Brought down by "Bread"
Rottenberg's rotten book review | nyc | 07/15/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I've got mixed feelings about this mixed bag. I'm a trekker with a tilt towards the original series (Classic Trek or, to others, "TOS"), yet even I can't ignore that incarnation's weak spots which abound in "Bread and Circuses", but are ably compensated for in "Babel".In "Bread", the Enterprise searches for the crew of a missing starship. A clue turns up when finding that a nearby planet, supposedly stuck in the pre-industrial age, now shows appears to have advanced to something comparable to 20th Century Earth. The advances, however, are also paralleled by that world's embrace of Imperial Roman culture, especially its bloodlust. Unsurprisingly, the missing starship captain has much to do with elevating (and debasing) the planet's primitive state. Despite the gory depths to which cultural disruption has brought that world (every night is gladiator night, complete with canned cheers and catcalls, but very real gore) the rogue captain rationalizes his violation of the Prime Directive. This would have been a middling episode, but it's devolved itself, mostly because the idea seems to have been done to death in other TOS episodes: A planet patterned after one of Earth's less proud eras ("A Piece of the Action"); starship captains who violate the prime directive ("Omega Glory"; "Patterns of Force"; "A Private War") and little more to separate from that pack.The high-point of this disc, far and away, is "Journey to Babel", in which the Enterprise hosts a menagerie of alien ambassadors to a high-level conference where they will hash out the admission of the beleagured world of Corridan. Here we meet Andorians, Tellarians and other Vulcans. Despite playing supposeldy cold-blooded and emotionless beings, both Nimoy and famed multi-species Trekker Mark Lenard generate a lot of family warmth and also tension. (Lenard, who had a recurring role as the Vulcan Sarek, played the Romulan commander in "Balance of Terror" and put in an appearance as the Klingon comnander in the first Trek movie). This episode is character-driven Trek at its best, weighed down by a thin plot - the odious Tellarian ambassador is found murdered, a crime for which Sarek is implicated. The mystery is thin because the script gives us no details with which to solve it ourselves. By the end of the episode, McCoy is surrounded by Vulcans on both sides, and manages to keep his sanity. "I finally got the last word" he pronounces quite chipper."
SEASON TWO'S HIGH POINT!!!
Jared Insell | Canada | 09/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Volume 22 of the Star Trek DVD collection contains two episodes from season two's high point. By high point I mean that half way through the second season a sudden burst of classic excellent episodes were being produced including the likes of TROUBLE WITH TRIBBLES, A PIECE OF THE ACTION and JOURNEY TO BABEL etc; The beginning of the second season was good but just didn't seem to compare to the first until half way through when these episodes were made.The first episode here is BREAD AND CIRCUSES. The Enterprise crew finds the wreckage of a fellow starship the U.S.S. Beagle and decide to investigate the planet below it. When they arrive on the planet they meet up with a band of sun worshippers and later are captured and taken to a city that looks like Earth's ancient Rome. It turns out that The Roman Empire rules the planet into somewhat modern times where Gladiator games are brodcasted on tv like WWF wrestling. Kirk finds out that Capt. Merik (who was the Beagle's Capt) betrayed his crew and became first citizen of the Empire and is now a close friend to Proconsul Cladius Marcus (played by Logan Ramsey). Marcus demands Kirk to beam down his crew to fight in the arena but Kirk refuses and tries to convince Merik that fighting is wrong in the arena. When Spock and McCoy are forced to fight all hell breaks loose and in the end Merik sees the error of his ways and allows Kirk to escape but unfortunetly Merik is killed by Marcus. This is a very well written episode but the end is somewhat weak. Kirk, Spock and McCoy merely escape. They do not really seem to save all the planet's innocent slaves or anything even Cladius Marcus gets away with all his evil deeds. It's a good episode but has an uneven ending. The other episode here is the real winner JOURNEY TO BABEL. The episode that features the debut of Spock's father (played by Mark Lenard who also played the Romulan commander in BALANCE OF TERROR). The episode is somewhat of a murder mystery when the Ambassador Gav is killed on the way to the planet Babel. All fingers point to Spock's father until it is revealed of his heart condition. An operation is needed in order to save his life but Spock feels he must Captin the ship after Kirk was almost murdered by a "Andorian" who actually murdered Gav. This episode is another great classic from the second season and should be a favourite among many. Mark Lenard is great as Sarek. He should have appeared on the show far more often.Overall I highly recommend this DVD because of JOURNEY TO BABEL but BREAD AND CIRCUSES is worth a look too. But Sarek sells this one as he should. After all he is on the DVD cover. Highly recommended!"
Golden Lion | North Ogden, Ut United States | 12/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hundreds of diplomats are aboard the Enterprise enroute to a secret location called Babel. Sarek and Amanda arrive by shuttle and receive an ambassador greeting by all the Enterprise senior officers. Sarek and Amanda are Spock's parents from Vulcan. Sarek seems disguisted with Spock. Sarek is disguised by Spock human element, never expression or show love or a mind melt with his son. Sareks family has massive Vulcan land ownership and significant class prestige and status among the Vulcan elite and ruling class. Sarek's voice is heard through out Vulcan and the federation. Sarek refuses Kirks offer for Spock to tour guide them around the enterprise and asks for a different guide.
Amanda chastises Spock telling him, "I would have thought after all this time with humans you would learn to smile. You still haven't learned to smile". Amanda express resent for Spocks long absence indicating it has been 4 years since the last visit. Kirk learns from Amanda that Sarek disagreed with Spocks decision to join Starfleet instead of the Vulcan Science Academy; Spock disguarded the family tradition and the Vulcan way; Sarek believed Spock decision was illogical; Sarek correctly criticized Spock for choosing peace through force; Sarek accessed the Federation as an organization involved with numerous acts of force, conflict, and secret military activity through out the Federation; Sarek desired for Spock to learn the Ambassador discipline and gain influence through family power, relationship, and wealth; Sarek believe Spock should learn and practice the traditions of the his fathers. Amanda tells McCoy that Spock as a child had a pet called a Sehlat, "fat teddy bear". Spock tells McCoy that Vulcan teddy bears are alive and have six inch fangs."
Journey to Babel centered on the counsel issues surrounding admission of the planet, Coridan into the federation. The issues for admission were important to Vulcan and required the retired 102 years old Sarek to handle Vulcan's position at the conference. Previously, Sarek had openly and publicly debated Gav, the Tellerite and won the argument. Vulcan indirectly accused the Tellerites and Orions of illegally smuggling dilithium crystals; Vulcan wanted federation law and order to govern trade; and the Federation represented the best balance of power in favor of the Vulcans.
Sarek privately chastise Amanda for embarrassing Spock. Amanda replies back to Sarek, "I thought you did not approve of StarFleet", "you do respect Starfleet" and "you are proud of your son". Sarek is logically stating that a Starfleet officer should be shown respect and personal differences, do not justify disrespect. Amanda wishful thinking will not lead Sarek into action that will show any emotion or affection toward his son. Spock is alone in the World with only his friends on the Enterprise.
The Enterprise detects a scout ship and Kirk wants Spock's opinion, to which, Spock replies, "I shall need more data from my estimate". The alien scout ship can travel at warp ten allowing it to avoid any of the enterprise weaponry.
Gav threatens Sarek, after Sarek discloses that Vulcan will vote for admission of Coridan into the Federation. Sarek tells Gav that "threats are illogical" and "payment is often expensive". Later, Gav is found murdered with a broken neck and Sarek is the prime suspect. Spock explains that Sarek would need a reason to kill and if the reason were compelling that Sarek was very capable of killing. Spock describes the method of killing as Tal-Shay, pressure applied mercifully, to a specific spot on the neck vertebrae rendering the victim, dead instantly.
Kirk charges Sarek as being a prime suspect. Sarek collapsed with heart value failure. Sarek explains that he has had three heart value failures and at the time of the murder, he was in private mediation and experiencing heart value failure, on the 3rd level of the observation deck. McCoy recommends cryogenic open heart surgery, but the procedure will require vast amounts of T negative Vulcan blood. Spock has the rare blood type and agrees to use an experimental drug that will double his blood production capability. McCoy express reserve because he has never performed a surgery on a Vulcan and the drug could damage Spocks spleen and liver.
An imposer Andorian (Orion) attacks Kirk near his quarters and punctures his left lung in a knife fight. Spocks tells Thelev that the attack was illogical because the Andorians profit in no way by the attack Thelev argues the Andorians are using an act of passion for gain and the Andorians want to murder the 100 delegates.
Spock now refuses to assist in the operation because his duty requires command of the enterprise and the duty can not be relinquish for personal reasons. Amanda says "your duty is your father", "nothing is as important as your father life", "your not really Vulcan" and after the boys had ridicule Spock, Amanda tells Spock, "the human part cried", "I cried too", "There must be some part of me in you". Spock does not budge. Amanda tells him, "if you do not save your father, I will hate you for the rest of your life". Spock says, "I can not".
Kirk appears on the bridge and tricks Spock into thinking is fit for duty; Spock is ordered to report too sickbay for the operation; Kirk destroys the Orion ship; Kirk transfers command to Scotty; and Sarek, Spock, and Kirk are together at Sickbay. Spock asks Sarek why he married Amanda and Sarek replies, "It seemed logical at the time". Kirk wants to continue daily duties but McCoy tells him to lie down and be quiet. Spock tells the group that he has never seen McCoy happier and McCoy says, "I finally to the last word".