Friday, August 06, 2010

The Ultimate Computer

From Wikipedia:

"The Ultimate Computer" is a season two episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, first broadcast on March 8, 1968 and repeated June 28, 1968. It is episode #53, production #53, written by D.C. Fontana, based on a story by Laurence N. Wolf, and directed by John Meredyth Lucas.

Overview: A new computer designed to control the ship causes havoc aboard the Enterprise.


And watch the episode


* Interesting, but ultimately unsatisfying, theme of technology rendering certain jobs obsolete.

* I've always liked Commodore Wesley, and I don't know why. I mean, he really doesn't do much in this episode, and it's the only one he appears in. Maybe it's nice to see a Star Fleet commodore who hasn't gone space-mad like Commodore Decker did in "
The Doomsday Machine." I don't know.

* Damn, Dr. Daystrom is fucking tall.

* It's very cool to see, at the point in history that this one was made, a dignified African-American man portrayed as tragic hero. I mean, he's doing much more than opening hailing frequencies, if you catch my drift.

* Some cool tech in this one, and a very cool shot of the engines.

* The whole tech-rendering-people-obsolete thing is weak from the get-go. Why on earth would 23rd century people who are drowning in technology already be afraid of technological progress?

* Kirk's "red alert" in the back of his head about the M5 tries to expand the above mentioned tech theme into the already established human instinct over Vulcan logic conflict running through the whole series. But it still doesn't go anywhere.

* Yay! Sulu's back from working on The Green Berets.

* M5's turning off non-essential ship's systems is an absolute failure as far as dramatic moments preceding commercial breaks goes. Really, this is more of a function of the weakness of the MacGuffin.

* William Marshall, who plays Daystrom, and later went on to be The King of Cartoons on Pee Wee's Playhouse, is very much cut from the Paul Robeson mold. That is, he's pretty fucking great.

* If I had to be really really fucking disturbed because somebody called me "Captain Dunsel" I'd fail utterly. Leave it to Shatner's artificial acting style to pull off what a psychologically realistic style couldn't.

* Did McCoy call this drink "Finagle's Folly"? They continue to push the Kirk-is-useless theme too much, but I like this Kirk and McCoy scene; it very much hearkens back to a similar scene between Captain Pike and his ship's surgeon back in "The Menagerie." (Part one
here, part two here.)

* It's interesting that the M5 chooses to destroy an automated ship before it starts killing people.

* Kirk is positively gleeful in his anger once the M5 finally screws up.

* Fabulous red shirt death.

* Great creepy monologue Daystrom delivers to McCoy.

* Great Kirk and McCoy discussion on the fine line between genius and madness.

* Very cool to see all these starships.

* So...does Commodore Wesley have a bigger captain's chair because he outranks Kirk?

* Very nice touch that the machine that makes people meaningless also kills people.

* Great line, from Daystrom to the M5: "You are great; I am great."

* Daystrom has one of the very best Vulcan neck pinch moments in all of Star Trek.

* It's been a while since we've seen some serious space madness. 'Bout fucking time.

* It's also been a while since we've seen Kirk destroy a computer with logical paradox. Always fun.

* Three stars. Some really good moments, and Daystrom is one of the great Trek guest characters, but its message kind of doesn't make sense, which sabotages much of the story. But definitely still worth watching.