TheGodBen Revisits Star Trek

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

  1. Mr. Spook

    Mr. Spook Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It was written as a potential second pilot. The network passed and shelved it for review on a later date assuming Roddenberry made enough changes. Apparently nobody liked it but Gene.
     
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  2. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The initial mystery with the abandoned Exeter was interesting and the standing sets enjoyed some dark and moody lighting, which was good. However, all this is just prelude to the planetside story and has very little bearing on it.
    The tale setting is a nice enough “what if” spin on the cold war but unfortunately that is barely explored.
    Instead, we get a spin on the old evil captain/mad scientist/fountain of youth tropes.
    Agreed that the fight scenes were one of the high points of this episode. The beating Captain Tracey gives Kirk is great – he grins maniacally throughout, enjoying dealing out every blow! Their later fight is pretty good too – both actors go running around the village, Kirk leaping and diving all over the place :beer:

    The final part of the episode (with the flag) goes on far longer than I remembered. The story really ought to ended when the Yangs stormed the village and (due to Cloud William’s earlier encounter with Kirk) freed the landing party. Tracy would probably have been killed trying some last trick and everyone else beamed sadly back to the shop. But no, we had to have all that silliness with the flag, the oath of allegiance, Spock’s satanic appearance, ANOTHER fight (ended by Spock’s special abilities for the second time this episode) and a Kirk speech which changes the entire planet’s society.
    Again.
    :rolleyes:
     
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  3. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Being reminded of this episode, as well as “Patterns Of Force,” touches tangentially on my recent rewatching episodes of first season Mission: Impossible.

    In MI there is no counterpoint offered to the MI team interfering in another country’s affairs. It’s accepted America is the good guy and is justified in their operations as the world’s police. The point of the stories is how they execute their plans without comment on whether they should or shouldn’t be doing it at all.

    In TOS they do debate the issue. They do consider whether what they’re doing is justified or not. Tracey stepped over the line. It was Kirk’s job to arrest him and return him to Starfleet and Federation justice. But, of course, they have to survive first.

    TNG’s “Who Watches The Watchers?” is not much different than TOG on the basics of story. Kirk, like Picard, did try to dissuade the Omegans from thinking he was a god or even God’s servant. My impression is that Cloud William and the rest didn’t really believe him. The question arises, like Spock posits: did Kirk interfere by explaining the true meaning of the Yangs’ E Pleb Nista? Well, considering Kirk does continue with his career and as the Enterprise’s captain then Starfleet evidently doesn’t think he did anything grievously wrong whereas Tracey openly tried to help one side over the other as well as using superior technology to do it while killing numerous, perhaps hundreds, of Kohms in the process.

    Back to MI I can’t recall any time the merits or cons of interference being discussed. It’s simply accepted without question the MI’s actions are fully justified.
     
  4. Mr. Spook

    Mr. Spook Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Mission: Impossible was conceived as a cold war caper show. The US was always on the side of right in those shows. Unless I missed one that didn't really survive or hid behind a different era, I think the only legit American espionage series to question it from time to time was I Spy (which more or less had one of them saying "is this right? Maybe not, but it's the job"). M:I was all about the missions, not about the individuals. Later, when they focused more on "the Syndicate" (organized crime), obviously the Mafia were the bad guys. Nothing to question there.

    Star Trek could question it because they hid behind other societies. You know the tired old cliche that the actors spout, adding exclamation points like it's a new discovery: "we did little morality plays!" (thanks, Nichelle, we know) Unless you were a powerhouse producer Quinn Martin or Sheldon Leonard, and even they had trouble, you didn't put your views that plainly. You had to be like Roddenberry and Joe Stefano and hide behind creatures and alien cultures. Or, if you were a Warld War 2 series, you could comment on Viet Nam without bitching about the actual conflict. TV was all about the dance back then.
     
  5. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Not always. There was a healthy run of dramas in the 1960s (especially earlier in the decade) that confronted political and social issues directly. These included shows like The Defenders, East Side/West Side, The Bold Ones (really four different shows under one "wheel" format), For The People (starring William Shatner!), Slattery's People, and Judd, For The Defense. And that's not a complete list.

    Some of those shows, of course, were short-lived.
     
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  6. Mr. Spook

    Mr. Spook Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    They didn’t have spaceships or spies so I musta missed them :biggrin:

    I wish I actually saw a lot of them, but either they blew by me growing up or they didn’t hit the rerun circuit. Honestly, I don’t remember a single one of those hitting syndication in my area. I’ve heard of them, but have no idea about the episodic content.
     
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  7. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Many of these shows missed the syndication circuit - and many of them missed home video during the DVD era, as well. Some have been archived by collectors on YouTube, a few have finally come out on DVD, but many are unavailable unless you can visit an archival setting like the UCLA Film & Television Archive or the Paley Center.
     
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  8. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Or so hypothesized Herb Solow in the book Inside Star Trek. If you read his account he does not quote her as having talked him into it. She's just the bearer of bad news.

    Memory Alpha is incorrect about a lot of stuff. And, as to what actually happened, that depends on which accounts you believe. There are three main ones:
    • Roddenberry said the network and test audiences didn't believe a woman in charge: "Who does she think she is?"
    • Fontana said the network didn't want a woman second in command
    • Herb Solow said the network didn't like any of the pilot casting except Hunter ("fine") and Nimoy ("okay"), and wanted to recast all the other roles, and suggests they knew Majel was Roddenberry's mistress, and didn't want her cast for nepotism alone.
    I suspect the actual truth is a combination of bits of all these accounts, like NBC didn't like the casting and test audiences didn't like the character or actress as seen in the episode.

    Probably untrue, although it was an expensive pilot. Lost In Space's pilot, "No Place to Hide" appears to have cost in the same ballpark, but due to the way different studios budgeted things it's impossible to do a 1:1 cost comparison. And there were pilots before both Star Trek & Lost In Space which appear to have cost more: Alexander the Great (w/Shatner and Adam West) for one.

    Omega = Last/Final. "The Omega Glory" = "The Final Glory"

    As per @ssosmcin above, it was one of three stories developed for the second pilot, along with "Mudd's Women". Omega got to several drafts of a complete script, starting with Captain Peter York who was quickly renamed James Kirk, literally 55 years ago this past week link). The pilot script has bigger action set pieces, starting with the Exeter almost crashing into the Enterprise. Spock is a very different character in it than in the series. We'll get into that on Fact Trek at some point.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
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  9. Cancel Culture

    Cancel Culture Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, clearly "omega" probably means "final" (cf "he is the alpha and the omega") [edit - if we are going for a non-literal, poetic subtext instead of a literal meaning (see below)], but what is it that is omega, what is it that is final? In other words, what is the titular final glory supposed to be? Is it a fountain of youth? Is it freedom, or something named by some other worship word? Is it duty? Is it the US Constitution? Is it Old Glory (the Stars and Stripes)?

    The episode is such a thematic mess, that there isn't anything that stands out as such a glorious object, except perhaps the Constitution or Old Glory :crazy:. YMMV, but the question is, what is this final glory?
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
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  10. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Old Glory = the flag. I suspect it’s that

    Frankly this episode always struck me as Gene coming up with a Twilight Zone type twist ending and then trying to justify getting to it for 45 minutes and failing at it.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  11. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    I always assumed (without really thinking heavily on it) that "glory" was Tracey's idea of leading the Khoms in their war. It honestly never occurred to me that "Omega" meant anything other than the name of the planet.

    Yeah that's the feeling I always got too.
     
  12. Mr. Spook

    Mr. Spook Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah to me “Omega Glory” was “old Glory on planet Omega” with the possible double meaning of “Fighting for the glory of freedom on planet Omega.”

    The definition of Omega being “the last” seems a little too subtle for Roddenberry.
     
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  13. Cancel Culture

    Cancel Culture Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I would have gone for that, except that it's not planet Omega, it's planet Omega IV. The name of the planet is said only once, in the opening line by Sulu regarding which planet they are approaching. That's the only time the word "omega" is spoken in the episode.

    Maybe therefore, "The Omega Star System's Old Glory."

    But if Roddenberry wanted us to think not in terms of a poetic subtext for the title, he could have just named the planet Omega (no IV) and have been done with it. :shrug:
     
  14. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    The show often doesn't observe that distinction, though: Eminiar 7 just called Eminiar, Argelius 2 just called Argelius, Capella 4 just called Capella etc.
     
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  15. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I agree. I think calling the first season "a tale of two half seasons" is accurate. There was the series Gene Roddenberry originally had in mind when he was pitching it to NBC and then the series as it began to take on a life of its own.

    They began to focus more on the things stood out to them by bringing Spock and McCoy more and more to the fore-front. And you can only keep up the strange "high concept" ideas for so long. It's hard to come up with "brilliant" all the time, you so have to settle into something more sustainable or at least try: "consistently pretty good". Or take on what you tackled before from a different angle.

    I think it's the difference between raw talent shining through in an amazing creative burst versus something that's been honed, fine-tuned, and can last longer. "Check out this new thing you haven't seen before!" versus "I can't wait to see what they do next!" It's an excitement but it's a different type of excitement.
     
  16. Cancel Culture

    Cancel Culture Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Fair point, thank you. So, perhaps "Omega" in the title does mean the planet, and just the planet.

    It's worth noting that subtexts and double meanings in titles exist, though.

    For example, "Where No Man Has Gone Before" could be taken to refer both to beyond the galaxy and to the realm of godhood. "The Devil in the Dark" seems to refer to both the Horta and to the miners.
     
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  17. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Assignment: Earth (*)

    How do I even approach this episode? It’s barely even an episode of Star Trek. Even those who don’t know the production history of this episode can clearly tell that this is an attempt to launch a spin-off series. Kirk and co barely do anything, they just watch as Gary Seven saves the world. Actually, scratch that, Kirk and co actually almost cause the end of the world because they interfere with Gary’s plans. Our regular crew are the antagonists, which might be a neat twist if the whole thing didn’t feel so haphazard.

    But this episode is worse than just another show hijacking Star Trek for an hour, because in doing so it undermines the ideals Star Trek is supposedly built on. It turns out that humanity didn’t avoid annihilating ourselves in the Cold War, we only managed to avoid that because an alien power interfered in our affairs to save us. The story humanity tells itself, and which Kirk uses as a guide to other races that risk killing themselves, it’s all a lie. And what about the Prime Directive? If the human race only survived because of alien interference, then why is it wrong for humanity to interfere to save other species. This episode should reframe humanity’s entirely philosophy.

    Except it doesn’t because this episode is really only a backdoor pilot to another show and will rightly be ignored going forward.

    I’ll give the episode some credit for one thing, the scope here feels larger than the average Star Trek episode. Going to the launchpad of a Saturn V rocket is more visually interesting than the setting of your typical Star Trek adventure. Yeah, it’s mostly stock footage of the rocket, and the outdoor scenes look to have been filmed at the production offices in the studio. But at least it’s something.
     
  18. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Gene Roddenberry's take on the subject in 1974. I recently just transcribed a lecture he gave to Wichita University that year.



    Cutting and pasting below:

    Should this civilization fall, it happens. There are a lot of factors right now that make some shake up sound quite desirable. For example, as I’ve been saying for years and as you’ve read in the newspaper recently, the nuclear bomb is no longer the exclusive property of reasonable and mature nations like the United States, Russia, China [mild laughter] We are about at the time of nuclear capacity potentially in the hands of any country willing to pay the price and even extremely large industrial corporations, or even extremely wealthy individuals. And as I’ve said on a news conference, yesterday, the idea of AT&T having an atomic bomb just scares the Hell out of me.

    Pessimism? Absolutely not. What I’m being is an optimist. What I’m saying is that there are heartening indications all around us: in the power crunch, the population explosion, the food problem, and all of these things, that some of our society will become unglued before we are able to blast ourselves and our planet out of existence. In other words: I’m saying that these things we’re facing may be natural checks and balances protecting us as we slowly evolve into a more mature species. These crises may be happening as they were planned. I agree with Arthur C. Clarke and a number of other writers who have stated that call it what you will: God, El, Allah, Von Daniken Space Travelers if you want to go that way. Any wisdom capable of putting intelligence on this planet is no doubt capable of a plan that will protect it through its present childhood until we have reached the point where we’re able to take care of ourselves. We are going to have another chance and another and still another, if we need it, until we have built an adult reasoning civilization. And I define an adult reasoning civilization quite simply as one in which our capacity to love has become as great as our capability to destroy.

    End of cut and paste.

    I posted more here. On these pages in another thread in another forum.
    Link 1
    Link 2

    Enjoy. It'll give you more insight into both Gene Roddenberry's philosophy and how he saw Star Trek years before TNG came into the picture. Anyone else interested should look at the research I put together too.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2020
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  19. Severed Fingers

    Severed Fingers There, that's the stuff! Premium Member

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    I've always had a soft spot for Assignment: Earth, though it may have been down to the cat. :techman:
     
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  20. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Season 2 Review

    Wow, it has been so long since I’ve done this. What’s even the format again. Oh yes, graphs! Hold on, let me make them.

    [​IMG]

    So, quick refresh: Blue tracks the scores of each episode, green is the average for the whole season, and red is the trendline for the season. In this case, the trendline is pretty clearly headed downward, which fits my perception that the season went downhill right around the time that Gene Coon left.

    [​IMG]

    This is the most unusual one of these graphs for any season of Star Trek I have done. There’s no distribution curve, which is what you’d usually see in this graph, it’s almost flat. I awarded 10 episodes below average scores, 2 episodes average, and 14 above average.

    Best episode: The Doomsday Machine
    Worst episode: The Omega Glory


    Statistics

    Captain Redshirt: 14
    The God Things: 10
    James T Flirt: 11¾
    Inform the Men: 0

    Season 2 Average: 5.577
    Overall Average: 5.436

    Deep Space 9 Average After 1 Season: 5.8
    Voyager Average After 1 Season: 5.122
    Enterprise Average After 1 Season: 4.882
    Babylon 5 Average After 1 Season: 5.356


    In Summation

    Statistically, this is one of the weirder seasons of Star Trek that I have reviewed. It has some really great peaks, and only one that I would consider to be irredeemably bad. But there is a lot of episodes in 1-1½ star range that drag the overall season score down.

    One fact worth noting is that I gave three episodes 5-star ratings, which is the most of any season of any Star Trek series (and Babylon 5) that I have reviewed. Even my favourite Star Trek series, DS9, only managed a peak of two 5-star episodes in a season. So while the overall average score might not seem especially impressive, that’s still an achievement that season 2 of TOS will be remembered for by me.

    But now we must press on to the maligned season 3. My memory is that the season isn’t as awful as is often claimed, but I only watched it through once so I’ll be interested to see what I think of it now. It’s certainly weaker than the first two, but weak enough to substantially drag down the average score of the series. I guess I’ll find out...

    Maybe in a few years if my track record is anything to go by.