PATTERNS OF FORCE was described by someone at the IMDB as "the serious version of A PIECE OF THE ACTION". That's about right. Unlike the alleged "parallel evolution" of THE OMEGA GLORY and BREAD AND CIRCUSES, the gangster planet and Nazi planet were both the direct results of Earth missions contaminating the indiginous cultures. Of course, this meant in both cases, Kirk was free to "interfere", since he was trying to put right was was put wrong from previous interference.
This was one intense, nasty episode... and yet, unlike B&C, it's eminently watchable, even entertaining. I wonder, maybe Nazi stories are easier to deal with than Roman Empire stories, because in WW2, there were, in the long run, much greater powers poised to take down an obviously insane, hate-filled, self-destructive country... while, with Rome, there was nothing to stop them (apart from a mesage of peace and brotherhood, which itself became perverted when a Roman emperor decided to CO-OPT it as his new STATE RELIGION).
Niven is one of all time favorite authors. The Trek episode was adapted from Niven's short story "The Soft Weapon" - with Spock substituting for the Piersons Puppeteer. The alien Puppeteer race plays a large roll in Niven's "Known Space" stories. The Trek episode was then adapted back to short story form by Alan Dean Foster in his series based on the animated show.
Niven also did the Green Lantern graphic novel "Ganthet's Tale" with John Byrne.
I did mention the GL story. Andy Helfer oversaw 2 different, very creative, uplifting periods in GL's history. The 1st was right after Len Wein & Dave Gibbons both decided to jump ship in mid-storyline, and Helfer got Steve Englehart & Joe Staton on the book. Incredibly (according to Englehart), it was the first time in the book's history where sales doubled. Behind-the-scenes crapola (mostly involving the ACTION COMICS WEEKLY project) inspired Steve to quit, probably much earlier than he might have.
After the mostly-disastrous ACW run of GL (thank you, Denny O'Neil), Helfer came back, and Gerard Jones & a variety of artists got on the series. It was a slow, painful re-building after the damage O'Neil had caused, but it looked like it was starting to really get somewhere. And in the midst of that, probably at the high point, was when Larry Niven got involved (with John Byrne, back when he knew what he was doing). But tragically, right after that, Helfer left to focus on other things, his assistant editor got a promotion, and within a year, the book began to go completely to hell. Again.
No doubt about it... whoever's in charge, it's THEIR responsibility. (Captain Kirk knows!)
THE TIME TRAP sees The Enterprise investingating an area of space where over several centuries, many ships have vanished mysteriously. When they arrive, they're suddenly attacked by a Klingon battle cruiser, The Klothos, commanded by Kirk's old eneny, Kor. Returning fire, they see The Klothos suddenly vanish from sight! At which point, 2 more Klingon ships arrive, accuse The Enterprise of destroying The Klothos, and order them to surrender if they don't want to be destroyed. Kirk orders the ship to head for the exact spot The Klothos vanished, and, sure enough, The Enterprise vanishes as well-- thru a warp and right into an alternate unverse!
In the midst of a virtual "Sargasso Sea" of ancient space ships, they find a floating city, inhabited by a wide range of races, all of whom have become trapped there over the centuries. Their ruling council includes a Vulcan, a Romulan, a Gorn, a Telarite, an Andorian, a green Orion woman, one of the plant-creatures seen in THE INFINITE VULCAN, and others. Something in the "pocket universe" they're in drains their ships energies, preventing them from leaving, but also, causes time to pass slowly, in such a way that some of them have been there for centuries, while hardly aging at all! They've become adjusted to their lives there, and their one over-riding law is that of non-violence.
Kor attempts to escape but fails, and Spock reasons that, before their ships' energies fade, they may have one chance to make it, if they link the power of both ships together. (This was an idea later reused in the novel and feature film 2010!!!) While meeting to discuss it, Spock casually leans over 2 of the Klingons and rests his arms on their shoulders, talking in a friendly, relaxed manner. Later, McCoy tells Kirk he's worried. It's Spock's calculations that are going to get them out of there, but he's NEVER seen Spock act like a "pal" toward anyone (not even Kirk!) and if Spock is somehow being affected by the space they're in, they're ALL in trouble! But Spock explains that by touching the Klingons, he was able to sense in their minds that they're planning some treachery-- though they didn't know the details.
After a scuffle breaks out during a banquet, the ruling council threatens to strand Kor's ship for 100 years. Kirk argues that his crew will be punished as well, since he needs Kor's ship to escape (even though the council does not believe they will succeed). "You would take these RENEGADES with you?" asks the leader.
Finally, as they 2 ships are making their attempt to pierce the dimensional barrier, the council member who has telepathic ability senses there's a bomb in the Enterprise's computer room. Kirk manages to get rid of it just in time. Both ships escape, and Uhura hears Kor's ship broadcast a message claiming all responsibility for their success. "It doesn't matter" says Kirk. He points at the stars of their own universe. "THAT's what matters!"
I LIKE this one. It manages to combine elements of such diverse episodes as JOURNEY TO BABEL, THE THOLIEN WEB, ERRAND OF MERCY, and features several alien races who only ever appeared once before (and in many case, never since). This includes the Orion girl, who briefly dances for Kirk (though we don't get to see much of it). It also-- ALLEGEDLY-- brings back Kor, though I have to say, not only doesn't he look like John Colicos, but James Doohan doesn't seem to be even TRYING to imitate his voice. It's too rough and gutteral. I'd almost prefer to think it was an entirely different Klingon commander, who just happens to have the same name (a relative, perhaps?). Then there's that other Klingon captain, Kuri-- all too obviously George Takei doing a TERRIBLE voice, like the one he did in THE MAGICKS OF MEGAS-TU. Ah well. For the most part, I'd still rank this as one of the better cartoons.
I remember as a kid trying desperately to see all of the ships in the background of the Sargasso sea. It was like trying to read the end credits though, it went too fast.
I've often tried to scan the end credits of those cartoons. Unless I get them on DVD (which won't happen anytime soon), no way. Too many names, flashing by too fast.
Nick Cuti told me several times he did backgrounds for that show, but I have yet to ever find his name listed in the credits. Then again, Mike Royer apparently worked on the 1st season of SPIDER-MAN (1967), and according to him, because he asked to work AT HOME (where he could get more done in less time), they pulled some stupid attitude thing on him and told him he would be UN-CREDITED. Which was apparently completely against any rules the ainamtion industry has. (I'm guessing he could have sued them over that. But then, before you knew it, Grantray-Lawrence went bankrupt, thanks to over-spending by-- of all people-- the story editor!!! I wonder what her husband thought about that?)
Lots of stories I haven't had time to comment on. Oh well...
HOW SHARPER THAN A SERPENT'S TOOTH was yet another "variation on a theme" regarding aliens who were either obsessed with Earth in the past or had visited there and had an impact on Earth's history: THE SQUIRE OF GOTHOS, WHO MOURNS FOR ADONAIS?, THE MAGICKS OF MEGAS-TU, or, in DOCTOR WHO terms, THE DAEMONS. Here's it's the winged serpent Kulkulkan, who influenced the Mayan civilization (and apparently also influenced The Toltecs and The Chinese). The closest parallel here would be "Apollo", and this almost feels like a remake of his story, only with more "sci-fi" elements, and about a hundred times the budget (if it had been live-action instead of a cartoon).
Once more "predicting" much-later developments (despite incessant protests, it seems painfully clear the people who worked on the various STAR TREK spin-offs were influenced by THESE CARTOONS) is helmsman "Ensign Walking Bear", a member of the Cherokee tribe who says he's studied the history of many Native American cultures. ("Chakotay" on VOYAGER is rather similar-- a Native American turns up, and his whole personality seems to be summed up by being the "expert" when it comes to "Native American" things. George Takei objected to that sort of thing-- it's why in THE NAKED TIME he used a rapier and was obsessed with D'Artagnon, instead of using a samurai sword as originally suggested.)
Once again we have an alien being who "helped" mankind in the distant past, is bugged that they have "forgotten" him, and still insists on thinking of them as his "chidren". It takes quite a bit of effort of Kirk's part, but, EVENTUALLY, he convinces Kulkulkan that mankind has "grown up", that while still a violent species they use their minds and put every effort into living in peace, and that "any intelligent species cannot be simply led by the hand".
Some of the design work in here is impressive, including Kulkulkan's spaceship, the Mayan city (presumably some sort of holographic creation), and the "zoo" which collects various animals in such a way they they each believe they're in their natural environments, and are unaware they're really in tiny glass enclosures).
Perhaps the most annoying thing in this episode (apart fro Kulkulkan's general attitude for most of it) is the way William Shatner MIS-PROPNOUNCES Kulkulkan's name every single time he says it (as "Ku-KLU-Kan"-- did he think the serpent was wearing a white robe or something?).
I got a laugh when Kirk injects the savage "power cat" with a tranquilizer and is knocked aside, then McCoy asks him, "Did you inject the cat, or yourself?"
The ending of the story manages to find an excuse to squeeze in yet another Shakespeare reference, which is where the story gets its name-- "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have an ungrateful child."
Writer David Wise has had a long career, mostly writing cartoons, while his collaborator, Russell Bates, only ever did this and an episode of ISIS. In both cases, this was their first TV work.
Not one of my favorites, but I still wish this series had continued on a lot longer than it did. It's just disgraceful that Filmnation only did 6 episodes the 2nd season, and then that was it.
Henry R. Kujawa said:
THE AMBERGRIS ELEMENT -- this is one that, while it's never been one of my favorite, has enough interesting ideas and such a large scope that it actually may qualify as an "epic". And it's only a half-hour cartoon (including commercia breaks).
Studying Argo, a mostly water-covered world, the landing party's "Aqua-Shuttle" (which doubles as both space ship and submarine!) is attacked by a gigantic creature, which wrecks the ship and drags it under the water-- with the unconscious Kirk & Spock inside it. After 5 days, they're still missing, until a search party finds them half-submerged in shallow water. Incredibly, somehow, they've been mutated into water-breathers! Reasoning that they couldn't be effective operating from a water-tank, and that any civilization intelligent enough to cause such a mutation must have a way of reversing it, Kirk & Spock return to the planet to see if they can locate whoever is responsible for their condition.
They do, but are warned off by a group of "Aquons", who view them with great suspicion. Finding their city, Kirk & Spock are captured and hauled before the ruling council. Accused of being spies of surface-dwellers, their story of being travellers from another world is dismissed as a lie, and they're left to die from suffocation on rocks sticking out of the water. But one of the younger councillors, Rila, resuces them (with Scotty's help). It seems the planet once suffered violent tremors which changed its topography, causing cities to sink, so that the survivors deliberately mutated themselves to live under the water. But those who remained above-ground, shaken by their ordeal, became violent and aggressive, thus becoming enemies with the water-breathers. Rila points the way toward the remains of a ruined, sunken city, wherein can be found ancient knowledge, including how to reverse the mutation. It turns out they need venom from the giant sea-snake that attacked them, and it takes all they've got to get it without getting killed in the process.
Afterwards, having (just barely) reversed the mutation, Kirk invites the elder Aquons aboard The Enterprise, where they watch as the ship uses its phasers to change the epicenter of another devasatating earthquake that was in danger of wiping out the Aquons' city. "I had no idea such knowledge existed!" Down on the surface, the sunken ruined city is now back on the surface, and the younger Aquons actually look forward to making it habitable again. The older Aquons cannot imagine changing at this point, but Kirk suggests they not lose contact with each other as their ancestors did. "We shall pass ordainments to prevent it!"
It's almost astonishing how MUCH story they managed to CRAM into a measly 25-min. cartoon. It almost feels like there's enough for a feature film here. The underwater setting allowed Filmation's animators to actually re-visit the old 1967 AQUAMAN cartoons, as I'm sure some of the action-figurework was based on those older cartoons. The post-apocalyptic storyline, where those in charge fear the past and how it might return to threaten their present, actually reminds me to some extent of the 1st PLANET OF THE APES film-- although I doubt anyone ever did such a "variation on a theme" that was SO different from that.
I'm surprised no one even mentioned the possibility of Kirk and Spock wearing wetsuits and helmets that would allow them to breathe water... but then, they did have a LOT of story to get out of the way.
This was the 5th and final STAR TREK written by Margaret Armen, who also did TRISKELLION, PARADISE SYNDROME, CLOUD MINDERS and THE LORELEI SIGNAL. In some ways, this may have been her BEST ST story, and while it might have made an intreresting full-hour (or even 2-parter), I can't imagine the live-action show ever having the budget to do a story like this. It really was a good example of what's possible on a "mere" cartoon show.
I watched this the other day - it was interesting to see how they tried to do things they never could have done in live-action. I particularly liked the "personal force fields" they used instead of the bulky "environment suits". If I had any complaints, it would be that the voice-acting seems a little stilted at times. I wonder if this was the first time doing voice-acting for these folks?
I remember reading in one of the books that the reason we never saw the life support belts used was because they caused some of of medical damage to the body that didn't show up at first.
I've read that certain episodes had actors together in the studio, but quite often, each actor would record dialogue for multiple episodes on their own, when they were available. So, unlike live radio, they had nothing to react against.
I wonder how this stacks up against other Filmation shows from the same period (early-mid 70's)? That time was really a "dark age" for Saturday morning cartoons, when censorship had gutted "kiddie shows" of anything that was in any way exciting. While many younger fans (who have no conception of this) knock the show by comparing it to today's "standards", at the time, the ST cartoons were the best damn thing on Saturday mornings!
Henry R. Kujawa said:
Writer Stephen Kandel... did one more episode, THE JIHAD, which turned out to be one of my favorites of the ST cartoons.
I just watched this one. I thought it was quite good. I always like "Disparate groups of characters have to learn to work together and come to know one another's strengths" stories. It was also amusing to see Lara coming on to Kirk the way she did - an amusing role reversal.
Henry R. Kujawa said:
THE INFINITE VULCAN: when first-run, my LEAST-favorite episode of the series. So, I'm gonna save myself some effort here...
Intelligent Plants, a 40 foot clone of Spock and an outcast for the eugenic wars.
The crew beam down to the planet Filos inhabited by intelligent plants. Sulu is bitten by a Replaw plant, which injects a deadly poison into him, a talking plant called Agmar then administers an Antidote that saves Sulu.
Flying plants then Kidnap Spock and Agmar he is being taken to "the master" as Spock is a "perfect specimen". Agmar then introduces Kirk to Dr Stavos Kaniculus 5 a clone of a survivor from the eugenics war who is 40 feet tall.
Kaniculus then clones a 40 foot Spock, leaving the original close to death. Kaniculus reveals that he and "Spock 2" will roam the galaxy to enforce peace. With Spock close to death Kirk manages to persuade Kaniculus that peace already exists and Spock 2 then mind-melds with Spock to revive him.
Kaniculus and "Spock 2" agree to remain on the planet and help the intelligent plant rebuild their society.
This was written by Walter Koenig and is quite honestly a terrible plot that makes no sense. To think that there is a 50 foot Spock clone who turned into a gardner is just beyond comprehension.
Worst episode of TAS I have seen (so far!)
When NBC started running reruns of this show, and they started doing so before they had even finished running all the first-run episodes (I HATE when anybody does that!!!), it seemed ot me that, every damn tme I turned the show on, they were running THIS episode again! I know that can't be true-- but it seemed like it. Once the reruns started in full swing, I might not watch every week. But when I did tune it, it sure as hell seemed this one was being run over and over. When I saw the title, I'd just shut the TV off. Did they think it might be popular because it focused on Spock?
WHY-- GIANT-- clones???
I hated those flying bat-shit creatures. They reminded me of things Ralph Bakshi & Gray Morrow had done on ROCKET ROBIN HOOD and SPIDER-MAN. Only, more annoying.
The mobile plants actually reminded me of the tiny, fearful aliens Jack Kirby had inhabinting the wilds of the Skrull homeworld, in the FF episode, "BEHOLD! A DISTANT STAR!"
ONLY good moment in the entire episode-- the ending. Kirk tells Sulu he'd like him to teach Kirk a "throw". Sulu replies, "I don't know, sir. It's not just skill. You have to be... INSCRUTABLE." "Sulu? You're the most scrutable man I know!" (You can tell Sulu was bull-S***ing.)
After 39 years, it's not so bad anymore. In this case, I wouldn't say it's grown on me. It's more like, I'm just more tolerant of it.
I watched this last night. Yeah, it's kind of screwy, and the "inscrutable" joke would probably be considered too politically incorrect to air nowadays. I did like the design on the plant people, and it amused me to think of there being a fifty foot Spock out there somewhere. Might've made for a real interesting time when pon farr came along.