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Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: The Original Series—Volume #12 (1966)

"Mr. Spock, we humans have a streak of barbarism in us. Appalling, but there, nevertheless."
- Kirk (William Shatner)

Review By: Jesse Shanks  
Published: January 23, 2002

Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, David Opatoshu, Barbara Babcock, Ricardo Montalban, Madlyn Rhue
Other Stars: James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Gene Lyons
Director: Joseph Pevney, Marc Daniels

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (Nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:40m:00s
Release Date: May 23, 2000
UPC: 097366001277
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-BB+ D+

DVD Review

McCoy: Well, Scotty, now you've done it.
Scotty: Aye. The haggis is in the fire for sure....

A Taste of Armageddon
Stardate: 3192.1
Original Airdate: February 23, 1967
Directed by: Joseph Pevney

The Enterprise is en route to star cluster NGC321 with the objective of opening relations with the civilizations known to be there. Aboard is Ambassador Fox (Gene Lyons), who is determined to complete his mission, despite the warning from the principle planet Eminiar 7 refusing permission to approach. Fox orders them to continue by invoking his power of command from Star Fleet. I have always wondered why he was so insistent on contacting Eminiar when there was at least one other planet in the system that might have welcomed them. I suspect there might have been a "Star Fleet politics" subplot that was deleted for lack of time, which would also help explain some of Fox's later actions.

After establishing orbit, Kirk and Spock take a landing party down to the surface. While meeting with the high council, the planet comes under attack, but Kirk is mystified as he hears no sounds of battle. A tricorder scan and a call to the ship contribute to confusion as it seems that all is normal. The leader of the high council, Anan 7 (David Opatoshu), explains that the attack was completely through the use of computers. They feel this is a more civilized way of conducting warfare because even though people die, the culture goes on. He further goes on to say that the reason the Enterprise was warned not to come near the planet was, that by being in orbit it became a legitimate target and was classified as destroyed in the attack. Casualties in the Eminian war are required to enter disintegration chambers and be tallied as dead in the agreement between Eminiar and their opponent Vendikar.

The landing party is immediately imprisoned as hostages and Scotty, in temporary command, receives what appears to be a communication from Kirk ordering the crew to beam down to the planet that the computer identifies as a fake. Foiled in their trickery, the Eminians attempt to shoot the Enterprise down with sonic beams. Ambassador Fox keeps agitating for the chance to continue his mission, but Scotty is adamant that he will do nothing until he hears from the captain.

Meanwhile Kirk has escaped confinement and begins to destroy disintegration chambers and attempts to regain his communicator to contact the ship. Ambassador Fox is lured to the planet by Anan 7 and is immediately taken to be killed, only saved by the intervention of Mr. Spock. Recaptured by the Eminians, Kirk grabs a chance to speak to Scotty and gives General Order 24, which means that in two hours the Enterprise will destroy Eminiar 7.

The conception and writing of this episode is very good. War by computer was a unique idea for the era and the anti-war message of this episode must have resonated with a country in the depths of the Viet Nam engagement with its nightly casualty counts. This episode moves quickly, is interestingly plotted and speaks well of the quality of writing that distinguished the first season of Star Trek. It is obvious that by this time the series had found its style and had settled down into exploring the potentials within the characters and finding ways of adding depth to the stories beyond the action-adventure surface.

The issues of computerized warfare and whether such an arrangement makes continued conflict more palatable are even more pertinent today as we reach levels of combat-at-a-distance that were unprecendent in the 1960s. From robot-controlled spy drones to laser-guided mortar fire against a foe that is only seen on a computer screen, we have advanced our capabilities to such a degree that the idea of fighting and setting the casualties by computer do not seem as far off from us as it might have in that decade.

Cast Notes: Barbara Babcock has several Star Trek credits beside A Taste of Armageddon including the voice of Trelane's mother in The Squire of Gothos, the voice of Isis the cat in Assignment: Earth, the voice of Commander Loskene in The Tholian Web and Philana in Plato's Stepchildren. David Opatoshu is a very familiar character actor who has appeared in such films as Exodus, Cimarron, Torn Curtain, Forced Vengeance and Under Siege; as well as countless roles on many of the top television series for three decades.

Here we have a solid piece of Star Trek material in A Taste of Armageddon with crisp writing, good acting and a solid plot and no obvious errors of logic. I give this one a solid three Enterprises for its universal resonation and excellent entertainment value.





"Captain, although you abilities intrigue me, you are quite honestly inferior: mentally, physically. In fact, I am surprised how little improvement there has been in human evolution. Oh, there has been technical advancement, but, uh, how little man himself has changed." - Kahn (Ricardo Montalban)

Space Seed
Stardate: 3141.9
Original Air Date: February 16, 1967
Directed by: Marc Daniels

In a way this episode saved the Star Trek movie franchise following the less than spectacular debut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Space Seed provided the source material for the next film, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, in which we actually get to see the later results of one of Captain Kirk's unusual deus ex machina resolutions of complex episodes in the hour limit of a weekly television show.

The Enterprise encounters a space vessel of some type that appears to be an old Earth ship, drifting in space. It is identifed as the SS Botany Bay—from the 1990s. Spock refers to this period as "the era of your last so-called world war," and McCoy identifies it as "The Eugenics Wars." Upon boarding, the landing party of Kirk, McCoy and Scott, along with Lt. Marla McGivers (Madlyn Rhue), find that it is a "sleeper" ship that contains humans frozen in cryogenic sleep. Their arrival triggers the awakening of what appears to be the leader (Ricardo Montalban), and McGivers marvels over the idea of a man from the 20th century coming alive. A malfunction threatens the life of the sleeper and they are forced to break open his canister. The man's first question is "How long?" Kirk tells him that they estimate two centuries.

The man finally recovers and upon awakeing will identify himself only as "Khan." Spock attempts to investigate the sleeper ship and its passengers, but can find no record of the space flight ever taking place. At first, they treat Khan as a guest, until evidence begins to emerge that he is a product of controlled eugenics and was one of the young "supermen" who seized control of large portions of the Earth during the war.

This episode has much witty dialogue and good characterizations. The scene of the dinner party to "welcome" Khan to this century is very nicely done; Kirk's confrontations with the man from the past are also charged with tension. The banter of the ship's officers during the scene where they discuss the identity of their passenger is quintessential Star Trek stuff.

Ricardo Montalban gives a dynamic performance as Khan. He embodies the essential qualities attributed to his character very believably and remains one of the most indelible figures in all of The Original Series. Complementary to Montalban is Rhue as Lt. McGivers. One of those typical Star Trek female guest stars; as Joey Tribiani might say, "Nice butt, excellent rack," Rhue's McGivers is a woman as out of place in the mechanical and efficient enviroment of Star Fleet's flag ship as the man she comes to love. McGivers fantasizes about "bold men of the past" and she falls in love with the dynamic Khan, despite reason and training. And when he decides that he must take the ship, she abandons her loyalty to Star Fleet to aid him.

Cast Notes: Ricardo Montalban is a most familiar of personalities with a career that spans six decades in television, including Mr. Roarke on Fantasy Island, as well as films including Sayonara, Cheyenne Autumn and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Madlyn Rhue has also had a long and successful career with dozens of appearances on the top television shows of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

This episode is a candidate for one of the best of the series. All the great elements of Star Trek are in play and even within the realm it stands as a unique and potent exemplar. It comes in as five full Enterprises.



Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Typically fine transfers on these discs give us an excellent visual experience of these episodes. People are the point in both shows on this disc, thus we get beautifully rendered colorful costumes, realistic skin tones. Details emerge that demonstrate the high quality of set dressing and prop design that set Star Trek above more typical fare of the time.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 remaster provides nice stereo separations on some aspects of these episode. Neither of these stories have outstanding examples of ambient sound but the subtle sound design of each provides a fullness of sound that keep us involved in the futuristic worlds we see.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Consistent with the series, there are the original television trailers and a little informational booklet.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

One of those discs in The Original Series collections that is a keeper with two solid, intriguing episodes that are well-written, well-directed and well-acted. Each explores concepts that are timeless in their meaning to us now and to people in our future.

 


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