Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Star Trek: The Paradise Syndrome

Episode: "The Paradise Syndrome"
Series: Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 3, Episode 3
Original Air Date: October 4, 1968
via Memory Alpha
The landing party of Kirk, Spock and McCoy arrives on a planet remarkably similar to earth in terrain.  They soon discover inhabitants resembling a Native American tribe.  While investigating a mysterious pylon reminiscent of "Land of the Lost," the Captain falls through a trap door and hits his head, inducing amnesia.  Spock and Bones return to the ship in order to attend to the original mission, diverting an asteroid from colliding with the planet. 

Side discussion: How does this asteroid diversion effort jive with the Prime Directive?  Doesn't that qualify as intervention, even if the intention is good?

When he returns to the surface, he encounters two native women who take him for a god.  This divine status is enhanced when he administers CPR to a dying boy.  Kirk becomes tribal medicine man, inspiring understandable hostility from his predecessor.  To make matters worse, Kirk stole his girlfriend, too!

The narrative treatment of natives is definitely patronizing, a shame as it detracts from the more interesting aspects of the story.  Kirk spends two months on the planet, during which time he marries and impregnates his wife.  Apparently not interested in the new potential tangent, the writers did the convenient thing and (SPOILERS) killed her off at the end of the episode.

*****
via Memory Alpha
Richard Hale played the role of Goro, the tribal chief.  Hale was born November 16, 1892 in Rogersville, Tennessee.  An opera baritone by training, he went to Columbia on a music scholarship before pursuing a career on stage. 

He hit the screen later in life, notable films including Friendly Persuasion, Julius Caesar and To Kill a Mockingbird.  Among many television gigs, he made four appearances on Perry Mason.  Hale died in 1981 of cardiovascular disease.

14 comments:

  1. They killed off a pregnant woman? Harsh.
    I don't remember that episode at all.

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    1. Yeah. I knew they would, too. Definitely harsh.

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  2. I do recall that Star Trek was not above a patronizing attitude (and they did like to jump on the "cause of the month" bandwagon).

    The wrap-it-up-our-time-is-over approach can be cruel (and sometimes...lazy).

    Squid, you're an excellent reviewer.

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    1. Thanks, Cherdo. This story also contains an awkward explanation for the Native American culture on a far off world: basically there were benevolent space travelers who deposited human Earth races in worlds where they could flourish. How else, they argue, could you have so many humanoid races scattered throughout the galaxy? My guess is that it was the limitations of the makeup and costume technology.

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  3. I don't really remember this episode but killing off the pregnant woman neatly tied up the problems.

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  4. I remember seeing this episode when it aired but it made little impression on me. Now that you mention it, though, it does seem strange that Enterprise could locate things and people all over the universe but heaven help you if you fall in a hole. I must rewatch this one!

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    1. Right. Why couldn't they just locate his bio signs and beam him up the same time they did Spock and McCoy? Would have been a pretty short story if they had, I suppose.

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  5. Replies
    1. Definitely a sign they were running out of ideas...

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  6. That episode offended me at the time. It still does.

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  7. I must have seen this one as the falling through the trapdoor of the thing looks and sound familiar. But like @Geo it made no impression on me.
    Thinking by this time I was so over Kirk and his ripped shirts in every episode !

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. He gets to try on some exciting threads in this one. His marital robe thingy is quite impressive - feathery.

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