Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hell! Who needs this new Star Trek movie?

"I'm talkin' 'bout you! I'm talkin' 'bout me!" The strangest thing about this Star Trek episode is how Spock "gets" (understands, groks) these bizarre people. It's as weird as Wesley Crusher in The Next Generation, a gee-whiz, clueless Leave it to Beaver kid who seemed to "get" everything in the universe.

But the jam sessions are, well. . . One garish-looking chick plays a bicycle wheel, and Spock grooves on a thing that seems to be a combination organ, bass and electric guitar, with harpstrings thrown in for good measure.

The costumes for this particularly awful Trek are pure Desilu, made up of bits and pieces of whatever was left over in the costume department. Those musical instruments look like weapons to me. I particularly  like the way Zargon (or whatever his name is - NOT Herbert) keeps - apparently - "tuning" his axe, or at least he's doing something to it.

Maybe the writers were beginning to think Spock was just a little too straightlaced (straitlaced?) to be interesting. God knows they went outside the boundaries of his character a lot, having him fall in love with a woman in a cave (Mariette Hartley - no wonder!), cry for his mother, and half-kill his captain in the name of Love.

The whole episode reminds me of the Hitler audition in The Producers, the Dick Shawn character, complete with boots (or whatever they are - leggings? Stay-ups?) that go over his knees. A sort of Sonny Bono look.

SO. . . I just had to gif these! So in case you miss those cartoons you watched when you were a kid - here are your Saturday morning gifs.

It never ceases to amaze me what turns up in Wikipedia: individual episodes of Star Trek "TOS"! Makes me wonder if they're all there, but I am not about to find out. Maybe just the "clinkers"? To my mind, comparing this one to Spock's Brain is an injustice. That one was somewhere in my Top Ten (which I'd have to think about, since I've forgotten most of them). In this case, though, I think the analysts have missed the boat. It's the gorgeously cheesy, agonizingly kitschy atmosphere in this thing that "makes" it - makes it memorable, anyway. Particularly that big half-naked guy, whatever his name is (do you really think I am going to find that out?).


The episode has generally been seen as one of the weakest in the show's history, but its portrayal of characters representing the counter-culture of the late 1960s has produced widespread comment. Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode a 'C-' rating, describing the "space hippie" characters as "too strange and irritating for me to view them sympathetically" and finding fault with the singing, which he described as "the worst kind of padding". Handlen noted as a positive aspect that the episode did allow for the voice of dissent against the "utopia" portrayed by Star Trek. In their compendium of Star Trek reviews, Trek Navigator, Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross both viewed the episode negatively, describing it as having aged badly because of the hippie characters and also noting the poor musical parts of the episode. Grace Lee Whitney, who had played Janice Rand in early episodes of the show, described the episode as a "clinker" on a par with another slated third season episode "Spock's Brain".

Several writers have discussed the way the episode represents the "space hippies". Aniko Bodroghkozy touched on the topic in her book Groove Tube: Sixties Television and the Youth Rebellion. In it, Bodroghkozy noted a negative and positive portrayal; on one hand Sevrin's followers have been duped and must return to "civilization, apparently contrite, chastened children". On the other, they challenged the supposed benefits and superiority of the Federation, which Bodroghkozy described as a "reading of the counterculture." Timothy Brown argue that Dr. Sevrin is "a clear stand in for Timothy Leary." Like the acolytes of Leary and other counter-culture leaders, Sevrin's followers are "under the spell of charismatic but dangerously unhinged leaders" and "stand for a sixties generation in the thrall of misled idealism."

POST-BLAH. OK. I made one. I made one of those Star Trek Top Ten thingies, and a bottom twelve because the more I thought about it, the more shitty ones I thought of. Funny, because at first all that came to me were the good ones, or at least the ones I liked/like. Many don't hold up, of course. And some, I love only because I was going through puberty and all sorts of emotions and sensations were surging through my body and mind. Star Trek will forever be associated with puberty for me. I'll try to give a brief description of each episode, unless I get bored with it.

Top Ten (you've seen these? They're good ones, so you'll remember them.)

10 The Naked Time (everyone reverts to their "true self" - Spock cries).

9  Trouble with Tribbles

8  City on the Edge of Forever

7  Assignment: Earth (Terri Garr and the black cat and Gary Seven! Way cool, even now.)

6  Journey to Babel (Spock's Mom and Dad. Also Lassie's Mom.)

5  Amok Time (Spock gets it on, or wants to.)

4  Space Seed ("KHAAAAAAAN!" Actually, Kirk doesn't say that 'til The Wrath of Khan, but there couldn't BE a Wrath of Khan without the Maxwell House Man, Ricardo Montalban.)

3  Shore Leave (Whatever you imagine becomes real. Bones dies,comes back to life with two women with fun fur stuck to their breasts.)

2  This Side of Paradise (Jill Ireland. I confess I still weep when I watch this one. At the end, she is truly heartwrenching and really crying.)

1  Miri (Kim Darby, Michael J. Pollard. . . the episode is absurd, because these kids are supposed to be entering puberty, and the boys have these deep man's voices. But it still gets to me because when I first watched it I was alone in the den, and I think that is the exact moment I reached puberty. Note: particularly memorable for its quintessentially Shatnerian line, "No blah-blah-blah!")

What interests me about this, and I am already losing interest because I haven't eaten anything yet and it's twelve to 1:00, is that quite a few of my "bests" ended up on other people's worsts. For some reason, Spock's Brain, which I thought was pretty good but didn't make the cut, is rated low. Apollo ended up in the top twenty, as did the gangster/OK Corral one! 

Bottom Twelve (no order to these, though some are worse than others.)

The Savage Curtain (Lincoln appears out of nowhere and calls Uhura a "handsome Negress").

Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (Frank Gorshin is painted half black and half white. Jesus.)

Who Mourns for Adonais? (Who, indeed? He looks like an indignant Jolly Green Giant. A member of the landing party falls in love with him, then must spurn him for the sake of duty! "Really, Apollo, You didn't think I was some simple shepherdess you can awe." Only one word for this episode: appalling.)

A Piece of the Action (Gangsters - Spock in a porkpie - just fucked).

Patterns of Force (Nazis - Spock in a Nazi uniform. Actually, he makes a pretty convincing Nazi.)

The Squire of Gothos (Beyond obnoxious, ends up being a little kid whining to Mommy and Daddy, but he has been whining for the past hour, so what else is new?)

Spectre of the Gun (Western)

Journey to Eden (which see)

Arena (Gorn - only memorable for Kirk's famous drop-kick).

The Paradise Syndrome (Mirimani - synthetic Indians, Kirk knocks one up while he has amnesia)

A Private Little War (Mugatu, guy in a white fun-fur gorilla suit with spikes down the back).

The Omega Glory ("We! The! People!!!"). Actually, I keep thinking Americans might like this one.
But the only problem is, he left out "the right to bear phasers".

What's most ironic about all this is that William Shatner is a Canadian.