Aug 21, 2016

Boldly Return

Lieutenant Commander Scott and
anthropologist Lieutenant Palamas
This blog post (below) is the continuation of a series (start here) celebrating 50 years of Star Trek.

Trek 22. When I was young I read Chariots of the Gods? and began imagining "ancient aliens" who might have long ago visited Earth. I was amused by 'Who Mourns for Adonais?', but I could not accept that technologically advanced god-like visitors to Earth would be dicks like Michael Forest. Nor that Leslie Parrish would ignore a poor lovable nerd like Scotty and swoon for Apollo.

Gilbert Ralston died in 1999.
Golden Anniversary Ale: The Trouble With Tribbles

our reaction, exactly
Trek 23. You got Tan Ru in my Nomad! If there is an award for the most improbable science fiction plot, 'The Changeling' is a contender. The Nomad space probe goes out from Earth, crashes into the alien probe Tan Ru. Somehow the two damaged spacecraft repair themselves and through some magical mutation they are turned into a planet-sterilizing monstrosity with superpowers that meanders through the galaxy killing billions of people. Oh, one more detail: Kirk can defeat this superprobe in a one hour episode. Worse still, someone actually thought this plot should be re-hashed as a full-length film. Ew.

Trek 23.5 Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Persis Khambatta died in 1998, she was only 49.

Captain's woman: Marlena Moreau
Trek 24. The episode 'Mirror, Mirror' introduced an innovation that had appeal for millions of nerdy science fiction fans: the Captain's Woman. I've previously complained about the whole mirror universe concept where the Federation is evil.

I'm a fan of alternate history fiction, but I wish someone would have written an alternate Star Trek universe that was more creative than 'Mirror, Mirror'. Jerome Bixby got lazy when he fell back on a tired good vs. evil plot.

Maybe in this millennium there could be an episode of Star Trek where a coherent theory of alternate universes and travel between them could be presented. Otherwise, the mirror universe is just some kind of fantasy where the crew gets to play new roles.

Mudd's fate
Trek 25. Harcourt Fenton Mudd was one of the most memorable characters of Star Trek, crafted by script writer Stephen Kandel and brought to life by actor Roger Carmel. 'I, Mudd' was silly fun, dishing out the "worst" punishment in the galaxy since Scotty filled a Klingon spaceship with tribbles.

Roger Carmel died in 1986 before he could appear in a Next Generation episode.

In 'I, Mudd' we got to meet the robotic remnants of a distant civilization. However, in Season Two the flavor of Star Trek began to shift away from adventures at the fringe of known space where the Enterprise could seek out new life and new civilizations.

Trek 26. 'Journey to Babel' allowed viewers the opportunity to meet some new aliens such as the Andorans, but suddenly the crew of the Enterprise was not out exploring the galaxy, but rather it was caught up in some stupid political squabbling.

Andorian-Aenar hybrid
Star Trek never developed a coherent account of telepathy and why some aliens had it. Eventually we were introduced to the Aenar, but I have no idea why they had greater telepathic abilities than the run-of-the-mill Andorans.

"Star Trek science consultant and writer André Bormanis has revealed that telepathy within the Star Trek universe works via the "psionic field." According to Bormanis, a psionic field is the "medium" through which unspoken thoughts and feelings are communicated through space. Some humanoids can tap into this field through a kind of sense organ located in the brain (e.g. the paracortex)." (source)

McCoy telepathically greets the future Leonard James Akaar
Trek 27. Dorothy Fontana continued dragging Star Trek into the dark domain of dismal politics in "Friday's Child". In this episode, the amazingly human-like Capellans become pawns in a cold-war like conflict between Klingons and Earthlings, portending many coming hours of dreary political conflict within the Star Trek fictional universe.

27.5 Later in Season Two, the cold war with Klingons continued in 'A Private Little War'.
Don Ingalls died in 2014.

Nazis in space
27.9 In 'Patterns of Force' we were subjected to another "new world" where the alien inhabitants look like humans, speak English and allow Hollywood script writers to rehash human history is a Sci Fi setting. John Lucas  died in 2002.

Trek 28. In 'The Immunity Syndrome', we were told that Spock experienced telepathic contact with a spaceship full of dying Vulcans. This telepathic connection existed over vast interstellar distances, so the "psionic field" must allow telepaths to communicate at faster-than-light speeds.

11,000 mile long, energy eating cell in space
This was one of the least coherent episodes of Star Trek. Written by Robert Sabaroff, this story boldly paraded all sorts of nonsense across the screen. If only Star Trek had been immune to Hollywood writers who could not write a coherent science fiction story.

The "negative energy field" was one of the many idiotic plot devices of the Star Trek fictional universe. In 'The Immunity Syndrome', a giant space-faring cell surrounded itself with an energy field where the normal laws of physics were reversed!

Kirk fingers an alien invader
Robert Sabaroff died in 2007.

Trek 29. 'By Any Other Name' took the tired old Sci Fi alien invasion plot to intergalactic lengths. 'Cats Paw' provided another approach to intergalactic visitors.

Sadly, the Kelvan Empire was just a platform for yet another lame alien invasion story. Lucky for the Enterprise, no matter how advanced the technology of evil aliens, Kirk always had the magic touch that was required to defeat them.

Green. Scotty's inspired effort to drink an alien invader under the table almost salvaged this episode.

Trek 30. It's a small galaxy, after-all. In 'Bread and Circuses', Kirk finds an old school chum living on a planet where the aliens look like humans, speak English and have a culture amazingly like that of ancient Rome. Yes, if you need another hour-long episode for your Sci Fi show, just trot out some old chapter in Earth's history for a rehash on a distant planet. Oh, and don't forget to provide Kirk with a slave girl.

fan fiction
Lois Jewell died in 2014.

This blog post (above) is the third in a series of posts that look back at Star Trek.

Also in this series:
1) Ten of my favorite episodes
2) comments on other mostly Season One episodes.

Next: comments on some Season Three episodes
visit the Gallery of Posters

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