Rob Watches The Mandalorian: From Animation to Live Action

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S2.E3. “Chapter 11, The Heiress.”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Katee Sackhoff, Mercedes Varnado
WRITER:
Jon Favreau
DIRECTOR:
Bryce Dallas Howard
PREMIERE DATE:
November 13, 2020
SYNOPSIS: 
Mando meets a trio of his own kind, and winds up taking on the Empire once again.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This episode requires a decent amount of exposition, only some of which we actually got. Katee Sackhoff’s character is Bo-Katan Kryze. Long story short, her sister was the duchess of Mandalore. Thus, her trying to get the Darksaber. 

“The Purge,” meanwhile, was when the Empire killed most of the Mandalorian people, forcing the survivors into hiding. All this stuff was covered between the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoon shows.

I’m fairly certain this is the first time we’ve seen an ocean dock in live-action Star WarsIt makes for a different vibe. I like it. That’s one of the things that’s been so great about The Mandalorian. It shows us the Star Wars universe from different angles.

When Bo-Katan dropped out of the sky, Mrs. Primary Ignition exclaimed: “It’s a lady Mandalorian!” I’m hoping there were a lot of little girls in the audience saying the same thing.

There’s been a lot of talk about what a “true” Mandalorian is. We know Jango Fett and Boba Fett weren’t. And now we get talk that Din Djarin isn’t. Can we maybe get some clarification on this issue? I’m a Star Wars geek, and even I’m confused….

I was curious to see how they’d credit WWE’s Sasha Banks, who plays Koska Reeves. They used her real name, Mercedes Varnado. Which makes sense, of course. I’m not the world’s biggest Sasha Banks fan. But I was proud of her for this. She even got a decent number of lines and wasn’t just a muscular body in the background.

Even after all this time, I’m still getting used to Star Wars music that isn’t a classical score. Case in point, the sort of industrial-style beat they had going during the action sequence aboard the Imperial ship. It works. It’s just not traditional Star Wars.

Hey! Stormtrooper! When you see a grenade rolling toward you, maybe…I’unno…kick the damn thing away instead of staring down at it like a friggin’ nincompoop!!!

And there it is. Destination: Ahsoka Tano. Here’s my question: Katee Sackhoff voiced Bo-Katan Kryze for the cartoons, and now she’s playing the role live. Did they even ask Ashley Eckstein if she wanted to play Ahsoka? Nothing against Rosario Dawson, of course. But it seemed like Eckstein was up for it. Yes, Dawson is a renowned on-camera actress, as opposed to Eckstein who’s more famous for voice acting. But Eckstein had a hand in the creation of the character. She should have had the chance to play Ahsoka if she wanted it.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches Star Trek: Captain Spock

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek
EPISODE: S1.E16. “The Galileo Seven”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan
GUEST-STARRING: Don Marshall, John Crawford
WRITERS: Oliver Crawford (Story & Teleplay), S. Bar-David (Teleplay)
DIRECTOR: Robert Gist
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: January 5, 1967
SYNOPSIS: Spock, Bones, and Scotty are among seven crew members who crash land on a planet populated by giants. Spock must decide if they all are able to make a return trip.

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

I get the sense I’d have enjoyed “The Galileo Seven” more if I hadn’t backtracked and seen it after the season three episode, “The Tholian Web.” The latter is, to me, the definite episode about the dynamic between Spock and Bones. But if “The Tholian Web” didn’t exist, that distinction would likely belong to this episode.

This is, however, a pretty good character episode for Spock. It essentially shows us what he would be like as a captain, and he does a fine job at it. Is he more abrasive than Kirk? Absolutely. But by no means is he a bad leader.

The most important thing we learn about Spock in this episode is that living a life spearheaded by logic doesn’t mean living without compassion.

“The Galileo Seven” sees our heroes hopelessly marooned on a planet populated by giants. It’s nearly impossible for them to be found unless they can get their ship back in the air. What’s more, they’re working against the clock, as the Enterprise is scheduled to deliver crucial supplies to a space colony. Spock quickly surmises that having three men stay behind would lighten the load on the ship, thus increasing its chances of taking off. He, as the leader, would choose the individuals to stay behind. Naturally, this course of action is met with much resistance.

A short time later, one of the crewmen is killed by the natives. When Lieutenant Boma, a clearly emotional man and an obvious rival of Spock’s, wants to have a funeral for his lost comrade, Spock refuses to participate, nothing the time limit they’re under.

So Spock is pragmatic. Not a bad quality in a leader, per se. He’s willing to make hard choices, including ones that are vehemently unpopular. This initially makes it seem like his logical M.O. has left him numb to any potential cost of life. But when two of the remaining crewman are adamant that they strike back with deadly force, Spock responds with…

“I’m frequently appalled by the low regard you Earth men have for life. … To take life indiscriminately. … I’m not interested in the opinion of the majority, Mr. Gaetano. Components must be weighed – Our dangers to ourselves, as well as our duties to other life forms, friendly or not.”

So Spock does care about life. He doesn’t lack empathy. He lacks attachments that might cloud his logical judgment or create a conflict of interest. As we’ve indicated previously, Spock isn’t a robot. He’s a man devoted to his principles, which happen to fly in the face of how most humans life their lives.

While “The Galileo Seven” is clearly a Spock-focused episode, oddly enough, it was Kirk who stole the episode for me. As Spock and the others are lost, Kirk is under pressure from a Federation official to leave the system soon as possible. Kirk, however, insists on continuing to search for the others, saying they are “my friends and my shipmates.”

I love that. Kirk doesn’t simply categorize these people as crew members on his ship. Bones, Scotty, and even the ever-stoic Spock, are his friends. Seeing how invested Kirk is in them allows me to be invested as well.

And there you have it. Two very compassionate men. But that compassion is expressed in two very different ways.

For more “Rob Watches Star Trek,” check out the archive.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: Giant Space Bugs

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S2.E2. “Chapter 10, The Passenger.”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Amy Sedaris
WRITER:
John Favreau
DIRECTOR:
Peyton Reed
PREMIERE DATE:
November 6, 2020
SYNOPSIS:
Mando attempts to bring escort someone to a nearby planet, but crash-lands in an icy cave filled with gigantic spiders.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

In hindsight, I don’t know why I expected them to follow up on Boba Fett in this episode. Especially given the buzz about a new Boba Fett series. I just figured, given Mando has Fett’s armor, that they’d be on a collision course. To add insult to it all, Mrs. Primary Ignition seemed surprised that I was surprised.

Another day then, Boba.

I don’t say “That’s stupid” very often during this show. But I said it when we got to the Mos Eisley Cantina, and Peli Motto is sitting across from what appears to be a giant space ant. They didn’t even dress it up to look like some kind of alien ant. It’s just an ant. Yeah, that’s stupid. Apparently he even has a name: Dr. Mandible.

Our titular passenger is simply referred to by Wookiepedia as “Frog Lady.” But at least Frog Lady looks like an alien who could exist in the Star Wars universe, as opposed to the giant ant. I bought her.

Mrs. Primary Ignition popped for Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who played one of the X-Wing pilots in this episode. Lee is one of the stars of Kim’s Convenience, which is a pretty fun show. I, of course, pointed out that the other pilot was played by executive producer Dave Filoni. And oh, how she cared…

Were people really upset about Baby Yoda eating the eggs? Was that really a thing? We don’t have enough to be concerned about in the real world, so we have to get mad about what a puppet does on a TV show?

So here we are on the totally-not-Hoth planet of Maldo Kreis. On the upside, it’s the same ice planet we saw in the first episode. Some nice continuity there.

The giant spiders in this episode immediately reminded me of a TV movie called Ice Spiders. Someone did a write-up of it on the old site. I’ve never seen it. But honestly…do I really need to? The title pretty much says it all.

Once again we have giant space bugs. But unlike our friend Dr. Mandible, at least they made these spiders look a little more alien by adding a mouth and teeth. *shudders*

Every time there’s some sort of giant spider monster in a movie or TV show, my mind immediately jumps to some of Rupert Grint’s dialogue in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. “Follow the spiders! Why couldn’t it be follow the butterflies?!?”

Someone, somewhere, is writing a fanfic about Mando and Frog Lady getting it on in that pool. You don’t have to read it. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

I don’t think there’s ever been a bad episode of The Mandalorian. But coming off last week’s episode, it’s difficult not to see “The Passenger” as a step down. That’s a shame.

I suppose that’s just what happens when you follow Boba Fett.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches Star Trek: Intergalactic Species Osmosis

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek
EPISODE: S3.E23. “All Our Yesterdays”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley
GUEST-STARRING: Mariette Hartley, Ian Wolfe
WRITER: Jean Lisette Aroeste
DIRECTOR: Marvin Chomsky
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: March 14, 1969
SYNOPSIS: Kirk, Spock, and Bones are trapped in the past on an alien world. Spock finds an unlikely romance.

I’m calling BS on “All Our Yesterdays.” This episode has been cited by some as one of the best for the Spock character. Don’t be fooled. It’s not.

The episode brings Kirk, Spock, and Bones to the planet Sarpeidon. There they find a strange library containing time portals to different points in Sarpeidon’s history. Shenanigans ensue and Kirk more or less winds up in 17th century England. Meanwhile, Spock and Bones are stuck in an arctic wilderness 5,000 years in the past.

It’s there they are rescued by Zarabeth, a woman marooned alone in this time period. A woman Spock suddenly and inexplicably becomes attracted to. We later learn that because they’ve traveled back to a time before the Vulcan race purged themselves of emotion, Spock is reverting to match the Vulcans of this era.

Nope. Sorry. Doesn’t work for me.

Giving Spock a love interest, even for just one episode, isn’t a bad idea. But his stoic demeanor is integrally woven into the fabric of the series. So if you’re going to do that story, you’d better make it good. They didn’t do that here. In addition, the mechanics of it are, as Spock would deem them, most illogical.

So the idea is that Spock is suddenly emotional and amorous because that’s how the other Vulcans in this time period are. But what kinda sense does that make? If I travel to Mars, then hop in a time machine and go 2.5 million years into the past, do I gradually become a caveman by intergalactic species osmosis? Probably not. Hell, the notion wouldn’t have even occurred to Spock if Bones, of all people, hadn’t brought it up.

Question: Why not give Bones the love interest? My understanding is the show had done a similar “Spock in love” plot like this before. Whereas the last time we saw Bones have romantic inclinations was way back in “The Man Trap.”

Obviously, they wanted Spock and Bones together in this episode so their conflicting personalities could rub up against each other, even as Spock becomes prone to the human emotion he so often frowns upon in people like Bones. But wouldn’t it work better the other way around? It would certainly seem more natural for Spock to be the cold (no pun intended), emotionless one thinking of ways to get back home, while Bones pines for they’re rescuer. Then in the end, Bones is forced to adhere to Spock’s logical methodology in order to survive.

The episode tries to give the two a poignant moment at the end, where Bones checks on Spock after they’ve returned and left Zarabeth in the past. It doesn’t necessarily work, as Spock has returned to his normal, emotionless self. But if the roles are reversed, Bones would be able to tell Spock he’s not okay. Spock, in a rare moment of human compassion, could then tell Bones he’s sorry for his loss. Thus, creating a special moment between the two.

Sadly, “All Our Yesterdays” is an episode ripe with missed opportunities. Even sadder is the fact that it’s the penultimate episode of the show. I couldn’t help but wonder if by this point, the Star Trek showrunners knew the show was likely to be cancelled and had themselves a case of Senioritis.

In actuality, the last day of filming on season three of Star Trek was January 9, 1969. The show was officially canceled the following month. It had hung on for three seasons. But despite the devotion of its fans, who’d launched numerous letter-writing campaigns in support of the series, Star Trek was finally gone…

Or so they thought.

For more “Rob Watches Star Trek,” check out the archives.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches The Mandalorian – The Galaxy’s Best Halloween Costume

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S2.E1. “Chapter 9, The Marshal”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Timothy Olyphant, Amy Sedaris, John Leguizamo
WRITER & DIRECTOR:
John Favreau
PREMIERE DATE:
October 30, 2020
SYNOPSIS:
Din Djarin’s search for the Jedi bring him to Tatooine. There, he encounters a familiar set of armor.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The first minute or two of this episode is fantastic. Like the opening moments of Chapter 1, it’s a tremendous tone-setter.  And our hero once again gets an excellent entrance. I particularly enjoyed the graffiti on the walls. Have we ever seen graffiti in the Star Wars universe? I’m inclined to say no. At least as far as the movies are concerned.

Whenever we see the Din Djiarin in some kind of hand-to-hand combat situation, it always feels so hard-hitting. That’s a credit not just to the fight choreographers and the performers, but the sound team as well.

The Mandalorian is great at disguising established actors. I’d never have guessed in a million years that was John Leguizamo. Ditto for Horatio Sanz last season.

Mos Pelgo is a nice addition to Tatooine. It feels like one of those sparsely populated, desolate old west towns, which is a nice way to distinguish it from Mos Eisley and Mos Espa.

Upon seeing Timothy Olyphant’s character, Cobb Vanth, Mrs. Primary Ignition asked me, “Is he a new character, or have we seen him before?” My answer was that he’s new, but apparently that’s not the case. He makes some appearances in Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath novels, which are set closer to the events of Return of the Jedi. I must admit, I’ve read two of those books and didn’t remember him…

Vanth looks like a kid in a Halloween costume in Boba Fett’s armor. But of course, that’s the idea.

So the big monster shows up on screen, and Mrs. Primary Ignition asks me what it is. My answer: “If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a krayt dragon.” Low and behold, moments later they call it a krayt dragon. Now there’s something I did remember from a Star Wars book.

Part of me was disappointed that we started season two out on Tatooine. The Mandalorian has been so good at adding to the mythology of Star Wars, I’d have appreciated them either going somewhere new, or returning to one of the new locations from season one. On the other hand, the show has also been good about breaking new ground with classic Star Wars stuff…

Having the sand people use sign language was a stroke of genius. And yet it didn’t contradict anything from the movies. We’d never seen the Tuskens communicate directly with humans. Not in the movies, at least. But the Tusken language can be learned, as Din illustrates.

The music we hear when the Tuskens arrive in Mos Pelgo, and during their subsequent journey to the abandoned Sarlacc Pit is amazing. Pitch perfect work by Ludwig Göransson.

Boba Fett must have had a faulty jet pack. First an errant strike from Han Solo sends Fett into a Sarlacc Pit. Then a strategically placed strike from Din sends Cobb Vanth flying.

Question: When the dragon swallows Din, why doesn’t he fall victim to the stomach acid, or whatever it was that the monster puked up on to the Tuskens? Some of it appears to be on his armor. Is that what protected him?

So at the end of the episode we see a mysterious figure that is undoubtedly Fett. I give the show credit for not immediately bringing a classic character back in his classic outfit.

It’s always good to come out of an episode with questions that need to be answered. We certainly have no shortage of those here. Based on the few seconds we’ve seen of Fett, it looks like the last five years or so have been rough for him. But how does he have eyes on Din Djarin? Is he masquerading as a Tusken Raider? Is that why he has the gaffi stick? And what will Din think of Fett when they inevitably meet? As Fett isn’t a true Mandalorian, you’ve got to believe there won’t be good feelings there…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches Star Trek: Kirk as a Horse?

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek
EPISODE: S3.E10. “Plato’s Stepchildren”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols
GUEST-STARRING: Michael Dunn, Liam Sullivan
WRITER: Meyer Dolinsky
DIRECTOR: David Alexander
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: November 1, 1968
SYNOPSIS: Kirk, Spock, and Bones are taken captive by a group with telekinetic abilities, who take inspiration from the Greek philosopher Plato.

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

This episode is, of course, famous for containing television’s first interracial kiss. That moment between William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols is rightfully iconic.

That being said, not only has the kiss been discussed to death, but I’m hardly qualified to talk in depth about it. Plus, while I give it all the respect it deserves, it’s not what I came away from “Plato’s Stepchildren” thinking about.

The episode is about Kirk, Spock, and Bones becoming trapped on a planet that houses a group of very powerful telekinetics. So powerful they can manipulate people’s bodies against their will. When they want Bones to stay on world and be their resident doctor, he refuses. Thus their leader Parmen proceeds to use Kirk and Spock as his personal playthings until Bones acquiesces.

Naturally, this episode calls for Kirk and Spock to perform a bunch of demeaning tasks at the behest of Parmen. Initially, it comes off as the typical brand of camp you’d see from a classic Star Trek episode. Kirk hits himself in the face several times. Parmen forces Spock to laugh and sob uncontrollably. Later, Uhura and Nurse Chapel are brought in and forced to passionately kiss Kirk and Spock respectively. That’s obviously where we get our famous interracial kiss. It’s all territory you’d expect to venture through in a story like this.

But there’s also a moment that I’ll call “the horse sequence.” In the more than 25 episodes of Star Trek I’ve now seen, the horse sequence is the only point I’ve actually been made to feel uncomfortable. And I’m not even sure I should be uncomfortable.

Among the titular “stepchildren” is a little person named Alexander, who lacks the powers his taller brethren have. The horse sequence in question happens when Alexander climbs on Kirk’s back, and as Kirk is on all fours, proceeds to ride him like a horse. Quite literally, as Kirk actually whinnies (shown below).

It’s not that the act in itself is hugely offensive, though I’m sure little people aren’t overjoyed at it. But when I saw it, I went from laughing and enjoying a performance to feeling sorry for the performers.

And yet, that’s what the sequence is designed to do, isn’t it? We’re supposed to be aghast and hate the villain as we feel remorse for our hero. So what is it about this moment that breaks the illusion of the show? It’s tough to put your finger on…

My best guess? They got too silly. This might have looked right on paper. But on screen? Pass.

Here’s my question: Why not have Parmen force Kirk and Spock to fight like a child playing with toys? Yes, we’ve seen them fight before. But there’s a helplessness here that’s obviously very different.

I’ve got to hand it to William Shatner, though. They told him to be a horse, and he went for it. He turned into a by God horse. Maybe that’s why it was so uncomfortable. He believed. So I believed.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches Star Trek: A Broken Triad

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek
EPISODE: S3.E9. “The Tholian Web”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols
WRITERS: Judy Burns, Chet Richards
DIRECTOR: Herb Wallerstein
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: November 15, 1968
SYNOPSIS:
Kirk is presumed dead as an alien race builds a destructive web around the Enterprise.

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

“It’s the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.”

Those are the exact words that came out of my mouth when I saw Kirk, Spock, and the others wearing those space suits in “The Tholian Web” (shown above). And in my head, they came out in Dan Aykroyd’s voice.

I couldn’t help it. It just popped in there.

I jest, but “The Tholian Web” is actually a really good episode. It tells a story that, in hindsight, it’s surprising we didn’t get much sooner. Kirk is presumed dead after slipping through a dimensional rift. Thus, the Enterprise crew must now accept that their captain is gone, while at the same time adjusting to Spock being in command. All the while, the random crew members, including Chekov, are going insane thanks to a condition spread to them from a doomed starship. As if that weren’t enough, the ship is facing hostility from the Tholians, an alien race that lays claim to this region of the galaxy. They are constructing a destructive energy web around the Enterprise. Oh, and by the way, Kirk might just be alive. The stakes are high and the pressure is on. This is good storytelling.

The core of Star Trek lays in the dynamic between Kirk, Spock, and Bones. Kirk is the centerpiece, with the other two essentially acting as conflicting voices in his ear. Spock offers cold, hard logic and facts. While Bones, in many ways, embodies the human emotion that Spock claims to reject. He’s the everyman (despite his impossible ability to reattach a human brain). With Kirk gone, those two voices are left to argue unchecked, and must learn to coexist peacefully.

The episode manages to serve all three characters well. None more so than Kirk, who is absent for most of the episode. Look no further than the scene where Spock and Bones view the recording Kirk left for them in the event of his death. He knows the two will be butt heads in his absence. But he urges them to lean on each other, listen to one another, and seek guidance from one another. 

While “Balance of Terror” showed us the the burden Jim Kirk bears as a starship captain, “The Tholian Web” illustrates the importance of Jim Kirk the human being. Why he is the best person to command the Enterprise.

One character this episode does not serve well? Chekov. Granted, it doesn’t help that I viewed this episode after “Day of the Dove,” another episode where he loses his mind temporarily. But every time I see him on screen, his face seems to get more and more smackable.

Chekov falls into that dreaded category of characters that were added so a show could appeal to a younger audience. Usually kids. Though in this case, teenagers. Legend has it Walter Koenig, who played Chekov, was cast because he looked like Davy Jones of the Monkees. (The resemblance is quite uncanny.) At one point, Gene Roddenberry apparently wrote in a memo that Kirk, Spock, and the others seemed “middle aged” compared to Chekov.

The reason that’s hilarious? Koenig is only about five years younger than William Shatner. As of this writing, Shatner is 89. Koenig is 84, and would have been in his early 30s when this show aired in 1968. Davy Jones, meanwhile, was about 10 years younger than Koenig.

Hey, wait…I’m in my 30s. Does that mean I can still appeal to teen audiences?!?

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches Star Trek Archive

The following represents the full archives of “Rob Watches <i>Star Trek</i>,” thus far, presented in the order the episodes originally aired….

Star Trek, Season One

Series Pilot: “The Cage”

“The Man Trap”

“Where No Man Has Gone Before”

“The Naked Time”

“Dagger of the Mind”

“The Menagerie”

“Balance of Terror”

“The Galileo Seven”

“Arena”

“Return of the Archons”

“Space Seed”

“Errand of Mercy”

“The Alternative Factor”

“The City on the Edge of Forever”

Star Trek, Season Two

“Amok Time”

“Mirror, Mirror”

“Journey to Babel”

“Friday’s Child”

“The Trouble With Tribbles”

“Private Little War”

“Bread and Circuses”

“Assignment: Earth”

Star Trek, Season Three

“Spock’s Brain”

“The Enterprise Incident”

“Day of the Dove”

“The Tholian Web”

“Plato’s Stepchildren”

“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”

“All Our Yesterdays”

Star Trek Movies:

Star Trek The Motion Picture (Coming Soon)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Coming Soon)

Star Trek: Lower Decks

“Second Contact”

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

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Rob Watches Star Trek: The Devotion of Leonard Nimoy

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek
EPISODE: S3.E2. “The Enterprise Incident”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley
GUEST-STARRING: Joanne Linville
WRITER: D.C. Fontana
DIRECTOR: John Meredyth Lucas
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: September 20, 1968
SYNOPSIS: Kirk and Spock embark on a secret mission to steal a Romulan cloaking device.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

One of the plotlines in “The Enterprise Incident” involves a female Romulan commander trying to seduce Spock. Both over to the side of the Romulans, and on a more…personal basis. It seems to nearly work, as passions erupt between the two.

Supposedly, Gene Roddenberry had added a moment to D.C. Fontana’s original script where Spock takes the commander in his arms and is “raining kisses on every square inch above the shoulder.” At the insistence of Leonard Nimoy and his guest co-star Joanne Linville, this was changed to something more befitting of the Spock character. At the presumed moment where the “raining” would have began, the two instead touch hands, with Spock’s fingers caressing hers. Subsequently, their fingers gently trace each other. His index and middle finger hover near her lips, as her left hand ventures around his right shoulder. Their dialogue, meanwhile, maintains they are indeed in some form of intimate embrace.

The more I see Nimoy perform as Spock, and the more I hear of how much he respected the Spock character, the more I come to respect him as an actor. Realistically, he didn’t have to put that kind of care into his performance. He could have simply followed the script. It was a Roddenberry addition after all. Instead, he pushed back, and even wrote Roddenberry a long letter of complaint.

I was soon delighted to find this was hardly Leonard Nimoy’s only creative contribution to the character, and by extension the Star Trek Universe at large. I went on something of a Nimoy kick after seeing this episode. I even sought out For The Love of Spock, the documentary produced by his son Adam Nimoy, which is available on Netflix.

A similar character-related assertion by Nimoy resulted in the creation of the Vulcan nerve pinch. In the early season one episode, “The Enemy Within,” Spock was to have punched out a evil version of Captain Kirk. Feeling that would be too violent for a Vulcan, Nimoy instead suggested the nerve pinch, attributing it to a combination of telepathic powers and the Vulcans’ knowledge of human physiology. He would credit William Shatner for “selling” the maneuver exactly as he wanted.

Nimoy is also responsible for the iconic Vulcan hand salute, which first appeared in “Amok Time.” Nimoy, who was Jewish, was inspired by a gesture he’d seen performed during priestly blessing in a Synagogue. In 1968, Nimoy told the New York Times the Vulcans were a “hand-oriented people.” A notion that certainly lines up with what we see in “The Enterprise Incident.”

As icing on this very Nimoy-flavored episode, we get to see Kirk made up with Spock-like features (shown above) to infiltrate the Romulans. Hilariously, they actually have Bones perform plastic surgery on Kirk to give him the pointy ears. That ship doctor position is pretty all-encompassing, isn’t it? Last week, the man literally had to reattach Spock’s brain. This week? The captain needs cosmetic surgery. No wonder DeForest Kelley was added to the opening title sequence…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches Star Trek: A Brainless Episode?

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek
EPISODE: S3.E1. “Spock’s Brain”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan
GUEST-STARRING: Marj Dusay
WRITER: Gene L. Coon (as Lee Cronin)
DIRECTOR: Marc Daniels
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: September 20, 1968
SYNOPSIS: A mysterious alien woman beams aboard the Enterprise and surgically removes Spock’s brain.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

We now move into troubled waters with the third season of Star Trek

Star Trek consistently struggled with declining ratings, and was reportedly on the chopping block numerous times at NBC. To make matters worse, beginning with this episode, NBC began airing Star Trek Fridays at 10 p.m. Most certainly an undesirable time slot, particularly for the show’s younger fans. Fridays are a famously difficult night for television. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry would tell the Toledo Blade in 1968, “People who watch our show don’t stay home on Friday nights. They’re out to ball games and the like.”

Roddenberry would scale back his involvement in the day-to-day production of Star Trek as a result.  He added that if the network wanted to kill Star Trek, “it couldn’t make a better move.”

An unfavorable time slot, along with a significantly reduced budget, put a significant damper on the show, both in terms of writing and general production. This cutback on quality is, for many, exemplified with “Spock’s Brain.” Generally, it is considered one of the worst, if not the worst episode of the original series.

“Spock’s Brain” wasn’t originally on my list of episodes for “Rob Watches Star Trek.” But when I saw the title and synopsis, I couldn’t help myself. It sounded like the stuff of B movie glory. Something I could love in the same vein as Kirk’s fight with the Gorn. And indeed, I got excited early on when Bones starts saying things like, “Jim, where are you going to look in this whole galaxy? Where are you going to look for Spock’s brain?”

Then the episode progressed, and I got it. “Spock’s Brain” feels spread thin in a way that previous episodes don’t. There’s a decent amount of padding, along with dialogue that’s often repetitive and stupid. That initial exchange between our heroes and the women of Sigma Draconis, for instance, made me wish someone would surgically remove my brain.

As if that weren’t enough, the episode has so many plotholes it may as well be Swiss cheese. We also have plot conveniences that are almost laughable. Cast in point, a magic device (shown below) that can teach anyone how to remove, then later restore, a brain with no lasting damage to the individual. Then at the episode’s climax, Spock is suddenly and magically able to talk Bones through said restoration process.

In another, better written episode? All this might have worked. But in this one? Nope. Not even close.

Still, the episode has some guilty pleasure moments. Our genius machine that can apparently teach a child how to safely detach a human brain? It’s essentially a big fish bowl with needles sticking out of it, and I love it. William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, and James Doohan all seem to know they’re in a bad B movie, as they’re chewing the hell out of the scenery. Shatner especially. We even get to see Sulu take command of the Enterprise for a bit! Can’t say I expected that.

So does “Spock’s Brain” deserve the hate it gets? Does it deserve to be looked back on as one of the worst episodes of Star Trek? Yeah. It kinda does. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed for the sheer over-the-top lunacy that it is. When even your bad episodes are enjoyable. That’s truly how you know you’ve made something that will endure.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.