Viewing posts tagged Star Trek: The Animated Series

“Forget...”: The Counter-Clock Incident

"Turning back time, Fred Bronson recalls his service to Starfleet."

“We're all dead men walking, Agent, and it doesn't please me any more than it does you. Look in a mirror sometime if you don't believe me. I have. Nevertheless, you are more correct then you think. Everywhere is here and now in a Time War. This brutal fighting will come to an end, just not on your terms. No matter which way our gamble plays off, we still want to go forward. You'd take the entire galaxy backwards as you retreat into your own obsolescence. We will prevail. And when we do, it will be the most terrible calamity this galaxy has ever seen. Of that I am as certain as it is possible for a person to be about anything, because I've already foreseen it come to pass. This battle was only the beginning.”

“If your soldiers die, they will die for nothing. We're not going to let you commit suicide. Whether they die or not, you'll still stand trial for your crimes against the timeline. Your war is over. This ends here and now.”

“And when is that ever the ...

“Only the beginning”: How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth

"''How Sharper' was a dream piece of work, we had artistic integrity all the way through,' Wise notes. 'All experiences should be so good.'"

Although there's one more episode to go according to the official episode list, “How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth” can in some ways be seen as the series finale of Star Trek: The Animated Series, and really, the first phase of the Star Trek franchise. It's a return one last time to the realm of the magickal, a conscious and deliberate claim that Star Trek is an extension of indigenous spirituality (or at least should be), and, somewhat incredibly, is “Who Mourns for Adonais?” done properly, written as a tribute to and eulogy of Gene Coon. It's also the solitary Emmy Award win of the entire Star Trek franchise.

After a mysterious probe visited the founding homeworlds of the Federation and attempted to contact them before randomly exploding, the Enterprise is following its trail back to what it hopes will be its source, where it discovers a gigantic starship that suddenly, before everyone's eyes adopts the visage of a ferocious-looking feathered lizard. Helmsman Dawson Walking Bear, a student of indigenous cultures ...

“Yes, I've read a poem. Try not to faint.”: Albatross

"'The Star Trek fan who hasn't discovered the Animated Series is really missing out", Wise declares."

In their unauthorized Star Trek episode guide Beyond the Final Frontier, Lance Parkin and Mark Jones said that the story for this episode would have been a great concept to explore on one of the live-action series and bemoaned the fact it was done on a cartoon show.

So naturally the first thing I'm going to do is continue to complain about how undervalued animation is as a form of creative expression. Because Parkin and Jones' argument makes zero sense to me. There is nothing about “Albatross” that could have been done better on the Original Series. The emotional core of the episode hinges on Spock and McCoy, and while both Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley can be visual actors at times, especially Nimoy, visual acting skills are not expressly needed for the kind of story this is. Actually, this episode serves as a great reminder of how multitalented and versatile this cast really is: Nimoy and Kelley convey all the emotion they need to through their voices alone, evidence they're just as strong in the recording booth as they are ...

"National Tapioca Pudding Day": The Practical Joker

And this would be the point you should run away screaming.
“The Practical Joker” was the Animated Series episode I most dreaded having to watch, even before knowing about Margaret Armen's submissions. And, while the actual episode isn't anywhere near as dreadful as I feared it was going to be, it's still concerning as it marks the point where The Animated Series treads the closest to becoming the one thing that would simply torpedo its legacy: Children's television.

Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with children's television. When it's working properly, there's an elegance to children's television that can make it fundamentally more sophisticated and effective than “adult” fiction because it doesn't shy away from being idealistic or taking a stand. Indeed, my very favourite television shows were, in fact, designed with children predominantly in mind or at least operated according to a logic that children would find recognisable. But not the kind of children's television I'm talking about here.

Before I go any further I should probably get the plot synopsis out of the way. While taking a break from a geological survey mission, the Enterprise ...

“Is green, yes.”: Bem

This out-of-context screencap is more entertaining than the whole episode.
“Bem” is the final “official” contribution to Star Trek by Dave Gerrold, though his presence and influence is going to be felt on the franchise for years to come (most notably during the first third of Star Trek: The Next Generation's first season, when he was on staff). From what I gather, it seems to have the reputation for being one of the better remembered and most admired episodes of The Animated Series, although Gerrold and D.C. Fontana do seem to go back and forth a bit on what their actual takeaway on it was.

So naturally I don't think it works in the slightest.

The story concerns the Enterprise taking on an attache by the name of Ari bn Bem, representing the planet Pandro. Bem is acting as an independent observer judging the Enterprise crew to determine whether or not the Federation is worthy of establishing formal diplomatic relations with his people. Though he sat out the previous six missions, Bem insists on being allowed to accompany the landing party on a dangerous reconnaissance mission to investigate uncontacted aboriginal people on Delta Theta III. Beaming down ...

“...strictly neutral in this matter as you well know...”: The Pirates of Orion

"...I thought we weren't playing cowboys anymore."
“The Pirates of Orion” is one of the best character pieces in the Animated Series and builds nicely on established Star Trek lore without feeling either slavish or repetitive, but most of all it fits neatly into the pattern we've been crafting for the franchise over the past few posts.

The Enterprise is en route to a dedication ceremony on Deneb V while recovering from an outbreak of choriocytosis, a particularly virulent respiratory disease that prevents red blood cells from transporting oxygen. Just when the crew thinks the plague is under control, Spock suddenly collapses on the bridge. After rushing him to sickbay, McCoy informs Kirk that Vulcan physiology is similar enough to that of humans to make him susceptible, but different enough that it becomes far more serious, and that Spock will die in three days unless the crew can get their hands on some strobolin, the only known antidote. Realising the nearest source of the vaccine is four days away from the Enterprise's position, Kirk calls the starship Potemkin and freighter Huron for help in forming a brigade line. However, on its way to the Enterprise, the Huron ...

“Though all men be equally frail before the world...”: The Jihad
Oh, had I a golden thread/And needle so fine/I'd weave a magic strand/Of rainbow design
This episode was written by Stephen Kandel, better known for the Harry Mudd trilogy and, would you believe it, it turns out he did have a good Star Trek story to tell after all. More than good, in fact: “The Jihad” is properly excellent and closes out the Animated Series' first season on one of the show's high notes.

Kandell had been a regular writer on Mission: Impossible during the original era of Star Trek, and that's sort of what this episode feels like a little bit: A Mission: Impossible story. Kirk and Spock are called to a summit held by the Vedala, the oldest known spacefaring civilization. The Vedala have assembled a crack team of specialists from around the galaxy to partake in a top-secret mission to prevent an interstellar war. Aside from Kirk and Spock, there's Lara, a ranger and tracker from a planet where humans remained hunter-gatherers, Sord, a reptilian warrior, Em/3/Green, a nervous lockpicking expert who resembles a kind of insect (and voiced by Dave Gerrold no less: Gerrold has something of ...

“Just think what some zoo will pay for you!”: The Eye of the Beholder
Which of you is the one named "Mr. Snuffleupagus"?

“The Eye of the Beholder” concerns the Enterprise attempting to locate the crew of a research ship that went missing in the vicinity of Lactra VII. Beaming down to investigate, Kirk, Spock and McCoy discover three wildly different ecosystems positioned unnaturally adjacent to each other. Spock supposes that this planet might in fact be some kind of enormous zoo created by beings significantly more advanced then the Federation races, a supposition proven correct when giant telepathic slugs with trunks come, abduct the landing party and take them to a specially-crafted humanoid exhibit guarded by an unbreakable force field.

Somehow it feels like we've been here before.

This episode was written by David P. Harmon, who also wrote “The Deadly Years” and co-wrote “A Piece of the Action” with Gene Coon. However it's pretty clear now that the latter story must have been primarily Coon because this episode is much more akin to the former. In other words, it's another perfectly forgettable filler episode. And let's be honest: “The Eye of the Beholder” is totally “The Cage” all over again. It doesn't even try to distinguish itself ...

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