SHIP TO SHIP: A Star Trek Podcast Show 204 “Fruity as a Nutcake”
The Federation doesn’t know how to handle it’s crazier citizens. Most forms of mental illness were allegedly wiped out before we came to this brave new future. That’s the main point of these classic Trek episodes, “Dagger of the Mind” and “Whom Gods Destroy.” In the first episode (an early Roddenberry-produced entry), Kirk becomes the subject of a mad scientist’s fiendish experiments. In the second episode, Kirk and Spock are held hostage by a once-great now insane Starfleet hero named Garth who, inexplicably builds a doomsday explosive (undoubtedly in his spare, unsupervised time), and it’s up to the boys to stop him.
SHIP TO SHIP: A Star Trek Podcast Show 202 “You’re Out Of Order!”
We look at “The Cage,” the first sanctioned pilot of Star Trek: The Original Series, and it’s sister episode, the cobbled-together flashback ditty, “The Menagerie.” “The Menagerie” is listed as one of Gene Roddenberry’s top ten favorites episodes of the original run. In “Court Martial,” Kirk is, without credible evidence, tried for the murder of Ben Finney and prosecuted by his ex-girlfriend. Data’s rights as a sentient life-form with free-will come into question in “The Measure of a Man,” one of the first great episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
SHIP TO SHIP: A Star Trek Podcast Show 201 “Second Chances”
The Original Series was on the verge of cancellation. The Next Generation had a rocky beginning and an awkward sophomore year. Deep Space Nine established that what Star Trek needed was, above all else, good writing in order to thrive. Voyager and Enterprise suffered from the constraints of budget in a time when Star Trek fatigue was on the rise. We examine the second season premieres* of all the shows in the Star Trek franchise**.
*Not “Amok Time.” ** Not Star Trek: Discovery, for now.
SHIP TO SHIP: A Star Trek Podcast “The Guardian of Forever”
“The only thing worth writing about is people. People. Human beings. Men and women whose individuality must be created, line by line, insight by insight. If you do not do it, the story is a failure. […] There is no nobler chore in the universe than holding up the mirror of reality and turning it slightly, so we have a new and different perception of the commonplace, the everyday, the ‘normal’, the obvious. People are reflected in the glass. The fantasy situation into which you thrust them is the mirror itself. And what we are shown should illuminate and alter our perception of the world around us. Failing that, you have failed totally.”
― Harlan Ellison
Harlan Ellison died last week. The ripe old age of 84. James Cameron couldn’t get him down. AOL couldn’t bring him down. The stroke in 2014 couldn’t bring him down. In Selma, Ellison marched with Martin Luther King, 1964. There were fire-hoses and German Shepherds. Repent, Harlan, said the Tick-Tock Man. Get stuffed, Ellison was heard to shout in response. While angry and bitter over the tampering with his “City on the Edge of Forever” script, the episode still stands as the greatest Trek script of all. His work was bizarre and more often than not, tragic.
“The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.”
Chris Cooling is co-host of the Walnut Grovecast, frequent contributor to VHS Rewind! and host of his own podcast, Forgotten TV. We talk about Brent Spiner, television antennas, the explosion of high definition programming, music rights, and TV theme songs.
This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended.
American novelist Stephen King once described Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of his book, The Shining, as a “… great big beautiful Cadillac with no engine under the hood. You could sit in it, enjoy the smell of the leather upholstery … the only thing you couldn’t do was drive it anywhere.” Krull from 1983 is the Cadillac of science fiction/fantasy motion pictures. Derek Meddings’ production design is an incredible feast for the eyes. James Horner’s Star Trek-like musical compositions are appropriately epic in scope. The visual effects and photography are awe-inspiring. Lysette Anthony is unbelievably beautiful as the damsel-in-distress Princess Lyssa. Unfortunately, the movie takes us nowhere but the back-alleys of Star Wars retreads.
When the Princess is abducted by the evil “Slayers” interrupting her wedding to Prince Colwyn (Ken Marshall, resembling a young Richard Chamberlain), he summons the power of the “Glaive”, the five-bladed handheld pinwheel that looks like an over-sized throwing star seen in the film’s promotional advertisements (and which I’ve always wanted to own), from the top of a mountain and bands together with a motley crew of criminals (among them Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane in early roles) in a bid to rescue her. While we have our requisite laser light show, Krull is a movie that favors swordplay, Errol Flynn-style leaps from balconies, and swinging from chandelier ropes. The strange, slimy, tentacled “Beast” informs the Princess that she is to marry it, perhaps to destroy the prophecy of the “girl that shall become queen.”
Colwyn is tutored by the wizardly Ynr (Freddie Jones as “The Old One”), collects his “merry” men, and heads for the Black Fortress, the stunning starship/castle that appears to be built out of a mountain. In a narrative reminiscent of Bert I. Gordon’s The Magic Sword, Colwyn and his band of mercenaries must overcome disparate “challenges”, such as a misanthropic (and rather unpleasant) cyclops, various illusions conjured by the Beast, and assorted Slayers sent to assassinate Colwyn. Meanwhile, Ynr must monitor his sands of time (given to him by ex-girlfriend, The Widow of the Web); for when the last of the sand diminishes, he will die. It’s nice to know when you’re gonna go, is all I’m saying! I remember being frightened by the giant spider in the movie when Ynr traverses an enormous web to to see his old squeeze. Giant spiders freak me out!
An enormously expensive movie (for the time) when produced, Krull would’ve benefited from substantial rewrites. As it stands, the performers merely serve as window-dressing for truly beautiful art direction, cinematography, and stunning action set pieces. Krull is everything I love in science fiction and fantasy, except that it lacks substance. The story is a lazy mix of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Clash of the Titans (another early cable favorite of mine), with a little bit of Robin Hood and Jason and the Argonauts thrown in for good measure. Recently, I watched an excellent high definition transfer of the film, and as much as the technical aspects of the film are heightened by it, the deficiencies of the editing and screenplay are displayed as well.
Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month. Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.
Written by David Lawler Additional Commentary by Andrew La Ganke Original Music by Alex Saltz, APS Mastering Introduction Music: “Twas The Night Before Christmas” (Clement Clarke Moore) by Art Carney. Audio Clips: “Santa and the Doodle-Li-Boop” (Alan Abel) by Art Carney, Star Trek “Wolf In The Fold”, The Odd Couple “Security Arms”, “Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery” (a 1997 film directed by Jay Roach), “Dust In The Wind (Kerry Livgren) by Kansas (from the 1977 album, “Point Of No Return”), “Night Of The Meek”, “Dust”, “It’s A Good Life, The Honeymooners “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”.