Scotty's Fey Lassie; Kirk's Gotten Brassy
B.C. Scribe | Brooklyn Center, MN USA | 01/12/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"'The Lights Of Zetar' is an episode that plays by it's own rules and the result is one of the poorest efforts of the original series. The story was written by Shari Lewis, of "Lamb Chop" fame, and her husband Jeremy Tarcher, with the thought that she would be the female lead. Thank goodness clearer heads prevailed! The idea of a conscious body of interstellar beings traveling the galaxy looking for an escape from their incorporeal state isn't really a bad concept at all. It's the way that they are defeated that's the problem here.In the beginning we are introduced to Lt. Mira Romaine who the Enterprise is taking to Memory Alpha, an immense library sanctioned by the Federation and open to all. The starship encounters an unusual phenomenon just before reaching their destination. It appears onscreen as a multi-colored cloud that gives no discernible readings when scanned. It soon penetrates the hull and disables the crew in various ways; the cloud assaults Lt. Romaine momentarily and later she has what she believes is a disturbing premonition concerning the Memory Alpha facility. Within time the true identity of the mysterious cloud is discovered - and the crew also learns that Lt. Romaine has been chosen by them to fulfill a sinister and costly purpose.What really hurts this episode is that Kirk, Spock and McCoy devise a way to defeat the Zetars that isn't quite plausible. How will this method defeat the beings? While you are watching this keep in mind they penetrated the ship's hull with no problems in the beginning of the show and also they have existed in zero gravity for millennia. I'm going to guess that the episode may have had an earlier solution that wasn't practical in view of budget concerns; this ending was written as a substitute and was certainly easy for the special effects crew to pull off. The result: It Stinks! Any reasonably educated person isn't going to buy this explanation as presented. The romance between Scotty and Lt. Romaine is a limp-legged plot element as well and it only gets in the way of the story, bogging it down with sappy and unlikely dialogue from the normally levelheaded engineer.'The Cloud Minders' fares much better and introduces the city of Stratos that floats on a cloud, one of the most memorable fantasy elements created by Star Trek. Upon arrival Spock meets an attractive and intelligent woman whose beauty so impresses him that he gives brief consideration to a romance. But as you might have guessed something "sours" the milk for the first officer.The Enterprise goes to the planet of Ardana to pick up a shipment of zenite, the antidote to an epidemic that has struck a Federation planet's vegetation and may destroy it all. On the surface of Ardana Kirk and Spock are attacked by terrorists known as Disrupters; they are rescued within seconds by the ruler of Stratos, Plasus, who has come to the surface with two guards. Returning to Stratos with Plasus, Kirk and Spock receive the explanation that the miners who live on the surface of Ardana are rebelling against their superior counterparts who live in the city of Stratos. Kirk and Spock see the clear distinction between the classes of citizens and attempt to negotiate an understanding of their differences, running afoul of both of the warring parties, leading to several complications.The mutual attraction between Droxine and Spock develops nicely; their conversations are believable and revealing, adding necessary insight to the two cultures depicted here. Kirk takes the dire matters into his hands breaking all rules of diplomacy and shooting from the hip. It's hard to believe that the Federation would tolerate Kirk's actions in this case despite the severity of the situation. Apparently the creators of Trek realized this as you'll note by the final line of dialogue between Plasus and Kirk. Another unintentional comical moment happens when the elegant and refined Droxine tells Spock that she will go to the surface to work in the mines. Yeah, right! She wouldn't last 30 seconds in the completely foreign and harsh environment of the underground caverns. Obviously she wishes to continue to further impress the intrepid Mr. Spock."
A pair of lesser episodes from Star Trek's final season
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 11/09/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"We are obviously getting near the end of the road here because Volume 37 of the Star Trek DVD series offers up a couple of lesser efforts from the show's final season. "The Lights of Zetar" is heading for Memory Alpha, which must be the Federation's version of Asimov's Foundation facility, when an energy cloud appears. After knocking out Lt. Mira Romaine on the ship, the cloud attacks Memory Alpha, kills most of the researchers and wipes out the computer memory. When the Enterprise encounters the cloud again, it is clear that there is some weird link between it and Romaine. Eventually Kirk gets around to exploiting it in order to figure out what is going on and what to do about it. This is one of those Star Trek episodes that just strikes me as rather lame. The explanation is unsatisfying and the resolution is a bit extreme on several levels. Besides which, I do not think energy clouds are this easy to defeat."The Cloud Minders" finds the Enterprise visiting Ardana, a planet rich in the mineral zenite and where the society is divided into those who live on Stratos, a city in the cloud where everyone engages in the mental arts, and the Troglytes, who work in the zenite minds. As Kirk tries to negotiate for the zenite, the Troglytes have started to rebel. Plasus, the head of the Stratos Council, starts torturing Troglytes, with little success. Kirk meets with Vanna, the leader of the Troglytes and offers help: it seems the zenite gas causes "temporary" mental and emotional problems and McCoy has whipped up some masks that improve the health of the miners. Of course, Vanna does not trust the strange visitors from another planet and the people of Stratos do not want to give up their belief of superiority over the Troglytes. This leaves it all up to Kirk to show them all the error of their ways. Since there is a planet that needs that zenite I guess playing around with the Prime Directive is okay (this time). "The Cloud Minders" is the better of the two episodes on this DVD, but we have seen much better examples of Kirk bringing enlightenment to supposedly advanced but obviously bigoted societies."