Monday, July 27, 2015

Short Treks Season Animated 1.1

The key question before continuing the episodic review with this series is: “Do these count as cannon?”

The evidence is astoundingly divisive.

Gene Roddenberry instructed the writers to do things that couldn’t be shown in the live action series, and constantly meddled with scripts to insure they met his approval.  Later he decided the whole series wasn’t cannon, and neither were some of the movies.

Paramount had always labeled them as non-cannon…of course until they released the series on DVD. What makes this odd is the number of times the other (Paramount) Star Trek series and movies referenced items from the cartoon.

The animation, what there is of it, is horrendously limited, but the backgrounds are pretty.

The Enterprise was rotoscoped in many of the best looking shots making it extremely faithful to the Original Series, but having color blind director led to some…interesting choices for other ships, costumes and races along the way.

None of the music and only one sound effect were from the Original Series.

Star Trek Chronology and Encyclopedia  authors Michael and Denise Okuda didn’t consider it cannon, but they’re the ones responsible for the revamped Warp Factor definition that says Warp 10 is the maximum, which contradicts The Starfleet Technical Manual and most Season Three episodes.

However, there are two key elements that make me consider these official voyages of the original five year mission.

1) The entire command crew is there voicing the characters they created, except for Walter Koenig, and he wrote an episode.  Mark Lenard, Roger C. Carmel and Stanley Adams also returned as Sarek, Harry and Cyrano.

More importantly

2)  Writers D.C. Fontana (who also produced this series) and David Gerrold consider it cannon, and they and other writers had scripts repurposed for this show that were intended for the Original Series.

In other words, the Five Year Mission Continues:

“Beyond the Farthest Star”
Air Date September 8, 1973
Mom Title: “Giant Crazy Haunted Ship”

This episode provides a fine explanation for why the Animated Series should be considered merely an extension to the documentation of the five year journey.

Aside from the self-destruct sequence being wrong and Lieutenant Kyle having the wrong voice and wearing Harry Mudd’s mustache, it’s all business as usual.

The Enterprise is over at the edge of the galaxy again, and bumps into a three hundred million year old ship.  The top four ranking crew members (the Big Three plus Scotty) beam over to find it inhabited by a green energy being that’s gone nuts after being alone that long.

The story is presented along the lines of it being “a haunted ship,” giving it a season one type horror feel. The goal of the millennia old alien is to gain a new host body, tying it in with all of the episodes I’ve connected to my extra galactic invasion theory.

Those life support belts would have come in handy in almost every episode of the Original Series wouldn’t they?  I find it interesting that the animators decided to invent them to avoid drawing space suits, when the live action show creators simply decided to have breathable atmospheres and lousy bio safety protocols.


September 15, 1973
Mom Title: “Spock’s Childhood”

D.C. Fontana’s look back at Spock’s past is the episode even those who want to dismiss the entire Animated Series considered cannon.  The woman can write Vulcans!

The mission is to use the Guardian at the Edge of Forever for observation, not interference.  Of course it is, that’s Captain Kirk’s specialty, and everything went so well the first time they used it.

With all the times that Spock saved everyone’s bacon on the Enterprise, the only change with him dying in childhood is that they have a new Andorian science officer?
Then again, Andorians come from a warrior race.  Having one as a science officer suggests Spock’s absence seems to have rewritten their entire civilization, meaning perhaps there are other bizarre changes throughout the galaxy.

Hey, what’s with the giant bird man?  Were the animators bored that day?  The sound guys certainly were, since they used a stock Godzilla roar for the La Matya

Yay! Mark Lenard as Sarek!  We don’t get the real Amanda, but we do learn her maiden name is Grayson, which immediately made it into cannon.

Once more, D.C. uses the rituals of their culture to show that Vulcan’s are basically full of it when it comes to being unemotional and valuing logic above all.

The Kahs Wan ordeal is supposedly to prevent relying on logic making them weak and helpless.  However, by that point in life, they’ve been taught to solve any hardship or problem by repressing their emotions and applying logic.  Therefore that’s how any success during the solo “Outward Bound” in the Vulcan desert is going to be achieved. 

It seems to be a way for the Vulcans to say. “See, even though we’re logical, we can be tough and outdoorsy too.”

Very unemotional.

Then again, considering the clearly emotional nastiness the other kids in Spock’s class employed, maybe a night alone in a monster filled desert is what the little snots deserve.

The story establishes that adult Spock was always part of his own past event. However, I-Chaya dies, which he said didn’t happen in the original series of events.  But since it’s his life, how does he remember it the “wrong” way?

Time is a circle, but it’s a severely bent one.

“One of Our Planets is Missing”
Air Date: September 22, 1973
Mom Title: “Another Killer Cloud”

I know the air time for these is half that of the original, but you really feel it in the lack of a teaser before the credits.  It’s harder to get pulled into the story without that grabber.

What do you know; another giant cloud coming into the galaxy from the outside?  That invasion is really mobilizing.

Spock’s little change to the time stream last week must have erased everyone’s memory of all the other times that’s happened.  Either that or they just like to be surprised when it turns out a cloud is sentient.

See, I knew Bob Wesley was awesome!  He retired from command and runs a planet now. Too bad they didn’t use the original actor’s voice, or the right color uniform. Bob works hard to contain the panic on his planet, and does a good job in the limited time given highlighting some heavy morals questions.

Speaking of referencing the live action show, Kirk references his own use of the line “I will not kill . . .today.”  Only three episodes in to the Animated Series and he’s threatened self-destructing the Enterprise twice.  I guess “deciding not to kill today” really sticks out in his mind on those few days when he does decide it.

Scotty’s plan is, as always, insanely awesome.  Except for the fact that it required beaming through shields, but given they were flying through a creature’s digestive system (Ewwwwww!) and contemplating shooting its “butt brain” maybe the usual laws of physics, or at least storytelling didn’t apply.

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