Thursday, July 16, 2015

Star Trek TOS (Season 2d)

Season 2cSeason 3a

The end of season two saw Trek being pulled back into the gravity of earth. Stories became less about the unknown and exploration and more of a commentary on society through less subtle, less plausible story devices. Every other week, they might as well have stopped being a space exploration conceit, and become a time-travel show. Oh wait. They do that in the last episode.

Episode 21 “Patterns of Force” 

The crew checks in on an earth historian who has been observing the society of a pre-warp planet. When they arrive they are stunned to see that things are more advanced than they should and they can’t contact their man. Beaming to the surface, Kirk and Spock find themselves in… Nazi Germany? It turns out that the historian, seeing the conditions that society was suffering under, decided to use his advanced knowledge to help them. And, being the brilliant historian that he was, he decided to introduce them to fascism. This is a less than subtle take on the persistent fallacy that the Nazis, while evil, sure were efficient. It would also seem to be an unnecessary story, but considering how often someone comes along claiming that Nazism had redeemable qualities, maybe not.

Episode 22 “By Any Other Name”

Trek hadn’t really figured out the sheer scale of space at this point. Once again, we get the idea of the Enterprise leaving the Milky Way. This time they are kidnapped by beings from another galaxy who want to use the ship to return home. (Even though as part of a multi-generational mission, they have never known that home.) In the end, exposing the aliens to the pleasures their humanoid bodies can provide, causes enough disruption for Kirk and co. to regain control and defeat them. Kirk’s proficiency in kissing is the key to the whole operation, of course, as a scantily clad model is one of the aliens.

Episode 23 “The Omega Glory” 

If there was a plausible explanation for how the crew could encounter Nazis in space, there is absolutely no explanation for this mess! We encounter a crazy case of parallel planetary development where the cold war is replayed on another planet, right down to the United States of America complete with the flag and the constitution! Luckily, Kirk knows the US constitution by heart which saves his skin. The only non-implausible aspect of this series is the way that the constitution is the basis for an entire religion, since that has actually happened with the American patriotic perversion of Christianity.

Episode 24 “The Ultimate Computer” 

The Enterprise is selected to be a Guinea Pig testing a computer that controls everything about a starship and man’s role in space. Of course Kirk (and by extension the audience) is against this idea. Luckily, the man who invented the machine made the mistake of building it to match and follow not logic, but the way a man’s mind works. So it is naturally irrational and flawed. However, not so flawed that Kirk can’t use its logic against it to save the day in classic Kirk fashion. Episode

25 “Bread and Circuses” 

More parallel planetary development, this time the Roman Empire is found duplicated on a distant planet. That leads us to more gladiator tropes. The whole this is a somewhat clever commentary on entertainment culture that has since been replicated in Doctor Who, Batoru rowaiaru, and the Hunger Games. The show-ending zinger has caused some people to think that Trek was claiming that Christianity is the answer to society’s ills. It is more likely just a clever joke, or studio imposed. Despite the accuracy of the idea, Roddenberry like most Humanists was loath to recognize the Christian basis for his ethical ideals.

Episode 26 “Assignment Earth” 

This episode is not really Star Trek, and was really intended as a pilot for another show that never came to fruition. It is just zany enough that I find that sad. However, it fails as an episode of Trek.

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