Star Trek: The Animated Series

"The Lorelei Signal"

1.5 stars

Air date: 9/29/1973
Written by Margaret Armen
Directed by Hal Sutherland

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise receives a signal from a nearby world that entrances all the men and draws them toward the planet, while the women on the ship (represented by Uhura and Chapel) are left unaffected. The transmission's source might more aptly be described as "sirens," with the point driven home by the goofy grins on the faces of the men that have heard them.

The landing party (Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and an irrelevant redshirt who I don't think dies but might as well have) beams down to the surface of the planet and finds a temple filled with women, led by Theela, who says she will explain everything later. In the meantime, they enjoy their time at the palace, which is every man's supposed dream. "The women radiate delight," says Kirk in his log. While distracted by their bliss, Theela has the men "obstructed" with some sleep-inducing nectar; they wake up wearing headband devices that have somehow aged them all, turning half of the plot into "The Deadly Years."

"The Lorelei Signal" is a nonsensical cheese-fest, with an impenetrable plot where things happen and there's no driving force as to the how or why until it's all explained at the end of the hostage crisis, at which point our interest has long since vanished. The magical and brilliantly named "Opto-Aud" (a viewscreen that answers all your questions about the plot, should only you ask) is a classic TOS plot device — divine, convenient, inexplicable, and beyond the scope of the story's desire to deal with. Meanwhile, we get bizarre, time-wasting scenes like the one where Scotty sings while we watch the Enterprise slowly orbit the planet.

On the plus side, we do get Uhura taking command of the Enterprise (something that never happened on TOS or in the movies) and leading the away mission, along with Chapel and an all-women landing party, to save Kirk and the others. This plays almost as a commentary on the other half of the story, where the sirens have ensnared the men with their G-rated implied sexiness. But it can't overcome the pure hokiness of the story's execution and the simplistic tidiness of its resolution.

Previous episode: One of Our Planets Is Missing
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6 comments on this post

Elizabeth Palladino
Sat, May 27, 2023, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
I remember liking this pretty well. Yes, it is a bit cheesy and over-simplified, but so is She-Ra Princess of Power, and that isn't too awful either. What always sticks with me is the way Uhura takes command of the ship and beams down with the other women crew members to save the day. It is nice to see competent, capable women portrayed sensibly without a bunch of undies-burning and feminist blab. I have found over the years reading Jammer's reviews across the various series that he often likes the more adult politics/drama stuff more than I do. And I often like the softer, sillier, character episodes--and yes, the Ferengi stuff on DS9--more than he does. What is great about the huge mass of Trek shows is that you can cherry-pick your favorites--there is content to please everyone!
Sun, May 28, 2023, 11:28am (UTC -5)
The weakest TAS episode thus far, which is a better version of "Spock's Brain" in a way and might have planted the seed for episodes like "When the Bough Breaks" and "Favorite Son."

It also has a similar theme to "Wink of an Eye." There's little of interest or good sci-fi here as it is just a question of getting the women on the Enterprise to come and rescue the men. Uhura takes charge of the ship from Scotty and enlists Chapel as her second-in-command. Kirk only noted Uhura's objection initially when approaching the planet but didn't bother to bring any women for the landing party, which was stupid.

The transporter is used to restore the aging bodies of the landing party -- this happens all too quickly and conveniently, but the idea is an interesting one and was also subsequently used in "Unnatural Selection".

William B
Sun, May 28, 2023, 6:54pm (UTC -5)
Ha this is one I kind of like, mostly for the Uhura stuff.
Trek fan
Mon, Jun 12, 2023, 9:57pm (UTC -5)
I’d actually give this one 2 1/2 stars. I find the camp factor memorably entertaining and it’s fun seeing Uhura take charge. I agree the story is overly simple and does little to improve on the Greek legend of the Sirens. But it’s a pleasant Saturday morning time waster.
Sun, Jul 16, 2023, 7:48am (UTC -5)
Interesting to see them using the transporter to heal people, i.e., to materialize them in a previous healthy state recorded on the transporter. (Playing with the transporter rules and possibilities is very dangerous. There's always this feeling you can easily break Trek's universe in so many unforeseen ways if you're not careful).

But I think they shouldn't have memories of what happened on the planet, since what the transporter had stored was their versions before going, right? I guess they opted for having it all: their healthy bodies AND their post-experience personalities — that may be why Spock estimated so low the odds of this working. So the episode didn't highlight it, but Scotty really did pull a neat stunt there.
Andy in NoVa
Mon, Aug 28, 2023, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
Left unsaid here, is that the 1973 notion of "beauty" is all blonde, blue-eyed women, wearing low-cut sleeveless jumpsuits.

Very nordic. Exclusively so.

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