I’m into season two now. Some things I’m noticing:
* The writers are very consistent with the message that peacemaking is unnatural to human beings. We’re the savage species, the killers who for some reason decided to go out to the stars to answer cries for help. This seriously comes up every other episode (it’s part of what they use Spock’s alienness for) and it adds so much emotional resonance to the (less-consistent) peacemaking itself. I am not a fan of ST:TNG so I’m the wrong person to analyze its flaws, but I never did feel that tension–I never felt that ST:TNG‘s sanitary humans were longing to punch and kill and walk away from the explosion–and that’s part of why the revived series didn’t work for me, I think.
* Speaking of fighting, I love how Captain Kirk constantly fights with his feet. Why? Why does he do this? So many shots of him flying into the melee feet-first, like a Love and Rockets cartoon about pro wrestling. I especially love when he grabs hold of that one red mesh wall in the engineering deck and uses his hands to hold onto it so he can battle with his feet.
* I was hoping that the cast of Devil in the Dark was all-male but you do spot one female crewman on the bridge in a very late scene. Overall though it’s one of the most testosterone-soaked episodes in terms of casting, which was very smart. Sets are great and kind of cheap ’80s horror imo.
* Fred Steiner deserves more credit than he gets. The music in Amok Time is phenomenal–jazzy, otherworldly, disorienting and utterly retro-futuristic–and I remember especially liking the music in The Changeling as well. Also, nice work with the similar yet contrasting themes for the two starships in The Doomsday Machine: The Constellation’s theme is a minor-key and tragic, broken reworking of the Enterprise’s familiar dun-dah-daaaaaaahhh adventure song.
* Amok Time is also gorgeous to look at and hugely fun to watch. Like Mirror, Mirror. Also, if we’re getting our nerd on, Amok Time is (imo) clearly the source of the challenges in ElfQuest where Cutter and Rayek battle for Leetah. Take a look at the bridge challenge in ElfQuest vs the wide shot of the setting of the Amok Time challenge; also the sling weapon and, you know, the general concept. Leetah > T’Pring of course but I will say both T’Pring and T’Pau are excellent one-off characters. Also I know I go all gooey about Shatner but Leonard Nimoy is fantastic as Spock; we’re so used to it that we forget to point it out.
* They’ve already started recycling plots. The solution in The Changeling is the exact same one as in Return of the Archons; Return of the Archons + Who Mourns for Adonis? = The Apple. Oh well. We’ll call it a motif and knock off work early.
* Both Edith Keeler and Marlena Moreau appear quite late in their respective episodes–almost at the halfway point, iirc. I still find it hard to care about Keeler even though her character concept is basically “I am Dorothy Day, Destroyer of Worlds!”, but Marlena Moreau is basically my perfect woman. I would watch endless spinoff seasons about her and Mirror!Spock subverting the Empire. Barbara Luna burns a hole in the screen, and she had great chemistry with Shatner. Between Marlena and Uhura this episode was probably formative for me in ways I should discuss with my confessor.
* Not as much lilac in season two. You can’t have everything.