Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Animated Series, Season 2: The Counter-Clock Incident

The Animated Series, Season 2
"The Counter-Clock Incident"
Airdate: October 24, 1974
22 of 22 produced
22 of 22 aired


Commodore Robert April and his wife Sarah are aboard the Enterprise travelling to Babel for the Commodore's retirement ceremony. En route, the Enterprise is pulled into a negative universe. Black stars glow against a white void and time moves backwards. The crew begins to grow younger and younger. Can the Enterprise make it back before the crew grow to young to operate the ship?

Or will Kirk finally get to work out that diaper fetish he's been nursing?


Kevin: Well, we're going out with a bang, I'll give them that much. There's a lot to recommend this episode. We get some neat additions to the cannon in the form of the Aprils. I like the idea the Enterprise had a captain even before Pike. A ship like this would be built for long term service and cover many careers. The negative universe itself is a neat idea, but kind of falls apart in execution. I did like the reference to the Beta Niobe nova, though. That's a reference only a fan would get. My issue with the negative universe is that everything is a little too contrived to make the point that  its a negative universe. How does a woman give birth to an 80 year old man, exactly? We don't generally number our offspring in their name, certainly when we aren't duplicating a name, why do they? And what happens when they hit zero? I'm not saying I didn't like it, I just think they laid it on a little thick. Besides it was a plot device to achieve the actual tension of the show, the deaging of the crew.

I liked this part both visually and plotwise. I thought the art people did a great job of making a subtle changes to the character's faces to make them look slightly younger before actually making them shorter. I like that the crew lost faculties along with age. It led to a few cute moments between the Aprils and the crew. We get the magical transporter fixing all physical ills again, but I suppose it's no more deus ex machina than any other solution. The only thing that struck me as flat out impossible is that the Aprils would decide to go back to being old. It's not that I would necessarily want to live another 75 years, It's that I would want to live out my last 20 in perfect physical condition.

I am going to with a 4 on this one. It's a really good episode and kept me entertained throughout. The artwork was really good here, and only some more glaring flaws in the plot stemming from its somewhat contrived nature hold this back from a 5, but this is certainly a great way to go out for the series.


An episode with this much continuity reference is naturally going to please me a great deal. Roddenberry's first network proposal draft of Star Trek, "The Menagerie," included crab-like aliens (the Talosians) and Captain Robert April. Things got changed further to "The Cage's" Captain Pike, who was then canonized into continuity by "The Menagerie." This episode renders at least semi-canonical the lineage of Enterprise captains, with April at the head. Even better, my all-time favorite TOS novel, "The Final Frontier" by Diane Carey, expands the story further by fleshing him out, in addition to the Sarah April character and George Kirk, James' dad. Also mentioned in this episode are the star Beta Niobe from "All Our Yesterdays," and Minara from "The Empath," both of which did or were in fact going to go nova. April says he witnessed the ship's construction at the San Francisco shipyards (and just to settle this point, Roddenberry in his original bible said that the ship's components were fabricated on Earth and then assembled in orbit). Commodore April is also wearing a dress uniform with just a few more decorations than Kirk's.

OK, all fanboy gushing aside, how good is the episode itself? I've got to say, there was a lot of hokey stuff in this one. Mandatory retirement at 75? Doesn't sound like the 23rd century to me... The "backwards universe"  conceits irritated me more than it did Kevin, I just kept thinking "this crap wouldn't fly in a live action show." The Warp factor stuff was wonky. Warp 36? Ok, fine, it's the "old scale" and all, but could the Enterprise really hook a tractor beam onto that? And then actually have a difficult time disengaging it? I'd imagine that a tractor beam on something going Warp 36 would be like hooking a buttered leash to a cheetah. The de-aging was OK and was fun to watch, but the loss of memories bothered me. I could see losing judgment, frontal lobe development, maybe even raw intelligence. But memories? The logic wasn't explained well enough to me. How does a young woman give birth to an old man? The mental images are unsettling to say the least, especially when considering elasticity... Finally, we get the transporter fix. I just can't forgive it this time. Also, your notion of returning to age 75 is very romantic, and all, Commodore, but STFU and stay young, you imbecile!

Our voice acting was pretty good in this show, with some truly decent Nichols voices. You could tell it was her, but it was pretty good work on her part for a change. The art was good, too.

I'm going with a 3. Things were just too uneven for me. Fan service and continuity go a long way, but at the end of the day I want logical coherence in my Trek. That brings our total to a 7.

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