[personal profile] locker_monster
Happy 50th anniversary Star Trek!

I've been making my way through season two of Star Trek at a much slower rate than season one, so I'm only half way through the season, but I figured that today would be a good day to get my thoughts down. I know, "The Man Trap" aired September 8, 1966, but it actually aired two days earlier in Canada on September 6, 1966, so as a Canadian, I'm celebrating early. :-)

What I've noticed so far is how they emphasized the characters this season. First season, the main focus was on the trio of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, but this season, you see more interaction with the other main crew. Scotty's had more to do, Uhura doesn't just sit there and say "Hailing frequencies open", and Chekov, while introduced this season, has more personality to him than the random navigators they had come through the bridge. I feel like Sulu hasn't had much, but George Takei was absent for a bit while filming The Green Berets so maybe that has something to do with it. I guess it reflects how life would be aboard a starship. As you spend more time with people, your relationships grow deeper and everyone gets a lot closer.

Favourite episodes from the first half of the season in no particular order:

- "Amok Time": We learn more about Vulcans in this episode and are introduced to pon-farr. It's weird to think that the bulk of the story is about how Spock needs to get home to mate. In any other show, this might be funny, but there's added drama when you see just how close Spock is to losing it. Leonard Nimoy is the right amount of crazy without being over the top. You also have the classic Star Trek fight music in this episode. I quite enjoyed the ending when Spock sees that Kirk isn't dead. His joyous "JIM!" is one of the few times we see Spock expressing emotion when he isn't under the influence of something.

- "Journey to Babel": First time we meet Spock's parents. While the main storyline involves a murder mystery, the secondary storyline is all about Spock and his father. Family drama is universal to anyone; it doesn't matter if you're human or not. You really see the pull of Spock's two halves in this story. Logical Spock needs to command the ship while Kirk lies injured in Sick Bay, but his mother begs him to hand over command so Spock can give blood to his ill father. Seeing how stubborn Spock and Sarek are, you have to wonder how Vulcans end up having children. I guess it's only logical to have offspring so you can pass on your genes. There are also a lot of aliens in this episode which also gives it a different flavour.

- "The Trouble with Tribbles": It's not as epic as, say, "The City on the Edge of Forever", but it's just as memorable, though the plot is a bit silly when you get down to it. Despite that, I love this episode. It's kind of on par with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in its use of broad humour. The actors aren't doing a send up; it's the situation that produces all of the laughs. I don't think they ever did another episode like this, but it does go to show that life on a Federation starship isn't always about life and death. And it's always hilarious when the tribbles spill out of the storage compartment, burying Kirk. I always laugh when that one tribble hits Kirk square in the back of the head.

Incidentally, this episode got its own disc in the DVD set. I thought it was weird, but then I saw that they had also included DS9's "Trials and Tribble-ations" and the animated series' "More Tribbles, More Troubles". "Trials and Tribble-ations" is one of the few DS9 episodes that I've seen over and over, simply because it's a joy to watch. It takes an already enjoyable episode and makes it even better by putting a fun timey-wimey twist on it. 1996 was a good anniversary year for Star Trek. You had DS9's episode, Voyager's episode "Flashback" with George Takei, and you had Star Trek: First Contact.

- "Mirror, Mirror": Evil goatees! Exposed midriffs! Punishment by agonizer! Another classic with an odd premise, but it's one everyone still remembers fondly. Hell, it spawned a bunch of sequel episodes on the other shows. Alternative reality stories are always fun because it gives the actors something different to do with their character. When you really get down to it, not much happens in the story. Kirk and crew bumble around the Mirror universe while trying to find a way home. The drama and the fun comes from seeing the Mirror versions of the crew act evil. Oh, and Scotty calls Kirk "Jim" in this episode. I always thought that he called him Captain or Captain Kirk, but I guess there are some moments where Scotty was a bit informal with Kirk.

Episodes that were better than I expected:

- "Metamorphosis": Sentient gas cloud loves the man who created warp speed. While the "lurv" aspect was kind of cheesy, it was neat to see Zefram Cochrane. The guy here doesn't look a thing like James Cromwell, but Cochrane does mention that the Companion de-aged him, so that might account for the difference in appearance. I never realized that TOS had introduced Cochrane in person. I had kind of assumed the show had just mentioned him in passing and there's where the writers of First Contact started for the basis of the character.

- "The Doomsday Machine" / "Obsession": Both are pretty much Moby Dick in space. Decker and Kirk both have their white whale. It was interesting to see just how much being in command weighs on a person. Decker is driven mad with guilt when he loses his crew and Kirk gets very irrational while trying to hunt down the vampire cloud creature. The command program teaches that you have to be able to send someone to their death for the good of the ship and crew, but even one lose isn't acceptable for someone like Kirk or Decker. Oh, and apparently Decker is the father of Commander Decker in Star Trek the Motion Picture. Or, that was the intention at least before the scripts got revised.

- "The Changeling": Oh, speaking of the first movie, the plot of this episode is really similar to the plot of the movie. Old probe gets taken over by an alien something and starts terrorizing the galaxy. The one strength the episode has how the plot doesn't drag on. For most of the story, I was wondering if maybe the Borg of the 23rd century had discovered Nomad, but the alien force that re-writes Nomad's programming is mentioned by name later, so any retcon connection wasn't possible. Noman mind wiping Uhura was not cool, but I guess he only wiped out her learned skills and not her memories.

And boring/silly/bad episodes:

- "I, Mudd": Why bring back Harry Mudd? Though, it was kind of fun to see the crew acting irrationally to confuse all of the androids. There was a group cosplay at the Star Trek con from this episode. The woman dressed up like Mudd's wife had the annoyed finger pointing down to a tee.

- "The Apple": I was mostly bored with this episode. It had an interesting premise, but nothing really new was covered. Also weird seeing Chekov making out with his girlfriend while on a mission.

- "Catspaw": A Halloween episode of Star Trek. Once again, Kirk makes out with a woman to turn the tide in his favour. The twist that the all powerful aliens are actually tiny furry blue shrimps was vaguely fun, but the moment is unintentionally hilarious when you notice the black strings holding up the puppets. Even the re-mastered episode couldn't fully eliminate the strings.

- "The Deadly Years": Having some of the crew age rapidly could have brought some real tension to the episode, but most of the plot is wasted on trying to take away command from an increasingly senile Kirk. I don't care about whether Kirk is fit enough to command the Enterprise. We should be more worried about curing the aging disease. Randomly, an old flame of Kirk's is on board and her presence doesn't add much either. And wow, Kirk is a cranky old man. ;-) Oddly, McCoy's Southern accent becomes more pronounced as he gets older. It's a little strange, but it is consistent with his aged appearance during his cameo during TNG's "Encounter at Farpoint".

I feel like the majority of the TOS episodes that I had seen before this re-watch were from season two. Maybe this was TOS' best season. Looking ahead to season three, none of the episode titles look familiar.
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