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Star Trek Re-Watch: “Mirror, Mirror”

“Mirror, Mirror”
Written by Jerome Bixby
Directed by Marc Daniels

Season 2, Episode 4
Production episode: 2×10
Original air date: September 29, 1967
Star date: Unknown (dun dun dun)

Mission summary
Captain Kirk, Mr. Scott, Dr. McCoy, and Uhura are on the homeworld of the Halkans, attempting to negotiate an agreement to mine dilithium from the planet’s surface. The Halkans, however, are a race that believes in total and absolute peace, and their leader Tharn refuses to grant Starfleet these rights; while the Federation is currently benevolent, “the future is always in question.” Disappointed but hopeful for a change of heart, Kirk asks Spock to beam up the landing party.

A powerful magnetic storm disrupts their transportation, however, and their forms flicker in and out of the transporter room. The Enterprise reverses in orbit, flashing, and then the landing party finally materializes. But something is rotten in the state of Denmark…

They appear and are wearing modified uniforms, with gold sashes around their waists. Uhura’s midriff is bare. Spock and the other transporter room officers greet the Captain with a quasi-Heil Hitler salute.

But worst of all…Spock has a beard.

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Star Trek Re-Watch: “The Changeling”

“The Changeling”
Written by John Meredyth Lucas
Directed by Marc Daniels

Season 2, Episode 3
Production episode: 2×04
Original air date: September 29, 1967
Star date: 3451.9

Mission summary
The Enterprise responds to a distress signal in the Malurian system, but when they arrive it’s already too late—the entire race, some four billion people, have mysteriously disappeared. The cause of their total destruction is less mysterious when an unknown enemy attacks the ship with energy bolts traveling at warp 15, each with the strength of ninety photon torpedoes. Shields hold up under three such attacks while they pinpoint the source and fire a photon torpedo at it, but it’s easily absorbed by their assailant. The fourth energy blast destroys their shields and they finally decide to attempt contact. Spock also determines that the enemy vessel is tiny: “Weight, five hundred kilograms. Shape, roughly cylindrical. Length, a fraction over one meter.”

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5

Star Trek Re-Watch: “Who Mourns for Adonais?”

“Who Mourns for Adonais?”
Written by Gilbert Ralston
Directed by Marc Daniels

Season 2, Episode 2
Production episode: 2×04
Original air date: September 22, 1967
Star date: 3468.1

Mission summary
The Enterprise is completing a survey mission of Pollux IV, an M-class planet with a “strange lack of intelligent life.” Spock describes it as “quite ordinary,” which should be your first clue that it’s probably a death trap. The second clue comes when the viewscreen, which previously displayed a beautiful image of the blue planet, now shows the image of a giant green hand.

CHEKOV: Am I seeing things?
SULU: Not unless I am, too. Captain, that thing’s a giant hand!

But wait, is it?

KIRK: What is it, Mr. Spock? Is it a hand?

Guys, it’s a hand. Really. This isn’t so hard.

UHURA: It’s almost as if it means to grab us!

Maybe it just wants to…lend a hand?

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0

Touring the Future: Star Trek: The Exhibition

Star Trek: The Exhibition is a traveling exhibit of ship models, props, set recreations, and costumes from the 43-year history of the franchise, from all five series and eleven movies. Its website claims this to be the largest such collection of “authentic Star Trek artifacts and information ever put on public display,” but it’s unknown if that indicates the combined features of its various installations. The Exhibition is produced by Premier Exhibitions Inc, and is currently in the second year of its “five-year mission” of touring the United States, appropriately enough visiting space centers and museums around the country. Having completed stints at San Diego Air & Space and the Arizona Science Center, it is currently open at the Detroit Science Center in Detroit, Michigan (through September 13) and the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (through September 20).

Because the Exhibition is split up across two venues, each features different collections and may consequently result in a different experience. The Detroit Science Center includes a detailed recreation of the Bridge of the Enterprise NCC-1701 (As Scotty says in the TNG episode “Relics”: “No bloody A, B, C, or D.”), recreations of Captain Picard’s quarters (TNG), Picard’s command chair, and a full-scale replica of the 1701-D transporter room. In comparison, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia highlights Kirk’s command chair (TOS), the Bridge of the Enterprise NCC-1701-D, and recreations of Sickbay and Engineering. Both attractions offer a Star Trek ride in a full-motion flight simulator (for an extra fee). I gather that many of these installations are similar to those at the Las Vegas Star Trek: The Experience themed attraction, which closed in September 2008 and is slated to reopen sometime next year in the Neonopolis Mall.

Sadly, photography is not allowed anywhere in the Exhibit, but you can have your picture taken in the captain’s chair, on the Bridge, or on the transporter (there’s a green screen set at the Franklin Institute) for an exorbitant fee. They aren’t asking for gold-pressed latinum, but they may as well; though the photographers are cagey about admitting their prices while taking your photo, on checkout you’ll discover packages include two digital prints for about $27, or one for $22. On a totally unrelated note, staff does not confiscate cell phones or digital cameras, and security officers are only slightly more attentive than those on the Enterprise—at least at the Franklin Institute, which I had the opportunity to visit last month.

From the slideshow on the official website, things you won’t see in Philadelphia include a Klingon command chair; Nichelle Nichols’s TOS uniform; 1701-D corridors; Picard’s first season uniform and dress uniform; uniforms and costumes from Deep Space Nine (Sisko’s fifth season uniform and a Kai’s outfit); uniforms from Voyager (Neelix and Seven of Nine); Harlan Ellison’sTM Guardian of Forever; Borg prosthetics; ship models including Klingon birds-of-prey and shuttles, 1701-D, the refit 1701-A, and a freaking Borg cube. Okay, I feel cheated. Go to Detroit!

But if your transporter is offline and you can’t make it to Detroit in time, the Franklin Institute is still worthwhile, though your mileage may vary depending on your relationship with the assorted series. Some highlights for me were the Borg Queen’s costume from Star Trek: First Contact; Klingon weaponry; a Dabo table from Quark’s bar (DS9); uniforms and costumes from the shows and movies; various face masks, including Odo and Neelix; and a collection of combadges. The exhibit is heavily focused on costumes, and there’s a good assortment of them. Ruk’s muumuu from “What Are Little Girl’s Made Of?” was there, along with Deanna Troi’s dresses (which are even more hideous in person), Khan’s chest-baring outfit, the Grand Nagus Zek’s clothing, and even uniforms from the new Star Trek movie. Unfortunately, there were also a lot of props from Star Trek: Nemesis, including the disassembled B-4, though happily Enterprise was downplayed a bit.

The Exhibit is billed as a “History of the Future,” perhaps taking a page from the Star Trek Chronology by Michael and Denise Okuda, Star Trek experts who defined much of the look of the TNG-era series. (Don’t miss some “Okudagrams,” easter eggs hidden in the display panels in the exhibit!) As such, it provides a mixed experience for hardcore and casual fans, though it should appeal to both. Some background information on the series is provided, mainly in videos running throughout the exhibit hall, but most of the placards identifying the props treat them as historical artifacts and describe the series events as though they happened (or will happen?). They’re also peppered with typos. In addition, the Exhibition features information about real world science and technology that both inspired and was inspired by Star Trek, such as the US and Russian space programs and cell phones. A teaching guide is available on the website for grades 4-12 for those who would like to justify a class trip to the Exhibition. Hopefully the students will be less bored by the factual material than I was.

In the end, I felt there wasn’t quite enough new information for dedicated fans (who admittedly know everything already) and the wrong kinds of information for casual visitors—including “spoilers” for some of the series. But the exhibit was also much larger than I had expected, so it has something for everyone; just when you think you’ve reached the end, you turn a corner and suddenly you’re on the Bridge. Then when you exit through where Picard’s ready room should be, you’re in another vast room that has more stuff crammed into it.

A major disappointment for me was the fact that so many of the props were replicas based on the originals; I suppose they sold off all the actual props used in the series at the Christie’s auction in 2006. They also call this an “interactive exhibit,” but for the most part this means walking around and touching things, though the site mentions interactive kiosks. It would have been fun to play with a touchscreen panel giving access to the LCARS database, but I guess those are all in Detroit.

There’s a scene in First Contact where Picard and Data visit the Phoenix, the first warp-capable ship, in their own past (but still our future). Picard can’t help touching it:

Picard: It’s a boyhood fantasy… I must have seen this ship hundreds of times in the Smithsonian but I was never able to touch it.
Data: Sir, does tactile contact alter your perception of the Phoenix?
Picard: Oh, yes! For humans, touch can connect you to an object in a very personal way, make it seem more real.
Data: I am detecting imperfections in the titanium casing… temperature variations in the fuel manifold… it is no more “real” to me now than it was a moment ago.
Troi (spotting them): Would you three like to be alone?

For most of us, exhibits like this are the closest we can get to being a part of Star Trek. The Exhibition urges you to “reconnect with your own spirit of adventure,” and I have to say it succeeds at least in that; browsing their collection of props and allowing all that useless trivia to resurface in my mind, I began to remember the things I loved best about Star Trek. And so I left the Franklin Institute, expensive souvenir photos in hand, already looking forward to revisiting the future on my viewscreen at home.


This post originally appeared on Tor.com.

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Star Trek Re-Watch: “Amok Time”

“Amok Time”
Written by Theodore Sturgeon
Directed by Joseph Pevney

Season 2, Episode 1
Production episode: 2×05
Original air date: September 15, 1967
Star date: 3372.7

Mission summary
Something’s wrong with Spock! At least that’s what Dr. McCoy thinks, since Spock hasn’t eaten in three days and he’s a little edgy. Captain Kirk assumes his first officer is just being moody again, even after Spock throws a bowl of plomeek soup at Nurse Chapel. But then the Vulcan requests a leave of absence to visit his home planet, which definitely demands explanation.

Spock claims Chapel deserved mistreatment for being nice enough to bring him homemade soup that he didn’t ask for, but Kirk couldn’t care less about his misogynistic opinions, he’s more interested in the request for shore leave: “In all the years that I’ve known you, you’ve never asked for a leave of any sort. In fact, you’ve refused them.” Spock won’t share his reasons, but it seems pretty important and he obviously needs a vacation. The usually controlled Vulcan can’t even keep his hands steady. Kirk finally agrees to divert the Enterprise from its mission to Altair 6.

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Star Trek Re-Watch: Season 1 Wrap-Up

Before we transition into the second season of Star Trek, we thought this would be an ideal time to pause and look back on the first twenty-nine episodes of the Enterprise’s mission. Hopefully some of you have used the last month to catch up so you can follow along as we continue to re-watch the series. Reading your comments and discussing the episodes each week is as exciting and interesting for us as we hope it is for you!

Here is a breakdown of our respective ratings.

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Star Trek Re-Watch: “Operation: Annihilate!”

“Operation—Annihilate!”
Written by Steven W. Carabatsos
Directed by Herschel Daugherty

Season 1, Episode 29
Production episode: 1x 29
Original air date: April 13, 1967
Star date: 3287.2

Mission summary
Disaster seems to have visited another Earth colony just ahead of the Enterprise, this time on the planet Deneva, which lies on a path of “mass insanity” that has destroyed three other civilizations in the system in the past two hundred years. While they try to contact Deneva, sensors pick up one of its vessels intentionally heading straight for the sun. The Enterprise pursues it and opens a hailing frequency, urging the pilot, who may or may not be named Icarus, to turn back. As with the planet itself, there’s no response until they receive a transmission shortly before the smaller vessel burns up: “I did it. It’s finally gone. I’m free! I’m—” The Enterprise sets course for Deneva, Kirk more anxious than ever to make contact. Dr. McCoy, demonstrating his blunt bedside manner, comments: “Jim, your brother Sam and his family, aren’t they stationed on this planet?”

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Star Trek Re-Watch: “The City on the Edge of Forever”

“The City on the Edge of Forever”
Written by Harlan EllisonTM
Directed by Joseph Pevney

Season 1, Episode 28
Production episode: 1x 28
Original air date: April 6, 1967
Star date: no star date (dun dun dun)

Mission summary
The Enterprise is in shaky orbit around a planet, rocking back and forth like a seafaring vessel as “ripples in time” from the surface wash over the ship. An explosion at the helm knocks Sulu unconscious and McCoy is summoned to the bridge to administer medical assistance. He gives Sulu a small dose of “cordrazine,” a powerful and dangerous stimulant, which revives him in a very good mood. Another time ripple rocks the ship and McCoy accidentally empties the entire hypospray of cordrazine into his stomach. He immediately flips out, ranting “Killers! Assassins!” and fleeing the Bridge. The drug has driven him mad, with the paranoid delusion that people are trying to kill him. He attacks the Transporter Chief and beams down to the planet to escape.

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Star Trek Re-Watch: “The Alternative Factor”

“The Alternative Factor”
Written by Don Ingalls
Directed by Gerd Oswald

Season 1, Episode 27
Production episode: 1×20
Original air date: March 30, 1967
Star date: 3087.6

Mission summary
The Enterprise is orbiting an “iron-silica” planet: uncharted, lifeless, arid. Just as they are about to complete their survey they get a case of the wooglies—cue shaky-cam and a film overlay of a nebula. Once things return to normal Spock explains that the universe just “blinked” briefly out of existence. But before he can explain (or maybe just because he can’t), he finds that a human is on the surface of the planet, where moments ago there was no one.

Kirk, Spock, and four redshirts beam down to the surface. They come across a tiny little spaceship pod, complete with bulbous dome-shaped cockpit.* But no one’s inside. Suddenly, a crazy man with an even crazier beard appears on top of a cliff face and shouts at them: “You came! Thank the heavens. There’s still time. It’s not too late. We can still stop him. But I, but I, need, need your help.” He then stumbles and falls down the rocky cliff face.

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Star Trek Re-Watch: “Errand of Mercy”

“Errand of Mercy”
Written by Gene L. Coon
Directed by John Newland

Season 1, Episode 26
Production episode: 1x 27
Original air date: March 23, 1967
Star date: 3198.4

Mission summary
Peace talks between the Federation and the Klingon Empire are breaking down, so the Enterprise is ordered to Organia, which isn’t a sex resort like it sounds, but a planet of “peaceful, friendly people living on a primitive level.” Actually, that still sounds like a sex resort, doesn’t it? Organia’s only value is its strategic military location; Kirk compares it to Armenia and Belgium in Earth’s history, “the weak innocents who always seem to be located on the natural invasion routes.” They must reach the planet before the Klingons and prevent them from establishing a base there. Starfleet Command’s communique also mentions the possibility of a surprise Klingon attack. Not long after decoding this message, the Enterprise is indeed attacked, but they quickly destroy the enemy ship. The debris hasn’t even cleared before they receive a code one alert from Starfleet. “Well, there it is,” Kirk says. “War. We didn’t want it, but we’ve got it.” And without a store receipt, they can’t even exchange it for something they do want. Committed to their duty, they set course for Organia at warp seven.

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