Viewing posts tagged TOS Season 3

“I became a feminist as an alternative to becoming a masochist.”: Turnabout Intruder

Yes, this is Kirk and Spock. Yes, they're holding hands. Fanfic writers, start your pencils.
There's a sense of poetic justice in having Star Trek go out on an episode that names “the Enterprise family” just as it threatens to destroy it because it doesn't respect women.

This was an episode I always consciously avoided: Partially because I have sort of an instinctual reticence towards big emotional finales, and while “Turnabout Intruder” certainly isn't that, it's still very much the end of an era and I can sometimes have a hard time dealing with that: I guess its because I don't like the idea of my stories having to end, or being forced to say goodbye to characters I've grown so accustomed to over the course of several years. I always needed to know there were more adventures, or at least the potential for more adventures.

That said, the biggest reason I avoided "Turnabout Intruder" was because it looked like utter crap. This episode is famously bad, and there are certainly no more ominous signs and portents on the last bow of the Original Series than the credit “Teleplay By Arthur Singer. Story ...

“Dust to dust”: All Our Yesterdays

"I knew it was a bad idea to install that survival mod."
“All Our Yesterdays” is the second, and final, submission by Jean Lisette Aroeste, whose previous credit was “Is There In Truth No Beauty?”. It's also the final official fan submission in Star Trek for awhile, the last in the Original Series not to mention the second to last episode in the Original Series overall. Suffice to say, there is a distinctly funereal air about the general proceedings, which isn't at all helped by how stupendously uninspiring this episode is.

It is, however, significantly more coherent than the previous episode made out of an Aroeste script at least. While on a mission to ensure the planetary civilization of Sarpeidon evacuates in time to avoid the imminent supernova that will engulf their solar system in three hours (how exactly Starfleet was planning to evacuate an entire planet in three hours is not explained), the Enterprise finds the planet now entirely free of inhabited life. Beaming down, Kirk, Spock and McCoy find themselves in a gigantic library curated by an enigmatic man named Mr. Atoz, who runs the installation all by himself with the aid of his many duplicates ...

“History prefers legends to men.”: The Savage Curtain

Seriously, you guys. Flying Space Abraham Lincoln. You thought I was kidding.

“The Savage Curtain” marks the return of Gene Roddenberry to Star Trek as an actual creative figure for the first time since “The Omega Glory”, and it's apparent pretty much right from the start. The whole teaser is made up of unrefined methodology porn, as the bridge crew mulls over conflicting sensor reports from the planet Excalbia, which the script attempts to convey by having Kirk, Spock, Sulu and Uhura shout random bits of starship operations procedure. Almost the entire first half plays out similarly: I feel like I'm watching “The Cage” all over again. Roddenberry genuinely seems to think it's a good idea to devote lengthy chunks of his script to having his characters robotically quote regulations and jargon. This isn't even technobabble, this is Roddenberry reveling in his show's cod-military structure and pedigree. This isn't writing, this is feeding an academy cadet training manual into a paper shredder placed over a bin full of old Star Trek scripts. We're not even five minutes in and this is already the worst the show has been in months.

And then suddenly ...

“If I've lived a thousand times before/And if I'm gonna live a million more”: Requiem for Methuselah

"Hi there. This is Flint, for the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation..."
“Requiem for Methuselah” is an episode I feel like I should probably like a whole lot more than I did. It's got a knowingly overreaching central premise, sublimely poetic dialog, and strong, moving acting. Furthermore, it also has that signature hallmark of the very best budget-starved speculative fiction TV around: The main characters sitting around in a room debating philosophy with the guest stars. Somewhere in here is a tragic story about human frailty and the human condition: In some ways it does 1970s Gene Roddenberry better than Gene Roddenberry. It's also Jerome Bixby's final Star Trek contribution, and, judging by his later work, a story that meant a great deal to him.

And here I am trying to figure out what to say about it.

I guess a plot summary is in order. After an outbreak of lethal Rigellian flu renders the Enterprise a literal plague ship, Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to a planet on an emergency mission to acquire a sample of a rare element from which McCoy can derive an antidote. If they don't return to the ship in two hours ...

“...a framework for utopias”: The Way to Eden

"Far Out."
Well, it's not quite as youth-hating as “And The Children Shall Lead”. I can at least say that much for it.

Yeah, this one was never going to be any good. You know the routine by now: The Star Trek team (or what remains of it) digs up an old story pitch, it gets turned into a teleplay by one or more writers who had nothing to do with the original submission, the original idea having been extensively rewritten beyond the point of recognition in the process and then this becomes the framework for the finished episode we see onscreen. Last time the show got lucky: Margaret Armen and Oliver Crawford turned Dave Gerrold's submission into something that wasn't quite his original idea, but worked almost as well, if not better in some respects (thanks, surely, in no small part due to it keeping Margaret Armen as far away from anything having to do with race politics as is humanly possible). This week, well...it doesn't.

“The Way to Eden” is loosely (and I mean extremely loosely) based on an old D.C. Fontana pitch entitled “Joanna”, which would have featured Doctor McCoy's ...

“They live, we sleep.”: The Cloud Minders

"My beloved, let's get down to business/Mental self defense fitness"
Well. This, I did not expect.

There are quite possibly no bedfellows stranger than Dave Gerrold, Oliver Crawford and Margaret Armen. Gerrold is at this point still an energetic young Star Trek fan and beginning writer, albeit one who, with the help of Gene Coon, penned arguably the single greatest episode of the Original Series. Crawford was an experienced Hollywood screenwriter who miraculously recovered his career after being blacklisted for refusing to disclose names of supposed communist sympathizers, but his only Star Trek credits have been co-writing “The Galileo Seven” with Shimon Wincelberg and somewhat misreading Gene Coon in “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”. Armen, meanwhile, is one of my least favourite writers in the entire series and a compelling candidate for one of the worst as well, with the two spectacular turkeys that were “The Gamesters of Triskelion” and “The Paradise Syndrome” to her name. The prospect of a story jointly written by all three of these wildly disparate talents is quite frankly inconceivable. But hey, we got Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop last week, so stranger things have happened.

Actually, “The Lights of Zetar” is ...

“You're very good-Are you a puppetmaster?”: The Lights of Zetar

"This is the song that doesn't end/Yes it goes on and on my friend..."
“The Lights of Zetar” is Ron Moore's least favourite episode of Star Trek. Naturally, as part of my apparent mission to disagree with one of the greatest writers in the entire franchise on absolutely everything, I found it thoroughly fascinating. It's not especially great, and the usual season three problems submarine it, but it's one of the most enjoyable and provocative episodes, at least in theory, we've seen in awhile. Quality-wise it's at least on par with the last month of scripts.

It even opens on an enchanting note. Kirk's log entry begins

“Captain's log : stardate 5725.3. The Enterprise is en route to Memory Alpha. It is a planetoid set up by the Federation as a central library containing the total cultural history and scientific knowledge of all planetary Federation members. With us is specialist Lieutenant Mira Romaine. She is on board to supervise the transfer of newly designed equipment directly from the Enterprise to Memory Alpha.”

Kirk then goes on to explain how Scotty has fallen in love with Lieutenant Romaine in one of the ...

“Be not a cancer on the earth”: The Mark of Gideon

"'Oh, I wish it could stay like this forever!' 'So do I.'"
“The Mark of Gideon” is not one of the original Star Trek's finest hours. But you expected this. It has the makings of a great example of the show's newfound direction, but it ultimately ends up proving the show is just drifting at this point, painfully obviously out of steam.

It tries though, it really, truly does. For an episode very clearly produced solely so the show didn't have to build any new sets, “The Mark of Gideon” does the self-evidently correct story to make with that brief: Having a crewmember be mysteriously transported an eerily empty starship. It's a novel concept, though it would be perhaps more novel if the show hadn't pulled similar tricks in both “The Tholian Web” and “The Doomsday Machine”. So novel in fact it's done again in the similarly resource-challenged second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation (albeit to a much more effective extent) and one of the most frequently overlooked virtues of the first two seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was it's ability to knock out world-class science fiction on a ...

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