Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Operation: Annihilate!

From Wikipedia:

"Operation: Annihilate!" is the last original episode from the first season of the original Star Trek series. It is episode #29, production #29, and was broadcast April 13, 1967. It was written by Stephen W. Carabatsos, and directed by Herschel Daugherty.

Overview: The crew of the Enterprise must find a way to exterminate malevolent parasitic creatures that have taken over a Federation colony.


This is a very silly episode.

Indeed, Star Trek finishes its first season by following what is arguably its best episode, "The City on the Edge of Forever," with what is arguably its most absurd episode--only the third season's "The Way to Eden," the show's sole outing into the movie musical genre, rivals "Operation: Annihilate!" for sheer silliness. In some ways, that's a shame: this one has the kernel of a good idea, lifting some plot elements from the great Robert Heinlein book The Puppet Masters. Alas, it's all so poorly executed, that the only way to watch is by being prepared to laugh. Repeatedly.

Actually, there's some pretty funny shit here. When the Enterprise first arrives at the infected colony, they are confronted by a small gang of colonists armed with metal clubs shouting "Go away! We don't want to hurt you!" while they charge at the landing party. Their acting is wretched, and therefore hilarious. The parasites, on the other hand, look like lumpy pancakes. Indeed, according to the above linked Wikipedia article, the props department used altered "novelty vomits" to build the creatures. When they fly menacingly, it's very WTF. And when Spock loses his sight in the final act, Kirk and McCoy have a brief and sorrowful moment that could have been pulled directly from Little House on the Prairie.

The funniest moment, by far, is the painful screaming of Kirk's infected sister-in-law: "Things! Horrible things!" Oh god, she's, like, David Lynch funny.

I mean, don't get me wrong, it's not all horrible. In fact, there's a nice fist fight on the bridge, when the infected Spock tries to take control of the ship. It takes everybody in the room, finally, to hold him down, while McCoy has one of those always-cool hypo spray moments to put him out. But, by and large, this one's just goofy.

So go watch it. And have a good laugh.

Spock right after being infected by one of the parasites.