Monday, March 9, 2015

Short Treks Season 1.9

“The City on the Edge of Forever”
Air Date: April 6, 1967
Mom Title: “Joan Collins- Pacifist”

In nearly every “Best Episodes” list, this outing inevitably ends up as number one.  While it might be the best independent story, I don’t believe it is the best representation of what makes Star Trek great. 

One reason is that it loses much of the ensemble cast, becoming again primarily a Kirk and Spock adventure. 
Deforest Kelley does get some great “go crazy” moments, highlighting once more how the transporters don’t seem to be covered by any of Star Fleet’s lock down or Safety Procedures.  Then again, why should the transporters be any different than the rest of the equipment?

This whole disaster happened because of a lack of safety features on:
Sulu’s control board which exploded in his face instead of shutting down
McCoy’s syringe which fails to predict any of the protective improvements invented in the past fifty years, never mind what the future will hold.

The larger problem I have with this story as a representation of the series is it lacks the element of hope that is one of the key parts of Star Trek.

It’s well written, but fatalistic and depressing.

There are also some time travel inconsistencies.  Granted, that’s always a given with this kind of story, but considering the whole focus is on the importance of whether or not one person lives or dies it would have been nice if they took a moment to wonder about the bum who phasered himself out of existence.
Maybe if they saved him, he would be one more person at the mission that made Edith lack the energy to mount the campaign to keep the US out of World War II.

That’s especially troubling when placed against the fact that Miss Keeler was only crossing the street she died on because Kirk was there.  It could be he didn’t save her life when she fell on the stairs, but only prevented a temporary injury that would have prevented her from talking to the president.

Remember, McCoy went first, and the time stream went floopy.  Bones alone would only lead to the bum dying…unless their decision to save McCoy preordained the stair rescue.  Time travel is a pain sometimes.

Then again, Spock’s “stone knives and bearskins” computer wasn’t that great.  Perhaps he read it wrong. Edith Keeler’s movement might have created an idyllic and peaceful future leading to a non-militarized Starfleet with no need for men like Captain Kirk.  What a guy though.  The only reason they aren’t tossed in jail by Edith is that he is a Smoothie of epic proportions.

Some forward looking thoughts:

This is where Uhura starts looking more to Kirk than Spock in times of crisis. Not for emotional support as much as guidance from a commander.  She’s chosen career over romance.

They cross a car filled street in Star Trek IV the same way they do in this episode.  While they didn’t learn about traffic, they do learn they could take Gillian Taylor with them instead of bumping her off.

Did Kirk starting to pick up the slang on this trip made things quicker and easier for him on Sigma Iotia II?  Check.

Before reaching what led to  “Let’s get the hell out of here,” the Captain was all excited to try out the Guardian.  Even after accidentally erasing their reality, Starfleet still sanctions the use of the thing, as seen in the animated series and multiple novels.  The death penalty for ONLY Talos IV is really starting to look like something those lumpy headed aliens are maintaining on their own through the long range manipulation they were shown capable of. 

Final pointless trivia:
I’m not overly embarrassed that I never noticed this story was filmed in and around Mayberry, as I wasn’t a big fan of the Andy Griffith Show, but I feel like I should have noticed when they passed Floyd’s Barber Shop.

“Operation Annihilate”
Air Date: April 13, 1967
Mom Title: “Flappy Jell-O Things”

Wow, Kirk was more broken up about Edith Keeler (a woman who technically died over a hundred years before he was born) and his friend’s vision than the death of his own brother and sister in law.  Using previously un-introduced family members to up the drama is kind of pointless if you forget to add the proper reaction drama.

This may be why “dead Kirk with a mustache” hasn’t attained the cultural iconography that “Spock with a beard” has.

Aside from that “minor” complaint, this episode is a nice flourish to the end of the first season.

It’s a true sci-fi tale, with some extra horror thrown in, that used real locations to show another planet. OK the evil creature du jour looked like translucent pancakes on fishing line, but you can’t have everything.

While the focus is on the Big Three, there’s a fair amount for the rest of the crew to do as well. The show takes place equally down planet side and up on the Enterprise.

Plus Nurse Chapel comes back!  Yay!

However, as usual, Starfleet methodology is questionable at best.

It takes the Bridge crew all of two seconds to realize there has been a path of unexplained, worldwide insanity cutting from system to system through the galaxy for centuries.  Maybe that should have popped up on the, “Hey, we should look into this,” scanner over at Fleet Headquarters.

Official protocol would call for Kirk to wipe out the planet, including those not infected, in order to save other systems.  Basically, that is a larger scale version of what Kodos the Executioner pulled. 

Fortunately for everyone involved, we have a Captain who absolutely demands something other than the “no win scenario,” and more importantly has the leadership chops to pull it off.

With information from his department heads, he figures out the sun was the cure, but is then wise enough to leave the implementation to his experts.

Agreed, he might have wanted to be more hands on with that.

They blinded Spock less than half a minute before the test results came in that showed it was unnecessary.  They may have rushed the experiment into clinical trials a bit there. Having someone with command knowledge, or at least basic time management skills involved may have helped.

Yes, it turns out the cure is “light” bright enough to penetrate even the darkest closed places on the planet.  Yet it isn’t visible light.

I believe that means the Enterprise irradiated the living snot out of the entire population.

Perhaps that’s why McCoy had bottles of Windex and other cleaners in his lab, to scrub everything down afterwards.

Maybe the giant amoeba in “The Immunity Syndrome” was one of the little flyers who were mutated by the fallout bath.

Sadly, the Uhura Spock romance is definitely gone here at the conclusion of the premier season.

Spock never brings up having an inner eyelid that can protect him from blindness, which would have to be used fairly often given the desert like conditions of Vulcan, never mind the more varied environments one sees as a member of Starfleet for his term of service.

That would be like a human about to pass out drunk letting everyone think he went into an irreversible coma, then waking up later and saying, “Oh, I forgot I have kidneys.”

When Spock hits the crew with his jerktastic “We tend to ignore it” speech, Uhura shoots a look at Bones. 

It is not her amusedly exasperated, “oh that man of mine” look she used previously.  Instead her expression quite obviously conveys:

“See!  He’s completely impossible!”

Once more, the Redshirts survive yet again contrary to the cliché everyone “knows.”

But come back next time as we start Season Two, and the poor security guards prove that formula is painfully accurate, and Kirk’s ever growing reputation as a Smoothie with a string of exes left behind blossoms full force, indicating that perhaps the hypnosis merely reversed his conscious choice to curb his appetites when he first took command.

Expanded Universe Note:
If anyone wants to know what happened to Peter Kirk..
No, contrary to appearances, he did not join up with the friendly angel.

Check out Sarek by A.C. Crispin.

It's an excellent novel that follows directly after Star Trek VI with plenty of new action to be entertaining on its own, and old references for an Original Series Geek like me.

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