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Star Trek – The Menagerie, Part I (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

Ah, clip shows. The bane of modern television. Okay, I’m being a bit harsh. After all, home media is a relatively recent invention. Up until the past couple of decades, it seemed that most people would only catch their television shows on… well, television. The audience was generally thought to be somewhat transient, the realities of scheduling and life making it highly unlikely that everybody would see everything. Indeed, most fans of old television shows found themselves at the mercy of fickle network schedules. Particularly for long-running shows, it was reasonable to assume that a significant portion of your audience might not be intimately familiar with the show.

Of course, the emergence of DVD box sets and on-line streaming have radically changed the way that television operates. Most obviously, there has been a massive a swing towards serialisation in the past few years, overlapping with the expansion of home media. While it’s tough to imagine a show like The Wire or Game of Thrones working in the early nineties, the fact that people can record and download and own their television shows means that producers can get away with assuming that everybody has seen everything.

What I’m getting at here  is that there was a time when clip shows were an understandable, maybe even desirable, part of the network television landscape. They could bring new viewers up to speed, or allow old viewers to celebrate the favourite parts of the show that they would otherwise never see again. Indeed, The Menagerie, the only two-part episode of the classic Star Trek, has a better excuse than most. The clip sections of this adventure are taken from the 1964 pilot, The Cage. Not only was this footage two years old when The Menagerie was broadcast, it had also never been aired.

Spock the difference...

Spock the difference…

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Star Trek – Court Martial (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

It’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer versatility of Star Trek as a format. For a show about exploring the universe, the creators have really managed to incorporate just about any and all genres of television story. Over the franchise’s 700-episode history, there’s been a wealth of quirky episodes that explore types of stories that one might consider quite surreal for a show about a ship travelling to the stars. A court room episode might not be the most radical of these shifts, but Court Martial is still fascinating as an evolution of Star Trek as a concept, broadening the kind of stories that could be told within a Star Trek framework. After all, the fact that there’s a whole subgenre of Star Trek involving court room drama is probably rooted in this first-season adventure.

While its influence is absolutely massive, Court Martial is still a problematic episode. Despite demonstrating what writers could really do within the context of the show, Court Martial suffers because it’s really not that good.

Running rings around the prosecution...

Running rings around the prosecution…

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