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Showing posts by: David Mack click to see David Mack's profile
May 4 2011 11:57am

All For One: Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

The third Star Trek feature film gets a bad rap. It had a hard act to follow. How could any movie continue the saga after the masterful and heart-wrenching second film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan? Even today, few fans list the third film among their three most-favorite of the eleven feature films, and it often cracks viewers’ top five simply by default rather than out of affection. While I acknowledge that the film has flaws, I think it’s far better than most people remember.

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Mar 31 2011 1:01pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Cage”

Star Trek episode The CageThe Cage
Written by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Robert Butler

Original Series Pilot
Production episode 0x1
Original air date: Oct. 4, 1988
Stardate Unknown

Recap: Dayton Ward

The Enterprise is traveling in deep space, and we drop in on the bridge crew under the command of Captain Christopher Pike. Everybody is tense while watching the viewscreen, as something’s heading directly for the ship. One of the bridge officers reports that it’s a “radio wave; an old-style distress signal,” which apparently was designed to scare the crap out of anybody who might happen across it. The signal indicates a vessel, the S.S. Columbia, was forced to crash-land eighteen years ago somewhere in the “Talos star group,” a remote area that has never been explored.

Without any evidence that there might be survivors after all this time, Pike decides that checking out some heretofore unknown dustball is a waste of time. He opts to continue on to the Vega colony where injured members of the ship’s crew can be treated… because the Enterprise’s sickbay apparently is closed for the season or something. I guess this mission came before that whole “explore strange new worlds, seek out new life-forms, blah blah blah” credo.

[No wonder Roddenberry had to start over…]

Mar 24 2011 1:05pm

Star Trek Re-watch: Season Three Wrap-Up


As we reach the end of the third season and prepare to pack up the DVDs, it seems time to take a moment and look back over Star Trek’s final 24 original episodes and consider their merits, faults, and hidden meanings. It’s been an uneven season, disappointing or even boring at times, but also marked by a few surprisingly good highlights.

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Mar 17 2011 12:37pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “Turnabout Intruder”

Star Trek episode Turnabout IntruderTurnabout Intruder
Teleplay by Arthur H. Singer
Story by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Herb Wallerstein

Season 3, Episode 24
Production episode 3x24
Original air date: June 3, 1969
Stardate 5928.5

Recap: Dayton Ward

The Enterprise arrives at Camus II after receiving a priority distress call from a science outpost located there to study the ruins of a dead civilization. Beaming down to see what’s what, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy find only two survivors: Doctors Arthur Coleman and Janice Lester. Coleman informs Kirk that Lester, who’s lying in a bed and looking to be in obvious discomfort, has been exposed to some unknown radiation. She’s delirious, but not so much that she and Kirk can’t exchange one of those knowing smiles that tells us they share a past. Oh, good… another of the captain’s flings comes back to bite him right in the aft deflector shields. Everybody got their popcorn?

Or, if you turn back now, you can still escape with your sanity at least somewhat intact.

[No way, Dayton! Torture me some more!]

Mar 10 2011 1:27pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “All Our Yesterdays”

Star Trek episode All Our YesterdaysAll Our Yesterdays
Written by Jean Lisette Aroeste
Directed by Marvin Chomsky

Season 3, Episode 23
Production episode 3x23
Original air date: March 14, 1969
Stardate 5943.7–5943.9

Recap: David Mack

The Enterprise crew detects a star, Beta Niobe, that will supernova in just three and a half hours and destroy its inhabited only planet, Sarpeidon. However, despite reports that its people lacked spaceflight capabilities, the planet is now deserted. Instead of celebrating the Sarpeidonites’ timely escape, our heroes fly toward this catastrophe aborning, determined to investigate it first-hand.

[Because what could possibly go wrong?]

Mar 3 2011 12:21pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Savage Curtain”

Star Trek episode The Savage CurtainThe Savage Curtain
Teleplay by Arthur Heinemann
and Gene Roddenberry
Story by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Herschel Daugherty

Season 3, Episode 22
Production episode 3x22
Original air date: March 7, 1969
Stardate 5906.4—5906.5

Recap: Dayton Ward

In orbit above a nasty-looking red planet, the Enterprise conducts surveys and sensor scans. Kirk and the gang are puzzled by the apparent presence of life-forms despite an environment that seems completely inhospitable, with the surface covered by molten lava and all. Despite its reportedly poisonous atmosphere, there’s some kind of power generation happening down below, indicating an advanced civilization.

There’s no way a landing party can beam down and check things out, so Kirk orders a report sent to Starfleet detailing his plans to blow this popsicle stand and head someplace a bit more exciting. Somebody somewhere takes exception to that, because alarms start ringing and Spock says the ship is being swept by a powerful scanning beam.

Then, just as you might expect from a science-fiction show set in the far future and not featuring Will Robinson, the Robot and Dr. Smith talking to giant mutated vegetables, Abraham Lincoln shows up.

[ Oh, the pain]

Feb 24 2011 12:54pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Cloud Minders”

Star Trek episode The Cloud MindersThe Cloud Minders
Teleplay by Margaret Armen
Story by David Gerrold
and Oliver Crawford
Directed by Jud Taylor

Season 3, Episode 21
Production episode 3x19
Original air date: Feb. 28, 1969
Stardate 5818.4–5819.3

Recap: David Mack

The Enterprise comes to Ardana, the only planet that produces the substance zenite, which is needed to save its Federation neighbor Merak II from a plague that’s killing all its plant life. Ardana’s leader, Plasus, hails the ship and says he’s ready to receive them with a shindig at his fancy cloud city, Stratos, but Kirk’s in a hurry to snag the zenite, so he and Spock beam down to the mine’s entrance, instead.

From Ardana’s surface they admire the cloud city, which Spock praises as a culture of art and intellectual pursuits where all violence has been eliminated. He and Kirk are then attacked by people in coveralls and goggles.

[Didn’t see that coming, did you?]

Feb 17 2011 1:01pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Way to Eden”

Star Trek episode The Way to EdenThe Way to Eden
Teleplay by Arthur Heinemann
Story by Michael Richards
and Arthur Heinemann
Directed by David Alexander

Season 3, Episode 20
Production episode 3x20
Original air date: Feb. 21, 1969
Stardate 5832.3–5832.6

Recap: Dayton Ward

The Enterprise is chasing a Tholian a stolen spaceship, the Aurora. When Kirk hails the ship to talk to whoever’s aboard, the other vessel stomps on the gas and tries to make a getaway. Kirk orders the Enterprise to give chase and uses tractor beams to capture the renegade ship. The little ship tries to escape and its engines overheat till they’re about to explode. Naturally, Kirk orders the tractor beams cut, right? Um, no, and the ship blows up. Thankfully, Scotty was hanging out in the transporter room. (The dude has no life. Seriously.) He beams aboard the ship’s occupants and covers Kirk’s ass.

[It’s all downhill from there…]

Feb 10 2011 1:06pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “Requiem for Methuselah”

Star Trek episode Requiem for MethuselahRequiem for Methuselah
Written by Jerome Bixby
Directed by Murray Golden

Season 3, Episode 19
Production episode 3x21
Original air date: Feb. 14, 1969
Stardate 5843.7–5843.8

Recap: David Mack

The Enterprise is a plague ship: three of its crew have been killed and 23 others infected by Rigellian Fever. To fight the disease, McCoy needs a lot of ritalin ryetalyn, the only known antidote. The ship’s sensors detect a rich deposit on Holberg 917G, an unexplored planet in the Omega system. With just four hours before the epidemic becomes irreversible, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to find and acquire the rare substance.

They’re on the planet all of ten seconds before Spock’s tricorder picks up a human life sign the ship’s sensors missed, and a gravity-defying stainless-steel gumball machine starts shooting at them. They try to shoot back, but their phasers have stopped working.

[So, how do they avoid death by gumball machine?]

Feb 3 2011 12:50pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Lights of Zetar”

Star Trek episode The Lights of ZetarThe Lights of Zetar
Written by Jeremy Tarcher
and Shari Lewis
Directed by Herb Kenwith

Season 3, Episode 18
Production episode 3x18
Original air date: Jan. 31, 1969
Stardate 5725.3

Recap: Dayton Ward

The Enterprise is on its way to Memory Alpha, which, as everyone knows, began life as a website in the early 21st century before its storehouse of information became so great that they had to punt the whole thing to a planetoid in deep space. Now, it’s the repository of all historical, cultural, and scientific information for all member worlds of the United Federation of Planets.

Along for the ride is Lieutenant Mira Romaine, who’s been given the job of supervising the installation of new equipment at Memory Alpha. It’s a long journey, which gives Scotty plenty of time to wander around the ship following Romaine like a lovesick puppy. It’s distracting enough that Kirk even mentions it in his blog captain’s log just how badly Scotty’s fallen into that insidious trap called love.

[ Of course, it all goes to hell from there…]

Jan 27 2011 12:56pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “That Which Survives”

Star Trek episode That Which SurvivesThat Which Survives
Teleplay by John Meredyth Lucas
Story by Michael Richards
Directed by Herb Wallerstein

Season 3, Episode 17
Production episode 3x14
Original air date: Jan. 24, 1969
Stardate unknown

Recap: David Mack

The Enterprise crew discovers an “impossible” planet. Only a few thousand years old and the size of Earth’s moon, it has Earthlike gravity, density, atmosphere, and vegetation—none of which could have developed naturally in so short a time. Captain Kirk decides this merits investigation. (Gee, you think?) He assembles a landing party consisting of himself, Dr. McCoy, senior geologist D’Amato, and helmsman Sulu—because the pilot is the first guy you want to take on a planetary survey. Screw those lazy botanists.

As the landing party starts to beam down, an alien lady whose eye shadow sports more colors than a bag of Skittles appears in the transporter room and declares, “Stop! You must not go!” Then, with one touch she kills the transporter operator—ironically, the only person who could have halted the process.

[Well, bugger]

Jan 20 2011 1:05pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Mark of Gideon”

Star Trek episode The Mark of GideonThe Mark of Gideon
Written by George F. Slavin
and Stanley Adams
Directed by Jud Taylor

Season 3, Episode 16
Production episode 3x17
Original air date: Jan. 17, 1969
Stardate 5423.4–5423.8

Recap: Dayton Ward

The Enterprise arrives at the planet Gideon, a world that’s hoping to turn in its amateur status and sign a long-term, lucrative contract complete with endorsement deals as a member of the Federation. However, the people of Gideon seem to be rather shy, as they’ve never allowed any Federation representatives to visit their planet, nor have they even allowed sensor scans by ships in orbit. Rather than tell the planet’s government to go and pound sand until such time as they learn to work and play well with others, the Federation has persuaded the Gideon leaders to accept visitors. The Gideons put their foot down and insist that the delegation be composed of one person, and they specifically name Captain Kirk.

[Because that sort of thing NEVER sounds suspicious....]

Jan 13 2011 1:16pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”

Star Trek episode Let That Be Your Last BattlefieldLet That Be Your Last Battlefield
Teleplay by Oliver Crawford
Story by Lee Cronin (Gene L. Coon)
Directed by Jud Taylor

Season 3, Episode 15
Production episode 3x15
Original air date: January 10, 1969
Stardate 5730.2–5730.7

Recap: David Mack

The Enterprise is en route to decontaminate Ariannus, a planet attacked by a bioweapon. Along the way it crosses paths with a Starfleet shuttlecraft stolen from Starbase 4 two weeks earlier that, judging from its movements, has been converted into a rocking chair. Kirk has the shuttlecraft brought aboard. He and Spock go meet its pilot, who collapses at their feet: it’s an alien whose face is chalk-white on the right and pitch-black on the left.

[ And I was afraid this would be one of the campy episodes….]

Jan 6 2011 6:25pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “Whom Gods Destroy”

Star Trek episode Whom Gods DestroyWhom Gods Destroy
Teleplay by Lee Erwin
Story by Lee Erwin and Jerry Sohl
Directed by Herb Wallerstein

Season 3, Episode 14
Production episode 3x16
Original air date: January 3, 1969
Stardate 5718.3

Recap: Dayton Ward

The Enterprise has arrived at Elba II, home to an asylum that holds the Federation’s handful of truly criminally insane prisoners. Apparently, the ship comes bearing gifts, in the form of a new medicine which may well wipe out mental illness forever. You and I know that’s a load of buffalo bagels, because we see some of the fashion choices which, in a century or so, will be popular among Federation citizens. I’m looking at you, Wesley Crusher and your Sweaters of Doom.


Dec 30 2010 11:36am

Star Trek Re-watch: “Elaan of Troyius”

Star Trek episode Elaan of Troyius

Elaan of Troyius
Written & Directed by
John Meredyth Lucas

Season 3, Episode 13
Production episode 3x2
Original air date: Dec. 20, 1968
Stardate 4372.5

Recap: David Mack

Kirk and the Enterprise crew arrive at the planet Elas in the Tellun star system, with top-secret orders to chauffer Troyian diplomat Ambassador Petri and “cooperate” with him in “all matters pertaining to his mission.” None of the Starfleet officers are happy about this, nor do they understand the Klingons’ interest in the Federation-controlled system.

Uhura lets Kirk know the Elasians are ready to beam up but in a bad mood. Kirk has no idea what they’re angry about. Spock chalks it up to Elasian males’ reputation for being “vicious and arrogant,” prompting McCoy to wax ecstatic about Elasian women’s “subtle mystical power that drives men wild.” (Ah, yes—I love the smell of stereotypes in the morning….)

[ …and we’re off and running! ]

Dec 23 2010 1:09pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Empath”

Star Trek episode The EmpathThe Empath
Written by Joyce Muskat
Directed by John Erman

Season 3, Episode 12
Production episode 3x8
Original air date: December 6, 1968
Stardate 5121.5

Recap: Dayton Ward

The Enterprise has arrived at Minara II, home to a Federation research station set up to monitor the decaying Minaran sun as it prepares to go supernova. With the critical event fast approaching, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to collect the research team and whisk them off to safety before the planet gets cooked like a nice beef brisket. Naturally, attempts to contact the science team go unanswered, and when the landing party descends to the station’s subterranean command center, they find evidence of it having been abandoned for months.

Scotty calls down from the ship, letting Kirk know that a solar flare is on the way, bringing with it all sorts of nasty cosmic rays and stuff. Naturally, Kirk orders the ship out of orbit to avoid the flare, while he and Spock and McCoy will hang out for the three days that will pass before the storm subsides. Hmm…out of contact with the ship for three whole days? That just screams, “Yo! Aliens! Come screw with us!”

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Dec 16 2010 1:05pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “Wink of an Eye”

Star Trek episode Wink of an EyeWink of an Eye
Teleplay by Arthur Heinemann
Story by Lee Cronin (Gene L. Coon)
Directed by Jud Taylor

Season 3, Episode 11
Production episode 3x13
Original air date: November 29, 1968
Stardate 5710.5–5710.9

Recap: David Mack
The Enterprise crew responds to a distress signal from the planet Scalos, but Kirk is sure there must be some mistake—because there’s no one on the planet except the landing party (and whatever annoying invisible insect keeps buzzing in Kirk’s ear). Spock reports that the city around them appears to have been long since abandoned, but his tricorder is picking up “intermittent” life readings, though he can’t pinpoint where or what they are.

As Kirk starts handing out busywork assignments, Compton, one of the landing party’s redshirts, flickers and vanishes before their eyes.

[Don’t envy Compton, though—he’s not free of this episode yet….]

Dec 9 2010 1:19pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “Plato’s Stepchildren”

Star Trek episode Plato’s StepchildrenPlato’s Stepchildren
Written by Meyer Dolinsky
Directed by David Alexander

Season 3, Episode 10
Production episode 3x12
Original air date: November 22, 1968
Stardate 5784.2–5784.3

Recap: Dayton Ward

The Enterprise arrives at an unknown planet in response to a “desperate distress call,” even though the ship’s sensors detect no life. But, the world is apparently home to rich deposits of a rare element called kironide, which seems to be of some value, since Kirk, Spock, and McCoy waste no time beaming down to see what’s what. They materialize inside the lobby of Caesar’s Palace (before the renovations, the Forum shops, and Celine Dion’s amphitheater) and are immediately confronted by a disembodied voice asking if they’re from the Enterprise.

Star Trek episode Plato’s StepchildrenThe voice belongs to a diminutive human male named Alexander, who sings, dances, plays games and even lets the Wookie win. He explains that he and those who live here are from the Sahndara star system, whose sun went nova millennia ago. They managed to escape, and the group’s leader, Parmen, had such a kink for the philosophies of Plato that they modeled their society after his teachings, and refer to themselves as “Platonians,” “Plato’s Children,” or…wait for it…“Plato’s Stepchildren.”

[Yeah…it’s gonna be one of those episodes]

Dec 2 2010 1:11pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Tholian Web”

Star Trek episode The Tholian WebThe Tholian Web
Written by Judy Burns
and Chet Richards
Directed by Herb Wallerstein,
Ralph Senensky (uncredited)

Season 3, Episode 9
Production episode 3x9
Original air date: November 15, 1968
Stardate 5693.2

Recap: David Mack

The Enterprise nears the last known position of the vanished starship U.S.S. Defiant, which has been missing for three weeks in “unsurveyed territory.” Spock reports unusual sensor readings: space itself appears to be “breaking up,” a phenomenon he cannot explain. As if that alone isn’t sufficient cause for alarm, Scotty warns that there is a slow, continuing, and inexplicable loss of power from the Enterprise’s warp engines.

Chekov sights an object dead ahead: a green-glowing spectre, a ghostly twin of the Enterprise that barely registers at all on sensors. It’s the Defiant, adrift in space and not taking Uhura’s calls.

Star Trek episode The Tholian WebDressed like walking electric shavers, a landing party consisting of Kirk, Spock, Chekov, and Doctor McCoy beams over to the crippled Starfleet vessel. They materialize on the Defiant’s bridge to find it deserted except for two corpses: that of the Defiant’s captain, and the man whose hands are locked around the dead skipper’s broken neck.

[Hang on to your phasers, kids—because this episode’s just gettin’ warmed up….]

Nov 25 2010 1:00pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”

Star Trek episode For the World Is Hollow and
I Have Touched the Sky

Written by Rik Vollaerts
Directed by Tony Leader

Season 3, Episode 8
Production episode 3x10
Original air date: November 8, 1968
Stardate 5476.3–5476.4

Recap: Dayton Ward

Bopping along through space, the Enterprise picks up six primitive missiles moving at sublight speeds on an intercept course.

Sublight. … Sub. Light. … Slower. Than. Light.

Rather than dodging them at warp speed, everybody on the bridge pretty much just stands around soiling their respective diapers and waiting to meet their maker, until Kirk finally orders the phasers to end this nonsense. We’re off to a bad start already, aren’t we? Kirk has just enough time to order a course change to the weapons’ point of origin before he’s called down to sickbay by Nurse Chapel.

There, he meets with McCoy, who informs the captain that he’s completed the crew’s annual physicals, and everybody is in ship-shape save for one person: McCoy himself. The doctor has discovered that he’s contracted a terminal disease with no known cure: xenopolycythemia.


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