Viewing posts tagged Star Trek Phase II

"Many such journeys are possible. Let me be your gateway": Come What May


There's something about Star Trek that inspires people, in spite of itself.

2004 marked the beginning of a period of tender, heartfelt introspection for Star Trek fans, perhaps unmatched at any other point in the history of the franchise. The mere fact that Star Trek Phase II (at this point still operating under its original name of Star Trek: New Voyages) exists here while Enterprise was in the middle of its third season and the “Save Enterprise!” campaign in full swing is probably a decent indication of the faith anyone had in the continued longevity of the sixth Star Trek series, or indeed Star Trek itself, at least as an extant and relevant mass media presence. Perhaps it was this zeitgeist, and the accompanying urge to “go back to where it all began” in an attempt to understand things, that was what motivated James Cawley and Jack Marshall to make their own Star Trek TV show.

But 2004 is also an interesting transitory period for independent TV shows. This is still before the advent of YouTube made easy and accessible Internet video hosting and sharing a major cornerstone of what's come to be (somewhat inaccurately) called “Web 2 ...

“Peace through superior firepower”: The War to End All Wars

Summary of shakedown trials for prototype codename “VOYAGER”...

In orbit around Shadir, a planet whose inhabitants are rumoured to be highly cultured and refined aesthetes, the Enterprise receives a distress signal from a passing spacecraft that's apparently been through a massive battle, as little remains of it but debris. There's also the larger issue that Xon and Uhura can't pick up any lifesigns on either the ship or the planet. Kirk takes Xon and McCoy over to the ship where they meet Yra, a soldier who claims she and her ship are casualties in a planetary war that has overtaken Shadir. Before Kirk can pontificate on the tragedy of such a civilization falling to warfare, a massive blast strikes the Enterprise, rendering Decker unable to raise shields and crippling its critical systems. As the landing party returns to asses the damage, Kirk sends Yra to sickbay, where McCoy discovers that she's actually an android.

Decker and Scotty tell Kirk the ship can't survive another attack, but Yra claims another attack is forthcoming and asks to return to Shadir, where she might be able to help stop another projectile from being launched. Kirk agrees and takes ...

“Allamaraine, if you can see/Allamaraine, you'll come with me”: To Attain the All

Bloody hell.

“To Attain the All” has got to be the worst episode of Star Trek Phase II by *far*. “Cassandra” was bad. “The Child” was awful. “Savage Syndrome” was appalling, but that was by Margaret Armen, so that's par for the course. And nobody really expected greatness from “Are Unheard Memories Sweet?”: A brief like that is angling for major problems from the outset. But this? Wow. There's no excuse for this.

While investigating a system of planets strung together like a pearl necklace (so *that's* where Star Trek: Year Four got the idea from. Seriously, how do you screw up a visual like that?), the Enterprise is suddenly transported to a realm outside normal spacetime where they are visited by a hyper-evolved energy being called The Prince who claims to represent an infinitely old culture who hold the secrets of the universe, and declares he's going to test the crew to determine whether or not they're worthy of attaining a form of enlightenment called “The All” (and it should be an indication for how bloody long this show has been going on that a brief like that feels hackneyed and boring). The Prince ...

“...a swaggering, overbearing, tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood”: Lord Bobby's Obsession

“Lord Bobby's Obsession” is described as “Space Seed” meets “The Squire of Gothos”. This is the most accurate description in the history of things describing other things because that's literally what it is.

It doesn't even pretend to be something different. It is, beat-for-beat, the exact same story as “Space Seed” with the exact same scenes and the exact same plot twists except the supervillain is an alien fascinated with the British Empire, is acting alone this time and the submissive female humanities expert smitten with him stays on the Enterprise instead of departing with him at the end of the episode. This is my least favourite kind of story to write about, because it gives me essentially no material to work with. Even Margaret Armen gave me enough to complain about that I could find 1800 words to squeeze out of “Savage Syndrome”. You could practically take my “Space Seed” post, change the names around and write your own Vaka Rangi review of “Lord Bobby's Obsession”.

That said, like “Tomorrow and the Stars” before it, this doesn't mean “Lord Bobby's Obsession” doesn't manage to improve on its source material such that this ...

“These pages present a case of literary parasitism.” Devil's Due

The First Part of the Tragedy

Out in unexplored space, the Enterprise comes upon a class M planet heretofore unknown to the Federation. Taking a landing party down, Kirk learns the planet is called Naterra, and is invited by the locals to meet their beloved ruler, an elderly and highly agitated man by the name of Zxolar the Blessed. However, he is met by evasion and confrontation, as Zxolar keeps going on about the end of the world and someone named Komether and continually insisting the “contract is not yet up”. After he realises Kirk and his party have no idea what he's talking about, Zxolar explains that Naterra is about to be destroyed and begs Kirk to help, but Kirk recites the Prime Directive at him. Soon though, Zxolar collapses and an energy form appears in the room, causing McCoy to disappear. After Kirk and Xon beam up to the Enterprise with Zxolar and call for search parties to locate McCoy, the energy form reappears in sickbay and attacks Chapel.

Eventually, it is revealed that the energy being is the aforementioned Komether, who was summoned one night many years ago by Zxolar and his five philosopher colleagues, who ...

“Most women choose to be weak, because it makes their lives easier.”: Are Unheard Memories Sweet?

Well, the first thing I have to say is that this episode isn't as bad as I was led to believe it was going to be given the description, and especially considering the source material. But it's also pretty tough to call “Are Unheard Memories Sweet?” an especially good idea in the first place: When the best thing that can be mustered to say is that “It's not as irreparably catastrophic as it could have been”, that's not exactly praise either.

The imminent problem is that “Are Unheard Memories Sweet?” was apparently based on the novel The Revolt of Man, which was an 1882 dystopian story about a society ruled by dominant, aggressive women who crush and subjugate the passive and weak men. Naturally, this results in the end of all scientific and technological progress, because that's “men's work” and women are incapable of properly handling it. So, the men stage a massive planetwide revolution to restore the “proper order” of things, in the first time I have ever cheered *against* an oppressed minority rising up and overthrowing their oppressors. There is no possible way adapting this book into a Star Trek story could ...

“I live my life like I've been raised by wolves”: Savage Syndrome

It's Margaret Armen again. That's really all you need to know.

It's pretty much exactly what you'd expect Margaret Armen-penned Star Trek Phase II to be: Almost comically terrible, offensive and unworkable drivel that largely misses the entire point of the show. So structurally unsound as to actually become some kind of cosmic anti-structure and loaded up with the most unforgivably ghastly racism and misogyny you can think of, “Savage Syndrome” is without question the worst episode of the show to date. No contest. It's also probably her very worst submission overall, which wow, we're really hitting record lows here.

There's no point in any kind of summary, but basically, the Enterprise gets hit with a space mine that “reverts” the crew to a “primitive”, “animalistic” mindset, all save for an away team comprised of Decker, Ilia and McCoy, conveniently the three crewmembers who could most easily resolve the plot at the end of the episode, who were conveniently off exploring a derelict spaceship and conveniently decided to use a shuttlecraft so they wouldn't have to be beamed back aboard (no, the script does not explain why they just happened to decide ...

“Rumors, conjectures, that's a giant leap forward.”: Deadlock

“Deadlock” is incredibly frustrating. On the one hand, it's the first Star Trek episode to deal overtly with the dark side of the Federation and Starfleet, but on the other hand it's not because it doubles-back on itself and refuses to actually fully commit to the accusations it levels and issues it raises. It opens seemingly promising to make explicit a lot of the implicit concerns and reservations we've held about Star Trek from the very beginning, but because of its ultimate balking and painfully bog-standard climax and conclusion, it actually ends up feeling less satisfying and critical then previous efforts.

Answering a distress signal from the USS Intrepid (no, not that one) in “Uncharted Region 019”, the Enterprise is suddenly and inexplicably called away to Starbase 7, leaving Kirk suspicious and Decker enraged. Upon arrival, a Commodore Hunter informs Kirk that he called the Enterprise away to participate in a series of top-secret Starfleet psychological experiments. The crew's first assignment is to shut down all power to the ship and await further orders from behavioural scientist Lang Cardon. Troubled, Kirk asks Scotty and Xon to come up with an algorithm that would allow them to ...

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