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Dayton Ward

Make It So Timey-Wimey: Doctor Who/Star Trek Crossovers Then and Now

Perhaps buoyed by the surprise success that was the very entertaining Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes comics crossover mini-series, IDW Publishing announced last month their plans to bring Doctor Who to the final frontier. Assimilation2 will unite the Eleventh Doctor (as portrayed by Matt Smith) and the crew of Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s Enterprise in a special eight-issue event beginning in May. As if that’s not enough, the adventure promises to bring together popular adversaries from each franchise: the Borg and the Cybermen.

Somebody pinch me! Yes, I admit that crossovers in general often can be something of a goofy notion, with the level of absurdity depending upon the…uh…crossed parties, but it’s not like we’re talking about Dexter and My Little Pony here. Star Trek and Doctor Who at least are in somewhat co-located wheelhouses, right? I mean, has this actually happened before?

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Big Ideas Worthy of a Return

December 7, 1979 was a momentous day for Trekkers the world over, for it was on this day that the long, “Great Trek Drought” of the 1970s came to an end with the theatrical release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

During the decade which had elapsed since the broadcast of the original Star Trek series’ last episode, fans had been given precious little to satisfy their appetites for new adventures with Captain Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. A Saturday-morning cartoon series from 1973 to 1974 with the original cast giving voice to their animated doppelgangers helped ease the pain a bit, as did a handful of novels, comic books, games, action figures, and other merchandise. Then, in the mid-1970s, Paramount Pictures announced its plans to create a fourth television network, with “Star Trek: Phase II” as one of its flagship programs. The new series would have brought back everyone from the original show with the exception of Leonard Nimoy.

[But then, George Lucas came along, and changed everything….]

Series: Star Trek Movie Marathon

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Cage”

The 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…]

Series: Star Trek Rewatch

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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Series: Star Trek Rewatch

Star Trek Re-watch: “Turnabout Intruder”

Turnabout Intruder
Teleplay by Arthur H. Singer
Story by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Herb Wallerstein

Season 3, Episode 24
Production episode 3×24
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!]

Series: Star Trek Rewatch

Star Trek Re-watch: “All Our Yesterdays”

All Our Yesterdays
Written by Jean Lisette Aroeste
Directed by Marvin Chomsky

Season 3, Episode 23
Production episode 3×23
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?]

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Savage Curtain”

The Savage Curtain
Teleplay by Arthur Heinemann
and Gene Roddenberry
Story by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Herschel Daugherty

Season 3, Episode 22
Production episode 3×22
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]

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Cloud Minders”

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

Season 3, Episode 21
Production episode 3×19
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?]

Star Trek Re-watch: “The Way to Eden”

The Way to Eden
Teleplay by Arthur Heinemann
Story by Michael Richards
and Arthur Heinemann
Directed by David Alexander

Season 3, Episode 20
Production episode 3×20
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…]

Star Trek Re-watch: “Requiem for Methuselah”

Requiem for Methuselah
Written by Jerome Bixby
Directed by Murray Golden

Season 3, Episode 19
Production episode 3×21
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?]

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

The Lights of Zetar
Written by Jeremy Tarcher
and Shari Lewis
Directed by Herb Kenwith

Season 3, Episode 18
Production episode 3×18
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…]

A Batman for All Ages

I’ve been a Batman fan for most of my life. Some of my earliest memories of the character include watching the 1960s TV series with Adam West, or various cartoon versions with Batman and Robin working alone or as part of the Super Friends. There were Batman comic books, coloring books, action figures, Halloween costumes, pajamas, and whatever else a young boy could get his hands on, all while quizzical parents watched and wondered what was so fascinating about a guy fighting crime in his underwear.

[Come to think of it, there was Batman underwear, too….]

Series: Bat-Week

Star Trek Re-watch: “That Which Survives”

That Which Survives
Teleplay by John Meredyth Lucas
Story by Michael Richards
Directed by Herb Wallerstein

Season 3, Episode 17
Production episode 3×14
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]

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

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

Season 3, Episode 16
Production episode 3×17
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….]

Series: Star Trek Rewatch

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

Let 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 3×15
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….]

Series: Star Trek Rewatch

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