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Friday, July 02, 2010
Retro TV Round-Up: Star Trek
"Elaan of Troyius"
Written and directed by producer John Meredith Lucas, "Elaan of Troius" is Star Trek's attempts at adapting Shakespeare's "The Tempest." Except, I'm pretty sure "The Tempest" doesn't end with an on-screen space battle with the Klingons.

The Enterprise is ordered to transport the Dohlman of Elaas to her wedding on Troyius. The marriage will bring peace and stability to the region, though the Dohlman is less than pleased. During the trip, she is to be taught manners and the customs of Troyius. In order to do this, Kirk orders the ship to go at sub-light speed and leads to an amusing scene in which Scotty practically weeps that Kirk is barely using the engines.

The Dohlman objects to her tutor and stabs him. Kirk is forced to step up and try to pick up the training course. Unfortunately, this drives the Dohlman to tears and when Kirk wipes them away, he is instantly in love. Sees the women of her planet have a chemical in their tears that makes men instantly fall in love. Before you know it, she and Kirk are smooching away.

Meanwhile, the ship is being trailed by a Klingon warbird and one of the Dohlman's guards sabotages the engines. If the Enterprise goes to warp, she'll blow up. He also manages to overload the dilithium crystals so the ship can't maneuver, has low shields and no phasers. We eventually learn that the Klingons are trying to destabalize the system and take over because Troyius is full of dilithium crystals. The Dohlman is given some on a necklace which Kirk and Spock recognizes and get to Scotty in the nick of time.

Kirk is forced to put aside his feelings for the Dohlman and let her marry another. But it's OK because he's been cured of her by his first love--the Enterprise.

"Elaan" has its moments, but, alas, is less than the sum of its parts. In the fourth act as the Klingons are coming around and attacking, trying to destroy the Enterprise, Kirk forgets they have the ability to still fire photon torpedoes. Or does he?

The introduction of the Dohlman's tears and their affect on men is also particularly obvious. Chapel asks how the men of Elaas can stand the women and vice versa and we get a quick info dump. Unfortunately, even though he's in sick bay, Kirk misses it because he's talking to someone else.

There are also times when charges of sexism are leveled at classic Trek and "Elaan" is a prime example. Scotty doesn't come off well when the Dohlman shows up in Engineering for a look at the engines and Kirk's attitude toward the Dohlman until he falls passionately in love with her is another example.

This doesn't even bring into consideration that the Dohlman goes from hating Kirk to "choosing him" (or so she claims). It's hard to buy the transition...unless the power of a Kirk kiss is just that amazing. Between "Wink of an Eye" and this, there are a lot of women out there pining for some Kirk love.

I watched this one in the remastered edition for the first time, forgetting that it's a fairly effects intensive episode. The results are mixed, mainly because the Klingon ship model used for the new CG effects looks like something hastily thrown in from a video game. I went back and looked at the original version and I've got to admit that I liked it better. Yes, it's more limited but the Klingon ship just looks better.

Interestingly, Next Generation will attempt a variation of the falling in love with someone destined for another with "The Perfect Mate." It's slightly more successful than what we get here because it allows time for the relationship to develop and feels less forced.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/02/2010 07:03:00 PM | |
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