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Star Trek - 1st Season DVD 
6th-Jan-2005 12:54 am
Yes, I watched them all. Shoot me now.

It's really quite weird what you notice when you see them back-to-back vaguely in production order, something I'd never actually done before -- I'm only old enough to have seen the 3rd season in first run, and that only because NBC decided that year that it was a "kids show" and moved it back to an early time slot, and even by then, what with Freddy Freiburger in charge, things were already quite random (though since I was only 8 years old, I didn't notice).

Sort of fun to see how Gene was completely winging it for those first several episodes. Whatever series bible they had at that point, it was very sparse. It takes quite a while for them to get to even having a "Star Fleet". And there is no Federation:
  • "Where No Man Has Gone Before" makes vague references to "Earth bases"
  • In "Corbomite Maneuver", only the aliens have a Federation.
  • In "Balance of Terror", the treaty is between Romulus/Remus and "Earth" and the neutral zone outposts are all "Earth Outpost"s
  • In "Tomorrow is Yesterday" (the one where they snatch the USAF pilot in 1967) which has the first references to "Star Fleet", Kirk tells Christopher that their governing authority is the "United Earth Space Probe Agency"
  • one of Kirk's log entries in "Charlie X" mentions reporting the destruction of the Antares to "Yewspah Headquarters", which, I'm assuming, is how UESPA is supposed to be pronounced.
And there's no Prime Directive. Not anywhere in the first season. It's not that the writers were ignoring it when it was inconvenient or finding ways to waffle around it like they did later and all through Next Generation... it's that Gene simply hadn't thought of it yet. Just for grins, here are the remaining alien-civ contact episodes in season one:
  • "Errand of Mercy" -- Hi, Mr. Organian Town Council Guy. Don't mind us beaming down right in the middle of your primitive village. We're about to fight a war with the Klingons, and if you let us have a base here, we'll give you all sorts of neat hi-tech stuff.
  • "A Taste of Armageddon" -- Your stupid computer-war with Vendicar is bullshit and we're going lay waste your entire planet if we don't get our people back. We even have a general order for just this kind of situation.
  • "Return of the Archons" -- This is the one 1st season episode where they actually attempt to blend in with the population. But, they're investigating a planet where something took out a starship; figure that keeping a low profile in that kind of situation is not actually a bad idea. Admittedly, there is a brief discussion of whether this culture is worth preserving, and, oddly enough, the answer they come up with is, well, no.
    Meanwhile, oddly enough, while the UESPA may not (yet) have a Prime Directive, Landrew does.
  • "Miri" -- one supposes parallel Earths are exempt and can be messed with however we like. Besides, it's for the children.
  • "Man Trap" -- let's see... the creature needs salt to live, it's intelligent, and it's not like we don't have tons of salt on board ship, and there's a fairly good bet that if we were to give it salt, it would stop trying to extract salt from random crewpeople. And it's the last of its race. But we're gonna kill it anyway. Go us.
  • "Devil in the Dark" -- The Horta is another of these last-of-its-race things. At least this time, Kirk and Spock actually have an argument about whether or not to kill it.
Figure if the UESPA ever had any rules about respect for life, they're clearly far down the priority list. And the Prime Directive is just not even on the radar.

Hm, I guess "Squire of Gothos" and "Charlie X" are alien-contact episodes, too, but Trelane and the Thasians are so bad-ass that anyone who interferes with them is not long for this world. Really when you consider the number of bad-ass aliens in the Trek universe it's a wonder the Federation survives at all or why the Borg were ever a a problem. Imagine what an alliance of the Organians, the Talosians, the First Federation, the Thasians, the Metrons and Trelane's people could do -- the Borg would get ripped to shreds before breakfast -- and that's just the 1st Season bad-asses.

Yay continuity.

Stupidest episode by far: "The Alternative Factor". Makes no sense whatsoever. None. At all.
I've now decided that no sci-fi series is worthy of the name unless it has a Stupid Antimatter Episode. Now I need to see this one back-to-back with Space:1999's "Matter of Life and Death" just to see which one is worse.

Biggest Surprise: "Mudd's Women" is a lot more watchable than I expected it to be.
6th-Jan-2005 06:16 pm (UTC)
I'm going to have to watch those now that I've got them. Once I have about 70 hours to spare. So far I've only seen "Operation: Annhilate!" (yay destroying more alien races) and "Mirror, Mirror", because for some reason they refuse to show that in reruns.

The thing that always strikes me most in watching the old episodes is how different the characters are, especially Spock. I think it's Charlie X where he's just hanging out with the crew, jamming on his lyre. And smiling! Freaky stuff.

Most of the bad-ass aliens you mentioned could have dismantled the Borg by themselves. Except maybe the Talosians. I suspect the Borg would have outsmarted those arrogant buttheads by relying on multiple sensor readings. If the Talosians were really smart, they wouldn't have let the crew blast off the top of that rock, they would have just made them aim a few feet to the side. And then imagine Borgified Talosians!

I suspect that for the most part the uber-powerful aliens, like in the Uplift universe and the Babylon 5, just sort of graduate beyond the concerns of mere mortals. Eventually.

Space: 1999 is one show that I often wished I could have seen more of. I suspect it wouldn't hold up well in retrospect, though.
7th-Jan-2005 11:44 pm (UTC)
I suspect [Space: 1999] wouldn't hold up well in retrospect, though.
It holds up better than you'd think; or at least, the 1st season does.
6th-Jan-2005 06:38 pm (UTC)
General Order nr. 5 is pretty much the most amazing thing ever. Very British Empire, really. ^_^
6th-Jan-2005 09:10 pm (UTC)
The things that amuse me about the very earliest episodes are hearing Spock referred to as "half Vulcanian", Spock being VISIBLY more 'emotional', Uhura actually hitting on Spock in one episode, and a throwaway line of McCoy's to Spock about "no wonder your people were conquered". ;)

We need these DVDs, we do. But Dara and I have been catching the episodes in reruns on the Skiffy Channel. :)
7th-Jan-2005 12:19 am (UTC)
Do these have any interesting goodies on them? I recall that the first attempt to put Trek on DVD resulted in a lot of criticism that they contained no interesting special features; I particularly remember Nimoy himself saying it was a shame, and that he would have loved to record some commentary or something. (Unless these are the same DVDs...)

I had the interesting experience of seriously watching TOS for the first time every day after high school in 1987-88, the same year that TNG premiered.
7th-Jan-2005 10:30 pm (UTC)
There are 8 discs; 3/4 of the last disc is special features -- some of it interesting (Nimoy reminiscing), some of it pointless (Shatner talks about how much he likes raising horses). I haven't watched that all, yet.

Also some of the episodes have commentary subtitles, also interesting in places ('now here, notice how we reused the engine room set...')
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