Friday, October 8, 2010

The Animated Series, Season 2: Bem

The Animated Series, Season 2
Airdate: September 14, 1974
17 of 22 produced
18 of 22 released


The Enterprise is hosting Bem, an exchange officer from the Planet Pandro. He is accompanying the crew on a dangerous mission to Delta Theta III. What dangers will the crew encounter there? And what secret is Bem hiding?

Assistance is required. Fashion assistance!


Kevin: This episode reminded me of Mordock in "A Matter of Honor" insofar as we have another wacky, opinionated officer causing problems via his wacky opinions. We also get another outing of the ethereal god-like entity watching over a primitive civilization. But neither the "aboriginies" or the entity really pull my attention. This episode is primarily about its guest character, and sadly, this one doesn't bear the extra attention. I think this wasn't James Doohan's best voice work. I do appreciate the novel concept of showing a colony creature. I've said it before. I really appreciate it when the animated series takes advantage of the medium and does stuff that was impossible on the original show. Sadly, it doesn't quite work. It came of less as colony creature, more as magic trick. I think it may have worked if they made Bem's bipedal form more alien. It would have been lees odd for his legs to go walk off on their own.

I would like to single out Nichelle Nichols for a little voicework praise this time around. I could still tell it was her, but I enjoyed listening to her.

In the end, I am giving this a 2. It's a not a bad episode certainly, it just never really gels for me. I didn't find the guest character particularly entertaining, and without him, there's really nothing in the episode. The primitive people protected by an entity plot felt like they just pulled a plot off the shelf to give a backdrop to the Bem story. This is definitely in the lower echelons.


I agree with you that the Bem concept was a little wanting, at least in execution. What would have been really nice is if he were on some other episodes. Why did he wait so long to observe? He wasn't in cahoots with the planetary intelligence. When he disassembled, it should have been into a cloud of creatures or something, not pieces of animation cells floating around.

How good was the planet plot? Well, it was nice to hear about the prime directive, and to have an early "duck blind" style story. Gerrold didn't delve too deeply into the ethical dimensions, though. It is indeed similar to some TOS plots, notably "The Apple" with hints of the Organians and even perhaps "Metamorphosis." I didn't find the similarity too bad, though.

I liked some of the little things, like the mention of Brownian motion, and it was very nice that Uhura has the conn, and the way she lays the smack down on Scotty.

But, in the end, you're right Kevin, Bem himself is just kind of dumb, and he drags down the plot in the same way that a "Charlie X" would. So I concur with your 2, for a total of 4.

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