Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, June 29, 2015

ST:TAS Season One, Episode Four: The Lorelei Signal

"The Lorelei Signal"
Air Order: 4
Star Date: 5483.7
Original Air Date: September 29, 1973

Kirk's Log 5483.7: "Going into an unexplored area of space. Over the last 150 years, A bunch of starships have disappeared here over the last 150 years, like once every 27 years or so. That won't happen to us, though, because I'm Kirk, and this is the Enterprise."

"We have twenty seconds left until something happens, and we fall off the map," says Spock.
"Okay," says Kirk. "Let's do yellow alert."
Spock counts down, and when he gets to one, Uhura reports a sub-space radio message that's actually just one long tone when played through the PA. We get some shots of the tone emanating through the speakers all over the ship, which makes me wonder: when they put subspace messages on "speakerphone," does it always broadcast through the ship like that? I thought it was only on the bridge. If they put Kor or Kang from the Klingon Empire on the viewscreen, can people in engineering eavesdrop in on the conversation?

Spock reports that they are being scanned from a star system twenty light years from their position.
"Damn, that's a long probe," says Kirk.
The guys on the bridge all think the sound resembles a summons.
Uhura says it doesn't sound like a summons to her. Kirk kind of waves her off.
They dutifully turn the ship in the direction of the signal.
Uhura pages Christine to the bridge. "All of the guys are acting weird."
They're all just kind of standing on the bridge, staring off into actual space, and acting... I dunno, super-high? Spock says that the sound reminds him of Vulcan mating drums. They show some transparent girl playing a drum over animation of Spock's face. And they use that wavy "viewing things underwater" filter-special effect thing on her, like it's a mirage or something.

He says he's hallucinating. Kirk says the same, and a wavy girl appears over a shot of him as well.
"Um, what are you guys on?" asks Uhura. "Cuz we sure as shit don't see anything."
Kirk asks Uhura to call Bones, but Bones doesn't answer because he also appears to be sitting in his office, high as a kite, muttering about magnolias in bloom.
There's some wavy-filter animation, and a planet appears on the viewscreen ahead of them.

A quick fangirl moment here: there's this animation technique that I've seen them use a few times before, using this red-orange planet. They watercolored the planet surface in vertical striations, then moved the watercolored paper behind the black background, through an unpainted circle. The striations moving across the open circle make it appear as though the planet is rotating. It's so ridiculously cool I think I made a squeaky noise the first time I saw it.

Scotty's Log 5483.8: "So we're in orbit over the second planet in the Taurean system, and it looks like there was once a really cool civilization here. We got some weird readings, so Kirk and them are checking it out. In other news, I'm hallucinating some chick's face in a flower. She's pretty hot."

So while all the guys are busy in bonerland, Uhura and Christine are checking out the sensor scans. Apparently, what Spock reported to Kirk is not what is showing up on the screens.
On the surface, Kirk is hanging out with Spock, Bones, and some random Red named Carver.
"Hey," says Spock, taking a scan, "my beeping box says our troubles may increase if we go into that building, where there are life-forms. We should not do the thing."
"Man, screw you," says Kirk. "There's non-dangerous poontang in that building. We are so doing the thing."
So of course they do the thing.

They get inside, and we learn that this is the much-touted "Star Trek meets She-Ra, Princess of Power" episode. (Fun fact: Filmation did the anmation for She-Ra as well. Color me surprised.) The head chick is named Theela, and because we have only two female cast members on this show, all of the women are voiced by Majel Barrett. I'm having flashbacks of that scene in Austin Powers with the fembots. Everyone is blonde, everyone has the same voice, they must all be the same girl, duplicated over and over again.

The girl behind Theela's left shoulder seems to have a disease that
afflicts female cartoon and graphic novel characters. It's called
"There's Not Enough Room In My Torso For Actual Organs."
Amazingly, it is not fatal.

So Theela greets all of the guys by name except for Carver (rude), and Spock scans them (rude) and reports that their physiology is different (also rude - they're standing right there!), and that they have some kind of psychokinesis as part of their body function.
"First time I've ever admired a body function," quips Bones. Rude.
Kirk asks Theela how he knew their names, and she says that the "opto-aud" told them (I'm guessing that means optical-audio, because it's basically a freaking closed-circuit tv). Then she turns to this thing that looks like the Guardian of Forever, and she makes a humming noise at it, and it turns on and shows them the E bridge, with Scotty sitting in the captain's chair.
Spock admires the fact that the opto-aud opens with a tonal lock.
Theela says they have lots of things to discuss, and that they are having a feast in honor of their new visitors.
And because we can't have a commercial break without dramatic music, they play some right after Theela says she is going to feed them. Are we assuming the food has been poisoned? Or did Theela just admit that she's a shitty cook?

Kirk's Log 5..4..8..3 point...9?: "I'm pretty baked, and so are my friends, but these chicks are super bangable, so who cares? You know what would be fun? We should take them to Amsterdam."

Everyone is enjoying themselves at the feast when Bones asks where all the dudes are at this taco fest. Theela says they're somewhere else.
"That makes sense," reasons Kirk, in that same voice that your best guy friend uses when he's trying to justify his girlfriend's crazy level against her hotness level.
One girl tosses to Spock what appears to be a huge ruby. When he stands up to catch it, he collapses. The rest of our boys try to help him, but end up collapsing themselves.
"You should go to the rest chambers and sleep," suggests Theela.
Our boys are dragged off to sleep, and Theela lets one single tear slip, because this show hates me.

A little later, Bones and Spock stumble into Kirk's resting chamber. They are now both wearing fashionable tiaras, and they've aged considerably. Kirk wakes up, sees them, realizes without a mirror that he is now also much older, and cringes.

Upstairs, Uhura and Christine have correctly identified that males are of little use at this point, and they've been investigating this weird-ass planet and inhabitants using an all-female science team. Because Majel is doing all of the voices for the females on the planet, Nichelle has taken all of the voices for the female crew members, as well as the voice of the computer. Nichelle actually does a pretty good job, changing her voice and accents slightly to make it seem like a much bigger cast was involved.
Anyway, the computer says that the probe that the planet launched at the ship affects the males onboard in such a way that they will eventually lose all energy and die.
Uhura calls for Security Red Davison, and tells her that she wants all-female crews of Security Reds at each transporter, and that no one is to be allowed to transport down.
"The hell?" asks Christine.
"Yeah, I'm taking over the ship," says Uhura.
YAY! About freaking time! When Kirk comes back, can we just stick him in engineering, or something?

Down in the throne room, Theela is sitting on her skinny ass while our boys tell her that they must leave and go back to the ship.
"You can't go," she replies. "We need you here. Pretty soon, all of the men on your ship will come to us."
"Naw... we have to go," mumbles Kirk.
"Obstruct them!" yells Theela. (No, really. She says "obstruct.")
And a bunch of girls come forward and literally toss our boys into a heap in the corner.

The next scene is awesome. It's just the E slowly, slooooowly drifting across the screen, while Scotty sings drunkenly in Gaelic. Seriously, if you're going to watch this episode for anything, watch it for this scene. You won't be disappointed.

When we actually go to the bridge, Uhura informs Scotty that she's relieving him of duty and taking over. She promptly records an acting captains log that says she's taking over because Scotty is off his rocker.
He responds with "Very thoughtful of you, love."
She then puts Christine in charge of sick bay. Lt Uhura: kickin' ass and takin' names.

So for whatever reason, the Majel clones have allowed Bones to keep his med kit, and he gives the away team all shots of some strong stimulant. I have no idea where any of the women have gone, or why they left the boys alone, but it happened, so now the boys are going to shoot themselves up. They manage to escape out the front doors, but not before Theela discovers them leaving.
Everyone runs out into the garden, and Kirk suggests that they hide in a giant urn that looks like a fancy termite mound.

Once they're hidden, the women search that part of the garden, and the tiaras on the boys glow yellow. When the women leave to search elsewhere, the glowing stops.
"Y'all, I have a theory," says Spock. "The tiaras are how the women sap our life energy. They are taking it for themselves. So they get stronger in our presence, as we get weaker. Remember how, when we first met them, they were kind of listless?"
No dude, because they were never animated that way. They're been the same, start to finish. Sure, Theela shouts a little more enthusiastically now, but there was no reason for her to shout earlier, so you can't reasonably say that she is no longer acting in a listless manner.
Anyway, we're just going to have to buy whatever it is that Spock is selling, because without that, the rest of the episode doesn't make sense.
He predicts that they're aging about ten years per day, and Bones exclaims that they'll be dead in four. So then Kirk jumps in to say that the women will need to replenish their supply of dudes with the rest of the men on the Enterprise. Spock finishes the conversation by volunteering to get the comms, because he, as a Vulcan, has a longer life and more strength. Kirk agrees to let him go with the most pronounced nod ever animated.

Back inside the castle-thing, Spock realizes that he has no clue where to look for the comms, so he decides to ask the opto-aud. He closes his eyes, and they use Christine's earlier voice work to make the sound that turns it on. How do I know they used Christine's voice? Because Leonard Nimoy's voice is too deep to make that sound.
He asks the opto-thingy where the comms are, and it shows him that they are inside the ottoman at the base of the throne. Spock crawls up the stairs, procures the equipment, and calls the E.
"Enterprise," answers Uhura. "Captain Badass speaking."
"Need...rescue team," Spock struggles. "All-female..."
He collapses on the dais, repeating the words "all-female" over and over, while the blonde bitches surround him.
Because she's classy like that, Uhura continues to put together an all-female rescue team, rather than answer "Took you long enough to figure it out, Ear Boy."

The away team beams down, mostly female security officers (have we actually seen any female security Reds before?), and oops, some painter has reassigned Christine to Ops. There's a brief catfight moment where Theela welcomes them to the still-nameless planet, then instructs them to GTFO.
"Yeah, no," says Uhura. "Those are not the hell your boys."
Theela points at the away team like she's directing her bitches to seize them or something, but the away team just stuns their asses. Then Uhura orders the team to split into groups of two and conduct a search.
In a resting chamber, Spock senses or hears the away team or something, and he decides to call to Christine telepathically.
Hold up: can he do that? I mean, I know the dude is an alien, but you can't assign every super power to him and just explain it away as him being Vulcan. I've never seen him communicate telepathically before last week, and then he had made some sort of by-proxy mind-meld thing with a cloud. Here, he's just calling out to another crew member. I mean, I guess it's canon now, but it's awfully convenient when you make something mildly impossible into canon, just to solve a minor problem like, "Where are you?" This is why Lady Archon prefers comm badges to communication devices - she could have tapped her comm badge and been "Christine to Spock" and he would have been like "Yo, I'm in the rest chamber to your right." Okay, I know that that means that any hostile can just snatch the comm badge off your chest, and you'd be in the same pickle, but as we've seen, not everyone is smart enough to realize that it's a comm badge and not just some brooch, and those communication devices are very obviously tools. But it's a hell of a lot better than saying, "Let's just make him telepathically tell her where he is."
Anyway, he calls out "Miss Chapel" and she tells Uhura that Spock is calling to her, and then he calls her Christine, which is pretty forward for a Vulcan, especially when he rarely ever calls his best friend by his first name, either.
She figures out when he's calling to her from (how, I wonder?), and realizes that she's standing right next to a panel in the wall, which, when opened, reveals Spock laying on the bed.


They run in to him, and something has happened to make him age like Yoda.
Seriously. he wasn't that old when they caught him on the dais a few minutes ago, and if he looks like that now, what must the guys in the urn look like?

It starts raining outside, because of course it does. The men being kind of incapacitated didn't make enough of a difference, because there are enough women crew members to run the ship without them. Girls in Charge is not an adequate Disable the Ship sub-plot. (Thank Zod for that, I would have had to punch somebody if it was.) So the away team drowning in an urn in the garden is our new Disable the Ship for this episode.

Unable to locate the rest of the away team, they transport Spock up to sick bay. There, Christine removes his tiara, and he tells her raspily that a female engineer needs to divert all energy to the shields to block out the signal. She protests that they had tried that, but he reiterates that it must be all power, and not just a lot.

Downstairs, Uhura is tired of Theela's shit. She uses a phaser to disintegrate a vase, then pretty much tells Theela that she's gonna bust up the place if she doesn't get some answers. Seeing she's at a loss, Theela opens the opto-aud, and gives Uhura the PowerPoint presentation of her people's history.

So Theela's people emigrated to this planet when their own planet died, and things for fine for a hot second, but then the men started getting and dying at a crazy-fast rate. Turns out the planet itself beefed up some gland that the women had, making them stronger and kind of immortal. They have powers to control men's emotions, but it kills the men. Every 27 years or so, they have to get a new supply of fresh men, be it human, Klingon, or Romulan. They're essentially trapped there, unable to die, and unable to procreate.
"Okay, that's nice, but where's my men?" demands Uhura.
They decide to ask the opto-aud, and ignore the fact that they might have done so earlier, when the away team escaped into the garden in the first place. The opto-aud shows the team up to their chests in water.

They run out into the garden and destroy the urn with phasers. I have to wonder why, when the urn was full enough, they didn't just climb out. I mean, I know they were too weak to climb out because they were old and weak, but nothing was keeping them from floating in that urn. Ah, well. Whatever. Uhura and the very capable away team get the guys out of the urn, and back to the E.
Up in sick bay, Christine and some others try to restore the away team to their original ages, to no avail.
"I think we should try the transporters," rasps Spock. "They hold our original DNA sequencing, and maybe going back through the transporters again, set in a specific way, would reverse this. The odds are pretty much astronomically against us, even though everything we try has never been tested before, is almost guaranteed not to work, but always ends up working anyway."
"Yeah," says Kirk. "Enterprise FTW."

So they beam the boys down to the surface again.
"Beam us up, Scotty," says Kirk, which is actually the closest to that iconic bumper sticker that the show's dialog ever gets. (Nope, Kirk never says, "Beam me up, Scotty." Not in the shows, not in the films.)
This time, with adjustments, Kirk & Co come out as planned.

We're back on the surface again, and it's Uhura who has once again taken charge. Theela destroys this round thing on a pedestal that turns out to be how they were broadcasting that signal. She tells Uhura to let know that they did as they agreed they would do, and Uhura tells them that a ship with an all-female crew will be back to pick them up and take them to another suitable planet. These girls are super-stoked and want to know how quickly they'll go back to being normal. Uhura says that Bones says it'll be a few months.
"Awesome," says Theela. "Immortality seriously blows."
And the E leaves orbit.

So despite some issues, this episode had some good stuff going for it. For one, there was brief discussion about how immortality sucks ass. You've probably seen Highlander or Doctor Who, so you know how it goes: you stay the same, while your loved ones grow old and die, and you're forced to either move on after a while, or rewatch the same dance over and over. As a race of people who like to dream about the impossible, we were forced to face facts that immortality comes with it's own set of issues. Queen is right: who wants to live forever?

But who is this Lorelei chick? The main girl's name was Theela.
Star Trek is getting clever on us again. Lorelei are the name of the sirens in German mythology who lure sailors to their deaths, just like their Greek cousins.

The best part of this episode is that when the chips are down among the men, the females can pick up without blinking, and nobody questions it. Uhura didn't hem and haw and Hamlet like Kirk sometimes does. She picked up a phaser, pushed Scotty out of the captain's chair, and began issuing orders. She took no crap, and got the job done quickly and efficiently. I have no idea how this episode was met critically, being that it was broadcast on Saturday mornings at ten am, but it's cool to think about - a POC female took command of the Enterprise, several years after that Number One debacle. Does it help that this episode was written by a female? Maybe. (Margaret Armen also wrote "The Gamesters of Triskelion" (ugh), "The Paradise Syndrome" (noooooo), and the teleplay for "The Cloud Minders", which was actually pretty good.) What's most awesome is that no one bats an eyelash at Uhura taking charge. She's treated like any other crew member who is next in line for command and takes it.

It's not a huge part of the episode, but I'd like to give a command gold star to the writers for solving a problem with good science fiction rather than the crappy kind. The suggestion of sending them back through the transporter was excellent, because it has already been established that each person who uses the transporter has their original DNA pattern stored in the pattern buffer. There's no magic wand waved, no new machine used that we will never see again, no potion that Bones must pull out of his ass at the last minute, which will make them young and whole again. No, they return to the transporter, set it for their original DNA sequencing, and run them through it again. This is awesome! Science fiction (and Star Trek) had already established that when is transported, one is actually destroyed at the entry point, and then remade again at the destination. Science has established that, too! Good for you, Star Trek.


HOLD THE MOTHERFUCKING COMM BADGE: I think I found a chai that I actually like.
So Roomie (who claims that she does not pilfer things) pilfered some more tea from somewhere, and she brought home these little elongated pyramids with leaf tags that say "Tea Forte." They're actually really cool-looking, and upon further research, I discovered that the founder got himself some learning at RISD. Nice!
The tea itself is spicy, a bit heavy on the cinnamon, but some honey took the bite off it.
You want to know the shitty part? Roomie has not been able to tell me which chai it is. She took the little jacket off the bag, and now I have no idea what I drank. I tried looking it up online, but their website lists like, five thousand chais. So now I might have to Cinderella that shit, trying cup after cup of a blend that I don't normally like, all to find the one that I do.
Anyway, you might want to give these a shot. They seem to make a good-quality product, and the one I tried was really good, despite the fact that I have zero clue as to what it was.

Edit: After some sleuthing and educated guesses, Agent K and I have decided that it probably Winter Chai.

Mass hysteria!

Monday, June 22, 2015

ST:TAS Season One, Episode Three: One of Our Planets is Missing

"One of Our Planets is Missing"
Air Order: 3
Star Date: 5371.3
Original Air Date: September 22, 1973

A "yay, animation!" moment: look how cool the planets and starscapes are now.

Kirk's Log 5371.3: "There's this weird-ass cloud thing out near the edges of explored space. We're heading in the direction of Mantilles, which is the farthest inhabited planet we have."

The E catches up to this cloud thingy near an uninhabited planet called Alondra, and Arax finally gets some lines. His voice is kind of best described as that of K9 from Doctor Who, kind of high-pitched without being squeaky.

Anyway, Spock says that the cloud is huge and made of both matter and energy, and while they're scanning it, Alondra disappears. Spock confirms that the cloud appears to have eaten Alondra, and Uhura says that it seems as though the cloud has changed course.
"The hell?" asks Kirk. "That would make it intelligent. Also, that would mean it's heading for Mantilles, and everyone on the planet would die."
Soooo, I guess this is another Doomsday Machine? Blargh.

Kirk's Log, supplemental: "Racing toward Mantilles. Trying to get there before the cloud does. But it's like, a kajillion times bigger than us."

Bones unnecessarily repeats that a shit-ton of people could die, and Kirk adds that if this thing seeks out inhabited planets, it could spell trouble for the entire galaxy. Hooray for Duh Moments!
There's a group discussion with the bridge officers about whether or not they should warn the inhabitants of Mantilles, so some of them could escape, and Bones warns that with a little more than four hours until the cloud reaches the planet, it might incite planet-wide hysteria. There also isn't time to evacuate everyone.

Kirk recalls that the governor of Mantilles is a retired Commodore Robert Wesley from "The Ultimate Computer". He says the Wesley is not the kind who will panic, so he deems it okay to warn the planet of their impending doom, and has Uhura call Mantilles. 
The E approaches the cloud and Spock begins reading off sensor information, saying that he thinks the cloud came from outside of the galaxy. (Okay, I know the galaxy is a pretty vast place, but I'm awarding a Duh Moment to that statement. If it was from inside their own galaxy, wouldn't there be something in the computers about it?) Anyway, Spock just keeps reading out his info while the ship is being fucking eaten by the cloud, while Kirk yells out evasive maneuvers and gives Sulu permission to fire phasers. Spock has no fucks to give for anything but his readouts. 

So they're now inside the cloud (and Spock is still fucking droning on about some science break-down that no one is paying any attention to), and we get some some full-on Sexy Budget backgrounds. I can't be 100% certain, but I think that's tempura paint, like the kind you fingerpaint with in preschool? And good God, it's gorgeous. I'm reminded of the illustrations of Leo Lionni (the guy who did the kids' book Swimmy). Plus, it works so well here! Okay, I'm gonna move on before I start geeking out about saturated color.

So we're inside the cloud, and oh, no! Here come some rock things! Spock says that they're made of "gaseous anti-matter" and Scotty calls to say that the drain on the power supply is really heavy right now because so much of it is being dumped into the shields. Kirk decides to zap the rocks with some kind of anti-matter charge several times. The rocks blow up.
"Spock, what the hell just happened?" he asks.
Well, your ship was eaten by some kind of space cloud. Then, while you were in the space cloud, your ship was approached by rocks. Without doing anything but a material scan, you panicked and had them destroyed. You have no idea what those things were. As per the usual, you shot first, and asked questions later.

So Spock has a theory as to what is going on: he thinks the cloud is alive. Bones concurs and says (despite not having been given any information on this earlier) that they're floating in some kind of enzyme, which will eventually corrode the hull of the ship if the shields fail. So there's our Disable the Ship subplot: the shields could fail.

Uhura says that she has Governor Wesley on the line, and Kirk has it transferred to his quarters. Wesley tells Kirk that he can only save some people, so he's saving the kids, some 5,000 people out of millions.

Was someone not paying attention, or did they just not care that Bob
Wesley's shoulder ended up in the wrap-around screen?

This doesn't sit well with Kirk, who goes back to the bridge and tells his senior officers that they have to come up with a plan to get the ship out of the cloud and simultaneously save millions of people. Kirk treats everything like the Kobayashi Maru: everything is solvable if you cheat right, and also, because he's the all-powerful Kirk. I don't know if it irks me more that every week, he asks the impossible of his crew, or if it's more annoying that, every week, they magically pull the solution out of their asses.
So they start a convo about their situation, and Spock surmises that the cloud is like the planet-killer from The Doomsday Machine, only it uses the planets as food. Bones thinks that the rocks that are again surrounding the ship act like teeth, breaking up the stuff that the cloud consumes. Arax puts up a slide that someone made of the cross-section of a head of cauliflower, and that's what the inside of the cloud looks like. He's even added a yellow dot. The cloud is a shopping mall shaped like a cauliflower, and YOU ARE HERE.

While trying to figure out where the food court is, and remembering that the whole thing IS a food court, and that the Enterprise is that cheap taco place, Kirk decides that the opening that they came through is closed, but that they can probably escape through the opening at the other end. I'd like to point out three things here: one, the opening they came through is still clearly open; two, he is proposing that they allow themselves to be literally shit back out into space; and three, if you haven't guessed it already, this is Star Trek's version of Fantastic Voyage
Apparently, the idea of shrinking a ship and crew down to microscopic size and injecting them into a living being is such a darling of the science-fiction crowd that it's actually referred to as a "Fantastic Voyage plot." I bet you can name half a dozen shows that have had one. It's just another troupe on Star Trek Bingo.
So The Shat gives the command for the ship to be shit out the back.

The E moves into a different part of the cloud's anatomy, and some explosions go off within the cloud. Bones says that they've moved into what corresponds with the small intestine, and that the forms they see outside are similar to villi, which live in said intestine and help the body absorb nutrients. However, these villi things are made of anti-matter, so if they touch one, they'll explode. Gee, why don't you just shoot them like you did with the rocks? No? You're gonna navigate around to the anus instead? Okay, then.
We get some shots here where everything is shown through that wavering filter, like everything is under water, but it isn't consistent.

Scotty calls. "Bitch, what'd I tell you about the shields draining the power to the engines?"
"Yeah, sorry," says Kirk. "Crank that shit up," he tells Arax when he hangs up with Scotty.

Kirk's Log, supplemental: "We have 15 minutes until we run out of juice for the engines, and about 3 hours until the cloud eats Mantilles."

Kirk goes down to engineering to talk to Scotty.
"Quit wasting power," says Scotty. "Shields or engines: pick one." 
Kirk shakes his head. "Gotta have both."
"Um, didn't you say that the villi are made of anti-matter? What's to stop me from building a containment unit, using a phaser to slice off a piece of one, beaming it into the container, and then dropping it into the engines?" asks Scotty.
Kirk considers it. "Yeah, but... what about the matter part of the engines? We have to refill those too."
"So what? There's chunks of planets floating around in here. We'll just beam some of that aboard as well," answers Scotty.

Look how much cooler the animated engine room is!

So they slice off a piece of the villi things, and beam it into a box. For whatever dumb reason, Kirk goes back to engineering with Scotty to help him put the thing into the engine. Why is another Red shirt not doing this job? It's dangerous enough to warrant that the captain not be involved. Also, shouldn't his ass be on the bridge where it belongs? I'll tell you why. Because Kirk has major Fear Of Missing Out, that's why. Straight-up FOMO says that he has to have his fingers in every damn pie available. He can't even claim that it's regulations or anything. Remember in "The Ultimate Computer" when the M-5 computer unit puts together an away team for a hypothetical mission, and it does not include Kirk or Bones because they're "unnecessary" to the mission? Yep. Kirk has FOMO, and always picks his friends for his teams.
So anyway, you remember that chain-link fence in the engine room that indicates that there is space and stuff back there, but it's inaccessible to most people in most cases because of the fence? You can actually see it in the background of the screencapture above. Through the magic of animation, we get to see the space behind it in the next scene:

Kirk and Scotty have two minutes to get the box with the villi down to the door at the other end of the corridor. Why they couldn't just beam the whole thing onto the other side of the door is beyond me. So they run it down, push it into the next room, and comm an unseen Red shirt to close the door and remove the box, leaving the villi inside. Then they high-tail it back out of there.

Hey, look at that, Kirk and Scotty have found the clitoris. This show
really does boldly go!

It works. Scotty has (partially) saved the day. So that's the first half of Disable the Ship taken care of - now they have to get it out of the cloud. Then they can save millions of people.

Up on the bridge, Spock tells Kirk that he thinks that the cloud-thing has a brain.
"Cool," says Kirk. "We can destroy the brain with photon torpedoes."
There we go. Kirk has decided to kill another space buffalo. How awesome. As they should, everyone on the bridge turns and gives him their best WTF faces.
"Not cool," says Bones. "We're not here to kill intelligent life forms."
Spock starts to talk about Starfleet regulations, but Kirk waves him off, because he's already appointed himself as judge, and decided that the cloud is worth killing if it means saving Mantilles.

Kirk's Log 5372.0: "Even though everyone thinks it's a dumb idea and against regulations, I've set Uhura and Spock to figuring out where we should fire the torpedoes to kill the cloud."

So now Kirk starts Hamletting in his chair.
"Am I doing the right thing?" he asks Bones, even though he said a few minutes ago that he was. "Is it cool to kill this thing?"
And even though Bones a second ago said it was the wrong thing, he's now pointing out that Kirk can't let the cloud eat Mantilles.
Okay, I get it. It's a difficult decision. But is it so difficult that characters who were saying "yes, definitely" two seconds ago are now saying "no, definitely not"? because it makes Kirk appear wishy-washy, and Bones now looks like a bad adviser.
"Hey, so, your dumb plan isn't going to work anyway," says Spock. "Because I ran all the numbers, and even if we threw everything we had at the cloud-brain, it still wouldn't make a difference."

"Actually," he adds unhelpfully, "if you really wanted to kill the brain, you'd have to convert the entire ship to energy, and use that as a weapon. That would do the job."
Oh yes, Spock. Suggest to Kirk that he become a martyr. That's a great idea.
Kirk calls Scotty and has him set up the self-destruct sequence in engineering, with the controls routed to the bridge.
Governor Wesley calls. They have thirty minutes left, and can see the cloud approaching. He said there was some hysteria, but they have made plans to evacuate those 5000 kids. Just to sprinkle on some feels, Star Trek has Kirk ask Wesley where his eleven-year-old daughter Katie is, and Wesley replies that she is there with him.
Now, after having Scotty set in motion a plan that would have the entire crew sacrificing themselves in order to murder an alien life-form, Kirk asks Spock if there was a way to establish whether or not the cloud is really intelligent. He suggests a mind-meld. Spock thinks about it, and while he says that he would need physical contact for that, he can pseudo-science his way through it using other means. Uhura offers to patch the alien's responses in through the comm system, filtering it through the universal translator.

Kirk's Log 5372.1: "We have seven minutes left until the cloud eats Mantilles. Spock and Uhura have been working on getting the communications stuff up and running to see if we can talk to it."

Scotty confirms with Kirk that he has the big red button set up. Spock is ready to go, and he gets his gear ready, then sits in his chair, reaching out with his arms while reaching out with his mind. The rest of the crew looks away politely, because he looks ridiculous. He establishes contact.
"Hey, hi out there," he says in his mind. "You're not alone."
"What?" comes the response. 
It's Majel Barrett, affecting her best alien-cloud voice. Also, this is a pretty good response. If you suddenly started getting messages from the vending-machine burrito you ate for lunch, wouldn't your first words to it be "what?" as well?

"I'm inside you," he says.
"What?" it answers again.
He tries to put into words an explanation for "very small ship in your digestive tract, which holds four hundred living beings." He then tries to explain "living beings on the planets you consume will die if you consume them." The cloud then replies that it senses the people on Mantilles, but says they are small enough that it does not recognize them as life.
Spock says that he would like to swap minds with the cloud for a bit. He has the common decency to at least ask and get permission first. When he stands up and opens his eyes, Kirk says to Bones that the cloud has inhabited his body. I'd like to point out that all they have been hearing is the cloud's part of the conversation, so there's no way for him to have known that. It's exposition thrown in so that the audience will understand, but it's done in a way that makes no sense.
With a minute or so to go, Kirk asks Uhura to put up shots from Earth on the viewscreen so the cloud-thing can experience them through Spock. included are a few short sequences from an animated Lassie show that Filmation probably had lying around.

Both Scotty and Sulu asks Kirk what he wants to do concerning the whole "blow up the ship" thing. But then Spock gets back in his chair in his "testify!" pose, and Sulu reports that the cloud has stopped moving toward Mantilles, and the cloud-voice says "I understand. I do not want to eat the beings."
The cloud is shown backing off Mantilles. Spock tells the cloud that it will encounter a lot more planets like that, with beings on it, and if it doesn't wish to consume the beings, then it must avoid them. He suggests that it returns to its point of origin. The cloud agrees.

"Hooray!" says Kirk. "You did it!"
He sets Uhura to telling Wesley he can bring the kids back, and Sulu is told to navigate out through the back end of the cloud... kind of where the brain is.
"What was it like, being joined with that cloud-thing?" Kirk asks Spock. "Was it awesome?"
"It was," says Spock. "It was pretty freaking sweet."
And the cloud craps out the Enterprise.

So this episode was okay. It utilized the medium of animation pretty well, including backgrounds, sets and special effects. But the story was kind of contrived, and melded the "Fantastic Voyage" trope with the old "we found a thing in space and need to communicate with it" story that Star Trek likes to write. I like it better when they encounter new races, but "random space thing" isn't the worst idea ever. I'm sure there are random things in space that one would struggle to communicate with, so devoting an episode or two to that topic is alright. I find myself asking what the main plot was, and what the side plot was - "we have to save Mantilles from the carnivorous cloud?" or "we have to escape from this cloud." It seems like a weird grey area. Netflix descriptions of this episode list the saving of Mantilles as the plot, but they spend so much more time not only exploring the cloud, but plotting how to escape it than they do on Mantilles itself.
The title also presents a grey area for me. It's sort of... I dunno, little kids' show? The title of a book for beginning readers? I looked into it, to see why they would select such a thing. After all, if the planet we're talking about is Alondra, it isn't missing - the cloud ate it. And Alondra, while being the hook for the beginning of the story, is talked about for all of two minutes. Turns out, the original phrase is "One of our aircraft is missing" and was the phrase used by the media in England during WWII to indicate that people were missing in action and presumed injured or dead. It's also the name of a film about the same subject, and quite a few other films and television shows have used the phrase "One of our X is missing" either as an homage to the original movie, or a parody.


Rumor came home from drill last weekend, and he brought the plague with him, so naturally, I'm having to work, run errands, and watch Netflix with a freshly grated and zested throat. I asked Google what kind of tea is most beneficial to that sort of thing, and while I assumed it would be like Lemon-Ginger or something, it turned out to be chamomile. Of course, that is the one tea we have none of. We did, however, have a bunch of loose packets of Constant Comment that Roomie pilfered from somewhere, like an old lady stealing saltine crackers from a restaurant. 
I had yet to try it, and was intrigued by the story behind the name: the Bigelow company had made this blend with no name, and a friend of the owners threw a tea party where she was encouraged to brew the blend. The party-goers kept remarking on the aroma and flavor, basically "constantly commenting." They decided that this was a good name, and it stuck.
So I said "Screw it," and brewed a cup of that. Or I would have if I had a voice left. All of this lovely snark is wasted in the echo-chamber of my own head.
What does it taste like? A spicier chai? Something that includes the word "holiday" in it's name? One of those. It's a spicy black, not really my cup of Earl Grey, but not terrible, either. I added honey (seriously, like half that bear is gone because I've been using it in place of Nyquil), which was actually pretty good.
Bottom line: if you like a spicy tea, you'll probably enjoy Constant Comment.

Tiny Kirk

Monday, June 15, 2015

ST:TAS Season One, Episode Two: Yesteryear

Air Order: 2
Star Date: 5373.4
Original Air Date: September 15, 1973

Historical fun fact: Georgie was running for a seat on the city council of Los Angeles when this show aired, and his political opponents were all up in arms over the fact that there was a law stating that political candidates had to get equal air time regarding campaigns. They claimed that this show would count as part of that time, so instead of airing "Beyond the Farthest Star" first, they hung onto it until December, and showed "Yesteryear" as the first episode of the animated series, as this episode did not feature Sulu.


 Kirk's Log 5373.4: "We're orbiting the planet where the Time Vortex is, because we're helping out some researchers doing work on it."

Holy crap, dude. The first shot we get after the E in orbit is Bones with two researchers: a severe-looking woman with a pink streak in her hair, and some kind of living gargoyle. I guess "way to take advantage of animation, Star Trek"? Not gonna lie, it's a little much. That guy looks less like Star Trek and more like Narnia.
So Kirk and some Red hop out of the Time Vortex, and Kirk starts going off about how fascinating it is to be on Orion at the beginning of time, but then Spock climbs out and Bones asks, "Who is that guy?"
"Um, that's Spock? The first officer? The guy you yell at and sometimes share tender moments with?" says Kirk. "You know, Spock?"
"Nope, don't know him," replies Bones.
Kirk calls for a beam-up, and they transport back to the E.
"Who's that?" Scotty asks when they reappear on the transporter pad.
"The hell?" demands Kirk. "That's Spock, the first officer!"
The door slides open, and some Andorian comes in. "No, I'm the first officer," he says. "I'm Thalin, I've been first officer for five years."

"Um, some shit has gone down with the Guardian of Forever," surmises Spock. "Something went down, and now I don't exist in the same way."

Kirk's Log, supplemental: "What Spock said."

So a meeting has been called with Kirk, Spock, Thalin, and that Random Red. The Red says he can't find anything that was changed while they were in the Vortex, and Spock points out that it only has to do with him, because only Kirk remembers him, and nothing else has changed. 

The saddest-looking gold shirt ever calls in with some info that Kirk asked him to find. It seems that no one named Spock has ever worked for Starfleet. Sarek is still an ambassador, but he and Amanda split when their son died, and she was killed in a shuttle accident on her way back to Earth. Spock died at seven. We end the meeting with a bit of dramatic music, and a shifty-eyed look from Thalin.

Back on the surface, Kirk is asking the researchers if anyone was using the Vortex while they were inside. Pink Streak says they were scanning it for Vulcan history, and Gargoyle says that the death of Spock was recorded during the kahs-wan, the Vulcan rite of maturity. Spock rattles off a date, which the Gargoyle confirms, and Spock relays back that on that date, he was out in the desert by himself, and a cousin rescued him from a wild animal attack. He barely recalls the cousin. 
"Did this dude look like you now?" Kirk asks.
"Yeah..." says Spock. "I guess I went back in time to save myself before, but I didn't do it this time because we were bumming around Orion instead, so I died."
"That sucks," says Kirk. He turns to the Vortex. "Hey, Guardian. You heard that shit. If Spock goes into his own timeline, can he fix this without that butterfly crap happening?"
"Totes," replies the guardian.
Kirk comms for Vulcan cosplay clothes for Spock.

Something you don't really notice in shows like TOS is the lack of empty
space on the sets. Anytime they had to build an outdoor set it's cluttered with
rocks and plants to disguise the fact that there's a back wall in the studio.

Spock turns to Thalin. "So, sorry, but I'm gonna take my position back, cuz, you know, I like being first officer, and also, I don't want my mother and I to die."
"Naw, bro, it's cool," says Thalin. "Andorians are kind of dicks, but we believe in family." He and Spock exchange Vulcan hand salutes, and Scotty beams down a bag with period-style clothing for Spock. This is the cool thing about the future, friends: you can just procure cool clothes without having to spend weeks hunched over a sewing machine.
So Spock tells the Guardian where and when he wants to go, then steps through the Vortex into the city of Shikahr.

Y'all, check out Vulcan, you guys. It looks like concept art. Nice.

Spock's Log 5373.5, "subjective time" : "Gone home, even though they say you can't."

He immediately encounters a bunch of fucking asshole Vulcan shits who are teasing his younger self and calling tiny Spock "emotional Earther." Firstly, try to say "Earther" out loud without whining. It's like trying to say "Auror" without sounding like you have a mouth full of marbles.
Secondly, they're yelling at him for being emotional. I know Vulcans don't just go from birth to stoicism, but they're displaying a lot of angry emotion toward him. And they start in with the "Yo mama so Terran" jokes. They're also ragging on him for not knowing how to give a Vulcan neck pinch. Damn, seven seems young for that kind of self-defense skill. Anyway, they push him over the edge, and he lunges at them like a rabid dog. But he misses and face plants, and they run away laughing.

I'd like to slap the pointy off their ears.

"Sorry you saw my son getting his ass kicked," says Sarek, who comes up on regular-sized Spock unexpectedly.
"It's cool," says Spock. "I'm your cousin Selek, distantly related. I'm going to the family shrine."
"Oh, that's a trek," says Sarek. "You should stay with us until you are ready to go again."
"Awesome," says Spock. "All of the Airbnb listings for Shikahr looked sketch."

Back at the house, Sarek pulls Spock aside and tells him that he needs to get his shit together and choose whether he is going to be a Vulcan, or a human with weird ears. He says that soon Spock will go through the kahs-wan, and will prove himself to be a good Vulcan, and that Sarek believes that he can do it. Sarek's parenting skills are kind of all over the place.
Big Spock is watching them talk through some kind of window or something. I dunno. All of the houses seem to be giant glass bubbles or plant-less terrariums or something. Amanda comes in, and gives Big Spock another sort of apology for her kid being different. This sucks. Why are these people constantly apologizing because their kid doesn't fit in? Are Vulcans really that dickish? Frankly, it seems like anybody who picks on a kid for things beyond his control is an asshole. Stop apologizing to them.
Amanda confirms that Little Spock will undergo the kahs-wan next month, and Big Spock is confused, because the date that he saves himself is tomorrow.

Here is where this show reminds me of Scooby-Doo: why the hell
is Amanda standing in the typical Daphne stance?

Sarek finishes his talk with Little Spock, telling him that he has to survive ten days and nights without food, water or weapons on Vulcan's Forge. Shit, son. That seems like a lot to ask of a seven-year-old. I feel like most cultures that do this sort of thing wait until puberty. I guess Vulcans need to know if you're drinking the kolinahr Kool-Aid right the fuck now. It sounds like a lot of kids fail the first time and are allowed a do-over, but if you do, people will give you shit for it the rest of your life. For something that goes down before you reach the tender age of ten. Sarek tells Little Spock that he has faith in him, then he leaves.
Little Spock is consoled by his pet sehlat, I-Chaya.

Why do Vulcan boys dress like male strippers?

Remember when Amanda tells Bones about Spock's pet sehlat, and she describes it as "a fat teddy bear"? Dude, this is like a bear-lion hybrid, with big-ass fangs and Vulcan ears. Also, it looks snuggly. I bet it has hella-soft fur. So Little Spock tells I-Chaya that he is concerned that he's not a real Vulcan, and I-Chaya makes "it's all good, bro" noises, because there's no way that I-Chaya is apologizing to anybody for his boy.

Spock's Log 5373.9, subjective time: "Sooo, looks like something else has happened to change the timeline, because I totally remember the exact date that I saved myself, even though everything else about the event seems fuzzy to me. But my mother says that the kahs-wan isn't for another month, so I'm off somewhere. I swear to Zod, I did not step on a butterfly!"

Big Spock is awake doing his log entry when Little Spock sneaks through the courtyard, now dressed in a robe rather than his stripper clothes. He has decided to do the test now, to prove to himself that he can do it later. What a dumbshit. You're going to prove that you're a Vulcan by doing something twice? Please tell me why making more work for yourself is logical. I-Chaya makes some "don't go" noises at him, but he takes off anyway. I-Chaya follows.
"Oh, shit, forgot about that," says Big Spock. "I took off early."
Big Spock follows I-Chaya.

Later, Little Spock turns and admonishes I-Chaya for following him, saying he is "too old and too fat" to follow him. He finally shrugs and keeps going. The shrug is awesome.

Little Spock raises the roof.

Spock's Log: "Headed for the Langon Mountains to prove to myself that I was a strong Vulcan, and not some namby-pamby human."

Amanda calmly informs Sarek that both this new guy and their kid have vanished. Okay, Amanda. I know you're living on Vulcan, among Vulcans, but as both a human, and that kid's mother, you have the right to panic. Amanda says she doesn't think that "Selek" would harm Spock, but their seven-year-old is missing and Sarek responds with, "Yeah, but he's weird. Okie-dokie. I'll alert the authorities" in this even tone that's more suited for saying things like, "Oops, I dropped this bit of tomato on the floor while making dinner. Oh, well, I'll clean it up."

Out in the mountains, Big Spock crests a crag to find that Little Spock has been cornered by this:

I want one of those too!
Big Spock goes running, but here comes I-Chaya to the rescue, because I-Chaya is the shit. There's a battle that's about as epic as one can get with cheap animation, and I-Chaya is felled by the le-matya. Big Spock jumps on the le-matya's back and takes it down with a Vulcan neck pinch.

Little Spock jumps off his rock and hugs the now-upright I-Chaya and thanks Big Spock.
"Mother says I should always say thank you," he says.
That's right, Spock. Because who is the shitty parent? Not Amanda.
"Um, we should GTFO before that thing wakes up," suggests Big Spock.
They leave the le-matya.
As they are walking away, we get down to the crux of the matter: Spock's parents are sending him mixed messages. Sarek wants Spock to be a good little Vulcan, and Amanda wants that too, but it sounds like there's some ambiguity about it.
"You've noticed that she can be emotional, and it embarrasses you, and you worry when you see that in yourself," notes Big Spock. When pressed for the reason why he knows this, Big Spock replies, "There is human blood in my family line also. It is not fatal."
It's kind of a funny line, but I still feel bad for Little Spock.

"So here's the deal," says Big Spock. "Humans and Vulcans have the same set of emotions. Vulcans just control them in ways that humans do not. It brings a kind of serenity to us."
This is as close to "be proud of both of your heritages" as we're gonna get, so I'll take it.
I-Chaya, who has been following them, collapses.
"He is dying from his wounds," says Big Spock. "The le-matya has poisoned claws."
Odd dramatic music... Awkwardly-handled commercial break.

Spock's Log: "Recap from a moment ago."

"Okay, so, he needs a healer," says Big Spock. "He's too big to move, so we have to bring one here."
"I'll do it. I'll run across the desert and get a healer," says Little Spock. "He's my pet, and my responsibility. Please stay with him."
Little Spock takes off.
"This sucks," says Big Spock. "You being wounded wasn't part of the original event," Big Spock tells I-Chaya. He decides to help with the pain, and pinches the sehlat to help him sleep.

We see Little Spock running across the desert at night. The show tries to build some drama by showing us that, up ahead, there's some kind of plant with vines or a tentacle creature that's probably dangerous, but when it grabs Little Spock, he just kind of pushes it away.

Okay, so when Little Spock reaches the healer's house, he explains the situation, and the healer is hesitant. Why? Because apparently, two years earlier, Spock played a practical joke on someone. Star Trek, haven't we talked about this before? About establishing reasons for characters to do things that are completely out of character? In order for Spock to have played a practical joke on someone, he needs to have had a reason to find such a thing amusing. This kid, while confused and emotional, lacks the sardonic humor that Vulcans seem to have. Also, practical jokes are rarely played on someone by one kid. Even when it appears to be the work of a solitary spawn, there are almost always other spawn egging him on it the shadows. And we've already established that Little Spock has no friends except I-Chaya. I find this "practical joke" issue to be bogus.
He finally gets the healer to come with him by saying, "Okay, you heard about that. But have you ever heard that I'm a liar? Because I'm not fucking lying now."

They head back to Big Spock and I-Chaya by way of the healer's hovercraft thing, and the healer examines the sehlat.
Big Spock congratulates Little Spock on making the desert crossing efficiently, and LS explains that he was doing it for I-Chaya, who had apparently been Sarek's pet before his.
"What if he dies?" LS asks.
"He might," says Big Spock. "Death is part of life. It happens to everyone. But we should only mourn when that life is wasted. I-Chaya's life was not wasted."
"So you have a shitty decision to make," says the healer. "I can prolong his life, but it will be painful, because he is past the point where the le-matya antidote will work. Or we can put him down now and allow him to rest."
You're killing me, Star Trek.
Little Spock takes a long pause and a deep breath, and says with conviction,"We shall let him die with peace and dignity."
And he hugs I-Chaya when the healer gives the shot.

Back at home, Little Spock apologizes for "causing trouble" but says that it was "necessary."
"The fuck?" asks Sarek. "How the hell was it necessary?"
"I had to chose the direction that my life would take," he explains, as though he's eighteen and not freaking seven. "I want to follow the Vulcan way of life."
"Okay," says Sarek, who seems relieved that his kid has not chosen to become a Terran freak. "We'll have I-Chaya brought back home from the mountains."
"I have some business to attend to with schoolmates," Little Spock says by way of excusing himself. "My cousin taught me the Vulcan neck pinch."
And that, apparently, is how a Vulcan announces that he is about to kick some ass.

"So that's my cue to go," says Big Spock. "I guess I'm the kind of guy who blows into town, saves a kid from dying in the desert, then leaves just as mysteriously."
"Cool," says Sarek. "You can stay with us again if you come back through here."
"Yeah, probably won't," replies Big Spock. "But do me a favor, and try to understand your kid better."
"That's a weird request, but I'll do it," says Sarek.
Um, yeah, We all know how that turns out, but maybe he gave it the old Vulcan Academy try anyway.

A few moments later, Spock hops out of the Time Vortex, and Kirk asks how it went.
"Fine. Everything is now the same, except... a pet died."
"Psssht, that's nothing," shrugs Kirk, who is a complete asshole.
"Maybe to some," replies Spock.

They beam up, and Bones is waiting for them, admonishing them for screwing around on Orion.
"I'm finishing up crew physicals, and you're next, Spock," he says in irritation. "You know I have to re-calibrate my machinery for a Vulcan?"
"You're in luck," quips Spock. "If things were different, you'd be re-calibrating for an Andorian."
"Is that a joke?" Bones scoffs. "Vulcans don't joke."
See? Bones gets it.
"Times change," Spock answers.
And the E leaves orbit.

So with the exception of the "practical joke" snafu and the hate-filled little dicks that were teasing young Spock, this episode was actually pretty good. Sometimes I think that the writers really don't have the best grasp of what it actually means to be Vulcan, and that's what I typically use to measure out of character moments. But Big Spock's explanations to Little Spock of what it means to be a Vulcan were actually spot-on, so that excuse really doesn't cut it.
What's more important here is the real-world application of understanding one's children and oneself. Amanda understands Spock, but she sometimes sends mixed messages. Sarek doesn't get Spock, but has faith in his abilities to arrive at the correct conclusions. What Little Spock is missing from both is the guidance to achieving the right answer. We know that Spock gets there in the end, but it seems as though much of his journey is done alone. When dealing with his humanity, his choices are to accept, celebrate, or reject that half. He finally decides to accept it, and move forward from there.
Maybe it's because it's Pride Month, and maybe it's because so many of my friends have been engaged in on-going struggles against their parents' idealized versions of themselves, but this episode still rings true as far as that goes, and probably always will. As long as people have children, they will have hopes and dreams for those children that don't match up to what the offspring actually wants. And those same offspring will struggle to figure out how to maintain a relationship with those parents, while remaining true to themselves.
Another bonus here: the death of I-Chaya. Not that it was a good thing, but that it wasn't shied away from, especially after Gene Rod was advised by TV executives that he should.
"No way," he said. "The episode is more poignant with the death of the pet sehlat, and kids are more resilient than you think."
Good on you, Gene Rod. You know who else didn't shy away from that kind of thing? Mister Rogers. And Sesame Street. Both shows were well-aware that if you offer kids information in a straight-forward way, they will understand, even if parts of the process are shrouded in mystery. In this episode, Little Spock learns that he has a friend in I-Chaya, even if his classmates treat him like garbage. Then he gets another lesson when his rash choice to run off got that only friend killed. It is then topped off with Spock having to make the decision to end a friend's suffering over his own happiness. 
Are these tough issues to deal with? Absolutely. But Star Trek didn't tip-toe around them. Could I-Chaya have lived, the way the execs wanted? Yep. But then we would have ended up with a missed opportunity, and Gene Rod would have been "dumbing down" the show for the audience the execs thought Star Trek had. Which he refused to do. TV exces will always insist that shows be dumbed down for kids, which is how we end up with shitty kids' shows. The ones that work on all levels are the ones where dumbing down does not occur. Gene Rod refused to make a dumb show, even if everyone expected the animation and Saturday morning time slot to make it so.


Wendy's has a trio of teas that they mix behind the counter specially (meaning: not available from their fancy new fountain machines). I decided to give the Tropical Green Tea a shot. They're made by the Honest Tea people, and it looks like they brew it at the restaurant. It's pretty good, heavy on the green tea flavor, but light enough that when you drink it, you don't feel weighed down.
I would recommend this more than the fancy fountain, which takes some getting used to in order to figure out how to work the thing. (It isn't super-complicated, but will time you out if you don't make your choice quickly enough.) However, the Honest Teas do cost more than the fountain, because it's considered a specialty drink.

"Play with me, Mo!"
"No, I'm busy."