Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Animated Series, Season 2: Albatross

The Animated Series, Season 2
"The Albatross"
Airdate: September 28, 1974
18 of 22 produced
20 of 22 aired


Doctor McCoy is arrested on the planet Dramia for his actions relating to a plague in that star system decades ago. The Dramians claim that an inoculation program he administered was responsible for the death of millions.
I hate taking photos with these weirdo convention-goers...


Kevin: There were some problems with this episode, but also a lot to like. As on the original show, some nice character moments between the main three can carry a lot, and they do so again here. Using just his voice, DeForest Kelly managed to convey concern and compassion for what had happened, and that's no small accomplishment. The bickering with Spock at the end was charming as well.

The place the episode falls apart for me is just how the Dramians come to the conclusion that McCoy's inoculations were responsible for the plague in the first place. Given that the plague hadn't happened before, it wasn't like he was toying with the virus itself, so he must have been inoculating them for some other disease, so the connection seems tenuous. Also, why would they wait 19 years to bring attention to this. Millions of people died. That's pretty big. You think they would have made an extradition request or something.

The disease itself doesn't quite hold up to scrutiny either. How does an aurora cause a virus? If there were aurora-related health problems, shouldn't it be a syndrome or something? In any event the disease progression ended up looking silly. Having every turn different shades just played out on screen as a tad absurd. Lastly, I wasn't too impressed with the designs for the Dramians themselves. From the wrong angle, their ears made them look bizarre and comical.

I am going with a 3 on this one. The plot has some problems as noted above, but I'd watch DeForest Kelly navigate a crisis and banter with Leonard Nimoy any day and be sufficiently entertained.


My main problem was how Kirk and Spock thought Kol-Tai's testimony was going to absolve McCoy. It was just sort of a paper-thin means to move the plot along. Though I agree that the aurora wasn't the best alternate cause for the plague, it does just as well as an alternative as any other thing plot wise, it's just not as science-like an explanation. The cure was a fine idea, too.

I didn't mind the 19-year gap so much - I'm willing to believe it can be explained just fine as an extradition issue - the Dramians simply may not have the capability of extraditing a Federation citizen who is serving in Starfleet, or they may not have had the diplomatic wherewithal until soon before this episode. Perhaps they didn't even make the connection before now? Anyway, like a Roman Polanski (Romulan Polanski? Nah...), they just had to wait for him to show up.

I want to mention two production aspects - the art and the voice work. The art was a definite cut above most episodes. Both the healthy Dramian world and the desolate, wrecked planet were great to look at. The backdrops were really lush and intricate and better than most TAS and TOS backgrounds. The Dramians themselves were a visually interesting design as well, I liked them better than you did. As you'll see from the picture, the animators also made all of them look slightly different but still the same species. Doohan did a particularly good job as the Dramians, it really is pretty amazing how different he can make himself sound. The guest voice (A TAS producer) as Demos was good, too.

It's between a 3 and a 4 for me. I found myself thoroughly entertained. I suppose it really comes down to whether we're judging TAS internally or against other Trek series. And, when it comes down to it, I don't quite know. We do seem to cut a bit of slack here and there for "the time it was done in" or "the effects of the day," so I guess we should give a little leeway for the limits of the format. Or, even better, judge it against other cartoons. And given that, I'm going with a 4, for a total of 7. This is definitely an above-average cartoon.

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