Is Watching Star Trek The Animated Seres Torture?
KC recently said to me, “Watching Star Trek The Animated Series sounds like torture…” Well, it hasn’t been that bad. Of course, it’s not really good, either. At least it’s amusing. Though, I do seem to be having difficulty finding time to watch the episodes – and they’re only about 24 minutes long! …Maybe I’m doing that on purpose?
Watched this week
The Terratin Incident
This episode? Zero sense. The Enterprise is headed towards a “burnt out supernova” and they get a strange message with the word “terratin.” Because they received it twice, Kirk concludes that it must be intentional, because nothing in nature repeats with regularity or anything, so they go to investigate. Suddenly, everyone starts glowing, and we learn that Bones keeps lab animals like “gossamer mice” (which happen to be transparent) and glowy “halo fish.” But then the crew starts shrinking! Gasp! Bones explains that, in organic matter the space between the molecules is contracting, and their weight remains the same because they’re retaining the same number of atoms. What? No. At this point the crew is crawling all over their work stations; Sulu falls off a console and breaks his leg and Nurse Chapel falls into an aquarium. Kirk decides to beam down to the planet anyway, and discovers that the transporter solved his problem. But he also sees tiny little structures, which they beam aboard, and notice a bunch of tiny people! They are descendants of the colonists who set out to settle Terra Ten. Kirk decides to relocate the colonists away from whatever spacial anomaly (ding!) is causing the shrinkage, and says that in a few generations, the genetic trait will be gone. So apparently the space between your molecules is a genetic trait. Maybe that’s why the transporter doesn’t fix them, too.
The Ambergris Element
Okay, the surface of a planet completely covered in water because of seismic/tectonic activity? That’s a cool premise. Too bad there was a weird Atlantis-y story. Also, do the ships scanners only sometimes work? Or just not work underwater? Because how to they not pick up on all the life on that planet?! Anyway, a sea monster attacks their sea shuttle, and Kirk and Spock go missing. When they’re found, 4 days later, it appears that they’ve been made “aquatic,” with webbed hands and gills, etc. They go looking for the people that changed them, to find out how to be changed back, and find a race of mer-aliens who are really, really prejudiced against “air breathers.” Kirk, of course, convinces them to disregard their own social mores and culture in order to help him, and some of them even decide to move back to the surface. But they promise to remain friends. Oh! And the Enterprise is going to “change the epicenter of the quakes” so future ones don’t hurt this settlement. Sure.
The Slaver Weapon
Really? There was a ruling race in the galaxy called “Slavers?” Okay. The Slavers created a status box that basically holds it contents out of time. The
cat people Kzinti are convinced that this recently discovered box holds the most powerful weapon ever known! They’re kind of right. The Kzinti also hate vegetarians and women – they kind of remind me of the Ferengi. Anyway, this weapon has a ton of settings – and each setting changed the shape of the weapon! – but only one that seems to be beyond current technologies, and that required voice recognition or something, and will not work for the cat people. Spock anthropomorphizes the weapon, but in an actually interesting way – if the holder doesn’t know the access codes and doesn’t know how the weapon works, it must have fallen into the hands of the enemy. Kind of like how an iPhone will erase all your content if your passcode is entered wrong 3 times. Unrelated: Did Shatner have this episode off? Was Kirk even in this episode? It was late and I was tired.
The Eye of the Beholder
The Enterprise goes looking for the lost 6-person special contact crew that’s gone missing. They beam down and the planet is weird, go figure. While trying to contact the missing crew, they head in the direction of a signal that “must be” from them. That’s when we learn that no one knows what a kilometer is, because Kirk says “we better pick up the pace” when they have 1.1 km to go. (1.1km is about 0.68m – a 10 minute walk or less for most people) They are suddenly grabbed by giant pink slugs and taken to what they immediately conclude is a zoo full of alien lifeforms. Even though Spock attempts to reach out to the slug creatures telepathically and says he can’t communicate with them, he doesn’t an excellent job throughout the episode of knowing exactly what they’re doing and thinking. To no one’s surprise, Kirk outsmarts the aliens, while making friends with them, and gets everyone out of a sticky situation. What else do we learn from this episode? Zoos are bad. Contact teams are inept. Some crews have their Satrfleet insignia on the opposite side of their uniforms. Majel has given up trying to manipulate the sound of her voice at all. And Kirk can outsmart any alien, no matter how much more advanced it is.
This episode has all the makings of a heist – a bunch of aliens all chose for their expertise going after something that was stolen. I’m still not clear on what Kirk’s an expert in, though – overacting? And if these other space cats (or maybe the space eagle? It’s unclear) don’t get their “soul of Alar” back, they’re going to declare “a holy war on the galaxy.” Oh boy. So they head off to a “mad planet” to look for a glowy gymnastics ribbon that has magical powers. Tchar, the eagle guy, starts flying – I don’t know why that wasn’t happening the whole time. Then Kirk starts climbing a temple. Then they somehow figure out that Tchar is the one who stole the glowy ribbon in the first place? I don’t know. I didn’t really care. There were more flying purple dragon things. That’s like the 4th time I’ve seen those in TAS. Also, Tchar has way to many joints in his legs. He has knees that bend like ours, and also knees that bend like a cat’s, and it was freaking me out. Also, his punishment is to be “cured of his madness.” Basically, I have no idea what I watched.
The Time Trap
Instead of watching this, just go watch Voyager’s “The Void” – it’s a much better episode. Basically, it’s that, but in this void, time passes differently on the inside and everyone gets along. Except that the Enterprise ends up there with a Klingon ship and they both want out. So they decide to work together, but just this once. And the Klingons try to sabotage the Enterprise, but another Majel-character is apparently a seer and warns them just in time. Spock throws the bomb out a very convenient airlock, and both ships escape the time trap. And then the episode just ends. No confronting the Klingons, no follow-up on the sabotage. Kirk says that the “most important thing is out there.” Oh, and there’s a Klingon lady with an afro.
Remember how optimistic I was after the first handful of episodes that I watched? Yeah, that ended pretty quickly. They get really rough. And weird. And confusing. But, on a positive note, they’re definitely Star Trek. There are some very Trek themes, even if they’re presented weirdly. Most notably those of cooperation and harmony, and the idea that humans are really a “young” race in the grand scheme of the galaxy, but that we’re growing and learning. And thus, Star Trek‘s hopeful message for the future. My hopeful message for the future is that I am almost done with this project!