24 August 2011

Trek Review: The Immunity Syndrome & A Private Little War

The Immunity Syndrome

Space AmoebaOn their way to get some R&R at Starbase 6, the Enterprise receives a call which comes through as a set of coordinates and the name of a nearby starship Intrepid. Shortly after, in a scene akin to Obi Wan Kenobi's detection of the destruction of Alderaan in Star Wars, Spock goes through pain and realises that the 400 Vulcan crew of the Intrepid have died.

Investigating, the Enterprise comes upon a 'zone of darkness' where all laws of physics are reversed. Probing further the ship discovers a huge single-cell organism feeding on energy. The likely cause of the disappearance of an entire star system and the starship Intrepid.

Spock volunteers to take a shuttlecraft into the giant amoeba to find out more and ultimately helps Kirk and crew work out a way to destroy the invading virus that is on the verge of multiplying and enveloping the galaxy.

This was a fairly decent episode in what it was portraying. Our galaxy being invaded by a 'virus' made up of these huge single-celled organisms and the Enterprise and her crew playing the antibodies. What stood out for us in this episode was that Spock did not appear to be played in character. In fact, he was borderline annoying and arrogant. The banter between he and McCoy was at a different level, particularly during the time when both volunteered to fly the shuttle. Spock continuously reminded McCoy of his Vulcan superiority and even later, via transmission, Spock basically gloats to McCoy that the physician would not have survived had he been selected as pilot.

Nevertheless, the episode was decent and the remastered effects looked fantastic. It also brought us some humourous animated gifs from just after McCoy blasts Spock over the communications channel...

McCoy and Kirk approve

...and this, funnier version.

McCoy and Kirk

Overall rating: 6.5/10

A Private Little War

Kirk with Tyree's peopleThe Enterprise is involved in a scientific mission on the planet Neural. The inhabitants of the planet have remained at the same technological level for many centuries, but Kirk and Spock are surprised to see some villagers using firearms instead of bows and arrows and that the people are fighting amongst themselves when they once were peaceful towards each other.

It is soon realised that the Klingon Empire have been supplying some villagers with superior weaponry to cause conflict between the planet's inhabitants.

Though governed by the non-interference directive, Kirk makes a move to equally equip the disadvantaged side. Kirk had visited the planet before and lived with Tyree who refuses to fight, however his wife, Nona thinks otherwise and after saving Kirk following a Mugato attack, uses her kahn-ut-tu spells to influence him.

Eventually, through her own greed and impatience, Nona dies and Tyree vows to take the fight to the villagers. Triggering a war.

I figured there would have been some sort of contemporary message behind this episode and the entry on Memory Alpha points this episode to relate to the Vietnam War. The episode suggests that Eden cannot last forever and so, the paradise of Neural was taken away once the Klingon's became involved.

Strangely enough, we see Tyree become angered or at least distraught when he catches Nona and Kirk in a passionate embrace, but this is never revisited, even after her death he simply vows to avenge her and then Kirk and crew leave.

In remastered blu-ray, this episode suffers from some blurring and scenes that aren't quite as sharp as you'd expect. A lot of scenes are shot outside, on location and could be part of the reason why.

Overall Rating: 5/10

20 August 2011

Trek Review: The Gamesters of Triskelion & A Piece of the Action

The Gamesters of Triskelion

GaltAfter arriving at Gamma II for a routine check of the planet's automated systems, Kirk, Uhura and Chekov are kidnapped straight off the transporter pad to a distant planet and forced to fight other aliens there for the gambling entertainment of the 'Providers'.

All of the aliens on the planet called Triskelion are basically slaves, with collars around their necks that induce pain if the wearer disobeys the wishes of the Providers.

Kirk befriends his mentor, a Lady Gaga lookalike named Shahna. Uhura and Chekov are also appointed mentors so they may learn to fight. Kirk takes the most punishment as he accepts the responsibility for the actions of his crew and so he is whipped in order to be made an example of when Uhura refuses to fight.

Finally, Kirk is able to meet the Providers, three brains claiming to be higher, superior beings who have seen it all and found that this entertainment is all they have left. Kirk challenges them to let the aliens go free and to watch them build up a free society, a proposal the Providers accept by pitting Kirk against three of the aliens. Should Kirk win, he gets to go and the Providers will free their captives from their collars.

Meanwhile the Enterprise is left with the mystery of what happened to their three crew members. After finding a high energy beam emanating from another star system, Spock orders the ship investigate while McCoy and Scotty disagree and believe the ship should never have left Gamma II. Fortunately, Spock's 'hunch' is correct and they locate Triskelion. However, the Providers take control of the ship's systems and force the crew to watch Kirk's final fight. On Kirk's victory, the Providers let the Enterprise and crew leave.

An interesting story where Kirk gets to fight and tear his shirt a lot - he even punches Shahna in the chin in order to knock her out, which was a bit of a shock! The anti-slavery message is quite clear in this one.

All up though I didn't find it that capturing, so my overall rating is 6/10.

A Piece of the Action

Spock and Kirk offer a piece of the actionThe Enterprise arrives at Sigma Iotia II following Starfleet receiving transmission by conventional radio from the lost starship Horizon. The Horizon had visited the planet and was lost shortly after.
Kirk takes a landing party to determine what effects the Horizon's visit would have had on the developing civilisation before Starfleet introduced the non-interference directive.

The inhabitants have based their lives on Earth's 1920's gangsters, an idea picked up from a book left behind by the Horizon crew from its visit 100 years prior. As a result, there are different 'bosses' running different areas of the town organising 'hits' in order to 'cut in' on others territory.

Kirk, Spock and McCoy get caught up in the middle of it all as two of the main bosses want more 'heaters' (phasers, I think) from them so they can have the upper hand. In the end, Kirk learns to fight fire with fire and, poorly mimicking the gangster environment around him convinces the bosses that the Federation are more powerful and 'cutting in'.

An episode with a fair bit of humour thrown in. Gangsters and our 23rd century heroes thrown together. For me, the gangster parts (the whole episode) felt a bit overdone. Obviously I'm looking at this from the wrong perspective! Kirk's way of fitting in to a society such as this was much better pulled off in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. We also see that Kirk has no idea how to drive a car - something he is actually quite good at in the 2009 movie Star Trek!

Overall Rating: 5/10

14 August 2011

Trek Review: Wolf in the Fold & The Trouble With Tribbles

Wolf in the Fold

Wolf in the FoldOn Argelius II Scotty is recovering from a workplace accident (caused by a female crewmember) with Kirk and McCoy enjoying the hospitality (and the women) being offered.

No sooner Scotty decides to go for a walk with one of their entertainers, she is dead, with Scotty standing nearby with a knife and blood on his hands.

Two more women are murdered with Scotty being the prime suspect in each case while the investigation unfolds.

An interesting episode though I'll admit I was distracted while watching it. I wasn't sure how Scotty would ever be found innocent as each new murder happened. In the end, the link to 'Jack the Ripper' on Earth is brought up and I'll say it sounds a bit weak and implausible but not impossible how they ended up bringing one of Earth's 'ancient legends' into the picture.

The final resolution with the beaming of Mr Hengist into deep space in order to kill the entity is a bit extreme and with the crew under a drug that eliminates fear and makes everyone aboard the Enterprise so jovial really diminishes any effect Mr Hengist's death should have had? Somehow I doubt if the entity repossessed Scotty or some other important crew member that Kirk would have so easily made the decision to have their atoms scattered throughout space?!

Overall Rating: 5/10

With that, we are now at the halfway point of the Original Series, at least that's how the Blu-Ray remastered discs have been ordered...

The Trouble With Tribbles

The Trouble With TribblesThe Enterprise is called via Code One to Space Station K-7 in orbit of Sherman's Planet near Klingon space. Once there, they find no emergency but a very impatient and power wielding Federation official (another one) named Nilz Baris.

Baris and his aide, Arne Darvin explain they're fearful the Klingons may make an attempt to sabotage some important grain which will help the Federation establish a presence on Sherman's Planet.

Kirk orders his crew to take shore leave on K-7 with Uhura and Chekov wasting no time and meeting Cyrano Jones, who gives Uhura a cute, furry creature called a Tribble.

Unfortunately for Kirk, Starfleet orders him and the Enterprise to accommodate Baris' needs just as a Klingon Battlecruiser turns up at the station. Kirk warns the station but sees that the Klingon captain, Koloth (who looks a lot like Trelane from 'The Squire of Gothos') and his first officer Korax are already aboard K-7.

They ask for permission to take shore leave on the station, which Kirk allows under strict rules. It doesn't take long for the two crews to clash when Scotty hits Korax for insulting the Enterprise. All the while, Uhura's Tribble has managed to reproduce and create enough for everyone in the crew and continues to multiply with Tribbles appearing all over the Enterprise and K-7. Kirk, Spock and Scotty soon realise the Tribbles will be able to get into the precious grain that Baris wants so protected and as they check out the storage compartments on K-7 they find the entire supply replaced with bloated Tribbles.

Spock finds most of the Tribbles are dying or dead, the grain had been poisoned. With the Tribbles reacting badly to Klingons (and we find the feeling is mutual), Arne Darvin is ousted as a Klingon agent and he was behind sabotaging the grain. Wrapping things up for Kirk and his crew, the Enterprise leaves while Scotty deposits all the remaining Tribbles aboard the Klingon Battlecruiser.

This was a fun episode and certainly a memorable one with a decent amount of politics, crew interaction and humour. One of my main nitpicks has been brewing over a number of episodes since the introduction of Chekov as a main character - does he always have to say everything was invented or came from Russia? He's been doing it in most of the episodes he's appeared in and I hope he stops soon!

My main memory of this episode prior to watching it here was from the future Deep Space Nine episode, 'Trials and Tribble-ations'. We watched this episode (included on the blu-ray disc) afterwards and it was quite impressive to see how they combined the two shows so seamlessly.

In the remaster there were some great shots, certainly lots of colour. The same could not be said for the DS9 episode, but I won't review that until later (much later!) Some of the new effects shots were great, particularly the Enterprise's arrival at K-7. Unfortunately we still haven't had an up close look at a Klingon Battlecruiser, despite at least two episodes showing them now. I'm not sure if we ever will see them or if they're holding off for the detailed shots in 'The Motion Picture'.

Overall Rating: 8/10

So our Trek continues with the remainder of the second season and the second half of the Original Series...

05 August 2011

Trek Review: The Deadly Years & Obsession

We're nearing the halfway point of Season Two and along with it the halfway point of the Original Series! This review looks at another two interesting episodes of the series and I have to say that even though I'm sure I've watched through the Original Series before, all of these episodes feel like new adventures as I hardly remember anything about them!

The Deadly Years

The Deadly YearsThe Enterprise arrives at Gamma Hydra IV to find the scientific party assigned to the planet all dead or dying from old age - since none of the team were over 30, an investigation gets underway.

Soon enough, members of the landing party begin to show their own signs of rapid aging, affecting Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, Spock and Galway, but not Chekov.

Scotty's signs are more obvious but Galway's aging increases the quickest and takes her life eventually before a solution can be found. Kirk's memory starts to lapse and his command effectiveness is called into question by Commodore Stocker, being transported to Starbase 10.

Eventually, Chekov is key to saving the aging crew members when McCoy and Spock find that adrenaline stopped the aging from ever taking effect after Chekov became extremely frightened when he discovered the first dead scientist on the planet surface.

This is a decent episode for its time. The aging effects on each character are quite well done, including some interesting parallels to future aged characters we'd end up seeing. Sure, Kirk doesn't quite look like the Deney Crane from Boston Legal, but the aged McCoy we would revisit in Star Trek: The Next Generation's pilot episode 'Encounter at Farpoint' isn't too dissimilar and the aging Spock doesn't look too different from the Spock we would end up encountering in The Next Generation either.

The Enterprise becomes involved in a Neutral Zone incident in this episode after Commodore Stocker takes command and orders the ship head straight for Starbase 10, a course that takes the ship through the Neutral Zone. You have to wonder at the dimwits that Starfleet pins Commodore badges on, but surely a course to Starbase 10 should be plotted around the Neutral Zone regardless of how impatient the Commodore was at getting to his new posting? Even Sulu should have known better? Anyway, the Enterprise is attacked by Romulan's as soon as it crosses the Neutral Zone border, interesting, because I thought no ships were allowed in there from either side. Commodore Stocker decides to sit in the Captain's chair and has no reaction while the ship is pounded relentlessly by Romulan forces. Why not retreat or at least return fire?! Nope, nothing. It takes Kirk, back in his prime to call a bluff with his famous 'Corbomite Maneuver' to get the ship out of trouble.

Notable for this episode is the blu-ray remaster. The effects shots of the Romulan conflict are quite well done with at least four different Romulan ships seen in the battle against the Enterprise and the 'warp out' shot is one of the best I've seen in the remasters so far showing the agility of the Constitution class hero ship we all know and love.

Overall Rating: 8/10


ObsessionKirk and Spock lead a landing party on Argus X, surveying the planet for Tritanium. The landing party are soon set upon by a mysterious cloud that claims the lives of two security officers and leaves Ensign Rizzo badly injured. The dead officers having every red blood corpuscle drained from their bodies.

Kirk detects a similarity to a past situation he has faced and returns to the planet with Ensign Garrovick and a security team - all while the Enterprise is due to make an important rendezvous with the Yorktown to transfer urgently needed medical supplies.

On the planet surface, Ensign Garrovick is unable to stop the cloud before it kills the security team. He reports that he hesitated with fear to the senior staff, where Kirk relieves him of all his duties.

It is revealed that Ensign Garrovick is the son of Captain Garrovick, who Kirk served under aboard the starship Farragut. Captain Garrovick was killed along with 200 of the Farragut crew by a similar vampiric cloud. Kirk believes this is the same cloud. McCoy and Spock begin to notice Kirk becoming more obsessed with the creature and fear it is impeding his judgement, particularly with the rendezvous with the Yorktown being overlooked.

As the cloud leaves Argus X and launches into space, Kirk orders the Enterprise to pursue at Warp 8, however the ship is unable to continue for a long duration and forced to drop back. At this point, the cloud turns to attack the Enterprise. A phaser and torpedo attack have no effect and the cloud enters the ships ventilation system. Inside the ship, the cloud kills another crew member and attempts to kill Ensign Garrovick in his quarters, but Spock is able to intervene. The cloud leaves the ship and Kirk orders a pursuit course to the planet Tycho IV, where Kirk and the Farragut crew faced the cloud creature before.

There, Kirk and Garrovick are able to lure the creature with a sample of blood and detonate an anti-matter explosion that finally takes out the creature and leaves a rather large crater on the planet's surface.

Kirk's obsession with the creature puts him out of character from what we're used to as he relentlessly pursues it to atone for the guilt he feels for the deaths of the 200 or so lives lost on the Farragut. This episode must be up there for the record number of red-shirt deaths that occur!

Overall Rating: 7/10

03 August 2011

Trek Review: Journey to Babel & Friday's Child

Journey to Babel

Journey to BabelThe Enterprise has the task of transporting a number of diplomats to a conference on Babel. Among them, Andorians, Tellarites and Vulcans, including Spock's parents Sarek and Amanda.

En-route, one of the delegates is murdered, Sarek stands accused, but he is also suffering from a fatal disease where Spock is the only one who can help him. Add to that, the Enterprise comes under attack by an unknown alien ship.

This is an interesting episode as it shows the cultural diversity of the races making up the Federation in the 23rd century. We meet our first Andorians and Tellarites as well as a bunch of other aliens.

The episode introduces us to Sarek and Amanda, Spock's parents. Sarek appears cold and almost ignorant of Spock's existence aboard the ship, but this is probably to show the logical relationship between the two while Amanda's reactions are fairly more emotional in direct contrast.

An attempt on Kirk's life is made during the episode by a renegade Andorian communicating with an alien vessel shadowing the Enterprise's course to Babel. The Andorian is captured, but attempts to escape as the Enterprise is attacked. Eventually, after healing in sickbay, Kirk is able to outwit the alien commander and disables the other ship. The assassin dies soon after of his own accord.

Spock believes the attackers were actually Orion's who were out to disrupt the Babel conference to continue their own activities in the region, showing us more of the political climate going on at the time.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Friday's Child

Friday's ChildKirk and his landing party become involved in a struggle to secure mining rights on the planet Capella IV. This becomes more difficult when a Klingon commander, Kras appears and is also bargaining for similar rights with another powerful tribe of the planet's inhabitants.

A knee-jerk reaction from an inexperienced red-shirt when he draws his phaser on sight of the Klingon, works against Kirk's landing party and their chances of convincing the Capellan's the Federation is peaceful and trustworthy. However, in negotiations with the Capellan leader Akaar, McCoy and his experience with the Capellan people is able to provide them with the upper hand again.

A fight soon breaks out between the Capellan tribes and Akaar is killed and succeeded by Maab, who is in league with Kras. Kirk and crew are detained, but escape in the hopes of salvaging their situation and proving to the Capellans that Kras and Klingon Empire cannot be trusted.

This episode had promise but for me it became a little ridiculous. One look at the outfits of the Capellan inhabitants was enough. The storyline was somewhat predictable with the fighting between the Capellan tribes and the situation the Federation was put in. The reaction of Ensign Redshirt was extremely woeful and unacceptable for a trained Starfleet officer, particularly one assigned to the Enterprise!

The episode feels slow and drawn out, there is also a storyline of Akaar's widow, bearing a child and near the point of birth. She initially wishes to die after learning of Akaar's death, as is Capellan law. After being whisked away by Kirk and the crew she is influenced, by McCoy in particular as he works to save both mother and child.

In the end, it's an episode that covers topics of importance but I don't think it was executed as well as it could have been. Or maybe it was just the ridiculous Capellan outfits and the slow pace of the episode that ruined it for me?

Overall Rating: 5/10