Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Animated Series, Season 1: The Survivor

The Animated Series, Season 1
"The Survivor"
Airdate: October 13, 1973
5 of 22 produced
6 of 22 aired


While near the Romulan Neutral Zone, the Enterprise finds the ship of long long philanthropist Carter Winston, missing for five. Coincidentally, his fiancée is currently serving aboard the Enterprise. However, Carter almost immediately ends their relationship, to everyone's surprise. What happened to Carter in the five years he was missing? What secrets is he hiding?

Why, of course I'm Carter Winston. Can't you see I'm wearing my rich guy cravat?


Kevin: This is a bit of a stinker, to be honest. From a writing standpoint, we get a rehash of the "Enterprise officer finds fiancée...but all is not as it appears" plot from "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" At least with Nurse Chapel, there was one prior appearance, so there was a little empathy. I never really cared about Carter or Anne, and the ending seemed wishy-washy. It was neither a whole-hearted sale of the "love is about emotions, not physical appearance" speech, and it lacked the dramatic potential of Anne turning away "Carter" as he had done.

We also get another example of the crew acting stupidly for the sake of progressing the plot. Kirk giving odd orders relating to the Neutral Zone happened in "The Enterprise Incident," so at least there is precedent, but when Kirk comes on the bridge a few minutes later claiming not to remember violating a major treaty, and no one hits the panic button is a little absurd.

The remaining element of the Romluan ploy to capture the Enterprise is a little too complicated for its own good. Shapeshifters, despite always being referred to as rare, seem to pop up an awful lot. A lot depends on McCoy not doing his job with his usual zeal. He notes anomalies, but only casually mentions pursuing them. Wouldn't it have been easier to use the spy in a more...spy-like manner. Rather than impersonate someone famous with a well-known biography, why not a lower level person who could just quietly gather information on the Enterprise and achieve the same result?

The most interesting part of the plot was the one gets no treatment. Dr. McCoy has a daughter! According to the sketches for TOS, McCoy was supposed to have a grown daughter who would come aboard and be wooed by Kirk, causing McCoy to see Kirk through the eyes of a father rather than a friend, and thus create drama. That would have been damned interesting as there no end of interesting potential back stories there. I like that they incorporated that, as TAS is genuinely an arena to trot out ideas the premature cancellation of TOS never allowed to be aired, but it was such a twist with no follow up, so it left me feeling unsatisfied.

From a design standpoint, I did like the Vendorian. It's always nice to see the Animated Series really take advantage of the medium and make some really alien looking aliens. Plus, we really can't forget Carter Winston's awesome mustache. That is a porno-level 'stache, my friends.

Overall, this is a 2. The guest characters are boring and the crew has to be stupid to progress the plot. It's not bad enough to be a one, but that's almost an indictment in itself. They would have had to try harder to be that bad.

Matthew: I kind of liked this one. I agree that the guest characters left something to be desired, but somehow, the story just gelled for me. Pacing was tight throughout, with several entertaining shape-shifting gags to keep my interest up. I agree that the romance was a bit trite, and I wish she would have dumped him (after he says "this is what I am"). I liked getting to see the Romulans again and I couldn't quite place the Romulan commander's voice (the Vendorian, on the other hand, was a not-very-good-at-all voice change by Shatner).

Some oddities in this are Carter Winston, the foremost galactic trader who has amassed a great fortune. Why would this guy be engaged to some random Starfleet lieutenant? Another oddity is an entire race being quarantined for their "devious ways." Sounds like racial profiling, to me. The whole notion of "ID tapes" being any sort of reasonable form of identity assurance seemed silly, too.

Despite any of these foibles, though, something about this just kept me entertained enough to award it a 3. That makes a total of 5 from the two of us.

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