Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Star Trek: The Animated Series: "The Pirates of Orion" (September 7, 1974)

STARDATE: 6334.1

En route to dedicate a new Academy of Sciences on planet Deneb V, the Enterprise suffers an outbreak of Choriocytosis, a disease that is fatal to Vulcans.

When Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) falls ill from the disease, the Enterprise makes plans to secure a quantity of the only known cure, Strobaline, from a distant world.  The Enterprise is to rendezvous with the S.S. Huron, which will transport the medicine (along with a supply of dilithium crystals...) to the Federation starship.

Unfortunately, an Orion vessel intercepts the Huron first, and steals the cargo.  Kirk attempts to track down the pirates and make a trade for the medicine, but the pirates are duplicitous.  They are determined that their carefully orchestrated "neutrality" must not come under question, and plan to destroy themselves...along with the Enterprise.

The second season of Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973 - 1974) starts off with a decent episode from the then-young (under twenty) author Howard Weinstein.  The episode, "The Pirates of Orion," is a sequel of sorts to Dorothy Fontana's "Journey to Babel," and provides our first peek at male Orions.

Although the episode commences with the familiar gimmick of a beloved crew member suffering from a fatal condition (seen also in "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" and "Spock's Brain") the episode is nonetheless highly-engaging in terms of character interaction and banter.  Once more, the Kirk/Spock friendship really comes through, and is a strong anchor for the story-line.  The crew's concern for Mr. Spock is palpable, even as he maintains a stoic front.

Also impressive in "The Pirates of Orion" are the scenes of the (very sinister-looking) alien ship stalking the S.S. Huron and its crew.  Although this sequence does not feature the familiar characters, it's great to meet another 23rd century captain and his crew, especially one without the resources of the Enterprise to fall back on.  The Huron crew comports itself well, even when out-gunned and outmaneuvered.

Honestly, I'm a bit mixed on the design and physical characteristics of the Orions as depicted here.  They seem a little too fanciful and colorful -- almost juvenile -- in terms of the uniforms and gear.  There's something too cartoonish and "Flash Gordon"-esque about them, visually-speaking.

That said, I like the fact that the episode goes back to the issue of neutrality, so important in "Journey to Babel" and that Kirk finally gets to nail these aliens.  After this story, there can be no doubt that the Orions are are enemies of the Federation and peace.

Next week: "Bem." 

1 comment:

  1. John I agree with the "Flash Gordon"-esque Orions comments. I liked TAS Life Support belt, no spacesuit needed. The production design technology of the S.S. Huron was interesting too.