Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, May 25, 2015

Season Three Overview

I met a dude named Kahless last night.

Not this Kahless, but still pretty awesome. This brings the number of people I have met, with nerdy parents who give their kids epic names, up to five: I know a Trillian, a Merlin, a Paul Atreides, and an Elbereth. (Elbereth grew up with a boy whose parents also gave him an esoteric LotR name.)

It makes me sad because my legal name is super common.
Maybe I'll just start telling people that I'm Lady Archon instead. Like, outside of Starschmucks.

*******




So there were two things I was told most definitely would happen in season three, which didn't.

Myth #1: "Season three is absolutely the worst."
Myth busted: Actually, it was probably as balanced as the first two seasons, collectively. There were a few really good episodes, a lot of episodes that were just okay, and some really terrible ones. BUT, the awfulness of the bad ones was such that it ended up coloring the whole season.

Myth #2: "Season three is a blood-bath. Dead Reds everywhere."
Myth busted: Are you ready for those final numbers? Drum-roll, please...
Season one dead crew member count: 16
Season two: 27
Season three: 7
*Pac-Man death noise*
Not even close. Season three actually had the least number of casualties, and nowhere near the number of season two. Still, fifty crew member deaths over the course of four and a half years* sucks. Clearly the message being sent here is "Don't sign up for Starfleet, and if you do, don't get assigned to the Enterprise."

*Yep, you read that right. Three seasons, but five years, give or take a few months. In season one's pile-of-dog-crap "Shore Leave", the stardates reveal that they skipped a year and a half between that episode and the previous one. And the stardate calculator confirms that it was about four and a half years covered by TOS.

So let's get to reviewing season three's episodes.


Episodes that Didn't Suck As Much Award
AKA, The Command Gold Star Award

"The Enterprise Incident". The Enterprise is ordered by Starfleet to get a cloaking device off a Romulan ship. Spock is charged with pulling a "honeypot maneuver," ie, he has to seduce the female Romulan commander. Things go sideways when he and the commander actually fall for one another. 
This is the only "Spock romance" plot that I actually ship, and mostly because it's done well. Spock is not acting out of character at any point in time. It's made clear that he and the commander are both playing each other, but the sexual tension is subtle and well done, and when we reach the end of the episode, they admit that at some point, they each stopped pretending. You can tell they're both disappointed because a romance between a Romulan and a Vulcan (especially one in Starfleet) is just not possible in that political climate. This episode makes me want to slap all of the other episodes that contain "Spock romance" subplots, as this is the only one that works.


 "Plato's Stepchildren". I hated this episode. Like, really hated it. But the weird part of reviewing stuff is when you realize that that thing you hate is actually well-done, despite your hatred of it. For once, Kirk was not a giant douche-canoe, and the acting was pretty good. Also, I like that our intrepid trio stood up for a little person who was being exploited, and that Alexander recognized that gaining powers for himself was not the way to go.







"These Episodes Were Probably The Reason Star Trek Got The Axe" Awards
AKA, "Fuck This Episode"

While it's true that this season wasn't completely shit, the Command Gold Star to Expendable ratio is way skewed towards Expendable, right from the get-go.

"Spectre of the Gun". Episode 57. Fucking Old West planet, and this episode wasn't even fun like the gangster planet episode. Chekov dies, then he doesn't. Our boys dodge bullets like Neo from "The Matrix."


"Elaan of Troyius". Episode 58. The Enterprise has to take a giftwife from her home planet to another so she can heal the rift between their two peoples. Turns out she's a giant bitch. A bunch of the costumes for this episode are made from plastic placemats, I shit you not.


"The Paradise Syndrome." Episode 59. Kirk goes native. This whole episode makes me want to slap someone. Be more racist, Star Trek.


"And the Children Shall Lead". Episode 60. Creepy-ass children form a cult with the holographic image of some long-dead alien. They kill their parents, and bitch ungratefully about ice cream.



"Spock's Brain". Episode 61. This episode is often cited as one of the worst (if not THE worst) episodes of Star trek of all time. Basically, aliens take Spock's brain. Like, remove it completely from his body. But somehow, he's still alive. When they find it, Spock actually walks McCoy through its reattachment. I've tried thinking about where walking someone through your own brain surgery might actually be feasible, and the only thing I could come up with is "MASH." Only MASH would do it better.



"The Empath". Episode 63. Aliens torture our intrepid trio, as well as some woman who can't speak. Turns out they were testing her rather than our boys. Minimal set dressing makes this look like a PBS modern dance program. This is what you make when you are out ideas and money.


"Day of the Dove". Episode 66. The story wasn't terrible, but the Klingon make-up in this episode was atrocious. We finally get a female Klingon, and she spends most of the episode blankly staring at Kirk and Spock. Also, an altered Chekov tries to rape her.


"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield". Episode 70. Two guys are chasing each other across the universe. They clearly evolved from the same race, only one is black on one side and white on the other, and the other guy is the opposite. Star Trek is obviously trying to make a statement about racism here, but it's so heavy-handed, you're just left sighing and bored ten minutes in. There's this horrible montage near the end where the aliens are running through the corridors of the Enterprise, with the images overlaid with footage from WWII London on fire. No part of this episode is good.



"The Mark of Gideon". Episode 72. Kirk and some alien chick wander around an empty Enterprise for half of the episode before we learn that Space Barbie's planet is severely overpopulated, and she actually wants Kirk to infect her with some illness so she can catch it, give it to others, and then die. The mark of Gideon is probably a handstamp that you get from the government saying that they've chosen you to be infected with some plague.

 

"The Way to Eden". Episode 75. Space hippies take over the E in order to get to a mythical planet called Eden. When they arrive, their cult leader is killed because the planet is heavily acidic... he's killed by acid. Womp womp. The episode keeps pausing itself for hippy jam sessions, one of which includes Spock.


"The Savage Curtain". Episode 77. Kirk and Spock duke it out with Genghis Khan and Abraham Lincoln, for the amusement of some alien made of rocks. It's essentially "Arena"... only, you know, not good. 






Interesting Premise Award
(Honorable Mentions)


The E encounters a planet which was run by a long-dead race, whose security system is still in place, and whose computer has used the image of a woman from that race as a means to kill the away team. The woman is revealed later to have been the last survivor of a disease that wiped out her race, and that they were waiting for a medical supply ship that probably never arrived.




An inhabited planet is about to be wiped out as their sun is going nova. They are pre-warp and cannot leave, so they instead create the technology to make it possible to escape back into their own cultural past, where they are able to live and die in peace. The rest of this episode is okay, but I liked the solution that these people came up with in order to escape their own demise. The planet was still destroyed, but all of the people died before it happened.




Creepers of the Universe Awards
These characters made my skin crawl.



Parmen and Philana from "Plato's Stepchildren
AKA "Abusive Boyfriend" and "Sadistic Bitch"
"Things have gotten a bit boring, so let's force these visitors to rape and torture their coworkers."
I may hate them more than I hate Khan.




Runner-Up: Flint from "Requiem for Methuselah"
This beautiful young girl is his adoptive daughter. Wait, he's trying to convince her to marry him. No, never mind. She's secretly an android, whom he has built as the perfect wife. One day, he'll convince her to love him.







So here are those final numbers for season three:
Number of episodes: 26
Number of great/good/okay episodes: 13
number of episodes that should have been left on the cutting room floor: 13

Ugh, half and half. Not a good ratio. I'm not counting season three as a complete loss, because there were enough okay/good episodes to balance it out, but that's awfully close to the tipping point. Plus, Star Trek gets graded on a curve because it's got such a huge following. One would almost call it a cult classic, but there's enough good in it that it doesn't quite reach that same level of so-bad-it's-good that's required for cult status. 

Next week: Series overview. Shit by the numbers, because I love to categorize things.

*******

So I had another one of those Lipton Sparkling teas, this one the peach, and again, it's similar enough to a regular Lipton bottle tea with peach flavor, that I can say confidently that if you like that, you'll like this. It's exactly the same thing as the Lipton bottled peach with carbonation.









The White Menace

2 comments:

  1. Great analysis! I hadn't thought about it before, but you're right that the second season is the bloodiest. On top of the onscreen fatalities you listed, we know that Starfleet lost four entire starship crews (in "The Immunity Syndrome", "The Omega Glory", "The Ultimate Computer", and "The Doomsday Machine"). Offscreen-but-acknowledged civilian deaths numbered in the billions, with Nomad killing four billion people, and the space amoeba killing billions more. Pretty dark, Star Trek!

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    1. Sadly, the numbers don't lie. There are plenty of episodes where everyone escapes unharmed, but there are a few where a whole slew of people kick the bucket. But I guess the odds are better than Doctor Who? :/

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