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John Byrne
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 11:19am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I'm fascinated by the fan responses to "Miri", as well as "I, Mudd". Many call "Miri" out as a bad episode, but I think it's quite good, for the most part. On the flipside, I can see why some wouldn't like "I, Mudd", but I personally don't consider it a bad episode. Not a favorite, but not bad, either.

••

"Miri" and "I. Mudd" are two of my favorites. I am impressed each time I watch by the way the former "peels its onion", allowing clues to drop until the big reveal. The latter is just fun, pure and simple.*

"Miri" is old time sci-fi, playing much like a TWILIGHT ZONE episode. There is a lot of thought behind it. Creating a "kid kulture" for instance -- building a "world" in which all adult influence is gone, and the games of childhood have become formalized as the basis of a very dark society. (Being a kid isn't as much fun as adults like to pretend. This episode reminds us of that.

_______________________________

* As noted before, very much in contrast with "Mudd's Women", where Harry Mudd is a much more sinister character.

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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 11:21am | IP Logged | 2 post reply


I see where JB & Greg are coming from, though I do wonder if my "enjoyment" comes from being a second generation TREK fan, where the "Spock's Brain" notoriety was firmly in place by the time I got bit by the STAR TREK bug, in a big way, back in the '80s... whenever I would watch a re-run of "Brain" with my father (a first generation fan, born in '48), he would howl with laughter each and every time.

And I agree about the memorable quotes... every once in a while, my Dad will randomly blurt out, "You are not Morg... you are not Eymorg!"



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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 11:24am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I occasionally sneak "givers of pain and delight" into casual conversations regarding the fairer sex.
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 11:24am | IP Logged | 4 post reply


(And since Greg mentioned other noteworthy duds from Seasons 1 & 2, I'll throw in my two cents and state that "The Deadly Years," to me, is the "Spock's Brain" of the second season.)



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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 11:42am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Oh, yes--I forgot to add "The Deadly Years" to my list of lesser second season efforts.
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Joe Boster
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 11:45am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I don't even remember Spocks brain.I think I was 5 or 6 when I first started watching re-runs with my mom in the mid 70s and I loved all the 3rd season shows back then. Miri and Battlefield being some of my favorites at the time. In coming back to them later I can see how they are not quite up to snuff. I do think that for what they had to work with for budget and schedule 3rd season is as good any show out there. 

What I don't understand is  TNG apologists expect TOS fans to forgive 46 episodes of TNG. but take us to task on season 3. 
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John Byrne
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 12:19pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

"Obsession" is the bottom of the Second Season barrel, for me. A thoroughly off-model Kirk, poor special effects, and a story that misses on retrofitting new drama to Kirk's backstory.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 12:20pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I notice that episodes that contain elements of horror are routinely listed among Star Trek's worst. Those "kids" dying of the plague in "Miri" are scary enough to have traumatized at least one child I know into turning against the series forever afterwards as a result. The idea that the other survivors have descended into murderous savagery is too unpleasant for some as well. Check out the little girl grooving on her friends beating the crap out of Kirk as we cut to commercial. The sing-song "bonk, bonk" bits are often cited as a reason to avoid the episode, but really, the whole set-up is more than a little distressing. Myself, I regard it as one of Trek's best in many respects, especially the sensitivity and dimensions afforded the title character, but it's not a comfortable episode to revisit.

"Lights of Zetar" seems perfectly memorable to me, with the sensory burn-outs and glowing death of the woman on Memory Alpha as particularly unsettling moments. The voice of the aliens was creepy as well. And I remain intrigued by Jan Shutan's casting and performance. From classically sculpted, Greek-goddess archetypes to sensuous Arabian dancers to the somewhat alien and remote Lt. Mira Romaine, Scotty clearly does not have a "type," although he treats them all as wee, bonny lasses in need of his personal rescue. And if the image of Romaine "floating" in the decompression chamber from the episode isn't sticking with you, you may not have been paying enough attention. The climax is unsatisfying and drawn out and Shutan is oddly unsympathetic given her plight and importance to the episode, but I still find things to enjoy in this one.

"The Empath" is much too brutal to be actually enjoyed, I think. If there's something about watching McCoy being tortured to death that someone likes, then the issues they're experiencing may run fairly deep. The elements of self-sacrifice and the manner in which McCoy orchestrates events to save his friends are all in the previous scene so the one afterwards is just for pure horror value, the shock of watching it happen. The idea that the Vians are slowly and painfully serial-killing people in front of a wide-eyed innocent whose idyllic world has never known suffering in order to get her to react "heroically," and kill herself in the process, is bizarre. Again, Trek's respect for and appreciation of stage craft is center stage (to the extent that there is a stage) but there just aren't enough avant garde theatre fans out there with a taste for black curtains and minimalism to save the episode from its detractors. Not that it should be, I think. There's some intriguing staging and the passionate loyalty of the series' leads to enliven this one and little else.

"I, Mudd" is anything but horrific, since our heroes are using the human capacity for irreverence and comedy to defeat their android captors, but it shares the variance from "standard-issue" tone and structure that so many other oft-criticized episodes have. I can see why some take issue with all of the imaginary explosive antics, dancing, and curtsying taking place. The humor is much more contrived and labored than the relatively easy-going annoyances Kirk suffers throughout "The Trouble With Tribbles." The natural charm of our regulars along with the bluster of Roger Carmel make the whole thing work, though.

"The Alternative Factor." Now there's one that's hard to find a silver lining to... Its good intentions never find their way to the screen and the script is largely composed of illogical mush. I also am bothered by the vague notion that the continuity of which Lazarus is wearing the patch is off at some point, but I'm not going back soon to check. Unrewarding viewing.

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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 12:56pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply


I've long felt that "The Alternative Factor" could conceivably be edited-down into a much more effective 25-minutes, but I understand why it's one of the least of the First Season run of episodes.

My pick for the "Spock's Brain" of Season One:  "Operation--Annihilate!"  Too goofy and unintentionally humorous for its own good (though it did scare the crap out of me as a kid)... the flying plastic-barf pancakes-on-a-string just don't cut it today, if they ever really did back in 1967!



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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 1:10pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Obsession" is the bottom of the Second Season barrel, for me. A thoroughly off-model Kirk, poor special effects, and a story that misses on retrofitting new drama to Kirk's backstory.
+++++++

There's absolutely a good episode hiding somewhere in there, but the mishandling of Kirk and the lost opportunity in expanding his backstory really drag it down.

I could easily see an alternate version of the episode where, yes, Kirk is determined to stop the vampire-cloud (and needs Spock and McCoy's counsel to help him go about it), but doesn't go full-Ahab. The episode drags Kirk down to the level of Matt Decker in "The Doomsday Machine", rather than giving us a smart and in-character exploration of how the Jim Kirk we know would handle being in a similar situation. 

After all, Kirk wasn't personally invested in the destruction of the Planet Killer, as Decker was. If handled correctly, the question of "Obsession" would be, "How would Kirk handle a situation like that if he WAS personally invested?".
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 1:17pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

"Lights of Zetar" seems perfectly memorable to me, with the sensory burn-outs and glowing death of the woman on Memory Alpha as particularly unsettling moments. The voice of the aliens was creepy as well. And I remain intrigued by Jan Shutan's casting and performance. From classically sculpted, Greek-goddess archetypes to sensuous Arabian dancers to the somewhat alien and remote Lt. Mira Romaine, Scotty clearly does not have a "type," although he treats them all as wee, bonny lasses in need of his personal rescue. And if the image of Romaine "floating" in the decompression chamber from the episode isn't sticking with you, you may not have been paying enough attention. The climax is unsatisfying and drawn out and Shutan is oddly unsympathetic given her plight and importance to the episode, but I still find things to enjoy in this one.

+++++++


This is just a personal quirk, I think. There are absolutely things I SHOULD remember from that episode, but, for whatever reason, usually fail to. Y'know the two types of memory--Recognition and Recall? I usually have excellent Recall of even the bad-memorable moments from third season episodes, but "Zetar" only works for me on a Recogntion level, as in people having to remind me of the memorable images and moments. I have difficulty recalling them on my own.

For whatever reason, I find it the most unremarkable and unmemorable episode in all of TOS. When I (rarely) think of that episode, the only things that easily come to mind are Romaine, Memory Alpha, the gurgling/lightshow death of the woman, and Kirk declaring "an Enterprise first" at the end.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 1:24pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

... the flying plastic-barf pancakes-on-a-string just don't cut it today, if they ever really did back in 1967!

•••

They didn't!

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Rick Senger
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 1:25pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

"The Lights of Zetar", "And the Children Shall Lead", "The Empath", "The Alternative Factor", and "Metamorphosis" are my bottom five.

"Spock's Brain" just escapes the bottom for a brief enjoyable debate between Uhura, Sulu and Chekov regarding which planet is the best candidate on which to search for Spock and the okay premise of the two worlds.  Somehow the phrase "givers of pain and delight" was intriguing, though the explanation was disappointing.  As a teen the shiny female costumes and go-go boots didn't hurt.  Still, an embarrassing episode with a ridiculous conceit.

"Obsession" is also quite weak with a thoroughly off model Kirk as noted but there's still something about that vampire cloud on the planet that scared me.  The teaser in particular was pretty chilling, though the episode proper sure didn't deliver and is best forgotten. 

"The Galileo Seven" is a largely unpleasant experience with a way-too-emotional Spock but again, somehow the creepy planetary setting and scary situation made it just viewable.  Kirk's subtle handling of Commissioner Ferris to give the search parties the maximum time to find the shuttlecraft also helped.

I didn't particularly like "Charlie X," "Man Trap," and "The Corbomite Maneuver" as a kid back in the 70s but I now consider all of them to be strong.  Given the then-novel concepts, the first season in particular is remarkably well realized almost right out of the gate.  Roddenberry had his flaws but he obviously had a unique vision and he made it happen.


Edited by Rick Senger on 07 January 2018 at 1:33pm
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John Byrne
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 1:31pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

"The Lights of Zetar"

I recast Jan Shutan in one of my early issues, and as I was clicking thru screen caps from the episode I realized I remembered only Ms Shutan from the whole thing. Even Scotty's romance had slipped my mind entirely. (Full disclosure: I did remember the episode was written by Shary Lewis and her husband.)

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 2:59pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

"Metamorphosis"...bottom five.
+++++++++

Wow, that's unexpected! It's not a favorite of mine, but I think it's a very good episode. Written by Gene Coon, too, so it has that late first season/early second season sparkle and charm in the characters' interactions.

What about it doesn't work for you, Rick?
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 3:27pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

 (Full disclosure: I did remember the episode was written by Shary Lewis and her husband.)

*************
Of Lamb Chop fame?
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 3:45pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

"The Empath" could be the bottom of the barrel for me.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 3:52pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

(Full disclosure: I did remember the episode was written by Shary Lewis and her husband.)

*************Of Lamb Chop fame?

•••

Yup! Apparently Ms Lewis had hoped to play the Mira Romain part herself.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 4:13pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

"The Empath" could be the bottom of the barrel for me.
+++++++

I suppose a distinction should be made between a badly-constructed episode, and one that's simply bad/boring/painful to watch. I'd say "Spock's Brain" is the cringeiest, "The Way To Eden" is the campiest, "The Alternative Factor" is the most aimless/boring, and "The Empath" is the dumbest and most agonizing to watch.

On a story and production level, "Spock's Brain" is not the worst the show has to offer, but it gets special mention because of how campy and undignified it is for actors/characters who had previously possessed great dignity. It's painful to watch because we know how good the show was before this episode came along. 

In terms of the actual "worst" episode, from a production level (writing, execution, etc.), that's up for debate. "That Which Survives" comes to mind.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 4:45pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

"That Which Survives" is definitely among those that have an unfinished quality to them.

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Doug Centers
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 5:05pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Very, very, very hard for me to watch The Empath all the way thru.
I'd rather watch Spock's Brain back to back first.
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 5:06pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

I appreciate your distinctions, Greg. Since I personally have a higher degree of tolerance for camp than dumbness, for me "The Way To Eden" is, um, tolerable, whereas "The Empath" is unbearable. 
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 5:54pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

What about it doesn't work for you, Rick?
*****
I know Nancy Hedford is supposed to be a pill, but I found Elinor Donahue extra annoying.  Having the Companion take over Hedford's body in the end felt a bit disturbing and convenient to the plot (the Companion had diverted them there so it felt nasty for it to end up appropriating the body of the woman who would have been fine but for its actions.)  Call it xenophobia but in general I just found something uncomfortable about Cochrane's and Companion's relationship. 

Productionwise, sometimes TOS planetary sets sell the feel of an alien world but in this case the studio setting for the exteriors was more obvious than usual and it pulled me out of the story.  I didn't like the way they visualized the companion, nor the music, which was a bit cloying / melodramatic.

On the plus side, it was a good use of the universal translator and I liked Zephram Cochrane's warp drive backstory.  Spock and McCoy have some nice bickering and it's a sensitive episode.  But overall, I almost always change the channel when it comes up on tv.


Edited by Rick Senger on 07 January 2018 at 6:01pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 5:54pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

Ditto, Michael. I'll take Charles Napier having a groovy time over the Vians' tortures any day.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 6:00pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Thanks for your insights, Rick.


Although, I should note that I never took the episode to mean that the Companion "appropriated" Hedford's body, but rather that the two merged into one entity--a hybrid. Hedford was gravely ill, and, given her reaction to Cochrane's spurning of the Companion, had a hidden desire for love. The Companion was able to save her life and provide her with love, in the form of a peaceful existence with itself and Cochrane. 

In other words, a symbiotic merger, rather than an outright possession.
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