Saturday, December 16, 2017

Star Wars, Roy Moore, Tribalism & Good Trek/Bad Trek #50: The Deadly Years

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.

Today is a big day for nerds out there. And when I say nerds, I, of course, mean fans of heavily marketed big budget multi-billion dollar film franchises with multiple heavy corporate tie-ins. You know nerds that if they don’t buy their tickets weeks in advance are out of luck because of all the other nerds that bought their tickets sooner. Goddamn nerds. Nerds that when they're not watching Star Wars and nerding out then they're probably listening to The Beatles. Not just the hits though, they're out there nerding out to the deep cuts, like the ones found on Rubber Soul. I have nothing against Star Wars, but when it comes to sci-fi franchises I’ve always preferred my stars trekked not warred. And never ever gated.

Bros, I’m such a nerd, bros. I’m really into the most popular film franchise of all time, bros 
I don’t really consider myself part of nerd culture despite writing a Star Trek blog for the past year. I’m into some traditional nerd stuff, and maybe I did until I met some real self-proclaimed nerds and found most of them to be insufferable. As a Trek guy though I have always been resentful of Star Wars. Even though I like Star Wars just fine it takes up so much oxygen in terms of the cultural landscape that it makes me jealous. I wish Star Trek held the same place in our collective hearts. I’d love to welcome a new Star Trek in line with a bunch of strangers all giddy with excitement. I’d love new Star Trek movies to be treated by studios with something aside from ambivalence. I’d love the strangers I’m in line to see these movies not be the smelly weirdos who usually are in line with me to see them. I’m just jealous is all.

Big election this week. Not sure if you’ve heard but a guy named Roy Moore lost a senate race to a guy named Not Roy Moore. It was a huge victory that will have long-lasting repercussions and I’m sure won’t in any way result in victory dancing and forgetting what made this race unique. A lot of folks are heartened about how terrible this has been going for Trump, and by extension America. I don’t know if I really am. Politics is still mostly just tribalistic horse shit. And when it comes to dumb tribalist horse shit the right are much better at it.

When I think of how well the right is at lining up behind a guy even though he’s against almost every interest of theirs but happens to share the same view on one or two hot-button social issues I think back to when I was at my first real protest. It was big and exciting and we were really sticking it to the dumb old system.

My friend and I were passing out flyers. Trying to get folks to come to an event that, had been better attended, probably would’ve brought the system down. We passed a group of hippies and gave them flyers to try to get them to come. Soon as I held out the flyer the group of hippies started chanting. They were protesting us. Which came as a shock. I wasn’t there to be protested at. I was there to protest.

“Next time print on tree-free paper!”
 Oh, what’s that now?
“Next time print on tree-free paper!”
Oh you mean the paper our flyer is printed on isn’t that good? I’m sorry. I’m sure you could recycle it if you wanted.
“Next time print on tree-free paper!”
Oh, okay. SO you’re not going to come to this, are you?
Next time print on tree-free paper.”

Then we left. They didn’t come. Almost nobody came. Which is why the system stands. When I think of silly tribalism I think of them. How they wouldn’t even listen to us. They couldn't set aside their qualms with us because of our paper choices. That would never happen on the right. A Republican could use a flag to wipe his ass so long as he promised to be anti-abortion or use a fetus to wipe his ass so long as he promised to love the flag and they'll get 100% support.

They wouldn’t even talk to us. Had they opened a dialogue about our poor paper choices then maybe we could make better choices in the future. But they wouldn't. They saw that we didn't use tree-free paper and wouldn't even talk to us. And that's why we're doomed. Because when I think of how united the folks on the other side, I think of them and their inability to work with me. And I also think of me, who as long as I live will never ever print anything on tree-free paper. I don’t care if I’m staring at the last tree left on Earth, I will cut it down with my own ax and then use bare hands to bash it into pulp just so I can print a single flyer that says “Hey hippies, fuck you!”

Know what also deserves a "fuck you," this episode of Star Trek? But only half a fuck you.


It’s just a routine mission to resupply mission of some research outpost. Wondering if something will go wrong that will make this go anything but routine. And boy does it ever. One of the folks they’re there to resupply is dead. Very dead. He’s an old dead man and this freaks Chekhov out to no end. Then the other two folks who were manning the station show up and they are old as well. But they’re not. The two scientists are 29 and 27, but they look old as shit. Something is going on. Something most foul.

Pretty quickly we learn that everyone who was in the landing party is getting older too and not just in the way that we’re all getting older, but in a spooky sci-fi way with awful makeup and every time they enter a room there’s dramatic music so we know that they’re not long for this world.

They figure out that it was radiation from a passing comet that’s making them age so rapidly, but that doesn’t really help them with how to solve it or why Chekhov isn’t affected. That and now that Kirk is aging 30 years every day a commodore who is on board doesn’t trust Kirk’s judgment. ALSO! They’re near the Neutral Zone! Oh man, there’s a lot crammed into this one.

Kirk gets too old so they have a trial to remove him from command. Then the Commodore takes command and takes the ship into the Neutral Zone. Which was a bad idea. Because the Romulans don’t like it when you encroach into their space. So they attack, as is their right. But then they figure out how to counteract the super-aging process and Kirk becomes young again just in time to use one of his previous mistakes to trick the Romulans. Fin.  

Good Trek?

I’m gonna say half Trek. I really liked a lot of it, but there was too much garbage to be fully good Trek. This episode, like last weeks, had the feeling of a few episodes mashed into one. Maybe it’s just because the pacing is just so off in a lot of these old shows. It’s like they had no idea how to keep anyone’s attention for an hour. Kirk’s old flame is introduced and then doesn’t really play a role at all in terms of plot. 

"Don't trust anyone over 30!" - Dr. Robert Johnson

I did like the idea of the doctor and Spock having to race against the clock to come up with a cure, but the again effects looked so very bad that the threat was hard to take seriously. I can suspend an awful lot of disbelief, but at the same time every time Scotty or Lieutenant Galway complained about how little time they had I kept on wanting to shout just take the goddamn wig off for Christ’s sake.

This exact show was in there last week.

I liked the concept and I really liked the resolution. A lot was mucked up in between though. Kirk using his previous old man mistake to his advantage was great. Plus I liked that not only was it a cool scene, but it was a callback to a season one episode. The courtroom scene could’ve been done well but wasn’t. It shouldn’t have come to that. Listen, I know that Picard and Kirk are two very different people, but if Picard had been affected in such a way then he would not have had to be forced out of command before he stepped aside. He’s the captain, but the ship’s safety should come first. Step the fuck down.

In space, no one can hear you scream at your newly unfuckable face. (I think this is the third time a woman has screamed in disgust at her own face. I've also made that joke three times)

Also, how much does Chekhov suck? I mean what the fuck is wrong with this guy? He sees a dead body and he starts running around and screaming like a scared child. You’re a Starfleet officer, you jackass. Are you really this bananas about an away mission going awry? Aside from just being a plain old chickenshit, Chekhov is just a piece of shit officer. He’s the worst. He pisses and moans about tests having to be done. He’s the only one who isn’t affected while everyone else is dying. His body holds the cure for whatever is going to kill his captain. Not just his captain, but three superior officers are going to die probably. And all he does is bitch about having some blood drawn. There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of behavior. None. If I’m Kirk then Chekhov is removed from bridge duty and never allowed on any away mission ever again. Unless it’s one of those where you need someone to die right away to get a feel for how dangerous the mission will be. I.E. the next one. 

Chekhov, get a hold of yourself or I'll make you wear that weird Wesley Crusher rainbow colored half an ensign uniform

I do not like how the Romulans have a bird painted on the bottom of their ship. Yeah, it’s called a War Bird, but still. Romulans just don’t seem like folks who would take the time to make their ships look cool. Klingons I could see doing that just to look badass, but the Romulans are just too much all business to waste time with shit like that.

Scotty's mugshot for huffing

So the warp engines were working while they were under attack? Kirk comes in. Uses the carbomite maneuver and warps the hell out of there. Did the Commodore not think of leaving? If that’s the case then he has no business being a Commodore. I don’t exactly know what a Commodore does, but this guy is one incompetent commodore.

Better Trek?

I've got three. All linked to this episode as tenuously as possible. All TNG episodes. Firstly, if you’re looking for an episode where a captain is forced out of command because of some fucked up aging accident? Well, then you should watch Rascals. Picard and a few others reverse age and become children. You can’t have a child running a starship so Picard temporarily steps aside and lets Riker take over. Unlike Kirk, he isn't forced. He knows what the right decision is. Then the Ferengi show up. It’s a silly and fun episode and tonally completely different than this one, but still features weird aging and a captain and it's good.

Much Better Trek? 

The Measure of a Man was one of the first watchable episodes of TNG. Seasons one and two are largely sacks of shit. There are a handful of episodes that show what they were all capable of. This is one of them. The suits at Starfleet decide that they want to open up Data and see what makes him tick. Data does not want this on account of there’s a pretty good chance that when they do they won’t be able to figure out how to get him all back together again. Riker is forced to act as the lawyer for Starfleet arguing as to why Data, his friend, is not a real sentient being. Picard argues for Data not getting torn apart. I don’t know why they’d make Riker argue that his friend wasn’t a person. That seems silly. They probably should have gotten a different advocate from a different ship, but they didn’t and then they lost their case so. That’s what they get I guess. Still, this features one of the best Trek courtroom scenes.

Best Trek?

The Defector is the last one I’ll do. It’s about a Romulan who defects because his government is up to some shady shit. It brings up a lot of important topics like loyalty, family, patriotism, and duty. Mostly I’d recommend this one because it features one of my absolute favorite Neutral Zone showdowns in all of Star Trek. The one in The Deadly Years was good but doesn't hold a candle to this one. Also, I’m realizing that maybe I need to reassess my nerdom if I have a favorite Neutral Zone showdown. But whatever.

That’s it for this week and remember don’t ever print on anything on tree-free paper.

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