Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Where No Fan Has Gone Before...#3

All my life, I've been a Star Wars fan. I've never gotten into Star Trek. As I approached my mid-thirties, I realised that I should probably actually have a proper go of this Trek thing. So, here is my ongoing mission: to view, consume and report back on Star Trek...the whole shebang.

I mean, how long can that take, right?

The Enemy Within

On Stardate 1138, the Enterprise is on a geological exploration of the planet Alpha 177. Five episodes in, and I'm really not certain what a Federation Starship is supposed to do. To be honest with you, I'm not certain that the writers are all that certain. Between ferrying God-like teenagers, prancing around with rapiers and killing salt vampires I can only assume that the Prime Directive is "Dicking around across space, because fuck it by this point.".

Geological Technician Redshirt #13 is injured after a fall and transported aboard the Enterprise, although Scotty has some trouble with the transporter. Maybe he spilled porridge down the grill or something. Is that racist? Do they have porridge in space?

The transporter equipment appears to be fine, but he notices some magnetic dust from ore samples covering Fisher's uniform that may have interfered with the transport process, and the uniform is decontaminated.

Later, Captain Kirk transports back to the ship. The transporter apparently works correctly, but Kirk experiences some disorientation (embodied by staggering and hands-on-forehead acting), and Scott escorts him out of the transporter room. They are unaware that the transporter activates a second time, materialising a second version of Kirk which behaves more maliciously than his counterpart. This "evil" Kirk begins to wander the ship, and those he encounters are confused by his behaviour but assume he is the real captain. Presumably it's not all that uncommon to see your Captain overacting up and down the corridors.

Scott assists in beaming a dog-like animal specimen from the planet...

...And we need to spend a minute or so on the "dog-like animal". It is literally and obviously a dog with prosthetic horn on its head. It doesn't look like an alien. It doesn't look like a dog-like animal. For context, this is an alien:

...this is a dog-like animal...

...and this is what Trek gives us:

...it's...it's beyond shit. I don't care it was fifty odd years ago, it looks turd. It would have looked turd back then as well.

So, Scotty assists in beaming a dog-like animal specimen from the planet but he and the others are surprised when two identical creatures materialise - one completely docile and the other incredibly vicious. Scotty surmises that the ore dust has caused the transport to split the personalities of those they beamed up, creating a good and evil counterpair. Scott reports this to Mr Spock and then orders the transporters taken out of service to investigate, stranding the landing party on the planet as the bitterly cold night sets in.

Elsewhere on the ship, the "good" Kirk begins to feel uncertain, and is unable to make decisions that could affect the safety of the ship and crew. Meanwhile, the "evil" Kirk, in a drunken state, attempts to bang Yeoman Janice Rand in her quarters...

Ridiculous dog costume aside, this is actually a pretty good episode, and shows that when Shatner wanted to try hard, rather than just do the running gag of "being William Shatner" he was actually a pretty good actor. Aside from some pacing problems that make it drag a little around the forty minute mark, I really rather enjoyed this one. Good concept, good acting...shame about the dog.

The Enemy Within - Grade B+

Mudd's Women

On stardate 1234.5, the Enterprise is in pursuit of a J-class cargo spaceship. The ship overloads its engines in an escape attempt through an asteroid field. Kirk orders the Enterprise's shields extended around the other spacecraft to protect it until the cargo ship's occupants can be transported aboard the Enterprise. This is rather nice of him, and as no good deed goes unpunished, this action destroys all but one of the lithium crystal circuits in the Enterprise's spacebullshit engines.

The Enterprise beams the cargo ship's passengers (three probably hot for the Sixties women, but fashion and changing tastes have not been kind to them) and its captain aboard, just as an asteroid impact destroys their spaceship. A bit convenient, but that happens around Kirk and company a lot more often than you'd think.

In the transporter room, the man introduces himself as Leo Francis Walsh. Like previous cocky and annoying characters on Star Trek, he has a grating Irish accent. I assume it was an executive decision to have all supporting annoyances have the same accent.

The three women who accompany him are stunningly beautiful if you're into that sort of thing, and they distract many of the male crew members of the Enterprise, including ship's surgeon Dr. McCoy and Chief Engineer Scott. To be honest, six episodes in and I've already learnt not to expect so much as a modicum of professionalism from the crew of the Enterprise. They are easily influenced and bamboozled at every turn. The women are supposedly to be destined to be wives for settlers on the planet Ophiuchus III and are introduced as Ruth Bonaventure, Eve McHuron, and Magda Kovacs. This is the future, but the sex trade apparently still flourishes.

Kirk has Walsh taken into custody and convenes a ship's hearing. With Walsh in the spotlight of a truth verifier scan, he is forced to reveal his true name, Harcourt Fenton Mudd, a criminal wanted in several star systems, with a long rap sheet of crimes...

Reading that back, and I sound much more down on this episode than I actually ended up feeling. Maybe I need to just stop being so wound up by the contrivances that force the Enterprise into an adventure, and just start enjoying it for what it is. Once this story actually started to get underway, it was a very enjoyable, intriguing, character-driven episode, which is exactly what I like. Mudd's a...if not likable...then certainly an engaging character. One of the best episodes of the series so far.

Mudd's Women - Grade A

Want to share thoughts on these episodes? Tell me what to look forward to? Want me to cover some of the books, audiodramas, comics or anything? Hit me up on Twitter @realbradhb, and I promise to get back to you.

Brad Harmer-Barnes is a contributor to various gaming publications, as well the editor of Suppressing Fire. He can be followed on Instagram and Twitter @realbradhb


No comments:

Post a comment