Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What I've been watching: the original Star Trek...

Often, one Star Trek episode will remind me of another, whether the immediately preceding one or one from two seasons earlier. It feels like two writers were handed the same assignment, rather than two writers following the same rigid template. (Re: the latter, see: Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and Inspect Gadget.)

Currently, I'm making my way through the original Star Trek's third season. The two episodes that I most recently watched were:

1. "Elaan of Troyius", which involves the Enterprise trying to help an alien culture, an endeavor that is, A) complicated by Kirk falling prey to the wiles of a member of said culture's elite class of women, who is regarded as having a certain power over men, and, B) Klingon interference ... much like season two's "A Private Little War".

2. "Whom Gods Destroy", which, like season one's "Dagger of the Mind", involves a planet solely housing a "rehabilitation" facility for the criminally insane; like "The Squire of Gothos" (also season one), has as an antagonist a twinkle-eyed, jocular man child who has manipulated circumstances so that Kirk and Co. are at the mercy of his erratic, malevolent, whims; like season one's "The Enemy Within" and season two's "Mirror, Mirror", includes Kirk opposing a physical duplicate of himself; and like season two's "The Gamesters of Triskelion" and I don't know how many other episodes, involves the Enterprise crew (in this case, Kirk and Spock) being held captive and abusively used as pawns in their captors' games (in "Triskelion", for the captors' sheer entertainment; here, in "Whom Gods Destroy", the plotting mad man captor is using them to achieve an external objective).

I don't mean anything negative by pointing out any of the above named similarities; all of the referenced episodes are great.

(...oh, and, of course, "Whom Gods Destroy" was certainly not the first Star Trek episode with a performance by a dancing green lady.)

-- Ryan

1 comment:

  1. Ryan:

    I think you’ll find, as you delve deeper and deeper into sixties era episodic television, more and more such similarities.

    It’s certainly understandable, given the times in which such series were produced. Like the theatrical cartoons of old, such episodes were intended to be seen perhaps not exactly ONCE, but certainly only TWICE. Fall/winter premiere season and maybe spring/summer rerun season – if you weren’t sampling something else. I’m certain little or no thought was given to a possible (for certain fortunate series) “endless life” in the syndication market, which had just begun to prominently emerge as a force that would permanently cement such series into our mass consciousness toward the latter part of the decade.

    It was then inconceivable that STAR TREK would still be playing (…presently on ME TV, along with its contemporaries LOST IN SPACE and VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA) about FIFTY YEARS LATER, and would have continued life on DVD, Blu-Ray, and other online and downloadable media. And, perhaps equally inconceivable that devoted “fandoms” would develop around such series to obsessively catalog them, write about them, and ceaselessly discuss them. (I think we’re ALL a little guilty on that score – and proud of it!)

    So, if the type of similarities you describe tended to creep in to the various episodes – and “creep in” they certainly did – it’s just part of the fun (…and dare I say “comfort”) these series provide!

    Oh, and I have always preferred “A Private Little War” to “Elaan of Troyius” (despite the latter’s clever variation on “Helen of Troy” – the genuine article you’ll get to meet in in THE TIME TUNNEL). One need look no further than your furnished photos for the reason why.