These Are The Voyages-Star Trek TOS Remastered and Reconsidered


#824

I saw this last week but forgot to comment. You’re right in that the tone of the episode helped, but boy as a time travel episode I was confused as hell by the end of the episode at their proposed solution. So the people that saw the enterprise and knew it was from the future, they couldn’t send them back. So their solution at the end was to first go back in time again (so now there are two Enterprises?) and beam in the versions of these people that they have on board, and by doing so, these people won’t remember their time aboard the Enterprise anymore?

What? This is the most confusing use of time travel logic I’ve ever seen in any book/tv show/movie about time travel. I just didn’t get it at all. I don’t even understand their intent enough to criticize it.

I watched this one last night. This was a really amusing episode to me. Not just the fact that the jettison pod button is right there for Kirk to use anytime he wants, but the way the old timey lawyer wants the judges to be brought to the Enterprise. And then after that in the next scene they’re all squeezed into the Enterprise’s tiny bridge, which made me laugh out loud. “Old Timey lawyer, I can’t believe you talked us into this”.

I have to admit, when Jim saw his old girlfriend, and she warned him about the prosecutor’s plan, and he asked her to be his attorney, and she said she was busy, I absolutely missed what that meant until later when she admitted she was the prosecutor. That was freaking brilliant. Such a great moment in the episode, and the surprise on Kirk’s face was wonderful, and reflected the surprise on mine.

Definitely one of the better episodes on TOS that we’ve seen so far.


#825

Another excellent episode. I had no idea that the idea of the Purge came from a Star Trek episode. Also the blissed out population. And also a hive mind being controlled by a single person.

I loved that Kirk wore a jacket that was purple. Dark purple, but still, wearing a purple jacket was just a brave choice, and I loved him for it. I need to find a jacket of that color, I bet that would look good with everything.

Earlier this week we had a discussion where I said “Oh my god, First Contact is so bad, you guys”, and some of you replied “TNG in general is bad”, and I was thinking: Really? So far in this re-watch of TOS, where are the episodes that people loved so much that they stand up to the best of the TNG episodes? I mean, it’s not exactly fair to compare the worst material from TNG (the movies) to the best material from TOS (probably the movies).

But I have to admit that after watching Return of the Archons, I’m finally getting to the point where I can nod my head, and go, okay, I can finally see why someone would prefer TOS over TNG. We’re finally getting to the good stuff here that’s fairly thought provoking and exciting, like TNG is at its best.

One final note about this episode: In the excellent scene where the crowd turns against Kirk and his crew all at once, they use their phasors in a wide beam mode to stun multiple people in the crowd at the same time. Have we ever seen this use of the phasors before (or since)? That seems like it would be really useful.

I watched this last night. The first time I saw this episode, back in the late 90s in preparation for watching Star Trek II, I thought it was kind of cheesy. But on this full re-watch of the TV series, I’m on the same kind of wavelength as the people watching back in the 60s, and I have to admit, I really dug this episode a lot. There’s something I really love about the idea of Ricardo Montalban’s Khan being so rugged and charismatic that he’s able to seduce Crewman Riley (or whatever her name was, if Kirk can’t be bothered to learn it, it’s not worth remembering) even when he’s asleep. I found that really cheesy in the past, but I don’t know, it was really interesting watching those scenes now.

I especially loved the scene where she comes back to Khan, hoping for another rendezvous with him, but still wants to play it coy. And he pushes her away, saying, look, either you want more or you don’t, stop playing these games. And when she asks for me, he asks her to help him take the ship. Now that’s a confident man right there! I really loved these scenes.

The episode also ends on a really great note, with Kirk exiling Khan’s crew to a hostile planet, presenting him with the challenge of overcoming the odds. And Spock noting that it would be fascinating to return in a hundred years to see what would become of the seed that Kirk has sown.

Once again, I can find flaws within each episode, but overall the show is really just clicking week after week, telling some great stories now.


#826

Well look at that! All caught up - gold star for Rock8man.

One more thing I wanted to mention about Space Seed, but I kind of didn’t want to dominate the discussion but what the heck, its week is almost up - I liked that in addition to the other stuff going on this episode, it also fleshes out the character of McCoy a little bit. I remember from the original Motion Picture, and then in the reboot with Karl Urban playing the character, they had presented McCoy as being a little, I don’t know, maybe luddite isn’t the word but at least somewhat distrustful of technology. Definitely reluctant to use transporters, and having his “atoms scattered across the galaxy.” I did not remember that they had presented this aspect of McCoy all the way back in the first season, but here it is!

Also, McCoy shows his spine in this one, winning a stare-down with Khan, who has a scalpel at his throat. Even suggesting he sever the carotid artery, and its location. Obviously McCoy is gambling that Khan is not a mindless killer and it turns out Khan respects the courage he shows. It can be easy to forget that the crew of these ships are facing the unknown and potentially instant death every day out on the edges of known space - it is the Enterprise’s mission to seek out new planets and civilizations, after all, and that carries its dangers. Good to see that others besides Kirk get to show what they’re made of.


#827

I was perusing the list of episodes on Netflix and it’s interesting: it turns out that Season 2 is where the vast majority of the episodes that made me a staunch lifelong TOS fan are. Season 1 has some good stuff, as we are seeing, but the series was still finding its feet.

Season 3 of course, … Season 3… eh, …

Season 2 is really the heart of what TOS fans like me remember.

Season 2 is going to be interesting when our intrepid thread pilots reach that point.


#828

We’ve still got some good ones ahead in the second half of S1, including an episode that is generally agreed to be the best of TOS, but yeah season two is probably the most solid overall. And I’ll worry about s3 when we get to it - I mean come on, it’s not all bad!


#829

Every time I watch the series, I enter it thinking S1 is the best. Then, upon watching, I am reminded that it is the second half of S1 and all S2 that are the high point, as the show needs time to get its “sea legs” in the 1st half of S1. S3 also is always much better than I expect/remember when I rewatch it.

It’s legendary for a reason…


#830

“A Taste of Armageddon”

This is my new favorite episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. The premise is something that I’ve never quite seen in science fiction, which is surprising since this aired in 1967, and we’ve had many years of science fiction TV and movies since then. The Enterprise is on a mission to establish peace with a space-faring civilization. The USS Valiant went there and never returned. When Kirk and his crew get there, the aliens know enough about Federation procedures to issue a warning to stay away from the system using a Federation code. But Kirk is ordered to go in anyway by the ambassador.

What follows is a really interesting setup. Two civilizations are at war with one another, but only in simulated battles. They fly simulated planes and drop simulated bombs. After years of war with one another they have decided to save their infrastructure and just simulate war instead. But for it to have real consequences, the individuals in the bombed areas report voluntarily for disintegration. So millions of people die every year in the simulated war.

I’m sure dive will cover the good parts of the character moments in this episode, as there are a lot of them. Scotty gets to Captain the Enterprise in Kirk’s absence. Kirk is daring and bold as usual, and Spock is very efficient and effective. Even the red-shirts in this episode don’t die and are all actually super useful. There’s even an emissary/ambassador that gives some foolish orders that Scotty ignores, but even this gentleman is treated fairly later in the episode and proves useful. It’s all very well written and carried out, and is excellent all around.

What I really want to talk about, though, is this concept of a simulated war. Kirk theorizes that the reason the two civilizations are locked in perpetual war for 500 years is that they’ve gotten rid of the dirty consequences of war. Everything is conducted in a neat and clean manner. The war is fought on computers, and people go in an orderly way into disintegration chambers. When confronted with actual destruction, and actual people dying and bleeding in the streets, the horrors of war would force the sides to sue for peace.

What’s fascinating to me is that this was kind of a prescient episode in a way. This was 1967, that this episode aired. The Vietnam War’s draft lottery started in December 1969. And when more and more Americans were drafted and fed into the war machine, the consequences of the war were felt more and more at home. In a way, our modern wars lately have been closer to the simulated wars from this episode. The draft is gone, and there’s less and less connection between ordinary everyday Americans living their lives and the wars being fought by the military on their behalf.

This episode kind of lays all that bare in a science fiction scenario, explaining in a different context and allowing the audience to think about the concept and mull it over in a different way. It truly is one of the best aspects of science fiction to me. It lets us contemplate deep issues of our time but viewed through the lens of fictional stories that reflect different aspects of our own times. And this episode is masterfully done.

If I was grading these episodes, this would be my first A+. Well done.


#831

“We’re human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit that we’re killers, but we’re not going to kill today. That’s all it takes. Knowing that we won’t kill today.”

All right, as mentioned by Rock8man, we’re kicking off discussion of “A Taste of Armageddon” this week. I’ll skip some of the normal recap since he’s captured quite a bit of that, and I’ll add my agreement that this was a great little episode. Very little goofy stuff that sometimes creeps in around the edges, just a tight thought experiment. I also agree that it’s an idea that I haven’t seen expressed in this form, though it does contain elements I’ve seen in other stories. Requiring citizens to report to scheduled death chambers reminded me a bit of Logan’s Run and the idea of maintaining a calculated retaliation during wartime made me think of Failsafe/Doctor Strangelove, in a way. But the idea of a simulated “war” with no actual destruction, just calculated deaths that must then be followed through on, that seems like a novel idea.

And that’s what I mainly hope for from good science fiction, is presentation of interesting ideas in interesting ways. Sure, I love to see sweet looking starships swooping through space as much as the next guy, but I really love to dig into a story with an idea, and this episode has one. It’s presented in such a way that, like Spock, you can understand how these two planets arrived where they did, with the war becoming almost comfortable. And Kirk’s resolution, to destroy the computers that waged the war, possibly returning “real” weapons and the horrors of war, seems like the best way to shake these people out of their complacency. The whole thing holds together and plays out really well. There have been a couple of instances so far where I feel like Star Trek had some interesting ideas but the execution didn’t really come together - in this case it knocked them both out of the park. I’d rate this one with “Balance of Terror” as my favorite of the season so far.

Other items of note: as second officer of the Enterprise, it stands to reason that Mr Scott would assume command if Kirk and Spock were off the ship, but this is the first time we see it happen. His behavior, standing firm to the ambassador’s requests and not dropping the shields until the captain orders, also makes sense from what we’ve seen and what we know of Scotty. I liked that he had McCoy on the bridge to bounce off of, we haven’t seen those two together much.

Spock’s ploy of telling one of the guards that there was a multi-legged creature on his shoulder just before putting his own hand there to deliver the nerve pinch - carefully skirting his inability to lie?

Also, I recognized Barbara Babcock as Mea 3, mainly from just about every television series ever, seems like. Checking her IMDB credits I see she’s been on stuff like Frazier, Hill Street Blues and Dallas.


#832

Nerd Trivia: Doohan worked with the writers on this scene so that it mirrored something from when he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Artillery. A visiting colonel ordered him to fire his battery at a target during a training exercise, but Doohan realized that doing so would probably injure or kill several of his men, so he refused, saying, “No sir, I will not.” The officer threatened to court-martial him (as in the episode), but he stood his ground until his senior officers heard about it and managed to diffuse the situation.

Secondary Nerd Trivia: Doohan was shot by a nervous Canadian sentry the first night after D-Day while he was checking on his men’s positions. He was hit six times and one shot blew off the middle finger on his right hand, something that they hid throughout the filming of the series.

Kind of like Shatner’s hair, which was lost to an enemy sniper at Iwo Jima (<-- not an entirely true fact).


#833

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#834

That’s cool, I knew Doohan had lost a finger, that’s one of those bits of trivia that always seems to turn up, but I didn’t know the circumstances.


#835

Yes, a very good episode, perhaps the best so far.

A couple of other comments:

First, the Prime Directive once again takes a beating. What Kirk needed was to get his team and his ship away. He didn’t really need to make them stop their war. Are there any episodes where they actually comply with the Prime Directive?

Second, on this:

Is it really established that Spock can’t lie? I know they said that once, but I’m pretty sure he’s lied a lot when circumstances required it.


#836

I thought the Prime Directive was mostly a first contact rule. I get the impression that this was not a first contact situation. But that isn’t outright stated, so maybe not.

I guess that depends on how you define “established”. Spock has said several times that he cannot lie. Now, that could be all be rhetorical, like in Wrath of Khan when Spock is asked about lying after abetting Kirk in his ploy with Khan, he argues, “I exaggerated.” So yeah, Spock probably gives himself some wiggle room.


#837

It is outright stated in a way. The USS Valiant already went there and was presumably destroyed.

Plus the civilization has already populated two worlds in their solar system, and are perhaps warp capable already, so the Prime Directive would not apply. Either way, even if USS Valiant had the Prime Directive to follow, I got the impression that they sent this ambassador precisely because the cat was already out of the bag, since the ship never returned. So they were now going there to establish peaceful relations with these guys.


#838

Spock has said, on at least one occasion, that Vulcans don’t lie. OTOH he is only half Vulcan.


#839

I forgot about that. I guess it must have fallen victim to the same wargames the Enterprise did, but with a worse outcome.


#840

That is stated in the episode, by the Emeniar VII leader, something along the lines of “It’s happened again”, when the Enterprise is “hit” in the “attack”.

The Prime Directive wanders and mutates (anyone ever read an official copy? 🧐), but this culture (spacefaring) pretty much doesn’t fall into the various circumstances it’s brought up as a Deus ex machina in this series, the others, and some films.


#841

I mean, yes, it does (mutates and wanders). But there have to be rules for us fans to follow, otherwise everything is just “whims of the writers” and science fiction isn’t as fun to follow if everything is just at the whims of the writers. Then you get to Fantasy, like Star Wars.

But then fans got real upset at the whims of Rian Johnson and the rules of space travel he came up with for the latest Star Wars movie, so maybe Fantasy can’t be too internally inconsistent either. (Though it doesn’t bother me personally as much).


#842

I don’t disagree. What I am saying is “show me them rules”.

It certainly is a principle that almost is the fabric of the franchise.

But specific rules? Hmmm…

Da mihi factum, dabo tibi ius


#843

A good article using just franchise episodes as canon: