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Star Trek – Patterns of Force (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.

Patterns of Force is a rather strange little episode, the type of weird and iconic adventure that Star Trek tended to do quite well. It’s very much an off-the-wall adventure, of the kind that none of the spin-off shows would attempt. “Planet of the Nazis” is a concept that belongs alongside other second-season episodes like “Planet of the Romans” or “Planet of the Gangsters.” It’s a very goofy premise, one that requires considerable suspension of disbelief before the episode even starts.

And, yet, despite the many serious problems with Patterns of Force, this is an episode that very clearly and very forcefully has something to say. Reflecting the world in which it aired, Star Trek is a show that is largely defined by the Second World War. In The City on the Edge of Forever, it was revealed that the Second World War had to happen to beckon the bright and optimistic future of Star Trek. Almost forty years later, the final televised season of the franchise would return to that idea in its opening episode.

"Computer, query. What is Godwin's Law?"

“Computer, query. What is Godwin’s Law?”

Kirk’s “final frontier” was Kennedy’s “new frontier” extrapolated centuries into the future, an optimistic and very American vision of what the twenty-third century might hold. Given that the show aired two decades following the end of the Second World War, the conflict that made America the most powerful global superpower, it makes sense that the conflict should cast a shadow over Star Trek. Various members of the production had served in the conflict, and it remained part of the national consciousness.

So an episode pitting Kirk and Spock against honest-to-goodness space Nazis seemed inevitable.

"Well, there goes syndication in Germany..."

“Well, there goes syndication in Germany…”

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Space: Above and Beyond – Eyes (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

Eyes is perhaps the most ambitious that Space: Above and Beyond has been to this point in the season.

Eyes develops scraps hinted at in The Pilot and The Farthest Man From Home into a complex web of intrigue, with an assassination plot playing out against all sorts of institutionalised prejudice and suggesting sinister conspiracies at work behind the horrific war that drives the show. The last episode of Space: Above and Beyond credited to Glen Morgan and James Wong in 1996, the episode feels like it is solidifying the series. Six episodes in, enough foundations have been laid that development can begin.

An unstoppable killing machine.

An unstoppable killing machine.

Eyes is rather epic in scale, and massive in scope. It is a story about politics and scheming, unfolding quite far away from the front lines. In episodes like The Pilot, The Farthest Man From Home and even Ray Butts, it often felt like our lead characters were quite divorced from the big decisions. It seemed like the show was very much preoccupied with a day in the life of a space marine, rather with the larger forces at play seen only in glimpses and shadows.

Eyes is a show that does a lot to build the world of Space: Above and Beyond, doing a much better job than The Dark Side of the Sun or Mutiny at giving a sense of this dark future. While the script is perhaps a little too cluttered for its own good, it is a very well-constructed paranoid conspiracy thriller.

That's not at all fascist.

That’s not at all fascist.

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