Saturday, January 6, 2018

The R Word, New Swears, and Good Trek/Bad Trek #53 The Trouble With Tribbles

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.

I had a whole other thing written. It was about politics and how things aren't as fucked as they seem. Then the president of these United States spent his morning on Twitter loudly screaming about how he’s stable and not an idiot. I guess we’ll agree to disagree on that. I wanted to call him the “r-word” there. People get offended by the word “retard” and I get it. It’s not a great word. I definitely see why folks don't like it and so I try not to use it. When I was growing up was used as both an insult and, what we thought was a clinical term. We used it interchangeably. So you’d hear someone get called a retard for making fun of the retarded kids. I know it’s not something that should be said anymore. It’s particularly shitty because, throughout the years, every word we’ve used to describe those with developmental disabilities immediately gets turned around and co-opted as an insult.

It proves that we’re monsters and always will be. I think it also means that we as a people really need a new swear word. These days all the good curses have too much baggage. Either because they’re homophobic, or women-specific, or there’s a racial context. I’m not trying to offend whole groups, but sometimes I do want certain pieces of shit to know that I think they should die in a fire. We still have other insults, but none of them pack a real wallop anymore. You can say “piece of shit” on TV. How bad can it be if it doesn’t get bleeped on TBS?

So, that’s what I’m proposing. We all decide on a new word and then it’s not allowed on TV. An old lady can legally slap you if she hears you say it in public. You’re legally allowed to fight anyone who says it about you or your mother. You’ll definitely get your mouth washed out with soap if your mom hears you say it. We can reuse one of the old ones, but we all have to agree to strip it of any previous racial or sexual connotations. When I’m insulting someone I don’t want anyone to think that I’m wishing death upon them because they’re a different group. I want whoever that’s getting the epithet hurled their way to know that they’re not getting this because of what group they are, but because of what they are. Which is a piece of shit who pissed me off. 

I’ll tell you what didn’t piss me off and that’s this episode of Trek which was The Trouble With Tribbles. Here it is. 

A distress signal brings the Enterprise to space station K7 under false pretenses. The distress signal makes them think it's urgent but they just want them to look after a store of some super grain. Kirk is not happy to be given such a shitty job and Chekhov seems like kind of a douche. I hope he grows on me at a certain point, but so far he’s not a great character and a really shitty officer. 
Ummm, I asked for no foam!

They're brought out because there’s a worry that the Klingons are going to try to do something bad to the grain. Seems like bad news. No Federation ships are scheduled to be there, but once the Enterprise is brought out then the Federation thinks it’s a good idea to have them stay. If this grain is so important then why did they make it so their only recourse was to fake a distress signal. Something ain’t right here. 

 The rumor that Kirk put some quadrotriticale grain and a tribble up his anus persist to this day

Klingons show up and to make matters worse a whole bunch of tribbles show up via a sketchy trader. He sells the bartender a single tribble and boy, does shit go bananas from there. These tribbles are little furry balls, they purr and give off a calming effect on all humanoids except Klingons. Also, if you feed them a tiny bit they'll give birth to more tribbles. Within a short period of time, there’s tribbles everywhere which lead to a lot of funny visuals. It’s also good because it helps Kirk uncover that there indeed was a Klingon plot to poison the grain. Some tribbles get in the grain store and start mowing down and wind up dead. 

Turns out that Darvin, one of the folks in charge of the grain was a secret Klingon. A secret Klingon most foul. Crazy stuff. They figure it out because tribbles do not care for Klingons one bit. Soon as the tribble gets near the secret Klingon the little thing starts shitting its pants. So they uncover the plot, Darvin gets found out, and all ends well.  

Good Trek?

Hell yeah. This is probably my second favorite episode so far. I still think Balance of Terror edges it out, but these two episodes are the perfect Trek balance. Balance of Terror is everything Trek can be when it takes its premise seriously and this is Trek at its best when it decides to have a little bit of fun. Those two are great. If you only watch two TOS episodes make it one of them. 

Fun fact: "Wanna see my tribble?" is the second most used pickup line at conventions right after "how long as it been since you last had pon farr?"

My only thing with this particular episode is that I’m not sure if it’s really as good as I think it is or if I love it so much because of its association with one of my favorite DS9 episodes. I wasn't at all born when this originally aired, but I was when the DS9 episode about this one did. So this episode strikes my nostalgia bone but because I fondly remember watching the episode of a different series that aired thirty years after this one did. 
I shit on Discovery's bat'leths, but at least their Klingons don't look like this

The fact that the dude was a secret Klingon is supposed to be a big reveal, but why would it be? It’s not like there’s any kind of surgery that’d be needed to make yourself look like a Klingon. TOS Klingons only difference from Humans is a proclivity for goatees and that they’re usually on the shiny side. Take away the standard issue Klingon gold vest, shave their goatee, and get that oily skin under control and you'd never know who was who. Surgery doesn't really seem necessary. 

Surgically altered to look less Klingon. I.E. Shaved and powdered. 

Minor (very minor) nerd timeline quibble. The Klingon says that there are no hostilities between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. He makes it sound like there have never been any issues between the two poeple. That would really make everything going on in Discovery to be squirrelly. Makes me think that maybe there’s going to be a thing where the events of Discovery didn’t actually happen? If they do something to make it so the events of Discovery didn't end up happening, I will be very angry. 

Listen, I know that this show was made in the sixties when the world looked very different, but the fact that Chekhov comes form a horribly educated USSR is both very funny and has terrible implications for the world right now. So at some point between now and the 23rd-century shit is going to get pretty interesting over in Russia. And schools there are going to become just awful. You’d think if Starfleet was going to let Soviet recruits in then they’d have to have some pretty serious classes that challenge the shit they’d learned in Soviet schools growing up. Yeah, the fact that he thinks that both this super grain, and scotch whiskey are Russian inventions are played for laughs, but I’d be willing to bet dollars to donuts that these aren’t his only blind spots. I don’t really trust him in that navigator’s chair. He also doesn’t seem like a great officer. He doesn’t respect the chain of command and he doesn’t seem to respect Spock or Kirk. Even though he does really want to fight as soon as the Klingons start making fun of his captain. I guess they just don’t teach you proper order back in, back in the USSR. 

Scotty hasn’t been given a lot to do yet, and I was pleasantly surprised to see him take the reins a little bit. I saw James Doohan once at a convention. He was very old and very weak. Not quite as old as weak as he is now, being ten years dead and all, but it was pretty neat to see him in person. Even though I wasn’t a TOS guy. 

I like that Scotty will allow a Klingon to say whatever they want about Kirk just so long as you don’t say shit about the Enterprise. The engineers all have a very distinct personality. Torres wouldn’t give two shits if you told her that Voyager should’ve been hauled away as garbage. O’Brien would’ve agreed with you as quickly as possible that DS9 was a piece of shit. That’s why he liked it. Gave him something to do. I liked Scotty in this one. I also liked how he thinks drinking a glass of straight vodka is child's play. 

Better Trek?

The Trouble With Tribbles is the background for one of my absolute favorite episodes of any Trek ever and that’s DS9’s Trials and Tribble-ations. In that one, some of the folks from DS9: Sisko, O'Brien, Bashir, and Dax get caught up in a crazy time travel mix up and end up on this space station during the events of this episode. I’d seen this one a dozen times before I saw The Trouble With Tribbles. It was made to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of TOS. So both Treks that were on at the time, DS9 and VOY had TOS tie-in episodes. This one both pokes fun and celebrates everything that made TOS great. I don't know if TOS is really all that great, but watching this episode makes me think that it is. 

(Hopefully) Better Trek?

This Sunday marks the return of Discovery from its midseason hiatus. I know I talk a lot about how sick Discovery is and that’s because it’s really sick. Especially considering everything that was stacked against it and all the weird last minute changes and recasts and staff departures and all that good stuff. To think that it is still such a good show so far. I can’t wait to watch it. 

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