Saturday, November 26, 2011

Beyond The Farthest Star

* (1 imploded star out of 5)
"Beyond The Farthest Star" is the first of Trek's cartoon series. It's well-regarded in Star Trek magazine and on IMDB, but even for a pilot episode this is poor. Maybe it seems better in the middle of the night...that's when I used to watch them. But I've never liked this particular tale.

It starts leadenly with five minutes of numbers and people saying flank speed.

A dead star. A dead lifeless ship. A dead-voiced cast barely animated. I'm sorry for the pun, but this is very, very flat.

A SLIGHT MAGNETIC FLUX READING! Oh, don't worry, it comes to nothing.

The ship is 300 million years dead. Kirk says that's before life emerged on Earth. It isn't.

First appearance of Life Support Belts. More like Money Belts, and tightened ones at that. Fine idea to save on drawing spacesuits, but it always takes me out of the moment to be reminded how cheaply they made these. "Draw every character AGAIN, but in space suits? What are we, Japanese? Slap a forcefield belt on, kids won't care."

That said, it's a source of amazement to me that all the original crew (save Walter Koenig) returned as their character voices. As for the astonishing James Doohan, he voiced over 50 characters other than Scotty. He played most of the villains, most of the guest stars, and my favourite: Lt. Arex the six-limbed navigator. Who gets no lines today in his high nasal chatter.

A malevolent Redjac-like energy being gets into the ship, fires torture beams (from the ceiling-mounted Defensive Thimble never seen before or since) at the crew to make them OBEY, is tricked into fleeing when they bluff a crash, and then it whines when they leave it behind.

"Don't leave me alone please so lonely," it wails. Granted, it was a jerk, probably murderous, maybe the crew couldn't have done things any differently, but on a mission "to seek out new life" they do a lot of failing to communicate today. They make no attempt to discover the identity or goals of the creature. Compare and contrast the excellent 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' by the same author.

From Kirk's oxymoronic final log:
"Course- beyond the farthest star of our galaxy. Mission- star charting." What? Is that like saying 'we're taking the day off''? How do you chart the stars in starless extragalactic void? ' I bet there's a lot of black felt marker involved.

Spock inadvertently reviews the episode for me: "It's registering energy. Very little, but building." I like this series, part nostalgia, part good stories, but there's only one thing to recommend today: after four years in the void, it's new Star Trek. And that's good enough.

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