Film Freak: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

220px-star_trek_vi-poster

Twenty-five years ago, Star Trek wasn’t just in theaters, it was on TV too. The Next Generation was a hit, and a spin-off called Deep Space 9 was also produced, the first to be done without any involvement from Gene Roddenberry. Star Trek V was by almost all accounts a terrible movie, but this was the anniversary. Something special had to be done. Paramount was poised to start a new series of movies, this time focusing on The Next Generation. To begin, the torch had to be passed, and we needed a proper movie to make it work. Once more onto the breach, to quote Shakespeare. In fact, Shakespeare is appropriate, as the subtitle is also a Shakespeare play reference. Did I mention there’s a scene where the Klingons quote Shakespeare as well?

This movie brought everything full circle. As in Wrath of Khan, the crew is once again feeling their age. Sulu is now the captain of the Excelsior. Kirk is expected to give up his grudge against the Klingons, a grudge fueled by the death of his son in Search for Spock. Kirk has discovered that two Klingon dignitaries have been killed, and he is the prime suspect. With the murder of his son, Kirk has a proper motive.

Continue reading “Film Freak: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”

Advertisements

Best Star Trek Episodes #1: City on the Edge of Forever

city

Well folks, here it is, the all-time greatest episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. This isn’t just my opinion, it’s also Roddenberry’s favorite, tied with “The Menagerie” (which was a re-working of the original pilot episode “The Cage”).

From the series’ inception, Star Trek actually had the support of elites in the sci-fi community. When “The Cage” was shown by NBC and Roddenberry to these people, Isaac Asimov himself was in attendance and personally congratulated Roddenberry. But he wasn’t the only elite that supported Roddenberry. He also had Harlan Ellison, who had a special story he wanted to write for the show.

Harlan Ellison was a sci-fi writer who wrote novellas, screenplays, and even scripts, and not just for Star Trek. In fact, when Twilight Zone was revived by CBS in the 80’s, Harlan Ellison was brought on as the show’s executive producer, and wrote many of the scripts. (By that time, Rod Serling had died.) He actually was not pleased with this episode, as he and Roddenberry had disagreements over how the script was supposed to be written. These disagreements soured his relationship with Roddenberry, which is why this is the only story he ever wrote for the series.

The story begins with McCoy treating a comatose patient, and injects him with cordazine. The drug has the potential to cause insanity, but the patient does not appear to be affected.  However, when the Enterprise is rocked by a galactic distortion, he accidentally injects himself with too much of the drug, causing him to become paranoid. Driven by his paranoia, he beams down to the planet’s surface, with Kirk and Spock chasing after him. When they arrive, they discover a “time tunnel” (no relation to the short-lived TV series), which is causing the distortions. McCoy runs through the tunnel, and moments later, Kirk discovers that the Enterprise no longer exists. In fact, neither does Starfleet itself!

Continue reading “Best Star Trek Episodes #1: City on the Edge of Forever”

Worst Star Trek Episodes: Spock’s Brain

spocksbrain

And here it is folks, my #1 pick for the worst Star Trek episode of all time: “Spock’s Brain”. This is a legendary episode, and in every bad way possible. There’s a story around that Gene Coon, who produced Star Trek along with Roddenberry, and wrote many of the episodes, wrote the script of “Spock’s Brain” as a joke because he didn’t like the idea of Fred Frieberger replacing Roddenberry as producer. Prior to working on Star Trek, he was on Lost In Space. Personally, I have to disagree with this. Yes, Lost in Space was less serious than Trek, but I still consider it part of the sci-fi genre.

Continue reading “Worst Star Trek Episodes: Spock’s Brain”

Best Star Trek Episodes: Space Seed

khan

When Nicholas Meyer signed on to direct Star Trek II, he actually had little knowledge of what he wanted. To prepare, he watched several episodes, including this one. In fact, if someone had never watched Star Trek, this is an episode I would show.

The story begins when the Enterprise finds the starship Botany Bay. They board the ship with historian Lt. Marla McGivens accompanying them. When they beam onto the ship, they discover there are inhabitants in suspended animation. These are the notorious Khan Noonian Singh and his followers.

Everyone is intrigued with the idea of reviving Khan and his followers, despite their reputation. I like how Spock is bewildered that Khan is actually revered despite his tyranny. This is realistic. There are many notorious people who are still admired to this day.

Continue reading “Best Star Trek Episodes: Space Seed”

Worst Star Trek Episodes: Plato’s Stepchildren

plato1

Gene Roddenberry wanted Star Trek to be an inspiration to the future. In fact, it’s one of the few optimistic visions in science fiction. It is a future in which all colors and creeds of the human race come together to explore the final frontier.

“Plato’s Stepchildren” is probably Star Trek’s most controversial episode. It features TV’s first interracial kiss. So, why do I place it here? Because I cannot let controversy make me give it a pass. I have nothing against the scene personally. But how we got to it is a path I did not like.

The story begins with Kirk, McCoy, and Spock beaming down to a planet, investigating a distress call. They are greeted by a friendly dwarf named Alexander. They meet the planet’s inhabitants, (called Platonians) who have created a society based on the ideals of the Greek philosopher Plato. These Platonians are ageless, and with the exception of Alexander, all are telekinetic.

The Platonians have actually lured the crew because their leader, Parmen, is ill. Parmen isn’t alone, but Kirk objects. The Platonians demonstrate their abilities on Kirk and McCoy, making them dance like jesters and imitate horses, with Alexander riding Kirk. This was the moment that made me hate the episode.

Continue reading “Worst Star Trek Episodes: Plato’s Stepchildren”

Best Star Trek episodes: Balance of Terror

balance

Mark Lenard appeared in two classic Star Trek episodes, and both are among my favorites.  I’ve already talked about “Journey to Babel”, so now let’s talk about “Balance of Terror”

The Federation has two alien races as enemies: the Klingons and the Romulans. While the Klingons eventually became allies by the start of Next Generation, the Romulans remained enemies throughout both Classic and Next Generation. While both are warlike, they approach conquest in different ways. The Romulans are such a threat that they set up a “Neutral Zone”, an area of space which the Federation is forbidden to enter. The Romulans can come and go as they please, but if the Federation crosses it, it could start an intergalactic war.

What I truly enjoy about this episode is the parallel between the unnamed Romulan Commander and Kirk. Both are well-respected by their crews.  In fact, the Commander, despite being the villain, is a father to his men. His crew believes it unwise to question any order he gives. They trust his judgment completely.  The Commander knows very little about Kirk’s background, but he sees Kirk as an equal.  Despite the fact that they are enemies, the Commander respects Kirk.

Continue reading “Best Star Trek episodes: Balance of Terror”

Worst Star Trek Episodes: The Savage Curtain

savagecurtain1

I almost put “Catspaw” in this slot because of its silliness. But I found an even sillier episode for my #3 spot on my Worst Star Trek Episodes countdown: “The Savage Curtain”.

This episode follows the formula seen in better episodes like “The Corbomite Manuever”, “The Gamesters of Triskellion” and “Arena”, where the Enterprise crew is put to a test by advanced aliens. That’s not the problem I have with this episode, the premise is fine.

Continue reading “Worst Star Trek Episodes: The Savage Curtain”