Star Trek, This shit just got real...

Cymro

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Nov 30, 1999
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#1
So Brikar's Voyager marathon has encouraged me to do my own for the TOS. I've watched a few of these episodes several times, but most of them I've only seen once and it's been a while since I've watched any of them.

Because I've downloaded them, I'm watching these in production order, rather than the broadcast order they're usually arranged in and this is mostly because I like watching how the sets and terminology they use evolves. It also pissed me off when I rented it on DVD years ago and saw that Where No Man Has Gone Before was a few episodes in despite the fact that a lot of details were different in the other episodes.

Without further ado...

The Cage

After disastrous mission causes Pike to consider giving up life as a Spaceship captain, he is captured by aliens with giant veiny heads who attempt to make him live inside a series of illusions for their amusement.

This is a pretty good hour of television. I liked the way the fantasies were used as a way for Pike to realise that he wouldn't be happy if he ran away from his life - the theme is done a lot more effectively here than in "Star Trek: Generations". The woman who plays Vina does a pretty good job, and there are a couple of nice action scenes mixed in, and of course it's interesting to see all the differences and similarities between this and the actual series. This is probably the best script Roddenberry ever wrote for Trek.

That said, I can see why NBC rejected this pilot, because it does move a bit slowly at times, and spends a little too much time doing the whole "what is reality" thing, which is why I think they called it "Too Cerebral". I also disliked the ending, where the Talosians refuse any help in rebuilding their society for fear that humanity would learn their mental abilities and destroy themselves too. That doesn't really make sense, since they established that they only started living like that because there was literally nothing else for them to do as they'd been stuck underground for millennia. And while Roddenberry was ahead of his time by showing a woman as first officer, with lines like "I can't get used to a woman on the bridge", and Vina's outdated concepts about the role of a wife, it's apparent he wasn't that far ahead of his time.

I also watched Roddenberry's intro to the episode, filmed in 1986 for the VHS release, and all I can say is that he reminds me of the dude who founded Aperture Science in the Portal games.
 
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Brikar

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#2
Epic. Can't wait to read the rest of this thread.

"The Cage" appears on the third season Blu-ray set and honestly I don't remember if I've watched it; there's even an extended version of it that has some different titles and a couple of shuffled around scenes, but honestly I think though I like it, this episode is better served by "The Menagerie" two-parter.
 

Cymro

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#3
It's nice to do this after a few years and see how my impression of these episodes change. I also enjoy the discussions your reviews seem to start, and though you did review these not long ago, discussion tended to focus more on the HD upgrade than the actual episodes.

Where No Man Has Gone Before

While "probing" towards the edge of the galaxy, Captain Kirk and crew encounter a big energy forcefield thingy that zaps two crew members, giving Kirk's old friend Gary Mitchell some impressive, but dangerous mental abilities(and a penchant for rather painful looking metallic contact lenses), forcing Kirk to choose between the life of his friend and the safety of his ship and crew.

From the get go, it's easy to see how this episode won NBC's approval while its predecessor didn't. It kicks off with some nice banter between the crew, Shatner already makes for a far more likeable Captain, and within ten minutes the bridge consoles are exploding and on fire! There's a sense of danger and suspense that keeps going through the episode, Kirk's relationship with Mitchell gives his dilemma a nice personal edge, and the showdown at the end is pretty well choreographed, though I was distracted by the way Shatner's rug stays perfectly neat while his real hair gets quite messy.

The only thing that bothered me about the story was that this was the first time they'd tried "probing" the edge of the galaxy, despite the fact that there was a mining base nearby that could be reached with sublight power.

They more or less had the series formula down here, and the Trek universe starts to take shape. They establish that we're at least 200 years in the future, "Time Warp" has become "Space Warp", we hear the first references to Impulse power and phasers.

The costumes are the same as the ones from "The Cage", with some of them not really fitting the new actors very well, and some really unsightly zip closures visible on the collars (especially Spock's). The sets look more familiar, with the doors and consoles now painted red, but the viewscreen is still the one used in "The Cage", and I smiled when I realised that Scotty was beaming them down with the helm console.

Nimoy is still a lot more animated in this episode than he would be in later productions, and Spock's personality is better described as being more dry and reserved than unemotional. He actually smiles in the first scene when he says "Irritating - Ah, one of your Earth-emotions!", playing it more like he's teasing Kirk than an actual expression of confusion.

Probably the most important change to the show after this was the recasting of the Doctor character - even with the small part he played in this episode, it's obvious the guy playing Piper would have never worked. I'm not sure if Star Trek would have ever achieved the success it did later if Kelley hadn't been cast for "The Corbomite Maneuver".
 
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Cymro

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#5
The Corbomite Maneuver

The Enterpise encounters a spinning rainbow cube, blows it up, and then the crew shits themselves when the cube's owner comes a-knockin'.

This episode improves on the previous one by introducing the last missing piece of the series with McCoy and Kirk's Sickbay banter being an early highlight of the episode, and the Doctor playing his familiar role as Kirk's conscience later on. Other than that, I think the reason I enjoyed this one was that it's a prime example of what I'd call the typical Star Trek episode; the crew encounters an apparently hostile new life form, employs clever tactics like the corbomite bluff to try and gain the upper hand and the situation is resolved peacefully at the end. It's just good, satisfying Sci-Fi entertainment with Trek's famous emphasis on peace and understanding.

Some of the things that make TOS different from the later Trek series are also very apparent in this episode; Kirk and McCoy sneaking off for a quick drink, Kirk snapping at Bones on the bridge, and Bailey completely losing control. You'd never see that on any of the later series, and they're somewhat worse off for it.

Mudd's Women

The Enterprise picks up a space-pimp dressed like a 17th century pirate and three of his hoes who have a mysteriously strong ability to give male crew members erections.

This one just doesn't work. I had to watch it in two sittings because my attention started to wander after twenty minutes, and there are several big problems with the episode's premise and execution.

To start off, Kirk crazily decides to burn out the Enterprise's power systems, coming very close to marooning it's crew in space just so they can save the crew of a ship that was obviously up to no good AND stupid enough to fly into an asteroid field. Then you have Harry Mudd, who's mildly funny, but his costume is ridiculous, plus the guy playing him seems to switch between an Irish accent and an English accent at random AND totally fails to come off as being the least bit sinister. Next, you have these women who are supposed to be so hot that they reduce all men to dribbling idiots, which they establish in sequences featuring long, lingering close-ups that do nothing but slow the episode down and emphasise that the actresses (particularly the brunette) really aren't that hot. To cap it off, the women who now "believe in themselves" decide to stay and be 1950s housewives for a bunch of dickhead, sexist miners who treat them like commodities.

Attached is a screen cap that shows what I mean about the brunette.

The Enemy Within

A transporter accident causes Shatner to ham it up in ways never before thought possible.

I think the episode would have been better served if they hadn't revealed the duplication to the audience so quickly and let us figure it out with the characters, and I think Spock should have taken command once it became apparent that Kirk was losing his bottle. Other than that, it's a decent episode. The scene where bad-Kirk forces himself on Yeoman Rand is very effective, there's some good dialogue between the big three, especially one of McCoy's lines; "The intelligence, the logic, it appears you have most of that - and perhaps that's where man's essential courage comes from - for you see - he was afraid, you aren't".

I got a little distracted by how they never showed both the Kirks' faces in the same frame, but blue screen and compositing was a lot harder back then, so I can easily forgive it.
 

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Brikar

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#8
Go ahead and do them; I'm hitting that one next. I already did TOS, and now Cym is... I see no reason why we can't have our own threads co-existing. We're bound to have differing viewpoints on things.
 

Bean

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#10
This is gonna sound weird, but honestly, I have no fucking idea.... Really, none. It's like it just suddenly popped up on my screen.

Tried to watch A night in sickbay next.. my record for not being able to watch that episode stands.
 

Bean

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#12
I plan on probably starting tomorrow or Monday. I'm already trying to think of a "shit" worthy title that doesn't totally bias the thread against said reviews... but with Enterprise, it's hard..
 

Cymro

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#13
Brikar's a pro. I, on the other hand, haven't written anything like this in a very long time and I'm finding it quite hard to structure things nicely, even though it's only a couple of paragraphs. It took me me about an hour each to write the first two and I'm still finding things I want to change. Hopefully I'll get a bit better and faster with more practice.

The Man Trap

While visiting an archaeological researcher on a distant planet, a salt vampire thing gets loose aboard the Enterprise.

Most of this episode is fine. There's some good drama, action and suspense throughout as the crew tries to hunt down the creature. Highlights include the dialogue at the start, where Kirk teases a nervous McCoy about seeing his old flame, then McCoy tells off a redshirt (in a blue shirt) for comparing her to a girl from a pleasure planet (implying sluttiness), and the scene at the end where McCoy has to shoot Nancy/Salt Vampire. The tragic ending was played well, and was a welcome surprise for me as I was expecting the story to conclude itself in the typical Star Trek manner.

What bothered me about the episode is that it suffers from the same problem "The Enemy Within" had, which is that they keep giving the audience information the characters don't have, so you spend too much time waiting for the characters to figure out what you already know. It would be fine they just made us suspect there was something weird going on with Nancy/The Salt Vampire and kept us guessing about her agenda, but instead they made it obvious within minutes that she was up to no good and it gets predictable. I realise they're from a different era, but DS9 and BSG were so much better at these kinds of stories with their Changeling and Cylon infiltrations, respectively.

Oh, and I laughed at how obvious it was that Sulu's singing flower thing was someone's hand.
 
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Cymro

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#15
The Naked Time

The whole crew gets smashed, causing Kirk to declare that he's in love with a Starship, and Majel Barrett wears a really stupid wig.

The only real flaw with this one is that the drunkenness is pretty tame by today's standards, and I think this episode could have been much funnier if they'd been able to do more of the kind of lewd stuff you see in town on a Saturday night. The part that made me laugh the most was probably unintentional; Shatner's acting when a Kirk declares his love for the Enterprise. It's clear to me now that the man just can't be intense without being accidentally funny, which is a shame because he's pretty good most of the time, and I don't think anyone can deny that he has a certain charisma about him.

But overall I enjoyed it. I'm pretty sure TOS episode I ever saw when I was a kid, and at the time I didn't really get it, but now I think having the whole crew get drunk and start causing mayhem on the ship is a great idea! The best parts are the scene with Sulu going ape with a fencing sword, and the bridge crew cracking under the sound of Riley's singing. There's also some character development that will prove important later; we get our first real glimpse into Spock's mind and his backstory, though sadly due to the way it's presented the scene isn't really as compelling as it could/should be.

Charlie X

The Enterprise gets taken over by a brat with superpowers.

This one's alright. The guy who plays Charlie Evans is convincingly strange and needy, I dug the little jam session in the rec room with Spock and Uhura, and I laughed out loud at Kirk struggling to explain to Charlie why he shouldn't slap women on the ass. Otherwise, there's not much to say, except that it happens to prove a point I made earlier: You know there's something off about Charlie as soon as he comes on board, but unlike "The Man Trap" and "The Enemy Within", you're never sure what he's going to do, so it's a lot more effective in that regard.