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Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Retro TV Round-Up: Star Trek
"All Our Yesterdays"
As many of you know, I'm a big Captain James T. Kirk fan. Always has been and always will be my favorite captain when it comes to Star Trek. So, you know that when an episode comes along in which I find myself bored by large chunks of the story surrounding Kirk, there must be something terribly, terribly wrong.

"All Our Yesterdays" find the Kirk, Spock and McCoy beaming down to the planet Sarpedion, which has about three hours to live before its sun goes nova. The planet was once fairly well populated but is now apparently deserted. Of course, the whole decision to warp in and beam down three hours before their sun goes nova brings up the question of why? The captain's log and the dialogue indicate that the planet hasn't made a call for help. So, why put the ship and crew in peril?

Because it'd be a really short episode if we didn't.

Anyway, the trio beams down into a library and finds the mysterious Mr. Atoz as its attendant. Actually, there are several copies of Atoz running around, saying that Kirk, Spock and McCoy need to get ready and leave immediately or else face destruction. Atoz shows them discs that contain the history of the world, though there's no information on the recent history or where everyone went. Kirk is viewing one of an age in the planet's history that looks like colonial times while McCoy looks at one of an ice age. Kirk hears a woman cry out and runs through a doorway only to be transported back in time to the age he was viewing. McCoy and Spock go after him but find themselves in an icy wilderness.

Turns out the door was a time machine and that people from Sarpedion went back into the past to escape the nova. Kirk is in a colonial looking era where he is suspected of being a thief and a witch. He eventually finds a fellow time traveler and works his way back to where he originally time traveled. Since a computer in the future didn't prepare him, he can jump back to the library and hopefully try to find Spock and McCoy. It's this part of the Kirk plotline that does nothing of interest, beyond having the captain locked up for a good chunk of it and then escaping.

Meanwhile, McCoy and Spock are trapped in the ice age of Sarpedion and meet Zarabeth, a political exile from the future. Seems that she and her family opposed someone in power and got shuttled off to the past as punishment. She's got a nice warm cave where McCoy recovers from frostbite and Spock goes all ancient Vulcan on her, putting the moves on Zarabeth and eating meat (and enjoying it). There's a bit of a rivalry developing between McCoy and Spock for the affections of Zarabeth, though Spock quickly puts the kibosh on that, emotionally confronting McCoy and threatening to kill him. Because he's in the past, Spock is regressing to how Vulcans acted five thousand years before. Yeah, the explanation doesn't make much sense to me either, though the story does sort of try to come up with a reason for Spock to act this way.

McCoy eventually convinces Spock to go back and find the way home. Zarabeth can't go, which leads to some conflicted feelings for Spock. They find the portal and hear Kirk calling to them. Spock is tempted to stay, but he can't. If he doesn't go through, neither can McCoy. He has a fond farewell with Zarabeth and they both step through, back into the current time frame.

They beam up to the ship just in time as the sun goes nova and we all warp away.

"All Our Yesterdays" is by the same writer who gave us "Is There in Truth No Beauty" and you can kind of tell she's a fan of Spock. Both episodes are showcases for Spock and Leonard Nimoy to really strut his stuff. And there are some isolated moments that showcase Spock and Nimoy. The ever growing regression by Spock is well played as is the coda in which Spock laments that the events did occur, he did love Zarabeth and she's long since dead. In a season that's not been as kind to Spock as the first two, these scenes work fairly well and at least try to come up with a reason for Spock to act the way he does.

That said, there are still large chunks that just don't add up. I've said before how the Kirk portions of the back in time plot aren't much to write home about. There's also the issue of Zarabeth and her clothing choice. I get that this is classic Trek where the costume designers used showing female skin as part of the costume design. But for Zarabeth to wear what is essentially a fur bikini under her coat of skins makes no sense. For one thing, it's too well styled and form-fitting for her to have made it herself and for another, it's not exactly going to keep her warm in the ice age. Considering that she's trapped there and has been, it doesn't make much sense that she'd have only this. Maybe she knew Spock was coming by and wanted to look hot for him.

Anyway, it all adds up to a bit of mixed bag of an episode. It also feels a bit like classic Trek is starting to coast and is on fumes.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 8/11/2010 02:56:00 PM | |
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