Monday, June 10, 2013

Star Trek: The Animated Series, Season Two

The second season of the animated Star Trek really only consists of six extra episodes, so this will be a bit of a short one. And everything I said about the first season still applies: it's just a consistently solid, engrossing show that contains some really good Star Trek stories.

1. The Pirates of Orion (4/5)
Neat episode with Spock slowly dying of a fatal disease and Orion pirates stealing the cure, written by Howard Weinstein, who wrote one of my favorite Star Trek novels in the Pocket Books series (The Covenant of the Crown). Appropriately tense, though it suffers a bit from some of the actors--particularly Shatner, who seems distracted. His mispronunciation of "Orion" is a distraction.

2. Bem (5/5)
David Gerrold's second episode for the series, and one of the top five for the entire show. It does go right into Roddenberry's god-creature preoccupations (though Nichelle Nichols is very warm and interesting as the voice of the entity), and I think the whole concept of Bem as a colony creature is very interesting. And the ethical concerns are right in front.

3. The Practical Joker (4/5)
How do I describe this? It's not really stupid-good, it's more like silly-good. I mean, it's really silly, but it's amusing, with an almost intoxicated-sounding Majel Barrett as the Enterprise computer after some anomaly turns the computer into a dangerous practical joker. Also features this classic moment:
Oh, and this features the Rec Room, which is exactly the holodeck as later used on The Next Generation, right down to a malfunction in the holodeck nearly killing three of the main characters.

4. Albatross (5/5)
Another great ethics debate, this one about Dr. McCoy possibly having accidentally unleashed a virus that ravaged a planet. The Dramian aliens are really interesting, too.

5. How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth (5/5)
My personal favorite of this shortened season, with the Enterprise encountering Kukulkan, the ancient Mayan god. This is one of the best Star Trek stories about the possibility of Earth having been visited by ancient alien intelligence that was revered by ancient humans as a god. I know it's a Gene Roddenberry preoccupation, but this episode really tells the story well and ends on a note of understanding.

There was apparently a debate about this episode involving whether or not Kukulkan would travel the cosmos in a ship that looked like him. My concern isn't about that, but rather about why almost every non-Klingon alien ship on this series looks like a flying uterus.

6. The Counter-Clock Incident (5/5)
In this episode, the crew find themselves in a parallel universe where time flows backward and biology works in reverse, so the crew starts growing younger. It's another Trek trope, but it works really well here. I also like the appearance of Robert April, original captain of the USS Enterprise, as a way to sort of say goodbye to the original Star Trek (at least until the movie, five years later) and restate what the show really means as an exploration of ideas.

If we have to end it all, that's a nice way to close out. Not a lesser episode in this batch at all.

And now I've seen all of Star Trek. Kind of want to start all over again at the beginning...


Chris said...

Holy cow I totally forgot (1) this existed and (2) when I was a kid I was TOTALLY obsessed with it.

So cool. A must get!

M. D. Jackson said...

Just as good an overview as your previous entry. When I didn't actually realize there was a second season. I just thought it was all one. And I don't recall ever seeing the Pirates of Orion. I'll have to check that out.

Well done, again!

david_b said...

I continue to boast the qualities of this fine Trek entry, most of the times better than the live action 3rd Season.

Plus it being the only Trek series to win an Emmy.

I find this series as being the most legitimate in regards to pure science fiction, with David Niven's script and most of the other writers pretty established as well.

I remember loving it when it first came on, just to think of all the original actors providing voices (sans Koenig...). I still take a couple of the TAS DVDs with me on military trips when I'm in hotel rooms.

Just a spectacular series. And is it Canon..?? YOU BET.

Tallulah Morehead said...

I do recall likeng this series when it originally aired. Mind you, I was in my 20s, so getting up early to watch a Saturday morning kids animated series was a weird throwback for me at the time, but, as noted, the writing justified it.

But I have not rewached an episode of it since its original airing, so I appreciated this trip back through it.