In another 528 minutes of watching time, give or take, I will finally be able to say with certainty that I have seen all of Star Trek. I could probably even say that now, and there would be few people that would argue with me. Even official Trek outlets will refer to “the five different series” and kind of ignore the Saturday morning cartoon. And there’s even some debate among Trekkies about whether TAS is cannon. Even DC Fontana said, “For whatever reason, Gene Roddenberry apparently didn’t take The Animated Series seriously (no pun intended), although we worked very hard to do original Star Trek stories and concepts at all times in the animated series.” (source)
Here’s how I feel about it: It’s the same characters as TOS, performed by the same actors, written and produced by the same people. Not only does that make it Star Trek, it makes it part of TOS. And therefore part of The TOS Project.
And, personally, if I’m gonna claim to have watched all of Star Trek, that means ALL of Star Trek. Let’s do this.
I’m really excited to get into these episodes. By all accounts, TAS is hilariously ridiculous. I’m into that. But I’m also really excited about the storytelling and the aliens. Because it’s really expensive for live-action sci-fi to do non-humanoid aliens really well, so most sci-fi tv doesn’t even try. TOS tried, with varying degrees of success. But, when you’re working with animation, you can do anything! What would be the most complex special effect doesn’t cost any more than just drawing more humans, so none of those barriers exist. So I’m really hoping to see a lot of that. Also, there’s a cat lady.
Watched this week
*For TAS, I’m returning to the blogging style I used for the TOS episodes. But, instead of doing a summary and then a reaction, I’m just going to do it all in one.
Beyond the Farthest Star
This episode sure has a lot of plot for a 24-minute cartoon. The Enterprise picks up radio signals and is pulled into orbit around a dying star because of a very strong gravity field, where they find an insect-themed pod ship, also destroyed. They beam over, with their personal shields and magnetic boots, apparently, and learn that the ship had been taken over by an entity and crew preferred their ship destroyed rather than used by this malicious alien. Also, something is draining the power from all of their instruments. When they return to the Enterprise, the entity somehow joined them in the transporter beam, and takes over the computer. It wants to leave this dead star and spread throughout the galaxy. Kirk and Spock decide to slingshot the ship around the star to get enough speed to escape the gravity well, and Spock calculates the trajectory in his head, so the entity doesn’t get wind of their plan. Kirk is just hoping that the entity will become frightened when they approach the star, and leave the ship. Which is far too risky, IMO, but of course it works for JTK. And then they just leave. And the poor entity starts crying about how lonely he is. That’s cold, Kirk.
Apparently, the Enterprise can just go back and visit the Guardian of Forever whenever they want. So, on one of these trips, while Kirk and Spock are elsewhere in time, the Guardian replays part of Spock’s history, and because he’s not there to go back and save himself, no one remembers him when he comes back. It doesn’t really make any sense. Especially because he then goes back in time and saves himself anyway. And everything essentially turns out the same, except that young Spock’s pet dies. And Kirk’s all, “NBD – it’s just your childhood pet.” Again, not cool, Kirk. I think that I’m supposed to take away that maybe Spock is now more compassionate because of that change, but that’s kind of a stretch.
One of Our Planets Is Missing
Three episodes in and that alien in Chekov’s chair finally gets a name! So, this gas cloud is heading towards a planet, and envelopes the Enterprise, where the crew discovered that it’s a living organism… because they’re in it’s intestines. Made of antimatter. And Scotty is having a hard time with the engines because he needs antimatter, but they can’t touch the antimatter, because the ship will explode. And the cloud is heading towards a planet. So they locate it’s “brain,” Uhura patches the electrical signals through the universal translator, and Spock reaches out to it psychically, convincing it not to destroy the planet, but go back to where it came from. And… starve? (You know, I get that the crew is trying to preserve human life, but I think sometimes they forget that they might be lower on the food chain?) This was weird.
The Lorelei Signal
I read the Netflix description of this episode and immediately rolled my eyes – “The men of the Enterprise are victimized by a race of beautiful women who stay immortal by draining the life force of men.” Yeah, it’s as unfortunate as you think it would be. When Kirk shows up and meets “head female”
Zoot Theela and there’s a room full of sirens… Just no. Redeeming qualities? Well, Uhura takes command of the ship! And assembles an all-lady security team. And refers to herself as “senior lieutenant.” And then it’s as if that’s all forgotten in the next act. And none of the women take any action without being ordered to do so by Spock. So the men are still solving the problem, and using the women as their tools/instruments. Also, the transporters now have age-defying properties, FYI.
More Tribbles, More Troubles
Guess who’s back! Durango Jones! He almost strikes me as the precursor to the Ferengi. Anyway, he’s been selling tribbles on a Klingon planet. But these tribbles can’t breed. When they eat, they just get fatter, but he did nothing to limit their growth. Klingons hate tribbles, etc etc. What gets me about this episode (and this is a problem throughout TOS as well) is that the Enterprise is supposed to be transporting grain to people that really need it. The tribbles eat the grain, the Klingons show up, you “throw tribbles at the Klingons”, and problem solved! Except that now there’s no grain to take to those starving people. Remember them? Far too frequently is the Enterprise carrying cargo or transporting diplomats that would save a civilization or prevent a war, they encounter a problem along the way, use what/whoever they’re transporting to solve that problem, and completely forget about their original mission. It bugs me.
I was warned that The Animated Series was “for the kiddos.” But I have to be honest – I don’t really get that feeling. At least with these first five episodes, there is a lot of plot shoved into 23 or 24 minutes. And the writing feels like any TOS episode – they’re still using all the technobabble. And even thought Spock explains things, like the human digestive track, he does that on TOS, too. It’s really feels as if these were intended to be live action stories that were just left over after TOS was canceled, so they got crammed into the cartoon. We’ll see if I feel that way after I get through a few more episodes.
What I do find hilarious, though, is that these are directed as if they were live action. The image will cut to Kirk or Spock for a reaction shot, and the face just doesn’t change. So there are all these “reaction shots” of essentially still images, and I laughed every time (I noticed it the most in “One of Our Planets is Missing”).
Also, the theme song throws me off every time. And where the heck is Chekov? Hmmm.
Anyway, that’s all for this week. Remember: Spay and neuter your tribbles.