Monday, August 25, 2008


I recently saw "The Deadly Years," one of the more dramatically inert (but still fun) Star Trek episodes. The crew beams down to that week's planet where they pick up some radiation that ages them rapidly. Kirk in particular starts forgetting things and is removed from command. He's cured just in time to save the ship.

A few notes:

1) Chekov panics really quickly when he finds an old, dead guy on the planet. While this is an important plot point, it also suggests he's not the best guy to bring on a landing party.

2) McCoy works around the clock to find a cure. But he's also got the disease. Couldn't they find someone else? For that matter, they let sick Scotty go back to his post. Surely someone can handle engineering for a few days.

3) One of the ways we see he's aging is Kirk gets a pain in his shoulder. After this scene, there was a commercial with a guy who had a pain in his shoulder. No kidding. I don't think this was planned.

4) We get to see what Kirk will look like when he ages 40 years. Doesn't look that much like Shatner aged 40 years.

5) An awful lot of screen time is spent on a hearing to declare Kirk unfit to command. It's pretty useless. All they do is repeat everything we've already seen--and this while Kirk and the gang don't have much time. The Commodore aboard should just declare he's in charge and sort things out later.

6) Like all Federation guest stars, the Commodore proves himself to be ridiculously incompetent. He wants to get to Starbase 10 quickly so he goes right through the Neutral Zone. a) What kind of funky Zone is this that it's in the way of a straight line to a Federation base? b) How does the Federation manage with people like the Commodore?

7) There are a lot of stray women in the plot. First you got Lieutenant Arlene Galway of the landing party, who only exists so a woman can get the disease, and also so they can overdo the old-age makeup. You wouldn't want to cover up Kirk's lovely face with too much rubber and plastic. Then there's old flame Dr. Janet Wallace, who seems to be a leftover from a previous draft. Plus there's a hot new Yeoman and a hot new nurse who are both featured more than usual for such characters.

8) The best writing in the show is how Kirk gets the Enterprise out of the pickle the Commodore has put them in.

9) They go Warp 8 at the end. (Everyone literally holds on. As I've noted before, if you're traveling faster than the speed of light, unless the damping is pretty much 100%, you can forget about it.) Is this the fastest Kirk has ever ordered?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The remasterd Deadly Years has a much better fight with the Romulans. I thought I would hate all the changes, but they're done tastefully and usually don't stand out. I mean they still allow the obvious fake background when they land on the planet.

1:23 PM, August 25, 2008  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

This might be the most re-done ST episode ever.

In the animated series, they had the episode where all the males on the ship grow old. Uhura and Chapel save the day. Then the episode where all the crewmen get younger, and eventually our heroes are babies -- but fortunately, Robert T. April, the first commander of the Enterprise, happens to be a passenger, so he's still mature enough to figure out a solution. Then in ST:TNG they had a disease that aged everyone, and Dr. Pulaski saves them. After ST:TNG I stopped watching....

I would think this is because aging makeup is an obvious plot gag: you already have a professional make-up person who knows how to do it, but only in sci-fi and fantasy can you make it a shocking plot device! But this doesn't explain why the animated show did it.

6:12 PM, August 25, 2008  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

In reference to your 6(b): In Starfleet there are exactly two kinds of people who outrank Kirk*. There are those who are older and nonthreatening and spend their whole time praising Kirk for how he excels all other officers. And there are those who pull rank on Kirk, and who will always be humiliated in the end, or arrested for treason. The best they can hope for is, after being humiliated, to admit that they were wrong and Kirk is great (e.g., the end of Deadly Years and Taste of Armaggedon). They can then be moved to category one.

* or whoever the dramatic lead is in the spinoff

6:15 PM, August 25, 2008  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I watched this episode recently too ( My thought was, how could their hair turn white (did the pigment fall out of the dead hair strands) amd then turn dark again when they were cured.

My second thought was, even if McCoy figured out a way to stop further aging damage from the radiation (presumably slowing the accelerated metabolism of the victims), how did he then reverse the aging damage that had already happened? And if he could reverse aging that had alreay happened, would this work on people who had just aged at a normal rate?

The most extreme use of this plot (in reverse) in Star Trek was on Voyager, when Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay "de-evolve." Ultimately, the process is halted when they are both small lizards.

2:39 PM, August 26, 2008  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

P.S. has all sorts of old TV shows. I have been watching first season "Hill Street Blues", which I loved at the time but now seem pretty hokey.

2:41 PM, August 26, 2008  
Blogger QueensGuy said...

I felt the same way about Hill Street Blues on re-watching. Sad that it didn't hold up. I'm really, really hoping the same won't be true in 10 years of NYPD Blue.

7:49 AM, August 27, 2008  

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