Monday, July 13, 2015

Short Treks Season 3.8

“The Way to Eden”
Air Date: February 21, 1969
Mom Title: “Charles Napier- Space Hippie”

This started as a D.C. Fontana idea where we’d get to meet Joanna McCoy, the Doctor’s daughter.  She morphed into Irina Galliulin, a Leila Kalomi for Chekov - so he can better become Spock Jr. I suppose.
The story had enough other changes that she used her version of “Lee Cronin” and was billed as “Michael Richards” again.

“Eden” is normally grouped in with “Spock’s Brain” at the bottom of the quality barrel.  I may get kicked out of the Trekkie Union for admitting I kinda like this one.  I guess it says something about D.C. Fontana’s ability to do Trek that I still find much to admire in her two episodes that were altered enough for her to take her name off them.

Hey, at least it never gets boring!
And you can’t count it as padding if it’s catchy. Too bad Uhura missed out on this jam session.

In fact, considering how successful full episodes done that way have been in more recent times, (Buffy, Batman Brave and Bold, etc.) it’s a shame they didn’t go further and do as a full on musical.

Hair Trek?

The Trekkie Horror Picture Show?

It would have rocked!

Y’know, all the times I’ve seen this episode I was so focused on the fact that the girl was playing a bicycle tire, I never noticed Charles Napier was playing a T-square.

A group of scientist hippies are cruising in the Aurora, a groovy stolen warp sled.  Today, that gang would probably be heading to the International Jugglers Association festival, but in the future, they’re looking for Eden. 

Using levels of subtlety only found on Sixties’ television, their leader, Doctor Severin, is an acoustics expert.  With ears that make Vulcans go, “Dang!” what else could he be?

Chekov gets some backing from the Captain, who knows a thing or two about running into past loves. However, most of his support, and the support of those wacky kids, comes from Mr. Spock. 
Kirk may be the youngest Captain in Starfleet, but his attitudes are completely in line with crusty old Scotty and Bones about the long haired weirdoes.  You’d think McCoy would have a soft spot for anyone who hates transporters as much as he does.

Why does Spock connect so strongly with them, and offer to help them unreservedly and sincerely?

Is it because he’s an open minded, vegetarian follower of the IDIC philosophy?

Is it because he’s an art expert and accomplished musician?

Is it because he sees their idealistic, simplistic lifestyle along the same lines as his time with Ms. Kalomi?

Is it because they remind him of his long lost half-brother?

To find the greatest and uncontrovertibly best evidence of why he could “reach” Severin’s followers better than even the youngest crew members on the Enterprise, all that’s needed is look at one of his initial statements to them.

“I am not Herbert.”

No wonder he resonated the best with Sixties audiences.

Some random continuity notes:

Starfleet security is at its finest again:  They put a guard on Doctor Severin, who is locked in isolation..
in the brig…
behind an energy barrier,
but none on his followers who are traipsing all over the ship.

The Enterprise computer is said to contain the sum of all human knowledge.  Remind me again why they need Memory Alpha?

Tongo Rad’s “nerve pinch” looks less like he studied with Vulcans and more like he (decade appropriately) hung around fighting the beach party crowd with Professor Bob and  Eric Von Zipper.

There is no truth to the rumor that Doctor Severin is actually a space Nazi war criminal in hiding.

Near the end, Chekov apologizes to the Captain for acting exactly like he does in every other one of his appearances.  Love does make you do funny things.

Shortly after that, when Kirk tells Spock, “We reach,” his first officer’s expression can be summed up in one word:


"The Cloud Minders”
Air Date: February 28, 1969
Mom Title: “City in the Sky”

Wow, this is embarrassing. I’ve been calling this episode the wrong name my whole life: “The Cloud MINERS.”  I guess I’ve seen Empire Strikes Back too often.

Either Spock is suffering from feedback after making Kirk “Forget,” or he spent far too much time with the Free Love crowd last week.  His little monologue does sound quite hippie-ish, and he even makes the “one” gesture.

Yes, we know he has knowledge and appreciation of art, and Droxine did say, “Fascinating,” but Spock almost let himself die before discussing Pon Farr with his best friends.  This week, he’s using it as a pick up line.

Even Captain “Magic Pants” Kirk himself gives a double take when Spock answers Droxine's statement that she’s never met a Vulcan before with:

“Nor I a work of art, madam.”

If this was a first season episode, the mine would probably have been in Vasquez Rocks instead of a set. It’s probably better this way as paper mâché stones are much easier to dig by hand.

Kirk’s agitated and in a hurry as per usual, because of another plague. Never stall a Type A on a mission.  This one is vegetation related, (Quick, hide the Quadrotriticale!) which makes you again wonder why he stopped for some of Flint’s brandy when that plague threatened his crew.

Did anyone else notice that this Federation member, besides having the requisite arrogant jerks in government, practices slavery, or at best apartheid, and no one complained about it before?

Shatner’s posturing about unequal treatment gets overshadowed by Nimoy’s demonstration of quiet disgust, especially toward Droxine one he learns of her racism.  Oddly, Spock and Hawkeye Peirce share a personality trait almost exactly.

Question, since they could beam people in and out of the mines and city, why didn’t they beam Kirk directly into or Vanna directly out of the jail cell? 

Jim gets to become an unhinged Starship captain like so many others we’ve seen when exposed to the Zenite gas. 
Plasus goes equally nuts, which is hard to notice because he was already quite a jackass.  Vanna however, doesn’t seem affected, and figures out what’s going on.  I guess it isn’t the gas that making them brutal and stupid, it’s being men.

The big solutions to the Ardanna problem are gas masks and supplying one of those crack Federation ambassadors to mediate.

Great, they’ll all kill each other in a week, and then Starfleet can use automation and mine all the Zenite they need.

“The Savage Curtain”
Air Date: March 7, 1969
Mom Title: “Abraham Lincoln”

First broadcast on my minus one year birthday.  Eh, there are worse ones.

Definitely a Gene Roddenberry story, he was always patriotic.

Hey, a rare (and the final) Uhura sighting as the series moves to a close. Maybe her absence is why Spock acts oddly in the other end episodes. It couldn’t be that the writers gave up caring, could it?

Uhura gets a typically intellectual and graceful moment, letting the time lost leader know, “We learned to no longer fear words.”  Thanks to the P.C. police, we have a loooooong stretch to reach that point in our cultural evolution.

Shape shifters who pull images from the Captain’s mind, can change the state of the planet from lava covered to habitable, and perform experiments in morality. Yup, the Andromedans are at it again on Excaliba.

How else can creatures that are simultaneously made of rock and carbon based be explained?  Makes you wonder why the crew didn’t question it since they met the Horta, which was silicone based. Then again, maybe the Excalibans are made of charcoal? 
Either way, it’s a cool looking Rock Monster. Too bad they didn’t pull the suit out of mothballs for the ones cut out of Star Trek V.

Hey, do you think the Lego movie got the idea for a flying Lincoln chair from this episode?

Scotty, the practical engineer, and McCoy, the other experienced old guy, think the whole concept of a long dead president showing up in outer space is ridiculous.  And, frankly, they have a point.  Luckily, Lee Bergere’s portrayal of self-belief as Lincoln, and Kirk’s enthusiasm at meeting a hero who didn’t go completely homicidal, helps this one to avoid total collapse.  It’s odd that the Captain never mentions also being from Iowa to his idol and fellow Midwesterner. Possibly when they pulled people from his brain, they bumped that memory and broke it.

Then again, we’re way past where Star Trek maintains any kind of internal consistency.  Kirk tells Abe they can “convert” to minutes.   I’d hope so since they’ve never shown a single indication their time system is any different from ours in all three seasons.

However, matching scenes on either side of one a commercial break reduces the countdown timer from four to two hours.  Maybe they do tell time differently than we do. Either that or they all sat on Excaliba and stared at each other for two hours.

Speaking of Excaliba- down on the planet, we meet other historical figures from past and future.

Surak, the founder of all Vulcan philosophy is there in his scalloped, rainbow muumuu. 
I guess even on Vulcan, fashion is illogical. 

Pulling images from the Captain’s mind may explain some of the villain choices and appearances.

To represent the dictators of the Eugenics War is Colonel Green.  Of course we all know he wasn’t the most dangerous member of that group of despots.  However, Kirk has met Khan and developed admiration for him, disqualifying his use on the bad guy side.

Then there’s Kirk’s interpretation of their first emperor, uniter of their people, and greatest of all Klingon warriors – Kahless the Dumpy.

There’s a massive flaw in the explanation of the Excalibans’ experiment, which our highly observant crew misses completely. 

The fact that all of the bad guys are not who they claim to be but are reality warping shape shifters pretending to be evil invalidates any results based on what they’re supposedly promised for victory.

Spock may unconsciously realize this, as deciding the neck pinch won’t work on Rock Monsters makes him look smarter than once more forgetting he knows it.

That means, much like the supposedly different  “Vians,” “Melkotians,” and  “Metrons” this must be the energy based Andromedans concocting a test for the Enterprise crew with the intention of teaching them a lesson.

Looking at it from Kirk’s side: discovering that evil is bad, dishonest and sneaky isn’t much of a revelation.  However, Spock is subjected to a much harsher lesson: 
Following the Vulcan path in its purest form leads to death and failure.

The overarching plan of the extra-galactic invaders is beginning to reveal itself.

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