To boldly go where no man has gone before…
Killer gas and a massive amoeba! They’re all just normal, everyday adventures for the crew of the Enterprise. While not the best episodes the show produced, they’re decent TV sci-fi.
You know the story of “Moby Dick,” with Captain Ahab the neurotic whale-chasing mariner? It seems that it was the inspiration for “Obsession.” Captain Kirk and the Trek Gang land on a planet, where two unfortunate redshirt ensigns are attacked by a cloud of white gas. The gas, it seems, is an old nemesis of Captain Kirk. Years before, possibly after eating a microwaved burrito, he encountered it on a planet across the galaxy. In his obsession (hence the title of the episode) to kill the cloud of gas, Kirk dooms several other poor redshirts to death and jeopardizes the population of another planet by delaying shipment of a valuable shipment of Prozak. Can he defeat the noxious gas?
In “The Immunity Syndrome,” the Enterprise is dispatched to investigate the disappearance of another starship. What they find is a gigantic amoeba that is ready to cell-divide and take over the universe as we know it. Can they stop it from spawning?
The thing is, there’s really not much to talk about with these two episodes. They’re both straightforward, without the usual Trek subtexts. What is really the draw of these episodes — and I can’t believe I’m about to say this — is the acting. Trek is known for its overacting, particularly from the much-maligned William Shatner. He has a peculiar line delivery style, which is unintentionally (at least in this context) comical. Kirk is usually the spotlight of show, but in most episodes he’s the rock ’em sock ’em action star or the suave ladies man. In these two episodes, he’s the spotlight in a different sense, as someone who is in command and in control of the situation. In “Obsession,” that is a dedication to fix a situation he feels that he is responsible for. In “The Immunity Syndrome,” it is determination to fix a dire situation without losing his friends or his crew. Shatner maintains his nearly comical cadence, but brings out the command shades of Kirk in ways that are often overshadowed in other episodes. Unfortunately, that’s about all there is to say about the episodes. Neither is particularly outstanding, but both are entertaining.
Paramount’s Star Trek discs are all the same, so likewise my descriptions of the audio and video quality are all the same. Feel free to skip ahead if you wish.
Each of the Star Trek episodes have been digitally remastered, and they look as good as a television show from the 1960s can hope to look. The image is sharp and detailed with excellent color fidelity and no bleeding. The only problems with the image are inherent to the source material. The picture overall is a little grainy, particularly noticeable in special effect model shots, and can have a few blips caused by dust on the negative. The audio has been remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1. Keeping with its mono roots, sound is mostly restricted to the center channel. Directional effects are used for starship fly-bys during the opening credits, and infrequently throughout the episodes. The purist in me would rather have seen the mono tracks cleaned up and utilized, rather than an unnecessary remix. The only extra is the “preview trailer” for each episode.
Every television show has its workmanlike episodes, the ones that pad out the twenty-odd episode season. While far from bad, these aren’t the episodes you’re likely to remember. That sums up the episodes on this disc.
Collectors will likely want to add Volume 24 to their collections. Casual fans will be best served by looking to other entries with more memorable episodes.
The court apologizes for the brief decision. The disc and the episodes contained therein are found not guilty.