.
This plays into how theatrical "Court-Martial" is, which I like, if only as a change of pace. If you put Star Trek on as a stage play (and a stage play is a wonderful thing), this episode would be a great choice. This or "The Conscience of the King" would be gangbusters onstage. I want tickets.
Incidentally, I'm surprised to see that computer chess goes back so far. It wasn't a far-out sci-fi concept at all in 1966, but a working reality by then:
Cogley and Portmaster Stone are terrific, colorful and significant characters that to me, round out the TOS ever so slightly more at this early stage of the series. The casting was top choice, IMO. I liked the back and forth between them and Kirk at various points in the episode.
Hated the microphone.
Loved the lounge scene. The debate that comes up around here about the insignia's is absolutely underlined because of that scene. A few of Kirk's old academy chums seem like dicks, providing further shading into the world of Trek and Kirk's past.
Not sure why Stone is in a red shirt given his command stature. We also saw this in The Deadly Years with Commodore Stocker...the "paper pusher".
Ariel Shaw is gorgeous.
Where was Scotty?
A solid 7 in my books.
All in all very entertaining. Elijah Cooke jr. was great. But the illusion is snapped as soon as McCoy picks up the Beach Boys live in concert mic to muffle heart beats. I am still not sure what exactly the ion pod does....
...The one thing we know for sure is that it flies away. It's not an emergency procedure, it's the raison d'etre for the damn thing, as evidenced by a console button in Kirk's chair being dedicated to this. Which makes it sound very much like a generic automated probe, merely one that needs to be primed for its mission by a competent specialist from a short list of experts, giving Finney the excuse to "risk his life".
Why is an instrument looking like a 1960s microphone worse than an instrument looking like a 1960s TV set miniaturized and inserted into a tape recorder?
Or a 1960s drum chronometer, or a 1960s flight data calculator, or a 1960s squirt bottle . . .
Damn it, I forgot to even mention Cogley. The episode is that much better than I suggested.
I voted 8.
I think this bit of dialogue is worth a few points by itself:
MCCOY: Well, I had to see it to believe it.
MCCOY: They're about to lop off the captain's professional head, and you're sitting here playing chess with the computer.
SPOCK: That is true.
MCCOY: Mister Spock, you're the most cold-blooded man I've ever known.
SPOCK: Why, thank you, Doctor.
I left off the very next part of that, but I'm mentioning it because by Dr. McCoy, who is not portrayed as a computer expert is the one to announce it's impossible for Mr. Spock to beat the computer, so it must be somewhat obvious to a 23rd century person. This kind of thing just doesn't happen in that setting.
The microphone prop didn't bother me so much as what the microphone was supposed to do. Block the heartbeat sound so it isn't amplified. Ok. Does it also block breathing and digestive sounds?
I just think I would have liked a better method of finding Finney than the sound of his heartbeat.
You mean like flatulence?
Then the script would have included the line:
KIRK: Gentlemen, this computer has an olfactory sensor. It can, in effect, smell odors. By installing a booster, we can increase that capability on the order of one to the fourth power. The computer should bring us every odor occurring on the ship. Now, let's determine which one of you just dealt it.
He's a sorcerer, that one. He reads the thoughts in my brain!
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