Sunday, April 12, 2020

This Was Not My First Crisis: Star Trek, episode 14, "Court Martial"

As of the moment I type these words, it's been (consults records) five months since my last review of a TOS episode.  Anything much happened since then, y'all?

Ahem.

Well, pandemic be damned, here we are again, primed and ready to dive into:


 
 
Spoiler alert: it's a lousy episode.  I'd argue that it's handily the worst of the 14 we've looked at thus far.  Consequently, I'm inclined to write relatively little about it.  I hope that's not a disappointment to anyone; I'll try to at least not half-ass what I do write.  But honestly, there's just not that much to be said.  It's a dud.  I'll give you a few reasons why I find it to be so and then we can move on.

First, though, I'll tell you what I think works reasonably well.  Hint:



 
 
I'll confess that I think this is probably overall Shatner's weakest performance as Kirk to date (through these fourteen episodes, I mean).  However, I think he's really good in his stalwart insistence of his innocence, especially during his testimony.  We'll quote a bit of it:

"This was not my first crisis.  It was one of many.  During it, I did what my experience and training required me to do.  I took the proper steps, in the proper order.  I did exactly what had to be done, exactly when it should have been done."

Unlike certain other people who might hypothetically -- heh, no reason to mention this in April 2020, surely, is there? -- make such claims, James T. Kirk is utterly convincing here.  He believes what he's saying; he's not saying it in the hopes of hoodwinking people into believing it.  And he believes it because it is the truth.  Not A truth; THE truth.  Kirk is also persuasive when he tells Commodore Stone that not only is he not afraid of a court martial, but he demands one so as to be able to clear his name.

Actual top-down leadership.  It existed once upon a time, and we believed the future would be even better in that regard.  Things have changed; we're now apparently all at the mercy of the Finneys of the world, who reprogram things as they see fit.

And that's where we'll cut that line of thought off.

Howsabout we shit-talk this episode some now?  Sounds fun!

The episode has any number of problems, but its biggest, I think, is its inability to choose a focal point.  What is this episode about?  Is it about Kirk being on trial?  Is it about a star-crossed romance between Kirk and his prosecuting attorney?  Is it about the over-reliance on computers at the expense of humanity's unique ... uh, something?  Is it a murder/mystery minus an actual murder?  That's the problem.  It tries to be all of those things, and maybe gets close to succeeding with a few of them; but not THAT close, and the pile-up of these various cars on the interstate after they're done smashing into one another is somewhat grisly.

Give that the episode uses the Areel Shaw / Jim Kirk romance as the button to go out upon, I guess let's talk about it first.




It's not a terrible idea for Kirk to encounter a woman with whom he'd apparently had a fling of some sort four years ago.  That's workable.  (And it leads to a great line of dialogue from McCoy, who carps, "All of my old friends look like doctors; all of his look like you.")  But it's never convincing, for whatever reason.  Is it just that Shatner and Joan Marshall have no chemistry whatsoever?  Maybe, but I think it's also how hard Shatner works -- to no avail -- to try to fill in that chemistry on his own.  He's very courtly here.  Shatner takes all the edge out of his voice when speaking to Marshall, and sounds like the gentlest man who ever lived.  It's pretty gross, and a bit upsetting. I can't imagine that approach actually working on anyone, even if the guy using it WAS 1966 William Shatner.

Whatever the case, Kirk and Shaw do not work as an on-screen couple.  The episode is completely unaware of this.  The score (recycled from other episodes) seems to feel this is a romance worthy of Shakespeare; maybe even worthier of Shakespeare than Kirk's romance with Lenore Karidian.  "Dr. McCoy said you were here," Kirk breathes at Areel when he sees her.  "I should have felt it in the air, like static electricity."  Really?  That's like a pot of oatmeal being excited to be scooped into a bowl; you just don't quite believe it.
 
 
 
 
I didn't list it among my grievances above, but it's also worth noting how poorly the notion that Kirk is being railroaded works.  The idea is that Kirk is pre-supposed to be guilty by his commanding officer(s), but, due to the fraternity of quasi-military tradition, he is offered a chance to bow out gracefully so as to minimize the scandal to both himself and to the service.

O ... kay?

No, NOT okay.  If you are an officer like Commodore Stone, and you decide to let a guy like Kirk off the hook that easily even though you believe him to be guilty of literal cold-blooded murder, you are a disgrace.  Forget the idea that Kirk maintains his innocence and deserves the chance to exonerate himself.  You're okay with him not being punished to the maximum extent of the law?  Damn that.  This speaks to the notion that officers are more interested in protecting themselves and the overall service than they are in protecting those who serve under them (i.e., the Finneys -- the hypothetical ones, not the actual ones [e.g., those who actually lose their lives due to command incompetence] -- of the world).  I'm guessing there was some resonance in that idea for many viewers in 1966, but I'm not sure the underlying message jibes with what Star Trek (and its hypothetical future) was supposed to be about.

So, here we go.  We're a mere fourteen episodes in, and already Star Trek is beginning to contradict itself not merely on a continuity level, but on a philosophical level.  Probably there have already been other examples in the foregoing episodes, and lord knows there will be more of them in the Treks which comes after this.  I think it's probably important for fans who are rabidly opposed to current Treks like Discovery and Picard (and that's absolutely me) to remember that these problems go back a long way.  I'll be curious to see what light my behind-the-scenes reading on this episode sheds on these issues; was it a case of Roddenberry's focus being pulled away while "Court Martial" was happening?  Or did he thumbs-up all of this, having not quite figured Trek out even for himself as of yet?  We'll see.

 


I don't find much fault with Elisha Cook's performance as Samuel T. Cogley, Attorney At Law.  I kind of like the notion of there being a crusty old lawyer hauling roomfuls of books around with him everywhere he goes.  Cook plays that well, and I think his performance helps make the episode more entertaining.

However, does any of what he ostensibly stands for make any sense?  It's another instance of the weird anti-technology bias which somehow seeped into Trek from the very beginning, despite the profoundly pro-technology aspects.  Cogley isn't, to be fair, so much anti-technology as he is pro-humanity.  He prizes things which show a marked evidence of having been touched by humanity; he seeks resolutions which honor human connections and the indomitable human spirit.  Something like that, anyways.

In some ways, I relate.  I myself prefer books to computers, at least when it comes to reading.  I have never owned a Kindle or any other kind of e-reader; I've got programs for e-books on both my phone and my PC, but will generally only use them if I have literally no other choice.  And yet, I use both my PC and (to a lesser extent) my phone for all types of internet-based reading, especially when it comes to research.  For research -- you know, of the sort one might engage in when defending a client who is on trial -- I'm not sure a room of books even begins to measure up to a computer database.  That's true in 2020, and will be true in whatever year "Court Martial" is taking place.  The notion that books are better is, at best, quaint.

And yet, Cogley is openly disdainful of machines, even going so far as to show scorn for them while one is reading out Kirk's service record.  The fact that the Enterprise computer has been manipulated is, I think, intended to be a bit of proof that his scorn is justified.  But let's be honest: the Enterprise computer is not in error.  It has been tampered with.  Could not a similarly ill-intentioned man just as easily write a book full of falsehoods?  It is the flawed heart of humanity which is to blame for everything that happens in this episode.  It stems from a human error (Finney's original mistake which earned him a reprimand from Kirk) and resulted in an act of human deceit.  Cogley's skepticism does not even turn the tide of the case; it is only Spock's relentless logic -- cold, calculating, unwavering, and machine-like -- that saves Kirk.

Although, actually, I guess Cogley gets the credit for being the one to hypothesize that Finney might still be alive, having faked his death to get back at Kirk.  So maybe what's important about Cogley is that he operates with a healthy dose of skepticism in all of his endeavors.  The screenplay does not emphasize this, however; it trumpets Cogley's disdain for machines, which is ill-placed, unfruitful, and old-fashioned.  This is not futurism; this is Luddism disguised as humanism.

Despite this, Cogley states toward the end of the episode that "Computers don't lie."  So the screenplay isn't consistent with its own missteps.




The episode's entertainment value probably hinges on its twist reveal that Finney never actually died, but has engineered this whole thing so as to obtain vengeance on Kirk.

The plot makes no sense whatsoever.  Let me see if I understand it.  So Finney, years previously, made a major mistake and was reprimanded by Kirk for it, a disciplinary action which hindered Finney's career greatly and (as he perceives it) kept him out of the running for captaincy.  He nevertheless agrees to continue serving with -- and, eventually, under -- Kirk.  For years.  He then cooks a scheme in which he will fake his death so as to discredit Kirk (and, if I understand this correctly, also fling egg into the faces of upper Starfleet command).  This scheme involves coincidentally being in place to be ordered into a monitoring pod during an ion storm, which will then coincidentally be ejected by Captain Kirk once the storm reaches a sufficient intensity; but Finney, somehow knowing all of this is going to happen, will get out of the pod before it's ejected and then fake his death afterward.  Or had he already put many aspects of the fakery into place beforehand?

It just doesn't work.  Not one bit of it.

It's even worse when the bug-eyed, sweaty performance of Richard Webb is taken into account.  Now, I don't actually think Webb is bad.  I mean, yes, he is bad, but he's memorably bad; he does exactly what he's called upon to do.  I think the screenplay (by Don Makiewicz) and the direction (by the normally reliable Marc Daniels) are more to blame for this than Webb is.

Whomever is to be blamed, Finney is a disaster.




So is Jamie, Finney's daughter.  As portrayed by Alice Rawlings, she is like a dictionary definition of "po-faced" brought to life.  Jamie is somewhere between 12 and 50 in age, possibly as the result of the use of space meth; she looks like the titular characters in "Mudd's Women" once the Venus drug has worn off.  Sorry to be lookist; I say all this as an ugly man who knows he's ugly.  But I don't want to see people who look like me on television.  That's what real life is for, dude; television is for beauty.

Regardless of objectionable views like that, Jamie is a lousy character.  She's understandably -- if aggravatingly -- furious with Kirk at the beginning of the episode, and looks during his trial as if she's plotting a way to murder him if the court system fails her.  But then, at some point, she decides (offscreen) that he's actually a pretty great guy, and pleads with Cogley to save him.

In grand Finney tradition, none of this makes sense.  Well, the wanting-Kirk-to-pay part makes sense; nothing after that does, though.  Jamie has been reading through papers her father wrote, and what he says about his friendship with Kirk persuades her.  But ... so what?  Wouldn't those have been written before Finney's reprimand by Kirk, thereby rendering them irrelevant from the standpoint of what allegedly happened to cause his death?  Even if not, what about this would cause Jamie to suddenly believe Kirk was innocent?  It's just stupid.  It happens only because the screenplay says it happens, and it is not persuasive in any way.




Spock discovers a problem with the computer by beating it at chess in four straight games.

Okay, let's roll with that; it's silly, but let's roll with it.  If Finney had tampered with the computer and caused a problem which would then spread into other systems -- like the computer's acumen for chess -- then surely it would have caused additional problems in additional systems.  Surely somebody else would have noticed something was amiss with the computer.

Again, none of this makes any sense.  I'm not sure it makes any sense in 1966; it certainly doesn't in 2020.

Then, there's the "white sound device."


We'll need musical accompaniment for this.








Dudemar, that's ... that's just a microphone.  It's not even a space microphone; it's like somebody sent an intern to Radio Shack.  DeForest Kelley should have been given an award of some kind for how seriously he handles this prop; if it has ANY science-fictional flair to it (and it does not), it's only because he has invested the scene with it.

Apart from that, the scene raises questions.  So the Enterprise has listening devices so precise that it can literally hear the individual heartbeats of its crew members?  Well, okay, I can buy that during an episode of sci-fi television.  But how would the Enterprise be able to isolate it from other bodily sounds?  That it can apparently tune out everyone's rumbly tummies suggests to me that it could also be programmed to ONLY hear rumbly tummies, and that's a terrifying concept.

"Computer...?"

"Working."

"I want you to record all the bedfarts."

"....."

Also, I have to ask: why, given the fact that everyone knows the computer is compromised to the point of being unable to beat a lowly Vulcanian at chess, is the court so quick to accept as fact the idea that the computer is working flawlessly in this heartbeat gambit?  Does that make sense?

Nope.

I have a few further observations:
  
  • This episode includes the first-ever mention of Starfleet.  They're still referring to things as "Vulcanian," though (as opposed to "Vulcan").  
  • Spock says he is "half-Vulcanian"; is this the first time his being of mixed race has come up?
  • "If I let go of a hammer on a planet that has a positive gravity," says Spock, "I need not see it fall to know that it has in fact fallen."  I mean, sure, but what if someone right beneath you was there to catch it as soon as you let it go?  If you can't rule that out, then you can't automatically assume the hammer has hit the ground.
  • "It is impossible for Captain Kirk to act out of panic or malice.  It is not his nature."  Tell that to the people who wrote The Undiscovered Country...
  • Kirk apparently received the "Palm Leaf of Axanar Peace Mission," which I guess is where that one fan-film that caused so much controversy came from.  I hate people who rabidly stick up for that fan film.  Look, I've got some fan films I love, but the notion that they have a right to exist -- and to turn a profit -- once the people who own Star Trek say they do not is disgustingly wrong-headed to me.  That's what writing prose is for, you dinks.  Even then, you can't make money off of it.
  • Not that this makes much difference, but it's worth remembering how science-fictional the idea of security-camera footage of this nature would have seemed to an audience in 1966.
  • Cogley demands that Kirk be allowed to confront his accuser, which is, in this case, the Enterprise computer.  This has ... already happened.  That's what the video record was, dude.
  • Cogley leaves to go get Jamie, but the two of them never actually show up.  That's a weird false note toward the end of the episode, isn't it?
  • Why leave the ship in orbit while conducting this experiment?  Why not remove it to a safe place?  It's almost like there was a need for somebody to fabricate some drama...
  • By my count, I used ten screencaps up above.  Somehow, amazingly, I still have 101 remaining in my till.  Why anyone would spend the amount of time it takes to harvest 111 screencaps from fucking "Court Martial" is ... well, I blame COVID-19 for it.

We'll call that almost a wrap on the initial phase of this post, but before we move along to the behind-the-scenes section, let's talk about the Remastered version of the episode.  It's got some decent digital additions, some of which are fairly subtle.

I typically post the original effects shots and follow them with the Remastered shots, but in this case, I'm going to simply present a gallery of screencaps from the new effects.



This, in case it does not immediately click, is the aftermath of the ejected pod.

It doesn't show up well in this screencap, but you can see people walking around in the skyscraper.  It looks a little wonky, but I applaud the ambition.


See those lights outside above the Commodore's head?  That's a ship, which slowly traverses the shot as the scene plays out.  There are a number of little effects like that added to the window shots.


I assume the ringed body is a planet and the station is on one of its moons, but is it possible the opposite is true?  Is it possible for a planet's moon to have its own ring system?  My gut says no, but I have no actual idea.




   
  
This is definitely one of the better Remastered episodes, effects-wise.  
  
We'll move on now, and see what we can find out about this episode's origins.
  
  


What a book, man.  Essential.

However, it's not without occasional flaws, and one such comes on page 358 when Cushman refers to Commodore Stone as "the highest ranking Black on Star Trek."  Who -- even in the far-flung past of 2013, when the book was published -- is still using that type of racial terminology?  Does this mean we could refer to Sulu as a Chinee?  (Yes, I know he's Japanese.)  Cushman does balance things out a bit by referring to somebody else as a "White" a bit later.  It's not exactly cause to cancel Marc Cushman or anything stupid like that; it's just an awkward bit of phrasing in a book mostly devoid of them.

A few notes:

  • The episode's first several drafts were written by Don Mankiewicz, who brought with him the Tinseltown street cred of being related to Herman (father, co-writer of Citizen Kane) and Joseph (nephew, writer of All About Eve).  This played no small part in his hiring.
  • His first draft sounds like a more coherent episode, but not necessarily a better one.  Among the differences between the original conception and the final episode: Finney is still allegedly dead, but is hiding out on an asteroid; his friend, Farley, is one half of the "evidence" against Kirk; the other half is IRRU (the ship's computer, the Information Reception and Retrieval Unit) is the other, and it is intentionally lying because it likes Finney and dislikes Kirk; Finney's father is the starbase commander and is determined to see Kirk ruined for his son's "death"; there are two Cogleys, a Jr. and a Sr.; Spock and Cogley Sr. try to get IRRU to admit its deceit, but end up having to fly a space jalopy (yep) to find Finney and bring him back.  It sounds pretty awful, to be honest.
  • Also worth mentioning: Janice Rand is present in early versions of the screenplay, and it is she who brings the tape evidence to Stone which puts Kirk in the hot seat.  That function would later be assigned to McCoy, but somebody pointed out that it made no sense for the ship's doctor to be doing that sort of thing, and so it ended up being Spock's scene.
  • Joan Marshall (who plays Areel) played Herman Munster's wife Phoebe in the original pilot of The Munsters, which got scrapped in favor of a new one.  She would then be replaced by Yvonne de Carlo, playing Lily Munster.  The reason?  Phoebe looked too much like Morticia Addams.  This is correct.




  • About Jamie Finney -- say, didja know the name is spelled "Jame" rather than "Jamie"?  Me neither.  Not a fan of the character in the first place, and if you throw a goofy spelling like that on there, it worsens it for me.
  • In any case, a scene in which Cogley returns to the ship with Jame and she confronts her father was not only scripted, but was filmed.  Why was it left out?  No idea.  Cushman mentions that it was replaced with the scene of Kirk in the Jeffries tube, so maybe the idea is the editors decided to put in some actin' in place of some talkin'.
  • One scene which evidently was NOT filmed explained Jame's change of heart.  Kind of.  I'm still not terribly persuaded by it (and it's not worth going into in detail), but at least it was some kind of effort.
  • Actor Win De Lugo (who plays one of the dickhead officers in the lounge) recalls filming with Shatner and that Shatner had to keep leaving the set because he had water in his eyes.  This evidently was an excess of tears; Shatner was experiencing marital problems and was doing his best to keep himself in check.  De Lugo's side of the scene was performed without the benefit of another actor being present.
  • Director Marc Daniels recalls everyone thinking of the episode as "a dog" even while they were making it; they just wanted to get it over as best they could.  Yep, sounds about right.
  
Cushman also mentions while discussing the editing how poor an idea it was to cut the Cogley/Jame return scene.  He then mentions our old friend James Blish, who was working from the screenplay and included the scene, which Cushman contends works well.  We're about to find our for ourselves, because it's time for:
  
  

  
  
"Court Martial" appears in 1968's Star Trek 2, and alongside the other contents ("Arena," "A Taste of Armageddon," "Tomorrow Is Yesterday," "Errand of Mercy," "Operation—Annihilate!," "The City on the Edge of Forever," and "Space Seed") is clearly the most lacking, at least if the finished episodes are the metric of comparison.
  
Let's give Blish's version a fair shake, though, and see what we turn up.
  
  • Commodore Stone is referred to when introduced as a "craggy Negro."  Well, it was 1968.  Had to let readers know Stone's race some type of way, I guess.  He's also "Portmaster Stone" here, rather than Commodore, although he also still holds the rank of Captain thanks to his prior service.
  • Kirk says they were not only on red alert, but "double-red alert."  The next one up from that, of course, is "double-dog-red alert," followed by "triple-red alert" and the coup de grace, the dreaded "triple-dog-red alert."
  • In this version, nobody brings the computer logs which damn Kirk's actions; Stone already has them, but has not gotten to that point in reviewing them.  He does so while Jame is berating her namesake.
  • Blish skips the introductory scenes for both Shaw and Cogley and goes straight from Kirk's asking for a court martial to the trial itself.
  • The personnel officer called as a witness is a man here, not a woman.
  • It is Shaw who calls Kirk to the stand, not Cogley.
  • The Cogley presented here is considerably less colorful than that of Elisha Cook.  His books are referred to, but there's no mention of how odd an affectation this is considered to be; and he comes off as even more useless in court than he does in the final episode.  One suspects Blish thought he was a terrible character and wished he didn't have to write him, and so set about to write him as little as he could.
  • The alleged scene of Jame talking to Kirk and having her change of heart is not included.  Therefore, Jame's face turn makes just as little sense here as in the episode.
  • As is typical of Blish's restricted-point-of-view approach, we do not get the scene between Spock and McCoy in front of the chess board(s).  And here, the two of them transport directly into the chambers, rather than come running in physically.
  • Jame comes rushing into the midst of Kirk's conversation with Finney (which takes place not in Engineering but in a corridor), which distracts Finney and allows Kirk to disarm him.  There is no protracted fistfight (not to mention no incredibly obvious stunt performers).  There is also no deteriorating-orbit threat.  Jame's return amounts to very little, but it's simpler and cleaner, so I guess I'd say it works okay, comparatively speaking.
  • Somewhat atypically for Blish, the final scene does not involve Kirk, but is between Stone and Cogley.  A major addition pops up: Cogley contends that Jame figured out that her father had faked his death, which is what prompted her change in heart toward Kirk.  It's not certain Cogley is correct about this, but I think Blish intends for us to think he is.
  • Cogley asks Stone to appoint him as Finney's defense attorney.  He says he has a feeling he'll win; Stone says he wouldn't be a bit surprised.

My final analysis: it's not much of a story, and Blish can't rescue it.  There are definitely some interesting variances here, but beyond that, "Court Martial" remains a dud.

Oh, but I've got all these screencaps left over even so!  Here they come, paired with prose from Blish.


"The Enterprise weathered the ion storm somehow, but one man was dead, and damage to the ship was considerable."  [Bryant's note: as I transcribe this, Tuscaloosa is under a tornado warning for the next fifty minutes or so.  Don't eject the pod, Captain, I'm still in here!]  "Kirk was forced to order a nonscheduled layover for repairs at Star Base 11, a huge complex serving the dual role of graving dock and galactic command outpost."


"He made a full report to the portmaster, Senior Captain Stone, a craggy Negro who had once been a flight officer himself; Kirk had known him in those days, though not well.

The report, of course, had to include an affidavit in the matter of Records Officer Benjamin Finney, deceased, and Kirk turned that in last and only after long study.  Stone noticed his hesitation, but was patient."
























" 'Human beings have characteristics that determine their behavior just as inanimate objects do.' "


" 'To the human mind almost anything is possible.' "










" 'Proceed, Captain Kirk.'  'Thank you, sir.

We were in the worst kind of ion storm.  And I was in command.  I made a judgment—a command judgment.  And because it was necessary to make that judgment, a man died.  But the lives of my entire crew and my ship were in danger, and not to have made that judgment, to wait, to have been indecisive when it was time to act, would in my mind have been criminal.

I did not act out of panic, or malice.  I did what I was duty-bound to do.  And of course, Lieutenant Shaw, I would do it again; that is the responsibility of command.' "











" 'I suppose that might explain her attitude.  Curious, though.  Children don't usually take such a dispassionate view of the death of a parent.' "

" 'I object, your honor,' Areel Shaw said.  'He's trying to turn this into a circus.'  'Yes!' Cogley said.  'A circus!  Do you know what the first circus was, Lieutenant Shaw?  An arena, where men met danger face to face, and lived or died.  This is indeed a circus.  In this arena, Captain Kirk will live or die, for if you take away his command he will be a dead man.' "









"At the console, Spock turned a switch.

The bridge at once shuddered to an intermittent pounding, like many drums being beaten."









"Kirk found that he could not answer.  Though he had been sure that this was the solution, the emotional impact of actually being face to face with the 'dead' man was unexpectedly powerful.

Finney smiled a hard smile."


















Well, there you have it: "Court Martial," an episode so lousy that even Blishful Thinking kind of sucked.

We'll do somewhat better next time, with "The Menagerie."  Not sure whether I will cover both episodes at once or split them apart; probably both.  That ought to be a relatively short episode, since I've already covered much of it (in the course of my coverage for "The Cage").  There won't be a Blishful Thinking section, since that was already done for "The Cage."  That might end up being a hurry-up-and-finish-it type deal.  But who knows?  We'll see. 

And hey, what with this pandemic, it may not be all that long until it happens!

4 comments:

  1. (1) I love Shatner's defiant attitude in the early goings of this episode and I'm not ashamed to say anytime I've been unfairly accused of something, I immediately go into Shatner mode. "I demand you look at this evidence, and whatever needs to be triggered to make you do it, do it. Otherwise, get the hell off my ship."

    (2) "I think it's probably important for fans who are rabidly opposed to current Treks like Discovery and Picard (and that's absolutely me) to remember that these problems go back a long way. " Yep. Some of us were ringing this bell before TNG even got off the air, FFS!

    (3) Agreed 100% on both Cogley and Finney. Nothing more to add, just 100% everything you wrote, there. I nean even when I was 9 or 10 I remember saying this about Finney's plan; it makes zero sense.

    (4) "Jamie is somewhere between 12 and 50 in age" lol

    (5) " It happens only because the screenplay says it happens, and it is not persuasive in any way." Yep. I mean, that's it, right there, full stop; that is the problem with this episode. It's one tell-don't-show moment after another. And right down to the damn space microphone (fake-out prop!) - none of that makes any sense, just like the chess program. Honestly I get mad thinking of the defenses of this episode I've heard over the years. It's one terrible moment after another and none of them make any sense in context of Star Trek, Perry Mason, forensic science, bird law, whatever you want.

    (6) All these years and I never put this together re: Axanar! I think it was a reference to "Whom Gods Destroy," but here it is mentioned two season before that one. Nice. As for the fan film folks, I hear you there. One of the principals (I think he was the director brought in to salvage it) was one of the Free Enterprise guys, who does media-rants on YouTUbe now and I eventually had to stop tuning in, as I disagreed with him too much and did not want my rabid fan-love of FREE ENTERPRISE to be compromised.

    (7) Hey now! Some of these remastered shots look pretty cool / add some cool depth to every shot.

    (8) "Blacks" "Gays" and "Jews." Once innocuous plural proper nouns, now thoughtcrimes. I agree, though, kind of an outlier for 2013. (Definitely better than "craggy negro" although like you say, no one black or white would have batted an eye at that in 1968, except those realizing hey, they have a black guy in a position of authority, which would have played out along differing lines, I guess, of reception.)

    (9) "Take this ship to double-dog red alert!" Oh man, how I wish.

    (10) I love the tight-lipped/ sour-faced faces montage. (A montage of screencaps? You know what I mean.)

    (11) Bring on the Menagerie! One of my faves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (1) You can do a hell of a lot worse, that's for sure!

      (2) TNG's latter seasons do introduce some problematic elements, especially once Roddenberry died. It stands to reason that some people look at THAT stuff as the "real" Trek. Somewhere, there's somebody who thinks "Court Martial" is the Star Trekkiest of Star Treks.

      (5) Seeing "bird law," my brain first went to Harvey Birdman, but did eventually land on Pappy McPoyle.

      (6) Oh, I actually forgot Axanar was a "Whom Gods Destroy" thing, too. Hey, how's that for some mild continuity? A rarity on TOS.

      (8) I was reluctant to even mention it, lest it sound as if I were trying to be all rabidly 2020 about things and fling Cushman on the pyre. I can't imagine he had any intention apart from pointing out that Commodore Stone was the highest-ranking black character we ever saw on TOS. Which is (I assume) true, and stands as a mild point in this episode's favor. It's just very awkwardly phrased, and sounds antiquated as hell. I give Blish's "craggy Negro" a pass in comparison, because it's at least *actually* from a different area.

      (11) I'm curious to see how those two play for me, especially since my plan is to cut out as much "Cage" contemplation as possible. I always loved them, too, but how much of that is due entirely to the recycled-pilot elements? We'll see!

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  2. Nice to see a mention of Red 7s Manhunter Song! I have both their albums, they were discovered and produced by Genesis’ Mike Rutherford - who also plays bass on this track. The song was also used in an episode of Miami Vice!

    They also had a song (Less Than Perfect) show up in Joe Dante’s 1985 movie Explorers.

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    1. Thanks! I haven't seen "Explorers" in forever; I used to love it, though.

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