Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Warped9, Mar 4, 2019.
That actually would have made more sense than what we got.
Although I liked the episode I have to admit the premise was pretty damned absurd. ADF did his best with the novelization but Spock at least should have picked up on the impossibilities looong before he actually did.
We also got Commodore Robert April (aka Captain April - first Captain of the 1701 Enterprise) shown on the TV screen.
A great episode. I even like it despite Kirk not being in it.I think they balanced the story well enough with it being an adaption of Niven's work so that the Enterprise crew still feature prominently not like in "Assignment Earth" where Kirk and Spock appeared as buffoons to some extent.
The real question is why aren't we getting some big screen version of Niven's work?
I've come to feel that "The Slaver Weapon" is overrated, frankly. It's not really a Star Trek kind of story. It doesn’t have anything to say — no thematic or philosophical subtext, no message or commentary. It’s just a problem-solving exercise and a battle of wits against an enemy. It’s unique in TAS and rare in Filmation’s ouevre in that it ends with the villains being killed outright rather than reasoned with or outwitted. Despite being fairly action-heavy, it’s incredibly talky; the first act is largely one long monologue by Spock to fill in the backstory, which is a clumsy way to write a TV script. It also has a really weak and awkward ending. Even aside from the questionable taste of laughing about the deaths of one’s enemies, that last exchange about Kzinti superstitions isn’t even funny.
The attempt to adapt "The Soft Weapon" to TAS with minimal plot alterations introduces some logic holes, too. For one thing, why doesn't the weapon's power dampener setting shut down the force field belts? That wasn't an issue in "Soft" because the characters were in spacesuits. Also, the episode changes the box's origin by saying it was found on Kzin rather than purchased from Niven's Outsiders -- which creates a huge ethical problem, because it means the Kzinti have a legal right to it and Starfleet stole it! (Granted, there are references to a treaty, but it still feels like imperialism, a conquering power plundering the loser's cultural heritage.) Additionally, referring to Spock as an herbivore is incorrect; he's an omnivore who chooses to be a vegetarian. Nor is he a pacifist. So he doesn't fit into Nessus the Puppeteer's hooves as well as the episode pretends.
I can imagine a more Trek/Filmation-style ending to this episode: The Kzinti bring the captives out with them to test the weapon, so they’re all imperiled by the self-destruct, and Sulu and Spock urgently reason with Chuft-Captain and tell him, rather than each other, why they’re convinced the weapon is going to blow up. The Telepath chimes in that they’re telling the truth. Chuft-Captain hurls the weapon away at the last moment, they’re all saved, and C-C’s honor debt compels him to let them go. The closing dialogue is about the hope that this act of mercy and understanding may have opened the door to peace negotiations with the Kzinti.
Good question. I think Syfy's been working on a Ringworld TV miniseries, but given their track record with miniseries adapting classic SF novels, I don't have high hopes for its quality if it does get made.
It's kind of a novelty to have a "TOS" episode where Captain Kirk isn't just not the lead, but where he doesn't even appear! (Yes yes, I know 'The Cage', but nominally in TOS the presence of Kirk would be taken as granted.)
I've come to the opinion that "The Slaver Weapon" is not really a Star Trek episode, it's a Known Space episode with three Trek characters performing the lead roles. Virtually everything about the episode is Known Space -- the Slavers and their war, the Kzinti and their wars with Earth, stasis boxes, police webs, etc. -- and the only Trek elements are the lead characters, the shuttlecraft, the phasers and force field belts, and a couple of mentions of Starfleet. It's like Sulu and Uhura somehow convinced Spock to join them in a dramatization of "The Soft Weapon" in the holographic rec room.
Even though it's a totally by-the-numbers adaptation, I'm fine with "The Slaver Weapon."
The life support belts not turning off is only a minor issue. It could have been easily addressed with some technobabble, like, say...
SPOCK: "The fifth setting seems to be an energy absorber. Fascinating. I had no idea the Slavers had such things. Fortunately, it is selective, and our life-support belts weren't affected by that setting."
I'm a Known Space fan, having read the majority of Niven's works in the series, and I've enjoyed most of what I've read. I didn't keep up with the Man-Kzin Wars, but some of the early stuff was really good.
So, I enjoy seeing the Kzin in action. I also like how some of the magical Federation technology, in this case artificial gravity, is "explained" as advanced alien discovered technology.
In "The Slaver Weapon" I liked that it reinforced the culture of Vulcans with the notion that Vulcans are generally pacifists and gave Uhura and Sulu a chance to shine a bit.
I liked that the Kzinti were able to acknowledge that although their women were unintelligent that the females of other species could be.
The whole episode gave us some alien world building with Vulcan and the Kzinti.
Yes I loved the explanation about the magical Federation technology. I'd forgotten that.
That's only because Mr. Spock stood i n for the Pierson's Puppeteer lifeform that was in the original story.
They look like this:
And any they leave their homeworld are considered insane:
^^^Well, they look like that to Wayne Douglas Barlowe, anyway.
True. I have seen other depictions.
Yes, but they're generally pretty similar, since Niven described the puppeteers' appearance in considerable detail. Still, I consider Barlowe's design (for this and for other aliens) to be definitive. He did pretty amazing work.
The mid-1970s Ballantine editions of Known Space books had inside cover art by Bonnie Dalzell depicting the aliens (as well as front cover art by Rick Sternbach!) [http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?23177].
Bonnie Dalzell's Puppeteer was inside the front cover of Ringworld, and her Puppeteer skeleton was inside the back cover.
Bonnie Dalzell's Kzin was inside the front cover of Tales of Known Space, and her Kzinti skeleton was inside the back cover. Note: That's not a particularly good scan of the Kzinti image, and the attribution is incorrect; it was not originally in Barlowe's, it was here on the inside cover. Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials wasn't even published until 1979.
Bonnie Dalzell’s version is the one I more immediately recognize.
Yeah, and if anything is going to be definitive, I'd pick that one for the fact that it came with the book, not that there needs to be a "definitive" version.
I don't consider Barlowe's depiction of an Old One or Elder Thing from At the Mountains of Madness and other Cthulhu Mythos stories to definitive. The torso is too slender for the measurements given, and it has only two wings instead of the five that I think it should have.
See this thread:
Well, I never read those, so I can't say. Anyway, I think the idea in Lovecraft was that they were too incomprehensible to be imagined anyway. Barlowe was going for plausibility, designing aliens with anatomically credible features, which is what I admire about his work. But that probably makes him a less than ideal fit for something more fanciful like Lovecraft.
I particularly like Barlowe's version of the Overlords from Childhood's End. Most depictions take the whole "resembles the Devil" thing way too literally and make them look like something from fantasy rather than science fiction. Barlowe's version looks like something genuinely, believably alien that just coincidentally reminds human observers of our mythical devils.
It's best to just "pick and choose" what one likes in cases like this.
Example, I LOVE Dalzell's Puppeteer, but to me, Bonnie's Kzin just looks a bit "derpy", like a muppet. And, like Christopher, I prefer Barlowe's Overlord.
Oh, Christopher? Yeah, most of the time Lovecraft was purposely nebulous with his descriptions of his denizens. But his later narrative, like "At the Mountains of Madness", he opted to be a bit more concrete with his "alien" concepts, like the Elder Things or the Great Race of Yith (not to be confused with the "great race of yiff" which conjures thoughts of a competitive orgy at a furry convention).
After having binged-watched the series on Netflix, I've come to the conclusion that this series woul've been better if it was animated by the same studio in Japan that did Gatchaman/Battle Of The Planets.
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