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 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 8 – “The Magicks of Megas-Tu” – A Good Idea Lost in Poor Symbolism

Star Trek the Animated Series Lucien Magic

   After my laptop getting it’s battery replaced it is nice being able to write reviews again! I have a few reviews to catch up on but here is the latest of “Star Trek: The Animated Series.”

    “The Magics of Megas-Tu” really show how the original series wasn’t so good at metaphor and showing but not telling. In this the basic premise is that the witch trials, specifically those in Salem were bad and that we’ve grown beyond them. If that wasns’t obvious you haven’t been paying attention and the fact that witches are still scene as a threat and with that superstition leading to dangerous actions…there is that too, which the episode misses. I enjoyed the animation in this (which was surprising) but the story doesn’t hold and I’ll go into more detail on why.

    The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by Lary Brody.

     The story involves the Enterprise going into the center of creation and running into the Megans, who put humanity on trial for their treatment of witches and it is up to Spock and Kirk to save the day.

The Pros: Spock – Spock is a wizard in this and realizes that since what you believe is real you can cast spells in this reality. Seeing him act as a wizard and defending humanity being an outsider from it is really powerful.

The Animation – The presentation of magic is really cool in this and has chaos and beauty intermixed to create some wonderful scenes when they are passing through the core of the Universe.

The Cons: The Message – Persecution of “others” is bad. This is true but it could have been executed so much better. For one better to use Medieval Times or the Inquisition to express persecution of pagans and magic or even going modern day with some more fundamentalist theist sects or certain tribes in different regions…going Salem is so vague and shows lazyness.

Lucien – This guy is arrogant and I never believed his kindness. There was so much they could have done with this character who was meant to be Lucifer and Loki in mythology. Instead we got none of the complexity and only a god wanting to have a good time. He should have been another deity that fit

The Crew – The crew is just kind of there, even Kirk who exists wholly to send a message that humanity has grown beyond persecution of witches. It was entertaining but a character becoming a message only weakens the story.

  This was a below average episode that I’d only recommend for the animation experience. No reason to see it beyond that. Spock is as usual an awesome character but Kirk in this feels like a plot device and the crew doesn’t do anything productive.

Final Score: 4 / 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 5 – “More Tribbles, More Troubles” – “Star Trek” and Comedy Don’t Mix Well

Season 1 Episode 5

     This was an episode that was hard to watch due to how horrible the premise and characters were. Everyone and everything felt like a joke even though there were reasons it shouldn’t be. A strange threat on the Enterprise, the Klingons having a new weapon…a new species designed by the Klingons…all these are really cool but the story was just bad since it played it all for laughs rather than telling a good story.

       The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by David Gerrold.

    The story involves the rescue of Cyrano Jones from the Klingons as they are attacking him for selling Tribbles on one of their planets. Things soon become dire when the Tribbles are growing uncontrollably and a new Klingon weapon paralyzes the Enterprise and their transportation of grain to Sherman’s Planet.

The Pros: Kirk – Kirk is shown to be a good captain in this. We see him negotiate with Koloth even though they are mortal enemies, and when push comes to shove is able to trick them into surrendering and providing them their Glommer (Tribble Killer) back. His annoyance of Cyrano Jones was what I also shared too.

The Cons: Cyrano Jones – This guy is annoying. He is clearly someone who wants to profit from any situation he is in, and he’s annoying as a Ferengi. There is nothing redeemable about this character and the only reason Kirk protects him is because he’s a Federation citizen. Guy ruined a Klingon world by selling them harmful pests (Tribbles).

The Tribbles – The Tribbles grow bigger and bigger and have none of the charm they do in the episodes they appear in. They aren’t shown to be creatures worth being a threat or a cute distraction. The episode had way too many references too. It should have tried better telling an original story.

Koloth and the Klingons – Koloth has a terrible voice actor and he spends the entire episode acting irrational. Couldn’t stand the character and he was nothing like his live action actor who played him as a general and someone worthy of being a threat and friend.

   This was an episode I would not recommend. It doesn’t do comedy well at all as it can’t decide on what tone it wants and nothing is done with Cyrano Jones or the crew. All are watching Kirk make all the choices and being part of a big giant joke and reference to past “Original Series” episode. This is not a good episode at all.

Final Score: 3 / 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