Saturday, July 18, 2009

Star Trek--"Turnabout Intruder"

We have reached the final episode of TOS in a shade under three months worth of reviews. While ib enjoyed the overall premise and much of the execution, the latent sexism is annoying. I am neither a feminist nor a chauvinist, but the stereotype of an overly emotional woman screwing up what is perceived to be a man’s job and her failure being blamed on her refusal to know her place as a woman is insulting on the surface.

The Enterprise comes to the aid of a group of scientists who have been exposed to some form of radiation. Among them is Janice Lester, an old flame of kirk’s who is jealous because he has command of a starship. When no one is around, she uses an ancient alien device to switch their bodies. Spock becomes suspicious about Kirk’s irrational behavior and winds up accused of mutiny. The rest of thecrew is on edge deciding what to do when the body transfer, presumably because of high emotions, switches back to normal before Lester as Kirk can destroy her real body with Kirk’s essence in it.

The intrigue of the mutiny and court martial scenes redeem the episode’s entertainment value, but there are many issues regarding the story. Along with some subtle, revealing aspects, such as never referring to McCoy as Bones and filing his nails with an emory board, lester Kirk acts completely emotionally unstable rather than trying to assume the role in every way possible. One would hope that is evidence of mental disorder, but eveey step is taken to say that is just the way an overly ambitious woman who does not know her place acts. Like I said, I am not a feminist, but that is just not the right attitude. Kirk’s last words in the series are--literally--if only she had learn to appreciate her role as a woman.

I still have a difficult time believing Starfleet maintains the death penalty, as well. When Lester irk orders Spock and Lester’s execution, Chekov protests the only rule that merit’s the death penalty is General order 4. Said order is never specified, but mutiny is not it. But whatever general order 4 is, it has to be a more appropriate punishment than General order 7, which is trespassing on Talos IV. I am almost embarrassed to know all that without having to look it up.

In spite of its flaws, “Turnabout Intruder” is a watchable episode. Considering some of the major duds in the third season, it could have been far worse. The episode was originally supposed to air in March 1969, but was bumped due to coverage of Dwight Eisenhower’s death. “Turnabout Intruder” did not air until June. Not only did NBC refuse to finance two additional episodes for the season, but sets were being dismantled while filming was still going on. Nichelle Nichols had departed two episode previous in order to pursue singing engagements. On an even sadder note, Jeffery Hunter, who played Pike in the original pilot,, died one week before the final episode aired due to the effects of an accident suffered on a set he probably would not have been on if TOS had been bought based on “The Cage.” Fate is strange, no?

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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