Star Trek: Season 1, Episode 13

The Ambergris Element (1 Dec. 1973)

TV Episode  -   -  Animation | Action | Adventure
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 110 users  
Reviews: 1 user | 3 critic

While the Enterprise investigates a water-world, Captain Kirk and Commander Spock go missing. They've been abducted by the world's inhabitants and altered into water breathers as well.

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Title: The Ambergris Element (01 Dec 1973)

The Ambergris Element (01 Dec 1973) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
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Mr. Spock (voice)
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Dr. McCoy (voice)
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Sulu (voice)
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Uhura (voice)
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Rila / Aquan Female (voice)
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Scott / Lt. Arex / Clayton / Cadmar / Domar / Lemus / Aquan male (voice)
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While the Enterprise investigates a water-world, Captain Kirk and Commander Spock go missing. They've been abducted by the world's inhabitants and altered into water breathers as well.

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23rd century


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1 December 1973 (USA)  »

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Captain James T. Kirk: I can't command a ship from inside an aquarium.
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Featured in Drawn to the Final Frontier (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Enjoyable "Star Trek" Installment
21 April 2010 | by (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

I would rate writer Margaret Armen's script for "The Ambergris Element" to be a decent, enjoyable, worthy example of how the 1974/1974 "Star Trek: The Animated Series" attempted to translate the universe of Star Trek into a cartoon show. Very good, but not great on the same plane as "Yesteryear", "The Slaver Weapon" and "Beyond The Farthest Star", which to me represent the most successful episodes from the series where everything came together -- The mythology of Star Trek, the commanding presence of the Original Series voice actors, above average writing and a conscious effort to push the envelope of animation in an effort to both capture the flavor of Star Trek in its classic sense and create something new.

All of which are found in this fine episode though the execution was a little clumsy and the synthesis doesn't quite come together. Though they sure gave it the college try and pulled out all the stops, setting up a marvelous adventure where Kirk and Spock are transformed into water breathers after an accident while exploring a planet submerged beneath a global ocean. Unable to exist in a tank in sick bay for the rest of their careers the two set off into the depths to try and find a method to reverse the process.

And come in contact with a civilization of aquatic humanoids living on the ocean floor, an intriguing concept handled well by the animators. Such a scenario could never have been staged during the production run of the original series and its enjoyable seeing Kirk & Spock in a truly alien environment that is at the same time quite familiar looking. The structure of the episode is also quite familiar, with a tribune council of elders, young upstart Aquans threatened with exile to the open seas for helping the two, and a marvelous giant squid beast with six foot fangs who of course turns out to be the crux of the plot's focus.

So all of the elements are there but the results are still a bit stiff and uneven in part due to the scope of the episode's aspirations. This was probably one of the most complex and costly of the Animated Series episodes to produce even with James Doohan providing voice work for nearly every character other than Kirk, Spock, and Bones McCoy. It's a tour-de-force performance by Doohan, the animators, and Armen's script, which like her Original Series episodes "Gamesters of Triskelion" & "The Cloud Minders" features a strong female character who is an equal of Kirk & Spock rather than just another tidbit of alien nookie to be conquered.

So it's still pretty daring stuff for Saturday morning cartoon fare and comes off well enough in relation to the rest of the Animated Series episodes, and is a unique little view of Star Trek in that 90% of the action is set underwater. And if like me you consciously prefer the funky low tech look of 1970s hand-drawn animation this is one eye popping & adventuresome little cartoon show. Even with modern digital animation techniques one would have a difficult time capturing the nuances of such a world and if the cartoon vision presented uses a short-hand approach to depicting its only due to the limitations of the form. It's supposed to look a little stiff, maybe.

Which would be my only complaint about the results, though this has always been a favorite in part due to having been blessed with a box set of Alan Dean Foster's "Star Trek Log" novelizations of the Animated Series stories, this being one of the best of his non-expanded upon straightforward adaptations. Credit for which should go to Margaret Armen for her engaging story, which has some great little Star Trek moments in it. And represents one of the more ambitious attempts at making a functional Star Trek adventure that utilized the limitless possibilities of the animation medium. You can certainly do worse for twenty three minutes of your time, and kids who love Star Trek will of course go nuts.

6/10


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