Dec 14, 2020
Star Trek (TAS) “Beyond the Farthest Star” (part 1 of 3)
Hello, and welcome back! It was a lot of fun reviewing those classic Superman cartoons, but now it’s time to return to my bread and butter: Star Trek: The Animated Series! Originally, I was going to do “The Pirates of Orion”…
Okay, that sounds wrong.
Originally, I was going to write a recap of “The Pirates of Orion”. And I had gotten a pretty decent start on it. But then something came up and I realized that while it was okay for me to take one or two episodes out of order, I discovered while writing about “Orion” that there were certain times where it might be necessary to write some recaps before others. So that meant I had to review the very first TAS episode.
God help me.
Look, I knew this series was bad. One of the reasons I started doing this was the fact that when it comes to overall quality, this show often ranks only marginally higher than Super Friends on most days. But man, this first episode is just…
Well, let’s get started. I give you… “Beyond The Farthest Star”!
Christ, with a title that pretentious, I know I’m in for a rough time.
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The Enterprise is headed for the fringe of the galaxy to check out some strange radio emissions. We cut from the exterior of the ship to the bridge, where—
Okay, what is everyone doing here? Just… leaning at random? That looks uncomfortable. Look at Spock’s arm. Can anyone do that with their arm? Is that a Vulcan thing? Uhura, I sort of get; she’s obviously trying to see the viewscreen and Kirk’s huge ego is in the way.
The red alert is going off, and Scotty explains Enterprise has picked up speed. He’s cut back power to the engines, but that isn’t helping. Sulu says she (Enterprise) is not answering the helm and is drifting off course. If it was anyone other than Sulu, I could have turned that into a sexual innuendo. Kirk orders a reverse course and we get shaky cam, with everyone in those positions again.
Ah, I see where this is going. This is one of those instances where the artists were too lazy to make a “before-crash” establishing shot. I should be used to this level of quality from the Filmation sweat shops, but this episode takes it to an entirely new level, as we’ll soon see.
Spock peeks into his magic viewfinder, and describes the effect they’re suffering from as “hyper gravity”. I’m sure McCoy can prescribe some Ritalin for that. Kirk wonders why they couldn’t find the source of the “hyper gravity”, and has Spock activate the forward viewscreen. What looks like a desolate planet appears, and Uhura reports that it’s the source of the radio emissions. Spock says it has “negative star mass”.
I’m starting to miss Voyager technobabble now.
Spock says they’re going to crash in ninety-three seconds, but then Uhura reports that there’s another signal. Hearing this signal apparently causes Kirk to spontaneously grow a third arm.
Thankfully, we’re spared from seeing what he’s doing with the hand at the end of it.
At t-minus forty seconds, Kirk has Sulu head to flank speed and get Enterprise into an orbit around the “hyper gravity” causing “negative star mass”. Was ”black hole” or “singularity” copyrighted by someone at this point? Sulu proves to be the unsung hero as he achieves orbit around the thing. Kirk asks Spock if he can calculate orbit breaking maneuvers, and he says it’ll take a little time. Uhura is able to pinpoint the source of the radio waves, and they spot an alien vessel.
Spock determines the vessel is dead, and yet radio emissions are still coming from the ship. An analysis confirms the vessel is some three hundred million years old, and McCoy murmurs, “Barely an instant in eternity, Jim”. Whoa there, Bones! Save the deep philosophical lines for the end of the episode, where it belongs!
It’s time to beam on over to check things out. Kirk says they’re going to need “life support belts” and the scene cuts over to Scotty who—
Oh my God, Scotty misplaced the lower half of his body! Or, he has a tiny cloaking device in his pants.
Kirk says Bones will come with them… why? Spock and Scotty are obvious choices, since they’ll be scoping out a dead ship, and you want the scientist and engineer along. And Kirk…
Well, hell, why is Kirk going, anyway? And did Spock ever finish those orbit-breaking computations? What if the four get killed on that hulk? Is Enterprise doomed to orbit a dead rock until the crew dies of starvation? It would make more sense for Kirk to go over while Spock stays behind to finish his math homework: Kirk is expendable.
The four beam over, and we get our first look at the life support belts in action.
And apparently, the belts not only allow people to talk in the vacuum of space, but they also provide their own gravity, as everyone can walk around on the outside of this ship. This is obviously one of those instances where the writer gets into the mindset of writing for kids, so little details like this can just get thrown under the literary bus. Spock notes the hexagonal design is like a bee hive, while Scotty notes the metal hasn’t been cast or rolled, but spun. Kirk exposits that the effect is like a spider’s web.
So… Giant bees…
…or giant spiders…
I don’t care if the crew’s been dead for three hundred million years. If I was on that landing party, I’d be hopping off that ship and floating my ass back to Enterprise.
Kirk notes that every pod has been burst open.
Scotty adds that they were apparently burst open from the inside. McCoy suggests it must have been one helluva accident to cause that, while Spock thinks it more likely that it was deliberate: the crew destroyed their own vessel. I’m thinking maybe the pods are eggs, and giant spider babies floated off into space to eat people. Can you tell bugs freak me the hell out?