Ah, and we come to the end of a project that was almost a full year long – my first TOS Project post was published on July 13, 2014. And in approximately 49 weeks, I’ve watched and blogged about all 79 regularly broadcast episodes, plus the original pilot, plus 6 movies, plus the 16 episodes that make up the first season of The Animated Series. And today, we finish it all up with the 6 episodes that make up Season 2…
Watched this week
The Pirates of Orion
Pronounced ORE-ee-on. Not oh-RYE-an. Weird. Anyway, Spock collapses – oh noes! Bones says that the crew has been affected by “choriocytosis” which affects how the blood delivers oxygen throughout the body, and it’s deadly for Vulcans because of their copper-based blood. (However, as far as I can tell, the prefix “chorio” refers to the fetal membrane, so make of that what you will.) And there’s no cure! Except that there is. It’s just on a planet that the Enterprise wouldn’t reach before Spock dies. So they arrange a rendezvous with another ship, and act like it’s the most brilliant idea they’ve ever had. But when they get to the rendezvous point, the ship isn’t there! So they look around and find the Huron (which I thought they’d called the
Patinkin Potemkin earlier) and its surviving crew, then chase after the Orion ship – through a field of explosive asteroids – to get the cure back. Kirk and the Orion captain are macho at each other, then they fight, then the Orion tries to blow Kirk up, and when Kirk wins, he talks the Orions out of killing themselves. And for once, they’ll actually be standing trial for the attack on another starship. Also, Spock lives.
Commander Bem from the planet Pandro is on board the Enterprise to act as a “Federation Observer” on behalf of his home government. According to Kirk, he’s spent the last several missions locked away in his quarters, but has suddenly insisted that he join the landing party beaming down to a newly discovered planet. Kirk’s already annoyed, and then Bem runs off and starts stirring up trouble, so Kirk and Spock chase after him. And apparently Bem’s body can come apart – and also float. Spock explains this by deducing that Bem is a “colony creature,” but that doesn’t explain the floating. Anyway, the “aborigines” (ugh) capture the 3 of them, and in comes the obligatory energy being! She’s upset that the Enterprise crew is interfering with her “children.” Kirk apologizes to the energy being, saying, “We’re all children, too” and they are easily forgiven. But Bem wants to kill himself (or separate his parts? not sure) because he believes he failed. So, the entity gives after-school-special speech about learning from our mistakes, and everyone goes home. No harm, no foul.
The Practical Joker
Right away, I noticed that this episode has a much earlier stardate than others in TAS, and I’m wondering if it was supposed to call back to TOS’s “Tomorrow is Yesterday,” but I don’t think so. Anyway, the Enterprise passes through an energy cloud (surprise!) to get away from some Romulans and the computer starts playing practical jokes on the crew. Bones, Uhura, and Sulu go on a weird almost-date to the
holodeck rec room, and the computer locks them in. Kirk confuses M’Ress with the voice of the computer (haha). Scotty says, “Our gravity just reversed polarity” (no). Kirk’s laundry has “Kirk is a Jerk” on the back. The air is replaced with nitrous oxide – don’t worry, Spock fixes that one. It’s truly ridiculous. And then the Romulans come back! But the computer has control of the ship! So Kirk pretends to be afraid of the energy cloud, so the ship will take itself back through. Lo and behold, that returns the ship’s computer to normal functions, and the Romulans now have to deal with “the practical joker.”
The Enterprise is dropping off some medical supplies on Dramia, and the Dramians thank Kirk and then immediately arrest McCoy for mass murder. Wait, what? Turns out, lots of people he treated 19 years prior have died, and it’s all his fault. So Kirk leaves McCoy behind and goes to Dramia II to investigate, where he finds a survivor of the plague, who claims that McCoy saved his life! They gather him up and head back to Dramia, but on the way, everyone on the ship – including the survivor – starts turning blue, which is the first sign of the plague. Oh, except Spock. Spock’s immune to this one. So Spock breaks McCoy out of jail to he can try to save the crew. But it’s Kirk, near death, who figures out that the colors they’re all changing are similar to a “spacial aurora” (not a thing) that the ship encountered. And somehow, that allows Bones to develop a cure, and everyone lives! And no one cares that he broke out of jail.
How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth
The Enterprise is investigating a signal from a mysterious probe, and encounters a giant winged snake alien who claims to be the ancient Mayan and Aztec god Kukulkan. Ensign Walking Bear seems to know all about him! So when Kukulkan transports the senior staff away from the ship, it’s lucky that he takes Walking Bear, too. Too bad he turns out not to be important at all. They end up somewhere that, they say, combines the architecture of several ancient Earth cultures, including Egyptian, Aztec, and Chinese. (No, Star Trek! Bad!) Just by chance, Kirk figures out how to signal Kukulkan, and the city disappears. That’s when Kirk and the gang realize they’re in a zoo. And Kukulkan wants to be worshiped. But Kirk gives an impassioned speech about how humans needed Kukulkan when they were “young” but now they’ve “grown up” and don’t need him anymore – basically the opposite of what he said 3 episodes ago. Meanwhile, Spock has figured out how to break Kukulkan’s hold on the ship (“Of course! The elasticity of the force field can respond in only one direction at a time.” Of course.), which angers him. So Kirk lets the electrically-charged Capellan Power Cat (really) out of it’s cage to cause a distraction. Kirk sedates the space cat, again tells Kukulkan that humans don’t need him anymore, and they leave.
The Counter-Clock Incident
Last episode, and possibly the most ridiculous of the bunch. The Enterprise sees a ship being pulled into a supernova (no), so they put a tractor beam on it to save it. But they end up being pulled through the supernova (no) and into a universe where time runs backwards (no) – even their children are born before they are! Not only is time running backwards, it seems to be passing faster, but only for our crew, because they’re getting younger by the minute! And then Spock makes the observation that they’ll all soon forget everything they know because, “Our brains are running backwards!” (Insert some Bianca Del Rio side-eye here.) Good thing they were transporting an old guy to his retirement dinner so he and Spock, who ages slower, can take command of the Enterprise while his wife babysits the rest of the crew. Anyway, Spock and
Old Guy Robert April (first captain of the Enterprise, according to this episode) work with the “anti-matter universe’s” (no) natives to figure out a way back. They get back, but everyone’s still young – To the transporter! That fixes everything! April and his wife briefly entertain the idea of staying young and living life over again, but decide against it. The good news, though, is that Starfleet has decided that they’ll no longer force April into retirement because age is just a number.
Watching these episodes has been an experience. I don’t think that there are many people out there – if any – that would defend The Animated Series on the grounds of it being objectively good. It’s really not. However, it’s definitely Star Trek, and has a place in the Star Trek history and cannon, IMO. You can clearly see many of Roddenberry’s favorite themes to explore (Humans are still children, energy beings, ancient gods are really aliens, and so on) strewn throughout these episodes. And, when you get past the poor animation, the lack of voice actors, and the overly confusing plots and get right down to the bones of the stories, The Animated Series can still ask the questions that make you think. My biggest complaint, overall story-wise, is that we never get any real information on M’Ress and Arex – I want to learn about the aliens! But TOS-era Trek was never that big on character development, anyway.
And now, with the completion of these 6 episodes, I have officially watched all of the [official] Star Trek there is to watch… and blogged about quite a bit of it. To quote animated Uhura, “After that ride, I could use some repairs.” (“The Practical Joker”)
But I have to admit it: I still like TNG the most.
Go in peace. Yes, go in peace.
You have learned much.