Star Trek (TAS) “One of Our Planets is Missing” (part 1 of 3)

Hello, and welcome back to our Star Trek: The Animated Series recaps! It was one year ago this month that the guys and gals here at the Booth allowed me into their secret clubhouse, and I thought it might be nice if I did a written recap to observe the occasion, rather than a video review. The fact that my Space: 1999 video is taking longer to write than I anticipated has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my decision.

Really.

Well, what also prompted me to write this was the season finale of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that aired this month, where the writers poked fun at TAS. I wonder if some exec at Paramount is considering a Blu-ray TAS release as we speak…

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This week, our heroes have been sent to the fringes of the Federation because a “huge cosmic cloud” has been seen entering our galaxy. As usual, the Enterprise is the only ship in the vicinity that can investigate. Their position is in the Pallas XIV system, which contains the planet Mantilles, the Federation’s most remote colony. Kirk has a map of the system thrown up on the screen, and…

Star Trek (TAS) "One of Our Planets is Missing" (part 1 of 3)

Okay, where is the star? Is the green circle the star, and that’s a giant planet next to it, with a really, really close orbit? What am I looking at here? It looks like it might be an atomic diagram. If so, it could be lithium, if the inner dots represent three protons and neutrons each. See how proper use of the internet can make you sound educated?

Just how are the planets sticking together without the gravitational pull of a star, anyway? Do the planets just like each other? Are they sentient and the two in the middle are the parents and the ones orbiting them are their kids? That would make a much more interesting episode than what I’m getting so far.

Spock gives initial readings on the cloud, and says it’s irregular in shape… like most clouds are. It’s 800 kilometers wide and 400 kilometers deep. Good thing space is just two dimensions, so we don’t know how thick it is. Lt. Arex notes, “It’s immense!”, and is the diameter of Saturn, Jupiter, and Neptune together. Glad to see you’re up on your Earth Solar System trivia there, Arex.

Spock describes it as a strange mixture of matter and energy. I’d argue that could also describe a normal storm cloud full of lightning discharges, but whatever. Arex reports Ellondra, the outermost planet of the starless Pallas XIV system, has disappeared. Uhura suggests maybe the cloud just came between them and the planet, but Spock says no—the cloud has swallowed Ellondra. He further reports that the planet’s mass is breaking up. Kirk asks if it’s possible the cloud consumes planets, and Spock admits it may be.

Sulu reports that the cloud is changing course. Kirk says, “That’s impossible!” This coming from the guy who fought Jack the Ripper and miraculously survived a hundred alien STDs. And it’s okay to think a cloud eats planets, but that it can’t change course to eat more? Arex backs up his boy Sulu and confirms the cloud is now heading towards Mantilles. At this, Kirk orders Sulu to take the ship to warp eight so they can intercept the cloud.

Along the way, McCoy says to Kirk that if they don’t get there in time, millions will die. Thank you, Doctor Obvious. But what else would I expect from the guy whose catchphrase is “He’s dead, Jim!” Spock points out this cloud could even munch on stars; they have no idea what its diet is or what drives it. He compares it to an amoeba, which is kinda funny, considering what this reminds me of: the space amoeba from “The Immunity Syndrome”.

Star Trek (TAS) "One of Our Planets is Missing" (part 1 of 3)

Note to the writer: don’t make obvious references to the episode you’re “paying homage” to.

Kirk turns to Bones, and in a moment that’s handled very seriously, Kirk asks him if they should let the people of Mantilles know what’s coming. After hearing the planet has only four hours to live, McCoy says there’ll be blind panic, but Spock points out some people might be saved. McCoy asks who the governor is, and Kirk says it’s Bob Wesley, a former Starfleet officer who’s “no hysteric” (Bob Wesley, for those of you who don’t know, is the poor bastard almost killed by the Enterprise when it was taken over by the M5 in “The Ultimate Computer”. Props to the writer for reusing the character). McCoy says they should tell Bob.

I must say this scene was very well done. I might give this series grief, but one thing the writers always did on this show was address the subject of death in a serious manner. If it’s McCoy being imprisoned for killing hundreds in “Albatross” to the Caretaker dying in “Once Upon a Planet”, the producers didn’t shy away from the subject. It’s sad that children’s programming became so immature during the ‘70s and ‘80s, where you had Challenge of the Superfriends and Solomon Grundy unable to punch anything, or G.I. Joe with its red and blue lasers that never hit anything and guys getting shot out of the sky and always being able to bail out in time.

Okay, enough editorializing.

Spock notes that the cloud is made up of elements not found in their periodic tables. I like how he uses the plural there, like Vulcans have a way cooler periodic table they won’t show humans. And while Kirk is waiting for Uhura to place the call (to be fair, it is a pretty remote place; Uhura is probably lucky enough to get one bar) to Bob, Enterprise is attacked by the cloud and sucked in.

Star Trek (TAS) "One of Our Planets is Missing" (part 1 of 3)

How the hell does that happen? Space is, you know, huge. Why were they flying so close to it in the first place? Did Sulu just assume Kirk wanted them to keep heading straight in? Well, to be fair, there was that episode where Kirk had Sulu fly into an asteroid field at warp one, as in, the speed of light. So yeah, I guess I can see Sulu assuming Kirk wanted to take on this cloud. Or maybe Sulu was texting and he lost track of where he was.

Star Trek (TAS) "One of Our Planets is Missing" (part 1 of 3)

According to Spock (and I had to replay this scene several times to get it right), the streamers that grabbed the Enterprise are a combination of “koinoenergy, almost an ambiplasma”. Christ, I hate technobabble, where the writers just throw out made-up words. It’s one of the things I despised about Voyager, the way they…

Oh. Oh, it seems that koinoenergy and ambiplasma are actual scientific terms, or at least ambiplasma is. I love ya, Memory Alpha, but I’d really like to have at least one other source on that.

McCoy says, “We’re in the cloud!” I sometimes wonder if when McCoy wakes up in the morning, he says stuff like, “I’m awake! On a ship! In space!” And when he’s eating breakfast: “I’m drinking hot coffee! And this donut is delicious, but it’s not good for me!”

Inside the cloud, the Enterprise is surrounded by strange objects.

Star Trek (TAS) "One of Our Planets is Missing" (part 1 of 3)

Spock reports that they’re a form of highly charged gaseous antimatter. That would sound a lot more impressive if they didn’t look like cotton balls. They’re repelled and destroyed by an anti-matter charge through the shields.

Star Trek (TAS) "One of Our Planets is Missing" (part 1 of 3)

After repelling the attack, Kirk turns to Spock and asks for his analysis. Spock has a theory that the cloud… is alive. And they didn’t know this before? It was suggested that the cloud feeds on planets and might even feed on stars, it (impossibly) changed direction to chow down on another planet, and it grabbed them with tentacles of “ambiplasma” and sucked them in. And just now Spock thinks it might be alive?

Spock, your job is to provide insightful analysis. It’s Bones’ job to state the obvious. Listen to the Rock, Spock:

Star Trek (TAS) "One of Our Planets is Missing" (part 1 of 3)

McCoy points out that if they don’t get out soon, the cotton balls will surround the ship and break them down into “nice, digestible parts”. Spock actually agrees with McCoy. Did you feel that? The cold seeping up through the soles of your feet? Yeah, hell just froze over.

Uhura reports that she finally got through to Bob. Kirk has Uhura transfer the call to his quarters, while he has Sulu work up a map of the cloud. Bob says the only ones they might be able to save are the children. There’s nothing at all funny about this scene. Dammit.

While Kirk was away on his downer call, Sulu managed to get a diagram of the cloud put together.

Star Trek (TAS) "One of Our Planets is Missing" (part 1 of 3)

The yellow dot is the Enterprise’s position, and Kirk points out that the entrance they came in is closed, and the only way out seems to be at the other end. So we have an entrance, an exit, and something in between that acts like a stomach. Sometimes this show makes it really hard for me to keep it PG-13.

Multi-Part Article: Star Trek (TAS) "One of Our Planets is Missing"
TV Show: Star Trek (TAS)

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  • Muthsarah

    “Huh? What? The ship has an entirely different engine, a “matter engine”? This is not so much funny as it just sounds really, really weird to me”

    Maybe the Enterprise is like the Delorean: the anti-matter engine powers the warp drive and phasers, but the regular impulse engines run on ordinary gasoline, always have. And it’s quintessential Enterprise: one more thing that can break.

    I think we all want to know when Chief Kyle’s awesome ‘stache comes back into style. Or maybe they picked him up during one of those missions where they find a near-Earth planet, only entirely populated by Gilded-Age barbershop quartets.

    • Thomas Stockel

      That would make reproduction really, really weird…

    • The_Stig

      Maybe Chief Kyle is descended from intergalactic hipsters. Don’t quote me on that, because I’m not sure if there’s a Whole Foods on the Enterprise.

  • MichaelANovelli

    You know, I expected a lot of random references from Star Trek, but never one to “One Of Our Aircraft Is Missing”, ya know?

    • Thomas Stockel

      Well, this is the franchise that completely ripped off The Enemy Below…

  • Yay! ST:TAS recap!

    • Thomas Stockel

      Glad you liked it. 🙂

  • Cheshire Cat

    May I just say, sir, I missed these reviews. Your TAS reviews are what brought me to the Agony Booth.

    • danbreunig

      Great to hear, and (belated) welcome aboard! I love the video productions, but it’s recaps like these that make me appreciate more how much this site has grown, and that you can still be enlightening and funny by doing it old school.

      • Thomas Stockel

        Hey, who you callin’ old? ;p

        • danbreunig

          I never know what counts as young or old :

    • Thomas Stockel

      You have no idea how much I appreciate you saying that. Thanks!

  • danbreunig

    Thanks for coming back with more TAS, Thomas! I keep forgetting how deep a show this is for kids-show- level entertainment. Moral consequences? When Roddenberry met Scheimer…

    I’m getting tingly just knowing that sometime soon I’m gonna see an episode of Space 1999 up here. While I was reading this I kept on thinking “Space Brain” because of a similar conflict.

    It’s kinda sad how even though I wasn’t alive in the 60s I still knew that the two leads in The Ghost Busters were the exact same two leads in F Troop. Why Prescott, Scheimer, Nadel et al would make a show more up Sid & Marty Krofft’s alley, I can’t guess.

    • Thomas Stockel

      I’m glad you liked it, Dan. And I’m definitely going to come back to the TAS recaps once in a while because I have so much fun doing them.

      The seventies certainly did have a lot of live action Saturday morning programming, from Filmation’s Ghostbusters, Jason of Star Command and others to the copious amounts of Sid and Marty Krofft material, to CBS’ Shazam and Isis (JoAnna Cameron looked amazing!), ABC’s The Kids From CAPER, etc. It may have been that the networks were requesting production companies to produce live action stuff and Filmation was meeting a demand. And judging by the low standards of cartoons at the time maybe it was in some producers’ heads that the medium was done for, that Saturday morning cartoons were a thing of the past.

      • danbreunig

        The syndicated cartoon era of the 80s made toons current again, if they ever were a thing of the past (then). Actually what made Filmation grow somewhat in the 70s was a lot animation studios stopped producing shorts for movie theatre intros, and Filmation had plenty of room to welcome those recently out of work animators. I love much of their stuff, and some years ago I’ve picked up some dvd sets of their series, with Bravestarr still my current favorite of the batch. That’s how I also got the late 70s live action space shows (Ark II, Space Academy, JOSC), which are tough to find now, especially on the cheap.

        • Thomas Stockel

          Those are some excellent observations, although if I recall Filmation seemed to rely more and more on rotoscoping with stuff like Batman, Tarzan, Flash Gordon, etc. Even as a kid I started noticing how all of the characters seemed to move alike as the animators borrowed off themselves, like Disney did (Watch Robin Hood and Jungle Book to see what I mean).

  • Cristiona

    “It’s 800 kilometers wide and 400 kilometers deep… is the diameter of Saturn, Jupiter, and Neptune together”

    Um… are these spacekilometers which are considerably bigger than real kilometers? Because 800×400 ain’t very big.

    • Thomas Stockel

      I certainly like that theory better than the alternative one where the writer forgot to add some zeroes. 🙂

  • mcb359

    I think the “matter engine” is just another awkward way of refering to the regular warp core. It is a matter/antimatter reactor afterall. It needs both to create the reaction that powers the ship. Although, I believe the usual form of matter they use is deuterium, which they could have made from the ship’s stores of water. (Makes you wonder why Voyager always went around trying to dig up deuterium when they had replicators that could make water by the ton out of thin air…)

    As for Kyle’s ‘tache, it was just the middle ground between TOS clean shaven and his TWOK goatee!

    • Thomas Stockel

      True, Mister Kyle’s goatee was epic.

  • Dana

    I absolutely love you. Oh, and your reviews too.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Yay, my first stalker! I’ve truly arrived.

      Seriously, I’m glad you like my reviews.

      • Dana

        No, if I was a real stalker I’d remember that they’re recaps not reviews. D’oh!

  • I love these TAS recaps!

    Kirk’s claim that a cloud changing course is “impossible” is really rich coming from the guy who obsessed almost to the point of self-destruction over a blood-sucking cloud being that not only could change course at will, but travel at warp speeds! (TOS: “Obsession”)

    • Thomas Stockel

      Ah, I had forgotten all about that episode until you reminded me of it. Good catch.

  • Kid Charlemagne

    I saw the first airing of this episode when I was attending fifth grade. Next year, in 6th grade Health class, when we studied the digestive system, I already knew what villi were, thanks to this episode. ^_^