Monday, June 15, 2009

Star Trek--"A Piece of the Action"

As with ‘The Trouble with Tribbles," I have to go against the conventional wisdom and for the same reason. I do not think this is one of the best episodes of TOS and the reason it is unappealing is because of the over the top humor. Much of this silliness wuld not pass muster in a Saturday morning cartoon.

While I like James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson (Key Largo is one of my all time favorite movies), I am not much into gangster movies. If I was more intune with the lingo and assorted other trappings, perhaps I would have enjoyed parody of the gangster movie genre. As it was, I thought our heroes were taking a step beyond mocking themselves as they did in ’The Trouble with Tribbles.” here they are pretending to be something they are not, doing it badly, and yet have an arrogance about it which was not only implausible, but annoying.

If that was not enough, the ending laughline renders the whole point of the episode moot. The Enterprise had come to the planet to investigate what changes may have occurred over the century since another ship, Horizon, visited. The Horizon visited before the Prime Directive was established, so there was a fear how detrimental the contact might have been.

Someone from the Horizon left behind a book called Gangs of Chicago. The impressionable Iotians took the bookas a suggestion how to build their society, so the planet became one big copy of Al Capone’s Chicago.

That is a passibly decent plot if executed well. I have already established it was not, but here is the kicker: McCoy leaves his communicator behind on the planet. Kirk jokes how that is going to cause tons of problems in the future and leaves it at that. They were sent to examine the damage done from a century ago and now realized how bad it could get. So one absent minded crewmember screws up again, this time in direct violation of law, and everyone laughs it off. No damage control, no concerns. Not even a reprimand for McCoy. Whatwas the poit of the episode if no one really cares about contaminating a primitive society? Better question; why should I sit for an hour and care if thecharactersdo not?

The only reason I will give the episode more than one star is because of Vic Tayback. I do not know if I have found memories of Alice from my youth or he played a good gangster, but he was about the sole bright spot.

Rating; ** (out of 5)

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