The focus of “The Deadly Years”

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Boris Skrbic, Feb 20, 2021.

  1. Boris Skrbic

    Boris Skrbic Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Doesn’t it seem like “The Deadly Years” loses its premise so the show can massively overplay the tragedy of Kirk’s deterioration? Everyone and the viewer knows that Kirk is perfectly competent if not for this mystery they have a couple of days to solve or the affected personnel will die, as some have already died, and yet they actually need to go through the rigmarole of gradually questioning the captain’s individual orders, his increasingly irrational behavior, and in the end call for an entire competency hearing, all while working around the clock to find a cure?

    Wouldn’t it be more in character for Kirk to transfer command to Spock as soon as he becomes aware of the accumulating lapses (with the proviso to find DeSalle or anyone more competent than the commodore if Spock himself should become incapacitated)? What happened? Even if Kirk was a bit slow to acknowledge the problem, McCoy couldn’t have intervened in accordance with “The Doomsday Machine” and “Obsession”? Everyone at the competency hearing is just staring and feeling sorry, instead of saying “Look, sir, this isn’t about Code 2 or Code 3. It’s about you and the others being alive next week, so there just isn’t any time to waste on a procedure that was clearly designed for a much more controversial situation.”
     
  2. Shawnster

    Shawnster Commodore Commodore

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    STOCKER: I would like you to take over command of the Enterprise.
    SPOCK: On what grounds, Commodore?
    STOCKER: On the grounds that the captain, because of his affliction, is unable to perform his duties.
    SPOCK: Need I remind you, sir, that I too have contracted the same affliction?
    STOCKER: Yes, but you're a Vulcan. You have a much greater life span. You show the affects to a much smaller degree.
    SPOCK: I'm half human, sir. My physical reflexes are down, my mental capacity is reduced. I tire easily. No, sir. I am not fit for command.
    STOCKER: Well, if you are not, with your Vulcan physique, then obviously Captain Kirk cannot be.
    SPOCK: Sir, I do have duties to perform.
    STOCKER: Mister Spock. I do not like what I'm about to say but regulations demand it. And as a Starfleet flag officer, I must follow regulations. As second in command of the Enterprise, you must convene an extraordinary competency hearing.
    SPOCK: I resist that suggestion, Commodore.
    STOCKER: It's not a matter of choice. When a captain is unfit, physically or mentally, a competency hearing is mandatory. Please don't make me quote a regulation which you know as well as I do.
    SPOCK: Very well, sir. The hearing shall convene at fourteen hundred hours

    The attempt was made to put Spock in charge. Had Spock accepted command, they would not have "gone through the rigmarole" of a competency hearing. Spock refused to accept command on the grounds that he, too, was suffering the same disease. Spock felt he was not fit to command.
     
  3. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Scotty was fine.
     
  4. Boris Skrbic

    Boris Skrbic Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The commodore’s mind is clearly on Starbase 10 and he doesn’t recognize that a competency hearing is overkill in such an unambiguous situation. Kirk should’ve initiated the command transfer in the first place, while either Spock or McCoy should’ve anticipated the embarrassment and replaced the competency hearing with a simple discussion between the captain, the first officer and the doctor. At the very least, someone from the unaffected crew should’ve spoken up about the relevance and the time factor.

    Scotty becomes extremely affected long before Kirk, so he wouldn‘t have been an option.
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The real problem here is that Kirk is too far gone to realize he should give up command. What is Stocker to do, stun him? Kirk is God: getting rid of him takes effort. And now Stocker learns that Spock, too, is so addled as to obstruct the process for illogical reasons and in an illogical fashion.

    A courtroom mutiny instead of a mutiny where Stocker leads the death squads up the corridors makes plenty of sense there, what with the heroes now being the villains of the play and nevertheless having the upper hand due to their hero status.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Senile Scotty's is still a better commander than most Starfleet officers dammit.

    Fine, if they need a ranking officer, get Gaetano or Mulhall on the bridge. Oh wait, was Mulhall on board yet?

    I suppose Kirk defines himself so much by his command that he is very reluctant to relinquish it. It's a recurring theme. Maybe Jackie Weaver could have helped.
     
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  7. Boris Skrbic

    Boris Skrbic Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    At this point Kirk has been established as someone who is extremely serious about the safety of his ship and crew (which is emphasized earlier in the season in “The Doomsday Machine”), so it’s strange he doesn’t transfer command as soon as he starts making lapses, or even anticipate such lapses and his subsequent rejection of facts as soon as he learns that most of the landing party is infected. It’s like never in a million years does he or anyone else consider that he couldn’t run the ship in a matter of hours, not even after the first couple of gaffes, and that he should then be relieved quite simply on obvious medical grounds, exactly as suggested in “Obsession” and “The Doomsday Machine”.

    A competency hearing makes sense when there is evidence to be presented and weighed, but in this case the reason behind the command issues is entirely obvious, while the progression of the disease is utterly predictable. It’s like the middle of the episode loses track of the beginning, then gets back to the premise just in time for the end.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
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  8. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Kirk already has some history on this, of course: "Enemy Within" was on the very same theme, of Kirk being too slow due to mental incapacitation, and of there being great reluctance in him and in Spock to do the right thing and let somebody else command for a while.

    Sure, Kirk in both cases might notice the symptoms. But the first symptom in both is the loss of judgment - from the onset of the ailment, Kirk becomes incapable of letting go on his own. And Starfleet just doesn't have a mechanism for forcing him out, other than this humiliating one.

    I gather we could treat either the hearing or the adventure as filler for the other. Neither could carry the episode alone. There's inherently little drama in "crew gets sick, McCoy struggles to find a cure in time" beyond those two phrases, and no episode ever works on the premise alone. OTOH, courtroom drama is dull as hell to begin with, and often needs police/detective procedural to go with it, which helps out "Court Martial" a little. There's no chance of a procedural to the rescue here, alas.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
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  9. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think with modern storytelling, they would probably have spent a bit more time on the feelings of the affected characters. Rascals dealt with a similar story and had the ship invasion to bring the drama.
     
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  10. Henoch

    Henoch Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Not more crying. :wah:
     
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  11. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I was thinking more heavy drinking and pity sex.
     
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  12. Boris Skrbic

    Boris Skrbic Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    But Starfleet does have the key regulation from “The Doomsday Machine”. Suppose that Spock raises it with both the doctor and the captain, adding that the alternative would have to be a public competency hearing — Kirk laughs them out of the office due to his impaired judgment? McCoy can’t make the required medical log entry? They’re lucid enough to understand the alternative at least.

    Suppose that Spock’s own judgment is sufficiently impaired so that he simply follows the commodore’s order: I’m still not watching the once proud Captain Kirk losing what matters to him the most. The hearing is about key members of the crew going through administrative motions when they should all be working around the clock to solve the problem. (Kirk does mention the time factor at the end of the hearing, but it comes across as the script acknowledging its own lack of focus.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
  13. gakelly

    gakelly Commander Red Shirt

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    The shows where people age quickly are always terrible episodes. Unnatural Selection in TNG and aging episodes in other sci fi shows always seem the same.
     
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  14. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

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    Was Kirk even incompetent?
    I mean he recognised that Stocker could not command properly. That it was an idiot decision to enter the Neutral Zone. That his people were up to the task of finding a cure. As they had in the past.If Stocker was a real fanboy of Kirk he should have known that Kirk had a great team behind him.
    Sure Kirk made the mistake of the Romulan Code but thats why he has the team to remind him of such things. I'm sure he's not the first commander to forget something not with all the responsibilities of being a Captain..
    They would have been fine if they had just stayed at the planet as Kirk wanted or even if the had gone to Starbase 10 without going through the Neutral Zone (still don't understand how the Neutral Zone's in the middle of Federation space though)

    Even approaching senility Kirk was 100 times the commander Stocker was and Sulu probably 10 times.
    Realistically Sulu should have taken over but Starfleet rules and Stocker's pride wouldn't have allowed it.
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Which I guess is telling enough. Decker has just lost a starship and a crew to what sounds like gross incompetence, and is now ordering suicidal action - and Spock just can't wrestle him out of that chair even with said regulation on his side, and the space psychology specialist McCoy on his other side!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. Grant

    Grant Commodore Commodore

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    The funny thing is deadly years was the 40th episode filmed so it is in effect dead center of the 79 episodes and it is clearly the point at which Bad episodes begin to outnumber good episodes The 39 episodes prior to Deadly Years are for the most part good or excellent and the 39 episodes after are generally average or poor. To me it's almost like beginning with this episode the Series itself started to age. And yes episodes where the cast rapidly age and then are miraculously made young again almost invariably suck. It even happened in The X-Files
     
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  17. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    TOS, I like to believe, was showcasing some horrors of aging and kept focused on that, rather than "how they got it" (radiation) and "how they cured it" (quickie throwaway with cod drama).

    TNG liked the idea, probably hated how TOS used it, and tried to create something more robust from stem to stern with the "how it was created" / "resolved" aspects. It's a bit more successful in some ways, and yet I can't fathom how an immune system can project itself outside the body that would cause everyone in the area to get old and diiiiie as it's a bit too fantastical ('A' for effort, though!), but it definitely was not unreasonably thought out as to how to use the transporter to resolve the crisis since Pulaski avoided the thing so now they have to hunt down viable DNA from elsewhere - thank goodness they have hairbrushes in the 24th century; brushes she didn't share with Marcia Brady or anyone else. But immunity systems working outside the body? (Maaaaaaybe via genetic experimentation and mutation, as humanity has done things in real life that would otherwise be seemingly impossible as well as finding discoveries... either way, US spends more time trying to create a means to sell the concept more than just a passing comet with magical radiation that's as hearty as a water souffle so they can spend more time applying latex make-up and becoming the inspiration for "The Waltons" and "Hee Haw".)

    The big downer is, ever since that episode, the transporter increasingly often became "backup 'save the day' maguffin, option two" should a plot put itself into a corner. Then again, did everyone know the show would run, like that battery bunny on dope, for another half-decade? (That also explains the other over-used trope, regarding "WARP CORE BREACH IN a-r-b-i-t-r-a-r-y---t-o---t-h-e---p-l-o-t MINUTES/SECONDS/MONTHS, CAPTAIN!!" that was first introduced in "Contagion" and in a surprisingly good way, complete with "highly improbable set of events has to occur first" - which, as the show went on, needed to be rewritten as "too frequent set of any random events has to occur first, even Wesley stifling a sneeze.")

    Thankfully, half the time, the urgency of the drama was still successful, but back when the shows first aired, one needn't be Peppedupridge Farm to remember fans clamoring over "not that resolution, again"/"yes, it's that again"/"Will they please cancel the show already"/"Hey, there are two new spinoffs coming!"/"Well, maybe I'll see an episode but I hope they do something different..."/"And did you see the movie?"/"Yes I did, better sit down but they use the warp core breach... again..." (then comes 1996 with a shiny new ship and what do they focus on? The warp core... sheesh, even Achilles would have wrapped up his heel in Kevlar by then... triple-thick dual-layer patented design offering six impenetrable layers... also available for other special events...)

    Lastly, about that "Hee Haw" show:

     
  18. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think TAS was the first to use the transporter-as-cure idea, in 1973.
     
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  19. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yes--in "The Lorelei Signal"--TAS' fourth episode.
     
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  20. Shawnster

    Shawnster Commodore Commodore

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    Another aging episode