Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 15 – “The Jihad” – Too Much Tell and not Show

Star Trek TAS S 1 E 16 The Jihad

     “The Jihad” had some interesting ideas, for example Spock and Kirk being on a secret mission with a bunch of other alien representatives to prevent a war is pretty cool. Sadly we get almost entirely tell and not show which makes it one of the worst episodes of the “Animated Series.”

    The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by Stephen Kandel.

      The story involves Kirk and Spock being chosen by a powerful and ancient species to recover a Skorr artifact of religious significance in order to prevent a Jihad on the galaxy as the Skorr were once a war like species and it was only their religious awakening that now keeps them in check. Kirk and Spock must work with other aliens to retrieve the artifact and prevent the war.

The Pros: The Alien Team – The idea behind the alien team is really cool, with Kirk and Lara as the human representatives who flirt with each other a few times while the others are more extreme in emotion or balanced. Tchar is the leader who betrays them in the end as he wants the war and to re-establish “greatness” in his people again.

Spock and Kirk – Spock is logical and sound and is always a pleasure and these two have great chemistry again that shows why slash fic exists, especially as Kirk is way more interested in the mission and Spock than her even though she is down with hooking up over the course of the mission on the dangerous planet.

The Cons: The Writing – The script is really bad. Everything is explained and  because we are told everything it makes the very bad animation all the more apparent. If the writing had been okay this would be an okay episode, but because it is terrible it makes the episode terrible. Doesn’t matter how good your actors or ideas are if the script can’t carry the episode.

  This is an episode I would not recommend at all, at it is a shame since there was so much potential here. We should have spent more times with the different aliens and gotten to know the Skorr more, instead we had a very poor execution of “Man vs Nature” and an obvious betrayal that never really made sense.

Final Score: 2 / 10

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

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 14 – “The Slaver Weapon” – A Political Situation

The Slaver Weapon Star Trek TAS Season 1 ep 14

   “The Slaver Weapon” is a lot of fun. The episode is okay but doesn’t seem to have any major focus beyond escape, which really brings it down. Plus the Kzinti have a lot of potential as an antagonist but we they weren’t fully explored as a threat.

    The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by Larry Niven and adapted from his story “The Thought Weapon.”

     The story involves Spock, Sulu’s and Uhura’s search for Slaver technology as we learn the things the Federation discovered lead to new discoveries in their own sciences. During the search for one of the Slaver Boxes they are kidnapped by antagonist Kzinti who wish to establish their old Empire that once existed.

The Pros: Uhura – Uhura gets captured a few times but at least she is always resisting the Kzinti. I wish she could have had a bigger role but she is still great here being a nice contrast to the sexism of the Kzinti.

Sulu – Sulu is a strong character and we see him do a great job against the Kzinti and the moment they go into his mind they revolt as he imagines eating vegetables which they hate. He has strong mental will and manages to escape with Spock when they successfully leave the ship.

Spock – Spock is the one who figures out the Slaver A.I. and lets the Kzinti make their own destruction as they try and control the A.I. which believes it’s still at war and destroys the Kzinti ship. This is his episode as his lack of foresight lead to them getting captured by the Kzinti in the first place and he takes responsibility for that.

The Kzinti – These guys have a cool design. They are a mixture of bat and cat and can read people’s minds (a lot of aliens in “Star Trek” can apparently). I wish we could have got to know them more though, they have so much potential as a threat and militarizing again.

Okay: The Slavers and the Weapon – The Slavers are a now extinct species that once ruled the Universe and look like a one-eyed reptilian species. We don’t know much about them but the weapons and the Slavers weren’t all that fleshed out (less so than the Kzinti) which was a major con…all we know is they were advanced technically, ruled the galaxy and are no longer around anymore.

The Cons: The Animation – This is a problem with the show in general but it is really bad here as the running is really blocky and the repeated shots are really obvious.

Uhura the Victim – She keeps getting captured and in the end needs to be rescued. So much for the future.

    This story had a lot of potential but just didn’t make it good. It was enjoyable to say the least but that doesn’t make a good story. Uhura was the victim way too much and the Kzinti just didn’t feel wholly alien, which was a shame. Still, there was a lot of good here.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 12 – “The Ambergris Element” – First Contact and Change

Kirk_and_Spock_mutated

     “The Ambergris Episode” was a fun first contact episode that actually worked! Kirk and Spock having gills was not something I expected to work given how “Voyager” handled things in “Threshold” but this one was different as it focused on how complex first contact is that within a culture or people there are differing points of view.

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

     The episode involves the exploration of Argo where Kirk and Spock are attacked by a Sur-Snake leading them to be transformed into aquatic species by the younger generation of Aquans. When they attempt to reach the Elders they are left to die on the surface until one of the Council leaves to rescue them and Kirk and Spock seek a cure of their state and find out the history of the Aquans.

The Pros: The Aquans – The Aquans are fascinating! You have the Elders who fear surface dwellers because they were once them and fear the destruction that occurred and the younger generation who wants to change and are the biggest advocate for first contact. Eventually contact with the outside world is made after Kirk and Spock cure their state using Sur-Snake venom and the Elders stay below as the younger generation comes into the new galaxy.

Kirk – Kirk is the one always seeking contact with the natives and even after they are left to die still does diplomacy. This one really shows how driven he is to seeking peaceful solutions, even when wronged.

Spock – Spock is the one who helps them find the cure and shows how rough the reality is as if Kirk and Spock stayed in a tank their roles would be limited in what they could accomplish.

Raising the Fallen Continents – The Enterprise changes it’s phasers and sets them in such a way to raise the continents. It is really cool and shows how they are a force for change (for better and for worse) and help the Aquans become a part of the great galaxy.

Okay: The Sur-Snake – Okay enemy, but looked kind of stupid at times.

The Cons: Execution – The story could have been done better if we could have seen more of the point of view of the younger generation. This lack of perspective was the only thing that brought the episode down besides the main crew not being allowed to do much.

  This was an episode worth checking out, not a favorite but it is solidly good. It explores the complexity of first contact and manages to turn a strange idea into it’s favor while giving a fascinating society in the process!

Final Score: 8.3 / 10

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 11 – “The Terratin Incident” – Adapting to Size

Star Trek TAS Season 1 ep 11

      “The Terratin Incident” was an episode that could have easily been terrible. Shrinking people is generally a weak story unless something creative is done with it. This episode actually deals with consequences along those lines, and gives us a faction that isn’t all that sympathetic giving our heroes more of a dilemma.

    The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by Paul Schneider.

     The story involves the crew being shrunk after investigating a planet full of dilithium and volcanic activity. The crew must find out who did it and restore themselves to normal size before they are destroyed.

The Pros: Captain Kirk – Kirk saves the day and figures out going down to the planet will be the way to figure out how to restore them to normal size. He also makes a splint for Sulu when Sulu is knocked off his post and he rescues Nurse Chapel. This is very much a Kirk episode. He is also merciful and saves the people who were attacking them.

Spock – Spock is the planner and Kirk is the doer. He figures out that they are shrinking first and works with Kirk to try and figure out a way to get them back to full size again.

Sulu – Sulu wants to attack the planet and is one of the first people who notices that something needs to be done about the planets attack on them.

Scotty – Scotty uses his men to use the transporter and is always active and creative throughout the episode. He doesn’t let size stop him from being productive and planning.

The Terratins – The Terratins were shrunk when they settled on the world and were lost to time. They chose not to seek help until the very end and steal others to get help. They are a great antagonist force in the episode.

The Cons: How Women are Handled – The women on the ship panic, especially when their jewelry shrinks and Nurse Chapel has to be rescued from drowning. This brought the episode way down and kept it from being better.

   Minus how women are handled in the episode it is a lot of fun and great. We get to see the crew think creatively, there are stakes and the Terratins though they were once human are now more alien as they do not know how to admit they are wrong and are so driven by pride and having to be right. It’s really cool and creates a great episode.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 10 – “Mudd’s Passion” – Mudd is a Terrible Person and this Episode is Weak

Harcourt_Fenton_Mudd_2269

    Harry Mudd is a terrible character and I’m not looking forward to my eventual watching of “Mudd’s Women” his introduction episode. In this he is a simple and very selfish con who has no redeeming qualities. This episode also suffers from “Star Trek” not being all that good at comedy. Still, there were a few things I enjoyed, though this is still not an episode I’d recommend.

“Mudd’s Passion” was directed by Hal Sutherland written by Stephen Kandel.

The story involves Mudd conning some minors with love crystals that end up working and leading the crew to act crazy as he makes his escape and must be captured once again to be brought to justice within the Federation.

The Pros: Spock and Kirk – The crystals make these two lovy with one another and I love it as I have always been a fan of Spock and Kirk as more than friends but also potential lovers, as they had more chemistry with one another than any woman that was supposed to be a love interest.

The Rock Monsters – At one point Rock Monsters are attacking Mudd and Nurse Chapel and they have a great design.

The Cons: The Premise – They to go to stop a con job by Harry Mudd on a world that isn’t even under the Federation, it is pointless from the beginning and Nurse Chapel falling for the con against a proven con is just bad writing.

The Message – Love can be induced by artificial means? I don’t think this episode knew what it was exploring and any message gleaned is a negative.

The Characters – With the exception of Kirk and Spock everyone is written terribly. So much flirting and acting stupid for contrived reasons. Not worth your time.

Harry Mudd – Why did they bring this guy back? He is useless, annoying and if he is anything like this in his introduction episode I am going to run into an episode that I will probably hate. Of all the people to bring back…why not Kor or one of the Klingons or the Romulan Empress? Not Harry “fracking” Mudd.

Mudd and terrible writing are the biggest problems with this episode. It reminds me why in improv my mentor Brian told was that acting drunk was a copout, this was that with contrived writing. It was trying to be easy rather than telling a good story. I do not recommend at all and and Harry Mudd is a terrible character.

Final Score: 2 / 10

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 7 – “The Infinite Vulcan” – New Purpose

Spock_2,_Keniclius_5,_and_Enterprise_crew

  Walter Koenig (the actor who plays Chekov) is a great writer! He has a lot of big ideas he deals with in this (the survival of a dying species and how to change ideals) and does a really good job with it! This was an episode that could have been terrible. Clones generally are a bad idea, especially cloning a major character, but this episode rises above this generally bad idea.

   “The Infinite Vulcan” was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by as stated above, Walter Koenig.

      The story involves the Enterprise being ordered to a planet at the far reaches of the galaxy where a dying plant species called the Phylosians has made a deal with a man from the Eugenic Wars who has chosen Spock to clone in order to create his Master Race to bring peace to the galaxy. It is up to the crew to stop him.

The Pros: Phylos – Phylos is a really cool planet. It is entirely made of plant life with both predatory flying plants as enemies and the dying race of the Phylos as the dominant species. It is colorful, green and dangerous and I wish the planet would make appearance in other “Trek” things.

The Phylosians – This species is fascinating as they latch onto the man Dr. Stavos who almost killed them from his germs but did everything to save him. They were once a war making species but now only want to be peacekeepers…much like humanity and Dr. Stavos.

Uhura – Uhura has a minor but great role in this. She researches the Eugenic Wars and finds that Stavos fought in it and it is from her research they are able to reason with the man and Spock 2 in order to save Spock and keep Stavos’s ideals from becoming a nightmare. 

Sulu – Sulu also has an active role in this as it is the Phylosians who save him from a plant that poisons him and it is he who later defends them when they are attacked by the Phylosians by easily throwing one. He shows that he is adapt, witty and can match wits with any crewmember or alien. He’s a lot of fun in this and Takei brings his charm.

Scotty – Is the acting Captain and does a good job as we see that he is the one who tries everything to reach Kirk as he doesn’t want to cause a war during first contact. He truly is the best engineer in “Star Trek.”

Dr. Stavos – Stavos is the idealist run amok who has lost all faith in humanity so wants to create a master race to enforce peace between worlds. He ran away from the Eugenic Wars because of the ashamed he was of his people and the war and that shame rubbed off on him when he nearly wiped out the Phylosians from simply being part human. This makes it possible to reason with him though and in the end he becomes an ally of the Federation.

Spock and Spock 2 – Spock 2 is Spock’s Clone who has Stavos’s ideals but also the Vulcan logic which leads to him stopping further clones from being created and mind melding with the original Spock in order to save him. He later stays to help Stavos further his research and save the Phylosians.

Spock agrees with the Clone and calls out Kirk for his aggression while complimenting him for when he acts with a cool head.

Kirk –  This is a good Kirk episode as we see him deal with threats in a reasoned way while still using force when absolutely necessary. He is convincing too and manages to turn the Phylosians and Dr. Stavos who were once enemies into allies of the Federation.

    This was a really great episode with the only cons being the fact that what Dr. Stavos did during the Eugenic Wars is never gone into. In a way it isn’t needed but it would have made the episode perfect if we had more time. I really recommend this episode. I had no idea Walter Koenig could write, but he did a great job.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 6 – “The Survivor” – Choice of the Outcast

Star Trek The Animated Series Season 1 Ep 6

  “The Survivor” is a fun episode that doesn’t reach it’s full potential. We have a unique alien, Romulan intrigue  and a character who most of the crew respects…within all of these ideas none of them are fully fleshed out. This is an episode that could have easily been a two-parter and deserved a full hour and the shortness of an animated show worked against the story hidden within.

    The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by James Schmerer.

    The story involves the discovery of a man who was supposed to be dead named Carter Winston. All is not as it appears to be as the alien who has taken it’s form leads them into the Neutral Zone and into a dire confrontation with the Romulans. The crew must outsmart it and stop it before the Federation plans can get to the Romulans.

The Pros: The Romulans – The Romulans use an exiled shape-shifting Vendorian to get them the Enterprise and all the knowledge on the ship. They do a good job and almost succeed but in the end their worry about hurting the Vendorain keeps them from doing more damage to the Enterprise. This showed them as noble which I liked though their plan never felt fully fleshed out.

Captain Kirk and Spock – Kirk and Spock are great in this as the outsmart their opponent and force it to make a choice to defend the ship as well as calling the Romulans bluff which leads to the crew surviving and getting out of the Neutral Zone.

The Vendorian – The Vendorians have a great design! They look like a giant jellyfish and are pretty dangerous. I like the fact that they can shape-shift but wish they’d been fleshed out more. Still, this is a species I want to see again.

The Battle – The Battle is pretty great! 2 on 1 with Enterprise being sabotaged from within. The Romulans feel like a threat and nearly win and it is only from Kirk and Spock’s quick planning that force the Vendorian to make a choice and change sides.

Okay: Carter Winston and Anne Nored – This relationship doesn’t feel real and ends up being cliche. Nored sees past the alien whose form her husband took and she doesn’t shoot it and gets to stand guard over him at the end and the alien falls in love with her because of the form of it’s host. This would work better if it established the Vendorians took on more than just the appearance of another.

The Ending – The Vendorian decides that it will stand trial before the Federation because it is what Carter Winston would do and he was inspired by the man he took care of before he died. This would work a lot better if not for the question of why he was working for the Romulans? This makes it feel very incomplete.

   This was a good episode but not great. As stated above there was so much more that could have been explored. Why was the Vendorian exiled from his Species and how did the Romulans get it to join them? How did being Carter Winston change him? Who was Carter Winston? What did the Romulans want in the end? These are all questions that remain unclear by episodes end, though the journey here is a lot of fun.

Final Score: 8 / 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