|Spray it with flowers...|
Red Dwarf, that superb science fiction comedy show, has naturally had a pop or two at Star Trek over the years.
I can't help wonder if this is one of the episodes that influenced them...
While exploring a planet that reminds them of the Garden of Eden, which is just outside Moscow according to Chekov (although I think that's a joke on his part), one of Kirk's crew is killed by a poison thorn shooting flower. Unable to beam back up, they discover this isn't really paradise after all.
This is very much a Trek-by-the-numbers episode. Explore unusual planet, meet strange and unusual people who are being subjected by an unusual force, defeat said force, then go home, rinse and repeat. Apart from what seems to me a metaphor about 'rugged individualism' versus state provision - a common theme in American political discourse - there is very little original overall in the plot. It's also got a couple of rather big plot holes - most notably how the Enterprise is able to conduct an orbital phaser bombardment after 'frying nearly all its systems'.
However, what keeps this episode from being dull is the fact that is it very, very camp. Some of the highlights:
- No less than four redshirts dying, all in different ways - including when one steps on an exploding rock. That appears to have seriously injured the stuntman doing it; this show seems to like abusing its actors.
- A planet blatantly mocked up in a studio with a red sky... but with stock footage of thunder clouds in a blue sky.
- A red-skinned alien species who have no idea about physical romance (leading to some awkward questions) and wear what are basically bath towels for clothing. Oh and the blokes wear giant white toupees.
- A fight scene involving these creatures and a high kicking lady in a red mini-dress that must have required careful editing to avoid showing anyone's 'Florida' (TM Carrie Fisher, discussing that slave-girl outfit from Return of the Jedi). At any rate, it looks ridiculous.
- Alien food that is essentially spray painted fruit.
- Chekov deciding to take a break mid-mission to snog his new girlfriend, who we will likely never see again.
- An alien machine represented by a cave entrance shaped like a dragon head.
We even get two 'comedy endings'; although only the second is actually any good.
This is a very kitsch episode of Star Trek and arguably very stereotypical of the show. While flawed in a good number of parts and with particularly dodgy effects, it's still an enjoyable 50 minutes, even if not exactly for the right reasons.