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Star Trek – Friday’s Child (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.

Errand of Mercy was a highlight of the first season. A wry script from producer Gene L. Coon introduced the Klingons as an antagonist for the Federation. Made up to look like space!Mongols, the Klingon Empire was presented as an imperial force hell-bent on expanding its sphere of influence. In case the parallels were a little too subtle, they were locked in a Cold War with the Federation. As such, they were the perfect stand-ins for Communist aggressors trying to undermine American foreign policy.

Of course, Errand of Mercy was brutally cynical in its depiction of the Federation. The episode suggested quite heavily that the Federation was just as imperialist and adversarial as the Klingons. They might couch their foreign policy in friendly language and polite overtures, but their end goals are quite similar. Smaller political entities are nothing but pieces shuffled around a board in a deadly game of chess. Errand of Mercy was not flattering in its portrayal of Kirk, presenting him as little more than a warmonger.

"Damn dirty Klingon!"

“Damn dirty Klingon!”

Errand of Mercy was a massive success. It remains a fan favourite to this day. In some respects, that is due to the introduction of the Klingons, but it is also an exceptional hour of scripted science fiction. So it makes sense that the show would return to the Klingons when it was renewed for a second season. Friday’s Child was the third episode produced during the second season, and returns to quite a few themes hit on by Errand of Mercy. Those themes would recur.

Friday’s Child demonstrates the obvious risks of an episode like Errand of Mercy. It’s an episode that essentially takes the “Klingons as space!Communists” seriously.

We come in peace...

We come in peace…

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Non-Review Review: Star Trek V – The Final Frontier

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is not a good movie. There’s really nothing that can be excavated from the film that might redeem it. It isn’t a misunderstood masterpiece. It isn’t an insightful diamond in the rough. It’s just a bad film, the one which forms the cornerstone of the “odd-numbered Star Trek films” curse. It’s indulgent, pretentious and narrow-minded. It tries to blend a world-weary cynicism with an ill-judged and mean-spirited sense of humour.

Despite being shorter than Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, it feels remarkably longer. It feels like a rather halfhearted attempt to recapture the spirit of the television show – oblivious to the fact that the franchise has spent the past decade moving onwards. It confuses ponderous pretension for intelligent insight.

Feeling blue...

Feeling blue…

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Star Trek – Crucible: McCoy – Provenance of Shadows by David R. George III (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.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

The classic Star Trek was not really a character-driven show. Of course, everybody recognises Kirk, Spock and McCoy, but the show seldom took the time to really dig into their history or origins. We’d occasionally find out that Kirk had some overlap with the villain of the week. He had served on a starship that had been the victim of a vampire space cloud, or lived on a colony during a brutal massacre. These details added up to something, along with the occasional reference to (and eventual death of) his brother Sam.

Spock got a bit more development, probably due to the fact that he was an alien. After all, developing Spock meant developing an entire exotic alien species, and offered some insight into how Vulcans must live. We’d also get occasional factoids or tidbits (Vulcans can mind meld, they have inner eyes, they had a schism millennia ago) that help to give a concrete picture of the where the character came from and where he might like to go.

McCoy, on the other hand, was a bit of a blank slate. Everybody knows McCoy. He’s the irritable surgeon on the ship, prone to insulting Spock and complaining about the fact that he’s flying through space in a ship filled with mechanical doo-hickeys. However, we never really get a sense of McCoy’s past. We never learn much about his family on-screen, except when the writers wanted a bit of dramatic fodder in the penultimate movie featuring the original cast, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. But we don’t talk about that.

So David R. George III’s Crucible: McCoy – Provenance of Shadows is an interesting book. Not only because it is a book completely devoted to the least-developed of the iconic leading trio, but also because this relatively under-developed character also gets one of the longest Star Trek tie-in books ever written. And without too much focus on his past.

tos-cruciblemccoy

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