Friday, October 28, 2016

May You Find Your Way As Pleasant: Star Trek episode 0, "The Cage"

Today, I'll be launching a project that I've been looking forward to ever since I had the idea: a lengthy sojourn through the original Star Trek series.  I hesitate to call it a five-year mission; that would be lame.  Also, I doubt I'll actually be able to finish it that quickly.  That's okay with me.  I'd rather do the job well than do it fast, and if I can avoid making any ambitious commitments -- tackling an episode per week, for example -- then I can avoid stumbling and falling on my face.

I'm going to cover the original series (often referred to colloquially as TOS), followed by the animated series (TAS), the six movies featuring the original cast (I'm counting Generations as a Next Generation movie), and whatever else strikes my fancy (original novels, comic books, fan-produced episodes like Star Trek Continues, etc.).  From there, it's entirely possible I'll continue on to The Next Generation, but we'll go through that wormhole (or not) when we get to it.

How long will this take?  I have no idea.  But I fully expect it to be a work in progress on the day I die, and that seems fitting: one of my earliest memories involves being fascinated by the cover of a Star Trek book by James Blish (more on which later); so why wouldn't my ever-further-reaching quest to figure out what that cover was all about last for as long as I myself last?

How could it not?

I don't want to drown us in preamble, but saying a word or two pertaining to the format I'm going to use is probably warranted.  I'll be going in production order, and not in order of broadcast.  There's no continuity to speak of in TOS, but I do believe that watching the episodes in production order yields beneficial results.  As such, the only place to begin is "The Cage."  An argument could be made that watching it first dilutes the effectiveness of the two-part first-season episode "The Menagerie," but you won't catch me making that argument, or agreeing with it.

The reviews themselves are going to consist of whatever thoughts happen to come to my mind about the episodes.  I'm not sure "reviews" is even the right word; I'm shooting more for essays than reviews, which is often the case with my blogs.  Copious screencaps are going to be presented, all them taken from the Blu-rays, which I ripped to my PC and allowed to consume quite a large amount of storage space.  I'm watching each episode a minimum of three times: twice via Blu-ray on my television (the original version followed by the remastered-with-new-effects version) and then once on my computer for note-taking and screencap-harvesting purposes.  I'm spreading that work -- "work" -- across multiple weeks, so as to live with each episode a bit longer.  So, in other words, once per month is about as frequently as these essays will appear, and bi-monthly might be more likely.

I'm also going to include behind-the-scenes information gleaned from several nonfiction books I'm reading as I go, plus reviews of the James Blish prose adaptations.
So let's get to it!