Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Conscience of the King

Shakespeare's work has survived for hundreds of years already, why not a few hundred more? In Star Trek's future, the Bard's plays continue to entertain and occasionally bore, as is the case with our Captain Kirk. He doesn't seem to be terribly interested in "Macbeth" until his comrade accuses the lead actor of being a notorious murderer. I find Kirk's orignal lack of interest downright histerical.

This comrade of his has lied to Kirk to get him to divert the Enterprise, with some silly story about a proposed end to famine. You see, only eight or nine people ever saw this nefarious Kodos. Kirk and this man are two of these nine. He needs Kirk to corroborate his suspiscions. I can't blame this guy for being so vehement, because if I was a wanted mass murderer who faked my death, a space-traveling group of Shakespearean actors would be my first hiding spot.

Kirk goes to a party where this actor is to be, and if you listen closely you'll here a jazzy lounge version of the Star Trek title theme. My interest in 1960s pop culture eats this up, but my interest in science fiction and character drama finds it perfect indicative of my issues witht he episode: it's more a remnant of its time than it is solid storytelling. Kirk falls for the actor's daughter -- quickly and almost unbelievably -- and there's a fair amount of tension squeezed from that fact, but it just isn't strong enough to disguise what reveals itself as a rather straightforward whodunnit.

Also, this episode is a big Kirk show; stalling the forward momentum we'd built up with the crew as characters. This was admittedly little, but still strong enough to warrent an unfillfilled desire from the audience's point of view. Usually these Kirk-escapades reveal enough about his character to make it both interesting and justified. I don't feel like we left this episode knowing anything more about the captain, despite the copious amount of screentime he is given. Not to say he's the only actor on screen.

There's a killer little scene between McCoy and Spock, when the Vulcan first officer begins to doubt the captain's peculiar behavior. When McCoy offers him some Saurian Brandy, Spock utters another winner: "My father's race was spared the dubious benefits of alcohol." To which McCoy replies "Now I know why they were conquered." It's a funny, character bit, and guess what? It has nothing to do with the episode. A fun aside. A cheery non-sequitor. It isn't earned, and acts as a comparison that reminds you just how mediocre the surrounding epsiode is. Detective Spock and his doubting Doctor McWatson!

Uhura sings a song to the ill fated officer Reilly, the only other living whitness to Kodos' likeness. It's fun that they gave her something to do, but really? That's it? Sing with the harp, little lady, we'll get to you in another episode. Sing a tune that'll likely be dated by the time this episode airs. Okay, I may be getting a bit harsh here. I'm not searching for these things, but once you loose faith in the epsiode's storyteller, it's tough not to see them.

Spock attempts to convice Kirk of his stubborness against accepting the actor's true identity. This is soap stuff, unbefittingly mundane and unambitous for a show that's proven itself otherwise.

I offer the following exchange as evidence:
"Has the machine changed them? Made them just people instead of women?"
"Worlds may change, galaxies disintigrate, but a woman always remains a woman."


No comments:

Post a Comment