Monday, June 28, 2010

The Original Series, Season 3: The Paradise Syndrome

Airdate: October 4, 1968
59 of 80 produced
58 of 80 released


Kirk and company land on a planet with a humanoid population reminiscent of Earth's American Indians. The plot thickens, however, when Kirk mysteriously disappears, and the Enterprise must rush back to stop the asteroid hurtling towards the planet. Will the Enterprise succeed in saving both Kirk and the planet, neither, or will sacrifices have to be made?

Has any man ever been this happy? 


Kevin: If the episode has a weak spot, it's the writing. The A and B stories don't really mesh well and neither is all that strong on their own. Spock has been left in command several times, and has a pretty good track record. It's really time to start trusting the man. I found both Kirk and McCoy's cavalier dismissal of the impending asteroidal doom really incredible. It makes no sense that they need a lesson in the sooner the better when it comes to deflecting asteroid.

Matthew: I didn't mind either plot at all. The A plot is a relatively fresh "what if" story focusing on the main character. If it has a fault, it is that it's similar to the "what if" for Spock in the similarly titled "This Side of Paradise" and the McCoy plot we get soon after this episode in "For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky." The B plot, as you mention, has been done several times before, but it is always entertaining, and I don't feel it stretches credulity to do it again. McCoy still isn't convinced of Spock's reasoning, at least when a life is at stake. He just can't control himself.

Kevin: Kirk's amnesia and brief turn as medicine man aren't bad per se, but they aren't fantastic either. The chances that the phrase "Kirk to Enterprise" also happens to be the musical key to an arcane obelisk strains credulity beyond all dimension. It would have made more sense for the door to have simply malfunctioned. Also, the plot with Miramanee was adequately handled. She seemed to fall for him pretty quickly, but accepting that, their scenes together were well done in terms of both writing and acting. I also liked during the mind meld that Kirk seemed to be clinging to his identity of Kirok on purpose. Like "Inner Light" will do for Picard later on, it's nice to see these career officers try the road not taken.

Matthew: The entry tune was too cute. But that was a pretty minor element. The sci-fi aspects of the story, in which it was eventually explained that the people were seeded and the obelisk left to protect them, were good. I like that this story didn't just settle for a character yarn, but went for something high-minded.

Kevin: I appreciate the introduction of the Preservers. It at least tries to give credibility for a dozen worlds across the galaxy all looking like anything in an hour's drive of Los Angeles. Not only would the culutures, but the ecology would be preserved. It's not the best explanation and you have to wonder why these people haven't changed in the intervening centuries, but at least they seem to acknowledge now how silly is that other planets could develop parallel to Earth right down to specific historical incidents.

Matthew: To be fair, Native American cultures generally weren't marked by the sort of rapid technological change that European cultures experienced. This was probably due to their relative isolation and the size of their territories. These conditions hold true on the planet in this episode.

Kevin: One of the few true gripes I have with the episode was the format of the ending. The credits rolling over Miramanee's death were distracting and the lack of a follow-up scene on the Enterprise left me a little hanging.

Matthew: Actually, I liked the ending a lot. It reminds me of "Balance of Terror." I'm glad there wasn't a laugh to the credits on the bridge, and instead, we get a tender moment between Kirk and his lost love.


Kevin: Everyone turns in at least a solid job. I really enjoyed the scenes between Kirk and Miramanee. They had genuine chemistry and the scene when she tells him she is pregnant is genuinely touching.

Matthew: Yeah, Shatner did a pretty good job in this one. Of course, it is basically his show. So he should have his character down by now. But he gets the chance to spread his wings a little, and explore Kirk's (presumably) unconscious fantasies. Another good performance was turned in by Nimoy and Kelly. Granted, it was the same sort of "McCoy is hot under the collar because of Spock's cool demeanor" plot, but darn if it isn't fun to watch. Scotty gets some choice scenes, too, and Doohan nails them. "My bairns... my poor bairns..."

Production Values

Kevin: The highlight of the episode for me is the production values. The scenes with the asteroid were remarkably detailed and dynamic. The shot moving past the Enterprise to the surface of the asteroid was really neat and gave a sense of three dimensions to the shot.

Matthew: The obelisk was pretty awesome. That had to be one of the two or three biggest props they have built, and it looked really good. The interior seemed to be a re-use of the set we've seen several times, "Naked Time" and "Spock's Brain" sticking out to me as prior instances. But it looked good as well.

Kevin: It could have been really easy for the costumes of the people to look cheap or hackneyed, and while most of the costuming is based on some pretty old Hollywood conventions, we manage to stay out of F-Troop territory. I particularly liked the cloak Kirk wore during the marriage. It was colorful and feathery but didn't strike me as the hide of a Muppet, as so often an indigenous people's clothes do. (Looking at you "Private Little War")

Matthew: I found the Indian costumes a bit boring, myself. I think my expectations have been so blown out by Theiss costumes that the mundane strikes me as a yawner.

Kevin: The planet sets were great. Outdoor shots were lovely and they need to give the location scout and entra fiver for finding a really great location. Also, the huts, as opposed to "Friday's Child," felt like an actual house with just enough decor to be interesting and tasteful.

Matthew: Even though this episode was shot with a soft filter for a good portion of the show, the detail on outdoor sets was spectacular at times in the Blu-Ray. I agree with your comments on feeling "real."


Kevin: This is a solid 3 for me. The acting and production values are certainly there, but the story never quite gels for me. Spock's struggle to get people to trust his command style is getting a little stale at this point, and the solution to the asteroid problem is just too deus ex machina for my tastes. Overall, still a good episode with some great character moments and some above average effects.

Matthew: You know what, this episode just edges into 4 territory for me. Going in, I thought "oh well, here's the Indian episode." But something about the combination of parts did gel for me. The A story held my interest in terms of Kirk's amnesia/wish fulfillment, and the B story kept me entertained with good Spock/McCoy contretemps. Your comparison to "The Inner Light" is interesting. Is this that good? No. It would have needed greater development of the Preserver mythos for that. But I think this episode just slips into the upper quartile. So that gives us a total of 7.

1 comment:

  1. I hated this episode. Really did-- and I ought to have a bit higher tolerance for this sort of thing considering how much I liked Stargate SG-1 and willfully tolerated its frequent use of the tropes in play here. The plot turned on several completely illogical points, and the portrayal of the Indians was pretty unbearable, even compared the wide range of unbearable Indian portrayals available on MeTv's many, MANY old TV Westerns.