[personal profile] locker_monster
Another season of Star Trek done! I quite liked season two. There was a good mix of really good episodes, good episodes, okay episodes, and down right bad episodes.

Things I never knew or noticed before until now:

- The hand phasers actually slot into the top of the phaser pistols. If you look at an actual phaser, you can see that the top bit is a hand phaser. I never noticed that before. It's a cool little detail that they didn't need to have, but someone came up with it anyway.

- Each department has its own unique insignia. Command has the black star in the middle, sciences has the overlapping circles, and engineering has a swirly thing. It's a detail that's lost in the later shows, but it's another example of having extra detail where you necessarily don't need any.

- Scotty is second in command after Spock. TOS featured Kirk, Spock, and Bones so heavily, that you kind of assume that Bones is in the chain of command, but nope, it's Scotty who takes over when Kirk and Spock are both off of the ship.

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

- "A Piece of the Action": Oh my god, this is a ridiculous episode. It's kind of more in line with "The Trouble with Tribbles" in that it's a comedic episode, but where "The Trouble with Tribbles" had humour that came about from the plot, the humour here is a result of the characters. Watching Kirk and Spock run around as gangsters, trying to get a hand of the lingo and attempting to drive a manual car was so bizarre (though hilarious). I feel like you either love this episode or hate it, it's just that strange. Unlike "The Trouble with Tribbles", which has a plot that seems somewhat believable, the plot idea that the Iotians are imitators is kind of hard to swallow. You know the only reason the writers came up with the idea was so they could film in Earth looking back lots and save a few bucks.

I wouldn't watch this episode over and over again, but it was amusing. Spock criticizing Kirk's driving skills made me laugh so hard. It's a shame none of the other shows have revisited Sigma Iotia. Did Bones' forgotten communicator transform the culture of the planet? I know Ronald D. Moore suggested revisiting the planet for DS9's 30th anniversary episode, and we would have seen the Iotians imitating Kirk and Spock, but the writers obviously passed on the idea. I think the only reference came on Enterprise. Travis' family runs a freighter called the Horizon, which is the name of the ship that left behind the book about Chicago gangsters. Apparently, in one episode, when Travis goes back home, you can see the same book on the shelf in the background. Of course, this suggests that the Mayweathers crashed on Sigma Iotia and never made it back to Earth, which is a bit of a downer.

- "The Immunity Syndrome": Killer space amoeba! The idea that the ship flies into what is effectively a negative zone is kind of silly, but the character stuff is great. Spock and Bones both want to study the amoeba, but it's a one way trip in the shuttle due to the power drain. Suddenly, Kirk has to decide which friend of his he must send to their death. That's the burden of command. You have to be willing to send your friends to their deaths for the sake of the mission. In the end, it's Spock who goes, and Kirk apologizes for his decision. There's also a nice scene a little later, when Spock is getting ready to fly off in the shuttle. He and Bones have a snarky conversation, which ends with Spock suggesting to Bones that he wish him luck. It's only after Spock leaves that Bones says good luck, but it totally works. Bones wouldn't be so boldly sentimental to Spock's face, but he still cares for the man. Sums up their friendship wonderfully. Later, Bones is all "We're coming to save you Spock, now shut up", which is great, too. The scene spawns a wonderful .gif.

Oh, and there's something else that was great, too. So the Enterprise crew is looking forward to some shore leave and Kirk is recording a Captain's Log. As he's saying "And, I, too, am looking forward to a nice period of rest on some lovely planet", he's eyeing a pretty yeoman who's on the bridge. Subtle Kirk, subtle. Anyone else think that Kirk pretty much slept his way through the entire female population by the time the five year mission was over?

- "By Any Other Name": You know why this episode is awesome? Scotty gets into a drinking contest with an alien and literally drinks him under the table. Scotty almost saves the day by getting drunk! Had he not passed out, he could have gotten the alien's weapon thingy to Kirk and they could have taken the ship back. I also love that Scotty has a secret stash for his whisky, though the set dressing in his quarters was a little too much for me. Yes, Scotty is Scottish, but that's no reason for him to have a kilt and some bagpipes hanging on the wall.

Binge drinking aside, we also get the Enterprise leaving the Milky Way for Andromeda, which was kind of cool. It never really dawned on me that all of the shows take place in the Milky Way. Like, I always thought that the Alpha Quadrant was the Milky Way and that the Delta Quadrant was another galaxy. Nope. Our own galaxy is just that huge.

Episodes that were better than I expected:

- "Return to Tomorrow": Low key body swapping story. I have a feeling this episode was designed to be one of their low budget eps. Very small guest cast, simple effects, and one small set outside of the usual ship sets. I liked the episode because it wasn't a big action adventure story nor was it over the top. I also didn't realize that Diana Muldaur was in the episode. I think I was vaguely aware she had appeared in TOS, but I didn't realize she actually appeared twice (this ep and one other).

- "A Private Little War": It's hard to take an episode seriously when it has a big white ape monster, but ignoring that, it has some nice commentary on war, particularly the Vietnam War. This episode is more subtle in its approach (unlike another episode will be named below), but the parallels are still there if you want to see them.

- "Bread and Circuses": This very nearly made it to the selection of episodes below. Again, the crew encounter a world with a history very similar to Earth's, in this case, a society based on Ancient Rome. How the hell would this happen? The odds of a far off planet developing a culture practically identical to our Rome is astronomical. Plus, they speak English! Anyway, ignoring that, the episode has some nice satire about TV shows and TV ratings and there's a great scene between Spock and McCoy while they're locked up.

- "The Ultimate Computer": Another episode where Kirk manages to talk a computer into destroying itself. This was totally a bottle show, but it doesn't affect the story. The notion of a computer or robot taking over your job is even more relevant today. Poor Kirk briefly wonders if M-5 will render his job obsolete, but a computer can't replace human instinct. The episode also introduced Richard Daystrom, of the Daystrom Institute. It's so great that the writers of TNG were fans of TOS. They could have call backs to little things that casual viewers wouldn't know about.

Just plain bad/silly/weird episodes:

- "Patterns of Force": Two words: space Nazis. Okay, okay, the Nazis aren't in space, but technically they're aliens, so it's just as strange. The episode provides a somewhat plausible answer for why there are Nazis on this planet, but it's still silly.

- "The Omega Glory": Now, I'm Canadian, so maybe that coloured my opinion of the story, but I thought it was ridiculous in a bad way. First off, how the hell would a planet out in the Milky Way have an American Revolution exactly like the one on Earth? I don't think the episode ever implies that the American flag and the constitution and whatever else was left there by past explorers. Secondly, the Kohms just happen to be Asian looking humanoids? Jeez, how convenient. Thirdly, the theme of the episode kind of boiled down to "the American way is the best way!" Usually, Star Trek is more subtle than this, so I felt like I was being hit over the head with the metaphor mallet. I don't know. As a Canadian, I don't have much knowledge of the American Revolution and what it brought about, so maybe my ignorance prevented me from really appreciating the message. Or, the writing was just that bad and everyone dislikes the episode regardless of where they are from. ;-)

- "Assignment: Earth": Now, I should say, I didn't hate this episode; I was actually quite intrigued by it. This is more a "weird" episode, in that it was clearly intended to be a spin-off from Star Trek, but the premise doesn't involve Starfleet or the Federation or any familiar connections at all. I guess they wanted something with a smaller budget, so setting it on contemporary Earth would have helped with that. Oh my god, Assignment: Earth is totally like the first three season of the Third Doctor's run! Gary Seven is totally a rip-off of the Doctor! ;-) Seriously, just look at it: he has an all purpose device (the servo), a young female assistant (Roberta), a device that can transport him anywhere (okay, his teleporter probably only works within the confines of Earth, but still), and his mission is to make sure that history unfolds correctly. All right, I'm stretching it a bit, but it's still a fun thought.

Actually, I think the spin-off would have been fun to watch. Each week, Gary and Roberta would have to thwart some threat all while making sure not to change the course of history. I remember reading a pair of books called The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh some years back, and it featured Gary and Roberta quite heavily. The books make more sense now that I've seen the episode that spawned their characters.

All right, third season next. I'm going to put this one off for a bit since the new TV season is starting soon. Also, two words. "Spock's Brain".
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Date: 2016-09-17 06:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dbskyler.livejournal.com
I've been having fun re-watching TOS too, since BBC America did a marathon for the 50th anniversary and is now showing it on a regular basis on Friday evenings (presumably since they paid $$$$$ for the rights and want to get their money's worth out of it -- not that I'm complaining!)

Totally agree with you about "A Piece of the Action." TOS was very strong on character humor, which is something I greatly missed in TNG. The episode also introduced Fizzbin, which was one of those words you could casually drop into a conversation in order to find out if the other person was a Star Trek fan or not.

"Assignment:Earth" is one of the episodes I caught during the marathon, and it'd been a long time since I'd seen it, and the parallels with Doctor Who hit me full-on. At one point I'm going, "OMG, a sonic screwdriver! He has a sonic screwdriver!" Then it turned out that the device was also a weapon, so more of a sonic screwdriver plus phaser, but I still spent time wondering if the BBC would have sued if this episode had gone on to become a series. Although going back to check the dates, it looks like both devices were introduced in 1968, so the similarity must be coincidence. See, parallel development isn't that fantastical after all! ;)

And don't worry, Americans also think "Omega Glory" is ridiculous in the worst way. Apparently William Shatner had trouble learning his lines for this episode since he too is Canadian, and didn't know the American pledge of allegiance or the preamble to our Constitution. (And yes, I was forced to memorize that in school.)

Anyone else think that Kirk pretty much slept his way through the entire female population by the time the five year mission was over?

That was definitely one of the cliches of TOS. Also Kirk finding excuses to take his shirt off, which was parodied in Galaxy Quest. Rewatching TOS has made me realize how, for all its progressiveness, it still was incredibly sexist most of the time. Watching Nurse Chapel, it's hard to believe she's played by the same actress who played Lwaxana Troi. Chapel is so self-effacing as to be almost invisible when she's on-screen, while Lwaxana is this huge presence wherever she goes. It makes me sad for the acting opportunities that Majel Barrett didn't get back in TOS, and also sad for Nichelle Nichols, whose job as the glorified "telephone operator" on the show was also parodied in Galaxy Quest. Although every once in awhile they did break out of that and allow her something more important to do.

Date: 2016-09-18 03:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] locker-monster.livejournal.com
CBS must be making a killing on distribution rights for all of the Star Treks this year. Space also did a marathon and is now airing all five shows on a daily basis.

Ah, yes, Fizzbin. A prime example of Kirk bluffing his way to a favourable outcome. :-)

Yeah, Nurse Chapel only had one meaty episode ("What Are Little Girls Made Of?") and the rest of her appearances so far haven't been very substantial. Her main trait seems to be mooning over Spock. I want to be hopeful that Uhura has more to do in season three, but I'm sure it's more of the same. Though, I do remember seeing one episode of the animated series where Uhura and Christine had to rescue the guys after they came under the sway of some evil female aliens. Why that plot idea had to wait until the cartoon, I don't know, but at least it happened once.

Date: 2016-09-20 02:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] newnumber6.livejournal.com
I remember in the 90s having a "worlds of the federation" book that basically just listed various worlds and the alien races on them... in that, they did take the point of view that the Iotians eventually started imitating Starfleet and by the time the next Starfleet ship came around they'd turned their society into a Federation-style outpost.

Date: 2016-09-21 10:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] locker-monster.livejournal.com
Too bad Star Trek: Discovery isn't set after TOS. It would have been the perfect opportunity to check up on the outcome of the Enterprise's missions. I know sometimes we saw the aftermath of things on the other shows, but they were 100 years removed from the event. Discovery could check on the immediate repercussions. Oh well...

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