31 March 2012

Trek Review: Star Trek The Original Series, Season 3

Following the season wrap-up's for Season One and Two of the Original Series, I thought it would only be fitting to give one for the final season of the show that would eventually spawn eleven feature films (and a twelfth in production as I type) and four other spin-off series. From my initial point of view, the third season didn't live up to the standard set by the first two, but it did feature some episodes worthy of mention.

Some of the standout episodes for me included The Enterprise Incident, The Tholian Web, Wink of an Eye, Elaan of Troyius and All Our Yesterday's, among others.

The Enterprise Incident

There were few character changes for the cast of the third season but it is known and documented that Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek took a step back between this and the second season - it shows a bit in some of the stories that just didn't feel as well finished or as 'Trek' as we had become used to seeing.

Unfortunately, this season suffered (rating wise) for me due to some poorly executed episodes, or just those that became quite annoying or ridiculous. Prior to this, the second season episode I, Mudd scored my lowest rating of 4/10. Season Three has two episodes that beat that with Spock's Brain and And The Children Shall Lead scoring a measly 3/10. Thankfully, much of the rest of the season scored consistently enough so that the average rating is a 6/10 overall.

Plato's Stepchildren

This season had many landmarks though for the Trek universe and our own world too. The first interracial kiss was filmed on TV in Plato's Stepchildren, the mysterious Tholians are introduced in The Tholian Web, we meet Surak and Kahless, both important Vulcan and Klingon figures in their history in The Savage Curtain, while in The Paradise Syndrome, the obelisk that the crew discover become an important part of an episode arc in Star Trek Online.

There were also several episodes that dealt with strong cultural issues at the time. Racial discrimination was covered rather blatantly in Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, overpopulation was looked at in The Mark of Gideon, division between classes in The Cloud Minders while the idea of enemies putting their differences aside and working together were brought up in Day of the Dove and Elaan of Troyius.

The Savage Curtain

Budget cuts and a lack of funding plagued the third season which wasn't only reflected in the writing of episodes but the production. Most notably in Spectre of the Gun where the set is only half completed, but this is written away in the script while an episode like The Empath is shot almost completely in a dark room and other episodes become centered on the Enterprise like Elaan of Troyius and The Mark of Gideon.

Turnabout Intruder

Ultimately, it was good to have a third season. Our crew remained the same and gelled together quite well. There were fewer instances of the characters being out of character, except when an alien influence was taking over Spock's emotions again. The adventures are hardly over for our crew as we look forward to the Animated series and then the six feature films.

The blu-ray transfer for the third season was again well done. Fewer blurred scenes and some great special effects put in place in some cases such as the Tholian web in that episode and the supernova effect in All Our Yesterday's. The special features appeared to be lacking from disc to disc but this may have resulted from the fact the final disc in the set was filled with interviews, featurettes, an unreleased version of the second pilot Where No Man Has Gone Before (with minor edits) and the full version of the original pilot, The Cage.

Overall, very happy with the blu-ray set and the remastered Star Trek series. Watching through was also a good refresher of the original adventures and missions of the starship Enterprise and what made her so famous for generations to follow!

10 March 2012

Trek Review: All Our Yesterdays & Turnabout Intruder

The time has finally come, the last two episodes of Star Trek's Original Series. Will Season Three end on a high or continue the lacklustre course we've been on for most of its run?

All Our Yesterdays
ZarabethThe Enterprise arrives at planet Sarpeidon to warn its inhabitants that their sun is about to go supernova. On the planet surface, Kirk, Spock and McCoy find themselves in a nearly deserted library. Meeting only a man named Mr Atoz. Exploring further, they find he is responsible for sending the Sarpeidon inhabitants back into the planet's past for their safety - where each of the landing party members also accidentally find themselves as well.

Kirk hears a woman's scream and runs to assist. Finding himself in an era resembling old England. Kirk winds up in jail when the woman he 'rescued' was actually a thief and is further implicated when the voices of Spock and McCoy communicate with him from 'beyond'. Meanwhile, Spock and McCoy are transported to Sarpeidon's ice age and find a lone woman who has been exiled there.

Eventually the trio are able to find their way back to present day Sarpeidon and leave the planet before the sun goes supernova. Mr Atoz is also able to escape a fiery death.

Quite an interesting episode with a unique idea on how to escape impending doom at the hands of a supernova for this planets inhabitants. My only gripe is with the handling of Spock's character, who degenerates into a more barbaric Vulcan, simply because they are 5000 years in our past - when the inhabitants of Vulcan hadn't suppressed their emotions with logic. This didn't sit well with me as Spock's training would remain - just because he exists 5000 years ago doesn't automatically mean he would revert?

Nevertheless it provides another break from Spock's logical character and a love interest for him while McCoy watches on. Kirk doesn't get the girl in this episode, I don't think he'd want the one he ended up trying to help.

Most notable from the remastered episode were some cool effects shots for the star about to go supernova, including the final scene were Sarpeidon is engulfed by the supernova shockwave. Nicely done.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Turnabout Intruder
Kirk and Janice Lester undergo a life energy transferA crazed and vengeful scientist from Kirk's past transfers bodies with the Captain in order to assume a command of her own.

The Enterprise arrives at Camus II, answering a distress call from an expedition on the surface. They find Janice Lester, gravely ill from radiation sickness and someone Kirk knows from the academy. They reminisce and Janice reveals her resent that she was never able to be a Captain. Kirk examines a nearby device where she is able to trap him and put into effect a life energy transfer. She now occupies Kirk's body and Kirk is stuck in Janice's ailing body.

Janice has been studying the Enterprise for years and puts her plan into action to take over. Feeling confident that the transfer is flawless, she enacts a plan to leave Kirk at Benecia Colony, a hospital inadequately equipped to treat radiation sickness. To the crew, the captain begins acting strangely and they begin to monitor and attempt to find out what's wrong.

Eventually she is uncovered as the transfer weakens and her actions become more and more irrational - to the point of ordering the death penalty for actions that don't warrant it under Starfleet regulations. Eventually the transfer reverses.

Not a bad episode, particularly as it's the one to end the live action Original Series adventures on the small screen. A bitter woman after revenge on Kirk, almost gets it...

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

So there wraps up Season Three and the series. I'll follow this post up with a review of the 24 episodes shortly.