Saturday, June 08, 2013
The series, of course, has a reputation for being pretty cheap, and I know it's not really well-regarded. I'll discuss my impressions of the season as a whole after I go through the initial episodes, though. Of course, all of the cast came back, except Walter Koenig as Chekov (a cost-saving measure, which also saw James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett and sometimes George Takei doing many of the guest voices), and the show's very much in the vein of TOS, though the episodes are a half-hour long.
1. Beyond the Farthest Star (my rating: 3/5)
It's neat to see this show going right away for big, alien sights that would have been impossible to realize in live action at the time. One of the key differences between TAS and TOS is that the stories will feature more aliens and more space phenomena that give the Trek universe a more diverse and weird (in the old-fashioned pulp sci-fi sense) feel. I really, really like that weirdness. The story itself, involving an ancient derelict pod ship and one of the many malevolent entities floating around out there, is pretty good, thought the entity taking over the ship was a bit silly (but in a very Gene Roddenberry sort of way--after the third TOS season it's nice having his presence back, and Dorothy Fontana's especially). I like the innovation of the crew having life support belts, enabling them to survive in an alien environment without having to put bulky suits on.
2. Yesteryear (5/5)
I've mentioned before, particularly in my posts about TOS and Enterprise, that I love this episode and this view of Vulcan. This one really got to me when I was a kid, because of the death of Spock's childhood pet. People always talk about canon issues with this show (I'll talk about that later, too), but all of this stuff about Spock's childhood and the bullying and the kahs-wan has really worked its way into canon. It's a very emotional episode, though, very sensitive about the death of a pet, and it's wonderful that Mark Lenard played Sarek again.
It also features Aleek-oom, the Aurelian scientist, who is one of the coolest aliens ever.
3. One of Our Planets Is Missing (3/5)
Already back to the sentient clouds in space. Some of the drama is pretty good, but it hasn't dated incredibly well. Lots of Trek fallbacks, like sentient clouds in space. Scotty has a lot to do in this one, and I have to say, Scotty's alright, but going through the show again and everything, I have to admit he's pretty incidental to my enjoyment of Star Trek. I don't hate the guy, I just don't care about him too much.
4. The Lorelei Signal (2/5)
I'm a little torn on this one, because it falls back on some of the sexism you see in a lot of science fiction, and the men rapidly aging again (like in "The Deadly Years") is just as lame in animation as it is in live action, but I really love the bit where Lt. Uhura takes command of the ship in order to save everyone. That was just awesome. But the plot is a little "Spock's Brain."
5. More Tribbles, More Troubles (4/5)
I still think "The Trouble with Tribbles" was a cute-but-overvalued episode. I'm not sure it needed a sequel, but it was... well, it was cute. The big super-tribbles were funny, and I enjoyed Stanley Adams as Cyrano Jones again. I have to ask, though: after two starvations now, who the hell wants to live on Sherman's Planet?
6. The Survivor (3/5)
The Enterprise makes contact with the missing leader of a scientific expedition, and you can tell something's not above-board because he dresses like he's in a Hammer period piece and he's going to one of those types of parties.
7. The Infinite Vulcan (3/5)
Pretty neat story involving plant people and a giant Spock. Skiffy weirdness from episode writer Walter Koening, who went from this to write for Land of the Lost (including my favorite episode of Land of the Lost, which introduces Enik, my favorite character from Land of the Lost).
8. The Magicks of Megas-tu (5/5)
This is my second favorite episode of the entire series. At first it seems like another one of those silly episodes where a Q/Trelane type character comes in and is just a gadfly doing magic at inappropriate times to be menacing. But this episode goes so much further, first exploring the idea of magic as a scientific energy, and then doing the whole Roddenberry religious exploration number, but not in a tiresome way. This episode surprised me the whole way through with its discussions of ethics and science and its attempts to reconcile the fantastic with the rational. Great stuff.
9. Once Upon a Planet (4/5)
The "Shore Leave" planet goes crazy again. It's not a bad episode at all, but sometimes this series relies a little too much on doing sequels to earlier episodes. Uhura is quite good in this one. Kirk talks down another computer here, but it works. And I like Spock very much in this episode. Spock is pretty much my favorite fictional character of all time.
10. Mudd's Passion (4/5)
Well, you knew they'd bring him back, too (and Roger C. Carmel does the voice, which makes me happy). This episode is pretty delightful, and written by Stephen Kandel, who wrote the other Mudd episodes. Majel Barrett has a lot to do as Christine Chapel in this episode. Actually, this is the last time the Spock/Chapel relationship ever gets explored. She must have gotten over him after the events of this episode.
11. The Terratin Incident (2/5)
I actually forgot about this episode until I looked it up online. It's the one where everybody starts shrinking. I guess it's not my favorite.
12. The Time Trap (4/5)
Commander Kor really would have made the archenemy for Captain Kirk. It's a shame they could never get John Colicos back until Deep Space Nine (even here he's voiced by James Doohan). I like this episode, where Kor and Kirk and their crews have to work together to get out of another space anomaly, this one a vortex that traps the two ships in a dimension with no time. Lots of interesting aliens in this one. We don't see the Klingons again in the series, unfortunately.
13. The Ambergris Element (3/5)
I love all of the underwater stuff with the Aquans of Argo (and the sea monster, of course). That's the kind of cool adventure stuff they couldn't do in live action. It's such a different environment for Star Trek. This is another episode where Kirk's physiology is changed. I hope Starfleet has a really great healthcare plan, because he's always getting aged or turned into something. They should explore more often what that stuff does to the human body.
14. The Slaver Weapon (2/5)
I just got a little bored with this one and layering on all of the Larry Niven Man-Kzin stuff. The Kzinti were kind of lame.
15. The Eye of the Beholder (3/5)
Okay, the Lactrans were also kind of lame, but they were so weird and different that I didn't really care. Another skiffy cliche (human zoo), but still kind of a neat episode.
16. The Jihad (4/5)
Sort of Mission: Impossible with Kirk and Spock and a diverse group of aliens attempting to recover a religious relic that could ignite a holy war. Pretty good action episode, but where it really shines is in its sensitive, ethical treatment of mental illness and even religious zealotry. I always like to see science fiction stories--and any stories, really--come down on the side of understanding and reaching out with empathy rather than moral judgment. It's not a bad end to the season.
Overall, I found the animated series involving, consistent, and engrossing. I know this series isn't thought fondly of, but I think it needs to be reassessed. I know there are people, too, who dismiss it because it's not strictly canon, but you've probably been reading my blog long enough to know that I don't really give a hang about what's strictly canon and what isn't. As fans, we create our own personal canon, especially with something like Star Trek, which has had so many forays into novels and comic books and other media that you can sort of pick and choose what elements you like and make them part of what you love about Star Trek. For me, this (and the following season) are combined (along with some decent comic books I've read) the fourth year of the Enterprise's five-year mission. Frankly, I liked this a lot better than the third season of the original series.
Is the animation cheap? You can tell it's on a budget, and there are many well-documented production errors. But on the whole, those are inconsequential. What matters is that the stories are there. The scripts are generally very good, and the actors are committed to reprising their roles and really acting their parts. The animation is interesting, and offers a different look for Star Trek that doesn't wildly conflict with what's been established. It really feels like Star Trek, end of story.
This series also fulfills a lot of the desires I always have in Star Trek for more biodiversity and just more general weirdness. I love the alien crewmembers, like M'Ress and the helmsman, Arex.
I also wish they'd give Christine Chapel more to do. It's a little bit annoying to me how we've got this reboot/alternate universe and they shove in Chekov and don't even think about finding a new Chapel (reducing her instead to a throwaway line in the new movie). Like, Chapel's not integral, but Chekov somehow is? Well, not to me. But that's me. That's my personal Star Trek canon. Honestly, I find Ilia more interesting than Chekov.
That's part of being a fan.
I'll have the short second season up tomorrow or more likely Monday.
Seriously, if you're a Trekker and you haven't given this series a chance, check out a couple of episodes.
Thursday, June 06, 2013
Well, my earlier diagnoses are official: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Non-Specific Mood Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Agoraphobia. By some definitions, I'm disabled. By some definitions, I'm mentally ill. Now it's trying to adjust to that and to learn to control/regulate/manage this.
I haven't been writing much lately because I feel like I don't have much to say that's very interesting. I'm actually doing really well in therapy, but I do have my days of depression and I still get some bad panic attacks. The old defenses--the unhealthy ones, like being suicidal--are mostly gone, but the new defenses aren't very strong yet. It took me decades to build all that armor, and I'm like a raw nerve without it. Sometimes I feel like it would be easier and more comfortable to crawl back inside of it, but I know rationally that's not true.
A psychiatrist tried to put me on Prozac. I had an intensely bad blood pressure reaction to it and stopped taking it. It also did increase my suicidal tendencies, but in a different, darker way. I started to get this hard, stabbing throb in the vein in my left wrist. It happened over the course of two days at varying times and with varying frequency. After a while, it just hurt so much that I started to think the only way to stop it would be to just cut it open. I stopped myself from thinking that, but that I even had the impulse is scary enough. It's not how I've ever thought of suicide. I've learned that my thoughts of suicide were about trying to escape, and giving myself an emotional release and a feeling of control. But this... this was like an impulse, not something that was born out of trying to escape something that was depressing or scaring me.
So, no on Prozac.
My high blood pressure exacerbates these problems. I'm losing weight again. Trying to ease my physical/medical burden. I want this to be the time I actually lose the weight instead of just another interlude. I feel better and more capable and more in control. It's good because the high blood pressure makes my Panic Disorder especially bad--I have a tendency to go right from the first inkling of fear to outright panic, which can make it hard to recognize the signs and stop myself.
But I am doing better. I'm breathing and walking and remembering to eat. It's still hard to go out and to make initial contact with people. Some people are stressors lately, because they don't realize when they're pushing at me, and my disorders make it hard to rationalize it. I'm still scared a lot of the time. I still overreact initially. But I can talk myself down.
My therapist has her work cut out for her on the self-esteem stuff, though. There's a lot of damage there. Thank goodness they got me on the hardship program, because that's going to take a long, long time.
I know it doesn't sound like it, but I really am doing better.
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
A review of the films I've seen this past week.
Steve McQueen directs Michael Fassbender in this dramatization of the 1981 Irish hunger strike. It's a hard, unrelenting film, focusing less on the politics of the situation and more on the resolve of the human beings involved, particularly Fassbender as Bobby Sands, who deteriorates before our eyes. It's deeply disturbing, but committed. ****
THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS (1979)
I didn't buy the pseudoscience of plants experiencing consciousness, but the time lapse photography and Stevie Wonder soundtrack of this documentary were nice. **
Monday, June 03, 2013
Sunday, June 02, 2013
I can't believe I haven't had the Beatles in this space since 2009. This is probably one of my five favorite songs of theirs, but trying to pick favorites with the Beatles is hard enough. It's a fluid, ever-changing list.