Trouble brewingThe Enterprise takes aboard a passenger: Charlie Evans. He’s spent his life in isolation, never met a girl, and doesn’t know how to dress. So of course he’s one happy fanboy when he finds himself aboard the Starship Enterprise. He develops what’s politely called a “crush” on Janice Rand, snubbing all the other hotties on the ship. It must be her unpredictability that he finds so arresting; she’s offended when he slaps her butt yet when he somehow impossibly jams a playing card down her cleavage she’s charmed and impressed.
Articles by Dennis Russell Bailey
“Welcome to Bad Science Fiction Theatre…” “I am your host, Leonard Pinth-Garnell.” Some readers of this site have expressed concern at what they consider the undue flippancy with which I’ve summarized some previous episodes of “Star Trek.” Therefore I shall endeavor, this week, to stick strictly to the facts of the plot in my synopsis.
“Will the last one through the time machine please turn out the lights?” The sun of the planet Sarpeidon will explode in less than four hours, destroying everything for hundreds of millions of miles around. Since long-range scans show no intelligent life on the planet in need of rescue, Captain Kirk thinks it would be a good idea to go there and nose around for a while just before the big bang. Who knows, maybe the Prime Directive has a special exemption in these cases for looting or something.
"Bring Back Kirk!"Enterprise finds one of its sister ships, the Event Horizon – uh, Defiant – floating dead in space. Everyone important beams over and finds the crew dead with their hands wrapped around one another’s throats. After much investigation and careful consideration, "Bones" rules out natural causes and concludes that they killed each other. He also discovers that props and corpses aboard the ship are becoming immaterial. Fortunately, whatever’s going on doesn’t affect deck floors.
Angry Red PlanetWarned by McCoy that Spock is acting a little "off," Kirk is forced to agree after the Vulcan assaults Nurse Chapel with a soup bowl. Spock awkwardly explains that he’s in the grip of an irresistible sexual urge and that he’ll die if he doesn’t mate Real Soon. Kirk can easily relate to this, so he defies Starfleet orders to return Spock to his home planet. Vulcan is the most PC planet in the cosmos: a world of unemotional, rational, pacifist vegans. It’s logical, therefore, that we are introduced in short order to: A masked executioner T’Pring, a betrothed woman who desires another man and enters into a murder conspiracy rather than be seen to defy conventional social mores Stonn, a co-conspirator so full of lustful rage that he can’t help blurting out unhelpful clues to his complicity ("No, I was to be the one!") T’Pau, a planetary ruler so smug and bigoted that she indulges in playing lethal "gotcha!" with naive strangers ("Des combad ees to de deat")
“If I Ruled The World…”The Enterprise, leaving the galaxy, discovers the scarred and blasted recorder marker of the only other ship to do so, the Valiant. Upon reviewing the Valiant’s tapes, Spock discovers that the ship hit some kind of “unknown force” and as a consequence of some (inaudible) events involving (tape damaged) and ESP and such that ship’s captain ordered his vessel destroyed. Captain Kirk decides to forge on ahead, reasoning that since other ships will someday explore this region it’s important for the Enterprise to leave behind its own scarred and blasted recorder marker to warn them off. Turns out there’s a big Energy Wall around our galaxy, despite the fact that the only thing more scientifically ridiculous would be a big Energy Wall around the heart of our galaxy imprisoning a demon that claims to be God. The barrier (now given the full CGI treatment) zaps a number of Kirk’s crew, most notably his pal Gary Mitchell and Dr. Elizabeth “Hotlips” Dehner.
“Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear…"Visiting the planet Talos IV is the only death sentence crime in the Federation. You land there, they’ll execute you. They just won’t tell anyone why. This raises some ugly questions about the Federation’s system of justice, but there’s no time for that now because Spock has stolen the Enterprise in order to return Fleet Captain Christopher Pike to Talos IV. Unable to control the ship, Kirk and Commodore Mendez spend the trip alternately watching a replay of the events of Pike’s first visit to Talos and court martialing Spock. The replay of events is the more interesting by far, particularly because some of Pike’s fantasies have been spruced up for the new "Star Trek Remastered" by the folks at CBS Digital.
You say ‘yes,’ I say ‘no…’The Enterprise visits Starbase 11, ostensibly because Spock has received a request from his former captain – Christopher Pike – to divert there. Right away we learn two important things: Uhura’s not a gossip. There’s been "subspace chatter for months" about the fact that Pike was crippled in an accident, yet she’s never passed that information on to anyone aboard the Enterprise (except, apparently, Mr. Spock) Morse code, binary digital computing, and the game "Twenty Questions" do not exist in the "Star Trek" universe. As a result, although the otherwise mute Pike can signal in two distinct ways – one beep for "yes" and two for "no" – it’s considered virtually impossible to get specific or complex information from him (like, say, the answer to the question "is Mr. Spock lying to us?"). McCoy, for one, considers Spock lying to be "absolutely impossible." Embarrassingly for him, then, Spock tells a few more whoppers and steals the Enterprise in order to return Fleet Captain Pike to Talos IV: "the one forbidden world in all the Galaxy." When Kirk and Commodore Mendez catch up and put Spock on trial, his defense consists of making them watch an old “Star Trek” rerun. Luckily for them, it’s a good one that they haven’t seen.
Captain Kirk Meets The No-Win ScenarioThe Enterprise crew discovers an alien time machine on an uncharted, lifeless world. In a fit of drug-induced paranoia (it’s an accident, kids — I can’t stress this enough; don’t do drugs, stay in school), "Bones" McCoy leaps back into 1930s New York and alters history such that the "Star Trek universe" never happens. Kirk and Spock go back in time themselves in order to fix history; in a twist familiar to anyone who has read much of Harlan Ellison’s work, a blameless young woman who loves the protagonist has to be killed in order to make Everything Okay Again.
This editorial is the first of a series from Dennis Russell Bailey on ‘Bad Reasons for not doing a TOS movie’ Based on published reports, it appears likely that the storyline J.J. Abrams has conceived for his “Star Trek” movie takes place in Trek’s 23rd century and revolves at least partly around youthful versions of James Kirk and Spock. Some long-time fans of the Franchise are excited by this possibility, and some are dead-set against it. Those fans who dislike the TOS-based movie premise have been active out on the Web advancing a number of assertions-passing-as-arguments as to how the premise somehow violates basic principles of “what ‘Star Trek’ should be about.” There are several themes that crop up again and again on blogs and message boards. Here’s one of my favorites: “Star Trek is about the future. It should move forward, not back.”