Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Animated Series, Season 2: The Pirates of Orion

Airdate: September 7, 1974
19 of 22 produced
17 of 22 aired


While the Enterprise crew recovers from an outbreak Choriocytosis, which is non-lethal to humans, it is discovered that Spock has contracted the disease as well, and is in mortal danger due to his Vulcan physiology. The Enterprise must obtain a rare drug from the planet Beta Canopus, which is too far out of range to be of use in time to save Spock. Thus, a risky exchange is arranged.

Wonder Twin powers... activate?



When I saw the menu image of this story, which is a picture of an Orion pirate in costume (see above), I was dubious. I thought this was going to be a bad episode. But instead, I was pleasantly surprised. Although the plot is rather ho-hum and not terribly sci-fi, it's executed decently and actually builds a bit of tension (though we know of course that Spock won't die).

One nice aspect of the story is the character interaction. Although it isn't really breaking any new ground ("Amok Time" comes to mind), the relationships between the big three characters get a nice exposition. Kirk is willing to do what it takes, McCoy has deep feelings for Spock under his crusty exterior, and Spock is somewhat embarrassed by the whole thing.

The other really nice aspect of this story is continuity. We get metions of the USS Potemkin, a look at a freighter, the USS Huron, different uniform insignia for the Huron crew, and most importantly, this story takes place in the framework set up by "Journey To Babel," i.e. the Orions being sneaky and piratical. When Kirk mentioned the events of that episode in an extended speech, a little fanboy part of me sighed with pleasure.

On the downside, there are some continuity errors in stock shots of bridge, with McCoy talking on the intercom from Sick Bay, yet standing next to Kirk. The peripheral characters don't get a lot to do. The Orions look ridiculous. I don't really understand Kirk's orders re: warp speed - we've established that Spock has less than an hour, but we don't go to at least warp 8 right away?

Given the lack of real sci-fi, but the inclusion of nice character moments and continuity references, I have no problem saying this rests comfortably in 3 territory. I was pleasantly surprised, and would not be opposed to watching this one again down the road.


Overall, I agree with your assessment. There were a lot of well-done details, like the mechanism of the how the disease works and remembering Vulcan blood is copper-based. The line about missing that "pointed-eared encyclopedia" was perfectly delivered and very in keeping with the established dynamic of the main three. I also really liked how the Orions were willing to destroy themselves to prevent there from being proof of Orion assistance to the pirates. It's a nice touch and it adds some depth to the story.

The weak spot for me was definitely the design of the Orions themselves. They look nothing like what you would expect based on canonical appearances of Orion women. I wonder if Sutherland's color-blindness had an affect on how saturated he thought the greens were.

In the balance, I give this a three as well. It's a solidly entertaining episode, but it doesn't have anything that would really propel it into the high echelons, and a few things keeping it back. That makes a total of 6.

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