I love my PVR to bits. So much good stuff on there that I can watch whenever I want! It's going to be such a shame when the introductory rate from my cable company runs out and I'll have to start paying full price, because by then, I won't be able to afford it, and I'll have to give it up. But until then, let's enjoy. Rather than one of the countless Star Trek reruns I fill it with, let's start with a Transformers rerun!
Transformers: Webworld - When I saw this one coming up late one night on TeleToon Retro, I knew I had to record it to see if this episode was as weird as I remembered. This comes from Season 3, so it's after The Transformers: The Movie. After a recent skirmish with the Autobots where Galvatron fired upon his own troops for getting in the way, the Decepticons are starting to fret that maybe their leader is just a little too psychotic to be in charge. Cyclonus, second-in-command, is loyal to a fault and refuses to overthrow Galvatron. Instead, the Qunitesons suggest that Cyclonus take Galvatron to the planet Tokulon, as its residents might be able to help Galvatron. So the Decepticons dupe Galvatron into leading a raid on Tokulon. It turns out Tokulon, the entire planet, is a psychiatric hospital, and upon setting foot on the planet, Galvatron is instantly committed to the hospital against his will. What follows is a scathing satire of the therapy trends of the 1980s...well, as scathing as a Saturday morning cartoon can get. Galvatron is made to talk about his feelings, where he just kind of chants "murder everyone" over and over. Galvatron is made to express his feelings through arts and crafts, where he builds a gun and proceeds to murder everyone. And finally, Galvatron is made to act out his feelings through role playing, where Galvatron takes the role of Galvatron and proceeds to murder everyone. Fearing that Galvatron is too far gone for therapy, the Tokulans figure they need to lobotomize Galvatron. It turns out the whole planet of Tokulon is alive, and they lobotomize by plugging Galvatron directly into their planet's mind. But, Galvatron is so psychotic, he instantly makes the whole planet psychotic, and the Tokulans have to sever the link before the planet destroys itself. In the ruckus, Cyclonus sees the error of his ways and busts out Galvatron. With what he learned from the mind link, Galvatron leads a raid to the heart of the planet, and murders the planet Tokulon. From there, the Decepticons declare war on the Tokulans and proceed to lay waste to the whole planet. Once everything on the planet is ashes, Cyclonus reminds Galvatron that the Autobots are the true enemies, and Galvatron and the Decepticons take off to hunt down the Autobots. And they lived murderously every after.
Yup. Still as weird as I remembered. I wonder what it was like in the Transformers writers room where someone stood up and said, "Hey, I've got an idea! Let's put Galvatron in therapy!" Was it meant to be some slam at parents groups who didn't like the violence in the show? I guess what makes it weird is the fact that Galvatron, the enemy we've all grown to hate, is suddenly made a kind of damsel-in-distress, and Cyclonus becomes the hero. Just weird.
Star Trek: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield - Another famous episode of Star Trek. Despite all the critics declaring it to be a rather mediocre episode, it's fondly remembered for special guest star Frank Gorshin, still best remembered as the Riddler on the 1960s Batman, and it's very, very blunt message.
While on a mission of mercy to planet stricken by a plague, the Enterprise recovers a stolen shuttlecraft. It's lone occupant appears human, but with a peculiar skin colouration. He's split right down the middle, with his left side being black and his right side being white. The man awakens and identifies himself as Lokai, from the planet Charon. Lokai claims to be a wrongly accused individual, who fled tyranny and oppression on Charon. The Enterprise is soon joined by Bele, claiming to be a lawman from Charon and chasing down Lokai to bring him to justice. Bele, played by Gorshin, is oppositely coloured...his left side is white and his right side is black. Bele tries to hijack the Enterprise, but after a tense standoff between Bele and Captain Kirk, Bele relents and allows the Enterprise to finish its mission. In the meantime, Lokai and Bele are treated as guests on the Enterprise, and in their interactions with the crew, we learn that the source of Lokai and Bele's conflict is just good ol' fashioned racism...they can't stand each other because of their oppositely coloured skin. Once the Enterprise has cured the planet of its plague, Lokai once again hijacks the Enterprise, but this time, he's successful. The Enterprise discovers Charon is nothing but a burnt out shell of a planet...the racism that consumed the people erupted into a world war that killed everyone. Lokai and Bele are the last two remaining Charons. Kirk implores that they let go of their hatred and being new lives, but they'll have none of it. They chase each other throughout the Enterprise's corridors until they wind up in the transporter room and beam down to Charon. As the Enterprise departs, the message is summed up thusly:
Uhura>> Do you think their hatred for each other is all they ever had?
Kirk>> No, Liutenant, but it's all they have left.
I know Star Trek always prided itself on tackling real world issues in a satirical sci-fi light, but sometimes, they get just a little too blunt and heavy handed with their message. And this is a prime example of that. Slow, talky, and making sure everyone gets the point. But it's (literal) black and white premise and famous guest star have made it a staple of the original series.
I was also going to talk about the season finale of Doctor Who, but I think I'll save that for a separate blog entry.