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Brundledan
Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 2:16am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Way to Eden

The Romulans never showed up because they knew better than to get involved in this horrible pile of crap.

Still, two of the hippies die horribly at the end and the rest suffer severe burns, so the ep isn't a total loss.
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Brundledan
Sun, Jun 2, 2013, 2:10am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

The terrible clothes. The terrible makeup. The terrible acting. The Batmannish zooming in and out of the red alert lights. The invisible ship. "The southern part of the galaxy". The unexplained shuttecraft theft. The arbitrary and apparently unlimited powers of Bele. Kirk's "nah, let's just see what they do" order in the final scene as aliens with arbitrary and apparently unlimited powers are allowed to trot briskly through the corridors and activate the transporter. The way the bridge crew just stands there glumly and watches as Bele zaps their controls. The extreme close-ups of eyes and lips. The self-destruct sequence that grinds the whole episode to a halt. The watch-every-step decontamination of the planet. The SECOND watch-every-step decontamination of the planet. The sledgehammer of a failed allegory that ultimately doesn't give us any useful or interesting insight into racism because its two representatives of the issue are unbelievable cartoon characters.

This was the point at which the quality of third-season TOS suffered its final collapse, and never recovered.
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Brundledan
Thu, May 30, 2013, 2:28am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Plato's Stepchildren

Hateful.

Hateful.

Hateful.

There aren't enough words in the dictionary to describe "Plato's Stepchildren". It is fifty minutes of pure, sadistic humiliation of our lead characters. The third season had its share of stinkers, but this is the only one of them that makes me wish the series had been yanked from the network schedule before the ep had a chance to air.

I can only imagine how many Trekkies who had worked so hard to get the show renewed sat in front of their televisions in slack-jawed horror that Friday night in November 1968, watching Kirk slap himself silly for thirty seconds and wondering what they had written all of those letters for.

Hateful.

(Even the interracial kiss this monstrous thing is known for isn't real. The shot is framed to obscure the fact that Shatner's and Nichols' lips don't actually touch.)
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Brundledan
Wed, May 29, 2013, 2:59am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Day of the Dove

What if they gave a war and no one came?
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Brundledan
Sat, May 18, 2013, 1:32am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Assignment: Earth

Absolute bottom-of-the-barrel, the nadir of TOS. It's the worst episode of the original Star Trek because it ISN'T an episode of Star Trek at all; Gary Seven is the prime mover of events from beginning to end, while Kirk and Spock are reduced to standing around like idiots who can do little more than hope everything works out. As for the real stars of this ep, Seven's a smug prick and Roberta's an insufferable airhead.

And all of this happens under the "Star Trek" title because "oh hey, by the way, we time-traveled back to 1968." From this, through the idea that there were orbital nuke platforms in '68 (which would have been a surprise to everyone in the viewing audience) and that Seven's purposefully detonating one in the lower atmosphere would save the Earth rather than trigger World War III, right up to the Enterprise's history tapes spoiling the entire spin-off series before it can even get started with the revelation that everything that just happened was supposed to happen all along and Seven and Roberta are destined to succeed in all of their missions, the episode treats its audience like complete morons.

The worst the third season had to offer still beats "Assignment: Earth", and the third season featured a whinny-ing Kirk being ridden around the room by a midget.
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Brundledan
Thu, May 16, 2013, 12:56am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: The Ultimate Computer

This is an excellent episode, but its strong characterization of Kirk falls down with an ending that finds him grinning and chuckling at Spock and McCoy's verbal jabs as the music takes us out on an upbeat everything's-peachy-again tone.

The problem is that the entire crew of the Excalibur has just been murdered, along with a good chunk of the crew of the Lexington. Some 500 men and women dead, a horrific tragedy that's made even worse by the fact that the Enterprise was the instrument of their destruction. There's no way the bridge crew ought to look this happy in the closing moments, and Kirk, knowing that the ship he so loves was used to do such a terrible thing, ought to be truly anguished.

If this had been a first-season episode it probably would have ended on a somber note, but the second season got considerably lighter and "The Ultimate Computer" was only one of a number of eps that year to end with inappropriate humor.
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Brundledan
Tue, May 14, 2013, 5:46am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Return to Tomorrow

This is not one that I ever thought of as a "classic" episode; you won't find it on very many "best of" lists. However, on a recent viewing I was struck by how much I enjoyed it, and how well it represents what the message of Star Trek is and should be. And it isn't just the "risk is our business" speech, though that is indeed one of the very best moments in all of Trek.

Star Trek was a breakthrough in television science fiction because at its very core was the simple idea that people could live together and respect one another -- not only among themselves, but even with alien beings from the edge of the galaxy, whose very natures stretched the limits of our understanding. The writers and producers of Trek were very brave about presenting such an idea on national television at a time in which America was descending into violence and chaos.

"Return to Tomorrow" presents this idea as well as any episode of Trek I've seen. It begins with Kirk's visible agitation over a distress signal his officers can't explain, but the agitation gives way to curiosity and wonderment in short order as Sargon reveals himself and begins to explain who and what he is. Sargon, for his part, has the power to take what he wants from the Enterprise crew, who to him are at about the level mice are to us, but is committed to their right to life and self-determination even at the cost of his and his wife's existences. Finally, a (literal) meeting of minds convinces Kirk that the mutual possibilities of Sargon's proposal are worth any danger to himself. Ultimately, Sargon and Thalassa choose to sacrifice themselves rather than cause harm to what to them are the most inferior of beings.

And all of it is, indeed, tied together with the understanding that "RISK is our business". The risk undertaken by the Enterprise and her crew, in this case, but what Roddenberry and co. were saying, by extension, was that risk is the business of all of us. It's risky to trust others. It's risky to put our faith in the intentions of people we don't understand. Mutual trust is a hard-won commodity, but Kirk chooses to trust his instincts in the case of Sargon -- and the result is that even beings at opposite ends of the evolutionary scale are able to communicate with, work with, and understand one another. This was pretty heady stuff in 1968, and is just as remarkable now.

Sci-fi TV before Star Trek was mostly space monsters, and much of it post-TOS has been slickly-produced cynicism. Even TOS had its share of "captured by hostile aliens" plots, and so an episode like "Return to Tomorrow" is a breath of fresh air and a pleasure to watch. It is, as I now believe, a classic episode after all.

(As for the definition of "Class M" planets, it's made pretty clear from the very beginning, when Spock runs his scan of the Talos system in "The Cage" and notes that "Number four appears to be Class M.... oxygen atmosphere.")
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Brundledan
Fri, Apr 5, 2013, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Conscience of the King

Agree with the assessment of others re: McCoy's lines at the end. It seemed fairly obvious to me that what was being said was that Lenore had snapped altogether (the twinkly-eyed extreme close-up of a few minutes earlier had made it quite clear she was crazy) and blocked out her father's death, and that the "care" she'd be receiving would be of the kind the Federation typically provides for the criminally insane, particularly those who have experienced complete mental breaks from reality. She'll be getting the best of care, all right, but it'll be from inside the walls of Elba II. Absolutely no statement or suggestion that she'll be released is made by McCoy, and I'm surprised Jammer heard that in the dialogue.

This is one of the very best episodes of "Star Trek". In terms of dramatic structure it's one of the most sophisticated episodes of the series; in fact it seems to be years ahead of its time, anticipating the character-based dramas of the '90s and afterward (most television of the '60s was more purely plot-driven). Gerd Oswald created a very pensive atmosphere with intimate and subtle camerawork that was rarely seen again on TOS. Joseph Mullendore's score mostly eschewed the musical "stingers" that ended TOS scenes or acts, further enhancing the atmosphere.

Ron Moore has said that "The Conscience of the King" is his favorite episode of TOS, and it's not hard to see why. Its themes of personal obsession, and dark characters willing to do morally ambiguous things, suggest much of what Moore would later do on DS9 and BSG.
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