Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Animated Series, Season 2: The Practical Joker

Airdate: September 21, 1974
20 of 22 produced
19 of 22 released


While finishing an asteroid charting mission, the Enterprise is suddenly attacked by a trio of Romulan cruisers. In order to evade them, the Enterprise flies through a field of highly charged subatomic particles. Though they successfully evade their attackers, the crew of the Enterprise finds that things have become a bit unusual. A practical joker seems to be running amok, and it turns out to be the ship's own computer.
Or maybe it was all of William Shatner's co-stars...



This episode starts out pretty strong with a Romulan attack. The Romulans are in Klingon-style battle cruisers, just like in TOS, though the Romulans themselves are wearing new outfits, I wonder if this was because it was easier to draw? There was a pretty extreme Stardate discontinuity in the Captain's Log (it was in the 3100s, instead of the 5000s), I guess this slots in the 2nd season of TOS, except that Arex is there. Anyway, things take a turn towards the weird pretty quickly.

There are some pretty slashy elements to this episode. After the ship goes through the field, Uhura utters the classic line "after that ride I could use some repairs." Wow. We also get an awkward scene of Kirk and Spock slipping in an icy floor, and groping each other to stay upright. As pictured above, the ship's laundry writes "Kirk is a Jerk" on his uniform shirt.

This episode marks the introduction of the "rec room," a precursor to the holodeck. Apparently Roddenberry had wanted to include this in TOS, but budget constraints had precluded it. We also get, predictably enough, the first holodeck malfunction to boot, as well as a freezing scene a la TNG "The Big Goodbye."

The voice acting was just so-so - laughing on tape is difficult for anyone, and it doesn't sound great here. Majel Barrett's was particularly annoying as the computer. The fix for the computer was kind of silly - just fly back through the field! Um, wasn't this the field that broke the computer in the first place?

Although I enjoyed this episode for laughs, it was kind of a trifling story. Not a whole lot happened, and the only thing I learned was that the ship has a Rec Deck. Therefore, I've got to go with an unfortunate 2.


This episode was pretty thin plotwise, so I don't have much to add to Matt's review. I did enjoy what eventually became the holodeck and I laughed out loud at "Kirk is a Jerk" in spite of myself. The solution was too pat. It's like the sitcom amnesia cure. We'll just hit you on the head...again. I'm giving this a 2 as well for a total of 4.

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