TheGodBen Revisits Star Trek

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by TheGodBen, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    Ireland
    Hello all. I'm not sure if I've posted in this forum before. I like the décor, all the other forums are coloured grey or brown, but I see that you guys have decorated this place in bright primary colours. Very nice.

    Who am I? Oh, that's right, I should explain.

    Many aeons ago, I wrote some review threads for DS9, Voyager, Enterprise, and Babylon 5. Then I stopped. Stopping wasn't intentional, I had planned to continue the project with TNG, but then I signed up for a Netflix account and, well, the Earth circled the Sun a few times, let's just put it that way. But the Star Wars hype of a few weeks ago inexplicably caused me to get nostalgic for TOS, so I started a rewatch a few days ago.

    When I began, I had no intention of making a review thread for TOS. The truth is that I grew up with TNG and the later spin-offs, and while I have watched all of TOS once, and enjoyed it for the most part, I've never seen it as “my” Star Trek, if that makes sense. I'm not entirely comfortable criticising a show that started two decades before my birth. But after watching a few episodes, I found myself wanting to discuss my journey, so I'm tentatively giving this a go. It may not work out, but I'll see what happens.

    I'm watching the remastered versions, not that that should change anything, and I'm watching them in production order, because it's the future and I'm not going to let NBC decide what I should watch and when! Also, I tend to make jokes. And graphs. And counters. And awfully photoshopped images. And sometimes I get drunk and start crying inconsolably. But you don't need to know about that.

    So, I guess I should begin?


    The Cage (**½)

    The Cage is an odd duck. It's a vision of a Star Trek series that was never made, featuring a crew that we'll never get to know. It's familiar, but unique. Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Pike puts in a solid performance, he could have been a great captain if he had the chance. Spock is disappointing in his first outing, not because he's not like the Spock we later come to know, but because he doesn't have any unique feature that justifies his being an alien. Number One may have been a strong female presence for a 1960s TV show, but the character isn't that interesting in this story, she doesn't even have a name. Maybe she would have improved like Spock did if given the opportunity. All the other characters sort of fade into the background.

    The story has an interesting premise, but it ultimately involves the lead character being locked in a room for most of the hour. I feel like it might have benefited by being cut down to the length of a regular episode so that it doesn't feel so drawn out. The Talosians are good antagonists; not evil, simply "superior", and their mind abilities make them stand out amongst the hundreds of species we later encounter in this franchise.

    Unfortunately, the blatant sexism at several points dates the episode pretty badly. I try not to judge it for that, but it's not easy. This is certainly going to be an issue going forward, the conflict between historical standards and modern expectations.

    One final thought is that the episode has a number of similarities with DS9's first episode, Emissary. There's the sullen lead character who is thinking of resigning from Starfleet, he encounters magical aliens, they force him to relive the incident that caused his bad mood, and the episode ends with him feeling reinvigorated by his experience.


    Well, that's 1 episode down, 79 to go.
     
    Tomalak, benjaminh, SPCTRE and 2 others like this.
  2. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Location:
    North Wales
    Nice to see you over here on the TOS forum! This should be an interesting thread...
     
  3. KimMH

    KimMH Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Location:
    The poster formerly known as ORSE
    So excited to catch one of your watch threads at the start and looking forward to this!
     
  4. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
    Location:
    Sitting in Kirk's command chair
    One review per day is not too much to ask, is it?
     
  5. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    Ireland
    That's the plan, although there'll probably be a break for a week or two around beginning of March. Which, completely coincidentally, is around the release date of season 4 of House of Cards. :whistle:


    Where No Man Has Gone Before (***)

    Shatner is an easy man to make fun of, and the stories of his egotistical antics behind the scenes don't make him an easy man to like. But he has one thing in abundance that the other captains don't: charisma. And that's present here, right in his first episode. Shatner didn't need time to figure out his character, he simply is Kirk from the very start. And that's probably my favourite thing about this episode. Kirk may not be my favourite captain, but he's still a great character, and it was fun seeing him do his thing again.

    However, the story of this episode doesn't do much for me. I'm just cool on the god-like being thing at the moment, and Gary Mitchell with his shining eyes and booming voice felt a bit too unsubtle. One thing I did appreciate about this episode, however, is the fact that Kirk and Spock were on the ball right from the start. They knew right away that Mitchell's new powers were a threat, the question was how far they were willing to go to neutralise it. I feel like the later Treks would have wasted more time getting to that point while the audience screamed at them to figure things out quicker. Kirk and Spock are genre-savvy characters, which is amazing considering how the genre was still being defined at the time.

    TOS provides fertile ground for the return of the Captain Redshirt counter. This is something I originally did on my Enterprise rewatch where I counted all the times when Captain Archer needlessly put his life in danger by doing a task more appropriate for lower-ranked officer. In this episode, Kirk chases after two people with god-like powers armed with only a phaser rifle. Understandable from a character point of view, but probably not the smartest decision to make.

    Captain Redshirt: 1
     
  6. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Location:
    North Wales
    True, but unlike a lot of the contrived "this is something I HAVE to do" situations, Kirk and Mitchell's relationship does actually go back years, not merely a few days.

    Still, I can't begrudge you the Captain Redshirt point, Kirk blatantly earns it.
    And I really like the term "Captain Redshirt", too :techman:
     
  7. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    May 1, 2001
    Location:
    Seven of Five
    He's back!

    I'll be reading.
     
  8. Gary Mitchell

    Gary Mitchell Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Location:
    ¯\_(°·O)_/¯ Under your bed ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
    Unsubtle? Come on. :angryrazz:
     
    PhaserLightShow and CrazyMatt like this.
  9. KimMH

    KimMH Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Location:
    The poster formerly known as ORSE
    Kirk's angst about how far to go seemed like foolish dithering to a teenage raised in an authoritarian household. I appreciate the ethos far more as an old person. It was certainly food for thought for a long time to come.
     
  10. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    Ireland
    I agree, it makes perfect sense for both the character and the story. But I asked myself "Would I have counted that against Archer?" and the answer was yes. I owe it to my good friend Scott Bakula to treat Kirk the same way.

    Oh no, this is like that time I made all those Mike Sussman jokes and Mike Sussman actually showed up in the thread. :alienblush: I'm sorry Mr Mitchell, I didn't mean to offend. I'm sure you would have made an excellent god. And the whitening of your hair made you look very distinguished.


    The Corbomite Maneuver (***½)

    And along came McCoy, my favourite TOS character and, much like Kirk, his character is well defined right from the start. He even had a “I'm a doctor not a...” moment. Okay, not exactly, but close enough.

    I liked the tone of the first half of this episode. It felt like a regular day in the life of a starship crew, even while they're being menaced by a mystery box. Kirk is undergoing a physical, he and McCoy enjoy a drink while discussing Kirk's diet, the new navigator isn't quite working out, and the crew banters with Spock. There's an air of professionalism around all this, a sense that the unknown has almost become routine. Except for Bailey, he's easily distracted by loud noises.

    Then a giant spaceship shows up and threatens to kill the crew. But it's okay, it turns out it was all a prank that will air on the First Federation's version of Candid Camera. “Ha ha, those silly Earthers, threatening us with their fictitious corbomite.” A fairly basic story overall, but one which is necessary to define first contact protocols for the rest of the series. If there's a flaw it's in the laughable attempts to induce a sense of tension in the audience. There's a really awkward segment where there's no dialogue for about two minutes, just cuts between shots of concerned crewmembers, people in the corridor being flung left and right, and external shots of the ship. I had to dock the episode of half a star for that.
     
    SPCTRE, HuckleCat and Sean_McCormick like this.
  11. Gary Mitchell

    Gary Mitchell Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Location:
    ¯\_(°·O)_/¯ Under your bed ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
    It's okay, I'll let it slide this time.
     
  12. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    Ireland
    Mwahaha, you may have the powers of a god, but you still fall for that most human of concepts: flattery.

    Hey, there's a good story concept right there. I should sell that to CBS.


    Mudd's Women (½)

    This episode is deeply offensive, and it's shocking to think that this was ever allowed to air. I am talking, of course, about Mudd's horrific attempt at an Irish accent while posing as Leo Walsh. It's that ridiculous Hollywood Oirish accent, a preposterous standard that real Irish can never live up to. This unhealthy stereotype that Hollywood propagates is harmful to our children and causes them to grow up sounding like Saoirse Ronan. Real Irish accents have curves!

    Also, the episode is a tad sexist, but it's really the accent that deserves to be singled out for criticism here.

    Once you get past the fact that this episode has beautiful women in revealing outfits that walk around the ship to a porno soundtrack, the plot is kinda flimsy. Some racist pimp is trying to sell his drug-addicted hos to some lonely miners. By the end of the episode it doesn't even feel like a Star Trek story any more, it becomes a domestic argument where an ugly man accuses a beautiful woman of being ugly because she's only wearing light make-up. Then Kirk comes along and gives her a Fruit Pastille that magically cakes her face in make-up and fixes her hair. Because true beauty lies within, or something. The message isn't bad, it's just presented in such an awfully self-defeating way. “It's what's on the inside that matters, and we'll show that by changing her external appearance.”

    I suppose this episode hinges on whether you enjoy the antics of Harry Mudd and close-up shots of swaying asses. To which my responses would be “No” and “Yes, but that's what pornography is for.”
     
    SPCTRE and Sean_McCormick like this.
  13. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    Just imagine if they had picked "Mudd's Women" to be the second pilot instead of "Where No Man Has Gone Before." Yikes.

    (The third script under consideration, "The Omega Glory," isn't much better -- but that wasn't produced until season two, so it'll be a bit before you get there.)
     
  14. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    May 1, 2001
    Location:
    Seven of Five
    Yeah I never understood why they thought Mudd's Women would have been a good pilot. A real oddity. :wtf: I think Mudd fairs better in I, Mudd, but it isn't hard.
     
  15. Poltargyst

    Poltargyst Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2014
    GodBen, I've never read any of your posts before, but you are really funny. I'll enjoy reading as you continue your mission.
     
  16. Drone

    Drone Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Location:
    Palookaville
    I'm thrilled at your extended visit here. I'm pretty sure that your rewatch of Voyager was one of the first threads I gave very serious attention to as a lurker. As it's my favorite of the series, I think I remember pretty jazzed about your being somewhat more understanding than what you claimed about your earlier thoughts of it.

    As for your passing remark on Mitchell's changing hair color, I think I've read some takes on that here before, but does it seem that what it simply signifies is that the evolutionary process is meant to suggest a reordering of one's metabolism that induces premature aging and possibly a relatively short duration as a psionic hot shot? I also seem to remember that the color turns back to solid brown for those few moments that's he's returned to his normal self and then switched back for his denouement. If I'm not imagining things, that was pretty sharp on the part of the writer!!!
     
  17. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Could be worse I guess, at least Chidress was not offered a good stick to beat the lovely lady with.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2016
  18. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
    Location:
    Sitting in Kirk's command chair
    I can just see the (blood drained from their pasty white faces) stodgy suits at NBC saying, "they can't wiggle their... their... behinds on TV like that!"
     
  19. Gary Mitchell

    Gary Mitchell Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Location:
    ¯\_(°·O)_/¯ Under your bed ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
    That was just a portion of my power manifesting itself through my spectacular hair follicles.
     
  20. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    Ireland
    Well, Star Trek would never have been given the green light, and without the franchise's guiding morality influencing me as a child I would probably have ended up in a disreputable profession, such as law or accounting. I'd earn more more. I'd never have had to sit through Threshold. I wouldn't have those recurring nightmares where Dr Pulaski is giving my a physical.

    I don't know, that alternate timeline sounds awfully appealing. Does anyone have some red matter that I could borrow?

    Thank you, but I must confess that I steal all my jokes from the book "1001 Jokes for Dinner Parties". I'm already up to 809, so I'm going to have to be sparing with the jokes in this and the eventual TNG thread.

    Yeah, that thread gave me a new appreciation for Voyager. It's still my least favourite, and I still think they squandered the show's potential, but I no longer think that Voyager is bad. It's okay, just a little disappointing compared to what it could have been.


    The Enemy Within (****)

    A transporter accident splits Captain Kirk into two separate beings, one that overacts, and another that screams like a lunatic. There are other differences too. One of them is a violent rapist, and the other can't decide what to have for lunch. The real Captain Kirk is an amalgam of the two, somewhere between the two extremes. The real Captain Kirk knows how to treat a woman, and he has a chicken sandwich and coffee.

    This isn't the most tasteful time to broach this subject, but I had intended to introduce a counter for all the women Kirk kisses over the course of the series. Unfortunately, the first kiss is the one that he forces on Rand, which makes this a bit awkward. Plus, it was only half of Kirk that kissed her. But it still technically counts, so, yeah. I'm also introducing a counter for all the women Kirk sleeps with, which I know is going to be considerably smaller than his reputation suggests. Thankfully, he doesn't get a point for that this episode, not even half a point.

    James T Flirt: ½
    Inform the Men: 0


    What I liked about this episode is that it didn't drag out the aspect of the evil doppelganger being loose on the ship for too long. They capture the bad Kirk half-way into the episode, allowing the second half to focus on how the two Kirks need one another. It's a more thoughtful episode than its premise has any right to be. This episode is the first time we get to see the triumvirate of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy at work, and we get the first “He's dead, Jim!” This is history in the making right here.

    There's also a subplot where Sulu and some extras got stuck on a planet because Kirk sent all the shuttles out on a beer run.

    SPOCK: The, er, impostor had some... interesting qualities, wouldn't you say, yeoman? [suggestive smirk]
    RAND: He tried to rape me, you insensitive Vulcan bastard!
    - What Yeoman Rand wished she had said in that final scene.

    Honestly, knowing what we now know about Grace Lee Whitney and the incident she was victim of, the rape element of this episode has a certain poignancy. I don't have a problem with the attack itself, it made sense that an evil Kirk would do such a thing, but that final scene with Spock was really awkward. I genuinely don't know what the thinking behind that brief encounter was.
     
    Sean_McCormick likes this.