Thursday, February 13, 2014

Star Trek Continues: Lolani. A Review from the Village Elliot

     The second episode of Star Trek Continues is available on Youtube (link at the end of this blog).
     First of all I love this show and it's commitment to continue the tradition of the original show.  It really does have the look and feel of Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley et al. 

Mr. Spock, Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy have a second chance to complete their original five year mission.  

    In its second try, the show's acting was noticeably improved as the cast has gotten more familiar with their parts.  In particular, Todd Haberkorn was much improved in his portrayal of Spock.  I believe the key to playing Spock is first of all to realize that Nimoy was not just an actor, but a genius, so give up trying to compete with him.  Also, the Spock character is said to have no emotions, but in reality Nimoy's Spock was perpetually struggling to suppress his emotions.  Yet one raised eyebrow might display more emotion  than an entire tirade by Dr. McCoy.   And by the way Larry Nemecek did much better with McCoy this time also.  McCoy used to talk out of the side of his mouth just a little bit, and in my opinion,  Larry was trying too  hard to copy his facial expressions.   This time he just relaxed a little bit and it worked much better.

   Lolani is brilliantly played by Fiona Vroom.  Lolani is an Orion slave girl who inadvertently crosses paths with the Enterprise.  Orion slave girls were  created as kind of an afterthought in the original pilot (the Cage), and I've often thought that the Orionite people deserved some more examination.  The Orionites might be a people with more active libidos than earthlings (if that is possible!). In this episode  we are led to view them as similar in many respects to earthlings, although perhaps earthlings are more attracted to Orionites than Orionites are to earthlings.  This is partly due to special pheromone love hormones that they give off.   Earthlings seem not to possess such hormones, or at least I don't.   
    So the Enterprise, after  finding Lolani, debates her status.  Is she property?  Or is she a person? 
     Here then, is my complaint.  The episode depends critically on believing that the Federation has some incredibly backward regulations for an advanced civilization. 
      One of the fantastic things about Star Trek, in my opinion, is that creator Gene Roddenberry provided a vision that humanity would someday grow and overcome some of the petty idiocy that we are currently afflicted with.  In short, Star Trek is prophetic vision of hope for the future.   I think this is summarized well in a dialogue between Alexander of Platonius and Kirk.  Alexander was born with a form of dwarfism (and an inability to inherit the telekinesis powers of his contemporaries) and thus has  been bullied his entire life.  Captain Kirk and his Federation colleagues from the Enterprise convince him that he is just as important as his normal sized contemporaries.
"Alexander, where I come from, size, shape or color make no difference!"

I invite you to read an excellent blog from Dan Madzen, who also was born with a type of dwarfism, and how this show made a great difference in his life. It's very moving, and lets your recognize just how powerful this apocalyptic sci-fi  stuff really is. 

Well, ok, so much for that.  We just don't see this Federation in this episode.  Rather, the Federation seems to be dominated by members of a futuristic Tea Party, which has decided to honor the 1854 Dred Scott decision, affirming that slaves are property.   

This is a horrible tactical decision. C'mon folks. Anything but that.  Perhaps what they could have done would be to have the Orionites offer some kind of tempting deal... like a cure for a dread disease or more powerful dilithium crystals in exchange for recognition of their eccentric social policies. But no.  Face it, this Federation is just corrupt and run by small minded individuals mired in the 19th century instead of the 23rd,  with Captain Kirk and his crew being the lone moral individuals in the Federation. 

 Similarly, there is a young officer who decides to violate orders in order to help Lolani.  This is also disappointing, although perhaps it was simply the Orionite pheromones that caused his moral failure (after all, we sell aftershave and colognes that are supposed to do the same thing). But I think it would be better if we could look up to people from the future the way Alexander did, at least for the most part, rather than finding that the future is populated by wackos and tea party fanatics. 

    Apart from those major flaws, there was much to like about the episode.  One saving grace was that Lou Ferrigno made a guest appearance, and he was terrific.  I had never heard him speak before, and was pleasantly surprised to find that he has a great voice and is very believable  in his character. It helps that he had several years experience in being green.
"Kirk, you are such a wimp!"

Definitely well worth watching overall.  I hope their five year mission is extended for a long time.

...and here's the link to the video:

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