Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Star Trek--"The Way to Eden"

I have already committed to covering TNG. Those reviews will start on Monday with "Encounter at Farpoint.” There is a fantastic chance my Trek reviews will end with that series because of the burnout risk from the daily grind. But rest assured, if I never write a single word about DS9, VOY, or ENT, I will still have presented to you the worst Trek episode in its 43 history with today’s review. That travesty is the space hippies of “The Way to Eden.”

When I started reviewing the third season of TOS, I said the bad episodes were either bad ideas or decent ideas poorly executed, but a select few were both. “The Way to Eden” is both. The story is awful. The dialogue is dumb. The characterizations are off. The special effects are even cheaper looking than usual. Did I mention space hippies? There is absolutely nothing of redeeming value in this episode. It is like the producers of TOS were flipping the bird at NBC for the inevitable cancellation.

First, the story. I can accept the idea of the spoiled brat kid of a Federation official rebelling by joining a cult. I could even understand if it were some weird alien cult that a young person would find too alluring to resist. But when it turns out to be a bunch of hippies looking for a pseudo-Biblical Eden lead by a Typhoid Mary guru, it all goes down the toilet. I just cannot see it. How did these dopes manage to hijack the Enterprise as easily as they did?

Second, the dialogue. You know the slang as well as I do. No need to comment further on it. You are not Herbert. We reach. Yea, brother?

Third, the characterizations. Does Spock not strike you as an old fart who would not go for what the hippies reselling/ He freely admits even the emotional irrationality of straitlaced, disciplined Starfleet types annoys him. He should hate hippies. Yet there he is, eager to find Eden and jamming with them. Then again, the rest of the ship looked like they rolled some doobies and mellowed out, too. Amazing. Woodstock was still months away from happening when “The Way to Eden” aired, but the Summer of Love was still in recent memory.

Since when is Chekov a by the book, disciplined kind of officer,. He was supposed to be a DavyJones type, anti-authotiatarian rebel who appealed to the kiddies. I guess he was in comparison to the hippies, but still. It was off.

Finally, the special effects. I can forgive Doc Sevrin’s ears as his only alien feature. I liked the Bajorans of DS9 when all they had were nose ridges. But the Aurora Was a Tholian ship when nacelles glued on. Several shots were blatantly reused from past episode and awkwardly fit in. one reaction shot of kirk was obviously filmed in reverse for inexplicable reasons. Honestly, the episode looks almost fan made.

If I may tie this in to future Trek, the most baffling aspect of “The Way to Eden” is that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier,” though not a direct sequel, adopts a number of the episode’s worst concepts. Out of all the episodes the story could have stolen from, this is the one chosen. It is beyond me.

About the only amusing aspect of “The Way to Eden” is the contrast of Charles Napier’s goofy hippie character of Adam compared to the bullying criminal or military types 9once even on DS9) he would play throughout the rest of his career. Most people think of him as the country singer from The Blues Brothers, but I more recognize him as Murdock, the crooked CIA operative who betrays Rambo to the Vietnamese in First Blood II. He was also great on The Critic as Jay Sherman’s sadistic, megalomanical boss. But he did not make Adam even remotely interesting.

Forget waterboarding. Show ’The way to Eden” at Gitmo and I will probably march right along side Human Rightswatch over it.

Rating; * (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment