Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ten Reasons Why You Should Watch "The Savage Curtain"

I'm ALMOST finished with Star Trek: The Original Series. I only have TWO episodes left. I plan on writing up a whole post about my TOS experience, or maybe even doing a video blog about it. If you have any questions you'd like answered about why I'm doing this, or if you'd like to know something specific about TOS, just let me know! I'd love to get to those unanswered questions before we leave TOS behind.

Anyway, this morning, I watched "The Savage Curtain." It really is a fantastic TOS episode and, since I haven't done this in a while, here are a few reasons why I love it:

1- Abraham Lincoln comes floating toward the Enterprise view-screen on his chair from THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL.

2- Scotty is wearing his dress uniform which I LOVE.

3- The following exchange happens:
Abe: (to Uhura) Oh my, what a charming negress. 
(Kirk is taken aback and Abe apologizes)
Uhura: But why should I object to that term, sir? In our century, we've learned not to fear words. 

4- At one point Scotty points through space, toward Earth, and Spock corrects him saying, "Actually, it's that way."

5- Epic line-up of bad guys: Genghis Khan, Colonel Green (a genocidal maniac of the 21st century), Zora (mad scientist), and Kahless (the messianic figure of the Klingon empire)

6- KAHLESS! This is his first appearance and I can't imagine that, at the time, the writers had any idea what kind of legs this character would have.

7- The guy who plays Sarek is perfect.

8- This exchange:
Kirk: Your Sarek is a brave man.
Spock: Men of peace usually are, Captain. 

9- Spock and Sarek exchange the Vulcan salute and it is awesome. The memory of TOS is that Spock is flashing that sign every episode but it's actually pretty rare. So, when he and Sarek exchange salutes, it's kind of epic.

10- I very clearly remember seeing this episode when I was a little girl. And, maybe because it contained so many elements of Trek lore, it lived in my memory for years. I loved the idealistic portrayal of Abraham Lincoln, the optimistic undertones in his exchange with Uhura, the principles which Sarek espoused. I loved the physical confrontation of good vs evil and how, when they're wrapped up in a war, it's hard to actually tell them apart.

All of these elements make "The Savage Curtain" a prime example of what TOS was doing. Even though it was often heavy-handed or overly-sentimental, it's was still inspiring. It made (and still makes) little kids and adults dream of a future where we no longer fear words and where men of peace are brave. Maybe Roddenberry and his original crew were optimistic but, really, how can we expect to build a great future without optimism, idealism, and even sentimentality.

And, in the end, if none of my previously mentioned, heartfelt reasons convince you to watch "The Savage Curtain" maybe this will: Abraham Lincoln totally gets into a fistfight with the founder of the Klingon Empire.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Kiss Of Death

Lately, maybe because it's nearing Valentine's Day, I find myself thinking a lot about Kirk's "relationships." In the first season, Kirk repeatedly maintains that he is "married" to the Enterprise. That's the stoic, captainly kind of talk I buy from Picard but not, in a million years, would I buy it from Kirk. Not only is Kirk "seeing other people" (sorry Enterprise) but things don't go particularly well when he does.

Typically, the mating habits of a Kirk go as follows:
Step 1- Kirk spots an unsuspecting female
Step 2- She's seduced by his charisma/power/haltingly delivered words of love
Step 3- He grabs her by the shoulders
Step 4- He smooshes his face into hers as if he's trying to come out the other side of her head

Honestly, by Step 3, these women are doomed. Once Kirk gets those canned hams around the tender flesh of your arms, you might as well kiss your sanity/life/entire planet goodbye.

So, today, I thought I'd pay tribute to most (I say "most" because, in reviewing my notes, I feel sure I'm leaving someone out) of the poor, doomed women who happened to get all kissy-faced with our hound dog captain. Now, please remove your caps, bow your heads, and take a moment of silence for:

Kirk's Doomed Girlfriends

Lenore Karidian
Fate: Full mental breakdown

Edith Keeler
Fate: Hit by a truck
(They cut away before the kiss but the implication is that
they slept together) 

Fate: Stoned to Death
PS- She was pregnant with Kirk's love child.

Fate: Whole Society Condemned to Death 

Fate: Death by Kirk-Transmitted-Disease
Also: Introduction of disease to entire, previously germ-free culture

Fate: Full breakdown, death

Janice Lester
Fate: Full breakdown after a cross-body transference with Kirk  

I would also add Yeoman Rand who had a huge crush on Kirk 
and was terrorized and almost raped by his dark, inner self.  

Yeoman Janice Rand
Fate: Written off the show

Only by remembering these women can we honor their sacrifice. That is--we can honor their role as a beautiful but tragic plot device. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Now Pronounce You Space Married

You know, I remember very well when Keiko and O'Brien got married. I remember when Tom proposed to B'Elanna and they used the Delta Flyer for their honeymoon. I remember when Worf and Dax finally tied the knot. These Star Trek weddings were beautiful and my husband and I even used Picard's words from "Data's Day" in our own tiny ceremony. The episodes were great and I remember them because they actually meant something. Those characters all went on to have (for better or worse) lasting relationships.

But I'm not here to talk about lasting relationships. I'm here to talk about ridiculous one-off wedding episodes which occurred only a few episodes apart and were never referred to again. They are "The Paradise Syndrome" and "For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky."

Here's what happens in "The Paradise Syndrome" :
-The Enterprise is called in to prevent an asteroid from zooming into a planet and wiping out a culture.
-Things get weird.
-They come in contact with a strange, obelisk worshiping culture
-Kirk falls in love with a priestess

Here's what happens in "For The World Is Hollow..." :

-The Enterprise is called in to prevent an asteroid from zooming into a planet and wiping out a culture.
-Things get weird.
-They come in contact with a strange, obelisk worshiping culture
-McCoy falls in love with a priestess

Obviously, since we never see Mrs. Kirk or Mrs. McCoy redecorating the Enterprise, our doctor and captain must return to bachelorhood. McCoy and his sweet Space Honey say goodbye and everyone's pretty underwhelmed, considering they're basically getting a divorce. Meanwhile, Kirk's wife is STONED TO DEATH. The episode ends with Kirk kissing her beautiful, dead lips.

And, I care... none at all. Why should I? I just met these women forty minutes ago and I know that nothing good can come of these frivolous relationships. They're just set pieces being used to decorate an otherwise not-very-good episode. Additionally, these ridiculous Space Weddings cheapen other, better, lovey dovey episodes like "City On The Edge Of Forever." I love Star Trek. I love The Original Series. But, seriously, how did these episodes not only happen, but happen four episodes apart?

I think a lot of this is a function of the changing dynamic of the show. By the third season, the ensemble element of the series has gradually dropped to such a low that nearly every episode is just Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beaming onto a planet, getting into trouble, Kirk getting some Space Honey Lovin', getting out of trouble, and then beaming back to the Enterprise. When every episode consists of the same things, you're bound to eventually get space married to a woman you've only known for forty-five minutes.

Anyway, instead of more rambling, I made a comic:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Spock's Brain

I'm not the only Star Trek fan in the family. Today's post comes from my husband, Scott: 

"While I might trust the doctor to remove a splinter or lance a boil, I do not believe he has the knowledge to restore a brain." – Mr. Spock

When you live and work in a five hundred square foot apartment with someone who is having her Year of Star Trek, it’s your year of Star Trek, too. I’m not watching every episode but I have seen quite a few, including 3.1, the infamous, “Spock’s Brain.”

If you’re unfamiliar with what many consider the worst Trek episode ever, allow me to educate you. It concerns a race of devolved super geniuses who steal Mr. Spock’s brain right out of his skull so they can use it as a living computer. The good news is, Vulcan physiology allows Spock’s body to run sans gray matter for a day or so. This gives Kirk and McCoy the time to go after those dirty, rotten scoundrels and retrieve the brain. The bad news is, once they have the thing, Dr. McCoy lacks the medical knowledge to hook it back up properly. He gets the speech center plumbing reattached, though, so Spock can talk him through the rest of the operation. You read that right. Mr. Spock tells Dr. McCoy how to reattach his brain. Yeah, it’s pretty silly. It’s also, by far, the most important thing I ever saw on television.

“Spock’s Brain” is the first Star Trek episode I paid attention to. I was five years old. It was a Sunday afternoon and there, on our television set, was a man telling another man how to put his brain back in his skull. I was repulsed. I was fascinated. I couldn’t turn away. This image was burned into my own brain forever:

The Big Idea, that thing that sci-fi in general and Trek in particular does so well, grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. A stolen brain running a computer. That same brain being hooked back up with the help of the man undergoing the surgery. I was hooked. From that moment on, I was a Star Trek fan.

Fastforward quite a few years. I’m talking with a girl to which I’m extremely attracted. I’m sure it’s all physical, though. I suspect that we don’t have enough in common to build a relationship. Then, somehow, the subject of Star Trek comes up. Turns out, she’s a Trekker, too. We talk all night. I hate the term, “soulmate,” but she’s mine. It’s the most succinct way to describe our compatibility.

Fastforward a few more years. That girl and I are happily married and living across the country. My Star Trek fandom led to a desire to make television myself. It’s a tough business to break into but, finally, my pursuit of a career as a screenwriter is bearing fruit. I’m on the set as the first episode of a television show I wrote is being shot. Where? Paramount, the studio at which Star Trek was made. Then I look at the plaques outside the soundstages upon which I’m working. They list everything ever shot in these buildings. It turns out that Star Trek was filmed on the exact same stages. I take photos to email home to my perfect wife. It was a magical moment.

I understand why people mock “Spock’s Brain.” At one point, McCoy is driving Spock’s de-brained body around like a remote control robot. Things get a little silly. I forgive you if you want to laugh at it or even call it the worst ever. But, when you watch episode 3.1 of the original series, do me the same courtesy. For just a minute, try to see it though my eyes. Take a moment to appreciate the mad and beautiful idea at its core. Something so strange and arresting that it could burn itself into my five year old mind and set off a chain reaction that continues to this day. “Spock’s Brain” didn’t just change my life, it made my life.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Weekend Roundup

I feel like I really dropped the ball this week by only watching seventeen episodes but, to my credit, it was my birthday. I spent the day hiking around the Vasquez Rocks, where several episodes of Star Trek were shot. It was AMAZING. 

Anyway, here are the episodes I did watch and the things I was thinking as I watched them: 

-This creepy guy reminds me a lot of Kevin Spacey
-This is actually a really great episode. It's completely under-appreciated. 

-I'm pretty sure this is the first time the phrase “Prime Directive” has been used. Before this, it was always the "Non-interference Directive." 

-How does anyone in Starfleet think it's a good idea to just get rid of the crew when testing a crazy spaceship driving computer? 
-It's not a good idea. It's a very bad idea. 

-Apparently there’s a rule called, “Hodgekin’s Rule of Parallel Development.” That explains a lot.
-I freaking love McCoy in this episode. 

-Wow, this guy reminds me a lot of Peter Weller.
-I love it when Spock pets things. In this episode, he's petting a kitty. They should've given Mirror Spock a kitty. 
-This guy almost had his own show but NBC shut it down. I think that’s too bad. Seems like it would’ve been a good show.


-Kirk and McCoy are literally driving around Spock like he's an RC car. 
-McCoy says, “Jim, his brain is gone!”

-This Romulan looks a lot like Ben Stiller. Ben Stiller would make an awesome Romulan. 
-Ok, this is actually a pretty awesome episode. Apparently a lot of people don't like DC Fontana (this episode's writer) but I love this one and several of her others. 

-This is the episode wherein Kirk marries and Indian chick. Seriously. 

-Basically this is another creepy kids episode.
-Like Miri but not as great.

-Oh man, I love this episode. This is probably in my top ten TOS list.
-Basically, beautiful Dr. Pulaski is an escort to an alien whose appearance is so hideous that just looking at him will drive a person mad. What a great idea for an episode of Star Trek. 
-Dr Pulaski is gorgeous.
-This feels like a Twilight Zone/Star Trek mashup. I love it. 

-A crazy, godlike creature just transported everyone to the surface of a mysterious planet. What else is new? 
-Chekov is totally a lady-killer. He's making out with a hot space chick like every three episodes. 

-I think this is the first time we’ve ever seen Klingon ladies.
-This seems like a really good Trek idea. It's a little heavy-handed but that's just the kind of thing that happens when you're always sincerely trying to make a point. 

-Ok seriously, this episode is just a replica of the one where Kirk marries a Space Indian. 
-Where's the rest of the crew? I love Kirk, Spock, and McCoy as much as anyone but I miss the ensemble element of this show. I'm starting to get fatigued with the triad beaming into the episode and only seeing inserts of Sulu, Uhura, Scotty, and Chekov. 

-Man, I love these spacesuits. 
-McCoy just said, “Jim, this ship is desolving! My hand just went through a man and a table!” The fact that McCoy ends this line with, "and a table!" cracks me up. 
-This episode is excellent. It's also a "Kirk-Light" episode. 

-Ok, this episode is basically "just alright" BUT it contains the first interracial kiss on television. It's a piece of history and totally worth watching. 

-This onesurprisingly great. I love the idea of a society which exists at super-accelerated speeds. 

67- The Empath
-Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam into trouble. More trouble ensues. We see the rest of the crew basically none at all. How did this become so pervasive? 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

My Birthday

Today is my birthday, and for my special day, I looked at a rock. This rock:

Best. Birthday. Ever.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Peace and Long Life

There's a really beautiful place on the side of a long, sloping hill, in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There's a flower garden and a creek and the forest leads right up to a little white house. Inside that house, a while ago, two children sat on the floor and watched Star Trek together in black and white on NBC--the first all color network. In the afternoons, the little girl and little boy would run outside and play Star Trek games. The little girl played all the parts except for one--Spock. The little boy always insisted on playing Spock. The little boy was my uncle and the little girl was my mother.

I didn't know anything about this until a few days ago when my mom mentioned that she and her brother watched Star Trek with intense devotion as children. I'd known that my mom liked Star Trek. She watched The Next Generation with me through my whole childhood. We cried together when "The Inner Light" aired and again during "All Good Things." But, I'd never realized how much the show meant to her and to her brother as kids.

"Spock was my favorite too," she said, "but Danny always wanted to be Spock so I played everyone else."

And, I get why Danny wanted so much to be Spock. Danny was deaf. He talked with his hands and, sometimes, so did Spock. My mom's little brother started at the North Carolina School for the Deaf when he was six years old, riding the bus by himself over an hour each way. But, before that, he and my mom had their own sign language. Their hands would flutter in silent, secret conversation and, amidst all of it was something very familiar. As they ran along the creek, observing alien life and beaming from planet to ship and back, they flashed one sign we all know, "Live long and prosper."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

TOS: Season Two Essentials

Ok, I have to say that I didn't enjoy Season 2 quite as much as I did Season 1. I think a lot of it has to do with a changing dynamic on the show. A lot of it has to do with Kirk and I plan to write about this phenomenon in a later post.

Anyway, in spite of the Kirk Effect, I didn't have any trouble coming up with five essential episodes. So, if you're trying to get into TOS but don't know where to start, and you've finished the five essentials from the Season 1, here's your next list:

1- Amok Time
-This is the episode that started all the Pon Farr mania. Aside from the awesome score and the epic fight scene on Vulcan, this episode has some real heart. The core of Spock's friendship with both Kirk and McCoy is here as well as some great stuff about Spock's inner conflict. A truly classic episode.
Stand Out Line: They are not outworlders, they are my friends.

2- Mirror, Mirror
-Obviously, this one is totally iconic. Both DS9 and Enterprise pay homage to his episode and it made a huge impact on our pop culture in general. In many ways, this episode reminds me a lot of "The Naked Time." Both are, on the surface, fun romps but they each have surprising, deeper elements.
Stand Out Line: You are a man of integrity in both universes, Mister Spock. 

3- The Trouble With Tribbles
-Really, you can't make a go at Star Trek without getting familiar with this episode. It's such a huge part of Trek. There's even a little tribble in 2009's Star Trek. It's a fun episode with legitimate comedy and the Spock, Kirk, McCoy dynamic is great. Also, Scotty is amazing in this one!
Stand Out Line: Storage compartment? Storage compartment? 

4- Obsession
-Ok, I recommend this one based solely on Star Trek's obsession with obsession. Kirk goes full-Ahab in this episode. Themes in this story obviously return in Wrath of Khan and it's interesting to see those beginnings play out here. It's also nice to think that the reason Kirk gets the better of Khan is that he learned his important lessons about obsession here.
Stand Out Line: Crazy way to travel! Sending a man's molecules all over the universe! 

5- Assignment Earth
-This story actually served as a backdoor pilot for a series wherein Gary Seven would spend episodes fighting crime/solving cases with the aid of his kitty, his Blossom-esque secretary, and his sonic screwdriver  servo. NBC ultimately rejected the series but I think that's a real shame. I feel like Gary Seven could've been a great American SciFi show.
Stand Out Line: That, Miss Lincoln, is simply my cat. 

Runners Up:
"Journey To Babel" features Spock's parents. His relationship with them is pretty complicated and, as this strange family dynamic unfolds, it's pretty captivating.

"Return To Tomorrow" is totally worth watching just to see what a knock-your-socks-off stunner Dr. Pulaski was in 1968. Seriously. I don't know why they played down her obvious old-hollywood glamour when she was Pulaski. She has SO much charisma in this episode (and in "Is There No Truth In Beauty") that it just doesn't even seem like the same person. It's like some kind of cruel, backwards magic trick.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An Update on "Hailing Frequencies Open"

Yesterday afternoon, while working on a batch of illustrations in the library, I thought, "Oh, I should listen to some Star Talk Radio." So I moseyed over to the site and found an interview with Nichelle Nichols about her experience with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Since I'd just written about that same experience, I couldn't wait to hear it.

Unsurprisingly, it was awesome. How could an interview between Uhura and my favorite Nova Science Now host ever not be? What surprised me was that, about 45 minutes in, I was crying--in the middle of the library. Even though I just wrote about this the other day and even if you've heard the story a million times, go listen to it. It's powerful no matter how many times you've heard it.

And, if you happen to be in a library, sniffling into your sleeve, don't worry about it. Just mention to the freaked out kid sitting across from you that you're listening to one of the most inspirational stories from America's modern history. You are being inspired, illuminated, and affected. That's what libraries are for, right?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Young Naturalist #3

Watched "A Private Little War" the other day and couldn't resist a zoological illustration of the Mugato creature which attacks Kirk.

According to Memory Alpha, the Mugato was an ape-like carnivore that inhabited the subtropical savanna regions of the planet Neural. You can see the Mugato in action for yourself here:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hailing Frequencies Open

It's Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I'm not sure how I can talk about anything else besides the great doctor's impact on Nichelle Nichols.

If you've never heard the story before, basically, Nichols had turned in her resignation to Roddenberry after the first season. King, a huge Star Trek fan, convinced her not to quit. He told her that what she was doing was important. That she was playing, for the first time on TV, a non-stereotypical role. Because of King's words, Uhura stayed on Star Trek beyond that first season and for several movies.

You can listen to Nichols tell the story here:

I remember hearing this story when I was a kid. It was easy, then and now, to see how Nichols could inspire young girls. Uhura was an important member of a crew in a future with equal opportunities for all genders and races. Nichols might not have been delivering speeches and heading up historic marches but, by beaming into millions of living rooms in 1967, she was influencing, inspiring, and bringing hope to kids at a time when this country was tearing itself apart.

I'm so very glad that, on that day, at that NAACP event,  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sought out Nichols and said to her, "I'm a Trekker. I'm your biggest fan."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weekend Roundup

I was really, really sick this week. I usually take a lot of notes while watching these episodes but most of my time recently was spent lying on the couch and moaning about how my Downton-Abbey-Spanish-Influenza-Style-Death was inevitable. As such, I have minimal notes. 

Anyway, as usual, here are some of the things I was thinking as I watched the following episodes: 

37- I, Mudd: 
-Yay! Mudd's back! I remember reading that, at some point, he almost had his own show but Roddenberry was all like, "Nope. Ain't nobody got time for that!" 
-Oh, it's Zooey Deschanel. 

38- Metamorphosis:
-Woah! It's Zephram Cochran. I prefer the First Contact Zephram but this one's ok too. 

39- Journey to Babel
-Oh, good, they're wearing dress uniforms. I love the dress uniforms.
-Wow, there's a whole lot of walk and talk in this episode. This is 1967! Aaron Sorkin my ass. 

40- Friday's Child
-This is the episode wherein Leonard McCoy slaps a pregnant lady. TWICE! It's actually pretty awesome. 
-All the natives in this episode are wearing neon fur clothing. I love the idea that there are neon colored furry beasts roaming around on this planet. 

41- The Deadly Years
-This episode reminds me of The X-Files episode, Dod Kalm. 
-Everyone gets super old and they can't figure out why. 
-I was at my sickest during this episode and remember feeling exactly like McCoy looked: 

42- Obsession: 
-This is a straight-up Moby Dick episode and Kirk is going full-Ahab. 

43-Wolf in the Fold
-Uh-oh, I'm pretty sure Piglet just hardcore murdered a belly dancer. 

44- The Trouble With Tribbles
-This episode makes me want a chicken sandwich and coffee. Also, a tribble. 

45- The Gamesters of Triskelion
-Here's the secret fight club episode of Star Trek. Nearly every series has one. I wonder if Star Trek originated this trope in TV. 
-Sulu was supposed to be in this episode rather than Chekov and I wish it'd been him. Maybe he could've done a bit of fencing. 

46- A Piece of the Action

47- The Immunity Syndrome
-This episode is about a giant amoeba taking swallowing the ship. For a while, I thought I was hallucinating this in my altered, Nyquil-induced state.

48- A Private Little War
-I love the idea behind this episode. Even though it ends up being pretty goofy, it's a great, classic Star Trek-themed story. 

49- Return To Tomorrow
-Seeing Dr. Pulaski in this episode is kind of crazy. She's seriously gorgeous and it makes me wonder why they played down the actress' obvious sex appeal when she appeared on TNG. She was all business as the doctor but in this episode she's marvelously old-Hollywood glamourous. 

50- Patterns of Force
-The crew winds up visiting a planet dominated by a Nazi-esque culture. Amazingly this is not the last time Nazis would find their way into Star Trek. 
-Kirk and Spock spend a good deal of time shirtless and handcuffed in this episode. I can only imagine the stacks and stacks fanfics these scenes inspired. 

And on that note, I'm off to bed. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fight me, Jimmy!

Today is Saturday which usually means that my husband and I eat cheeseburgers and watch MMA fights. I've loved martial arts movies since I was a little girl and always wanted to take Karate or Judo. But, since I moved about every six months, I never really got the chance. Instead, I became a pretty big MMA fan. I haven't missed a UFC since 2006. I shout at the TV, know the names of all the referees, and have a favorite cutman.

I think a lot about martial arts while watching these old episodes of Star Trek. There's like an average of one fistfight per episode. I'm not sure exactly why they made Kirk get in so many scraps. I can speculate that because Star Trek is a "Western in Space," it makes sense genre-wise. And, when you think about it in the abstract, it does make sense. It's just that when you get down to the actual actors in the actual fistfights, the whole thing kind of breaks down. Spock has the Vulcan nerve pinch so as long as he can get the jump on someone, he's the automatic winner and McCoy pretty much stays away from the carnage. Then there's Kirk. Kirk gets in A LOT of fights. And, he's not particularly good at it. Actually, he's pretty terrible. I didn't remember thinking this when I was a kid but it's painfully obvious now.

Watching Kirk struggle through most fights, I find myself shouting slurs as if I were his cornerman.  He needs some coaching in that awesome gym they have on the Enterprise. He needs help from Greg Jackson or the Gracies or maybe Ronda Rousey. Actually, I'd love to see Kirk fight Ronda Rousey.

In the world of TOS, Kirk would woo Rousey instead of punching her and then she would help him escape whatever crazy fight-club scenario he's been sucked into. But, in my head, Kirk tries his trusty, two-fisted back smash (I'm gonna call it, "The Kirk") then Rousey immediately armbars him until he cries for McCoy. It'd be over so fast I wouldn't even have time to unwrap my cheeseburger.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Today, a friend of mine sent me an article about George Takei wherein he discusses what it was like working with William Shatner.  Basically, according to Takei, Shatner was a major turd. He refers to Captain Kirk as "being self-possessed and self-involved." There's a lot of bad blood, even after all these years. I don't blame Takei for speaking out either because if I had to work with a hammy d-bag all day long, every day, I'd probably be a little miffed too. Of course, I wasn't there so I can't really say much about who was being a jack wagon and who wasn't. The question I ask instead is, "Does the knowledge of this animosity within the cast, hurt my enjoyment of this show?" 

The answer is, "Yeah, kinda." 

All of this makes me feel slightly less awesome about TOS. Only very slightly. But, still, it's there. Anyway, reading all of this today makes me glad that yesterday I came across another article about how 2013 marks the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Basically the whole thing is an interview with Patrick Stewart about the remastering of "Measure of a Man" and what that episode meant to him, and to the Star Trek franchise. It's a great article and he reiterated a lot of my own feelings about the episode (which I will surely talk at length about later on) but what stuck out to me most was how he talked about the crew--his crew--as a family. 

He says, "The affection that I feel of every single one of those people is undiminished with time. In fact, I'd even say that since I left Los Angeles eight-to-nine years ago, it's grown stronger. I wish there was some way that I could spend much, much more time with all these guys." 

So now the question becomes, "Does the knowledge of the cast still getting along, still feeling like a family, help my enjoyment of the show?" 

The answer is , "Yeah, absolutely." 

It makes me happy to know that the actors that I grew up with, the cast that made me a fan, the crew that feels like part of my own family, miss each other as much as I miss them. And, although I don't want to say good bye to the TOS era of this blog, I also can't wait to get around to TNG. 

See more awesome reunion pictures over at

Thursday, January 17, 2013

TOS: The Trouble With Tribbles

 "The Trouble With Tribbles" is one of the most famous episodes in all of Star Trek. Honestly, I have so many things in my notes about this episode that I don't even know where to start. So... here goes: Cyrano Jones and Arne Darvin are classic characters. The tribbles are awesome new creatures. The Kirk/Spock exchanges are priceless. Uhura is sassy and gorgeous. Kirk's interrogation of Scotty is hilarious. Spock's affectionate petting of the tribbles is adorable. The "Kirk's Covered In Tribbles" scene is so awesome, I don't know how the cast and crew got through it without laughing. Basically, this episode is fantastic from start to finish. It was so fantastic that it became an unforgettable, iconic part of the Star Trek franchise: the animated series features a tribble-themed story and DS-9 revisits this episode is a very real way. 

Basically, go watch it. Even if you've seen it before, watch it again. It's well worth it. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Well, I'm sick. I'm not sure how this happened since it's always the exact same temperature in LA as it was the day before and I make a habit of only leaving the house and talking to people when absolutely necessary. Be that as it may, I'm really under the weather and have been for about four or five days. So, while I intended to write a post about "The Apple" and how my beliefs about the Prime Directive make me a bad anthropologist, I find myself instead thinking about which Star Trek doctor I'd rather have working on me.

Just in case you're unfamiliar with the main docs of the series:

1- McCoy (TOS)
2- Crusher (TNG)
3-Pulaski (Crusher's replacement for a while on TNG)
4- The Doctor (Voyager: Emergency Medical Hologram)
5- Bashir (DS9)
6- Phlox (ENT)

Now, I shall rank them according to Bedside Manner:

1- Crusher
2- Phlox
3- Pulaski
4- Bashir
5- McCoy
6- The Doctor

Ranked according to Experience: (a lot of this has to do with the time period they fell into, McCoy just doesn't have the same experience that Crusher has)

1- The Doctor
2- Bashir
3- Crusher
4- Pulaski
5- McCoy
6- Phlox

Ok, so based on these factors and other random things like favoritism, I'm going with:

I chose The Doctor mostly because I'm pretty sure he's my favorite of the franchise but also because he's faced down The Borg, Species 8472, The Freaking Vidiian Phage and much mistreatment from his own crew. I almost picked Phlox because he's wonderful and I like the folksy idea of being healed with the application of some kind of space slug. However, The Doctor's frontier experience (and jar of Borg nano-probes) pretty much assures that I'll not die from whatever ridiculous 21st century ailment I'm currently suffering through.

Ok, now I'm going to take a hypospray and crawl into bed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Young Naturalist #2

The Horta from "The Devil in the Dark" 
I thought that the Horta from "The Devil in the Dark" would make a great entry for my "Vintage Zoological Illustrations From Star Trek" series. If you don't know what the Horta is, or, if you haven't seen the episode, you ought to go check it out.

I remember being a very young kid, watching this episode and it making a huge impact on me. The Spock/Kirk/McCoy stuff is great but, even more than that, this episode shows so much of what Star Trek set out to do, and what they did so well. That is--to show us a difficult, controversial topic in a simple, succinct way with tons of heart and a really sweet, childlike innocence. They might not have had much budget for this creature but as you watch, you forget that it's made out of foam rubber and trash bags. You just fall into the story. You let yourself learn the lessons you first learned as a child: everyone has feelings, not everything is what it seems, different doesn't equal bad.

Monday, January 14, 2013

TOS: Mirror Mirror

When I was a little girl, standing in front of the bathroom mirror, I made a lot of wishes. I wished my ears didn't stick out so much and I wished my voice was deeper. As a teenager, I wished my skin weren't so pale. I wished my front teeth hadn't been knocked out and replaced by inferior facsimiles. A long time ago--I wished I were more confident, less afraid, less sensitive. I wished I could frighten the people who teased me and bullied me. I wished I was someone else, often, anyone else.

I thought a lot about that while watching "Mirror Mirror." This episode is wall-to-wall amazing. Kirk, Uhura, Scotty, and McCoy (through virtue of a transporter accident) wind up in a "mirror universe." Things have gone horribly wrong over there and, as such, all of our TV friends have evil counterparts. The men are vindictive and domineering and the women wear sexy crop tops to work. Everyone carries a knife at all times. It's a hard world over there.

While our friends struggle to blend in to the mirror universe as they try to find a way back home, their mirror counterparts are caught and imprisoned onboard Our Enterprise. It's quick and easy and it only takes about five seconds to show this to us and let us get back to our friends on the Mirror Enterprise:
There's a startling shortage of fabric in the Mirror Universe.

When Our Kirk and the gang do finally make it home, he questions Spock about how they were able to so quickly determine that Evil Kirk and his Evil Cronies were impostors. Spock simply says, "It is far easier for you, as civilized men, to behave like barbarians, than it was for barbarians to behave like civilized men."

This episode is iconic and classic. It spawned a whole trope not only within the Star Trek franchise but within all of pop-culture. The Mirror Spock has an evil goatee:
He's the reason that so many other shows and movies have played around with this trope in recent years. Charmed, Community, and even critically acclaimed Breaking Bad have all had their characters in evil goatees. "Mirror, Mirror" is the only reason any of that and the following picture makes any sense at all:
Looking at my own "Mirror Self," I realize that I'm glad I couldn't just wish for whatever I wanted by staring into a mirror. I'm glad I'm the person I am today and I didn't get tougher, or meaner, or less sensitive. All the little faults I obsessed over, all the silly things I wished for, the fact that I got teased for watching Star Trek, all those things made me, me. I'm a geek. I blog about Star Trek. And, maybe my ears do still stick out, but so do Spock's and he's my favorite character.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Weekend RoundUp

Ok, I got fifteen episodes in this week which, I think, is a bit low. I feel like I can do better. Anyway, I tried to write about the biggest episodes but of course, I missed a few. So, to make sure you get a little something about all of them, here's some of the stuff I was thinking about as I watched them:

22- Space Seed:
Khan is awesome. He has more outfits than anyone else on this show. I think he and Kirk should try trading outfits. Also, McCoy is a total badass. This is one of McCoy's best moments ever. True Grit.

23- A Taste of Armageddon:
This episode is an unsung hero of the Star Trek Franchise. This thing is amazing. It feels so much like an episode of TNG that I'm surprised they didn't do the exact same thing again in 1991.

24- This Side of Paradise:
Spock is way in love with this girl wearing overalls. I think it might be worth counting the number of times Spock wigs out. It seems like an average of about every five episodes.

25- The Devil in the Dark:
Silicon based monsters are just one of the many reasons you don't want to be a Space Miner.
McCoy just said, "I'm a doctor, not a brick layer!" I'm pretty sure that's the first time he's literally said, "I'm a doctor, not a ___"

26- Errand of Mercy:
KLINGONS! I wonder if, when they first conceived of this episode, whether they planned on making the Klingons into a recurring species. No matter what, I love this episode.
It's also worth noting that I saw the Klingon outfits at the Star Trek Exhibition and those things on their belts are painted bubble wrap. True Story.

27- The Alternative Factor:
I have like, literally nothing to say about this episode. I watched it. It's about a guy and his anti-self. Maybe I should try this one again.

28- The City on the Edge of Forever:
Obviously awesome. Go watch it now.

29-Operation Annihilate:
I'm not sure why they chose this as the finale rather than "City on the Edge of Forever." Still, even though it doesn't have the same level of emotional impact, it's a really great episode. They're really hitting their Kirk/Spock/McCoy stride by this point.


30-Amok Time:
Ok, after my other favorite moments of Nurse Chapel crying over Spock and Spock making nice with McCoy, I LOVE it when Spock breaks the gong. What a nice touch.
Also, the remastering really does this episodes some favors. Vulcan looks amazing.

31-Who Mourns For Adonais:
This is one of those really beloved episodes. Lots of people talk about how brilliant and sad it is. I don't really understand that opinion. I like this episode. I think it's a great idea for a Star Trek but I'm not crying at the end. If you watch it and think otherwise, I'd love to talk about it.

32-The Changeling:
This episode is about a messed up deep space probe who thinks Kirk is his creator. My favorite thing about this episode is the probe's consistent reference to Kirk as "The Kirk."

33-Mirror Mirror:
As soon as Kirk sees Spock's goatee in the Mirror Universe, he knows everything's gone pear-shaped. Woah, they have "Agonizers" in the mirror universe. Awesome! Sulu's scar is bad-ass.

34-The Apple:
PRIME DIRECTIVE! I'm going to have to write about this episode and all the reasons it makes me a bad Anthropologist.

35-Doomsday Machine:
This is pretty tense. Where is Uhura? Everyone's spending an awful lot of time on the bridge and Uhura's not there. Wait a second... is this a bottle episode? I think it is! The remastering is also excellent here. Beautifully done.

This is a straight-up halloween episode.

Alright, guys, that's about it. I'd really like to get twenty episodes in this coming week. We'll see how it goes.

Oh! Also, I got an early B-day present:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

TOS: Amok Time

The Pon Farr (aka: how Vulcan babies are made) has become something of a joke--a cliché--even within the Star Trek franchise. We all know (and if you don't know, you ought to educate yourself with this fine documentary) that the Pon Farr makes Vulcan's act very... un-Vulcan-like. They're driven to mate and, if they don't, they'll die.

The first appearance of this legendary Star Trek trope came in the TOS second season premier: "Amok Time." This iconic episode features Spock in the throes of a Pon Farr induced blood fever. He doesn't want to, but he's forced to fight his best friend with some seriously amazing music playing behind them. You've heard this music. Even if you haven't seen this episode, you've heard it. The score became crazy famous and the composer himself didn't even realize how far it had gone until he heard it on an episode of the Simpsons years later.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll talk a lot more about the Pon Farr in posts to come but, for now, I just want to mention my two favorite moments of "Amok Time."

#1- It's commonly known that Christine Chapel has a crush on Spock. As such, she really, really wants to help him out but doesn't understand how. This could all be played to comic effect and we could all have a hearty laugh at how naïve Chapel is and then make much merriment about the subtext. Instead, it's tragic. All she wants to do is help him. Her friend, the man she secretly loves, is going to die. When she visits him in his quarters, all of this shows and it's heartbreaking.

Spock says, "I had a most startling dream. You were trying to tell me something. But, I couldn't hear you."

Christine Chapel begins to cry.

He approaches her, runs his hand along her cheek, and says, "Your face is wet."

And that's pretty much how their entire relationship goes. It's tragic. I love it.

#2- When Spock is finally about to leave the Enterprise for Vulcan he says that, "The male is accompanied by his closest friends." Then, Spock asks Kirk to join him. Kirk agrees. That's all well and good and nice. But, the thing I love about this is when Spock suddenly turns to McCoy and says, "I also request that McCoy accompany me."

This is awesome because McCoy and Spock supposedly loathe at each other. McCoy is too passionate and emotional for Spock; Spock is too logical and stoic for McCoy. McCoy never refrains from insulting Vulcans as a species and Spock constantly regards his own humanity as a weakness. Still, Spock wants McCoy there. Their reluctant friendships is one of the great institutions of Star Trek. They would go on, for many years and many movies, to poke fun at each other but the heart of their relationship, the truth under the sarcasm, is right here in "Amok Time."

Friday, January 11, 2013

TOS: Season One Essentials

A surprising number of people have emailed me to say that they want to get into Star Trek but don't know where to start and/or they'd like to watch it but don't have time to watch all of it. Of course, I think it's best to just sit down and power through the entire cannon but I get that not everyone is a hermit with loads of time on their hands and a seemingly inexhaustible stamina for Netflix marathons. To these people, I present, "Five Essential Episodes From Season One."

1- "The Naked Time"
-As I've previously mentioned, this episode is full of amazing stuff. It sets up important relationships between characters. It gives us backstory and the inner thoughts/fears/passions of characters in a streamlined, graceful way. And, it's crazy entertaining. Any episode where Spock cries AND Sulu runs around without his shirt goes on the "Essentials List."
Stand out line: I can't change the laws of physics. I've got to have thirty minutes. 

2- "The Corbomite Maneuver"
-This is a classic, clever, intriguing episode. It's an example of what Star Trek does well. The whole crew is involved and lead by an especially brilliant Kirk. We see some great Kirk/McCoy, Kirk/Spock stuff here and the baddie is classic Trek: strange and surprising.
Stand out line: I've already got a female to worry about. Her name's the Enterprise. 

3- "Balance of Terror"
-Here is the first ever encounter with the Romulans. The constant back and forth between Kirk and the Romulan commander (played by Mark Lenard) is captivating. Issues of race, loyalty, and duty are all brought to the surface in this one and framed by the seemingly innocent and happy occasion of a ship-board wedding.
Stand out line: You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend.

4- "Space Seed"
-Khan makes his big debut in this episode. Setting up some of the most iconic stuff in Star Trek, you really can't miss this one.
Stand out line: A beautiful woman. My name is Khan. Please sit and entertain me. 

5-"The City on the Edge of Forever"
-Pretty much the most iconic episode of The Original Series. The Kirk/Spock/McCoy trifecta is in full swing here. Missing this episode means missing a huge piece of Star Trek history.
Stand out line: Captain. Even when he doesn't say it, he does. (Keeler on the way Spock talks to Kirk)

Runners Up:

- "Errand of Mercy"
The Klingons make their first appearance in this episode which, on its own, is pretty good with some classic Star Trek themes.

-"Squire of Gothos"
This episode is worth watching just to see Spock be a badass when the Squire shows up and asks who screwed up his game.

Alright, that's it! If you're new to Star Trek and you have questions, feel free to ask! If you're a longtime Trekker and you feel like I grossly mis-stepped in the making of this list, let me know. I did leave off a few that are considered pretty classic but this list is solely my opinion and I'm sure readers would benefit from even more Star Trek knowledge/analysis.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

TOS: The City on the Edge of Forever

"The City on the Edge of Forever" is one of the most well-known, most highly regarded episodes in all of Star Trek. It's generally considered the "best" episode of Star Trek and for good reason. I've seen it several times at pretty much every stage of my life and, man, it never loses its effect on me.

If you're unfamiliar with "The City on the Edge of Forever" here's the gist: Basically a series of unfortunate events leads to McCoy accidentally being injected with a dangerous substance wherein he spends 95% of the episode tripping balls. This would be all well and good except that he escapes the Enterprise, teleports to the surface of a strange planet and jumps through a time gate where he inadvertently screws up all of everything and the future (as well as Starfleet and the Enterprise) no longer exists. Kirk and Spock run after him in an effort to right what McCoy has wronged and they encounter GORGEOUS Joan Collins playing Edith Keeler. She just happens to be the key to everything.

This episode is full of history and controversy and you can read about all that elsewhere. I decided to write, instead, what I was thinking as I watched this amazing episode.

1- Why is Kirk giving McCoy advice about how to use his medicine? Never mind. Obviously that's why. Because now McCoy is jacked up.

2- About once an episode, this one included, I want to give Uhura a serious hug.

3- Ha! Kirk is trying to to talk his way out of an arrest by explaining that Spock is Chinese.
"I see you've noticed the ears. They're actually easy to explain."
This does not work. But Spock's Vulcan Nerve Pinch does.

4- Joan Collins is amazing. Should I be watching Dynasty?

5- It's too bad they can't wear flannel on the Enterprise. Shatner is really in his element here.
Seriously. Why isn't flannel standard issue? 

6-  Spock asks Keeler where she thinks they belong.
She replies, "You? At his side, as if you've always been there and always will."
Nailed it.

7- Hey, 1930's New York City looks an awful lot like Mayberry.
8- Kirk saving Edith Keeler when she almost falls down the stairs is brilliant! This is so well written.

9- OK, now I'm crying.
"He knows, Doctor. He knows."
10- The last line of this episode is perfect: "Let's get the hell out of here."

That's it. Basically, every time I watch this episode, I feel like I've been stabbed in the heart with a Gorn claw.

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