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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "Court Martial"

On this week's Perry Mason, the tubby barrister defends a chubby starship captain in a thrilling outer space court martial whodunnit.  Will Perry get James T. Kirk off?  If not, he'll be the only one in Star Trek history who doesn't.  By Erle Stanley Gardner, Inc.

The excitement beings when the Enterprise pulls into a service station to get some dents pulled out of the bumper after passing through an ion storm, which is a phenomenon that occurs when you accidentally leave on syndicated rerun station "Ion Television" too long and all those crummy episodes of Ghost Whisperer and Without a Trace get broadcast out into space.

For this single Star Trek episode only there is some special pod in the ship that has never been there before and never will be again which monitors episodes of Ghost Whisperer for Kirk, probably because of the big rack on the dame who stars in it.  Kirk says to the commodore on the base where he's parked the Enterprise that the ship went on red alert and he had to jettison the pod with his TiVo and Lt. Albert Finney still aboard, so he missed the season ending cliffhanger that had something to do with a spooky ghost and the broad with the big knobs running around in a nightie.

The commodore says that Kirk jettisoned the pod not during a red alert, but during a yellow alert, and so he puts Kirk on trial for killing Albert Finney and losing all those episodes of Ghost Whisperer, including the one the commodore really wanted to see with the spooky ghost where the main broad with the big knobs was running around in a nightie, but not the one I mentioned before, a different one.

Finney's daughter yells that Kirk is a murderer while wearing a miniskirt made of strips of torn Reynold's Wrap.

A man walks into a bar with a duck on his head.  The man is William Shatner and the duck turns out to be his wig. 

Some guys in the bar are mean to Kirk, so he races from the room with his mascara running just as a sexy version of the Star Trek theme starts to play.  A dame wearing green curtains and stained glass earrings walks in accompanied by the sexy music, and Bones -- thinking he's got it made because Captain Sexual Compulsive isn't there -- tries to pitch some woo.

Later on, the dame gives Kirk all kinds of legal advice.  Then she tells him at the end that she's going to be the prosecutor in his case, so if Kirk isn't a complete imbecile he'll ignore her advice and insist she be removed from the trial and possibly disbarred.  Instead, the defendant takes the advice of the prosecuting council. 

Kirk comes back to his apartment, which is strange because he's got a ship up there with his own bed that he can go to.  Or maybe it's finally reached maximum capacity of yeomen with beehive hairdos.  Instead of the usual sexy dame waiting for him, there's an ugly old man with a bunch of books.  For the love of God, don't let one of them be the Kama Sutra.

The old man is Kirk's lawyer, and he says he prefers books to the Lite-Brite that most outer space lawyers use.  I can understand why, since it seems like it would be hard to look up Marbury v. Madison on a computer that is just a bunch of blinking lights and has no monitor.

In court, the com-pu-tore! reads all the charges and when it's finished Kirk says "not guilty" and there's a great big dramatic chord like it was unexpected.  I can see why the soundtrack would get all excited.  I agree.  I mean, I was sure he was going to say guilty and spend the rest of the series making little moon rocks out of big moon rocks in space jail.  What a shocking plot twist.

Kirk wears a dazzling Christmas tree brooch and a ridiculous society dame hat to impress the jury. 

Wait a second. 

Never mind.  That last thing was his wig.

The sexy prosecutor asks the Enterprise personnel officer if they're talking about the "Captain Kirk who sits in this courtroom," and the personnel officer has to look all round to make sure it's the same one.  What, she didn't notice her tubby captain sitting there in his pretty Christmas tree brooch when she walked through the shushing door?  There are only seven people on that ship who manage to not get killed week after week, you'd think Julie the cruise director would have an easy job keeping track.

The footage played in the courtroom shows different angles on the bridge of the Enterprise, almost like it's from a TV show.  For some reason, despite all the pans and close-ups and cuts and different camera angles, it doesn't have any footage at all of anywhere else on the ship other than the bridge, including this super-important pod Albert Finney was in that was never used before or after this episode.
The commodore says that we've listened to three witnesses and that in "neither" case did something or other blah-blah.  I lost interest in whatever he was talking about after the bad grammar.  "Neither" is two people, not three, Commodore Stupid.

According to this, you are guilty of negligence.  Also, that the fine people at Keebler are guilty of deliciousness.  New Keebler Cheezie Crackers...great for family, friends and fun!

Kirk's lawyer makes an impassioned TV lawyer plea about Kirk being able to face his accuser, which in this case is the computer on the Enterprise.  He mentions the Magna Carta, the U.S. Constitution, the Martian Bill of Rights and the Flimflammer Incorporations of Poopnagle 7.  I hope those last two things last longer than the first two did.

Spock plays chess with the computer to prove that it's broken in order to demonstrate that the computer can't be trusted at Kirk's trial.  He's figured out that if it's been tampered with, it won't play chess too good no more.  Why?  Why would tampering manifest in, of all things, chess?  If the com-pu-tore! runs everything on the ship, and if tampering with the computer impacts the entire system, wouldn't the doors open wrong and all the toast burn?  Everyone on that ship uses computers for stuff all day every day.  Wouldn't somebody have noticed things were out of whack?  I mean, obviously not Julie the personnel director, who is so coked-up she doesn't recognize her own captain, but somebody.

Kirk's lawyer assumes Albert Finney is still alive.  I'm not so sure, because I don't think he's been in anything since Wolfen.

(Hey, if Finney was in this pod, couldn't Kirk have had him beamed him out?  Wait, that makes sense.  Forget I said it.)

It seems a pretty big leap to go from a com-pu-tore that can't play chess to Albert Finney still being alive, but I guess they got a moron jury to believe O.J. cut his hand chipping golf balls in the dark, so why not?

The whole party moves up to the Enterprise, and Bones runs a Mr. Microphone across everybody's chest.  "Hey, good lookin'!  We'll be back to pick you up later!"  (This dated reference would be absolutely hilarious if this were still 1994.)

The Mr. Microphone shuts off heartbeats one at a time, which would be mass-murder except it only does it on the Enterprise's Bose speakers, so Bones won't be on trial next week.

There is one heartbeat left on the ship once Bones is finished, and they realize it must be Albert Finney, so Kirk runs downstairs in his slippers and bathrobe to shoot the prowler.  In the meantime, Kirk's lawyer and Albert Finney's daughter (who had been sitting in court) have suddenly disappeared entirely from the story for some reason, and they never appear again for the rest of the episode.  Someone must have noticed in post-production, and so some bizarre narration for Kirk has been tacked on to say that they ran off together to start a mushroom farm on Uranus.  Yes, this is a lie, but it makes exactly as much sense as the actual narration.

(Hey, if Finney is hiding down in engineering, can't Spock just beam him out?  Wait, that makes sense.  Forget I said it.)

Finney raves on the intercom that he has rigged the ship to crash, so Spock tries to get the commodore and the rest of the judges off the bridge and back down to the planet.  The commodore says that court is still in session.  It's over, you moron, since it was a murder trial and the "murdered" guy is still alive, ranting like a madman, and is about to murder you and a whole bunch of other people.  Apparently neither of those three things am being reason for Commodore Stupid to be leaving.

Down in the engine room, the guy playing Albert Finney is such a wild-eyed loon that Bones should be put on trial after all for not recognizing that one of the ship's crew was a crazy, sweating, bug-eyed, psycho maniac.

Fight!  Fight!  Fight!  Fight!

Kirk rips his shirt again.  At this point I think those things must be made of paper.  He also wins because Scotty has very conveniently left a giant wrench lying out for Kirk to beat some guy senseless with again.

There is another bizarre bit of voice-over narration in which Kirk tells the audience that Albert Finney told him how he sabotaged the ship, so Kirk can save it.  I guess it's cheaper and less time consuming than filming the actual scene where this takes place.  Maybe next week they can just have Shatner and his ego sit in a chair and read the whole script at us.

There is no explanation for why a psychotic who held a grudge against Kirk for something that happened years ago and came up with an incredibly elaborate scheme for revenge that included multiple murders, the destruction of a starship and his own suicide would abruptly change his mind and tell Kirk everything he needs to know to save the ship.  Oh.  I guess that's why they couldn't film that scene.

Kirk saves the Enterprise, and as a reward at the end gets to make out with the lawyer on the bridge.  Thank God it's not the old buzzard.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "Return of the Archons"

This week's Star Trek starts with a dream sequence in which Sulu is running down the street wearing pantaloons while getting chased by faceless men with large poles.  I don't think we need to bother paging Dr. Freud for this one.

The dream sequence turns out to be really happening, but this is still 1960s TV so the guys with the poles who are dressed as ominous monks merely shoot fairy dust from the ends of their sticks directly into Sulu's face, after which he gets beamed up to the Enterprise with a look of utter bliss on his face.  There really ain't a lot of subtext here, people.

Sulu is so happy from his large pole adventure with the anonymous, faceless men down on the planet, that even he-man Kirk is intrigued, so he, Spock, McCoy and a couple of expendable guys beam down wearing Gunsmoke cowboy costumes.  I just thank God he left the ass-less chaps back on the ship.

Actually, I'm not sure at first what Spock is wearing, since the Enterprise tailor once again cleverly disguised the first officer's pointy ears by tossing a blanket over his head, so it's possible he's dressed as a cop or a construction worker.  It's fun to stay at the NCC-1701!

Why Kirk thinks it's a brilliant idea to take the only officer on his entire ship who looks like an alien down to a planet of people who look like humans and thinks yet again that a blanket tossed over him is a brilliant disguise is a topic once more left unexplored.  I mean, one gust of wind and the jig is up, stupid.

The planet is conveniently on 24-hour time, which is a lifesaver because Kirk doesn't have to reset his watch.  It also has an even more convenient analog clock hanging in the planet's town square, which people point to ominously and tell the new arrivals -- including the weirdo draped in a blanket -- that it's "festival."  The clock strikes six and everybody starts abusing and raping women and throwing rocks.  I now understand that "festival" has been going on in the Mideast for years.

I'd figure Kirk would be right at home with at least one major part of festival, but instead of swinging his pants over his head and shouting "yee-haw!," he and his pals take refuge in a Paramount backlot apartment building where a creepy old man accuses them of disobeying the will of Allah by not running around like maniacs and killing people outside.

Did I say Allah?  I meant Lando.

Lando is apparently the guy who runs the whole planet, so the fact that he was running only Cloud City fifteen years later means that at some point he was demoted.

The creepy old man runs out to obviously rat out Kirk and co.  First off, how does a geriatric negotiate the planet-wide riot that's going on outside?  Second, why doesn't Kirk just bash him over the head with a rock and say it was a festival-related fatality?  At the very least have the old buzzard beamed over to a desert island until they can sort out whatever is going on down there.  Just a little sci-fi tip: if you have the opportunity and the means to beam screeching Donald Sutherland to an uninhabited atoll before he can rat you out to the other pod people, do it.

A couple of monks with big sticks arrive and zap an old man, but Kirk decides he isn't into that.

Kirk and the rest escape the horny monks and hide in the same secret dungeon they hide in every week.  Not only is it clearly the one from the spooky Halloween episode with the giant pussycat, they even redress the set and reuse it later in this exact same episode.  Maybe the set people blew their budget on the weed they bought from the writers.

Up in space, the Enterprise is suddenly getting pulled down to the planet and Scotty doesn't have a clue what to do.  I'd say locate the source and shoot it with those precise laser-beam weapons, but Scotty is too busy dramatically running around the bridge and looking for a Ring-Ding that rolled behind a console to think of that.

Down in the painted-plywood dungeon, Lando shows up looking way fruitier than he did in Cloud City.  He's still partial to capes, though.

Lando is a floating ghost with hair like Betty White's.  He blows a dog whistle and everybody passes out, but William Shatner's contract says he's so heroic that he gets to pass out last.  (Also, that he's first in line at the craft services table, although I don't blame him there because if he let Uhura and Scotty go first there'd be no doughnuts left.)


Kirk is also so completely heroic that he's first to wake up in the different plywood jail cell (which is the same plywood jail cell with a couple of different walls) after the commercial break.  So Spock, who is supposed to be physically superior to humans, is first to get knocked out but is not the first to wake up.  Apparently all you need to take over Vulcan is a referee's whistle and a very big megaphone.

Bones shows up, and he's been turned into a blissed-out zombie by the pervert monks, but Spock either doesn't remember that he used a mind-meld to fix the screwed-up brain of a mental patient a couple of weeks ago, or he conveniently forgets because of all the "pointed-eared," "green-blooded" racist comments he's had to put up with from Dr. Jerkwad all these years.

Kirk gets taken to be brainwashed next, and this week's script says that he can't beat up two slow-moving monks whose only weapons are a pair of unwieldy sticks, so he doesn't even try.

Spock gets taken after Kirk appears to have been zombie-fied, and I wonder why these guys are all just lining up like kids at a cotton candy machine to get brainwashed and aren't getting dragged kicking and screaming to the brainwashing booth.  Even wimp me would have kicked a monk in the crotch and made a run for it.  

Kirk wasn't brainwashed after all.  Surprise!

A guy in the orange Bea Arthur bathrobe who is supposed to be running the brainwasher sets the dial on low, so Kirk's brain is safe and only his toupee gets lightly rinsed.  Back in the jail cell, he and Spock plot their brilliant plot to overthrow Lando two inches away from McCoy who, recall, is brainwashed as all get-out.  Personally, I would have used the Vulcan nerve-pinch to put the spy in the lifeboat to sleep so that I could plot my escape in private, but maybe that's why I don't command my own starship.  Also, because starships are pretend, a fact Sulu still didn't understand twenty years later when he used to complain that Shatner was keeping him from getting his own ship.  (I wish I was kidding about that.  I'm not.)

The guy in Bea Arthur's orange bathrobe, Mr. Bea Ex Machina, takes Kirk and Spock to fruity Lando's special secret room, and they blast a hole through the wall and find out that Lando is really a computer running the whole planet. So on a huge planet, they just happened to beam down to the exact little town where the computer is.  What are the odds?  Actually, remarkably good, since I can remember offhand there were at least two other Star Trek episodes where the exact same thing happens.  Wait, there was the Indian one where Kirk got amnesia, too.  Make that three.

Fruity Ghost-Lando floats in the room and makes their phasers stop working, because that hadn't magically happened yet.  Why do they even bother to bring those things?  After the second time some alien waved his hand and made mine stop working, I'd leave it on the ship and just bring a big club down with me.

A couple of monks in bathrobes run in, and Kirk forgets that his phaser was broken by the omnipotent, 6,000 year old computer two seconds ago and threatens them with it.

Hey, if this computer is 6,000 years old, who maintained it all those years?  Or maybe it's one of those magic computers that never needs a Windows mind-control-upgrade and it's living in a magic room where the air conditioning never breaks and there's no dust and humidity.

Kirk outsmarts the magic computer by asking it if the chicken or the egg came first and if a tree fell on Tampax 12 and no one was around to hear it would it make a sound?  The computer starts smoking like crazy.  Then it starts drinking heavily and gets into a fatal car accident on the way home.

The entire planet is liberated from six millennia of captivity, so Kirk leaves one crummy sociologist behind to run the joint because everyone knows sociology is a precise science and the guys who get degrees in it aren't weirdos with no grasp on how the real world works.

Back on the bridge, Spock says that people have longed for a planet as peaceful and secure as Lando's, apparently forgetting all about the nightly six o'clock rape-and-murder-fest, but that's okay because after the first act the writers forgot all about it too.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "Tomorrow is Yesterday"

On this week's I Dream of Jeannie, Jeannie's meddling nearly gets Tony and Roger in dutch with Dr. Bellows when she snorts a line of pepper and accidentally sneezes a spaceship over from a struggling NBC sci-fi show!

What, you mean this is really Star Trek and those sitcom-looking Air Force sets and uniforms are supposed to be for real?  Shatner's hair is more believable.

It's 1967 on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, so those miniskirts and beehive hairdos suddenly make a lot more sense.  Kirk says in the narration that they ran into a black star that threw them back in time.  I wonder if it was Wesley Snipes, because now they can tell him to pay his taxes.

Isn't it interesting that they just happened to get tossed back in time to the exact year the show was on the air?  It's sort of like in that other episode where they got tossed back in time to the exact year the show was on the air.  Not to be confused with the movie they made twenty years later where they got tossed back in time to the exact year that the movie was released.  Maybe time isn't linear at all, maybe it has to do with complicated stuff like the copyright dates that appear at the end of our closing credits.  "Y'all come back now, y'hear?" suddenly sounds a lot more sinister.

The sitcom Air Force sends a jet up to look at the spaceship that is wobbling around in Earth's atmosphere like a rubber ducky getting splashed around in a bathtub and not like it weighs 500 million billion tons.  And that's just Uhura and Scotty.

Kirk has a tractor beam lock on the plane which is somehow able to follow a ship that can travel faster than the speed of light.  The plane breaks apart, so naturally rather than beam the rescued pilot directly to an unpopulated stretch of interstate down on Earth and let everybody down there figure it out, they beam him to the Enterprise.  Jeannie!

The sitcom Air Force pilot arrives in the beamer room standing up.  Which means the beamer can take you if you're sitting down and straighten you up in transit, but it still can't see when there's an escaped lunatic hiding in a box like in that other episode where an escaped lunatic was hiding in a box.

Spock says that they have to keep the sitcom pilot there.  He says that the glimpse of the future they've given the guy means that he could manipulate stocks, industries and nations.  And exactly how is he going to do all that from one elevator ride?  If I get taken aboard a spaceship that's been tossed back in time from two hundred years in the future and they make me ride up and down in their elevator for a whole day, how exactly is that going to tell me what pony to bet on in the 4th at Santa Anita a week from Tuesday?  Did this junk science officer actually study anything on that famous logic planet, or is Vulcan populated by a bunch of morons everyone assumes are smart because they don't use contractions and have deep cigarette voices?

A sexy lady computer voice embarrasses Kirk in front of the sitcom Air Force pilot, and he says that they put in for a computer overhaul on a planet dominated by sexy dames who took three weeks to break the computers.  So apparently at no point during the overhaul did he or his computer-genius first officer bother to switch on Windows to see what exactly the alien mechanic dames were doing.  Shouldn't Kirk have gone into the garage at least once to shake his fist at the alien dames in their greasy overalls and shout that it's taking too long, the bill is outrageous, that ding wasn't on the Enterprise's rear quarter panel when he brought it in, and that somebody screwed around with all the radio preset buttons? 

If it's going to take three weeks to get some chicks to wreck your old computers, it would probably be easier and more cost effective to just swing by Best Buy and pick up some new ones.  Gene Roddenberry's miraculous vision of a spendaholic government blowing through tax dollars like drunken maniacs was only two hundred years off.  Maybe the Federation can borrow a few quadrillion from the Chinese Klingons and stick the 24th Century with the bill.

Kirk allows a prisoner to wander freely around his ship, and for the millionth time the prisoner beats up a guard and steals his gun.  At this point they should probably just give every prisoner they beam aboard a lei, a coupon for one complimentary blue drink, and a phaser.  They're going to get them anyway, and it'd cut down on all those guards staggering into the infirmary with Karate Chop Neck every week.  (So many of our returning Starfleet veterans suffer in silence from moderate to severe KCN.  Won't you give generously to the Karate Chop Neck Foundation today?)

Spock, who was so worried about an elevator ride changing the future, tells the Air Force guy that they have to return him to Earth because he will one day have a son who's going to be important.  It seems to me that this information has the potential to change the future infinitely more than one elevator ride, but my ears are round on the top and I don't smoke, so what do I know?

So as to be completely inconspicuous, Kirk and Sulu beam down to an Air Force records room wearing yellow pajamas.

We're told that there was recording equipment on the plane that got blowed up in the tractor beam, so the captain of the starship Enterprise, which is in a super-major crisis because it is lost in time with no way to get home, decides now is a good time to get out and stretch his chubby legs.

 This episode is slightly less stupid when watched this way.

So Kirk and Sulu are prancing around a military base dressed for a slumber party and it doesn't occur to either of these two genius officers to so much as jam a chair up under the doorknob of the records room.  Naturally, a guard wanders in and says stick 'em up. 

Rather than have the guard beamed out to the parking lot, Kirk has him beamed up to the ship with his gun drawn and ready to fire.  Luckily, the guy stands in a comic cartoon crouch -- (because for some reason the beamer didn't correct his posture in transit like it did the pilot's) -- and he lets McCoy wander over and tug the gun out of his hand.  Good thing it wasn't me, because I would have shot holes in everybody in the transporter room and run screaming to the nearest window to make a jump for Ft. Lauderdale.

Kirk is captured because for the second time that episode he again gets confused by 20th Century door technology and shuts a door with Sulu on one side and himself on the other where there are a bunch of guys with guns who wouldn't have seen him if he'd just shut the door with himself on the other side.  No kidding.

Up on the ship, they can't beam up Kirk because he doesn't have his communicator pinned to his sleeves like mittens anymore.  Their communicators get taken from them so frequently you'd think someone back at HQ would have thought to stitch some kind of beacon into their uniforms.  Even Maxwell Smart had a phone hidden in his shoe, for crying out loud.

I wonder briefly if they're going to get lost in time over on the Get Smart set once they're finished with I Dream of Jeannie.

A plastic cracker inserted into the transporter room wall makes chicken soup.

Kirk gets questioned in a zany comic scene, Spock shows up in his pajamas along with Major Healey.  Major Healey double crosses them and gets the drop on everybody before the commercial break, but Spock wanders up behind him after the commercial break.  Then they go back to the ship.

The big idea to get back to the 23rd Century is to fly around the sun really fast until everyone is dizzy, then sail for home, an idea that was stolen from Captain Redbeard Rum in Blackadder.  Along the way through time they will beam Major Healey and the guard with the gun back inside themselves, which is an idea that was stolen from Sulu's last shore leave.

So Major Healey will be beamed back inside Major Healey before his plane blows up, thus erasing his memory of the elevator ride.  The guard from the base will be beamed back inside the guard from the base before he gets comically beamed up to the Enterprise.  How two objects will occupy the same space at the same time without some kind of huge nuclear explosion that will take out half of North America while simultaneously erasing the events of the past few hours from the two guys' brains isn't clarified.  I blame the sea otters.

The plan goes off without a hitch, except Major Healey sees the Enterprise again and, even though it vanishes in the next second, we were clearly told that he had recording instruments on his plane, which is why Kirk went down to the base in his yellow pajamas, so all the comic shenanigans everybody went through in the episode to set everything right just got undone in the last five seconds of the show.