Production Order Group Viewing 2018

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Archivist13, May 8, 2018.

  1. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ONCE UPON A PLANET

    This is the third direct sequel to a TOS episode, fourth if you include Yesteryear (which I would argue only utilises elements from COETF as a framing device). However, while this episode is certainly not a necessary addition it’s actually slightly better than the original Shore Leave which I found quite repetitive and tedious. Here, all 3 plot threads tie neatly together and the animated format of the show help the various “fantastic creations” of the planet feel more cohesive with the landing party. No chained up tigers or aircraft in the distance this time, now we get some pterodactyls and a freakin’ TWO HEADED DRAGON!!!
    :beer:

    While the mystery plot is a good one, I had the same query as @Poltargyst:
    This is never made clear as far as I could tell. Last time McCoy was run through by a knight which was later revealed to be a part of the normal narrative,. He was even restored to perfect health afterwards! So why is McCoy worried about a scary army of playing cards and their pointy sticks? Isn’t the whole point of the planet that no-one can come to any long term harm?

    Having learnt nothing whatsoever from last week, Kirk yet again pulls the “fake an illness” deception to try and gain access to the control centre, hoping to take advantage of the planet’s “auto-cure” function. Thankfully he did not put anyone’s life at risk, but it makes no sense that the planet still has that core programming when the Master Computer has stated repeatedly that it just wants to kill the landing party on the surface. Does that mean that if the landing party were indeed killed by the pterodactyls that they would then be restored to life underground?
    Is it really that stupid? :shrug:
    I guess so, as it didn’t see that Spock was clearly alive and only had the outward appearance of being dead. It was also easily convinced to abandon its plans for autonomous roaming of the galaxy and just keep doing the job it was built for.
    Uhura says that it’s fine to serve others if you do it of your own free will: This sounds more disingenuous the more I think about it, not least because Kirk is obviously very keen to keep this powerful entity firmly on the planet. What if the Master Computer had said “no” to Kirk’s generous offer? He’d probably pull the same manoeuvre he used on Apollo or Vaal reduced the computer to pile of slag.
    AKA: “We call it freedom, and I think you’ll like it. A lot.” :brickwall:
    There’s a surprisingly dark subtext to many of these TAS episodes that I honestly did not expect going in…


    OTHER THOUGHTS
    • Uhura singing - first time in TAS as far as I recall.
    • McCoy finds a southern ranch – he really is an old country doctor at heart!
    • Why did the master computer erect a gravestone? It showed little knowledge or interest of the concept of death in organic beings. Perhaps some final instructions the Keeper programmed into it?
    • Suddenly, the Master Computer suddenly has the power to interact and control the Enterprise’s systems. Last time it was only able to block access to the planet, but now it can build an avatar of itself inside the Enterprise’s own computer bay! :eek:
    • The Master Computer wants the Enterprise. But what does a computer need with a starship?
      Oh yes, like all dystopian A.I. systems it wants to take over the galaxy! Well, not quite that bad, it apparently just wants to contact other forms of artificial life. Perhaps he could start at Harry Mudd’s android planet?
    • Anti grav! Finally depicted on an episode of Star Trek, thanks solely to the animated medium.
    • This also leads to seatbelts on the bridge!
    • The end of the episode is basically the same as in Shore Leave – you’ve been threatened and terrified by us, now please stay for a vacation with robots that could turn on you if you think the wrong thoughts. Erm, okaaaaaaay…

    This was the final episode of TAS’ first season and quite a showcase for the new animated cast that have been introduced – M’Ress is at the communications station, Lt Arex has a few lines, even Lt Gabler plays his part on the engineering staff (making his fifth and final appearance in the show).
    However, Uhura’s also back and plays quite a part in the plot, even arguing for voluntary servitude at the end (more on that later).
    The only TAS regular not present is Nurse Chapel – but then again she is a criminal :devil:

    Next Week – the shortest season two ever!
     
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  2. mb22

    mb22 Captain Captain

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    I see Yesteryear more as a prequel to Journey to Babel.
     
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  3. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Good point and I wonder why I never recognised that specific interpretation before - all the elements are right there in front of us, even down to the author! :eek:
     
  4. Henoch

    Henoch Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Strange that the Enterprise blue-grey computer builds the new green alien computer that matches the Shore Leave computers. Its color must be part of assembly instructions; probably part of its vanity programming. ;) In the end, the Enterprise gets a new super computer. I bet Scotty keeps it as his new toy. :techman: (Could it be the basis for the automated system that Scotty hooked up for STIII:TSFS? :p)
     
  5. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Nah, he'll just toss it in the cupboard alongside the Kelvan engine mods, Sargon's android tech, the Scalosian water and all the other game changing tech that never gets used again :devil:
     
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  6. Poltargyst

    Poltargyst Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Not to mention the kironide sitting somewhere on McCoy's shelf.
     
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  7. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I thought about that too but I can just about believe the excuse that Kironide only provides telekenesis when on the Platonians' planet.
    McCoy has some in his medical pouch when they beam down so it's obviously not found solely on that world and it beggars belief that such an amazing ability wouldn't have been discovered previously if it was just as simple as injecting some into a person, anywhere in the galaxy
     
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  8. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Absolute power corrupts absolutely! :sigh: Look at the idiots who get elected every year in most of the world! :confused:
    JB
     
  9. Poltargyst

    Poltargyst Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Bem

    Welcome to Season 2 and the episode with the shortest title in the series. Shortest in all of Star Trek?

    Hmmm, written by David Gerrold. There are no tribbles in this episode, right?

    BEM: This one has already set controls, Mister Scotty.

    Ha ha. Mr. Scotty.

    Kirk chews out Bem for landing them in the water, but Scotty checked the coordinates before they beamed down.

    Holy cow, Bem can separate himself into parts. How do his parts float around though?

    Lizard guys! Could they be related to Sord, the lizard guy from The Jihad? They're not the same race since Sord is obviously familiar with modern technology and these guys aren't.

    What the heck is a non-network sensory stasis? Is that the entity they are tracking?

    Not to restart the 1960's risque clothing debate, but when Uhura is standing by the command chair talking to Scotty, her skirt is SHORT.

    And Uhura really stands up to Scotty and wins the debate despite his higher rank.

    By sabotaging the landing party's efforts and then turning around and blaming Kirk for their getting captured, Bem is really annoying me.

    With all of her sparkling light plus being female, the "ruling intelligence" reminds me of the Companion. Could she be another one?

    KIRK: You have endangered all of us by your actions, and you have forced us to interfere with the natives of a planet that deserves prime directive protection.

    Given that Kirk is supposed to sacrifice his ship, his life and the lives of his crew rather than interfere in the development of a native race, I wonder what Kirk's duty is here. Bem runs off and gets captured by the natives. Does it cause greater contamination to mount a rescue or should Kirk actually leave Bem there? Kirk decides to try to mount a quiet rescue.

    ENTITY: Go in peace. Yes. Go in peace. You have learned much. Be proud.

    What exactly did they learn? Not to interfere in the development of native races? They already have a Prime Directive. To use punishment only as a last resort? They already use neural neutralizer chairs rather than harsh punishments.

    I can't say this was really one of my favorite episodes in part because I wanted to beat the crap out of Bem. I think I am sensitive to situations where someone screws up and then points the finger at someone else. But the Entity/Companion/Goddess was interesting and wise and compassionate and all.

    So often in Star Trek beings presented as gods are meant to be overthrown so that the people can live free, but there's no sense of that in this episode. Kirk is content to let the entity continue to watch over her children. Maybe because she was compassionate about it and wasn't being a tyrant and wasn't interfering in their natural development?

    Alien Watch! A new one and some that look like ones we've seen before.

    Season One
    The Glommer
    Arex*
    Retlaw Plant
    Agmar and his Phylosian posse
    Swoopers
    Yellow winged bird guy (Aleek)
    Spock's teddy bear with fangs (sehlat)
    Green cat thing that sounds like Godzilla (le-matya)
    300 million year old alien on viewscreen log
    Green energy Redjac wannabe
    The Vendorian
    Lt. M'Ress
    Remarkably human-looking Taureans.
    The planet-eating, Majel Roddenberry-voiced cloud from another galaxy.
    Alien miners of Arcadia
    Rigelian hypnoid
    Giant rock creatures
    Remarkably human-looking (when they want to be except for that rebel Lucien guy) Megans
    Assorted heretofore unseen aliens on the Delta Triangle's ruling council
    The Kzinti (whom no one will mistake for Mensa candidates)
    Aquans, both stogy elders and rebellious kids.
    Sur-snake of Argo
    The scardy Bug Guy
    The Vedalian
    The...remarkably human-looking alien (?) Lara
    The not-a-Gorn lizard guy.
    Translucent gossamer mice!
    Glowing halo fish!
    The red beastie in the lake on Lactra Seven
    The dinosaur beastie that fell on McCoy on Lactra Seven
    The flying purple people eating dragons on Lactra Seven that look suspiciously like other flying purple people eating dragons we've seen.
    The telepathic slugs of Lactra Seven.
    Assorted aliens captured by the slugs of Lactra Seven.

    Season Two
    Bem the Annoying, a Pandronian.
    The lizard people of Delta Theta Three who are not Gorns nor are they of Sord's people.
    The lizard people's Entity/Companion/Goddess

    *by request
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2020
  10. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    BEM
    In the original series; yes. Overall, I think the ENT episode "E²" wins that prize.

    Like Stephen Kandel before him it seems that once David Gerrold produced the contractually obligated TOS sequel, he is free to try something else. So, how did he do?
    Well for a start (and rather unusually) there’s several plot elements present which reoccur in TNG:
    • Kirk states that the Enterprise’s mission is to plant observation equipment on the planet to monitor the societal development of the population. This is basically an automated version of the “duck blind” station from Who Watches The Watchers
    • The whole second half of the story (a powerful alien masquerading as a god to protect its “children”) is exactly the same scenario as in the less well received episode Justice.
    • And since skimpy clothes are worn by the locals in both episodes, that could be considered a connecting feature as well! :guffaw:
    Conceptually, ambassador Bem is an interesting character to explore. As a colony creature Bem is arguably one of the least humanoid aliens the crew have met and yet looks at home amongst other aliens encountered in TOS, right down to the jumpsuit! However, I think this is a good way lulling us into a false sense of security, instead using other methods to hint that there’s more than meets the eye. For example, Bem’s odd way of speaking (like referring to himself as “this one”) and sentence structure is a subtle clue that he’s not quite the same as “normal” aliens, whose speech patterns always match those of the crew.
    The full extent of his gestalt alien mindset is later revealed with his attitudes to self worth, morality and the punishment he risks upon failure; being permanently disassembled! :eek:

    By comparison to Bem, the aliens on the planet are properly alien in appearance - real lizard people.
    In fact, the episode makes good use of the animated medium to in various ways from depicting alien landscapes to a person separating himself into fully autonomous pieces. The way Bem divides his body up to penetrate otherwise impossibly dense undergrowth is quite clever too, but beyond the visuals the story itself is a little unfocused.

    For instance: what was Bem’s plan exactly?

    He wants to see if Kirk lives up to his reputation as the “best captain in the fleet”. To do this he engineers a situation where Kirk must rescue him while non-violently dealing with the locals, whilst without any of their technology. Given that Kirk’s reputation is as a starship captain (something very technologically based) I’m not sure how that logically follows, but it doesn’t matter anyway because Bem swiftly relents when confronted and hands over their gear.

    When a hitherto unknown energy being ruins their escape attempt he immediately judges Kirk a failure and runs off. Later, when Bem is recaptured and Kirk has opened communications with the energy being, the ambassador realises that he was hasty in his judgement. Bem declares that this error requires his death and also has apparently never encountered the concept of learning from your mistakes. With all that was at stake, why would Bem rush to judgement?

    In conclusion; if we are take Bem as a representative of all Pandronians then they are naïve perfectionists who employ capital punishment for every minor offence!
    Hmm, another similarity to Justice. :devil:
    However, are these people really someone that could get along with all the other imperfect beings of the Federation?

    The energy being says this AFTER the crew (and Bem) have all agreed to leave this planet alone without doing any serious cultural damage, so it's probably just happy to see them gone. Kirk was right to get that annoying ambassador off the planet and back to Pandro as soon as possible!


    OTHER THOUGHTS:
    • Curiously, Kirk uses the term “aborigine” to refer to the native population of the planet. While this is technically correct it’s also somewhat redundant since there are no other outsider population groups present in order to justify that distinction.
      Is it because they are dressed in skins and using spears? If so that’s…problematic :whistle:
    • Do all ambassadors have unrestricted access to the whole ship? IMO there have been too many incidents with the transporter to allow just anyone to start messing with it!
    • Case in point – Bem set the beam down co-ordinates which results in Kirk and Spock materialising over water! The real mystery is how Scotty failed to notice this when he checked the console.
    • Still oblivious to his own hypocrisy, Kirk’s reason for objecting to Bem joining the landing party is that it’s too risky for someone of his status.
      Then again he may have been making an excuse to keep him out of the way - Kirk has never been very happy having officials on board (going all the way back to Galileo 7)
    • Okay, so Bem is a “colony creature”, but is he also made of helium? His disconnected body parts just float in the air without the need for any support! :eek:
    • Whilst in a cage, Kirk lampshades the fact that they are captured yet again for the umpteenth time. David Gerrold’s book has a section on how inappropriate it is for the captain to lead landing parties which is probably why this commentary is included. However, I guess Gerrold still had to follow the show format and make him do it anyway.
      At least Kirk didn’t pretend to be ill this time… :brickwall:
    • Kirk’s middle name is Tiberius! Only took nearly five seasons of the show for him to mention it. As if to make up for that, the name is mentioned a full four times :wtf:
    • Once the Enterprise detects Kirk & Spock, Scotty orders that the rescue party be armed with phaser rifles. I got very excited as we haven’t seen them since WNMHGB and couldn’t wait to see the updated design!
      However, when they beam down they just have regular phasers :mad:
    • Spock’s plan to connect the communicators in series in order to boost their power…involves simply stacking them together. Couldn't Kirk could have done that himself?
    • Why is the god surprised or angered that Kirk stayed behind to find Bem? That’s exactly what Kirk said he was going to do!
    • This episode is a reminder of why the Prime Directive exists, although through more of an info-dump than being woven subtly into the plot. Amusingly, Bem even outright refuses to abide by it :rommie:
     
  11. Poltargyst

    Poltargyst Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Every guest has unrestricted access to the whole ship.
     
  12. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not to mention the ship's entire database! That's just good manners :guffaw:
     
  13. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    BEM's helium body is a total cheat on Filmation's part. They just slid the different cels apart instead of making each autonomous piece have some ability to move.

    As @Harvey's article here (link) indicates, this script started at as a TOS 3rd season pitch and never got beyond it. Ironically Gerrold's creature costume suggestions for those outlines is much more alien than what TAS did.
     
  14. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Reading the "Official Guide To TAS" it says that Gerrold's original live action concept was to have two little people stacked on top of each other to represent the "complete" Bem, but who could easily split apart into separate halves when needed.
     
  15. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Well, that's not reflected in the drawings he handed in with his TOS pitches, which suggests a single small person in the main suit with detachable and mobile extremities.
     
  16. Henoch

    Henoch Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Bem's parts do more than just levitate or float, they move under his control, so, there is some sort of telekinesis in play, too.
     
  17. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I double checked the book and was slightly off base - what it actually says is
    However, I've not seen the sketches you mention, so perhaps he had different ideas on how to render Bem in live action?

    More accurately, they move under their own control - as a colony creature there is no distinct "he", each part is a unique lifeform :techman:
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2020
  18. mb22

    mb22 Captain Captain

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  19. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    It’s also possible he misremembers. I can’t speak to sketches which are absent from the record.
     
  20. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A little similar to the character that Mark Lenard played in that episode of Buck Rogers!
    JB