Saturday, December 9, 2017

Skeletor's Snake Mountain Makes a Great Gift & Good Trek/Bad Trek #49 Friday's Child

Intro: I’ve loved Star Trek since I was a kid. I started by watching TNG in 6th grade. I’ve been a fan since then and though I’ve spent a lot of time watching Star Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one who’s never seen any of them. So I’m watching all the TOS episodes for the first time and saying whether or not they suck. At the end, I give examples of better and/or worse Star Trek episodes to watch that remind me of this episode. Usually, I ramble on about some bullshit before the Trek. That’s it.

One of my favorite gifts I ever got was the Masters of the Universe Skeletor's Snake Mountain. It was, in a word, sick! It had a little drawbridge. It had this thing like a microphone that gave you a spooky voice so you, as Skellator could really get in He-man’s head. Freak him the fuck out before you kill him. He didn’t know who was talking. It was madness. Seems like the folks over at Hasbro put a lot more thought into Skeletor's Snake Mountain than they did Castle Grayskull. The show might have been called He-Man, but it was Skeletor's show. My folks got this for me. I was stoked. who wouldn’t be? It’s a great gift. I'd be happy to get one now, so you don't even know how off the wall I was when I was a small child. 

I figured the next year I’d do my dad a solid and get him a sweet gift. Thinking of matching a gift as sweet as Skeletor's Snake Mountain is a nearly impossible task, but I thought I’d give him a gift that has the ability to become any gift out there: cash. So for the next year, I squirreled away all my extra money in a secret hiding place which was the empty Skeletor's Snake Mountain box. I was only a little kid so I didn’t have much but whenever I had any extra change I’d put it in that box. At a certain point, my mom found my cash stash and put an end to project cash 4 dad. I can’t say for certain, but I’m pretty sure she was just jealous. She wanted a sweaty bunch of change from her son as a token of love and was pissed to learn that my dad was gonna get the windfall. 

In retrospect, I’m pretty glad she did put an end to it because how shitty would it have been had I actually gone through with this gift. My dad gets a giant box from his son and opens it up. He sees that it's Skeletor's Snake Mountain and for a minute he's ecstatic. He'd been watching me play with mine and had been more than a little jealous. Probably really wanted to borrow mine, but felt too guilty on account of that's what he already gave me. He can’t take it back. Now we’d have matching Skeletor's Snake Mountain that we could set up next to each other and get our play on. 


Then he opens it up and all that’s in there is some money. Not a lot. Not even enough to buy his own Skeletor's Snake Mountain because if I, as a kid had access to that kind of scratch I wouldn’t have needed my folks to buy me one in the first place. I didn’t have a job, all I had was the allowance that my parents gave me. It was just what I didn’t use from week to week and it wasn’t much. So my dad would open a giant box and in it would just be barely enough to buy a Battle Bones Troop Transporter.

He'd be disappointed. As disappointed as I was watching this week's Trek? Maybe. I watched Friday's Child and it was kind of a stinker.

Recap:

The gang is on a planet trying to secure some mining rights for the Federation. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and some redshirt bag of shit beam down leaving Scotty in charge of the Enterprise. Soon as their down there the redshirt bag of shit freaks out even though McCoy explicitly told everyone that freaking out would be a bad idea. He sees a Klingon and when he reaches for his weapon he meets the business end of a throwing stick and dies. 
This whole episode is one giant Prime Directive violation

So it looks like the Klingons also want to mine on this planet. They’re both giving them they’re best efforts. The Klingons offer weapons and the like and all that Kirk seems to offer is a promise not to invade their planet. The Klingons have given no indication that they will, so this seems like an odd gambit. I don’t know what else the Federation is offering. Hopefully, they’re bringing more to the table otherwise that’s not a great offer. 
In the future, it’s cool to address people by just shouting their race. Neat. 

Up on the Enterprise, someone is trying to lure them away from the planet. Is it an Earth vessel in distress, or a Klingon trap? It’s obviously a Klingon trap. This B plot takes up some time for no real reason. 

A 7-foot tall warrior is taken out by lightly tossed pillow

All of a sudden everyone is fighting. I don’t know why. I guess a power struggle between two factions of the aliens. The leader who liked the Federation is dead in the orgy of violence. The new guy likes the Klingons better, which makes sense. They’re pretty similar. Makes sense that they’d get along. 

I think slapping a slapping a pregnant woman in the face is the opposite of
slapping a newborn baby on the bottom 

The new leader sets out to kill the wife of the old leader to avoid any competition. Kirk gets all chivalrous and decides to save her, but this is against the law so now Kirk and the pregnant widow have to die together. Seems messed up but when in Rome. While they’re all waiting in a tent to die Kirk and Spock attack their guards with some throw pillows (???) and are able to escape with the doomed widow. They head off into some hills. 

Great. 

The rest of the episode is devoted to hiding from the folks trying to kill them and to delivering the baby. It takes up a lot of time, but they get there. The baby is born and then the lady clobbers McCoy with a rock to knock him out. Even though he just saved her baby. Seems like kind of a dick move. She does it to try convincing her people that she killed everyone so as not to worry about them having to kill them too. The Klingon sees through this ruse and pisses off the aliens for questioning the word of their former leader’s widow. Even though she very much is a liar.  

Fearsome warriors

The Klingon dies, the Federation gets their mining rights, the baby gets named after McCoy and Kirk, and Scotty beams everyone up. Lots of loose threads, but it all gets tied up in a nice little bow. 

Good Trek?

Not particularly. It’s a standard length episode, but good gravy does this one drag. It felt like three hours long. I don’t know the whole history of this one, but it felt like three different episode ideas that were all smooshed together. Some of these threads might have worked as a standalone, but all together it’s just a jumbled mess. Also, I shouldn’t have taken any breaks to do Discovery because these look so ridiculously outdated when compared to it. I mean they don’t look outdated, they just are outdated. It’s ridiculous. 
There’s very little that’s more Trek than the role of Spock. A nonhuman trying to come to terms with his own humanity and learn about humans. Every incarnation of Trek has had at least one similar character. It’d be a shitty cliche if it wasn’t done so well. I think McCoy’s doctor is kind of overlooked in how much of a template he’s become. Maybe it’s not a sci-fi cliche but just how doctors act. I don't really ever interact with doctors so I don't know. 

Where is the Prime Directive in all this? From what I can tell this particular planet is definitely not a warp drive civilization. Why is anyone ever screwing around with them? They should be allowed to progress naturally. So, the prime directive applies unless the Federation needs something from that planet? I have to say that I am not on board with this. The Federation of Captain Kirk is really messed up. 

I don’t want to harp on this too much, but this is why the Discovery being set when it is kind of screwed up. So the Federation is great and moral and right and allows female captains and admirals and then five years later it’s totally fucked? That doesn’t jive. The last two episodes of Discovery are about Discovery doing everything they can to save a lifeform they just discovered exists from being annihilated because the Klingons might destroy them. Not just the fact that they need something from that planet. That’s secondary. 

I know this is really in the weeds, but the whole episode seems to be built on sand. The whole thing is them just openly flouting the Prime Directive. They shouldn’t even be on this planet bartering for mining rights. how are these people able to communicate with spaceships in the first place? Everyone seems to live in tents and huts. Where are the subspace communicators in these huts? They don't even have phasers. They have throwing sticks that they use as their weapons. They don't even have gunpowder. They explicitly say that there's no gunpowder. How is it that aliens beaming down to their planet isn't just blowing their minds? It doesn't make any sense and I don't like it. 

Worse Trek?

You want an Enterprise crew dealing with a shitty tribalist society that wants to kill some members of the crew? What’s that, you don’t? Well then don’t watch Code of Honor. This episode is one of the worst episodes on any Trek that’s ever Trekked. I don’t know if this episode is specifically why Denise Crosby left TNG, but I’d be willing to bet that a bunch of people decided not to watch it anymore after this. It’s brutal. The folks who are all very backward look very African. It’s not easy to watch. Everyone does what they can with it, but there's nothing to be done. It’s so bad that I’m happy it wasn’t the first episode I saw because even as a twelve-year-old I’d like to think that I’d have stopped watching right then and there. It has nothing going for it aside from the fact that Denise Crosby is still in the cast. It’s a shame she wasn’t given anything good to work with until after her character was killed off. I would’ve loved to see what she was capable of had she stayed on. 

Another early TNG episode that kind of sucks is Angel One. It's one in which Riker has to go to a planet dominated by women. It’s pretty screwy. It involves another pre-warp civilization that the Enterprise seems to have no problems whatsoever just disturbing to get what they need. It also involves gender roles I guess. Kind of implying that the dominant gender is purely a matter of who's taller. But at the same time, some of these giant women want to be subjugated because they're women first and tall second. I don't know. It's a mess.

Better Trek?

I’m trying to think of a better one.  These aren’t amazing, but the VOY episode Random Thoughts fits the bill. In this one, the Voyager crew goes to a planet for some trading. But these folks have a law where they’re not allowed to think violent thoughts because they’re telepathic enough where it causes them to be violent. The gang does their damndest to weasel out of paying the price after B'Elanna Torres thinks some bad thoughts. Of course, B’Elanna thinks violent thoughts, she’s a goddamn badass. I’m a big B'Elanna fan. Not an amazing episode, but it’s pretty fun and it’s a whole hell of a lot better than this one. If it wasn’t for the Bones banter than this episode would’ve been largely unwatchable. 

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