TV From The Crypts: Star Trek – The Original Series Season 1
That’s right nerds, your very own Lilith Assisi is embarking on another mission in to the crypts of retired TV shows. I am going to boldly go where no other Star Wars fan has willingly gone before. I am going to watch all of the old Star Trek TV series and movies. It might take me a year, or three, but I will do it. You can thank J.J. Abrams and my muse The Veganaut for inspiring me to tackle this mission in the first place. Like many children of the 80’s and 90’s I was and forever will be a Star Wars fan. But what my young and elitist mind did not know was that Star Wars and Star Trek do not have to be mutually exclusive. Yes, they are two very different science fiction stories, but contrary to popular believe you do not have to side with just one storyline. While it is later in life than I would have liked, I am now learning I can balance my use of the force with my Vulcan mind melds.
In the last month I went as far back as I could and started with Season 1 of the Original Star Trek Series. That’s right, William Shatner and Leonard Nemoy galore, with all the 60’s props and effects you could hope for. I now bring you my favorite aspects of this season and why you too should travel back (or forward depending on how you look at it) in time to enjoy this masterpiece from Gene Roddenberry. Spoilers to follow, continue at your own risk.
- There are a lot of great relationships and interactions on this show, but one of the best is the bickering and bantering between Bones and Spock. In case you are not familiar with them, Bones is the pet name Captain Kirk has for the U.S.S. Enterprise’s Doctor Leonard McCoy, and Spock is Mr. Spock, the first officer and scientist of the ship that happens to be Half-Vulcan and human. J.J. Abrams did try to capture this relationship in the recent films with McCoy calling Spock like “that pointy-eared bastard” but you really can’t appreciate the relationship until you watch the original series. Even in the last episode of the season when Spock is gravely ill and infected with a parasitic alien, Bones admits he is the best first officer in the whole fleet but then has to beg Kirk not to tell Spock he ever said that after Spock recovers, you know, he has to keep up that precedent of always bashing Spock after all.
- Even if you have not watched the original series you have probably seen a spoof by Shatner using his classic paused speech pattern. Finally seeing Shatner in this original role, as the Captain James T. Kirk, using this hilarious speech pattern while trying to be serious or moving is better than I could have imagined. It certainly leads to laugh out loud moments and an endless amount of TV references you can use in your everyday life.
- Oh stunt doubles. The 60’s wasn’t one for subtlety. Every major fight scene they got stunt doubles to play the actors involved, and quite honestly they didn’t really care how much they looked like the actor they were portraying. Sometimes they didn’t even have the same hair! It certainly leads to a good laugh when you notice there is suddenly a 60 year old man playing Kirk or someone who isn’t even Asian playing Sulu.
- Bones is of course one of the best characters in the show in general, and his metaphors or outrageous exclamations are always perfectly timed. “Damnit Jim, I’m a Doctor, not a brick layer” is just one of the many statements he makes in season one, having to tell everyone what his actual profession is. And his declaration of when someone is dead is brief, to the point, and pretty much lacking any real medical evaluation of the patient. “He’s dead Jim” is probably the most common line he says the entire series.
- Another lovely 60’s touch to the show is the use of heavy eyeliner and eyeshadow. Not just a little bit here and there, no, the men are heavily make-uped, maybe more so than some of the women. Of course you wouldn’t know because of…
- Soft focus. This is something I didn’t really know what it was, nor did I recognize the use of “lens flare” in the Abrams’ films that everyone talks about. As The Veganaut explained, soft focus is basically when the lens of the camera filming looks like a bunch of Vaseline was rubbed all over it, making the features of the person being filmed out of focus and blurry. This for some reason is something that was done with all the women in the show, the reason why being a bit of a mystery to me. Until that is I looked it up online. The internet first told me that Captain Kirk was 80% more sexually aroused by women that appeared in soft focus, which of course had me cracking up. But really the reason they used this on the women of the show was that it made them look “ethereal”, like they were supernatural with a special aura around them.
- By the way, I should comment that you should never allow yourself to get in to a fight with either Mr. Spock or Captain Kirk. The two are formidable opponents. Spock after all can use his Vulcan pressure points and drop you with a single touch. Kirk might not be as efficient as Spock in his fighting style, but he is merciless. So much so that when all else fails he just throws his entire body at his coming attackers, literally.
- While Star Trek: The Original Series really was advanced and non-traditional in the time period it aired, there are some faux pas they make that in hind sight I am sure they are pretty embarrassed about. One of my favorite’s was when, in the episode “Court Martial”, Kirk explained to a tribunal that he would be using a booster to amplify the sound produced by their heartbeats by “one to the fourth power”. What is that math geniuses? Yes folks, that is one. 1x1x1x1=1.
- And while Star Trek TOS did try to delve in to the realm of time travel from time to time, they should have left that for Doctor Who. In particular the concept that if you travel in reverse fast enough that you can get the clock to turn backwards and time to travel the opposite direction, is, well, unfeasible.
- Well before C3P0 impressed us with his calculations of chances of surviving various situations, Spock was doing it on Star Trek, and to the tenth decimal place. I love you C3P0, but you might be beat there.
- Captain James T. Kirk is quite an interesting man. He is not quite as sauve as the character playing him in the Abrams film, and watching his way with the ladies in the 60’s can be atrocious at times. I am sure he was a ladies’ man in his own way, and his manner of rough housing women whenever they are upset (shaking them and man-handling them) was probably considered sweet back then, but might be bordering on domestic violence today. Of course, luckily for the ladies Kirk reveals on a couple occasions that his one true love is his ship.
- It must have been so much fun to work on these shows in the 1960’s, but sometimes it can be painful to compare our CGI-bombarded minds with the effects of this decade. My advice is to laugh about it. First you have the insane backdrops…
- And aliens that are made with ridiculous costumes, like a man under a shaggy carpet rug or a dog with a unicorn horn tied on his head.
- The ship’s costumes were nothing but the best, especially with all the glued on felt decorations. Granted, be careful never to get yourself in a fight with one of those uniforms on…they rip right off at the slightest touch!
- Sometimes the props used were paper-mache and the show creators didn’t even bother re-filming when a prop broke apart mid-scene, or a giant molded spear bounced rather than penetrated a victim.
- Women in the future naturally wore non-existent short skirts and cone bras.
- And best of all are the scenes where you see the ship traveling through space….attached to a piece of string.
- This highly advanced futuristic human organization that collaborates with aliens and travels through space to distant lands would naturally only have the best technology aboard. For instance, floppy disks that are really just blocks of colored wood.
- Ship control panels that were glorified light brights.
- Food the looks like Technicolor melon cubes.
- Lastly I want to write about a couple of my favorite moments and episodes throughout the season. I will start with a famous episode that has even recently been referenced in commercials. “The Arena” was an episode that involved Kirk being forced to battle the leader of an reptilian alien race known as the Gorn. These slow-motion fight scenes in a desert arena are classic, and my personal favorite moment was when the Gorn flexed his muscles and bent over to pick up a boulder and throw it at Kirk, only to have his costume rip at the sides.
- Another iconic moment in this series occurred in one of the first episode, “The Naked Time”. The ship’s crew becomes infected with an alien parasite that causes your emotions to become insanely heightened. The result is that everyone on the ship abandons their tasks and go about doing what they want, which results in Sulu, aka our beloved George Takei, running around shirtless with his fencing sword trying to pick fights with everyone. Oh Sulu, we all love you.
- A lot of episodes deal with various alien life forms, but one of my favorite was when the crew ended up on a mining outpost and discovered a silicon based life form unlike any ever seen before. Of course this creature was really someone crawling around with a multi-colored shag carpet on top of them, but I particularly liked this episode because of its acceptance of alien species and the crew’s attempt to save what others were calling monsters, and to find a peaceful solution to the problem at hand.
- But my all time favorite episode from this season was “This Side of Paradise”, where the crew investigates an agricultural planet where everyone should have been killed from radiation poisoning, only to find that a strange fungal organism that looks like a giant flower has protected everyone on the planet from the radiation as well as made them insanely agreeable, simple, and happy, an ideal Utopian situation. Of course or beloved crew members become infected as well, and we see the emotive side of Mr. Spock for the first time as he falls in love with one of the natives. Leave it to Kirk to ruin everyone’s perfect society, but I guess it was the right thing to do to give everyone their free will back.
That concludes my first foray in to Star Trek geeks, I promise to be back in chronological order as I tackle all the movies and TV shows in the coming months. Until next time, live long and prosper.
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Posted on August 28, 2014, in TV, TV From the Crypts and tagged Aliens, Bones, Captain James T. Kirk, Leonard McCoy, Mr. Spock, outer space, Sci-Fi, space the final fronteir, Star Trek, Star Trek The Original Series Season 1, TV, TV From the Crypts, U.S.S. Enterprise, vulcans, William Shatner. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.