Posted in Television

WandaVision Episode 8: A Few Thoughts on Cars

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

You know what I came away from the latest WandaVision episode thinking about? It wasn’t about Agatha Harkness, Wanda’s past, or the mysterious white Vision…

It was Wanda’s car.

If I were a superhero whose parents, brother, and robot boyfriend had all been murdered over the course of my life, you know what I’d have invested in? A really nice car. The one she was driving in this episode looked so pedestrian.

I’m not even a car guy. But maybe get her something sleek. Like a sports car. Something in the Corvette family. And of course, make sure it’s red. Not just because of the whole red thing Wanda has going on. But I mean, who can be sad when they’re in a red Corvette?

Maybe if she’d splurged a little after Avengers: Endgame, maybe she wouldn’t have…y’know…abducted a bunch of people and created a big fantasy land with her dead robot boyfriend.

Just a thought.

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

Posted in Power Rangers

Power Rangers Dino Fury: “Sporix Unleashed” Review

SERIES: Power Rangers Dino Fury
EPISODE: S28:E2. “Sporix Unleashed”
STARRING: Russell Curry, Hunter Deno, Kai Moya, Shavaughn Ruakere, Kira Josephson
WRITERS: Becca Barnes, Alwyn Dale
DIRECTOR: Charlie Haskell
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: February 27, 2021
SYNOPSIS: Ollie devises a plan to catch the Sporix monsters on the loose, and executes it without the knowledge of his teammates.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’ve got a beef with modern day morphs: They’re way too wordy. It goes, “It’s morphin’ time! Dino Fury key, activate! Link to Morphing Grid!” C’mon, folks. We’ve only got about 22 minutes here. Let’s move things along…

Also, link to Morphing Grid? I suppose that’s practical. But much like “Activate Beast Power!” in Beast Morphers, it’s not very creative. What’s the deal? If you can’t think if something quick and catchy for them to say, just stick with “It’s morphin’ time!”

I suppose I’m just old, but the notion of drones being used on Power Rangers is quaint to me. It’s a good thing, though. The more this show can keep up with the times, the better.

When Zayto, who’s been asleep since prehistoric times, asks where all the dinosaurs are, Amelia says: “Well, they’re mostly in the movies.” Mostly. I love that. Nice subtle nod to…you know…28 years of continuity.

Power Rangers Operation Overdrive doesn’t get a lot of love. Simply put, it wasn’t very good. That being said, I did enjoy the small Overdrive reference in this episode. During the scene at Buzz Blast, “Hartford Robotics” is printed on the box the android comes in (shown left). That kind of thing is cute, harmless, presumably easy to do, and fans get a kick out of it.

So the henchgirl’s name is Mucus. Again, I’ve got to call them out for lack of creativity on this one. Was Phlegm taken? I do like that she can turn into green slime, though.

While I’m not a fan of the morphing call, the CGI portion of the morph sequence is pretty awesome. I can’t bring myself to complain about that.

Thus far the music, composed by Bert Selen, really adds a lot to Dino Fury. It’s heavily synthesized, which I’m sure isn’t for everybody. But it gives the show a particular flavor, and the heavy percussion adds a lot to the fight sequences.

The “toyification” of Power Rangers, which many see as the show’s entire purpose for existing, is in full effect here. The Rangers have swords with a t-rex head on the hilt, and can manipulate the jaw to do various super-powered stuff. Are they selling that sword at Wal-Mart yet? Even as an adult, I’ve got to admit it’s pretty cool.

I saw some fans on Twitter were happy to see the Rangers teleporting. Frankly, it’s hard to believe teleportation ever left Power Rangers. During the first several years of its existence, it was a big part of the show’s DNA.

You know what would be nice? If Ollie’s mom figured out he was a Power Ranger. Not because he told her, but because she…you know…recognized her own son’s voice and body language. I don’t expect characters on a kids show to be that competent. But this woman is supposed to be a brilliant scientist, right?

I hope kids get a kick out of the zords they see on Power Rangers. Because as an adult, they generally don’t do much for me. All the CGI that’s been integrated into zord sequences for the better part of 20 years now muddies them all together, making them less distinct.

That said, the T-Rex Champion Zord looked pretty good. The CGI and practical effects were blended together fairly well. By modern zord standards, it scores high.

Well how about that? The Rangers are, in essence, using crowdsourcing as their monster alert system. Civilians can call, text, or DM Sporix sightings to the Rangers. I like that a lot, and I don’t believe anything like it has been done before.

Void Knight and Mucus (shown above) are using an abandoned base called “Area 62” as their lair. I’ve got no issues with that. Obviously it’s a take-off of Area 51. It does, however, make me wonder what happened to Areas 52-61…

Dino Fury has come out of the gate strong. I’m mostly pleased with what I’ve seen so far. I’m legit looking forward to the next episode!

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

 

Posted in Television

Superman & Lois Season Premiere Review – Family Matters

SERIES: Superman & Lois
TITLE: S1:E1 – “Pilot”
STARRING: Tyler Hoechlin, Bitsie Tulloch, Jordan Elsass, Alexander Garfin, Emmanuelle Chriqui
WRITERS: Greg Berlanti, Todd Helbing
DIRECTOR:
Lee Toland Krieger
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
February 23, 2021
SYNOPSIS:

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Looking at the Superman costume they used for his debut in Metropolis, my initial instinct was go shout: “They made it to match his original suit in Action Comics #1!” Because, of course, I’m a huge geek.

That’s not what they did, however. It took me a minute to realize where I’d seen that suit. It was Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier. The costume’s vintage look threw me off.

So the kid says to Superman, “Thanks. Cool Costume.” He replies, “Thanks. My mom made it for me.” That line is plucked directly from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Superman For All Seasons.

This show went out of its way to establish geek cred right away.

Jordan, one of Clark and Lois’ twin sons, has Social Anxiety Disorder. As someone who’s struggled with social anxiety, that hits home for me. I’m sure it hits home for a lot of the people watching a comic-book-inspired TV show like this. From that standpoint, it has the potential to be a very smart move. But as with anything, it’s all about how they execute it…

I’m a staunch Superman defender. But watching this episode’s expository opening sequence, I can understand why some people don’t like him. Especially when he talks about being married to the most famous journalist in the world, raising two teenage boys, and then we see him on TV doing Superman stuff. As he’s presented here he has, in many ways, the perfect American life and family. In that moment, he comes off like the most popular football player in high school who grew up to become president of the United States. Personally, I love that Rockwellian Superman. But I can see the drawback. The hard truth is that when he’s at his truest and best form, Superman isn’t for everybody.

Question: I know that as comic book characters Superman and Lois Lane don’t age. But how old are they supposed to be in this show? Late 30s? Early to mid 40s? For what it’s worth, Tyler Hoechlin is 33 and Bitsie Tulloch is 40. Mrs. Primary Ignition, by the way, thinks that age difference makes them look weird. I’ll admit, it is a little weird. But I imagine that’s one of those things that’ll wear off with time.

After discovering the rocket in the barn, Jonathan (Can we just call him Jon?) and Jordan come right out and accuse Clark of lying.  I like that. Superman supposedly never lies. But as a parent, Clark Kent does. What that says about being parent is up for interpretation.

“Your life falling apart doesn’t mean you’re special. It means you’re human.” That’s a good line from Lois.

Fun fact: Alexander Garfin, who plays Jordan, was the voice of Linus in The Peanuts Movie. Am I weird for thinking that’s kind of perfect, considering Jordan has social anxiety? It matches up with the whole Linus and the blanket thing, right?

On the subject of Jordan, for me it’s always a fine line with how moody and angsty certain teenage characters are. At what point does it cross the line and get too moody or angsty? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to that. It just depends on the character and the story…

Clark Kent’s signature glasses disguise always requires a huge leap in terms of suspending disbelief. It’s comic book science at its least practical. But disbelief really stretches thin when you try to sell us that Clark’s own children didn’t recognize him without his glasses on.

Simply put, when we get to the scene where Clark takes his glasses off and it’s this big revelation, Jonathan and Jordan look like idiots. It’s just that simple.

What are the odds that as the series progresses we get a good twin/bad twin situation? Does one become a superhero, and the other a supervillain, thus tearing the Kent family apart? Seems like the probable way to go…

So the bad guy in this episode turns out to be someone named “Captain Luthor.” I can only assume this isn’t Lex Luthor, as the CWverse Lex is played by Jon Cryer. (Right? It’s been awhile since I’ve been plugged into the CWverse.) But apparently it’s not a Superman show unless you have a bad guy named Luthor. So…cousin? Someone unrelated who adopted the name?

Overall, not a bad premiere. I can’t say I was blown away. But Superman & Lois shows a lot of promise. Tyler Hoechlin was, and is, a great Superman. Possibly the best performance in the role since Christopher Reeve, and I don’t say that lightly.

If you’re into the concept of Clark and Lois as parents, there are two book’s I’d highly recommend. The first is Superman: Lois and Clark (which has nothing to do with the ’90s TV show). The second is Son of Superman by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, and all the subsequent books in that series. For my money, this series owes a debt to these creators and those titles.

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

Posted in Television

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: Return to Tatooine

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S1.E5. “Chapter 5, The Gunslinger”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Amy Sedaris, Jake Cannavale, Ming-Na Wen
WRITER/DIRECTOR:
Dave Filoni
PREMIERE DATE:
December 6, 2019
SYNOPSIS:
After stopping on Tatooine for repairs, Mando takes a job alongside a young bounty hunter.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

So did we need to come back to Tatooine? No, not really. But I’m glad we did. Going to a classic Star Wars setting reinforces that this is, in fact, the universe we know and love. And yes, nostalgia is a factor. It’s nice to see Mos Eisley again.

I’m a little surprised they used pit droids, i.e. the “hit the nose” robots from The Phantom Menace. I don’t mind Episode I as much as some people do. But you’d think in this, the first live action Star Wars television show, you’d want to avoid allusions to what’s often considered the franchise’s worst film. (It’s not. But that’s another story.)

Question: Aren’t most rifles in Star Wars blaster rifles? If so, Peli Motto asking the droids to get her blaster rifle doesn’t really make sense. It should probably just be, “Get my rifle!”

Yeah. I’m nitpicking at that level, folks. But it’s because I care, damn it!

So he just left the child on the ship? That’s uncharacteristically stupid for Mando.

Dr. Mandible, the giant bug in the cantina, is also stupid. He makes his debut in this episode.

Fun fact: The Mos Eisley Cantina has a name. Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina.

Another fun fact: They squeezed Mark Hamill into this episode. He’s the voice of the droid at the bar (shown below). Apparently that’s the very same droid that spoke to Threepio in Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi. What a remarkable coincidence…

I wonder if Mando would have taken Toro Calican under his wing before he picked up the child. Perhaps being a father figure softened him in short order.

That’s a recurring theme in the original Star Wars trilogy. The “scoundrel” who becomes a good man. The big one is Han Solo. But it applies to Lando Calrissian as well.

I must confess, I’ve never seen Agents of Shield, or much of anything else with Ming-Na Wen. But she makes a pretty good bounty hunter. And Fennec Shand is yet another powerful female character added to the Star Wars universe.

I don’t recommend watching this episode in a room with a lot of sunlight. I did so, and could barely make anything out during the nighttime scenes.

So the general consensus was that the person who comes to Fennec’s aid at the very end of the episode is Boba Fett. In the end, that obviously turns out to be true. That speaks to the amount of foresight the showrunners hopefully have.

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

Posted in Television

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: The Samurai

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S1.E4. “Chapter 4, Sanctuary”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal (Voice), Gina Carano, Julia Jones
WRITER:
Jon Favreau
DIRECTOR:
Bryce Dallas Howard
PREMIERE DATE:
November 29, 2019
SYNOPSIS:
Mando and the child seek sanctuary on the planet Sorgon, but are drawn into aiding a village against vicious raiders.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Oddly enough, Pedro Pascal wasn’t there for the filming of this episode. He was apparently on broadway doing King Lear at the time. Apparently the performance we see in this episode comes from a combination of stunt doubles Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder. Apparently Pascal and Wayne worked closely together in developing the title character. What’s more, Wayne is the grandson of screen legend John Wayne. Ironic, considering what Mando has in common with a lot of the characters John Wayne played…

When Mando looks at the child and says, “Stop touching things,” he briefly becomes the personification of every parent who’s ever had a toddler.

Here we have Cara Dune, played by Gina Carano. Mrs. Primary Ignition isn’t sold on Carano as an actor. Me? I think she’s perfectly adequate for the role she’s in. The one aspect of the character I’m not completely sold on? The tiny Rebel Alliance/New Republic tattoo she has on her cheek. She’s supposed to be making her living as a mercenary, right? Isn’t that an odd thing for a mercenary to keep tattooed on her face? You’d think she’d want the thing removed.

The samurai film influences on The Mandalorian are quite evident in this episode. And that’s even if you discount the fact that this village on Sorgan matches many depictions of such places in feudal Japan. You’ve got the nomad warrior sought out by a community of innocents to help them overcome an invasive evil. Thus, he trains the villagers to fight alongside him. It’s essentially the same plot as the classic film Seven Samurai, by Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa was famously one of the filmmakers who inspired George Lucas during the conception of Star Wars.

On the subject of connections to Lucas, our director for this episode is Bryce Dallas Howard. She’s, of course, the daughter of Ron Howard, who starred in Lucas’ first big hit, American Graffiti. She’s gotten quite a bit of praise for her work on The Mandalorian, and rightfully so. Carano credits Howard with helping her figure out how to best translate the Cara Dune character from script to screen.

The combination puppeteering/CGI work with Baby Yoda is at its strongest yet in this episode. It blends so seamlessly. It’s not a fair comparison, given the near 20-year gap, but it’s a far cry from how fake CGI Yoda looks in Attack of the Clones.

I give a lot of credit to Julia Jones, who plays Omera, Mando’s kinda/sorta love interest in this episode. She performs the hell out of her scenes here, playing off someone who essentially has a bucket on their head. Now that’s acting.

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

Posted in Television

Rob Watches Star Trek – Throw a Hat on Him!

***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: S2.E26. “Assignment: Earth”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley
GUEST-STARRING: Robert Lansing
WRITERS: Art Wallace, Gene Roddeberry
DIRECTOR: Marc Daniels
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: March 29, 1968
SYNOPSIS: The Enterprise travels back to the year 1968 and encounters a mysterious interstellar agent.

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

Less than two minutes into “Assignment: Earth,” a man beams aboard the Enterprise without warning or authorization. He’s a dapper man and a business suit, who also happens to be carrying a cat.

I haven’t even been watching Star Trek that long. But even I know that’s one of the most Star Trek things that could possibly happen. Bravo to this episode for sheer campy brilliance.

Apparently this concept of Gary Seven, interstellar secret agent, was meant to be turned into its own TV series. One way or another it didn’t happen, but I’d say things worked out. Obviously, people still are still talking about “Assignment: Earth” more than 50 years later. In contrast, there’s a chance Agent Seven’s show could have come and gone with barely a notice.

Mere seconds into the episode, “Assignment: Earth” asks us to take a pretty big leap even by Star Trek standards. We’re told the Enterprise has traveled back in time to observe Earth in the year 1968 via something called the “Light-Speed Breakaway Factor.” We aren’t told what that is, or how it works. We simply start the episode in 1968, and it’s given to us as a bit of exposition.

From a story mechanics standpoint, I understand this. “Assignment: Earth” is less a time-travel story, and more about exposing us to Agent Seven and his world. But it all seems so abrupt. In two seasons it had never been established that the Enterprise was capable of time-travel. That certainly would have been a helpful detail in, say, “The City on the Edge of Forever.”

Apparently in the Star Trek Universe, all you need to do in order to time travel is pick up enough speed to artificially create a time warp. You also need to be moving toward a large enough gravitational body, such as a star, so that its pull serves to help you pick up enough speed.

So it’s that classic sci-fi theory: “If I drive fast enough and have fancy technology, I can travel through time.” Sure, why not? I just wish they’d have taken an extra minute or two to explain that in the episode.

I’ve consistently found it amusing how, when necessary, they always throw a big hat on Spock to hide his ears. These characters have technology that allows them to bend the laws of space and time to their will. But making a Vulcan look human?

“Uhhh…throw a hat on him!”

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

Posted in Television

Rob Watches Star Trek: What We Forgive

***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: S2.E25. “Bread and Circuses”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley


GUEST-STARRING: William Smithers, Logan Ramsey
WRITERS: Gene Roddenberry, Gene L. Coon


DIRECTOR: Ralph Senesky
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: March 15, 1968

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

It’s always interesting to see what we forgive for a good story.

“Bread and Circuses” is an episode that wonders what lengths humanity might go to in the name of entertainment. It does this by presenting us with what is essentially an alternate Earth where the Roman Empire never ended, and now has the all benefits of 20th century tech.

But what we’re presented doesn’t look much like a modernized version of ancient Rome. We’ve got a handful of costumes from what must have been a production set in that time frame. We’ve got a few sets that look very vaguely like what they’re supposed to be. And the peaceful faction of slaves that our heroes fall in with? They’re wearing gray sweatsuits. Which means before long, that’s what our heroes are wearing as well.

This is about as clear an example as you’ll find of sci-fi on a budget. Objectively, “Bread and Circuses” just doesn’t look very good…

And yet, it works. “Bread and Circuses” is better than a lot of sci-fi flicks made 50 years later with state-of-the-art CGI. Why is that?

Because everything starts with story, and “Bread and Circuses” is a good story. It’s a little weird, and perhaps even a bit contrived. But at its core, it’s an editorial about television and entertainment that asks viewers important questions that are still relevant after all this time. And because it’s such a good story, we’re willing to forgive the tacky packaging it’s delivered in. That theory doesn’t work in reverse.

Case in point, the Star Wars prequels. When they came out, they were filled with top-line CGI depicting some amazingly creative environments. We had a big robot factory complete with big smelting pots, a planet that was also a giant city, and a humongous hive filled with space bugs, just to name a few. But the story was largely hollow. So all the special effects were hollow as well.

I’m a huge Star Wars geek. But I don’t have a problem saying “Bread and Circuses” is better than any of the three Star Wars prequels. It’s better than Rogue One, that’s for damn sure…

The episode explains the existence of an alternate 20th Century Earth on another world across the galaxy with something called “Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planet Development.” That sounds precisely like the kind of BS a writer would make up off the top of their head. Yet it’s such wildly fantastical BS that it feels like it just has to be true. And in the end, isn’t that the best kind of BS?

Not according to Gene L. Coon. Reportedly, a disagreement with Gene Roddenberry over the tone of this episode was what led to Coon’s departure as the Star Trek showrunner. (Though he would submit scripts for season three under the pseudonym Lee Cronin.) Apparently Coon wanted the episode to have more of a comedic touch, while Roddenberry wanted a more serious tone. Ultimately, however, we’re better off for what we got.

The best thing in the entire episode? The exchange in the jail cell between Spock and Bones. After dancing around it for two seasons, Bones finally starts to shoot straight with Spock. It’s clear the two are opposites in almost every sense of the word, and would not be friends outside the bounds of the Enterprise. But they’re united two things: Their sense of duty, and their loyalty to Kirk in particular.

And of course, we love them for it.

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

Posted in Television

Rob Watches Star Trek: “Shatner Moments” and Nancy Kovack

***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: S2.E19. “A Private Little War”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley
GUEST-STARRING: Nancy Kovack, Michael Witney
WRITERS: Jud Crucis (Story), Gene Roddenberry (Teleplay)
DIRECTOR: Marc Daniels
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: February 2, 1968
SYNOPSIS: Kirk and Bones reluctantly become involved in an arms race among primitives on a once peaceful planet.

There’s a scene in “A Private Little War” where Kirk gets bitten and thus poisoned by a gloriously cheesy-looking monster. The scene calls for him to suffer and shiver as he struggles to tell Bones on how to save him. Given how William Shatner performs the scene, I felt compelled to type “chewing the scenery” into Urban Dictionary.

Fittingly enough, part of the definition you get is, “In reference to actors (William Shatner comes immediately to mind) …”

What I’ve found in watching these select episodes of Star Trek is the longer the series goes, the more of those infamous “Shatner Moments” we see. And having seen clips of the first two Trek movies, I know there are more to come.

I talked about this not long ago, but it bears repeating: I don’t think he was or is a bad performer. Heck, the he’s a trained Shakespearean actor. Does he have his “Shatner Moments?” Sure. But what he turned in works well in service of the show. “Rob Watches Star Trek” has brought me a newfound respect for him. Not just for what he turned in with Star Trek, but what he went through after Star Trek. He went from being a bona fide television star to losing his home and living in a trailer after the show was cancelled. And yet now, at the age of 89, he’s still chugging away. Imagine the life this guy has lead.

At the very least, Shatner’s performances as Kirk are still memorable after 50 years. There’s something to be said for that. Hell, you fight the Gorn and see what you turn in.

A Private Little War is a great episode, all the atrocious wigs notwithstanding. Nancy Kovack’s smoldering performance as Nona (shown below) is almost worth the price of admission on its own…

The only thing I found a little bit disappointing was that Bones didn’t get the spotlight I thought he would. He’s a perpetual fish-out-of-water. He’s constantly going on these field missions which, in theory, he’s not supposed to be on. That’s why one of his famous catchphrases from the show is, “Damn it, man! I’m a doctor, not a [whatever they’re asking him to be in that episode]!”

So when Kirk gets poisoned, Bones goes back to the encampment with the natives. Kirk is unconscious, and Spock is injured on the Enterprise. The big conflict in the episode is whether or not to give these primitives guns to combat an opposing tribe armed thusly. Instead of waking Kirk up, why not have Bones be the moral center of it all? As a healer, he’s obviously against the idea of introducing firearms even as a defensive response. Maybe some of the carnage he sees causes him to switch sides? But alas, instead we go back to Kirk.

That’s another thing about Shatner. We love the guy, but he tends to pull focus.

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

Posted in Television

Rob Watches Star Trek: A Tale of Two Cities

***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.E28. “The City on the Edge of Forever”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols
GUEST-STARRING: Joan Collins
WRITERS: Harlan Ellison, D.C. Fontana, Gene L. Coon, Gene Roddenberry
DIRECTOR: Joseph Pevney
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: April 6, 1967
SYNOPSIS: A freak accident sends Bones back to 1930s America, where he inadvertantly destroys the future. Kirk and Spock must restore the future, though at a great personal cost to Kirk.

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

If you’ve been following along, “Rob Watches Star Trek” was covering episodes far beyond this, the penultimate episode of the first season. But as I continue to learn more and more about the Star Trek franchise, I found out I skipped what many consider to be the best episode of the original series. So naturally, I had to backtrack.

Star Trek was bound to tackle time-travel especially. Specifically, time-travel into Earth’s recent history. The temptation to juxtapose these characters from the future with America’s recent past was simply too great. In fact, by this point in the series, the penultimate episode of the first season, they had already been to that well once before. In “Tomorrow is Yesterday,” saw the crew travel back to the 1960s, the same decade the show was made. I would also count “The Return of the Archons” as a time-travel episode. Even though it doesn’t take place on Earth, for all intents and purposes it takes place in our past.

The comic book science in this episode is a little weird, but via a planet that can send time ripples into space, a drugged Bones is sent back to Great Depression era America. By saving the life of a young woman, he accidentally changes the course of history. Naturally, Kirk and Spock have to stop him via a time portal. And of course, darn his luck, Kirk falls in love with the woman in question. Thus, now Kirk must choose between his own heart and what he knows to be the rightful future of humanity.

The episode is indeed one of the best I’ve seen so far. Show creator Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner, and Leonard Nimoy have all cited it among their favorites. But it’s been the subject of much controversy relating to its original writer, renowned science fiction author Harlan Ellison. Due to re-writes and cost prohibits, what wound up on screen was considerably different than what Ellison wrote in numerous drafts over a lengthy amount of time. The changes were a point of contention between Ellison and Roddenberry for decades afterward.

Reportedly, Ellison’s version of “The City on the Edge of Forever” would have introduced a crew member who we learn is involved in an illegal drug trade, and eventually kills another crewman. He’s thus sentenced to die on a nearby world. Said world was to have been the home of nine-foot-tall men, the Guardians of Forever, who are in possession of a time machine. The doomed crewman would steal the time machine and change history, thus necessitating Kirk and Spock’s pursuit. The altered reality would apparently have included an Enterprise manned by renegade space pirates.

But most notably, in Ellison’s version Kirk can’t bring himself to let the Edith Keeler, his love interest played by Joan Collins, die. In the end, Spock makes the choice for him. In the final product, the decision is taken out of both their hands as Edith dies when a truck accidentally runs her down.

This episode underwent re-writes from the likes of D.C. Fontana, Gene L. Coon, and finally Gene Roddenberry himself. I think the ending wound up better for it. Both Ellison and Roddenberry’s endings took the decision out of Kirk’s hands. But the big difference is I think Ellison’s ending makes Spock look needlessly cold. Is he saving a hell of a lot more people than he’s hurting in the process? Yes, absolutely. But intentionally letting someone die is still not a good look for one of your heroes.

In the end, we’re probably better off with the episode we got, as opposed to Ellison’s original vision for it. The only one of his ideas I might have kept in is the one about the space pirates on the Enterprise. But that’s just because I like alternate universe stories. Mechanically, I’m not even sure how you weave that into the episode when it already has so much to accomplish without it.

For those curious, the original teleplay for the episode is available on Amazon. Like City itself, it serves as a nice little peek into what might have been…

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

Posted in Television

Rob Watches Star Trek: Tremendous Yet Terrible Tribbles

***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: S2.E15. “The Trouble with Tribbles”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, James Doohan
GUEST-STARRING: Stanley Adams, William Schallert, William Campbell
WRITER: David Gerrold
DIRECTOR: Joseph Pevney
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: December 29, 1967
SYNOPSIS: The Enterprise is overrun by small, fuzzy creatures called Tribbles.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’ve been waiting to do this episode for awhile, largely because a friend got my daughter and I a Little Golden Book based on the episode. Too Many Tribbles (cover shown below) by Frank Berrios and illustrated by Ethen Beavers. By God, it’s as good a children’s book based on an episode of a ’60s TV show that you’ll ever find.

The episode is suitably cute. Though to me the funniest thing is that the episode expects us to care about a dispute over space grain when the stars of the episode are clearly the tribbles. It’s almost insulting to the actors, as the tribbles are little more than inanimate multi-colored puff balls with an accompanying purring sound effect. As Spock says, there’s no practical use for them. Yet they’re the spiritual successors to minions, porgs, etc.

Also hilarious? The tribbles came closer to conquering the Enterprise than the Orion Crime Syndicate. Maybe the little puff balls should consider organized crime…

“The Trouble With Tribbles,” however, does realize it’s a comedy. In what I’ve seen of Star Trek thus far, this is the first episode I’ve seen played for laughs like this. William Shatner steals the episode. The entire scene in which Scotty tells him about how he started a fight with the klingons not in defense of Kirk’s honor, but the Enterprise, is absolute gold. Shatner’s reactions to the tribbles slowly taking over his ship are great too. His acting on this show has been mocked for decades. And while I will call it unusual at times, I don’t have it in me to call it bad. It works well in service of the show.

I continue to be fascinated by the relationship between Spock and Bones. After what we saw at Spock’s attempted wedding, I can’t not see them as friends. But as we see in “Tribbles,” they have an antagonistic relationship that’s fun to watch. Bones says he likes the tribbles better than he likes Spock, and Spock pointedly says he appreciates that the tribbles don’t talk too much. They’re not enemies. They just have a weird friendship. They were “frienemies” before that was a thing.

Spock also makes an interesting reference in that same scene…

“[Tribbles] remind me of the lilies of the field. ‘They toil not, neither do they spin.'”

Upon research, this is actually a biblical reference from both Matthew 6:28, Luke 12:27, and a portion of the Sermon on the Mount. The text from Matthew reads: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:” How and why Spock is familiar with a religious text from Earth is a mystery. I suppose we can chalk it up to, “It’s Spock. He knows stuff.”

But to an extent it also works on another level. Stanley Adams, who plays the peddler that gives Uhura the first Tribble, starred in the 1963 film, Lilies of the Field. The reference must be unintentional. But low and behold, it’s there.

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