Ahh yes… "And The Children Shall Lead" is another often maligned episode from Trek’s infamous 3rd season. The episode is so unremarkable that doing a review of it was reduced to a chore that neither Anthony, myself nor any of our regular contributors really wanted to do. I got inspired to write it first so I win? Although Trek’s producers may have been better off taking W.C. Fields advice to "never work with children," the Remastering actually gives us a chance to take another look.
Coherent Plot Need Not Apply
So we encounter our troika checking up on a rather typical planetary expedition to Triacus. But of course things are horribly, horribly awry. So far this is pretty much the beginning to oh say 5 or more episodes of TOS. As our trio finds the scientific party dead, they sort of fail to notice that only adults are dead, and thus are surprised when children come scampering out essentially unaffected by their parent’s dead bodies that are strewn about the landscape. As they discuss what went on, Spock, supposedly the logical one, agrees with Kirk’s total leap of critical thought about the children being coerced/controlled. McCoy mostly serves as that person who gets in front of the camera and screams "Won’t somebody think of the children!"
As the pieces of the puzzle about what happened on the surface fall in to place we get treated to footage of the science team leader Professor Starns recording his anxious and eventually paranoid feelings into a Tricorder, except the log playback is from some unseen floating camera because we can see Starns holding the Tricorder he is supposedly recording into!
How is this angle possible?
Then we find the disaffected children performing a pagan like ritual, which is par for the course, since they also play "Ring Around the Rosy" which is allegedly about the Bubonic Plague. This ritual calls a ‘friendly angel’ (is there any other type?) inexplicably played by high profile lawyer Melvin Belli. As it turns out he has endowed the children with strange mind control powers, which the children then use on various senior staff members to make sure the Enterprise stays on course to Marcus XI, which apparently is a great place and ripe for ruling with mind control powers. The bridge crew is convinced they are still in orbit around Triacus and apparently this also effects the transporter targeting scanners, as the transporter allows two red shirt officers to be beamed out into space. Uhhh fail-safes anyone?
Suffice to say Kirk and Spock figure out that there is a malevolent entity manipulating these poor children and they call him out. He of course is quite the flamboyant crossdresser in a shower curtain/muumuu kind-of-thing. Kirk proceeds to manipulate the children just as much as the evil entity has by using video clips of the children at a family picnic and then cutting suddenly to footage of their parent’s tombstones, this seems to trigger their grief release McCoy has been ranting about the entire episode, and it exposes the ‘friendly angel’ as a nasty pizza faced thing. Inexplicably Kirk addresses this entity as "Gorgan" yet it was never heard on screen before. Gorgan does what all nasty beings do in TOS: he slowly fades out of existence while his auditory taunt of "death to you all!" loops. Kirk sets a course for Starbase 4 and all is well… except he seems to have forgotten that he left a survey team on Triacus…ooops.
So it is silly and full of holes, but the episode does have a couple of unique features. It is the only episode where we see the flag for the United Federation of Planets. Plus it introduces a new set: the recreation room which will only be seen once again as the arboretum in "Is There in Truth No Beauty?"
Hey look it’s Pizza the Hut!
Remastering the Children
"And The Children Shall Lead" is a typical predominantly shipboard 3rd season episode with very little for CBS Digital to get creative with. Their task primarily is to redo the Enterprise orbiting Triacus and Enterprise warping to Marcus XI shots that break up the filmed scenes. CBS-D has the Enterprise down, she looks better then ever, and has for the past few episodes. They also seem to be doing a pretty darn good job with planets; Triacus has some of the best detail I’ve seen on a planet yet. So kudos to CBS Digital for keeping up the good quality of the space shots.
Planets and Enterprise.. check.
That being said the one gripe is that while CBS-D of course replaced any viewscreen shots of Triacus and/or warping away, the one viewscreen shot they did not see fit to replace was Sulu’s knife hallucination. I realize these guys are time limited, but how hard would it have been to make a tunnel of knives? It’s pretty much something a custom PC screensaver could do. Since the original effects are left in the episode the stars change from the finer points of light CBS-D uses to the chubby brighter stars the production team used in 1968.
Sulu’s knife hallucination
The filmed elements look very good, this being a later episode I think helped. The episode has never looked better and I noticed it was better looking then some of the other remastered episodes. Colors are rich and well saturated, detail is high, and there is a good sense of depth to most of the scenes. All in all a forgettable episode that looks better than ever. CBS-D seemingly have the look of the Big E and planets down pat, leaving us to look forward to more interesting and challenging episodes.
A new ‘Original v Remastered’ for "And the Children Shall Lead"
video edited by Rick Kelvington