Random Trek thoughts

9 Jun

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.

8 Responses to “Random Trek thoughts”

  1. selenak June 9, 2007 at 4:14 pm #

    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!”
    Sadly, that’s the impression one gets from this episode. More questionable ethics on the sexiness of “forceful” men to come once we get around to Khan, I think. Where Expert of Female Psychology Spock strikes again and explains the girl of the episode’s fascination with Khan by the fact he’s not a modern liberal wuss but a dominating macho man…
    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.
    Great trivia: and he’s played by none other than Mark “Sarek” Lenard.
    TOS always had the Romulans as the “honorable” enemy and the Klingons as the dishonorable one, while TNG, of course, with Worf on the bridge reversed these positions…

  2. neshaffer June 9, 2007 at 4:20 pm #

    And yet it’s quiet, cerebral Spock who gets all the fawning female attention, while most women paired with macho-man Kirk have a look on their face like they’re constipated.

  3. chaos_by_design June 9, 2007 at 5:33 pm #

    You’re making me want to watch the old series again. Damn you.
    I really liked Balance of Terror. That was one of the better ones.
    Oh and re the evil eyeliner of doom: Also Angelus is the one who wears leather pants. I don’t think Angel ever wears leather pants. Can’t remember if he wore them when he was pretending to be evil or not though.

  4. neshaffer June 9, 2007 at 5:46 pm #

    There’s a hilarious scene in early season 3 where Angel is wearing leather pants after he’s been falsely accused of killing the snitch Merle. He looks so out of place in them, which is weird, considering they suit Angelus to a “tee”.

  5. cactuswatcher June 9, 2007 at 7:19 pm #

    Balance of Terror – There is a relation to the 1957 movie The Enemy Below (At least they didn’t steal the plot for the ep “The Enemy Within!”) The big differences in the movie were that the German commander (played by the Danish Curt Jurgens) stole the show, and he saved his crew when the offer was made. Obviously it was made at a time when the hatred of Germany as opposed to Nazi Germany had cooled off.

  6. darbyunlimited June 9, 2007 at 7:20 pm #

    I’d have to say that Trek was a step back from The Twilight Zone or even The Outer Limits in terms of message, but it was a new attempt to meld sci-fi with established and popular tv concepts – it was sold as Wagon Train in space – and that seems fairly groundbreaking, even if it did just lead to The Bionic Man

  7. neshaffer June 9, 2007 at 7:32 pm #

    Both TTZ and TOL had a horror element to them that didn’t make them as pure sci-fi as Trek. And though those two shows were artistically better (better written, better thought out), they didn’t have the cultural impact Trek ended up having.

  8. neshaffer June 9, 2007 at 7:33 pm #

    That was the film.
    (And also a wacky random reference Lorne made in “Judgment.”)

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