Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Animated Series, Season 1: Eye Of The Beholder

The Animated Series, Season 1
"Eye Of The Beholder"
January 5, 1974
15 of 22 Produced
15 of 22 Aired


In search of a missing science vessel's survey team, Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to the planet Lactra. To their surprise, they discover a previously unknown diverse ecosystem - too diverse to be natural. When they finally track down the six member science team, they find themselves in the clutches of an enigmatic species of giant slugs. They are placed in a carefully cultivated habitat with the survivors of the missing team and are shocked by their fate - exhibits in a zoo!
"Spock, this wasn't the sort of tentacle porn I had in mind..."



On the DVD set, this episode rates a text commentary by the Okudas, and they rave about it. They say it's a quintessential Trek Trope, that is, the reversal of expectation, and they claim that this could have been an episode of TOS given a higher budget. So is this true?

I agree that, thematically, this is of a piece with many TOS plots. We have an apparently super-advanced species, one which is, happily, not a bunch of swishy-looking humanoids in glittery skirts. I would argue, though, that this hews just a bit too close to one of the best TOS plots ever, that being of course "The Cage" and/or "The Menagerie." We don't get the mind control or forced breeding aspects of that plot, and we get more people in the zoo. So imagine "The Cage" mixed with some aspects of "Arena," and you'll see what we have here.

There are lots of little references and homages to TOS tropes such as McCoy/Spock antagonism, the use of one communicator to home in on another, and of course the previous plots. I felt like there were too many monsters at the beginning, especially the one that should have crushed and killed McCoy, and that they detracted from Sci-Fi plot.

In the end, though I agree with the Okudas that this is a TOS-worthy tale, the reason it is TOS-worthy is that it has, for the most part, already been told. I don't think this breaks through the 3 barrier and into 4 territory. It's average.


One of my favorite parts of the episode is that the aliens were not humanoid. Obviously actors have to act, so their costumes have to accommodate arms and legs that aren't going anywhere, so it was great to see aliens that looked really alien. I think it lends credibility to the attempt to bridge the understanding gap if even basic things like eyes and mouths are in radically different places.

My complaint would be that, as you've cited, there are several episodes already in canon that cover this territory and there's nothing new really added on. One novel element added to a classic Star Trek theme could have made this episode really sing. As it stands, it gets a 3 from me as well for a total of 6.

No comments:

Post a Comment