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25 reviews in total 
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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Seven Years Old And Needing My Fix!!, 11 April 2010

I clearly remember this and how bad it was. Loyal fan that I was, I watched the whole thing. And given the long droughts, see below, between movies for a grade schooler was frustrated it was never aired again. I needed a Star Wars fix even if it was a lousy one.

One thing, however, that needs to be kept in mind, is that in 1978, VCRs had only recently hit the market and Hollywood had yet to release movies on video (and, was, in fact, vigorously attempting to have the recorders banned just as they've done with every advance in recording technology over the last 40 yrs). Shocking as that may seem to those under 30, in those antediluvian days, there was no way to see a movie except in a theater or when it hit Network Movie of the Week night.

Thus, you couldn't simply run out to a store and buy a copy of Star Wars to enjoy at home. And for 7 yr olds having to wait 3 years to see "The Empire Strikes Back" might as well have been 3 decades. (The closest you could get to having a copy of the film was an audio only LP version/8-track tape that was had been heavily edited to fit the time constraints of vinyl. And we played that 8-track until it demagnetized.) So ANY Star Wars related TV show was a God-send. Of course, no one counted on it totally sucking. Which was obvious even to those of us in 3rd grade. (My 4 years old brother was too young to care.) Today, at age 39, I can only laugh when I think about this. I can well-imagine Lucas' embarrassment that this craptastic disaster can't be round-holed.

The thing I've never understood is how he ever allowed it to be broadcast in the first place. Given his famous fastidiousness about tweaking the movies until he gets them "perfect" -- apparently an ever diminishing mirage on the horizon since neither he, nor Spielberg, seem content to leave well-enough alone (see "E.T.").

Did Lucas not bother to screen this thing? It's hard to believe that he did. On the other hand, given some of the absolute garbage he's allowed the Star Wars logo and characters to appear on over the years (merchandise which is estimated to have brought in $13 BILLION and counting and that's NOT adjusted for inflation), maybe this piece of Bantha poodoo is not so surprising after-all.

Still, it would be nice to have a DVD of this, if only for the unintentional hilarity. But Lucas doesn't have much of a sense of humor ("Howard the Duck" anyone?) and the Star Wars franchise has made him a billionaire many times over. Given the fact he's rarely missed an opportunity to capitalize on it, it's more than a little surprising that there hasn't been an official release.

I guess it goes to show that South Park's Matt Stone and Trey Parker have overestimated Lucas' greed. There are places even the great one won't go to pad his bank account.

14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
The first truly excellent Voyager Episode, 3 May 2009

After the pilot, this the first Voyager episode that doesn't come off as the weak sister of a TNG ep. Some of the previous episodes were clearly recycled TNG (and even TOS) episodes. Some were just ho-hum.

This is the first one with a tightly written plot and sharply drawn characters.

THIS is the kind of episode that I've been waiting for. A desperate situation. Wonderful acting by Roxann Caballero Biggs Dawson (can we just call her the most beautiful Klingon-Human hybrid since Susie Plakson?). If ever there's been a Star Trek race more deserving of extermination, it's the Vidiians--truly morally (and visually) repellent aliens.

It's rather amazing that an alliances of Delta Quadrant species hasn't banded together to wipe them out--given what a threat they are to every humanoid their sociopathic evolution of their culture presents. Every further encounter with them, with the exception of the Doctor's romance with the Vidiian hematologists Dr. Danara Pell, always results in an attempt to murder everyone aboard Voyager and steal the usable organs.

Whether this has been in the minds of the writers I don't know, but I'm led to think of the Chinese Communist government's execution of 10-15,000 "criminals" (the only "crime" many have committed is demanding freedom and an end to repression) and the subsequent sale of the victims' organs to foreigners who can bring the Chinese foreign currency--a must for their frenzied defense build up targeted against the United States and Japan. However sinister the end, it's the means that most disturb me--both with the fictional Vidiians the real life corollary in Red China. It's a scheme so repulsive its hard to imagine even the Ferengi participating in it.

This is Star Trek at its best: riveting story telling coupled with a look inward at the early 21st Century from the perspective of a fictional, Utopian future. As Nicholas Meyer, direction and writer of Star Trek II & VI and writer of Stark Trek IV, puts in the commentary to "Wrath of Khan" (on the now out of print "Director's Cut"): "The job of the artist is to ask questions. It's the job of the audience to supply the answers." If you're reading this what answers do YOU bring to Vidiians and their relevance to the societal crimes of our species?

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A somewhat average L&O from the Lennie Briscoe Days, 27 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is not one of the top of the line eps. Since nearly all murders involve money, love or pride, Law & Order's biggest challenge has always been to leaven the bread, as it were, with either creative plotting or well-drawn characters. Since the show is episodic in nature (as compared to, say, "Battlestar Galactica" which is one story told across 4 seasons), creating compelling supporting characters is very difficult. One of the things that makes this one of the best TV dramas is how often such characters ARE created.

So it's hard to blame the writers for not always putting the ball in the left field corner. This show, to continue this strange baseball metaphor streak, is more like a looping single over the second baseman.

It goes through the motions until the detectives find a motive and build the case from there. And this one certainly appears to be a standard lover-scorned-lover-kills scenario.

The twist here, if one can call it that, is not that the prime suspect's wife may well be the murderer but that she's covering for him to protect her cushy lifestyle. After all, it would be hard for her to enjoy his $2M a year salary if he's in Attica.

So basically this episode fires on all cylinders but not particularly compellingly. It certainly doesn't belong the top 100 best L&O Prime eps.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
The genesis of the Borg?, 17 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This has long been one of my favorite episodes.

And I've long wondered if this episode didn't have some influence on the Borg plot-lines. After all, both alien species' M.O. is basically the same: instead of political conquest, "conquer" the enemy at the individual level. To reverse a cliché, "If you can't beat 'em, make 'em join you." Of course, the very last episode of S1, foreshadows "Q Who?" et al, tho' we're given no information as to who destroys the Federation and Romulan bases and the thrust of that episode, of course, is the "return" of the Romulans after decades of isolation.

Back on point: Making "Conspiracy" a two-parter might have worked, but I'm not sure exactly how. More cloak-and-dagger? Battles between starships controlled by the alien creatures and the Enterprise-D? Discovering compromised members of the "Enterprise"'s crew (Wesley, perhaps? Been funny to have seen HIM throw Worf around like "ragdoll.") As it is, I'm sure that the "Mother Alien" creature and its death are probably the most expensive single effect shot in the whole seven year series.

I do agree that the preceding shot, where the, ah, "soldier" aliens are crawling up Remmick's legs is clumsy, certainly by later series standards. But we should always keep in mind that, as with The Original Series, NexGen was done on a relatively low budget--though larger than TOS which was had the lowest budget of any drama during its 1966-69 run.

Also, computer animation was in its infancy, Pixar's legendary short, "Luxo" had only been created around this time--and the cost was astronomical. it would be the late 90s before computer animation would be advanced enough to realistically replace entire ships, people, aliens, etc.

To comment on ewf58's commentary: I've never seen the "edited" version of this episode. I believe it was originally broadcast in "unedited" form, at least that's my memory. But it's been 22 years...

The "full" version is on the DVD (S1 D7). And every time I've seen it on syndication, it's been the unedited one.

And it is pretty gory. I'm surprised that Roddenberry would have gone that far over 20 yrs ago. Today, such things are seen all the time on TV. "Battlestar Galactica"'s had some pretty hard core moments. Think of Starbuck stabbing Leoben through the neck on New Caprica; or Caprica Six's murder of the baby in the mini...

(Lastly, guess the aliens were sexist, notice that they all refer to each other as "brother" and never "sister"...)

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A fair and impartial look at the fallen preacher, 30 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Unlike Alexandra Pelsoi's first documentary on Evangelicals, this documentary on Ted Haggard's post-scandal life, is free of the critical stance of its predecessor. She takes a neutral and, for the most part, impartial stance towards the fallen preacher.

Haggard seems genuinely repentant for his double-life; his commitment to his Christian faith appears to be genuine. Unlike, however, the four preachers who were "appointed" to "supervise" his "spiritual recovery". Rather than following the core Christian precepts of "judge not, lest ye be judged" and "hate the sin, not the sinner," his "redemption supervisors" and successors at the mega-church that Haggard founded, have instead shunned him and not only have failed to forgive him but have, at least as its presented in Ms. Pelosi's docu, continued to actively persecute him. They made him leave his home, "banishing" from Colorado, thus forcing him & his family, into a nomadic existence of hotel rooms and tiny apartments. They also insisted that he refrain from preaching and get a "secular" job despite the fact that he's never held a job outside the ministry.

One of the most poignant parts of this film was Haggard's unsuccessful attempts to find that secular job, whether distributing door hangers for a mortgage "help" service or selling insurance door-to-door.

What shocked me the most, was the treatment meted out to his wife and two teen-aged sons who did nothing wrong except to stand by and love their husband and father in an unconditional and Christian manner (as far I understand the Christian concept of forgiveness as I admit I am not a Christian).

In summary, despite Haggard's failings and formerly hypocritical double life, he and his family have received no succor from their former "friends" and fellow-parishioners. In fact, when he sent an email to a small group of friends asking for donations to help support his family, one of them leaked it to the media who, along with his "redemption supervisors", proceeded to rake him over the coals.

He was never one of those preachers that condemned gays as some evangelical ministers do. Had he, I imagine that Ms. Pelosi would have found video and included it in the docu. Thus I found it doubly ironic that he should be treated so harshly by the men allegedly concerned with his "redemption." One last word on Mike Jones, the man whom Haggard paid for sex and, allegedly, drugs. This drug dealer and prostitute is doing everything he can to capitalize on his illegal behavior and Ted Haggard's misery. I found him absolutely disgusting.

Though I do not share Haggard's beliefs, I can only hope he and his family will be able to find some happiness; and perhaps he'll one day return to the vocation he so clearly loves: preaching to Gospel.

The film is well-worth watching whatever one's opinion of evangelical Christianity is. It shows a man who made huge mistakes and is paying for them in a heart-rending and brutal manner.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The title needs to be fixed, 1 December 2008

The image quality is so bad (due to the primitive equipment, this was "filmed" only a few years after Edison had invented it, after all) that you'll get much more detail and much cleaner images from the surviving stills. And almost every decent biography of these figures (and especially Germany's last Emperor who loved the camera, were he on the throne of Germany today I'm sure he'd be known as "Der Tabloid Kaiser") includes such pictures. Giles McDonough's "The Last Kaiser" has a very, very rare picture of Wilhelm II's "withered" left arm (the arm was damaged due to a botched forceps delivery occasioned by the baby presenting in the breech position).

Having seen some of this footage from documentaries (as well as the BBC mini-series "Fall of Eagles" about the collapse of Imperial Germany, Austria & Russia), I can say that it has some interest. But probably more for the scholar.

The major goof here is the incongruity of the names. Franz Josef is called by his actual name where as Wilhelm II's name is Anglicized (Wilhelm probably wouldn't have minded since he was Queen-Empress Victoria's grandson and could speak fluent, if idiosyncratic, English).

Also the title doesn't give Wilhelm II's regal number. He was, after all, NOT the first German Emperor named Wilhelm. His grandfather, the "founder" of the Empire, was Wilhelm I; the actual work of unification, however, was orchestrated by Bismarck, who, in three wars united Germany under Prussian domination and created the most powerful land power for the next 41 years. (What had taken the "Iron Chancellor" more than a decade to create, Wilhelm II took less four years to destroy.) Also, though it's rarely used today, Franz Josef's official name was Franz Josef I (tho', of course, there never was a II; the last Austrian Emperor was Karl I, who reigned less than 2 yrs before being chased out of Austria by a democratic revolution; the family, after years of enforced exile, now lives in Austria, tho' as private citizens, the Austrian state having confiscated their vast wealth (much of their land had been in countries other than Austria anyway).

Interestingly, Wilhelm II was able to salvage a good deal of his wealth in a deal with the Weimar Republic. Eventually he was paid some 70,000,000 marks (probably about $15M 1921 US dollars; or $300M+ in our vastly devalued 2008 dollars).

THUS THE TITLE NEEDS TO BE FIXED. It should read: "Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany and Emperor Franz Josef I of the Austria."

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Season 2's Debut, 18 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A very moving episode, one that manages to combine "hard" sf with a deeply human element. In this it is rather different than the typical "softer" more fantasy-like of most episodes of TNG (and eps of Old Trek and Voyager and...).

Story lines: The "A" plot: Troi is impregnated with a male clone of herself by an unknown life form. The child goes from conception to about age 8 in less than a week. He also displays a perspicacity than unnerves everyone except Deanna.

The "B" plot: the "Enterprise" is ordered to transport hundreds (512 to be exact) of deadly viruses and other pathogens to a planet suffering from a devastating plague, the cause of which is unknown. The newly promoted Geordi creates a containment field to keep the bugs in stasis.

However, one of the bugs begins to multiply, stimulated, apparently, by a form of radiation given off my Troi's child. If the containment vessel is breached, the "Enterprise" will become a ship of the dead within hours.

The episodes ending, neatly intertwining both the A and B plot-lines, is a rare Star Trek tear-jerker.* No sense in repeating russem31's rather extensive list of the changes appearing in this the very first episode, so I'll merely comment on some of them and add a few he/she didn't.

--Gates McFadden took off a season in order to raise her child (in a first season "feaurette" celebrating the unveiling of a new Paramount office building named in Gene Roddenberry's honor, a very pregnant McFadden can be seen). Fortunately, she decided to return to TNG.

--Diana Muldaur steps in as CMO (very much in Rosalind Shays mode, her very next gig), and begins by offending the Captain and then displays her disdain for Data be deliberately mispronouncing his name.

Muldaur had, by this time, lost the fragile beauty that was so enchanting in her two Old Trek episodes (as well as her co-starring turn with John Wayne in "McQ"). The vulnerability she displayed in her early work is now gone; perhaps this is one reason she was such a delicious villain on L.A. Law.

--Wesley decides he can't leave the "Enterprise" and asks, and receives, permission from Picard to remain aboard while "pursuing" his Academy studies. (Frankly, always found this rationale more than a little flimsy, how likely is it that Annapolis would allow a midshipman to do his--or her!--course work by correspondence while working aboard a ship?) --Marina Sirtis's hair does assume the style that she's sport until season six; while the pseudo-Princess Leia "bun" is gone, Sirtis is saddled with a pretty heavy weave. So, I imagine is was a relief, when she's allowed to her hair returned to its natural, brunette color.

--Data's personality begins to become more human-like, a response, surely, to his being surround be humans only a daily basis. Since he had been in the company of human/oids for nearly two decades before the point at which TNG begins, it's always struck me as odd that he seemed almost completely oblivious to the nature and habits of creatures he's been interacting with for such a long period...

--Some fantastic computer graphics (for the day) are to be seen when the cargo of bugs is beamed aboard. Such intricate graphics will not become the regular part of a show until J. Michael Straczynski's Babylon 5.

*This is not, of course, to say, that Star Trek is devoid of moving, tragic scenes, the most obvious being Spock's death scene in Star Trek II & Data's death in Star Trek 10. And, most famously, the death of Edith Keeler (Joan Collins) in the celebrated "City on the Edge of Forever" episode during the first season of Old Trek (the script, written by Harlan Ellison, whose ego is in inverse proportion to his size, is inarguably the best thing he's ever written.)

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Heart-breaking and shocking: a social Chernobyl is growing, 23 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This docu is both heart-rending and disgusting. The logic behind the "One Child Policy" (OCP) is, from a strictly utilitarian viewpoint, a necessary one. China cannot feed its present population; millions literally live in holes in the ground. Rural poverty is grinding in the extreme. As usual, those with money and connections to the Communist Party or government officials (often one and the same) or police are immune from the OCP; since violations of the policy are punished by fines, couples with money can easily pay the fines or go to the gray market (there's no mention of whether voluntary baby-selling is a crime; to be fair, most US states have no law against selling children).

The OCP which has done much to stabilize China's population growth (to the point that India will, in the very near future, pass China as the world's most populous nation). But it has produced "social imbalances", as the Communist Party puts it. With the traditional preference for boy babies--there are no old-age pensions or other "safety net" in China and the poor can scarcely afford to feed themselves, let alone save money for their old age (many would probably find it astounding that Americans prefer to spend so much money on luxuries rather than save enough for comfortable retirements).

Therefore, the only safety net is a son. Tradition makes the parents' welfare the son's duty. Daughters become members of their husband's family and thus can do nothing, or very little, to help their parents in old age. Therefore, there is a premium on very young boys kids. "Child Registration Officials" are bribed to manufacture the necessary paperwork--as this docu shows. As always, money talks and walks.

But as with everything else, the OCP has boomeranged in a way the Communist Party--obviously--never imagined or, hopefully, intended. With so many baby girls being aborted or abandoned, there is now a high demand for young women and teenagers; and many are kidnapped for profit. At present, according to the docu, 40M Chinese males have little or no hope of ever getting married (and, doubtless, this "official" figure is way too low). So some families buy their "little prince" a future wife and raise her to be submissive and uneducated, apparently the preferred type of wife for many, if not most, Chinese men.

The documentary focuses on a Private Detective who quit the police force in order to search for China's stolen children. After many years on his chosen crusade, he has rescued only 100 kids. And in one of the film's only dramatic moments, we are witness to the rescue of a 16 year old girl who was kidnapped by traffickers--whether to be sold as a wife or to be forced into prostitution isn't clear. What is clear is that the young teen was relieved to be freed from what is slavery in all but name.

The docu also relates the stories of several other couples who've either had children stolen or are actually looking to sell their children, either because they can't afford them or for profit. A child trafficker (the kind of man who used to be called a "white slave" trader in the US 50-60 years ago) also shares his story and we are shown how one such "negotiation" is conducted, between a couple, their faces carefully blurred, seeking to buy a baby boy and a woman seeking to sell her year old son (she tells the trafficker she has already sold two previous children; though she claims she does this because of poverty, the three children have brought her enough money to equal 10-15 years wages; so, clearly, she's using her womb as a baby factory).

This emotionally grinding work is obviously breaking down the resolve of the PI. A scene shows a conversation with his mother where he tells her he's going to quit looking for children. Obviously the tiny number of recovered children, combined with the danger of dealing with traffickers, has weakened his resolve and now outweighs the "hatred" of the traffickers that motivates him. And it's hard to blame him. With probably 99% of his cases ending up dead-ends (we are also shown one family whose young son he did manage to recover via a cell phone trace to the "adoptive" parents), with little or no help from corrupt police, Communist Party and governmental officials, he's searching for "needles in a haystack." And in a country of 1.3B people, the analogy is barely adequate.

However laudable the goal of reducing China's population growth to negative (a "Two Child Policy" would people zero population growth), the OCP is like a nuclear reactor slowly going critical. A social "Chernobyl" if you will. The increase in the price of girl children is a clear sign that the imbalance between the sexes is already a problem and one that can only grow worse.

Population limitation is a must for China, but, clearly, the corrupt and heartless system bolted onto Chinese society is causing more problems than it's solving. It's corrupting not just officialdom, but the very concept of family, so central to China's most ancient traditions. The documentary clearly shows the consequences of the usual Communist preference for orders from on high and the use of force to ensure compliance. The Party never thinks of the carrot only the stick. And the sticks are huge fines, forfeiture of one's house, and forced abortions.

Definitely something to think about as we are watching the Beijing Olympic games coming to and end. The gov't spent $23B--or so it's claimed--to make its capital suitable for the games. One has to wonder if that amount of money--a gigantic one given the pathetically low standard of living for 90% of the population--would not have been far better spent to solve the population control methods and the social time bomb they have created.

18 out of 98 people found the following review useful:
Good story spoiled by obtrusive, patronizing atheism, 3 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In most ways this is a top tier NexGen ep. The usual excellent acting, directing and with an acute moral dilemma at the plot's center. This is why it gets a 4/10. Had it been executed with anything less than its usual brilliance, I would have given it a much lower "score." This is one of the very, very few Star Trek episodes or movies that I actually find personally offensive. The transparent "global warming" nonsense introduced--see below--late in the series run was merely annoying gibberish without scientific basis. THIS episode is an attack on one of my deeply-help personal beliefs.

And it didn't have to be that way. The central dilemma, the accidental violation of the Prime Directive, could have been handled without the frontal assault on religious beliefs and the very concept of spirituality. But the writers don't take that tack. Instead of just telling story, the bare-bones of the plot are used to erect a soap-box for the writers' personal beliefs.

(For some reason, the Vote drop down box won't let me change the rating to "4" from the "6" I mistakenly entered.) What spoils it, however, is the almost militant espousal of atheism put into the mouths of the crew of the good ship Enterprise by writers Manning and Beimler (each with eight writing credits for TNG).

The central dilemma is the discovery of a "duck-blind", used by Federation archaeologists, by the bronze-age inhabitants of Mintaka III--whom the aforementioned archaeologists were studying.

This episode is the most virulently anti-religious of any Star Trek TV show or movie I've ever seen. Religion is at worst treated as pathological mania utterly destructive to societies, at best it's treated with a condescension so common to American Academia and Left-wing journalists.

Religion, in deed belief in a Supreme Being or God at all is derided, specifically by Picard, as totally devoid of any benefits. This is an extremely shallow view of religion and/or spiritually, one which clangs even more incongruously from an amateur archaeologist like Picard.

The scene (at the end of Chapter 5 on the DVD) which best illustrates the attitude toward spirituality occurs towards the end when Picard is having another of the obligatory confabs in the conference room ("Ready Room", "Conference Room", all that on the Bridge and no bathroom! Must've been a long walk in urgent situations).

Picard delivers a rant that defines religious belief, and belief in god(s), as the "dark ages of ignorance and superstition and fear." A breath-takingly ignorant and narrow-minded view of the history of religion on this planet (let alone other planets in a humanoid filled universe such as Gene Roddenberry's!) would be harder to imagine! One needs only to be acquainted with the FIFTEEN centuries of French nuns who cared for the sick, fed the hungry, clothed the naked and sheltered the gentle from an often brutal, barbaric world. Are those nuns--and a good Frenchman like Picard WOULD well-know this--an example of a "dark age"? Of ignorant, superstitious fear? Star Trek has always tried to push the envelope by showing the uglier side of our contemporary life by comparing it to an ideal--and idealized--future. Roddenberry created a locus that has allowed for much great story-telling, many great episodes. This isn't one of them. This substitutes the careful construction of a story, for shrill propaganda and a personal agenda.

This is one of the rare occasions in which Roddenberry's open-mindedness is not to be found (there is NOTHING like this eps attack on religion and spiritual-people in Old Trek or the 10 movies). Instead the writers's & producers prejudices are paraded as though they are gospel (pun intended). A sad irony for a "franchise" which trumpets its open-mindedness and "tolerance." Happily, this is a rare exception to the usual run of Trek story-telling. Though it coincided with the elevation of Rick Berman and Michael Piller to "show-runners" of NexGen, it didn't mark a trend. Only toward the end of the series run (seasons 6 & 7) did present-day politics again obtrude.

The nonsensical late series plot point of warp-drive "destroying" space and therefore "limits" had to be placed on FTL travel was nothing more than the global warming hoax, without even going to the trouble of trying to veil the Leftist politics with even a smattering of Treknobabble as a cover.

(Of course, to casual viewers or non-fans, talk of "warp drive" may seem like Treknobabble itself. We Trekkers know how much thicker than that it often got! In fact, Star Trek had an entire department dedicated to nothing BUT creating pseudo-scientific tongue-twisters to make the show sound more future-y.) Bottom line: This is more like an episode of Aaron Sorkin's "The Left-Wing" fantasy about a non-existent "virtuous" Chief Executive, rather than the Star Trek both conservatives and liberals know and love.

8 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
With a historical error at its core, not one of the better episodes, 16 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is, arguably, the most disappointing of Second Season episodes. Not only for its poor execution and bad special effects (see the ridiculous flogging "wounds" on Spock's and Kirk's backs), but for the flaw at the heart of the story.

Also naming the victims of the Ekosian Nazi's "Zeons" (as in Zion, a Jewish term for Israel) could hardly be more transparent. Star Trek fans don't need road signs telling them who the players are supposed to be.

But it's just a mediocre episode, not even relieved by the usual verbal sparing between Spock and McCoy. With an episode this silly, there better be some really good comic relief to make it tolerable. But there's no spoonful of sugar for this medicine--and it goes down hard.

It's even more annoying that this was the second use of "Hodgkins' Law of Parallel Development" in the same four episode run (see "The Omega Glory", Episode 2.23, where the "Enterprise" encounters a post-apocalyptic planet whose inhabitants not only speak English, but carry the American flag, have a copy of the Constitution, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and call themselves "Yangs" ("Yanks"); while their enemies are called "Kohms", as in "Communists."

Roddenberry uses the same device for a THIRD time in the season finale, "Bread and Circuses" (Episode 2.25) where an exact duplicate of Imperial Rome has survived 2000 years to develop Twentieth Century technology (i.e. machine guns and swords).

"The Omega Glory" is about on the same quality level as this episode. "Bread and Circuses" is much better. This plot device wears thin quickly--much as Time Travel was beaten to death in TNG, DS9 and even Voyager and three of thee ten movies. "Bread and Circuses" would have been believable by itself, but the other two just aren't up to par; as a result all three look like the product of desperation to meet "air dates." Indeed, a constant theme in the extras about the show's production was how often they came to missing those dates! These shows have the feeling of "quickie" scripts, slapped together in order to deliver the required 25 episodes to NBC.

"Bread and Circuses", at least, features character development and an interesting religious development that perplexes Kirk & Co.

The first two episodes are just excuses to show off Spock's usual cleverness MacGyver-style: he uses the "transponders" implanted in his and Kirk's arm to create a primitive "laser" powered by a light-bulb (!) to cut through the lock on their cell door.

Shatner (and his stunt double(s) are given an excuse to show that he's Macho Man and kicks bad guy behind with his usual relish. BORING.

I almost have the feeling I can hear a big sigh of relief at the time bought by these truncated, half-written scripts for the perennially over-worked, over-budget, behind-schedule crew and cast.

When Kirk is finally able to confront Prof. John Gill about why he chose to infuse Ekosian culture with National Socialism, Gill calls the Nazi regime, "The most efficient in history..."

This is flat-out wrong.

Nazi Germany was terribly, purposefully inefficient. In order to ensure that absolute control remained in his hands, Hitler encouraged inefficiency, overlapping authority between agencies, built his own personal army that rivaled the regular Wehrmacht, and fostered rivalries among his inner circle (Goering, Himmler, Bormann, et al).

He also used every excuse he could to centralize military command ever more tightly into his hands. He blackmailed, framed, and bullied the generals he inherited from the Weimar Reichswehr until he was "commanding" armies hundreds of miles away as though he were on the spot. German troops suffered as much from his arrogance and stupidity as they did from Soviet and Allied military action.

A further demonstration of wild inefficiency was the existence of TWELVE separate foreign intelligence gathering agencies. Naturally, the intelligence gathered was often contradictory.

Despite the use of the most brutal methods imaginable, the Nazis were never able to stamp out resistance movements inside Germany (as the three known attempts on Hitler's life demonstrate), let alone in conquered nations such as France, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

Hitler twisted the Germany economy toward one purpose: a quick conquest of Europe and the Soviet Union, a goal quite beyond Germany's capacity--especially once the US was involved. Like Napoleon, Hitler depended upon plundering his conquered victims to fund, fuel and feed his war machine.

Hardly what one would call a paragon of efficiency.

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