I'm glad the brain trust in Washington banned
incandescent bulbs. I was sick of using light bulbs that were
inexpensive, efficient, long-lived, brighter and didn't give me mercury
poisoning. I'm looking forward to a darker, costlier, more toxic future.
We need Washington to do more things. C'mon, people! More things! More
things! More things!
friend used to insist that the James Bond movies starring Remington
Steele weren't as horrible as I knew they must be. I stumbled across
the beginning of one a number of years ago, so I decided to give it a
shot. Remington Bond was mincing around on top of a dam and wound up
bungee jumping down the face of the dam, bungeeing upside-down into an
open-air toilet stall where a Russian was sitting on the pot. Forget
the whole creepy Larry Craig aspect of the scene and forget that the
outdoor dam-toilet only existed because a snickering hack screenwriter
stuck it out there as a ridiculous setup. Upside-down in the outdoor
toilet and face-to-face with a crapping Russian, Remington Bond quipped
something like, "Mind if I drop in?" I certainly did. I shut off the
TV. Five minutes with Roger Moore, Jr. was five minutes too long.
At the beginning of this week's Star Trek, the Enterprise is forced to
slam on the brakes and leave skid marks across half the solar system
when some kid's kite flies out in the spaceway right in front of them.
It's apparently pretty windy up there in the inky blackness of
eternity, because every time the Enterprise tries to back up and drive
around it, the kite rolls right back in front of the ship. Damn space
kids, why aren't you in school?
Kirk has been ordered into the
neighborhood by Starfleet to make contact with a hostile race of
xenophobes called the Milkmen, and he's afraid to run over the kite
because it's one of those expensive box jobbers and the Milkmen might
make him pay for a new one and it's not like he's pulling down bigshot
The box kite glows like one of Timothy Leary's
hippie daydreams and tells Kirk to get lost. The Milkmen are washing
their hair and aren't interested in Starfleet's vacuum cleaners or
encyclopedias. Kirk says nuts to that and flies right on past the kite,
because the best way to ingratiate oneself to a species of xenophobic
maniacs is to invade their space and send an armed landing party to
their planet. (Frankly, I wish we'd have tried that ourselves in North
Korea in our way-off distant Earth past of five years ago when we still
had prestige and a military.)
On the planet someone has set the
fog machine to Universal Monster Classics and Kirk and his pals are
confronted by a giant snake mask with glowing eyes left over from Planet
Halloween. The snake head mask quite reasonably tells Kirk that he
shouldn't be there, so Kirk pulls a gun and waves it around to show the
Halloween mask who's boss of this here planet, see?
snake mask gets mad when Kirk threatens to pop a sci-fi cap in its
rattle, and it sends Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Chekov, Sneezy, Grumpy
and Dopey to Planet Western. Yes, that's right. Planet Western. God
We learn that the telepathic Milkmen can read minds and
somehow learned that William Shatner's Canadian ancestors pioneered the
American frontier. Did I already say God help me?
in the Western town consist of fake fronts with no side walls and with
pictures and clocks hanging in the unrealistic red backdrop sky.
There's some dialogue that tries to explain why the sets are
incomplete, but for some reason Spock doesn't mention that in season
three the show's budget clearly was slashed from the ten bucks a week
from the first two seasons and reduced to whatever they could find under
the sofa cushions in producer Gene Rubberbabybuggybumper's office. Two
buttons, a couple of pencil stubs and a roach clip don't buy as many
far-out futuristic sets as they used to.
The weird music they played on I Love Lucy
when the screen got all wavy at the start of a flashback sequence plays
in the background all over Planet Western. The sound department
evidently cared pretty much equally as the set department, and instead
of varying the music decided to just pop Theremin's Greatest Hits in the
eight-track and wander out to the commissary to watch Ben Cartwright
eat a tuna fish sandwich.
Scotty can't believe they're on Planet Cowboy. Because, you know, Planet Indian from a couple of weeks ago made sooooooooo much more sense.
realizes they're meant to play out the gunfight at the OK Corral. He
meets the Earps, who have brought along their terrible false mustaches
to scare Kirk. Kirk tries to be friends by offering them a gallon of
the mustache glue he and Chekov use for their wigs, but the Earps are
about as interested in what he's peddling as the Milkmen were at the
start of the episode.
McCoy meets Doc Holiday all by himself
and tries to curry favor by complimenting him on how real his terrible
false mustache looks, and I start to wonder that if these Milkmen are
such great geniuses at reaching into someone's mind and creating a false
reality from the thoughts they find therein, why they can't come up
with four real walls and mustaches that don't look like they've been
chopped off a horse's rear end and stuck in place with a smear of maple
Speaking of horse's rear ends, Chekov romances an
imaginary bar floozy and Wyatt Earp shoots him when Chekov valiantly
stands up to defend the honor of the figment of his imagination.
says Chekov is dead, but there's not much suspense since Chekov has to
survive to say "nuclear wessels" years later in the movie where they
pick up two whales in California that aren't Scotty and Uhura.
suddenly realize that if only the costume department had given Kirk a
cowboy hat to cover his bald head like Ron Howard, he probably would
have been able to leave his wig back in his trailer that week.
Spock, and Scotty build a bomb out of a can of beans, but it doesn't
blow up. They don't realize that for that to happen you have to eat them
Wyatt Earp straps on his gun and glues down his mustache for the big fight.
Oh, I got a cowboy on my boots, honey! I got a cowboy on my boots, babe! Oh, I got a cowboy on my boots, An' I'm-a smokin' and-a spettin' my cheroots, Starfleet baby mine!
Hey, do you realize that Bones looks pretty much as old in the 1960s TV
show as he did in the movies twenty years later, so he either looked
good for 110 or lousy for ninety?
Someone turns the wind
machine on high and the air is suddenly full of flying leaves and
mustaches. The only thing holding my interest at this point is
wondering if Shatner's wig will fly out the window, through Mission Impossible's front door and land on Martin Landau's wig.
feels up Kirk's, McCoy's and Scotty's faces so that the Earp boys'
bullets pass right through them. Who cares that it makes no sense, it's
flying kick time!
Kirk beats up Wyatt and pulls off his mustache
but doesn't shoot him, and all of sudden everybody's back on the bridge
of the Enterprise and Chekov lives! Outside, the glowing box kite
explodes and the Halloween snake mask Milkman says that he was just a
little upset before when he tried to kill everybody with dream cowboys
because he had a roast burning in the oven and his wife was out
gallivanting with the girls again, and that of course his planet would
be delighted to buy some brushes and fine Avon products from the United
Federation of Planets, he just needs a minute to slip into something
As the Enterprise flies off for Planet Milkmen, Kirk
tells Spock that man overcame his instinct for violins, so I guess that
means there aren't any orchestras in the future but if that's the case
how does he explain Jerry Goldsmith, huh? Or maybe I didn't hear him
quite right. Whatever.
I once saw a low-budget horror movie where a guy kept his monstrous
midget Siamese twin troll brother locked in a box from which he'd escape
and sneak around the neighborhood gruesomely killing people. This
week's Star Trek was a little like that only nowhere near as artfully
plotted and executed.
The Enterprise Taxi Service, Inc. of the
Greater Milky Way and Points West is flagged down at the curb outside a
ritzy hotel planet by a woman who needs the crew to schlepp her and her
suitcase to the airport. And step on it, young man, I'm in a hurry.
the little suitcase she's stashed away the Medusan ambassador, a
creature so hideous to behold that one spring of his latches drives a
human as insane as Margot Kidder hiding in the bushes. So I'm guessing
the Medusan ambassador has kind of the effect that seeing Rosie
O'Donnell has on me, if 900 pounds of solid crap could fit in a ten
pound American Tourister carryon.
Spock, being only half-human,
is allowed to peep in the box provided he wears a pair of elderly James
Garner's giant ski goggle sunglasses. Somehow a red lens on the camera
turns the whole room red and makes Gorgons not crazy-inducing, which is
nice. Frankly, I wish they had a behind-the-scenes making-of
documentary for this episode, because I'd love to know exactly how the
clever technicians in the special effects department figured out how to
hold that piece of see-through red plastic in front of the camera, but
maybe some TV magic should just be left to the imagination.
lady with the Rosie O'Donnell mini-monster in her toolbox luggage has
brought along a guy named Larry who wants to make out with her and later
Scotty wears a dress to supper.
The lady doesn't want to make
out with Larry because she likes Rosie O'Donnell in the suitcase --
even though he's just a bunch of flashing green lights, so what would
their kids look like? -- so Larry goes to shoot Rosie O'Donnell who, as
you recall from earlier in this sentence, is just a bunch of flashing
green lights. So Larry thinks he can shoot flashing light. You know,
just like you can shoot the light coming from the sun with a gun. I
think Larry is kind of nuts already.
Even though he has no arms,
somehow the Rosie O'Donnell monster opens his suitcase lid just in time
and Larry beholds Rosie's hideous visage. Larry shows us he's gone nuts
by jumping around the suitcase's room like Pee-Wee Herman when he first
gets up in the morning in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.
runs down to engineering and makes the ship fly so fast that it flies
clear off the script and lands in the groovy kaleidoscopic opening to Family Affair, which I hated but which I got stuck seeing the opening credits to sometimes because my sister was bigger than me.
Once he's stranded them in the Family Affair
credits, Larry dies of bad acting. If that's fatal on the Enterprise
now, Shatner and Sulu better run down to sickbay for immunizations,
Rosie O'Donnell in the suitcase is an expert at
navigation, naturally, so Spock decides to mind-meld with it in order to
help the ship escape from the cheesy 1960s sitcom opening. Kirk
decides to do his part by distracting the box's chick friend who is in
love with the inside of her suitcase by sexually harassing her in the
back of the ship.
While Spock goes to the suitcase's bedroom,
Kirk takes the woman down to the room where they keep the leftover
flowers from some of William Shatner's weddings.
Kirk woos the
lady with all the subtlety of Teddy Kennedy chasing a terrified waitress
around a restaurant table with his pants down around his ankles. The
lady suddenly senses that Spock is trying to swipe her luggage
upstairs. Didn't I mention she was psychic? That's okay, though,
because the script forgot to mention that she's blind until now, too, so
she can see without sight the beauty of the glowing green vomit light
show that is the ghastly Rosie O'Donnell midget hidden inside her
carryon bag. If only the Star Trek writers had tried to convey some
diabolically clever observations about our shallow human perception of
true beauty, this episode would have had a whole other layer of meaning
beyond ugly monsters hiding in your luggage and Kirk's attempted date
rape in the Enterprise's flower shop.
I have something so hideous, so terrifyingly ugly in this box that it makes Cher look like...okay, bad example. But, mister, it ain't pretty.
The suitcase is brought to the bridge and put behind a shield so Rosie
O'Donnell can change into a bikini without driving everyone as nuts as
whoever wrote this episode. Spock goes behind the shield wearing his
giant James Garner sunglasses and comes out laughing. At first I'm
afraid that he's gone bad-acting crazy like poor Larry, but then I
realize that Leonard Nimoy is just as crummy an actor as Shatner always
was, he just lucked out that his character didn't require him to act
outside of one dimension every week.
Spock is now possessed by
the hideous luggage monster who, remember, is conveniently a whiz at
navigation, and together they manage to back the Enterprise out of the
parking space in Family Affair's opening credits and get them
back onto the highway and into this week's Star Trek episode. I begin
to think maybe they'd have been better off hanging out with Brian Keith
and his live-in boyfriend, that fat English butler with the beard.
the Enterprise is safe, Spock goes back behind the shield to slip into
something more comfortable, and Sulu realizes too late that Spock has
left James Garner's giant red sunglasses on the navigation console.
Spock gets a full-on look at Rosie O'Donnell in all her ghastliness and
he catches the worst case of bad acting on Star Trek since Kirk danced
around hugging himself dressed as an Indian in that episode where he had
amnesia and thought he was Tonto.
The psychic lady is the only
one who can cure crazy Spock because she's got amazing psychic abilities
that somehow also can cure people -- with, apparently, the exception of
people named "Larry" -- but she's jealous of Spock for looking in her
luggage and seeing her dirty underwear and that old busted-open tube of
traveling toothpaste she never cleaned up properly. Kirk decides the
best way to get her to save his pal is the "shake, yell at and insult"
method, which is the same method he employs with the stewards down in
the galley to ensure that his creamed corn isn't laced with spit.
lady saves Spock who for some reason at the end of the show is wearing
an ugly medal with a megaphone glued on it on a giant chain around his
neck. Spock and the lady talk about the medal like I'm supposed to know
what the crap they're talking about but I have no idea what they're
talking about. Spock is wearing James Garner's sunglasses again as he
beams the lady and her Rosie O'Donnell luggage monster off the ship to
It's a good thing Spock remembered to wear his
giant sunglasses, because Kirk is standing next to him in the room
watching the whole thing without wearing a pair of protective red
sunglasses, so Spock will need to be in top form once Kirk, as has been
established multiple times throughout the episode, goes crazy and dies
in a couple of minutes and Spock is forced to take command of the ship.
On this week's Star Trek, the Enterprise crew lands on Planet Anorexia,
where emaciated husks of sci-fi plots shuffle like zombie runway models;
an inhumane TV world in which poor withered plots aren't left to die
merciful deaths behind the nearest Styrofoam rock, but are instead
dragged to their bloody feet and padded up to sixty minutes, minus
Kirk, Spock and Bones beam down to Planet
Truckasaurus on which a scientific expedition was studying the
environmental effects of gray spray paint and a couple of truckloads of
pool sand on a Paramount sound stage. The men and women are all dressed
in the multicolored jumpsuits that are so popular in the far-off
distant future as well as with retro Sixties James Bond henchmen. I
wonder given the difficulties their wardrobe choice presents if they
even bother with bathrooms up in outer space and down in volcano lairs
or if everybody just gives up and goes straight for the Depends.
science crew are all dead and have been arranged around the unrealistic
set to look like Jonestown, if those cult people were wearing jumpsuits
and were up in space. For some reason there is something that looks
like the blackened and smoking ruins of an old stereo system in the
middle of the carnage, and I think that maybe they were listening to Led
Zeppelin and got too close to the stage. Will mankind ever learn that Zeppelin rocks?
only survivors of the expedition are a bunch of ugly kids in 19th
century ladies bathing costumes. One of them is Felix Unger's daughter.
interesting 23rd Century sociological fact is revealed: in the future,
kids have two parents each. Take that, current inner city 80 to 90%
The children are taken aboard the
Enterprise where the homely nurse who got her job because she was
married to the homely producer feeds them pudding, and I catch Bones
taking a quick glance at William Shatner's toupee. No fooling.
the kids are alone they utter a magical incantation that summons an
alien who looks like the fat, green ghost of Thomas Jefferson but
wearing the giant blancmange costume from the science fiction episode Monty Python
where giant blancmanges played tennis. Blancmange Thomas Jefferson
says he's the kids' friend, but I don't like the way he tries to lure
them into the back of his ghostly van with promises of Snickers and
Wii. It's a good thing they're full of pudding, and he goes away.
ugliest kid is a creepy ginger wearing the most bizarre of all the 19th
century bathing costumes. He goes up on the bridge and discovers that
Kirk and Spock are watching TV and are about to make a startling
discovery on the colored plastic casino chip recordings they brought up
from the planet. The ugly ginger kid makes an emphatic rude hand
gesture and the Enterprise's TV reception goes out. There is no
explanation at any point during the entire program of how the rude hand
gesture that is repeatedly employed has given the ugly kid the ability
to knock the tinfoil off the Enterprise's rabbit ears or how, moments
later, it can be used to hypnotize Sulu into flying off to Planet
Frankly, I'm less interested in the explanation for
the magic rude hand gesture than I am in the security crewman extra
who's hanging around in the background staring straight at the ugly
ginger kid the whole time but who doesn't think anything's odd when the
TV goes out as soon as the ugly ginger kid makes the rude hand gesture
or how Sulu flagrantly disobeys orders and takes off from the planet
after the ugly ginger kid makes the exact same rude hand gesture moments
later. For a minute I think that these red shirt security guys are the
biggest morons in law enforcement, but then I think of the cops here in
town like the one who ran naked through the nursing home or the one who
shot another one in a blind panic and got a medal for it and I realize
maybe this red shirt isn't so incompetent or unlike real-life after all.
"Yes, captain, I do not dispute that they rock. However, it was illogical to invite Great White to perform at the annual Starfleet WACs and WAVES rave."
Kirk and the others figure out that there were space pirates or
something at some point on Planet Truckasaurus and even though they have
been dead for a long time they vowed to return someday. Yaaarg, me hearties! Or something ridiculous like that. Who knows? God help me, I thought Planet Gangster was stupid.
Down in engineering, a different kid makes a different rude hand gesture. Hey, kid. Up yours with bells on.
goes to the bridge and the ugly kids chant and Blancmange Thomas
Jefferson shows up. The kids make a rude hand gesture that makes Uhura
look old, but not as scary as she was when she actually was old
in the movie where she did the naked fan dance. For some reason she's
got a mirror glued to her console. I guess it's because she's a girl,
and you know how hard it is to pry them away from the mirror even in
outer space, am I right fellas?
The kids also make a rude hand
gesture that makes Sulu see cartoon knives from a Bugs Bunny cartoon
flying at the ship. Seeing cartoon knives scares Sulu into being a
worse actor than usual.
It seems to me that Kirk and Spock have
had reason as well as ample opportunity to isolate these kids or at
least to punch them in their smug little kissers, especially when the
evil Blancmange Thomas Jefferson shows up, but instead Kirk just stands
around and watches until the little brats rude hand-gesture into
submission every bridge crew member one-by-one.
Spock gets rude
hand-gestured into disobeying Kirk's orders, but manages to fight off
the hypnosis somehow. Kirk gets rude hand-gestured into acting like a
sissy and nearly Frenches Spock in the elevator. The terror of almost
kissing Leonard Nimoy snaps him out of it, and Kirk butches back up
again, more or less.
On the bridge, the ugly ginger kid in the
19th century ladies bathing costume is in Kirk's seat. Felix Unger's
daughter is there too. Kirk picks them up and rattles them around a
little, but a less ridiculous plot doesn't fall out.
Spock play a casino chip of the chant the kids sang earlier to summon
the blancmange pirate ghost man. Dogs know the difference between
sounds coming from TV and those in real life, but the super-intelligent
alien Thomas Jefferson Blancmange ghost comes a-runnin' like I used to
as a kid when the Stooges were on. Maybe his hearing was damaged when
the science crew's stereo blew up way back at that rockin' Led Zeppelin
show at the beginning of the episode.
Kirk says he's going to
show the kids what the blancmange truly looks like. He plays a casino
chip of them and their parents playing space volleyball on the planet
with the gray spray paint and the pool sand next to a giant wart. It
looks like the wart is the only structure on the planet, and if everyone
was piling in there to sleep at night I wonder if the kids might not be
better off in the back of the van of the glowing green pervert who
taught them the magic rude hand gestures.
The glowing green
blancmange-man wants to fly the ship to some planet that has lots of
people on it who he can hypnotize so he can take over Planet Poland or
something. I don't know, and I haven't really cared for fifty minutes.
All I know is that for a dead member of an extinct alien race who's
been locked on an isolated, uninhabited planet for eons, he sure knows
his way around the modern-day galaxy.
The kids cry and it gives
Thomas Jefferson acne. Then they cry some more and gives him Elephant
Man. Then they cry some more and it gives him Wicked Witch, and he
Bones shows up and I wonder: where the hell has Bones been?
orders the ship off to Starbase Something. He felt kind of bad earlier
in the episode when he beamed two crewmen into outer space and killed
them when he thought they were still orbiting Planet Truckasaurus, but
he doesn't seem too worried about the landing party he's abandoned back
on the planet to which the green ghost of fat Blancmange Thomas
Jefferson Pirate is probably heading back right now, and pretty mad I'd
imagine, ye scurvy Starfleet knaves!
to "doctorwholittle," Jamie Ashby, for his great Amazon review of The
Red Menace #2, Drowning In Red Ink. Thanks to George R. Johnson for his
equally great Amazon review of Devil May Care, P.I. Crag Banyon's
second adventure. And a final special thanks to "Tractor45" for getting
the review ball rolling with the very first Amazon review of my
brand-new Red Menace #3, Red the Riot Act.
These things matter.
I appreciate them. I mean, I'm not weeping tears of joy like Sally
Field or anything, but I DO appreciate them.