Viewing posts tagged Star Trek: The Animated Series

“We must not let it happen again.” The Slaver Weapon
Take note: This is what a sci-fi planet should look like.
Like so many other stories like it, “The Slaver Weapon” is a not-actually-terribly-good episode that still manages to set in motion events that will change everything we thought we knew about the world of Star Trek and call into question the franchise's closest-held tenets and ideals.

It has an interesting pedigree though. We've heard a few hints and clues about the Kzinti and some hostilities with them before, but this is the first time we've actually seen them: An aggressive race of catlike people who have persistently attacked settlements, who make war to eat those they defeat in battle and who are so misogynistic they've literally bred intelligence out of their women. They are a frighteningly unlikable adversary for this series, and if they don't sound like typical Star Trek villains that's probably because they're not, in point of fact, from Star Trek at all. The Kzinti actually hail from the self-contained Known Universe, encompassing the collected work of noted science fiction author Larry Niven, and this episode is actually a straight translation of his short story “The Soft Weapon” for Star ...

“Well, I'll be damned. It's the gentleman guppy.”: The Ambergris Element
"...part of your wooooooooooooooorld..."
Some episodes I have a really hard time building a post around. It's not that they're especially terrible, it's just there's not a lot of content there for me to really grab hold of or find new and interesting things to say about them. Thankfully, Margaret Armen wrote this one so that won't be the case here.

And I really wanted to like this one too. When I was planning this project I did a cursory scan of all the episodes I hadn't seen or didn't remember all that well, and this one looked fascinating. The Enterprise is conducting research on a planet that's almost entirely ocean due to persistent underground tremors causing the continents to fall into the sea. The crew hope they information they gain will be helpful in providing aid to other planets with similar geological activity. One of the things I love most about science fiction is its ability to depict wondrous and fantastic spectacles of worlds that exist far out in the deepest realms of outer space. It goes back to things like Georges Méliès, the hauntingly evocative spacescapes dreamed up by the ...

“'We are the only path.'”: The Time Trap
I'd like to remind everyone this scene was animated. By Filmation.

“Entrapment” is the key word here, on multiple levels.

While exploring a region of space known as the Delta Triangle, where starships have been reputed to go missing for eons, the Enterprise comes under attack by the Klingon battlecruiser Klothos, captained by the crew's old enemy Commander Kor. Suddenly, the Klothos vanishes into nothingness: Suspecting a trap, the Enterprise immediately warps to its last know position and follows it in before the commander of the Klothos' sister ship can press war crime charges. Both crews find themselves in a starless void where starships from centuries of spaceflight history aimlessly drift about. Kirk and Kor are then transported to a gigantic council chamber, where representatives of the crews from all the other ships welcome them to a world they call Elysia, a pocket universe where time does not exist that they have transformed into an ideal society where everyone relies on and respects everyone else, because there's no way to escape. The Elysians also warn Kirk and Kor that violence is strictly prohibited, and that they will be held responsible for the violent actions of any of ...

“Hello, little teeny-tiny people!”: The Terratin Incident
I'm really running out of Godzilla jokes to make here at this point.

The first, most immediately startling thing about “The Terratin Incident” is that it was written by Paul Schneider. The same person behind the flagrantly and angrily anti-war “Balance of Terror”, “The Squire of Gothos” as well as the first draft of the equally anti-authoritarian “Patterns of Force” is now penning a story where the Enterprise crew gets zapped with cosmic rays and shrunk down to less than an inch tall in order to rescue a civilization of equally miniscule individuals.

This is, obviously, not at all the sort of thing we would expect from Schneider. It's also his weakest contribution by far, and as tempting (and easy) as it would be to chalk this up to good writers having bad days and leave it at that, the fact is, like so much of the Animated Series, “The Terratin Incident” isn't actually bad. It has a few especially egregious moments, but there's actually a few interesting things going on here. It's another example of an episode indicative of the positive direction Star Trek is heading in.

The key here is in the final ...

“I love you! I hate you!”: Mudd's Passion

"Hey, baby."
Maybe Harry Mudd just doesn't work.

I would make the argument that when you reach the third of three appearances of a character and still come up with something that can charitably be descibed as a “non-starter”, this might perhaps be the time to call into question whether the character and his signature plots were ever really a good idea to begin with. Except, of course, for the fact that I'm in the minority here. Harcourt Fenton Mudd is one of the most beloved characters from the original Star Trek era despite never once appearing in a halfway decent episode. If I'm tipping my hand early, it's just because “Mudd's Passion” is extremely difficult to work up any enthusiasm for. It's probably the second-weakest episode of the Animated Series I've seen yet, trailing behind “The Lorelei Signal” only because it's not a grotesque train wreck. It's simply bad in a ponderously mediocre way and is, ironically enough, utterly dispassionate.

“Mudd's Passion” begins with a dutiful recitation of Harry Mudd tropes that have already become worn and tired. The Enterprise is once again playing Space Cop and is sent ...

“And when I grow up, I'll write one.”: Once Upon A Planet

"Time is an illusion. Lunch!Time doubly so." "Ho ha ho."

The three little sisters named Alice, Hedda and Tertia sat in a circle on their island. Alice was considering in her own mind (as best she could) whether the pleasure of tuning the cosmic fugue would be worth the trouble of climbing another tree to harvest more coconuts from the Earth-bones when suddenly a thought rang out.

“Please tell us another story about the spacemen,” said Tertia.

“Very well,” Alice replied. “Gather 'round, sisters, and I shall tell it to you.”

This is a story from the days of our future ancestors.

Captain Kirk was beginning to get very tired of gallivanting around the universe's sex-birth-death. Time had been acting very peculiarly and, because he was not especially interested in associating with it until it started behaving itself again, Captain Kirk asked the Glittering Skyship to take him and his friends once more to the multiplex planar realms of invocation for a vacation (the multiplex planar realms of invocation being well known, of course as hospitable and generally agreeable places to take a holiday). The Glittering Skyship felt sorry for Captain Kirk and his friends, so she brought ...

“This act is the dawn of the Mythic...”: The Magicks of Megas-Tu

And this is where our story begins. And so it continues.

There are very few Star Trek episodes you could point to and identify as moments where everything about the franchise simply changed, mostly because there are very few actual moments like that anywhere. History does not divide neatly into clean, compartmentalized bits: It's a constantly unfolding tapestry of intersecting lives and events.

“The Magicks of Megas-Tu” is one of those moments. Magick is real.

In the time of the First Ancestors, when the world was new, there was a Spark at the beginning of All Things: A barely-formed thought that dared dream. The Dream the Dreamer Dreamt was the mortal plane, the idea that things continued and shaped themselves as they would. In this Dream, divinity existed within and between each individual. And this was a very dangerous idea.

Conventional cosmological wisdom holds that the further away we can look into space, the further back in time we see. This is because the speed of light is a constant, thus the light we observe from a fixed location has taken us an equal amount of time to reach us as the distance it is away from us. Thus ...

“I wanna be big!”: The Infinite Vulcan

"I give you...SPOCK!"
“The Infinite Vulcan” is Walter Koenig's sole contribution to the Animated Series, and if absolutely nothing else it's solid evidence Star Trek's cast by in large tends to have a good idea about what the franchise's virtues are, whether or not other creative figures do. Koenig was actually working on this script as early as the end of the Original Series, and it was one of those things that D.C. Fontana and Gene Roddenberry thought would be a great idea to dig up as soon as the new show took off, just like “More Tribbles, More Troubles”.

The plot is one of the stranger ones we've seen so far in the Animated Series, and that's counting the one about the giant space-cloud-cow that eats solar systems that the Enterprise tries to give indigestion. While exploring an uncharted planet, Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Sulu discover a civilization of hyper-intelligent sentient plants called Phylosians. While they at first seem friendly, reviving Sulu after a chance encounter with local toxins, it is soon revealed they have ulterior motives as they kidnap Spock at the behest of their “Master”, a fifty foot tall ...

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