Dagger of the Mind

Star Trek Classic, Season 1, Episode 9.

  • Third use of the Vulcan nerve pinch.
  • The interplay between McCoy and Kirk is excellent in early scenes. It’s professional conflict but not personal, and you can tell it by the expressions in the actors’ faces. Nicely done.
  • This episode’s ridiculously pretty guest actress is Marianna Hill as Dr. Helen Noel. Of course, Kirk makes out with her in a pseudo-dream sequence. And briefly later, with Spock looking on rather bemusedly.
    dagger of the minddagger of the mind 2
  • First time Spock has ever used the Vulcan mind meld on a human. And first time used in this series.
  • McCoy: “He’s dead, Captain.”

Shatner does some horrible overacting, but he has some good moments too, especially on the bridge with McCoy and Spock. Kind of an interesting story, and I like the tension between McCoy and Kirk. Bonus points for the Vulcan mind meld.

This one gets a B.

Miri

Star Trek Classic, Season 1, Epsiode 8.

Two quotes worth mentioning:

  • Janice Rand (to Kirk): “Back on the ship, I used to try to get you to look at my legs. Captain. Look at my legs.”
  • McCoy (to Kirk): “He’s dead.”
  • Spock: “Without them, it could be a beaker full of death.”

The use of children as antagonists is supposedly novel here; I can’t comment on that, but I’ll say that the children are ridiculously annoying. Their idiotic chanting and stupid made-up words made me hope the viral disease would take them all before there was some kind of cure. I didn’t care much for Miri either, even though it turns out that Miri was played by Kim Darby, the actress who played the girl in the original True Grit.

I actually appreciated the simple plot with very little philosophizing, even though the philosophizing will eventually become one of this show’s strengths, I imagine. It’s just pleasant to know that the writers didn’t feel they had to get to the meaning of life in every episode.

It was nice to have Kirk, Spock, and Bones get considerable screen time together, but it’s not enough, and the overacting by Shatner is just awful in this.

C-minus.

What are Little Girls Made of?

Star Trek Classic, Season 1, Episode 7.

I’m not sure, but there seems to be a recurring theme in this original series of what makes someone human, and whether or not the things that make us imperfect (love, emotion, bias, that kind of thing) are actually the things that make humans superior to a non-feeling android race.

This episode’s ridiculously pretty guest actress is Sherry Jackson, an actress of some renown before she appeared here. She plays an android programmed to serve and protect Dr. Korby. Kirk makes out with her, of course.

No quotable lines in this episode, but at least one screen-cap-worthy moment:

kirk and stactite

Although this was a fairly entertaining episode, the noticeable absence of any real interaction between Kirk and the other regular cast leaves this one feeling shallow and unsatisfying. I’ll say it again: this show is at its best when its primary characters interact with one another, when conversations and situations develop their characters and their relationships. No way does Star Trek endure beyond a couple of seasons if not for the development of interesting, likable characters and relationships we care about.

I give this one a C.

Mudd’s Women

Star Trek Classic. Season 1, episode 6.

  1. Cool. The opening scene has all the principals at once.
  2. Spock: “I’m happy the affair is over. A most annoying, emotional episode.”

That’s about it as far as memorable moments, but this is the best episode yet, I think. It is unnecessarily heavy-handed, but I think that’s the norm for this program. There’s some nice banter between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy at the very end, the kind of thing I wish there were more of in every episode. Star Trek seems to have taken longer than M*A*S*H (not to mention lots of other enduring series) to understand that it’s the show’s characters and their relationships with one another that makes for memorable, lasting television. I know I should cut it a little bit of slack; this is only the sixth episode, after all, so perhaps I will. Still, I find most of Classic to be kind of a drag to get through.

I’m giving it a low 7/10.

The Enemy Within

Star Trek Classic. Season 1, Episode 5.

  1. Kirk: “At night, it gets down to about 120 degrees below zero.”
    Sulu: “That’s…nippy.”
  2. Yeoman Janice Rand is a painter. Nice touch.
  3. Fake Kirk kisses yeoman Rand.
  4. Spock: “There’s only one logical answer. We have an imposter on board.” I think this is the first time he says “logical.” He says “illogical” in that other episode.
  5. McCoy: “We all have our darker side. We need it. It’s half of what we are. It’s not really ugly; it’s human … A lot of what he is makes you the man you are.”
  6. Second use of the Vulcan Nerve Pinch.
  7. McCoy: “He’s dead, Jim.”
    1. So far this is the best episode. It has the ponderous philosophy stuff that makes this show worth thinking about, and there are some good interactions between Kirk and McCoy, and between Kirk and Spock. There’s even some good Spock-McCoy stuff that’s fun to watch. Sulu continues to camp this show up in a way that’s becoming charming.

      The overacting is doubled in Kirk’s evil half, which I think is symbolic of a few things. As his passive half, Shatner does some good acting. I am beginning to like Spock’s stoic leadership, but his voice is strangely less bassy in this episode.

      I’m giving this a high 6/10.

The Naked Time

Star Trek Classic. Season 1, episode 4.

  1. Funny line: Spock gives Sulu the Vulcan nerve pinch. Kirk says, “I’d like you to teach me that some time.”
  2. Spock: “We can’t afford a safety factor.”
  3. Question: Is this the first incidence of a shirtless Asian man on prime time TV?
  4. Nurse Chapel: “I’m in love with you, Mr. Spock.”
  5. Leonard Nimoy actually does some decent acting among the rest of the cast’s overacting, and that overacting is pretty noticeable in this episode.
  6. Scotty to Kirk: “I can’t change the laws of physics!”
  7. Cool. They go back in time for the first time.
  8. Kirk: “Steady as she goes.”

Okay, this is the best episode so far, and you can sorta see why George Takei says it’s his favorite episode ever. It’s pretty silly, but it’s also pretty interesting, with all the loosening of inhibitions. A strong 6/10.

Where No Man Has Gone Before

Star Trek Classic. Season 1, episode 3.

  1. Wow. Sally Kellerman as a visiting psychiatrist. This is the first sorta crossover between this show and my favorite show, M*A*S*H. Kellermann played Hotlips Houlihan in the Robert Altman film, off which the TV series was spun.
  2. No Uhura or McCoy. First episode with Scotty.
  3. Yeoman Rand isn’t in this one; apparently she replaced Yeoman Smith, who appears here in what chronologically is the first episode.
  4. “You should have killed me while you could, James. Command and compassion is a foolish mixture.”

Not a bad story. I like Sally Kellerman. Not enough informal interaction between the main characters for my taste. Again, the pacing is maddening. There are just far too many weird dramatic pauses. But still the best episode so far. 6/10.

Charlie X

Star Trek classic. Season 1, episode 2.

  • “Captain Kirk is one of a kind, Charlie.” (McCoy)
  • “The job is yours, Bones. Flattery will get you nowhere.” (Kirk)
  • “On Earth today, it’s Thanksgiving. The crew has to eat synthetic meatloaf; I want it to look like turkey.” (Kirk)
  • Spock says, “As you wish.”
  • It’s a lot of overacting in this one.
  • I’m beginning to hate the music. Not the cool opening theme music, but the super-melodramatic (and much too loud) symphonic music that accompanies the action. It’s a soundtrack equivalent of a laugh track. Super irritating.
  • This story was more interesting than the last, but parts of it still dragged. The dramatic pauses are beginning to drive me crazy.
  • Second episode with Yeoman Janice Rand. Not complaining.
  • I like that the ending is neither happy nor sad. It’s a morally ambiguous situation the crew of the starship finds itself in, and this is one of a few possible resolutions. Nobody in the crew seems very pleased with the outcome, but you know (and the crew knows) the alternative might have been worse.
  • No Sulu or Scotty.

I’m giving this one also a 5/10 even though it was better than the last. Strengths are a more compelling plot, a bittersweet end, more interactions between the principal characters, and Kirk showing signs of his maverick tendencies, as when he beats Spock in three-dimensional chess using a move that’s not logical. Weaknesses are dead spots in the story, horrible music, and a resolution that’s too long in coming.

The Man Trap

Star Trek classic. Season 1, episode 1. This was the first episode broadcast on TV, ‘though it is set after the two episodes that come next. A few thoughts:

  • No Scotty or Chekov. I didn’t find out until moments ago that Chekov doesn’t show up until season 2.
  • I was surprised at Spock’s eagerness to use truth serum on Dr. Crater once Crater is aboard Enterprise. I get that there’s a medical duty that McCoy has to perform, but by what authority can the crew of the starship administer truth serum? Kirk’s willingness to go along with the truth serum is what kills Crater. That’s too bad.
  • Memorable lines: “He’s dead, Jim.” “Your creature is killing my people!”
  • Also this.
    Uhura: Tell me how your planet Vulcan looks on a lazy evening when the moon is full…
    Spock: Vulcan has no moon, Miss Uhura.
    Uhura: I’m not surprised, Mr. Spock.

  • I like the friendship between McCoy and Kirk. I think the flirty interaction between Uhura and Spock is cute and funny.

The episode is interesting but draggy. I don’t know why it takes so long to unfold but it’s annoying. I give this episode a 5 out of 10. Strengths: interesting, fun interactions between the principal characters. Weakness: a slow, draggy plot.

Trekking Through Classic

Here is where two things are likely to happen. First, I am likely to annoy (if not anger) my many Star Trek-loving friends. Second, someone is going to want to snip a corner off my geek card.

My confession: I have never cared much for Star Trek the original television series. Whenever it was on (my dad and sister sometimes watched it), I pretty much just tuned it out and read a book. I thought the stories were boring, the characters uninteresting, the color awful (which isn’t fair because the color of my favorite show, M*A*S*H, has always been pretty bad too), and the acting stilted. When the first Trek film came out, I watched it on HBO with my dad and we were both bored to death (spoiler coming up), especially when my dad figured out a few scenes before the reveal that V’Ger was Voyager. When the credits rolled, my dad said something I always think of when someone mentions the film: “That was a real ass-scratcher of a movie.” I don’t even think I know what that means, but it’s hilarious.

My Scoutmaster drove my troop into Waikiki to see the second motion picture, The Wrath of Khan, and that was (and is still) a good film. And so I have had a kind of dual relationship with Trekkers and with Trek itself. I have enjoyed the films (including Insurrection and Nemesis) while hating the TV show. Because of the circles I’ve usually run in, I have picked up enough of the lore to be conversant at the most basic level with Trekkers and to be able to interpret for the unwashed some of the allusions that have come up. It’s actually the lore that has softened my dislike of the series, and I can now proudly (or ashamedly) say that I have seen at least two episodes of the original series in their entirety: The Trouble with Tribbles and that one with the green woman. I’ve seen pieces of many others, but they are very small pieces.

I’ve actually seen more entire episodes (each) of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager than of Classic, ‘though I haven’t seen very many of them either. I’ve liked most of what I’ve seen, but they were on the air at times when I just didn’t have room for them in my viewing schedule. And forget about the DVDs: have you seen how much just one season of any of them costs? Ridiculous.

Don’t ask me about Enterprise. I don’t even know if I’ve ever seen it.

I realize what this does for my geek cred in some people’s eyes. And you know what? If I ever cared about that, I’d have done something about it. There has had to be room in my life for certain geeky obsessions that exist outside the realm of conventional geekiness, such as baseball, female-fronted symphonic heavy metal, and the pursuit of the perfect pie crust.

But then I watched the first five seasons of The Big Bang Theory on DVD (about which, more later: what I’m drafting this week is actually what sparked this Trek treatise, a kind of digression to get it out of my system), and when the credits rolled on the final episode of that 2011-2012 season, I knew it was time for me to revisit Classic. What the heck. It’s only seventy-something one-hour episodes. I don’t plan to rush through it and it won’t be a first viewing priority, but I think getting through it will make me somehow a better person. This is also true of the Bible and the complete works of William Shakespeare, but have you seen how long those are?

Between now and who knows when, I will use this space to write occasional responses to my Trek viewing. Just a heads-up.