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Star Trek – I, Mudd (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.

I, Mudd is delightfully silly.

This is probably the broadest Star Trek comedy episode ever produced. It is very difficult to imagine any Star Trek ensemble outside the original cast pulling off an episode like this. While The Trouble With Tribbles is easily the show’s most iconic comedy episode (and the franchise’s, to boot), there is something rather plucky and endearing about I, Mudd. One of features of the later Star Trek spin-offs was a tendency to take themselves quite seriously. This isn’t a problem of itself, but it does make it impossible to do a show like I, Mudd.

Mudd in yer eye...

Mudd in yer eye…

As with other second-season episodes, there is a sense that the show is stretching its wings a bit. Catspaw was a clear attempt to do a horror story, and Wolf in the Fold was a slasher or occult film in Star Trek form. Episodes like Amok Time and Journey to Babel are very consciously building out the Star Trek universe. Episodes like I, Mudd and The Trouble With Tribbles demonstrate that Star Trek can do comedy.

To be fair, it is perfectly reasonably to argue that shows like I, Mudd led the show to think that Spock’s Brain was a good idea. Still, I, Mudd is just so much fun – demonstrating the sense of goofy and theatrical fun that ran through so much of classic Star Trek.

"Stella, Stella... You're putting me through hell-a!"

“Stella, Stella… You’re putting me through hell-a!”

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Star Trek – The Deadly Years (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.

“Accelerated ageing” is one of those classic science-fiction tropes. It’s one of those stock element that can be easily baked into an episode – like “evil duplicate” or “body theft.” It instantly adds drama, gives the actors something to do, and offers a chance for the make-up team to work on something that might be considered a bit more prestigious than aliens. It pops up on shows as diverse as Stargate SG-1 and The X-Files.

Within the Star Trek franchise, the trope shows up a couple of times. The Deadly Years is the most obvious example, but it also shows up during the first two years of Star Trek: The Next Generation, when that show was trying hardest to channel its direct predecessor. Too Short a Season inverted the trope to give us “accelerated de-ageing”, while Unnatural Selection played it entirely straight.

A wrinkle in the timeline...

A wrinkle in the timeline…

The Deadly Years is an episode that doesn’t quite work as a cohesive whole, although if its populated with some intriguing moving parts. There is a sense that the writing staff are trying to plug perceived gaps in the story by throwing everything they have into the mix. Some of these are good ideas, some of these are already so familiar that they feel like Star Trek clichés at what marks the halfway point of the original production run.

There are several elements here that would arguably support their own episodes. On top of the idea of the crew ageing rapidly, we get the wonderful dramatic hook of Spock trying to prove Kirk unfit for command – a plot point that never feels like it gets enough focus. However, we also get another “incompetent/crazy/stupid senior official” plot heaped on top to provide a suitably dramatic climax to the episode. And the Romulans return, albeit as generic heavies. The Deadly Years is a mixed bag at best.

"She's... well, you get the idea..."

“She’s… well, you get the idea…”

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Star Trek – The Apple (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.

It’s amazing how iconic Star Trek could be, even when it was terrible. There’s something quite ironic about how much of the franchise’s truly memorable iconography is rooted in some of the show’s weakest episodes. The Apple is one of the most iconic and memorable Star Trek episodes, featuring a giant evil dragon head sculpture, David Soul in orange body paint, lots of speechifying from Kirk, and a strong atheistic message with Kirk casting himself as Satan in the Garden of Eden.

It is also just terrible.

"VAAAAAAAL!!!"

“VAAAAAAAL!!!”

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