Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 15 – “The Eye of the Beholder” – Obvious Message not Done Well

Eye of the Beholder Star Trek TAS Season 1 ep 15

   The idea of aliens seeing humans as animals is a cool idea but really hard to execute, and honestly the original “Planet of the Apes” did this idea so much better. I wasn’t sure who the aliens were in the end or why they thought humans and Vulcans were animals, they were supposed to be higher beings without it ever being demonstrated and that more than anything brought the story down.

The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by David P. Harmon.

The story involves the crew of the Enterprise seeking out Markel who had made a command decision that had got him and his crew trapped on an unknown planet. When the crew of the Enterprise arrives they are trapped and put into a zoo and must find a way to communicate with their captors or escape.

The Pros: The idea – The idea of aliens seeing humans as animals is a good one but the slugs are so boring we got know idea of their culture of society.

Okay: The Crew – Kirk tries to escape and the others talk to Markel but we don’t really get much. Scotty has a moment of the baby alien getting into his head and that is the extent of the interesting stuff, it was just that unmemorable.

The Cons: Execution – The zoo was poorly designed, the aliens culture was completely unknown and our crew  does nothing of significance. It’s just a bad episode.

The Message – Animals are just trying to communicate with us and are the same or could be the same as us someday. Not a bad message but very poorly done and if there is another message it was unclear to me.

This was not a good episode. Not much happens or is fleshed out and an interesting idea of first contact is completely wasted and goes cliche (they’ll be ready to meet us in 30 of their years). Was not a fan.

Final Score: 3 / 10

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Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 9 – “Once Upon a World” – Star Trek’s Hal 9000

Control_computer

“Star Trek” has a Hal 9000 and it is is the Master Computer. I was actually very entertained by this episode and want to see the original series episode that inspired this episode (“Shore Leave”). The Master Computer, seeing Uhura do something and Spock were once again the best part of this episode. This was a good episode.

    “Once Upon a World” was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by Chuck Menville and Len Janson.

    The story involves the crew returning to the “Shore Leave” planet and Uhura being captured by the Master Computer who wishes to take control of the Enterprise and escape from the planet his creators have confined it too.

The Pros: Captain Kirk – Kirk is the one who manages to infiltrate the Master Computer when Spock fakes sickness using one of McCoy’s concoctions to force the Nurse Bots to bring him in for healing. It is he and Spock together who reason with it and help it realize it can grow and learn and that organics are equals to sentience life be it machine or otherwise.

Uhura – Uhura fights the Master Computer on multiple occasions and shows why she is such a valued member of the crew. She is never the damsel in distress even though she needs to be rescued.

Sulu – Sulu has a minor role in this but he manages to escape a bunch of threats and he makes possible Spock and McCoy’s infiltration. Takei is as usual amazing as the very flirtatious Sulu. He was a lot of fun in this.

McCoy – McCoy is the humanity in this and is the one who fears while Spock is fascinated with the robots and the Master Computer. He is also willing to risk it all to save everyone and is a great contrast to Spock per usual.

Spock – Spock is the one who uses logic to get the Master Computer to see that what it is doing is illogical and that it can coexist with organic life. He does a great job and it is he who risks getting sick to get inside the Master Computer’s headquarters. He also stops Kirk from risking himself as logically Vulcan’s bodies are stronger than humans.

The Cons: The Ending – The ending is a bit too corny. The robots that have been trying to harass the crew have a picnic with them. It just feels too cliche even if they are outcroppings of the mind of the Master Computer.

   This was a great episode because it wasn’t just the Kirk, Spock  and McCoy show. Sulu and Uhura are acive too and we see them be active in every scene they are in. There is no passiveness in this episode and the Master Computer feels like Hal, an actual threat that has no respect for humanity or organics but in this case is able to learn that respect, which is very “Star Trek.”

Final Score: 9 / 10

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 4 – “The Lorelei Signal” – Captain Uhura

SpockMcCoyOld

    “The Lorelei Signal” is an episode that would have had a lot more problems had Rodenberry been the writer. Given “A Wolf in the Fold” had a woman posses Kirk because she wanted to be a captain but couldn’t through the sexist Federation (So glad this didn’t carry over to “TNG” for Starfleet Rules) and his general approach on that issue I’m glad that he wasn’t writing the Siren like Taureans who actually get some exploration and are more than just Vampires who suck the energy out of men. There was so much that could have gone wrong in this episode, but instead we got a fun adventure thankfully.

      The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by Margaret Armen.

     The story involves the Enterprise being pulled to the Taurean world by a strange musical signal. When Spock, Kirk and McCoy and Carver beam down they are taken hostage and are used as an energy conduit for the immortal species of women. From here they must plot their escape while Uhura takes control of the ship to go about figuring out to rescue them.

The Pros: Spock – Spock is the one who is able to figure out that they are drawn to men to suck away their energy and gets the information to Uhura before passing out, warning them to bring an all women away team. He is the one analyzing every situation they are in and the least attached even though even he is drawn in and hears Vulcan Wedding Drums from their singing.

Uhura – Uhura suspects something is up from the beginning and gets them away from the planet the moment she sees that the crew is getting worse. She also negotiates a treaty with the Taureans rather than killing them showing just how much of a Starfleet Officer she is and worthy of the Captain’s Chair.

The Taureans Motivation  and Treaty – The new technology they created led to their men dying off so the only way to live was to bring more over to take their energy. They find another way when the crew learns that they can mate with other species so they leave the planet to make a life elsewhere and are glad to give up Immortality and it’s cost.

The Cons: Siren Trope – They pull the men there and hypnotize them because of their beauty. This trope is so overdone and I hate how it defines women so narrowly and gets rid of diversity within a population. This was my issue with the Taurean concept as a species and where I could have seen this being one big “Taming of the Shrew” type episode.

   This episode was enjoyable though it was not able to approach the Female Species only exist to “draw men in due to looks and sex and is only using the men.” This thought process is a huge reason that sexist societies use to justify keeping women out of power, since they are only seen as weak with their bodies and minds as their only ways to get any sort of control and are looked down on that as those with power use these poor reasons to justify the sexist status quos.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 2 – “Yesteryear” – Spock’s Search for Peace

Star Trek The Animated Series Season 1 ep 2

    “Yesteryear” is a great Spock and Time Travel episode. It is also one of the few times we get to see an Andorian character explored outside of the horrible “Enterprise” series. It is a subtle episode that manages to bring a lot depth and show a lot without having to say much. It’s focus on Spock also lends it a lot of strength too as there aren’t any side plots to distract from that core story.

    The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by D. C. Fontana.

      The story involves the crew traveling to the planet of the Time Vortex in order to help some archaeologists explore the past of the Federation. When Kirk and Spock return though they find no one recognizes Spock and that he died as a child in this timeline forcing Spock to travel back to the past in order to prevent his death.

The Pros: The Archaeologists – The archaeologist team has a great look! We have a woman of color in charge and an alien with a beak and wings working with her. They have a minor role but they work with Spock in order to restore the Timeline.

The Guardian of Forever – The Guardian is haunting, just like the episode it first appeared in in “The Original Series.” It also lays down the rules too that Spock can only change one big event, illustrating that actions will have consequences before he even goes back in time. James Doohan plays the voice of the Guardian and other characters in the episode.

Kirk – Kirk is the only one who remembers Spock and it is he working with Spock to learn what happened in the timeline where Thelin is now his First Officer in order to bring Spock back to life and save his mother. He is supportive and we see just how deep the friendship is, from them exploring Orion together before the Timeline was changed and afterwords where Kirk is the only one who knows what happened.

Thelin – Thelin is the First Officer in the Timeline that Spock died as a child. He is a cool character and I would have liked to see more of him. He is a warrior but supports Spock in restoring the Timeline since Spock’s desire to save his mother from dying is something he finds admirable. He is one of my favorite minor characters and I wish Andorians made more appearances on “Star Trek.”

Amanda Grayson – Majel Barrett does a wonderful job as Spock’s Mom. She is the outsider on Vulcan and is doing all she can to support Spock on a path she cannot take. I feel bad for her character as she is powerless to do anything for Spock beyond show him love. She in many ways is just as much an outsider as she is, except she has chosen not to become Vulcan wholly in philosophy, much like Spock does later.

Sarek – Sarek is a harsh father and complex character. He is very much a man of Vulcan who sees the Vulcan way as the purest way to peace. It is for this reason I get why he is the ambassador to Vulcan. Sadly he does not hold other Vulcans accountable for when they bully his son though he supports Spock in setting things right for himself. When old Spock pretends to be his cousin he listens to him as well when old Spock tells him to seek to understand his son. It is a touching scene and Sarek keeps having the feeling that he knows Old Spock even though Spock is going by a different name. Mark Lenard is once again fantastic in this role.

Spock – Spock is the outsider who is choosing the Vulcan way though as a child that is hard. It takes old Spock showing him the good in the Vulcan way in harsh choices (to keep his pet alive and let it suffer after it saved his life, or to let it die with dignity) that make him see why logic is so important. It is after this that he stands up to the bullies and shows them the Vulcan Neck Pinch he learned from Old Spock. At the end he mourns the choice he made to kill his pet so it wouldn’t suffer but is grateful that the timeline is reestablished and that he can once again fulfill his role as First Officer living the Vulcan Way in the Federation.

    This episode shows the pressure that was on Spock to conform to Vulcan society and how his father never gave him any other choice. This causes conflict in their relationship later as Sarek’s refusal to show affection and only anger or disappointment mostly pushed Spock away and it really wasn’t until Sarek’s death in “The Next Generation” that they were able to resolve these differences. We see that he does love Spock though, and tried to show it as best he could.

Final Score: 10 / 10

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 1 – “Beyond the Farthest Star” – Capturing the Wonder and Adventure of “The Original Series”

Star Trek The Animated Series Season 1 Ep 1.

   “Beyond the Farthest Star” is the Pilot of “Star Trek: The Animated Series” and in my opinion it does a good job of capturing what “The Original Series” so good. In this we have a mystery, a problem to be solved and humanity shown in an enemy with most of the crew at work and active in order to solve the problem. This to me, is part of what made a good Star Trek episode.

     The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by Samuel A. Peeples.

     The story involves the Enterprise being caught around a Negative Star Mass who find themselves dealing with another threat when they go to the other alien vessel trapped where they are and find it was carrying dangerous cargo which escapes onto the Enterprise. From here the crew must outsmart the creature and escape from orbit.

The Pros: The Conflict – The two conflicts are done really well. The Questar M-17 feels like a threat in how it is pulling them towards it and the malevolent being nearly kills Scotty and many members of the crew as it tires to blackmail them into getting off the planet so it will be free in the Galaxy.

The Voice Acting – The voice acting is great in this episode! Shatner, Nimoy, and the others speak like they are doing the actions and they feel invested in the events being animated.

The Ancient Alien Race – There is an ancient alien race that destroys itself in order to trap the entity around the Questar. They are cool looking and look like giant bugs and their vessel looks like a giant purple plant. This was the reason I chose it as the photo for this episode review as it captured the great creative things you could do with designing an alien species.

The Malevolent Entity – The Entity starts out as a troll and has the voice of Dalek and manages to nearly get its way until Kirk is about to manually take control of the ship and in a desperate gambit force it out onto the Questar where we alone part of it’s issue is it is alone and that is why it has always acted out from it’s isolation.

The Crew of the Enterprise – The crew is fantastic and all of them do things. From Sulu being in control when McCoy, Scotty, Spock and Kirk explore the alien vessel, to Spock figuring out the calculations in his head to get them out of the Questar and get rid of the alien and finally Kirk’s gambit to control the vessel and to risk it all to get rid of the Entity. Most of the crew has things to do this episode.

The Cons: The Animation – Filmation cuts corners and it shows. The crew walks very stiltedly and the eyes don’t feel fully real. It’s serviceable but it’s hard not to notice how cheap it is.

Too Short of Length – This episode could have been an hour long so we learn what the Entity is who the Ancient Alien race was and to raise the stakes of them being trapped. The episode only being 30 minutes made things feel a bit rushed.

   This was a good episode and it captures the wonder of space travel and shows the crew as a Team which is what usually made a good “Star Trek” episode from any series. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the series and after this reviewing “The Original Series” on a more regular basis as this episode reminded me so much of all I enjoyed about the very first “Star Trek.”

Final Score: 8 / 10

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Upcoming Reviews

Star Trek The Animated Series

     “Star Trek: The Animated Series” is a series that I’ve been planning to review since I did “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” are two of my favorite franchises with both having some rather horrible things tied to their name (For “Star Wars” it’s the first 2 Prequels and “The Christmas Special” and for “Star Trek” it’s “Enterprise” and some of “Voyager.”

From what I understand this series isn’t fully considered canon (much like some of the “Star Wars” animated EU) but still is an important part of “Star Trek.” For one the original voice actors from “Star Trek: The Original Series” played the voices of their characters on the show and even though the terrible Filmation produced it (lazy is another word I’d use) Gene Rodenberry did produce it and penned some of the stories as well. For this reason I’d consider it more lore than the Abrams reboot series as it is still within the “Star Trek Universe” and main timeline.

It was fan love for the revival of the “The Original Series” after it’s cancellation that lead to this shows creation from 1973-1974 which in turn helped give us “The Original Series” films and a reboot of the live action franchise. In this way it is a powerful part of history and showing just how much power a fanbase can have in reviving something they love.

I am a Trekkie and have been since Middle School but I have never watched this series. So I am looking forward to what I’ll discover and if it is able to capture the wonder, mystery and some of the great messages that made “The Original Series” so great.

I’ll be reviewing the episodes individually with a series assessment at the end and my “Top 5 Episodes” for people too. Suffice to say, I am looking forward to it.

Lets Explore the Final Frontiers.