Viewing posts tagged Star Trek Phase II

“We are such stuff/As dreams are made on”: Practice in Waking

“Practice in Waking” is an interesting submission. It's written by Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. This is not, in and of itself, altogether promising, considering Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a cornerstone of the middlebrow, populist, mystique-chic New Age movement with a plot so dull and facile it led Roger Ebert to once memorably compare it unfavourably to The Little Engine That Could. There's a very serious line to be drawn between actual magick, narrative or otherwise, and the kind of thing championed by the Western, and mostly United States, New Age fad, which more often than not tends to be built out of the exact same imperialism, syncretism and cultural appropriation that defines the rest of the West. If Star Trek wants to take its spirituality seriously, it really ought to stay as far away from this kind of thing as possible. Clearly, “Practice in Waking” is screaming towards disaster.

And, wouldn't you know it, this is could possibly be the best episode yet. Funny thing that.

“Practice in Waking” opens up hauntingly prescient, very strongly evoking Star Trek: The Next Generation, in particular the first season finale “The Neutral Zone”: Out in deep space ...

“Shiny Happy People”: Cassandra

Theodore Sturgeon is an obvious pick to write for Star Trek Phase II. He wrote one of the most beloved and influential Original Series episodes ever, “Amok Time”, so it would make sense to give him the opportunity to make something equally memorable for Phase II. However, the thing about Sturgeon is that he *also* wrote “Shore Leave”, which was such a hot mess it was possibly the only work of fiction in the history of time to be actually improved by getting a retread sequel. So, would “Cassandra”, Sturgeon's submission to Star Trek Phase II, channel the grandiose brilliance of “Amok Time” or the misogynistic clusterfuck of “Shore Leave”?

Naturally, it had to be the misogynistic clusterfuck.

“Cassandra” is pegged as a “comedy”, which is already a bad sign because Star Trek sucks at comedy unless Gene Coon and Dave Gerrold are writing, and neither of them are in this case. The Enterprise is monitoring a diplomatic conference on the planet Manlikt (an aside, here's a stock Star Trek theme that gets more pronounced in Star Trek: The Next Generation that I never understood: Why is the Enterprise crew frequently put in charge of hosting diplomatic conferences ...

“In Blue Hawaii”: Tomorrow and the Stars

It makes sense that one of the first things Star Trek Phase II would attempt would be a revisit of a major Original Series story, theme or motif. In fact, it makes even more sense here than it did in the context of Star Trek: The Animated Series: That show was pegged as more or less a continuation of the Original Series, tweaking and revising it where necessary. It also only came five or six years after “Turnabout Intruder” fist aired, whereas “In Thy Image” came a decade afterwards and into a very different cultural landscape. The world, not to mention Star Trek itself, has changed, and Star Trek Phase II has to update itself accordingly.

It also, though I hate to admit it, makes sense that the first such story, and the first regular episode to air after the pilot, would be a revisit of “The City on the Edge of Forever”. Much as I despise it, it's without question the most popular and iconic episode of the Original Series and usually considered the very best, or at least it is if you're pretentious and joyless enough to turn your nose up at “The Trouble with Tribbles ...

“It's only human”: In Thy Image (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

We are urgently requesting backup and further advice...Intel on the ground indicates that this timeline has been effectively secured by our forces for the moment, though installing a permanent presence here seems unlikely...While they've been mostly keeping quiet for the moment, there's no doubt The Empire will eventually take notice of what we're doing here and strike back with a vengeance, and skirmishes with the other renegade factions are a constant problem...We followed your instructions and The Prototype codename “VOYAGER” is complete and ready for a shakedown cruise, though we are concerned as to its structural stability and overall viability and worry it may not yet be capable of fulfilling The Purpose for which it was designed, and that activating it will alert The Empire as to our whereabouts...Please inform as to further action ASAP...

At some point it became inevitable.

While a tenaciously niche property throughout the 1970s, Star Trek gave no indication of ever going away, especially once new generations of fans started to get introduced to it. It had a uniquely built-in self-regenerating audience, and one that was big enough to eventually attract the attention of the higher-ups. It was ...

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