06 December 2015

Lawyers... in space!!! (Review: 'Star Trek' 1.20, "Court Martial")

Now, I'm a fan of The Good Wife and Suits. I'm also a fan of Star Trek. However, I don't generally expect those two genres to mix.

After an ion storm that resulted in the death of a crewman, Captain Kirk reports to a Commodore at the nearby Starbase as how it became necessary to leave him behind... unfortunately, the computer says something different and Kirk ends up facing a court martial...

It's clear from the outset that this is an episode that's not had the largest budget spent on it. Most of it is done in only a few rooms and with some model shots (obviously improved for the DVD version), with no exciting trips to Kirk's Rock or places like that. Indeed, there is no Sulu or Scotty in this one.

The ion storm in question isn't even shown; just a scene on the bridge with people shaking about a bit (not even a proper flinging yourself across the room). It isn't fully explained why Kirk has to eject the pod containing the dead crewman, one Lieutenant Commander Finney (who it is soon established has had problems that Kirk has kind of contributed to), in the first place, just that it's necessary to avoid the destruction of the ship.

So we get a courtroom drama of the sort made most famous in A Few Good Men among other things. Kirk can handle the truth, but he has problems handling the prosecution lawyer, who, quelle surprise, is yet another former girlfriend of his. How many has that man had?

His defence lawyer is an eccentric 'dead tree publishing' fan played by Elisha Cook, Jr. (best known for his role in The Maltese Falcon, but also one of those actors in a lot of things with a distinctive look) who decides not to bother cross-examining the prosecution witnesses. We also get the rather irritating daughter of Finney, who seems to have come out of Central Casting's 'airy young woman department'.

The trial, in which we hear the words 'Starfleet' and 'Starfleet Command' for the first time, is a standard clichéd affair with dramatic interventions worthy of Perry Mason and Spock being his logical best. It's noteworthy that Commodore Stone (played by Percy Rodriguez, a man known for a very authoritative voice), who presides over the court martial as well, is the highest ranked African-American character in the original series.

The conclusion sees the discovery of what really happened, a piece of technological use that would make the team from the late CSI scratch their heads at its implausibility and a fight scene which not only involves yet another incident of Kirk's tunic getting ripped, but also some very, very obvious use of stunt doubles.


Definitely not your usual episode of Star Trek and it's clear this was done on the relative cheap. If I wanted to watch JAG in space, I'd watch something else.


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