Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Star Trek: Beyond the Farthest Star

My friend Maurice Mitchell and I are embarking on a new journey to watch all 22 episodes of Star Trek's animated series.  We'll be posting on Wednesdays.  All are welcome to join us for all or parts of our adventure.

But first, an acknowledgement of the great loss suffered by the Star Trek community this past week.   There isn't much I can say about Leonard Nimoy that hasn't already been said.  Spock is Trek.  Nimoy was Spock, and a whole lot more.  He lived long and he prospered.  The legacy will certainly outlive the man.
via Wikipedia
RIP, old friend.  Thank you for sharing part of your journey with us.

Episode: "Beyond the Farthest Star"
Series: Star Trek: The Animated Series
Season 1, Episode 1
Original Air Date: September 8, 1973
via Memory Alpha
Four years after cancellation, Star Trek was thriving in syndication.   Fans clamored for new stories and a Saturday morning cartoon was the result.  The show's run was very short, only 22 episodes over two seasons.  The jury's still out on the place of the series in the overall franchise canon.  But this much is beyond dispute: since 1969, these 22 episodes are the only new stories about the original characters to air on network television.  As such, they're certainly worth a gander.

"Beyond the Farthest Star" finds our heroes exploring the outermost rim of the galaxy, thus the title.  Pulled into the orbit of a dead star, the Enterprise finds another ship in a similar predicament, apparently trapped for the past 300 million years!  Our friends manage to pull away, but not before a non-corporeal entity sneaks onto the Enterprise and gains control of the starship.

The story is solid Trek.  Losing control of the ship to a more powerful being is a long-standing formula.  Our heroes win by convincing their nemesis that they would rather destroy themselves than submit to its domination, knowing the damage it could do to others.  The franchise's moral compass is intact.  There's some subtle elegance in the storytelling, too.  The tale begins and ends with essentially identical log entries about star charting - rather Jabberwocky-esque.

The animation is a mixed bag.  Characters are very stiff, almost like shadow puppets.  But everything else is gorgeous.  One of the advantages of an animated show in that era was that you didn't have to worry about special effects.  If you could draw it, you're all set.  The alien ship the Enterprise crew discovered is genuinely beautiful and would have been a major challenge to produce in a live-action show.

Overall, a strong opening offer.  There are no references in future Star Trek stories, though a similar narrative is explored in the third season TNG episode, "Booby Trap."

*****
via Memory Alpha
Arex

Animation also allowed the introduction of characters who would have been challenging to produce with contemporary makeup capablities.  The absence of Chekov in the animated series also left the navigator's chair open for Lieutenant Arex, a member of a tripedal species called either Edosians or Triexians depending on whom you ask.  Arex is seen in "Beyond the Farthest Star," though not voiced.  In later episodes, James Doohan was his voice.  Arex would have a life beyond the animated series, appearing in both novels and comic books.

If you would care to join us for all or part of our travels, please add your link to the list below.  In the meantime, please visit Maurice and any others who are participating.  Next week: "Yesteryear."


30 comments:

  1. Astounding progress from the existing canon. Didn't know anybody could send me hunting for cartoons again but you have managed it.

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    1. You know I'd be delighted for you to join us!

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  2. I guess I'll have to walk down cartoon alley...I don't want to be left out of the fun.

    Leonard Nimoy was one of a kind; I loved his character. RIP.

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  3. Sorry to hear about Leonard Nimoy- but glad he lived a long, full life. I had no idea there was an animated series! I will have to check some of them out!
    ~Jess

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    1. As I did with the originals, I hope to supply a must-see list at the end.

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  4. Leonard Nimoy is a loss to all of us fans. I remember I watched some of the animated series but I don't recall any of the storylines.

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    1. Unlike my experience with the originals, I've watched most of these before - recently, in fact. However, my perspective has definitely changed after my full immersion.

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  5. So nice to see how many people posted about Leonard Nimoy. He will always be in our hearts. I have not seen these animated shows since they came out so this will be fun to read about each episode and see what memories you jog out of my cobwebbed brain

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  6. I vaguely remember the alien, but what happened to Chekov? Did they just swap him out or was there some reason they couldn't use the character?

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    1. According to Maurice (this is why it's fun to do this in tandem), it was a budgeting decision. They couldn't afford to pay Koenig. He kept a hand in, though, even writing an episode.

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  7. My review is finally up! Sorry it's late but the Avengers 2 trailer dropped and it consumed all my brain power for the morning. :)
    http://t.co/AQMfUXi5ua

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    1. No problem. I understand the Avengers lure.

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  8. It is a great opening episode and sets a perfect tone for the series. Thanks for the invite!

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  9. The alien ship is so spectacularly big it makes the Enterprise look like a tiny speck! Awesome trekfest Squid.

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    1. Yes, scale is definitely something one could play with more in animation. I'll touch on that with "Yesteryear," too.

      Thanks for joining us, Spacerguy!

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  10. I realy need to revisit this myself.

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  11. I am very excited by this.
    When I have a chance I must check out at lest one episode.

    cheers, parsnip

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  12. I had no idea there was an animated series. I'm trying to jog my childhood memory and can't recall it.

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    1. It was already gone by the time I would have been old enough to watch it. It's been fun exploring it with my daughter, though.

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  13. I had a feeling you would post about this! Yes, it was a tremendous loss but he left behind a legacy that will touch many generations to come.

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    1. How could I not? I actually feel a little guilty about not getting to it sooner.

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  14. Interesting post and good to read about this.

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