22 April 2015

The hippies want their curtains back (Review: 'Star Trek' 1.9, "Dagger of the Mind")

The Enterprise sends drugs to the penal colony/treatment facility on Tantalus and receives a box of classified material in return. The box in fact contains an escapee... who when captured really doesn't want to go back and with good reason.

We've gone into another classic plot here; idyllic treatment facility masks something much darker underneath. Kirk seems to be a fan of a lot of scientists who turn out to be dodgy; Dr Adams (James Gregory, best known for his role in Barney Miller, a show whose main impact on TV to me seems to be the plethora of fictional 12th precincts in NYPD shows), the boss of a place that seems to have done wonders for criminal rehabilitation is another classic example, complete with ironic death. However, the plot of the story could have been further developed (indeed some lines got removed by Roddenberry in the scripting); it would have been good, for example, to see the inmates of the facility go after Kirk.

The Most Ridiculous thing in the episode title goes to the inmates, who generally wear multi-coloured print style outfits that someone probably nicked from a hippie's VW van.

However, it's run close in the OTT stakes by Dr Simon van Gelder, who after experiencing physical pain when trying to say his name ("My name is... AHHHHHHH!" reminding me of Eminem, although it would be six years before his mother gave birth to him and 33 before she sued him) experiences the first Vulcan mind-meld in the series. The only reason Morgan Woodward doesn't chew the scenery is because he's strapped to a gurney.

Kirk is accompanied to Tantalus by one Dr Helen Noel, an attractive scientist who he kisses at least twice, dressed in the infamous Starfleet minidress that guarantees panty shots. Mind you, the whole "surprised the scientist is female" thing by a male lead is really, really old hat now.


A good episode, but it kind of loses something by the end. It would have been better with Klingons and I'm still hoping they turn up sooner rather than later.


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