Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Animated Series, Season 1: The Ambergris Element

Airdate: December 1, 1973
12 of 22 produced
13 of 22 aired


The Enterprise is sent to survey Argo, a planet that underwent geological change from land to water, in order to save another colony which is heading into a similar geologic age. They find something unexpected, however - a sea full of monsters, and an underwater civilization of mer-men who rescue Kirk and Spock from drowning. The rescue has a catch, however - Kirk and Spock are given gills and are condemned to a life underwater, unless they can find some way to reverse and Argonian surgo-op!
Boots? Really?



There is a reasonably good sci-fi core here. We get the concepts of civilizations going underwater to cope with ecological changes, as well as genetic engineering. The Aqua Shuttle, seen in previous shuttle bay shots, makes its debut here. It's a neat shuttle/submarine with some nice lines to it. This concept would be done in later shows as well (VOY Thirty Days). We also get to see the Enterprise's dinghy.

Kirk and Spock go missing for five days, and are turned into mer-men by the Argonians. I just have to ask: why? It seems like a lot less effort on the part of the mer-men to just take them to one of the remaining above-air islands and leave them there. There is a sub-plot about "ordainments" and the Argonian society being perhaps too bound to them. But would the ordainments really say "if ever you find someone in danger, turn them into one of you by genetically altering them"?

The resolution of the episode was rather pat, too. Basically, the young Argonians decide to help Kirk and Spock, and when they discover the procedures to reverse the mutation, they decide to use it on themselves and re-inhabit the land. Huh? I got the sense that a generational conflict was being hinted at, but it just wasn't evident enough in the script to make this anything but a rude shock to the story. These antagonists go from being dead set against Kirk and Spock to altering their entire way of life within about 5 days.

I liked some of the execution of science in this show. The science of mutation, of course, was quite sketchy. But they at least went through the motions of indicating that there are tests, experiments, serums, and the like. Overall, though, I think this just wasn't executed well enough to hit average. It's a 2 in my book.


I'm with you on this one, though I think this episode falls more into the fat part of the bell curve than you do. The set-up is pretty interesting, and again, something they couldn't have done in TOS. The execution problems you cite are all valid, but I don't think the episode ever veered into "bad" territory. Maybe with the extra half hour, this episode could have really been something. In the final balance though, I was sufficiently entertained, and the science fiction set up was sufficiently intriguing for me to give this a 3, for a total of a 5.

No comments:

Post a Comment