Star Trek: The Deadly Years

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”

Jane Austen

We’re back in Star Trek-land this evening after another Slow News Day on the television front.

It could be worse. You could be reading a review of Coronation Street right now.

Moving swiftly on from that dreadful thought. The Deadly Years begins uncharacteristically swiftly, with the usual Enterprise ka-tet (plus the obligatory¬† Unfortunate Crew Member whose only function is to die horribly later on) beaming onto a random planet and asking random questions like “Where are all the people?”, prompting certain existential questions on the part of the viewer: “What? What’s happening? What is this place? Why are they there? And, where, exactly, are all the people?” And then: “Oh heck, there’s a dead body.” It’s all a bit edgy, for Star Trek.

However, events soon return to their comfortably familiar pattern. The ka-tet begin to suffer from – and I quote – “extreme old age”, for unknown reasons. With only a week at most to live, can they find a cure before it’s too late? (Cue dramatic music.)

Actually, on the whole, this was a terrible piece of drama even by 1960s standards. Ten minutes of a fifty-minute episode (that’s 20%, folks!) were spent on a Competence Meeting, a sort of trial thing, which essentially re-hashed a lot of things we had already seen. The accelerated ageing process of the characters was erratic at best, with Scotty looking like a futuristic Father Christmas about five minutes in while Kirk remained miraculously unlined (albeit with a slightly receding hairline) until the last ten minutes. And when Commodore Stocker took over command of the Enterprise due to the small matter of Captain Kirk’s having developed dementia, he came up with a route through Romulan airspace (or whatever the galactic equivalent is) that is so obviously a Bad Idea I couldn’t believe even the stupidest officer in Star Fleet would pursue it.

Plus, I continue to be amazed by McCoy’s apparent ability to effect miracles. Reverse ageing? Just brew up a potion in the lab. Bring someone back to life? The Furry Blob of Into Darkness is your friend there. How does anyone in the Star Trek universe ever die? And why isn’t McCoy a millionaire?

Altogether, an annoying and not terribly amusing episode tonight. It just goes to show what happens when you stop blowing up robots.

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