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Star Trek – Bread and Circuses (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

Bread and Circuses is not subtle. Then again, that is the point.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff happening in Bread and Circuses, the fourteenth episode produced for the second season, but the last to air. There’s the idea of a world dominated by “a twentieth century Rome”, a rogue captain, a Prime Directive dilemma and a scathing indictment of modern television. Not only is it one of the last episodes with a “produced by Gene L. Coon” credit, it is also an episode co-written by Roddenberry and Coon. It is also the episode of Star Trek that endorses Christianity most explicitly and heavily.

"Wait, we're only getting it in black and white?"

“Wait, we’re only getting it in black and white?”

Bread and Circuses is a bold and audacious piece of television, full of venom and righteous anger, rich in satire and cynicism. It’s a plot so ridiculously over-stuffed with good ideas that viewers are liable to forgive the show’s somewhat cop-out ending where Kirk and his away team beam back to the Enterprise and continue on their merry way as though little has actually happened. Bread and Circuses feels like it uses every minute of its fifty-minute runtime wisely, balancing character with world-building.

It is probably a little bit too messy and disjointed to be labelled a dyed-in-the-wool classic, particularly when compared to the shows produced around it. Nevertheless, it is a decidedly ambitious piece of work, and one that demonstrates what Star Trek could do when it sets its mind to something.

When in Rome...

When in Rome…

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Can You Separate A Film Maker From Their Body of Work?

I considered writing this little piece in a vacuum, leaving the issue the sparked it sitting like an elephant in the room – but there’s really no point avoiding it. I’ve been troubled watching Roman Polanski films ever since I read up and discovered why he had to direct The Ninth Gate from abroad. The knowledge that he had engaged in sexual acts with a thirteen year old girl has been very hard to disassociate from the man in viewing his filmography – oddly enough, it’s harder to disassociate than the grisly facts surrounding the brutal murder of Sharon Tate by the Manson family. I saw The Pianist and his rather lacklustre (Playboy financed) version of Macbeth before I found out about his flight to Europe and his seemingly eternal exile. I was unlucky enough to see Chinatown afterwards, and as great as the film was I couldn’t quite get over what Polanski had done. Am I being a little silly or is it really hard to view the work of film makers in a vacuum?

"Forget it, Jake, it's Polaski..."

"Forget it, Jake, it's Polaski..."

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