Friday, August 13, 2010

The Omega Glory

From Wikipedia:

"The Omega Glory" is a second season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, first broadcast March 1, 1968 and repeated July 26, 1968. It is episode #52, production #54, written by Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Vincent McEveety.

There is no reported stardate for this episode.

The story was one of three outlines submitted for selection as the second pilot of Star Trek: the others being "Mudd's Women" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before".

Overview: Captain Kirk must find the cure to a deadly disease and prevent a meaningless war.


Is it just me or are these Wikipedia episode overviews getting more and more misleading? Oh well.
Go watch the episode.

Notes and pics:

* Lieutenant Galloway has a classic red-shirt set up. You've never heard of him before and he barely has any lines. And he's wearing a red shirt. You know he's not one of the guest stars, but you also know he's there for some reason. What could that reason possibly be?

* Always great to see more than one starship.

* The whole opening sequence is just fantastic, invoking the weird sense of "what if this was the Enterprise" that you got from "
The Doomsday Machine," and these are some excellent science fiction deaths, what with the uniforms and crystal remains.

* Great mini-moment as Spock walks over to the bridge science station, briefly eying what is most likely his Exeter counterpart's corpse.

* Some cool Prime Directive shit here. As with "
Bread and Circuses" and "Patterns of Force," we have a rogue Federation presence that Kirk has to beat into submission. I kind of prefer these Prime Directive cop stories.

* "Put the ax away, Lee Yang!"
Morgan Woodward, a fellow Texan, and fellow Texas Longhorn, as well, and who also appeared in the first season's "Dagger of the Mind," is totally great playing Captain Ron Tracey, one of the few guest actors, along with Ricardo Montalban, who could hang with Shatner's over-the-top acting style for extended periods. He is truly one of the great Star Trek villains, and his presence is what makes the episode as good as it is.

* Oh, that's why Lieutenant Galloway is here!

* Great fight which ends with a karate chop to Kirk's neck, delivered with a nice psychotic look on Tracey's face.

* I love the original Trek costume design concept that gave different chest insignia to the uniforms of different ships.

* Cloud William is a hulking Bizarro World
David Soul.

* Fabulous marathon fight in a jail cell with Cloud William, humorously interspersed with clever chatter from Spock.

* It's always very cool when McCoy does his desperate medical research thing. And he's got a nice little speech ending in a quintessential line: "But lengthen lives? Poppycock! I can do more for you if just eat right and exercise regularly."

* Excellent moment pulling from the Greek tragedy formula. Generally, for ancient Greek theater, most of the real action took place off stage. Consequently, battles, deaths, suicides, and other overwhelming events were usually reported to the characters on stage by a messenger of some sort. Tracy does exactly the same thing here, telling the gripping tale of how the Yangs sacrificed thousands to kill a relative few Kohms. The lighting even seems to give him something of a mask, which is very Greek, indeed.

* Where the hell's Scotty? Oh well, it's always cool when Sulu's in command!

* Kirk has a second fight with Tracy.

* The Yangs are dirty filthy goddamned hippies.

* I totally love the pomp and circumstance of the Yangs. Especially the bare chest beefcake guy playing the tympani.

* By the time the US flag comes out, and our heroes have figured out they're on yet another parallel Earth, the narrative becomes easily as ridiculous as "Patterns of Force," but the story's been so tight, and the showcasing of patriotic symbols we've all had drilled into our psyches since birth is so emotionally compelling, the absurdity kind of doesn't matter. The story's still got you at this point.

* Kirk beautifully recites the Pledge of Allegiance.

* I love the guy who says "He spoke the holy word!" This scene just keeps getting sillier and sillier.

* "He was cast out!!!" Have I said that Ron Tracey is one of the great Star Trek villains of all time? Well, he is.

* What the hell is Spock's picture doing in the Bible? He's not in my Bible. WTF?

* Okay, so the episode just continues its free fall into absurdity, but it's still holding your attention, and much of that has to do with the fabulous conflict between Kirk and Tracy. Of course, this includes a third fight between them.

* Including an actual copy of the US Constitution, and then having Kirk's dramatic recitation of the Preamble is nothing short of fucking stupid. But, oh my god, it's just too wonderful. This might be my favorite Kirk speech of all time.

* Why must Cloud William be played as a total retard?

* Allegorically speaking, is this a tale of the rugged persistence of American values, of the scrappy survivor attitude of the American people? Or is it the tale of how American values, in actual practice, are nothing but garbled words, meaningless except as tribalistic ritual speech? I prefer the latter interpretation, but I assume the creators meant the former.

* Four stars. Maybe four and a half. This ought to be a failure in some ways, like the aforementioned "Patterns of Force," which has many similarities. But it's actually quite successful. Very tight plot, very engaging performances from the two principles. And, of course, very patriotic.

You know, I try to watch this one every July Fourth.