Monday, January 26, 2015

Short treks season 1.3

“Dagger of the Mind”
Air Date: November 3, 1966

Mom Title: “Insane Asylum with Inspector Luger”

Here in the future they have replicators to create all their food and clothes, but drugs have to be physically carried around space in big old barrels. 
Because otherwise we wouldn’t have a story. Go with it, OK?

There are a couple more spectacular examples of horrendous Starfleet safety and decontamination protocols this time around.  The first is at the kick off where the transporter, again which has to scan all objects down to their component atoms, has no automatic quarantine or survey that could detect a person in a supposedly empty medicine barrel.  It is fascinating that the Federation and Tolkien’s Wood Elves have the same holes in their security procedures.

Spock mind melds for the first time, with a crazy person no less. Considering how often he agrees to breaking sacred Vulcan taboos for his Captain, it makes it somewhat amazing when he chooses to keep anything secret from him.

No Yeoman Rand in this one, but the look on Spock’s face when Doctor Helen Noel show’s up is priceless.  Hey!  I only just realized Kirk had an encounter with Doctor NOEL at the CHRISTMAS party.  I’m a little slow sometimes. 

There is some key character development for Kirk in this one.  One item is how much he unconditionally trusts his people, as he hops in to the 1950’s era light fixture powered dental chair of mind fondling without a moment’s hesitation.

The other item is what happens when he’s in there. It is specifically stated that, while an awkward moment occurred, nothing happened between Jim and Helen at the Christmas party.  It was also shown in earlier episodes that Rand couldn’t get Kirk to notice her legs, and he managed to resist her and a “beach to walk on” when afflicted with the Psi 2000 virus.  Remember, the Captain was the only one who didn’t trigger a lust based image with the Salt Vampire.  The only woman he’s gone after thus far has been half naked robot in an attempt to create an emotional jump start in her and her compatriots. His infamous space lothario reputation comes from the episodes following this one.

Did the suggestion that he was madly in love with his crewman turn “The Stack of Book with Legs” into the spacefaring himbo he became known as?

Coooooullld be!

Kirk’s ultimate rescue is the second example of the clearly lacking Starfleet safety protocols.   The first officer leads the way, with the mentioned but not seen armed security force supposed to follow.  It hardly matters as only Doctor McCoy shows up anyway.

“The Corbomite Maneuver”
Air Date: November 10, 1966
Mom Title: “Clint Howard and his Big Headed Puppet”        

Uhura’s in gold again, but (like with most pointless things) I have an explanation.  In his second appearance (down the page a bit) we learn Lieutenant Riley, now a navigator in the command crew, had been “called up” from engineering.   Uhura takes the Navigation station on a few occasions in the early going. My guess is she was in the midst of transferring to the command path, when her unparalleled skills got her promoted to chief communications officer and she spent the rest of the tour in that position, and in red.

On to the Episode, for which I will allow myself one brief “Pick on The Next Generation” moment.

Let’s compare captains:
The CO of the Enterprise-D has “The Picard Maneuver” named after him.  This was a military tactic created by using the abilities of his damaged ship in an outside of the box way to defeat a similar powered enemy.  A method to defeat it was invented a mere nine years later by one of his own subordinates.

The CO of the original Enterprise (No bloody A, B, C or D) made up a maneuver named after a nonexistent element.  It used absolutely nothing but pure bald faced bravado to cause a near infinitely more powerful foe to stand down, and later to cause an entire enemy fleet to hesitate long enough to allow escape.  As of yet, there has been no method to defeat Kirk’s Awesome Pure Chutzpah Power.

Great timing by the show planners for this one - having McCoy call out Kirk as being overweight when his shirtless physical clearly shows he isn’t at this point could prevent viewers from bringing it up when it becomes green wrap around tunic time.

Navigator Baily is yet another example of Starfleet’s crack psychiatric profiling. You’d figure guys who would completely lose it when faced with the unknown wouldn’t pass muster for the whole “strange new worlds” mission.  Luckily Sulu’s there to pick up the slack and demonstrate why he’s going to eventually make Captain.

Considering how often Spock has gotten to be smug and smirking in these early rounds, it’s fun to watch him get all pouty when he has to admit logic has no answer and Kirk’s “Lie to the enemy that could annihilate us with a thought” ploy makes the most sense.

Before moving on, I need to point out that Yeoman Rand used a hand phaser, which would be a military sidearm capable of vaporizing an individual, or blowing up a large section of the ship on overload, to heat up coffee.

How are those safety protocols coming there, Starfleet?

The Menagerie”
Air Dates:  November 17 and 24, 1966
Mom Title: “Captain Pike Goes Back to the Butt Headed Aliens”
Part 1

Whoah, a Starbase, we’re actually part of a cool Sci-fi universe, aren’t we?

Future medicine can only heal everything when the plot doesn’t demand it. Tough break, Chris.  With a few upgrades to that chair, Captain Pike could have been Darth Vader.  How cool would that have been?

This Episode conclusively shows that Spock’s “lack” of emotion is a crock from the get go. That’s fine, as his struggle to control and contain them leads to many fantastic character and storytelling moments.

Once more the inability to have text on computers causes a problem as Spock needs to bring hand written notes to unlock the computer.

Uhura, of course, looks the most caring and anxious during Spock’s court martial.  Unless she’s upset that the female crew members didn’t get the snazzy dress uniforms for this first appearance, or any other one.

This is the way to use pilot footage.  Because they specifically state the ships recorder isn’t that detailed, it could be inaccuracies in the Talos IV transmission that explains differences between “real” Trek and “The Cage.”

Pike’s cool and all, and I’m named after his actor, but he certainly wasn’t the personification of command that Kirk became.   Good switch there Gene.

The Big Three character dynamic is demonstrated in force.  Initially McCoy trusts Spock far more than Kirk does.  The Talosians create Commodore Mendez as a strong opposition to Spock for the Captain to oppose, forcing him to defend his First Officer.  No one gets to mistrust us except us.

Part 2

The flashbacks to Part One look an awful lot like a futuristic add for Calvin Klein’s Obsession, but we’ll let that go.

I’m not sure why making a phaser bigger makes it stronger, or why a ship that can conduct planetary bombardment would bother carrying a ground based “Phaser Cannon” either.  Let’s chalk that one up to Talosian Video Inaccuracies and move along.

It’s nifty to see how many Star Trek maxims were there from the start:
-           Imperfect reality is better than a perfect dream.
-           Slavery is worse than anything else.
-           There are good sides to bad emotions.

Actually, considering that strong negative emotions completely block their power, maybe using nasty, violent painful punishments is a bad idea for those super advanced aliens.

After all, it led to a heroic version of brawn defeating brains that has Captain Pike beating up a little old lady with a butt on her head.

Several questions linger in my head after the credits end:

Why, in this enlightened future, do they refer to hell as a fable, but Adam and Eve as real people?

Why did an advanced alien race that can see events in other star systems need an experiment to show them humans do not like being slaves?

Vina displays all the hallmarks of a typical abuse victim:
e.g. Urging compliance, constantly defending the Talosians.
Really, they had never seen a human before?  The fact that they are humanoid bipeds may have given them a clue, not to mention they can read minds from across the quadrant.
You’d think they would have at least put you together symmetrically?
Is leaving her there under any circumstances, or bringing Pike back a good idea?

How do they plan to rebuild Talos IV with two old broken people?

If Talosians can create fully believable, indistinguishable from reality illusions across the galaxy, is the entire Star Trek universe an illusion created to keep them alive?

Most importantly:
Who the heck was that, “Nice place you got here,” Bogey look alike in the Starfleet uniform in Pike’s Orion trader fantasy?

“The Conscience of the King”
Air Date: December 8, 1966
Mom Title: “Shakespearean Actors”

Our play within a play within a space opera opens with a speech about the guilt of murder.  There goes the mystery for this week.

Here we see post hypnotic suggestion Captain Kirk attempting to jump the nineteen year old blonde who is oozing lunacy. That’s the Jim we all know and love!  Janice Rand is openly pissed off by this development as he’s visibly noticing a heck of a lot more than Lenore’s legs.

Interestingly, Uhura is playing Spock’s instrument in this one. 
Grow up you geeks, I mean his Vulcan Lyre!
I’m betting he doesn’t trust just anyone with one of his prized possessions like that.

The Big Three dynamic is at it again.  Out of Spock and McCoy, one always trusts Kirk more than the other one. It keeps all of them honest

Too bad they didn’t question the Captain’s judgment more this time around.  Transferring Riley to a completely empty and unguarded section of the ship when he’s one of the only two possible targets in the whole galaxy for an assassin believed to be on the ship defies even Starfleet’s lax protocols.  Maybe Jim was keeping himself safe by drawing attention elsewhere.

Speaking of those safety features - Kirk finds a phaser set for overload in his room and dumps it in a conveniently located shaft in the hallway.  This means one of two things:

1) That little sliding drawer leads directly out to the vacuum of space, making it highly likely that stray crewmen are occasionally sucked out.
2) Captain Kirk just blew up the laundry room.

Of course, what lets the killer know that the Captain needs to be disposed of in the first place?  Kirk is recording his log out loud again. Twenty Third century security would be infinitely better if only someone had invented the keyboard before artificial intelligence.

The climax features yet another example of the crack mental conditioning provided by Starfleet. 

An entire auditorium of highly trained military personnel scream and freak out in total panic when a crazy eyed tart runs in waving the phaser around she stole from an equally highly trained security officer.

Click to Continue


Brian said...

I'm deep into Season 3 (oh joy) on Netflix right now. I like a marathon watching of this show only to discover how Starfleet seemed to want the Enterprise to "do its own thing" when it came to seeking out new life and new civilizations. But every other episode had the crew off on some wacky errand that typically seemed like busy-get-yourself-in-trouble-work.
Great observations in this about total lack of safety protocols. Again, maybe the slack rope of the Enterprise?

Jeff McGinley said...

Thanx for coming along for the ride.

Season three was...uneven. Yeah, lets go with that.
I'm still at the beginning of season two, where most of what Trek is known for was going on.

They were given a large amount of freedom though. Go out, look around, find stuff... nice charter.

thanx again