I complain about ST’s regressiveness by contemporary standards, but this show was ground-breaking in its day. Back in 1964, when the show was first pitched to the networks, sci-fi was commonly thought of as the province of pre-pubescent boys–the stuff of Saturday matinees, comic books, and serialized periodicals that got stuffed in with the kiddy mags.
Star Trek gave sci-fi a decidedly adult face by putting it in a military setting any World War II vet would have recognized (well, except for the women, and the inevitable cheesiness). And it had a mixed-race, mixed gender crew in the days of pre-second-wave feminism and segregation.
So credit where credit is due.
Now onto my random comments:
New drinking game. Take a sip for every time Spock is insulted with racist slurs about his heritage, his ears, the color of his blood, his coldbloodness/lack of emotion, or his (nevertheless) mysterious sex-assness. Two drinks if he has a reply to it that can be interpreted as an emotional response.
2: “Where No Man Has Gone Before”
We start with one of my personal favorites. ‘Cause it features ESP, which is COOL. It’s the superpower I’d have if I could have only one superpower.
Transporters are “materializers” (they become “transporters” in ep 4)
The little blonde lab tech Gary Mitchell “aimed” at Jim Kirk at the Academy (that he almost married): Carol Marcus?
3: “The Corbomite Maneuver”
“United *Earth* Ship Enterprise.” No references to the Federation or Starfleet yet. And Spock is the only alien on board, which nobody fails to remind him. Over. And over.
But who says Vulcans don’t have a sense of humor, though? Spock suggests to a jumpy, inexperienced Ensign that he have his adrenal gland removed.
You know, people talk about cell phones and floppy disks and how prescient Star Trek was in having things like this back in the mid-60’s, but I think they forget the fact that these more contemporary gadgets were invented by nerds who spent a big chunk of their youth watching Star Trek.
4: “Mudd’s Women”
Star Trek was pitched to the networks as a “Wagon Train to the stars.” This ep was a good example of that, fitting a plot line out of an old Western, complete with its 19th-century sensibilities, to a science-fiction series set in the 23rd. “Wiving settlers”. Yeah. Whatev.
Question: if these “lithium miners” are so rich, why do they live in filthy little Quonset huts with no running water?
5: “The Enemy Within”
An intriguing premise ends up being fatally flawed by its arbitrary bifurcation of the human personality into strong/decisive/evil/monstrous vs. weak/indecisive/compassionate/rational. As if strength *must* come from our “negative side.” Oh, but it must be true! ‘Cause Spock said it!
And one other rant. Evil!Kirk’s behavior is depicted as unquestionably wrong right up until the very last moment of the episode, when Yeoman Rand is teased, “the imposter had some interesting qualities, didn’t he?” After everything she’s been through, she’s supposed to giggle and nod and say, “Oh, yes, it was so *sexy* that he assaulted and brutalized me!”
Oh, but that can’t be wrong, either, ’cause Spock said it!
The evil eye-liner of doom! Evil!Kirk is differentiated from Good!Kirk by a faint bit of eye-liner around William Shatner’s eyes. They did the same thing with BtVS Season 2 Angelus. Which is why I got totally fooled in “Enemies” when Angel pretended to be Angelus, because they put the Evil Eye-liner of Doom! on him again.
6: “The Man Trap”
Another drinking game item: drink every time Uhura is in the navigator’s position, as she is in the opening scene here (just don’t get me started on how unprofessional they make her act in her next scene just to show what an insensitive clod Spock is).
They hadn’t invented the red-shirt trope yet. Several extras beam down and die!randomly!, but they have blue shirts and yellow shirts.
7: The Naked Time
Sometimes I absorb things from the television and never realize it. Like, for years I was constantly wording things in a way that was inadvertently quoting Cordelia on BtVS without realizing that I was even quoting anything. I also have this thing where I say, “You tell ’em. Explain to them.”
Turns out that’s a Sulu quote from this episode.
Another great moment: Sulu is whacked out and thinks he’s a swashbuckler. He grabs Uhura and says, “I’ll protect you, fair maiden!” She shoves him away and says, “Sorry, neither!”
8: Charlie X
Still “United Earth Space P-Something A-Something” (probe agency?) instead of Federation or Star Fleet.
Spock sure got a lot of attention from the ladies in these early episodes, which just proves Kirk wasn’t the real heart-throb draw no matter how much macho posturing and girl-smooching they had him doing.
The moments in the little mess hall they’ve had so far this season, with 3-D chess games, conversation, dinner coming out of a slot in the wall, and of course, Uhura singing. Very humanizing.
9: Balance of Terror
Another good one. This one introduces the Romulans. They are not a new race to the “Earthers”, but no Earth person has ever seen a Romulan, and so are surprised to see they look like Vulcans.
This raises the prejudice of one of Kirk’s Upstart Young Officers.
Another Star Trek trope: the upstart young officer who brazenly questions the Captain’s orders on the bridge, usually because Kirk’s not being aggressive or proactive enough for Upstart Young Officer’s taste.
The culture of the Romulans is presented as very Ancient Rome-like, but the Romulan commander is himself very sympathetic, a military officer sent out to conquer for his Praetor, caught between a distaste for the pointlessness of it and his duty.
The plot is based on some submarine WWII movie, I don’t remember which one.
10: What are Little Girls Made Of?
I want an Andrea sex-bot. Srsly.
The writers really need to find a plot point that doesn’t involve doubling Kirk. Double the Kirk =/= double the fun.