“Star Trek: DS9” – Season 1, Episode 7 (“Dax”)

The teleplay for this ep was co-written by the fabulous Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana; she wrote several eps of TOS and improved many others as script editor. Fontana (only in her mid-to-late 20s) was pivotal in developing the character of Spock and Vulcan culture in TOS; she later wrote some TNG eps. If you like courtroom drama and strong character development, then you’ll enjoy this story. I think it’s the strongest ep (so far) in S1.

After having Klingon coffee (raktajino) and getting hit on (yup, again) by Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig), Lt. Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) walks toward her quarters. On the way, she is attacked by three hooded aliens in a corridor. Bashir tries to intercede, but gets knocked out in a fight. These aliens know how to get around the station’s security controls, so they quickly reach their ship and set off. Luckily, Major Kira (Nana Visitor) pulls it back w/ a tractor beam (yay). Cmdr. Sisko (Avery Brooks) demands answers for the assault and attempted kidnapping of his science officer. Ilon Tandro (Gregory Itzin) insists he has the right to take Dax back to Klaestron IV, as Dax is accused of murder and treason! According to Ilon, his father Gen. Tandro (a martyred hero to his people) was murdered and betrayed by Curzon 30 yrs ago.

Cmdr. Sisko: I want you to find all the medical evidence you can to support the theory that Jadzia Dax and Curzon Dax are two entirely separate people. Major…

Dr. Bashir: Excuse me, sir, I-I don’t know that there is any medical evidence on that.

Cmdr. Sisko: Assume there is, then find it.

[Sisko has asked Kira to search for precedents involving Trills]

Major Kira: Is a Trill responsible for the conduct – for the acts – of its antecedent selves?

Cmdr. Sisko: Right, that kind of thing.

Major Kira: What if I find the answer is yes?

Cmdr. Sisko: Then that answer is wrong. From this minute on, our answer is “no.”

After the above scene (in Sisko’s office), we see that the world of DS9 is going to be different from that of TNG. Could you imagine Picard saying these lines? No way, life is black or white on the Enterprise! A no-nonsense/sassy Bajoran arbitrator, Renora (veteran character actress Anne Haney), holds a hearing to determine if Jadzia (only 28 y.o.) can be held responsible for a crime supposedly committed by Curzon (the previous host of the Dax symbiont). Constable Odo (Rene Auberjonois) travels to Klaestron IV to look for some evidence that could help Jadzia; he meets w/ Gen. Tandro’s widow, Enina (veteran Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan). This actress (who also has a strong theater background, like Auberjonois) did a terrific job w/ her role!

Renora: This will be an informal hearing, so I’m going to start with some informal advice: I am one hundred years old. I do not have time to squander listening to superfluous language. In short, I intend to be in here until supper, not senility.

As the hearing goes on, Sisko is frustrated by the fact that Dax says nothing in her own defense. I really liked the scene in her quarters; we learn more re: both characters and see their developing (friend) chemistry. Like many fans and critics, I wish Dax had more lines in this ep; Farrell does a good job. The actress admitted to being intimidated (at first) w/ portraying a character over 300 yrs old who had lived many lives.

…finally get an episode centered on Dax. She has been seriously neglected as a character up to this point, including the aspects of her complicated relationship to Sisko, and this episode does a bit to explore that relationship.

It nicely explores the morality of holding holding one host responsible for the sins of the previous host and whether it is the host or the symbiont which is responsible.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Star Trek: TNG” – Season 6, Episodes 16 & 17 (“Birthright, Parts I & II”)

Part I

[Dr. Bashir has commented on Data’s more “human” attributes.]
Data: Most people are interested in my extraordinary abilities – how fast I can compute, my memory capacity, how long I will live. No one has ever asked me if my hair will grow, or noticed that I can breathe.
Bashir: Well, your creator went to a lot of trouble to make you seem human. I find that fascinating.

This TNG ep (written by Brannon Braga and edited by Rene Echevarria) originally aired between “Q-less” and “Dax” in S1 of DS9. While the Enterprise helps repair damages to DS9, a mysterious alien (James Cromwell) approaches Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn), claiming his father wasn’t killed in the battle of Khitomer 25 yrs ago, but is still alive and held in a Romulan prison camp. At first, Worf rebuffs this, for the dishonor it would bring his family. He changes his mind after talking to Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) and Lt. Cmdr. Data (Brent Spiner). Lt. La Forge (LeVar Burton) helps Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig) conduct an experiment w/ alien technology (found in the Gamma Quadrant). The equipment surges w/ power and a plasma shock knocks out Data. He experiences a vision of his “father” (creator), Dr. Noonien Soong.

Dr. Soong: I wasn’t sure you’d ever develop the cognitive abilities to make it this far, but if you’re here, if you can see me… you’ve crossed over the threshold from being a collection of circuits and subprocessors and have started a wonderful journey.

I enjoyed the youthful enthusiasm Bashir brought to this ep; he and Data (who is one of my favorites on TNG) get some nice moments. The doctor wants to know more re: the android’s “humanity.” We find out Data can grow hair, has a pulse, and can breathe if he wants to. Data and Worf have a fine scene in 10 Forward. I really liked the scene where Picard explains to Data that “he is a culture or one, and no less valid” than any other culture. Data’s paintings connected to his “dream” are pretty good. Spiner gets to stretch himself by also playing Dr. Soong.

Part II

Tokath: We’ve put aside the old hatreds. Here, Romulans and Klingons live in peace. I won’t allow you to destroy what we have.

Lt. Worf: Do not deceive yourself. These people are not happy here. I see the sadness in their eyes.

Tokath: That’s not what I see when I look in my wife’s eyes. I married a Klingon. So you see, when I warn you not to disrupt our lives here, I’m not speaking just as a jailor; but as a man protecting his family.

This ep was written by Echevarria and edited by Braga. These two writers, as well as Ron Moore, were esp. interested in the Klingons. In TOS, the Klingons are one-note bad guys; they are developed more in TNG and also play crucial role in DS9. Many fans complained that here was no further exploration of Data’s visions. We never uncover the mystery of the device Bashir had (and he doesn’t appear even in the ep).

Toq: Today I learned the ritual hunt, but that is not all I learned. I discovered that warriors’ blood runs through my veins. I do not know how, or why, but we have forgotten ourselves. Our stories are not told, our songs are not sung!

After discovering survivors from the Romulan attack on Khitomer (which established peace between the Klingons and the Federation), Worf resists becoming one of them. The elders explain that it’s not a prison, as they’ve chosen to remain, since returning would dishonor their families. Worf begins to teach the younger Klingons about their ancestry and tradition. A young woman becomes interested in Worf. Dorn gets to carry this ep, which he is very capable of doing. Though I’ve heard some women fans say that Worf is “a symbol of toxic masculinity,” he slowly evolves into well-rounded character over his time on TNG, the movies, and (later) on DS9.

[1] Overall a very mixed episode; some good moments but also some uncomfortable themes.

[2] This is the first time we get to hear actual Klingon music...

And in true Worf fashion, he never backs down. …Worf’s obsession with Klingon Duty, Honour and Principles could be at times, tiresome.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979)

Well, that’s it. We gave it our best shot, it wasn’t good, and it will never happen again. -William Shatner’s first thoughts on viewing this movie

[1] Everything is very straight-faced and sincere. To introduce someone to Star Trek with this film would be a bad idea.

[2] The Enterprise is much more of a physical ship traveling in space, and less of a device to facilitate storytelling.

[3] ...most of the film has the crew standing on the bridge, gazing out in awed-wonderment at all the expensive, and impressive, special effects…

-Excerpts from IMDB comments

I learned that this movie is often derided as Star Trek: The Motionless Picture. So, what’s good about this movie!? The original TOS actors, particularly Nimoy, do the best w/ what they get (which is not much good dialogue). We don’t see much of their chemistry or friendship; everyone seems cold and distant. If you love TOS and/or grew up w/ it in the ’60s or saw reruns in ’70s, then this isn’t a total waste of time. If you’re not much of a fan, then go ahead to the second film (which is great). They basically pretend like this one never happened- LOL! There is a fun scene where Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) is sporting a full beard and (very ’70s) casual outfit w/ chunky gold necklace. Also, Gene Roddenberry loved the (now iconic) main theme from the musical score, which he reused for Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). Below this review is the scene which I thought was done very well.

The original script was written by Roddenberry and titled “The God Thing” though it was rejected by Paramount executives b/c of the storyline in which the Enterprise crew meet God. Many other story ideas were considered: preventing JFK’s assassination, becoming the Greek Titans, and trying to prevent a black hole from swallowing the galaxy. The popularity of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) had a big impact on the story, pacing, and marketing of TMP. Many sci-fi fans (incl. writers) viewed Star Wars as fantasy and fluff. Roddenberry always saw Star Trek as a more serious endeavor. The story was pushed toward more complex ideas; the decision was made to have no battle scenes (which hurt the movie). The early promos for newspaper ads had as the line “There is no comparison.”

Orson Welles narrated trailers for this film- a voice familiar to classic film fans! Director Robert Wise was also the editor on Citizen Kane (1941); he also reedited and reshot The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). Welles held a grudge against Wise b/c of the latter work; he probably recorded the trailers b/c he needed money. Wise (who was unfamiliar w/ Star Trek) was convinced to take on the directing job by his wife Millicent (a huge fan of TOS). She also convinced Wise to campaign for Leonard Nimoy’s return. Nimoy agreed to do the film only after Paramount agreed to a settlement of his lawsuit for allowing his TV series likeness to be used by advertisers. Wise (best known for West Side Story and The Sound of Music) is sadly not in his element here; his directing style contributes to its slow pace.

The producers and cast were worried about their appearances after being away from TOS for 10 yrs. In the later movies, the aging of the crew became part of the story. The cast hated the uniforms (as did viewers). One of the cast’s conditions for returning for a sequel was to have new uniforms. It was understood in the script, but not said outright, that Cmdr. Will Decker (Stephen Collins- who also didn’t watch TOS) was the son of Commodore Matthew Decker from The Doomsday Machine. Persis Khambatta (who played Lt. Ilia) was a model from India; she had her head shaved for the role. She has very little to do, though it is rare to see a Hollywood newcomer/woman of color at that time in such a big production. The abandoned TV series (Phase II) was to have three new main characters. Paramount was concerned that Shatner might ask for too much money (if the series was extended). Decker was created, so that once Kirk had to be written out, he could take on the new lead role. Will Riker and Deanna Troi on TNG were later incarnations of Decker and Ilia.

As many have pointed out before, Klingons continue to be the one-note baddies; they were not developed until TNG. The Klingon words spoken by the Klingon captain were invented by James Doohan (Cmdr. Scott). Linguist Marc Okrand later devised grammar and syntax rules for the language, along w/ more vocabulary words in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), and wrote a Klingon dictionary. Doohan also devised the Vulcan words heard during Spock’s Kolinahr ceremony. The scenes were first shot in English, but when it was decided to use Vulcan, Doohan wrote lines (to fit the existing lip movements).

“Star Trek”: Must-See Episodes of The Original Series

This is a list I compiled after reading many comments (IMDB and YouTube), listening to a few podcast episodes (focused on ST universe), and (of course) considering what I liked best. As w/ much of episodic TV, you don’t need to watch these in order. This should be helpful to those viewers who are not so familiar w/ TOS, but would like to start watching (or perhaps re-watching after many years). FYI: I watched the (remastered special effects) eps on Netflix first 6 years ago, then also over the past 2 months (during quarantine- when stuck at home). Enjoy, leave a comment, & stay safe!

Season 1

The Naked Time

The Corbomite Maneuver

Balance of Terror

Arena

Tomorrow is Yesterday

Space Seed

This Side of Paradise

The Devil in the Dark

Errand of Mercy

The City on the Edge of Forever

Season 2

Amok Time

Mirror, Mirror

The Doomsday Machine

Journey to Babel

The Trouble with Tribbles

A Piece of the Action

The Ultimate Computer

Season 3

The Enterprise Incident

Day of the Dove

The Tholian Web

“Star Trek”: Season 3, Episode 15 (“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”)

Chekov: There was persecution on Earth once. I remember reading about it in my history class.

Sulu: Yes, but it happened way back in the twentieth century. There’s no such primitive thinking today.

This is one of those eps that I’m sure many non-Trekkers (or Trekkies) have read of/heard about. On the way to a mission, The Enterprise comes across a shuttlecraft stolen from Starbase 4 by Lokai (Lou Antonio- part of the chain gang in Cool Hand Luke), a humanoid who is half black and half white. Soon his pursuer, Commissioner Bele (Frank Gorshin- best known as The Riddler on the ’60s Batman series), arrives onboard (from an invisible ship- one of the biggest budget cuts in TOS). Bele demands that Lokai be turned over for transport to Cheron (their home planet) where Lokai has been convicted as a terrorist.

Spock: [referring to Bele and Lokai] Fascinating. Two irrevocably hostile humanoids.

Scotty: Disgusting is what I call ’em.

Mr. Spock: That description is not scientifically accurate.

Scotty: Mr. Spock, the word “disgusting” describes exactly what I feel about those two.

Kirk: That’s enough for today. Those two are beginning to affect you.

Bele regards Lokai as of an inferior race and claims that Lokai’s people were destroying their civilization. Lokai contends that Bele’s people enslaved his people, but then we learn that Lokai’s people engaged in mass destruction. Bele believes he is right (pursuing justice). Their hate for each other puts our heroes in danger; Kirk tries to convince them to stop fighting. Both men have superpowers and this pursuit has lasted 50,000 years!

Spock: Change is the essential process of all existence

The screenplay was based on a story by Lee Cronin (the pseudonym of Gene L. Coon). He had left Paramount and was under contract with Universal, so he was not supposed to be working for Paramount. The original story didn’t depict the aliens w/ bi-colored skin; one was a devil w/ a tail and the other was an angel. Director Jud Taylor came up w/ the idea of bi-colored skin shortly before filming. The plot was a (obvious/heavy-handed to critics and modern viewers) indictment of the discrimination/prejudice in the late ’60s. MLK, Jr. had been assassinated less than a year earlier. This was a few years after the Watts Riots (LA) and the events dramatized in popular movies: Ghosts of MississippiMalcolm X, and Mississippi Burning.

[1] This episode does have the marvelous self-destruct sequence initiated by Kirk, in which Spock & Scotty join in to voice the self-destruct codes. This sequence manages to squeeze out every bit of suspense possible for such a televised few minutes…

[2] There are a few good lines such as the scene where Spock tells Bele that his planet was once a violent world which the Vulcans eventually resolved through logic and cool reasoning. 

[3] All theories are suggested by Spock, incl. nature vs. nurture. Their hated has outlasted the population of their planet. The only writing flaw is their hatred spans thousands of years. Nobody lives than long, except the “Q” maybe! The stock footage used for the burning of the planet looks suspiciously like the burning of Atlanta from GWTW, don’t you think?

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews