Star Trek: Season Three

"Very Good"

Star Trek: Season Three Review


Everyone knows the sixties were a time of rapid social change, but just how rapid becomes obvious when re-watching the original Star Trek -- daring and original in some ways, retro in others. For better or worse, modern liberal idealism owes a lot to the naive, multi-ethnic utopian vision promulgated by Star Trek (and just like Starfleet's Prime Directive, liberal tolerance is honored mostly in the breach). And the first interracial kiss shown on TV was in season three. (Though it's not exactly an inspirational moment -- Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura are forced to kiss by evil aliens.)

But the original Trek also drew heavily on Cold War-era sci-fi series like The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone -- groundbreaking and experimental in their ideas, but with a traditional moral and dramatic approach. Their serious tone fit the fifties, that uneasy, schizoid time of cultural confidence, space exploration, and looming nuclear Armageddon. Star Trek's cautious presentation probably helped viewers to swallow its innovations, from flip-phone communicators and automatic doors to alien characters like Leonard Nimoy's Spock. The idea of a character motivated by "logic" instead of emotion is pretty silly (they're not opposites), but it was perfect for the liberationist sixties -- and it was a powerful gimmick that generated years' worth of story ideas. (In one of season three's last episodes, "All Our Yesterdays," Spock goes back in time, loses his civilized veneer, and develops a primordial passion for Mariette Hartley.)

The original Star Trek was never a big hit, and for its third and final season (1968-'69) it was moved to a Friday night graveyard slot and had its budget slashed. Not coincidentally, the series' worst episodes are in season three -- starting with the season opener, "Spock's Brain," which is exactly as good as its title. The allegorical or "message" episodes (antiwar, anti-superstition, etc.) like "Day of the Dove" are fairly entertaining, but lack the nuance of earlier, more thoughtful episodes such as "A Private Little War" and "A Taste of Armageddon." Still, there are a few high points in season three, such as "The Enterprise Incident" (in which Spock gets another shot at romance). Without recourse to expensive effects or sets, episodes like "The Empath" are essentially theatrical, and some scenes are surprisingly intense.

The messages are mostly naive, but after all, it was the sixties... and how many TV dramas since then have even tried to make us think? By 1969, the likes of Sherwood Schwartz were already demonstrating the mindlessness of the medium, and in the politicized, often vapid landscape of seventies TV, the innocent introspection of the sixties was lost forever. How Star Trek would have changed if it had lasted into the seventies is an interesting hypothetical. By the time Star Trek moved to the big screen in the eighties, the influence of Lucas and Spielberg had turned sci-fi into pure mainstream entertainment. Today, even the best sci-fi series (Battlestar Galactica, Firefly) are basically dramas or action shows with an out-there setting -- not morality plays. (Even the mediocre TV incarnations of Trek in the nineties were more cerebral than say, the Star Wars prequels, which is probably why Star Wars is much more popular now.)

All three seasons of the original Trek have now been re-released on DVD in remastered format with new CGI effects added. The additions are less egregious than Lucas' in the Star Wars re-releases, but still misguided -- half the charm of the original Star Trek was its brave struggle to make believable science fiction on nano-sized budgets. Still, it's fun to rent the original series again and enjoy the innocence and originality of a TV show which was both of its time and ahead of it.

Aka Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS): Season 3.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Marc Daniels, , Marvin J. Chomsky, , Herb Wallerstein

Producer: Fred Freiberger,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.