Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Star Trek: This Side of Paradise

Episode: "This Side of Paradise"
Series: Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 1, Episode 24
Original Air Date: March 2, 1967
via Memory Alpha
One criticism of Star Trek's original series, particularly from Trekkies who prefer The Next Generation, is that characters are not as well developed as in later series.  Few of the episodes provide insight into our heroes' back stories or deeper motivations.  However, from time to time, the unusual circumstances of a given narrative pull the players out of their usual elements and reveal well-guarded truths about their basic natures.  "This Side of Paradise" is such a story.

The Enterprise visits the planet Omicron Seti III, site of a recently established Federation colony.  Unbeknownst to the original settlers, the planet is flooded with deadly Perthoid rays.  As such, it is assumed that the colonists had all perished but the landing party discovers survivors - and darn happy ones at that!  Apparently, they are living under the controlling influence of plants which also protect them from the rays.  I expect the story was a less than subtle dig at the counterculture/flower power demographic of the era.

One by one, crew members are sprayed by the flowers and submit to their influence.  When Spock is sprayed, we see the First Officer smile for the first time since the pilot.  As an added bonus, one of the settlers happens to be an ex-girlfriend (!!!) of Spock's, played by Jill Ireland.  Our half-Vulcan friend proves to be quite the romantic at heart.

Before the power of the plants is fully understood, a few specimens are naively transported back to the Enterprise, where they infect the crew.  All but Kirk abandon ship in favor of a blissful existence on the planet's surface.  The episode's most poignant scene finds the captain alone on the bridge, coming to terms with his dire situation.  He sounds almost like an empty nester when he says "I'm beginning to realize just how big this ship really is."

*****
via Memory Alpha
Jill Ireland was born April 24, 1936 in London.  For better or worse, most of her high-profile work came starring opposite her husbands.  She married David McCallum in 1957.  The two appeared together in several episodes of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  In 1967, the couple divorced.  The following year, Ireland married Charles Bronson, with whom she appeared in several films.

Ireland was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1984 and became a strong public advocate for the American Cancer Society.  She published two books about her struggle and testified before Congress.  The disease claimed her life in 1990.

21 comments:

  1. I really liked this episode because we got to see Spock happy.

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  2. I don't think I've seen this episode. Sound's like a great one.
    I know Jill as Bronson's wife. I remember her in Death Wish 2.

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    1. I've actually seen very few Bronson movies. In fact, I'm only sure of one: The Magnificent Seven. Everybody's in that one...

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  3. I always liked Jill Ireland and was so sad when she died.
    David McCallun and Charles Bronson are also favorites.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. McCallum's still working, too. He's on NCIS.

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  4. I remember that part. It's a very sad and reflective moment for the captain.

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    1. And it has a kind of echo in The Search for Spock.

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    2. Yes, that scene was very nicely done.

      I haven't seen Search for Spock in so long. Next time I do, I'll keep that echo in mind.

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  5. Plants are groovy. I've never smoked one but my name does mean Lily. Girl identifies. Also, I remember Spock being all romantic in another truth serum ep. One of the first ones I watched, can't recall the title off the top of my petal.

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    1. Right on.

      I believe "The Naked Time" is the episode you've referenced here.

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    2. It is. Came to mind last night while I was playing Scrabble of all things.

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    3. Working on one puzzle, suddenly solving another - remarkable thing, the human brain.

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  6. Nice review. I like how you did a follow up on a few of the cast members.

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  7. I never realized that Spock's girlfriend in this episode was Jill Ireland of the Bronson movies!

    Wasn't this the episode when Spock said that he has a last name, and that humans wouldn't be able to pronounce it? That always intrigued me. Whenever the Doctor talks about his true, secret, ineffable name, it kind of reminds me of this.

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    1. It's his first name he says she'd never be able to pronounce. I hadn't thought about the parallel with the Doctor - nice catch.

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  8. I liked this episode...the big flowers spraying everyone, and Spock being weirdly happy.
    I never realized that was Jill Ireland, though...or I did, I've forgotten it. :(

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    1. Silly me, I don't think I've seen any of her movies.

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  9. Loved this episode. Spock's human side and falling in love.

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    1. It's definitely an unusual glimpse of character.

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