*** (3 stars out of 5)
A routine check on the Gamma Hydra IV research station reveals no deadly bees, but "The Deadly Years" instead. Six vital young scientists have abruptly become crusty old fogies that make Futurama's Professor Farnsworth look like a spring chicken. Well, a cooked chicken, but at least Farnsworth is still technically alive.
Consultation with Dr. Janet Wallace, Endocrinology Expert, reveals only that she wishes there was not so much 'ex' in the 'Kirk's ex-girlfriend' status on her spacebook page.
Poor science pixie Lt. Galway begins to wrinkle up and lose her hearing. Also, she dies. Kirk starts repeating orders he's already given and has advanced arthritis. The landing party is aging around thirty years for every passing day.
Only Ensign Chekov is normal (well, normal for Chekov), and McCoy is testing the kid exhaustively to find out why.
Chekov grouses to Mr. Sulu. "If I live long enough, I'm going to run out of samples."
"You'll live." Sulu smiles.
"Oh, yes, I'll live. But I won't enjoy it."
Perversely, Jan Wallace seems to enjoy it, playing the merry widow for Kirk once his physical age is over 60! It's implied that that is kind of her M.O. (Ick, by the by.)
Kirk rejects her, harshly: "What are you offering me Jan? Love... or a going away present?"
Spock's got a little longer than the others, but not much.
He determines the cause of the affliction to be cometary radiation (I suppose they ruled out sunspots).
At the behest of visiting Commodore Stocker, Captain Kirk is given a competency hearing by his miserable friends.
There is only one obvious outcome. It's painful to watch, as Kirk fails to take this "disloyalty" with any dignity.
Anxious to assume his post on Starbase 10, Commodore Stocker decides to cut across the Romulan Empire. Exactly how did he get his rank, in a raffle? It's about ten seconds before the warbirds swoop in for the kill. WHO could have foreseen this tragic, tragic tragedy? Only every other character. And every member of the audience.
Cured in the nick of time with adrenalin, Kirk pulls the corbomite maneuver again: make a giant bluff, then leg it!
The combination of effective age make-up and consummate acting skill allows me to buy into this tale as much as I ever did. In fact, the approach of the reaper and the indignity of age increases in immediacy the more deadly years I put under my own expanding belt.
It's too late for me to age gracefully, so I'm concentrating on becoming an entertaining old coot like McCoy.
'So quit yer jawin', Sponk, and let's get crackin'!'