STAR TREK – The Re-Watch

I’ve decided to do a complete re-watch of the original Star Trek series from 1966. This is the show that made me into the science fiction fan I remain today. I was fortunate enough to be able to see the show in its original airing, although I don’t remember much in the way of specifics from the initial run. But with syndication, Star Trek was literally a part of my daily life as I grew up. It was omnipresent.

I’m going to post the first episode on my blog, but subsequent posts will be in one long thread on my discussion board (link below, and in sidebar). I hope you’ll join me in my re-watch, and feel free to comment.

I’m not going to recap the entire story, and I’m not going to comment on the obvious. I’m just going to cover the things that pop as I watch again after many years.

Where No Man Has Gone Before

This was the show’s second pilot. The first time we’d see the characters of Kirk, Scotty and Sulu, as well as Mr Leslie.

In this episode we get the Enterprise with pointy nacelles. I remember building the Enterprise model kit way back when. Its nacelles were rounded. They were also a real pain to set at the proper angle. My model also included internal lights, and a funny sort of display stand. Eventually I hung it from the ceiling, along with my Klingon ship, and would swing them into each other for space-ramming. It took a lot of glue to put them back together, but they got pretty tough as a result.

The episode opens in what we later come to know as Recreation. It has a nice wooden briefing room table.

Kirk and Spock wear greenish shirts, the rest are beige or blue (no red). Collars are not black. Everyone has visible zippers and seems completely unashamed of that fact.

Sulu in blue, not at helm. (Physicist? according to wikipedia). This is an old doctor, Dr Piper (pre-McCoy). Scotty in beige. No Uhura, no Rand.

Spock has Command insignia, Scotty has Science insignia, as does Gary Mitchell the helmsman. Dr Piper has Engineering insignia. So, switched.

Helm and Nav stations on the bridge are reversed. Female crew wearing pants and tunics. Off-duty crew are out of uniform. There’s a dark green crewman jumpsuit.

In this episode we head to the edge of the galaxy, where a prior ship self-destructed. From 200 years ago! Different timeline I guess, since I think it’s accepted that the original series begins 200 years in the future. That would mean we’d already have starships, which of course we don’t.

All department heads assemble on the bridge, and observe, as they approach the barrier. Interesting. So, Spock and Kirk are already on the bridge, and the other heads are Dr Piper, Sulu and Scotty. And Dr Dehner (who only just joined the crew) comes along and is being introduced to Kirk.

Open flirting on the bridge. Mitchell comes on to Dehner, and later holds hands with Yeoman Smith.

I love when they refer to “Earth-bases” that are days away. Not starbases. We’re very Earth-centric here.

Dr Dehner went to Tri-Planetary Academy? Maybe not, but she’s working on a thesis there according to her personnel file.

Gary Mitchell has a very cool sleeveless “hospital” outfit. Dr Piper wears something similar over his regular tunic as a sort of “scrub.” Dr McCoy’s will be much cooler.

The sickbay bed looks like it has a normal mattress, sheets and blankets on the platform. Those get all spacey when we get into production.

Gary quotes a poem written in 1996 called Nightingale Woman, written by “Tarble” on “the Canopius Planet.” So, someone on another planet knows what a nightingale is in 1996? Either we colonized a lot earlier in the Trek continuum, or we’re hearing a translation from some alien language and we’ve substituted “Nightingale” for some alien creature.

Kirk’s sideburns are squared, not tapered. This is quite significant to me because as a young man I gave a lot of thought to how my sideburns should look. It was either Kirk, or Glen Campbell. Their boots are also looser than the snug-fitting ones we fans could never reproduce.

And here’s a Phaser Rifle! Spiffy.

Bad home-made rocks on the planet surface, and really plastic plants. We always got these types of rocks in Trek. Did they make them with strips of burlap on frame, then plaster and paint? I remember being slightly puzzled that I never saw rocks like that in real life.

And here’s where we see James “R” Kirk on a tombstone. Later he would say his middle initial was “T.” And later still, during the cartoon series that followed, we learned that his middle name was Tiberius. Eh.

And, Kirk tears his shirt. For the first of many times. Undershirts come and go between scenes. Dr Dehner wears granny panties. That’s a disappointment.

So, observations on story and characters? Kirk is recognizable with responsibility for his crew, compassion, confronting gods, and doing his Kirk-fu fighting (love when he’s toting the phaser rifle and rolls to take a shot). He shows his humanity when he pauses before killing Mitchell to ask for forgiveness – which of course gives Mitchell the time to turn the tables on him!

Spock doesn’t acknowledge emotions in himself, then confesses to have “felt” for Mitchell at the end. He says he has an ancestor who married an Earth woman (as opposed to his mother being the source of his mixed blood, as we learn later). He is not at all hesitant to kill, and is responsible for having the phaser rifle on the planet to shoot Mitchell.

Sulu has pretty much only one thing to say, and there’s no personality evident. Scotty is all business too. The doctor is boring, and strikingly old compared to the rest.

The story is a good adventure, tension builds steadily, Mitchell is on a trajectory towards monster, and Kirk convincingly persuades Dehner that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Man cannot wield such power until he has matured beyond where he stands at that time.

Shatner and Lockwood do a fine job of acting. Kellerman a little less convincing, Nimoy a little too over the top. But the episode as a whole fits in well with the best of the original series’ episodes.

Which I’m looking forward to watching over the next 78 days. I hope you’ll join me, and that you’ll share your thoughts as well.

Live long and Prosper

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