The third Captain's Log concludes the first season of the original series of Star Trek. It's been an enthusiastic but bumpy ride so far. One season down, about a gazillion to go... at the rate of consumption (one season every three weeks) I estimate I'll be finished with this long voyage within two years.
Kirk and Spock's wedding was a sombre affair
Episode 21: The Return of the Archons
Sulu is beamed up from a 'Wild west'-styled planet but arrives back on the Enterprise possessed by a strange force that twists his mind.
- Why the fuck is there a wild west planet? It makes zero fucking sense and I find it highly irritating!
- Okay, the western thing... I guess Gene Roddenberry thought that having a science fiction series meant you could just set your stories anywhere you liked. It feels very much like Star Trek is trying to do a Doctor Who-styled story, but it isn't a very good fit.
- Bit an anti-religious slant to this episode, so I guess it aint all bad.
- Everyone in the landing party except for Spock dresses in 19th century western-styled suits. So Kirk and McCoy are gadding about looking they're part of the environment, meanwhile Spock is weaing a badass cloak and looks like Dracula or some shit.
- First mention of Starfleet's rule of non-interference. A rule that Kirk has no reservations about breaking (he later even leaves a sociologist behind with the planet so that the culture can be made more 'human' - despite the fact that these people aren't human!)
- The 'villain' of the episode is Landru, a super computer that enslaves the population through a kind of religion that literally brainwashes people. The reason for this is to stop the society from indulging in violence and war (much like the point of most religions).
- This episode has a good idea behind it, but the execution is retarded. We get characters pretending to be possessed, endless lines of "joy to you all, my friends" and "it is the gift of Landru", prophecies, and a resistance force made up of just three dudes.
- Kirk witnesses two ideologically-enslaved rebels quaking in cowardice and tells them to "snap out of it. Start acting like men!" Them's mighty masculine words, Kirk, you can have a sniff of the captain's chocolate log for those.
- I mentioned Doctor Who earlier... when Landru is finally revealed to be a computer (like we didn't know all along) he rants and sounds a bit like a Dalek, "I am Landru! You will be obliterated!"
- Like all hokey sci-fi tales about computers taking over, the computer 'mastermind' is defeated in the end by a logical argument that sends it crazy.
"Don't fuck with the Khan"
Episode 22: Space Seed
The Enterprise encounters a derelict ship from the 1990s. It's cargo: frozen survivors of the Third World War, led by a possible war criminal named Khan.
- Khan's ship is said to be from the 1990s! Pretty optimistic of this '60s series to think we would be out in space like that by the 1990s.
- Khan has become the stuff of legend amongst Trek fans. It's a good episode, but his reputation is no doubt more associated with his appearance in the 2nd Star Trek film, generally regarded as the best Trek film amongst hardcore fans.
- The ship turns out to be a relic of a 'Eugenics war' fought on Earth back in the 1990s.
- Kirk mentions Australia twice (albeit in reference to penal colonies!)
- Another superhuman madman runs amok on the Enterprise. At least Khan doesn't have mindpowers.
- The problem with the idea of selectively-bred supermen in the 1990s is that it means generations of breeding must have already occured prior to the 1990s, something that doesn't really square with accepted history.
- Ricardo Montalban is easily the highlight as Khan, he plays the villain as a modern day Napoleon - with shades of Hitler, Lenin and all the other colours of the fascism rainbow.
- LOL @ Kirk's flying kick during his big fight with Khan.
- WTF, Khan tries to kill various crewmembers and generally fucks shit up, yet Kirk's solution is to give him an uninhabitated world to colonise and build an empire on. Good punishment Captain! NOT.
Everyone in this episode regretted their involvement almost immediately
Episode 23: A Taste of Armageddon
A diplomatic mission to Eminiar VII to make contact with an alien civilisation runs into some difficulties when Kirk recieves orders to cease contact due to an interplanetary war in the region. An ambassador on the Enterprise overrules the order though, and advises the Enterprise to continue on its mission.
- The Eminiaran soldiers have stupid hats that look like flowerpots and napkin displays.
- 500-year wars are the bread and butter of sci-fi at its conceptual best, so I guess it was only a matter of time until Star Trek did an episode along these lines.
- The idea of a mathematically-fought war is pretty neat, though I'm not sure it holds up to extended scrutiny.
- Spock: "Sir, there's a multi-leggged creature crawling on your shoulder". Guard looks at shoulder. Cue Vulcan neck pinch. Cue the lols!
- Man, the Eminiarans are fucking arseholes. If they want to wage a war of mutual suicide, more power to them, but to include a diplomatic envoy (the Enterprise) amongst their casualties is beyond rude.
- Scotty gets to command the Enterprise (not for the first time). His captaining style is, er, 'interesting'... it basically just involves him refusing to do stuff!
- This episode drags on for way too long, especially with Kirk's endless philosophising and lecturing in the last five minutes. Not the show's finest moment.
"The guy in the shop said I should wait for the iPhone 5, but I just had to have it now"
Episode 24: This Side of Paradise
Kirk and his mates beam down to an Earth colony to investigate the apparent destruction of the human populace due to dangerous berthold rays.
- The Omicron colony is a neo-luddite return to pastoralism - another neat but well-trodden sci-fi idea.
- Spock runs into an old girlfriend! Easily the most interesting aspect of the episode... I welcome any and all Spock-centric episodes at this point, he's still the highlight of the show.
- I have a sense that this episode was influenced by the rise of hippies in the '60s. The colony and their 'happy flower spores' come across as very cultish.
- Spock goes all new age as he gets in touch with his buried emotions thanks to the Omicron spores. Meanwhile, the spores cause McCoy to adopt a southern accent (I'm not sure why... maybe DeForest Kelly is just an idiot?)
- The Enterprise is meant to be crewed by 400 people, yet when everyone except Kirk abandons ship it still manages to stay functional. How is that even possible? Kirk mentions in his log that the ship can sit in space on autopilot, but if that's the case why does it need 400 crewmen in the first place?
- Spock reveals that he does have a second name but that it is unpronouncable to humans.
- I actually liked this episode a lot. It's full of good character stuff, and the location shooting looks great as well.
Spock felt that cunnilingus was most illogical
Episode 25: The Devil in the Dark
Some miners on the planet of Janus VI are getting picked off one by one by some kind of murderous creature. It's up to Captain Kirk and his team of sidekicks to save the day!
- The head miner has a bit of an annoying voice and doesn't seem to be the best actor either.
- Silicon-based life forms are another staple of sci-fi, and have featured in everything from Doctor Who to The X Files. Star Trek's version of the silicon theory manifests itself in the form of a 'monster-of-a-week', which looks a bit like a giant diseased orange peel.
- 24 episodes after The Man Trap we get some more lectures and discussions about the rights of the Enterprise to kill the last of a species.
- Leonard Nimoy's acting during Spock's mindmeld with the creature is uncharacterisatically poor. I guess we all have our bad days.
- In a nice reversal, the 'monster' turns out to the be the good guy. I found this a relief as up until this point it seemed to be pretty stodgy and uninspired stuff.
- Some McCoy moments... "I'm a doctor not a brick layer!" and "By golly Jim, I'm beginning to think I can cure a rainy day".
- There's some more jokey Spock-Kirk rapport at the end of this episode, in which Spock seems to have a good time pulling the legs of his fellow officers.
"HAI CAN DRIVE CAR BADLY?
Episode 26: Errand of Mercy
The Klingons declare war on the Federation after a breakdown of negotiations, and the Enterprise races against time to prevent the Klingons from invading Organia. Kirk and Spock arrive too late though, and get trapped behind enemy lines when the Klingons occupy the peaceful planet.
- Huzzah! First appearance of the Klingons. In the pre-credits teaser, Kirk talks about them as if they're dirty soviets, "We have to get there before the hammer falls".
- Sulu gets put in charge of the Enterprise. Having an Asian around sure was a handy way to show how non-racist Star Trek is, especially when the pseudo-Mongolian Klingons are introduced.
- Some time is spent showing us the Organians, a peaceful people who have lived fairly primitively for thousands of years with little progress. All I could think as Kirk met with the Organians is 'hurry up, get to the Klingons, dammit!'
- For anyone even remotely familiar with Star Trek and its most famous aliens (the Klingons), their first appearance comes as a bit of a shock. Most of the Klingons look just like slightly tanned humans and don't even speak in that gung-ho Klingon fashion... only their leader, Kor, seems 'Klingon' in demeanour (it also helps that he has a scary fu manchu goatee and evil eyebrows).
- The episode is all about pacifism vs. violence, with the lesson being: you can't protect yourself whilst being a pacifist. Kirk basically gets so frustrated with the pacifist leanings of the Organians that he basically tells them their culture can eat a bag of dicks and that they should all go fuck themselves.
- Spock looks like a Dungeons and Dragons-style Elf in his Organian get up, prancing about in pointed boots and a red cloak.
- The twist is cool but also not completely unexpected. The Organians just seemed a little too cool and calm under fire.
- Obviously, with this being their first appearance, the elaborate culture of the Klingons is yet to be created by the writers. All we get here is the sense that they're aggressive and militarian, and that they also appreciate these qualities in their enemies.
"I can explain my appearance Captain, I simply fell asleep at the beach with my sunglasses on... Oh, the beard? What can I say, I'm just an arsehole"
Episode 27: The Alternative Factor
The Enterprise investigates a strange anomaly that effects the entire galaxy, and traces the phenomenon to a nearby planet where they pick up a deranged scientist apparently locked in some kind of ongoing battle with an unspecified and unseen monster.
- The scientist is a beardy-weirdy looking guy who seems to be wearing jeans and a snazzy belt. His beard changes in thickness several times throughout the episode, and not in accordance with the scripted variations in his performance.
- Some pretty far out visual effects here that seem to be crazy just for the sake of showing that something crazy is happening. It's kind of hard to follow - lots of double exposures and rotating images that don't make a whole lot of sense.
- Another McCoy gem, "I don't know Jim, this is a big ship - I'm just a country doctor".
- The scientist Lazarus is almost immediately proven to be a liar, yet Kirk lets him walk about on his ship making a nuisance of himself.
- As soon as Lazarus revealed his origins I guessed who his 'opponent' would be.
- Lazarus' ship is a goofy-looking, man-sized flying saucer. It looks like it's out of The Jetsons.
- I get the basic gist of matter vs. anti-matter (there's a Doctor Who episode about it too) but I think the attempt to put it on screen here is a bit too convoluted. It also gets a bit repetitive, with Lazarus falling off a cliff at least twice.
The cast fell silent as they came face to face with a better television show...
Episode 28: The City on the Edge of Forever
McCoy goes nuts after accidentally drugging himself up, and beams down to a nearby planet where he disappears through a mysterious time portal. Kirk and Spock follow him through it, and they both end up on Earth in the 1930s.
- Generally considered to be the best episode of Star Trek. I saw this once when I was a kid... it bored me at the time because it didn't have any cool monsters in it.
- Sulu's a bit of a shit actor, ay? I'm talking specifically about the bit where McCoy jabs him with cordrazine and he pulls this goofy face of happiness.
- First episode where Kirk has a full-on romance. His reputation as a master cocksman has been referred to in many other episodes before this, and he's even had a few casual romances, but he always walks away from them with a casual smirk despite the damage he sometimes causes. By contrast, in this episode he's genuinely affected by his daliance with a lady.
- There comes a time in the life of every sci-fi series that you get an episode about time travel and its consequences. I have to admit, this episode would stand as one of the best TV examples of this trope.
- The contrast between the 23rd century world of the Enterprise and 1930s Earth is played to great comedic effect, and I guess in some ways this episode pre-figures the celebrated 4th Star Trek film.
- LOL @ Kirk explaining Spock's appearance by saying that he is Chinese and had his ears caught in a rice picking machine! Kirk, you happy-go-lucky racist, that earns you a hearty bite of the Captain's Chocolate Log.
- Features a memorable guest appearance from a young pre-plastic surgery Joan Collins as Kirk's love interest.
- I think this episode stands out because it thinks outside the box - there isn't really a villain, there's no dopey looking aliens, and the plot is fairly watertight. There's absolutely nothing in it that feels dated.
- When you think about it, the subtext to this story (that pacifism is misplaced during times of war) is pretty grotty. Especially when you consider that this episode was made while the Vietnam War was in full swing. Trekkie fandom started out as a very American phenomenon, so perhaps it's no coincidence that they liked this episode a lot.
Spock decided to prove once and for all that Vulcans were the best dancers in the universe
Episode 29: Operation Annihilate!
Spock maps a line through space that shows civilisations that have fallen due to widespread insanity. The Enterprise follows this trend to an Earth colony where Jim's brother Sam Kirk is stationed with his family.
- The Earth colony looks suitably futuristic (despite the fact that it's filmed on location outside some corporate-looking 1960s buildings).
- We don't actually get to see Kirk's brother, he dies just the Enterprise arrives. Bizarrely, Jim and his sister-in-law don't seem all that cut up about it. In fact, between this and his 1930s girlfriend dying in the last episode, Kirk is so much of a hardass that crying just isn't an option.
- The aliens in this episode are kind of like flying stingrays but actually look more like wobbly bits of flat plastic swinging through the air on string, and I had to laugh when one of the crewmembers remarks, "Captain, it doesn't even look real". You said it sister!
- Nurse Chapel makes an appearance after an absence of twenty episodes or so.
- Leonard Nimoy does well to depict Spock's struggle after becoming infected, he fights off the pain with a mantra ("I am a Vulcan, I feel no pain") but you can see in his eyes that he's quite distressed by the whole thing.
- Sometimes I wonder if Nimoy and DeForest Kelley had an ongoing competition to see who could raise their eyebrow the most.
- The aliens are quite an interesting concept, even if it does turn into a typical '50s-styled sci fi B-movie where the heroes have to race against time to find a way to kill the monster (and you just know it'll turn out to be something simple).
- Spock suffers blindness when McCoy 'cures' him of the neural parasite's infection and he doesn't even seem that pissed off about it. Gotta admire how cool that Vulcan cucumber is!