Sunday, September 25, 2016
The WSW Trek 25: #16-13
Previously: #25-21 #20-17
The countdown continues with a trio of very familiar TOS episodes and one powerhouse Voyager ep.
#16. "The Trouble With Tribbles" (TOS). In Inside Star Trek, co-author and series co-producer Robert Justman expresses his disdain for this ep: "I feared that, with the script calling for Shatner and company to milk everything for laughs, it would lead to a loss of believability.... real people just did not behave that way." I disagree. In fact, I'd be surprised if they didn't behave that way once in awhile. Real people do acquire pets that turn into pests when they're not cared for properly; they do get into barroom brawls when their pride is insulted; and they do have days when solving a simple problem is more difficult than it should be. And all of that can be hilarious when viewed objectively! Time has not marred the characters' believability because of this ep, and
I doubt it ever will.
#15. "Death Wish" (VGR). I don't know how well regarded this ep is by the fans, but I've admired it for a long time. It's the first Voyager appearance of Q. He comes to reclaim a political prisoner: a fellow Q, unsatisfied with the stagnation of the Q Continuum and wanting to die instead of living his eternal life in imprisonment. Janeway must decide the prisoner Q's fate. Euthenasia is a topic that has interested me ever since the Terry Schiavo case years ago. TNG explored this territory a bit in "Ethics," but this was the first time an entire episode dealt with the matter. John de Lancie, as the Q we all know and love, is put in the unusual role of authority figure to his own kind - The Man, basically. Gerrit Graham, as the second Q, is strident in his belief in the right to die, yet quirky and likable as well. It's a serious ep, but one leavened with humor, as you'd expect whenever Q shows up. It's a shining example of the kind of story Trek does better than anyone else. Plus, Will Riker!
#14. "City on the Edge of Forever" (TOS). Okay, here's the deal. I have never fully bought the belief that Edith Keeler was The Great Love of Kirk's life, and I'll tell you why. If you go by just the shows and movies - canon, in other words - nothing within any of it bears that out. It's an idea perpetuated by the non-canon works - a powerful idea, yes, but unsupported by what we've seen from the official Trek storytellers. Now, that could be because of all the agita Harlan Ellison stirred up over being rewritten, as if he were the only one it ever happened to, or as if there weren't a valid reason for it, such as his teleplay being too expensive to film. If that's true - if years of deeper character and story development have been hindered due to fear of further offending one man - that's unfortunate. Still, the actual filmed version isn't exactly "Spock's Brain." It's a fantastic ep. Kirk, the guy who always comes up with a third option, Mr. "I don't believe in the no-win scenario," loses something precious even though he saves the day. That's powerful stuff. Seeing him with all the other women he's been with since, though, with nary a fond remembrance of Edith, makes me think he got over her after all.
#13. "Amok Time" (TOS). Kirk versus Spock. That's what it comes down to, after everything else, although everything leading up to that moment is pretty great too. Seeing Vulcan for the first time, learning so much about Vulcan biology and culture, marks this as a crucial foundation for future Vulcan storylines, both on screen and in the non-canon work. And nothing, absolutely nothing beats this moment. This ep has everything you could possibly want: action, romance, suspense, humor. If you want to get a friend hooked on TOS, and Trek in general, this would make for a perfect introduction.