Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Farscape S1 Ep3: Exodus From Genesis

Sun gets all wet in Exodus From Genesis. OK, mind out of the gutter people. Though, I'll grant you- this is Farscape. Anything is possible.

The latest entry of Farscape is flight from birth, or so translates Exodus From Genesis. This is at the heart of the third installment from the creators of Farscape. This is Farscape, Season One, Episode 3, Exodus From Genesis.


Astronaut John Crichton learns about a teeth-cleaning alien lifeform the size of a worm dubbed the Dentick [funny how they riff on Earth language, coincidence?]. Moya happens upon a debris cloud. A visual scan indicates a Peacekeeper Marauder vessel [piloted by PK commandos] is on the other side of the cloud. Pilot, Moya's symbiotic navigator, thanks former Peacekeeper Officer Aeryn Sun for her assistance in the command module of Moya. "We work together well Pilot." This is the first in a chain of information suggesting a connection between Sun and Pilot. Meanwhile, the alleged debris appears to be finding its way into Moya. A closer look inside of Moya reveals tiny alien bugs- tiny being a relative term. The ship is quickly infested by a swarm of critters. Sun and Crichton discuss the fact Sun was awaiting potential transfer to a Marauder vessel before getting caught up with the Moya crew. Sun complains of feeling warm. D'Argo reports of strange thermal readings on Moya. Little do they know, the bugs are influencing and impacting Moya's systems. Unbeknownst to Sun, one of the critters sits in a darkened corner. Without warning a splinter is fired into Sun's hand. She is pricked for blood. She throws down what she believes to be a metallic splinter. The alien bug retrieves the nail-sized instrument complete with blood sample. Ka D'Argo too has been pricked. Sun is growing warmer due to the cooling blockage on Moya. Rygel declares it should be found and cleared as only the royal Hynerian could declare without lifting a finger. Crichton is making efforts to understand his new surroundings.

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"Umm, we could use some RAID here!" [A missing John Crichton line]
In Crichton's quarters the alien roaches are collecting DNA samples. His room is crawling with the critters. Crichton's reaction to the creepy, little, space bugs is a perfectly natural one in the strangeness of this new universe. He is absolutely skeeved-out by the giant, space roach as any one of us would be. He manages to bag one for study by Zhaan. Zhaan determines upon cracking the parasite open that traces of Crichton's DNA are within the creature [DNA truly is the building block of all life].

Meanwhile, D'Argo is making efforts to remove some kind of bug substance that has sealed off a room. The room is being utilized as an egg-laying or hatching facility a la Aliens [1986]. You've gotta love the science fiction homage built into Farscape. As Sun becomes more faint as a result of the rising temperatures, D'Argo informs Crichton that Sebaceans lack the necessary gland needed to regulate thermal changes or heat increases. Sebaceans can suffer from heat delirium. Crichton makes an observation comparing the Sebaceans to reptiles. He calls Bialar Crais and the other Peacekeepers "cold-blooded literally." D'Argo calls it a weakness not enough Sebaceans die from. Nice. Pilot is none pleased that D'Argo is using a laser to slice into Moya's walls. A DRD zaps D'Argo's foot in protest as only a protective DRD can in defense of Moya. The crew desperately needs to get inside. Sun describes her condition succinctly regarding the heat delirium, which can lead to something referred to as the Living Death.

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Things go from bad to worse when Crichton runs into Zhaan, or rather a fully grown copy of Zhaan birthed by the bugs. She hocks some "blue snot" and walks away. Crichton is naturally freaked out. His reactions keep us in the moment and his responses in Farscape are classic.

Moments later he runs into a replica of Sun who is attempting to increase the heat on board Moya. He accidentally kills the creature when he pulls at her arm and it is severed from the body. Blue guts indicate it is a creation of the alien bug species referred to as Draks. Analysis by the crew deduces a lack of speech in the duplicates. D'Argo recommends the crew cut off the tips of their fingers for identification purposes to distinguish themselves from the duplicates. Crichton wisely concludes the measure too harsh and decides a red spray marker should be less gruesome and "less permanent." Sun is beginning to lose short-term memory due to the extreme heat.

Meanwhile, D'Argo throws Rygel into a makeshift hole to see if he can find the source of the bug nest via the ducts. Sun visits Pilot and is quickly becoming dismantled by the heat. This is an interesting moment. It builds on a moment Sun and Pilot shared earlier and is clearly building to something much bigger down the road. It's also rather sweet.

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I love Pilot. He's a sweetheart.
Pilot moves to open the cargo bay doors in the hopes the cold of space might help flood Moya enough so to bring down the internal temperature and aid Sun [ironic that name]. This is one of a number of combative moments building between D'Argo and Crichton. It's a perfect bit of character drama.

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Pilot continues to bond with Sun who suffers from overheating. He is quite pained by her suffering. Meanwhile, Rygel finds the alien queen's egg-laying lair, which reminisces of the scene from Aliens on a smaller scale. Zhaan reports she has found a substance that will dissolve the bug's door sealant. She turns and an insect slams her with a huge stinger-like insertion. Rygel is on the run. Sun is nearly unconscious.
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In the meantime, Crichton meets his twin and learns that it will easily adapt when necessary. Crichton's clone notes the red mark on Crichton's hand and quickly modifies the change to its own hand's skin coloration. The two face off in a fisticuffs brawl. Crichton wins telling the duplicate he knows his moves. "That's why Eddie Marx kicked your ass in the 7th grade- you fought fair!"
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"Fill my eyes with that Double Vision!... My Double Vision gets the best of me!" [Are you getting the irony here?]
Crichton reconvenes with D'Argo and Sun bringing them the severed head of his twin [call it Bring Me The Head Of Johnny Crichton]. Rygel confirms the queen is spitting out replicants and that he's surrounded. Zhaan arrives and she informs her comrades she cannot get the stinger out. When D'Argo offers to cut it out, Zhaan stands erect and her voice changes into something guttural and strong and less feminine or Delvian. The voice acts as a representative for the alien queen and informs the crew that she has been attacked during genesis and they must all die. Crichton figures it out. The aliens are spawning and live in the cold vacuum of space until the queen needs heat needing to spawn. It is then and only then that the Draks need a warm place to birth. The queen asks why they have been attacked, which began with Crichton's initial killing of one of them. Crichton knows now the creatures will exit to space when they have finished spawning, but reacted with hostility out of self-preservation, like anyone of us would have acted, earlier on. Crichton asks how much time the creatures will need to finish their "cycle." The queen indicates she is half-completed. The Queen is clearly a half-full rather than a half-empty kind of girl. The Queen indicates the heat is excessive. Crichton informs her they are aboard a host of sorts in Moya. Crichton pleads with the Queen informing her that their habitat is killing them.

In the final analysis, the Moya crew realizes they need to ride it out a bit longer. D'Argo removes the communication stinger from Zhaan's neck. Sun is getting by barely. While D'Argo wanted retribution at the tip of a sword, good ol' John Crichton delivers some old-fashioned human diplomacy to the table to strike up a truce with the Draks.

Now here is where Farscape dials it up a notch. Things were bad enough right? Well, with the cargo bay doors opened by Pilot, the Peacekeeper Marauder arrives and docks inside Moya. This adds a whole other layer and dynamic to an already popping episode. The PK commandos fire upon the replicas killing them. This in turn forces the Monarch alien to jack up the heat again believing the truce has been broken. Sun pleads with Crichton to kill her before the Living Death takes hold. Crichton won't do it, but it's clearly because he hasn't given up on her. Elsewhere, the commandos, obviously Sebacean, complain of the rising heat too.

Meanwhile, Crichton pleads with Rygel to communicate with the Monarch. So Rygel requests an audience with the Monarch. There appears to be a clear hierarchy to a variety of alien racers within Farscape. As he crawls up the slimy passageway to the Queen one can't help but think, despite all its ickyness, Henson and company's message in Farscape, is that communication is a valid option amidst all races and all creatures however odd or futile it may sometimes seem. I'm sure there will be exceptions where communication simply isn't an option. Crichton, despite his situation, is always trying.

Zhaan has somehow retained her connection to the Monarch despite the stinger's removal. She feels the pain of the Queen's offspring dying. Crichton pleads with her to free the crew from their confined quarters so they may help her fight the invading PK commandos. Although the Monarch complies and then agrees to lower the heat, Crichton looks to Sun in an effort to receive her blessing to crank the heat up in intensity to smoke out the Peacekeepers. Crichton tells the Monarch to crank up the heat as part of their plan to remove the PK commandos. D'Argo expresses some concern for Sun as well and places his hand on her arm willing her to hang in there. Crichton's influence in bonding this mismatched band of misfits continues.
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Excuse me ladies, but is there room for one more.
In an effort to stave off the Living Death, Zhaan showers down Sun. I'd love to shower down Sun. The commandos are beginning to fail themselves as they reach the command center overheating. Crichton tells the commandos to exit now or meet their untimely Living Death. In a bit of terrific strategy, Crichton uses the numerous doubles to his advantage suggesting to the PK commandos that Crais is messing with a species that can somehow duplictate one being into thousands of Crichtons. The marauders are sent off packing. Internal temperatures are restored.

Crichton connects with Rygel. Rygel is truly brought to life by Henson's team and the lively, invigorating voice of Jonathan Hardy. He offers a truly wonderful voice performance.

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Through Zhaan the Draks bid goodbye and speak directly to Rygel who brought a bit of his own diplomacy to the party. This is a lovely moment between Zhaan and Crichton. Zhaan also speaks eloquently of the symbiotic relationship between Moya and her crew.

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You'll find some of the finest moments and emotionally resonant ones in the series come at the conclusion of each episode of Farscape. I like that aspect of the series. It's like you can take a deep breath. The moments are sometimes bittersweet and at the very least thoughtful.

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As for that promise Sun wanted Crichton to keep- would he have taken her life? Did he ever really make that promise? I suspect Crichton deals very much in the present and how could he not? Certainly there's no way he'd make a choice on Sun's life, a woman with whom he is gradually making his deepest connection. The third installment is not wildly refreshing or different within the genre, but it does manage to inject a whole lot of energy into some classic ideas with Henson at the helm. "All things considered, there are worse ways to end a day."
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Exodus From Genesis: B+
Writer: Ro Hume
Director: Brian Henson
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Pop Culture Reference: "How fast can they go?... thing's a Hyundai, why don't we stop playing hide and seek and just smoke 'em." + Animal House reference [see video clip].

Friday, August 27, 2010

Satoshi Kon [1963-2010]

Anime Director par excellence and more importantly filmmaker Satoshi Kon passed away on August 24, 2010. Kon is best known as a filmmaker working within the world of anime-styled animation. His love for the art form resulted in a loyalty to animation through a studio group dubbed Studio Madhouse. With anime as his genre of choice, Kon was very much a director of film and story with a handle on narrative structure, some linear and some non-linear, combined with fluid, colorful animation that held him in acclaimed company. He had a handle in anime that placed him squarely amidst the talents of Hayao Miyazaki [My Neighbor Totoro, Howl's Moving Castle], Mamoru Oshii [Ghost In The Shell, Patlabor] and Isao Takahata [Grave Of The Fireflies, Only Yesterday].

Like many anime directors, Kon first honed his craft by cutting his teeth, concepts and ideas within the medium of manga. This eventually led to scriptwriting. His work led to a collaborative film called Memories whereby Kon provided script chores on Magnetic Rose. His directorial debut came with Perfect Blue [1997] followed by the gorgeous Millennium Actress [2001], Tokyo Godfathers [2003], Paprika [2006] and a TV Series called Paranoia Agent [2004].
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Kon's ethereal, lovely production, Millennium Actress, is a particularly moving, dreamy tale. It remains a favorite that I hope to post here soon as a tribute to the man who clearly left the world of animation far too soon. Kon died following a battle with pancreatic cancer at the ripe young age of 47. Anime and film lost a very special artist that day. He was a man who told stories and ideas through beautiful images and color. This is one of the things I most admired. He may not have reached the largest audience, but it says nothing of his bold and beautiful work and contribution to cinema.
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"With feelings of gratitude for all that is good in this world, I put down my pen. Well, I'll be leaving now." -Satoshi Kon-
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If those aren't the words of a class gentleman -then I don't know what are. Make the most of your life, because Satoshi Kon is a prime example of just how fleeting and fragile it can be.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The End Of Stargate Magazine

Well friends, the time has come. Yes, Stargate Magazine ends with Issue #36.

I spent a good, long two hours in the "hot Mexican sun" [funny quote from the TV series Arrested Development] today while I waited for The One To Be Pitied to finish a doctor's appointment. I think much of it was in the waiting room next to the Highlights magazines.
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While I waited, I spent a little time catching up on all of the latest science fiction periodicals in Barnes & Noble. There is very little in the way of good publications left mind you for us to induldge. I mean, the best you can possibly read and find is out there on the web. The concept of strong writing in science fiction publications is seemingly a thing of the past. As I selected a few issues to peruse, and honestly I rarely have time to sit in a book store- it was a strange experience actually- I had all of this time to read and nowhere to go. As I sat, a sweet girl with Down Syndrome visited me. She clearly had a voracious appetite for reading. She placed about ten issues in her arms and off she went. I later caught up with her in the graphic novels section where she sat at a table quietly reading. Next to her right arm was a stack of magazines and graphic novels. She was focused. She was really sweet.
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Anyway, I selected the SFX magazine with the Torchwood cover #199. Ten dollars! I went to the Torchwood piece to find it was roughly a 3-4 page article with a few good pictures. The pictures left very little in the way of writing. I captured the gist of the segment in about ten minutes. There was an additional piece interviewing Brannon Braga, the writer best known for his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and most of all Star Trek: Enterprise. It was a 3 page puff piece with very little information from the interview of real interest. If I recall they did randomly list his 5 favorite Star Trek: Voyager episodes for some reason. Those favorites included: Someone To Watch Over Me, Timeless [I think] and three others I just can't recall. Obviously, I opted not to buy.
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So, I purchased the final issue of Titan Magazines final call for Stargate Magazine #36 [after skipping a purchase of the last two]. It had Richard Dean Anderson on the cover. Nuff said' right!? I read it cover to cover while I waited outside in the hot summer sun. With down economies and an ever-shifting consumer paradigm the magazine market is taking its fair share of hits. It's sad really. I still grieve the loss of Starlog and Starburst tremendously, eventhough SG-1 never made the cover of Starlog. Stepping back, Stargate Magazine won't be among the magazines I miss. It's simply not very good. It served its purpose. There are certainly great pictures and a few good bits [a decent Robert Picardo interview], but it's generally elementary level reading. I wonder where Stargate Universe stands? I suspect the series is beginning to come around. I am sad for those who loved the magazine, but I can safely say it's not a big loss for me. I'll miss seeing Richard Dean Anderson make the ocassional cover.
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Here's a snippet from the editor of the magazine and I found myself with a strange facial grimace as a result of the remarks. "The only sure thing in life is that everything must change: it's probably not healthy for things to stay the same for too long... Stargate itself has evolved over the years. The show on air at the moment is very different from the opening year of Stargate SG-1. That's down to many factors. Tastes change, technology changes, what's socially acceptable changes-all of these have made Stargate Universe very different to the beginnings of Stargate SG-1. That can only be a good thing." Really? I have to stop here. It "can only be a good thing"? What the hell are you talking about? Guess what people? Tastes change, tech changes, what's socially or politically correct changes, and you're old. This is new. This is good. Jump on the SGU love train! That's how it feels, but I may be overtired.

He adds, "Change can be scary. There's a comfort factor in tuning into a TV show and knowing exactly what you're going to get." Let's get this straight. So SG-1 was on for ten years and all of you fans out there sat in front of the TV knowing what you were going to see. You mindlessly absorbed it like good little lemmings. Am I being overly sensitive here? I don't think so. I should think most people love their programs for a lot of reasons, comfort maybe one, but after watching for a year or even two most would tell you they are looking forward to what comes next awaiting the next twist and turn. I could go on and on, but the editor ends with "keep watching Universe" and that's fine. But the editorial really felt like a sales pitch for the new series discounting all that came before it. I won't say his thoughts aren't valid, but they did touch a nerve. NO! Your thoughts? The subject is certainly relevant to any host of programming options, but I do disagree with the thinking behind his fairly terse editorial. I have spent altogether too much time on it as a matter of fact. Again, where have all the good publications gone? I really should be spending my time on something far more worthwhile.

This is evidently the fault of The One To Be Pitied. She left me with way too much time on my hands. That's never good. As a result, I was really hungry for ice cream. You can't normally find ice cream for under three dollars [and that's on the less expensive side], but The Sci-Fi Fanatic was successful. Did you know, and I really NEVER eat there, but a McDonald's sundae costs 107 pennies? That's a cheap taste treat after several hours of sitting in the "hot Mexican sun." I'm sorry. I have to find a good article really soon. So long Stargate Magazine. Sorry to see another one go just the same. Can you believe Highlights [1946] is still around? I bet you could learn a thing or two from them. Highlights has pictures too. Maybe I should have stayed in that waiting room.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Star Trek TOS S1 Ep5: The Enemy Within

"How would Spock render a human unconscious?  ... I said to Leo Penn, ...I think we should forget about the pistol whipping, and try something different....  Spock is a graduate of the Vulcan Institute of Technology, where he took a number of courses in human anatomy.  Now, the Vulcans have an energy that comes off of their fingertips, which if properly applied to the appropriate pressure points of the human anatomy will render any human unconscious. ... we decided to demonstrate the technique ... and HE really sold it."

-Leonard Nimoy on the creation of the Vulcan Neck Pinch and selling the idea with William Shatner to director Leo Penn, Star Trek Memories, p.132- 

The always entertaining William Shatner unleashing the actor within. A wonderful image that captures the enthusiastic performance by Shatner in this still fascinating installment.

"I remember very vividly the day we came up with the Vulcan nerve-pinch.  It was a Jeckyll-and-Hyde type of story.  ... the good Kirk is about to shoot the evil Kirk, it was written that Spock slips up behind the evil Kirk and knocks him out with the butt of his phaser.  And I rebelled against that - I said that's a hangover from westerns.  In the 22nd century, you don't have to slip up behind people - Vulcans don't have to slip up behind people and hit them over the head with butts of guns.  We should find some other way of doing this.  And the director, Leo Penn, said, 'What would you suggest?'  And I said, 'Well, I happen to know that Vulcans have this power to render people unconscious  through their knowledge of the human anatomy plus a particular Vulcan vibration.  And this is the way it's done.'  I told Bill (Shatner) what I planned to do, and Bill understood immediately, and I reached up behind him and did that - and Bill just kind of froze up and went unconscious.  And that's the way that was born.  Roddenberry saw it the next day in the dailies, and loved it.  He started including it in future scripts.  So that's the way that things were developing.  Each day was a very creative day for that reason.  Bill was finding his things, De Kelley was finding his things, I was finding mine, and it was a very fertile time.  There were a lot of good things happening." -Leonard Nimoy on the Vulcan Neck-pinch, The World Of Trek, David Gerrold [p.47]-

Captain's Log Stardate 1672.1: Specimen Gathering Mission on Planet Alpha 177.
"I will love him and squeeze him and call him George. Can I please Captain?"
More terrific sets. More terrific colors. Plus a costumed horndog. In the transporter room things are problematic for Chief Engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott regarding the transporting equipment. A geological technician barely made it home. Scotty is suspicious. Captain James T. Kirk is ready to return from the planet below. As Scotty locks on to Kirk he experiences similar problems bringing the Captain home. Upon his arrival on the Enterprise, Kirk appears a little light-headed as a result of the transport, but okay. As Kirk exits the transporter room with Scotty, the room empties. Moments later, the transporter room activates once again this time materializing a kind of Bizarro version of Kirk. It would seem Kirk has been split into two separate beings- an almost Freudian-like schism of the Id, Ego and Superego into two distinct people. There is both an indecisive, gentle Kirk versus an aggressive, highly motivated version of himself. This is good, old-fashioned science fiction to be sure and the kind of good time Star Trek: The Original Series provided in nearly every episode. Most series could only hope for the kind of dud efforts Star Trek: TOS provided. Acclaimed writer Richard Matheson definitely plays it fast, loose and fun with the possibilities on this one as it should be. Like just about everything with Star Trek, this kind of material was clearly ahead of its time for television.

Kirk's ambitious alter ego is on the loose. Gentle Kirk returns to his quarters to lay down. Aggressive Kirk is angry requesting brandy from Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. As he drinks and makes his way down the corridor what better opportunity for Star Trek's Captain Kirk to womanize than an unbalanced, angry Kirk. He passes by the quarters of Yeoman Janice Rand. Baby! The confusion begins with Star Trek: TOS, Season One, Episode 5, The Enemy Within. Are two William Shatners really better than one?
One of the darker moments on television in 1965.
Spock pays a visit to the good and kindly Kirk following Bones' request for Spock to check on him. Of course, they have the wrong Kirk. Spock informs him he was told he was acting like a "wild man." Kirk and Spock chalk it up to one of Bones' little put-ons.

Meanwhile, in the transporter room, Scotty has a sweet dog in a fluffy costume in one arm and a similar dog in appearance that is more vicious and more aggressively "animal" in a cage. It really had me smiling to see those dogs in their little costumes again. Scotty indicates shortly after receiving the first dog through the transporter they received a duplicate, ferocious, "opposite" dog. All parties are on hold for further transportation including Sulu who must remain on the planet below. The pieces are coming together.

Upon arrival to her quarters, Rand finds "Jim" in her room and she's a might uncomfortable given Kirk's uncharacteristic behavior. While his advances toward her might normally be welcomed all is not right with her dear Captain and she knows it. He essentially mauls her in a near rape sequence. It's a fairly intense, disturbing event for 1960s television. I know I was uncomfortable watching it myself. She scratches his face to get away. The door opens and Rand pleads for Spock's help. A man runs for assistance, but is knocked out by this dark, unconscionable version of Kirk.

Spock and Kirk-lite attempt to make sense of what is going on. So the triumvirate, Kirk, Spock and Bones, visit Rand in sick bay. She indicates she scratched Kirk's face and the kind and gentle Kirk clearly has none. She's understandably a bit of a wreck following the incident, which was tantamount to a rape. The crewman who was knocked out confirms it was definitely Kirk who attacked him. Spock notes logically that there is an "impostor" aboard the Enterprise.
 
Scotty posits that perhaps the magnetic ore brought back aboard by the geological technician may have caused the transporter to go ka-phlooey, well in more technical terms that is. With the inability to take another transporter risk the four men on the planet below must remain there including Lt. Hikaru Sulu. Unfortunately, the planetary temps dip below 120 below zero at night [you'll recall The Sci-Fi Fanatic's own The Great Ice Planet Adventure, but honest I had no idea as Kirk & Bones were clearly the principals in harm's way]. Kirk and Spock know evil or "wild man" Kirk must be captured, not killed, so they can solve this transporter splicing issue.

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Cuddly Kirk is clearly in need of his testosterone-driven alter ego and vice versa. They must become one again and soon.
 
Raging or constipated?
Soft Kirk places the crew on alert for the impostor. Phasers must be set for stun. It's interesting to see Shatner take the angry Kirk to almost angry new levels. Being the carnal part of Kirk's being he's obviously not the brightest bulb on the ship to be sure. Still, he is smart enough to cover the scratches on his face with make-up to create deception. This is definitely both one of Shatner's finest moments and arguably cringe-worthy. It's amazing how he could be both terrific and sometimes preposterous all at once, but the man is brilliant as Kirk.

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On the planet below, it's getting colder than the proverbial witch's tit [an expression I had to explain to my son for the first time], at 20 below zero, for Sulu and company. Granted, there doesn't appear to be any frosty breath just a lot of quivering. Kirk and Spock are informed the impostor has attacked another crew member and has taken the man's phaser. Spock plans a game of cat and mouse by making an effort to out guess, out maneuver and generally out think the evil, less intelligent Kirk. Spock and Kirk go to the engineering room. I'm not sure why vicious Kirk would go there, but he's there. Spock suggests they call for back up. Kirk indicates he needs to toughen up and act like the captain. Kirk and Kirk come face to face. "You can't hurt me, you can't kill me. I'm part of you. You need me. I need you." As evil Kirk is clearly ready to shoot good and kind Kirk, Spock comes up behind him and gives him the old Vulcan neck pinch. That's never good. You're no match for the neck pinch. You can pack it up and call it if you get wacked by Spock.
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Could we have applied that neck pinch a little sooner? That was a close one Spock.
Spock is informed by Kirk, while in sick bay with his alter ego, that he is rapidly losing the power of decision. This represents the best of Star Trek's scriptwriting. These are the moments we love.

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Spock indicates his insensitivity is the result of being "the way I am." The irony, of course, is that Kirk isn't exactly himself. Like Spock, Kirk is desperate to become who he really is. His life depends on it. It's a beautiful illustration of who we all are and what makes us complete. These elements of our unique selves makes us whole and who we are. There is a good deal of philosophy in play within The Enemy Within concerning matters of existence and the question of what makes us innately who and what we are.
 
It's getting cold on that planet below as Sulu and friends have taken cover requesting "coffee" or "rice wine." Scotty now has his hands full attempting to repair that transporter, which by his estimation will take one week to fix. That's not good news for Sulu. He gets wise and creative and uses his phaser to heat some rocks for warmth to stay alive. "Any possibility of getting us back aboard before the skiing season opens down here." Spock clinically provides survival procedures to Sulu.

In sick bay, evil Kirk is dying. Gentle Kirk holds evil Kirk's hand and brings him back into focus for a time. This is kind of funny, but deliciously classic Kirk.

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An authentic horndog!
The timely whistle of bridge communications is always there to break us from some of the greatest scripting moments. It's almost like the period on a great sentence. Bones indicates gentle Kirk has all of the intelligence and does not fear like his alter ego. Spock summons Kirk to the transporter room. They have a plan. They want to test it on the horndogs first. The two spaniels, er, I mean intriguing, alien, space creatures, are placed on the transporter. They disappear and the attempt to fuse the two creatures as one begins.

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Funny enough, when the animal returns we learn it is a male because we get the famous Bones determination "He's dead Jim." I never knew it was over a dog that I would first hear those fateful words, but the infamous catchphrase is indeed over a dead horndog. Well, kind Kirk is less than pleased to hear the news and so is the landing party who are in dire straits and nearing critical condition.

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Love those violins. Ah the struggle for survival. Sulu reports in and it is 70 below and somehow he is still alive. Yeah, I'd say that's a minor miracle considering he has nothing covering his face to protect himself from the blistering cold.
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A struggle ensues. Kirk versus Kirk. Evil Kirk puts on a green captain shirt. He returns to the bridge. He tells his crew he plans to leave orbit. Moments later, Bones arrives with the real Kirk also in green. Everyone is confused and uncertain who is who. Both men have scratches as the impostor did his best to throw off his pursuers and the audience. The aggressive, feral Kirk is nearly reactive like a cornered, caged animal. "Can half a man live?" says the weakened Kirk. At this point I really considered how these men were very much integral to the real Kirk. These versions of Kirk truly represented the man and I enjoyed what Matheson was attempting in his sole stint at writing for Star Trek: TOS. We were first led to believe our full support was intended for the backing of the gentle Kirk, while we rallied against the evil Kirk. As the show plays out, we realize the creators had us rooting against our dear captain, the key protagonist to our entry. In the end, we realize, both men are essential to the existence of Kirk and who he is. One Kirk cannot live without the other. Cheering for one over the other was like cheering against ourselves. It was like scorning a part of who we are that is absolutely essential to what makes us decisive or strong. These elements are essential to our survival and this installment allows us to consider such clever concepts within an entertaining construct. It is a sharp commentary on human behavior.

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They always say you should love yourself first.
It all gives new meaning to the idea of male bonding to be sure. Spock implements the plan and Kirk merges with Kirk returning whole. "Get those men aboard fast!" Kirk is back! How could we want it any other way? This is indeed one of the finest examples within Star Trek for adherence to the Chinese philosophy of Yin Yang and the need for balance. What better illustration than the consequences resulting from an imbalanced James T. Kirk? Does it get any better? Oddly, without realizing it, but for a time, Matheson had us working against our very nature rooting against a part of what we love about Captain James T. Kirk. Author David Gerrold and Robert J. Sawyer commented as editors of Boarding The Enterprise quite succinctly regarding what would become a strong tradition of sf writing on ST:TOS. "Star Trek's episodes were as individualistic as the men and women who authored them, and many of the best were by people who had already established serious reputations in the world of print science fiction." This statement is an important fact in the development of a series that would be heralded as classic and the singular science fiction influence on film and television for years to come. Author Richard Matheson is a perfect example of this sentiment and his tale, The Enemy Within, is another exceptionally well-penned ST:TOS chapter for the ages.
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The Enemy Within: B
Writer: Richard Matheson
Director: Leo Penn
 
Dead Crewman: 0
Dead Crewman To Date: 8
Babe Alert: 0
Babe Alert Total To Date: 5

Writer Footnote: Richard Matheson [1926-present]. Author and writer best known for some wonderful works including I Am Legend, Stir Of Echoes, What Dreams May Come and Bid Time Return. I Am Legend was adapted three times to film for The Last Man On Earth [1964], the Charlton Heston classic The Omega Man [1971], and the Will Smith-helmed, I Am Legend [2007]. What Dreams May Come was beautifully directed by Vincent Ward and starred Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Annabella Sciorra. Somewhere In Time [1980] [originally Bid Time Return] starred the late Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. The underrated Stir Of Echoes [1999] starred Kevin Bacon. All of Matheson's film adaptations have been artistically successful on the whole. His story Duel was also adapted by Stephen Spielberg, his first big film, starring Dennis Weaver. Matheson also penned 13 episodes of The Twilight Zone and The Martian Chronicles [1980] mini-series, which also starred Barry Morse [Space:1999]. So Matheson's impressive resume adds one more unique moment in time, the scripting of Star Trek: The Original Series, Season One, Episode 5, The Enemy Within.

Director footnote: Leo Penn [1921-1998]. The father of Sean, Chris and Michael Penn. He also directed Lost In Space, Season One, Episode 4, There Were Giants In The Earth. A prolific television director and an actor originally blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee.