TV SERIES Review: Star Trek: The Animated Series S1E16 – The Jihad ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Season 1
CBS All Access (Original TV network: NBC)
January 12, 1974
Run Time: 24 minutes

Episode 16 – “The Jihad”

On the asteroid Vedala, Kirk and Spock are summoned to assist a group of aliens on an adventure to find a religious artifact. Some creative alien creatures include a golden eagle, a lizard Gorn-like creature and a green bug

The expedition takes the group to a planet filled with traps, including erupting volcanoes, extreme temperatures. Several previous expeditions have failed, will this one succeed? This is an action-packed, adventure episode. Will they successfully find and retrieve the Soul of the Skorr”?

Summary

This is the last episode of the first season run. The second season only had 6 episodes, bringing the entire series run to a grand total of 22 episodes.

Always good seeing Kirk and Spock working together, and their motley crue of fellow explorers makes this episode even more entertaining. This would have made a really exciting live action episode. Maybe someday this will be adapted. Recommended.

Episode rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

TV SERIES Review: Star Trek: The Animated Series S1E15 – The Eye Of The Beholder ⭐️⭐️

Season 1
CBS All Access (Original TV network: NBC)
January 5, 1974
Run Time: 24 minutes

Episode 15 – “The Eye Of The Beholder”

Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to a planet inhabited by creatures that communicate telepathically. Soon, they are captured and become zoo specimens. Meanwhile, Scotty aboard the Enterprise tries to figure out how to rescue the crew and save the ship from being bombarded by the waves of telepathic requests. The creatures treat the humans as pets.

Summary

This episode reminds me of the classic Twilight Zone episode “People Are Alike All Over” starring Roddy McDowall. The idea that humans would be considered simplistic to far more advanced aliens has been covered several times. What makes this episode shocking is it seemed so fresh in the 60s and only a little cliched in the 70s. In 2021, it all seems very, very cliched and less of a surprise.

Without spoiling, this episode has an anticlimactic ending. It builds good, with the landing crew being taken capture and then, just poof, it’s over, with a very convenient and unsatisfying close. One of my least favorite episodes of the first season. Feels almost like they were running out of ideas for this one and just threw it all together like: hey, we have creatures, a planet, let’s make it a zoo for other species. Just not as imaginative as other episodes.

Episode rating: ⭐️⭐️

TV SERIES Review: Star Trek: The Animated Series S1E14 – The Slaver Weapon ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Season 1
CBS All Access (Original TV network: NBC)
December 15, 1973
Run Time: 24 minutes

Episode 14 – “The Slaver Weapon”

Spock, Uhura and Sulu aboard a transport ship with a slaver box that starts glowing. This only happens when it is near another slaver box. Time stands still inside a slaver box, explains Spock. An alien race that sees human beings as food is on an icy planet with the other slaver box.

How will the encounter with the alien race develop? What is the slaver box, really? Why does it exist?

Summary

This is one of the more thought-provoking episodes of all episodes. I miss this kind of deep-thinking Star Trek. The current era Star Trek, the Alex Kurtzman Trek, if you will, is lacking these types of episodes. I’ve read and seen videos where he’s called it “monster of the week” and that’s a dismissive and disrespectful way to look at the original Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry and company weren’t just going through the motions. Sure, sometimes they were, and admitted it, but episodes like this that make you think are the bread and butter of the franchise.

I digress. My only criticism for the episode is I missed Captain Kirk. An episode that doesn’t have him feels like drinking soda without sugar. Taking away a star for his omission but that might be unfair. It is also kind of cool that they experimented having an episode intentionally without Kirk. You’d think they could have shoehorned him into the episode somehow. Like perhaps a radio message with the ship and captain, at least?

Through the first 14 episodes, the original airings were weekly. Curiously, this episode (December 15, 1973) skipped a week from episode 13 (December 1, 1973)? Maybe there was some special back then, I don’t know what changed the pattern. If anybody reading knows the answer to this, please let me know in the comments.

With modern day TV shows, they are either binged like Netflix does with the entire season released at once or often on changing release episode schedules. Rarely, it seems that TV series new episodes are released weekly like The Mandalorian on Disney+. Unselfishly, I think this is the optimal way to release a TV series. Sure, I’d like to binge the entire season at one time, like Cobra Kai on Netflix, but there is something mystical and cool about getting a new episode every week. Being forced to consume a TV series a week at a time, that I just find captivating.

Episode rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

TV SERIES Review: Star Trek: The Animated Series S1E13 – The Ambergris Element ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Season 1
CBS All Access (Original TV network: NBC)
December 1, 1973
Run Time: 24 minutes

Episode 13 – “The Ambergris Element”

A shuttlecraft is sent to the planet Argo containing Kirk and Spock. They are studying a planet that is almost completely underwater, with very small land mass. A strange red marine creature attacks the shuttle and Kirk and Spock are taken captive. When they are found 48 hours later by another landing crew, their lungs have changed and they both can only breathe in water.

Will they be able to be returned to air breathing? Why were they changed? How was this done? These answers and more are answered on this episode.

Summary

Nice change of pace seeing an aquatic storyline. The underwater aliens are cool and I like how Kirk and Spock are changed and forced to assimilate the race. Kind of reminds me of what the Borg does in TNG, but in a non-mechanical way. This was a good, entertaining episode. Well written, good voice acting as always and fits the Original Series style well. Recommended.

Episode rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

TV SERIES Review: Star Trek: The Animated Series S1E12 – The Time Trap ⭐️⭐️⭐️½

Season 1
CBS All Access (Original TV network: NBC)
November 24, 1973
Run Time: 24 minutes

Episode 12 – “The Time Trap”

The Enterprise has entered the Delta Triangle on a survey mission. This is the space equivalent of The Bermuda Triangle. They encounter a Klingon battle cruiser, go shields up and, after being fired upon, return phaser fire. Suddenly, the enemy ship disappears.

What happened to the ship? Another Klingon battle crusier hails and holds the Enterprise responsible. They head where the ship disappeared to investigate … but what do they find?

Summary

George Takei who plays Sulu is quite obviously voicing the enemy Klingon captain’s voice. His voice is so signature that him trying to make a different voice is kinda comedic. That thick, low voice, I just kept seeing the Klingon as Sulu, which kind of ruined the tension.

This aside, the idea is kind of cool. A space-like Bermuda Triangle is believable and interesting. Yet another strength of most of these animated series episodes: thought-provoking ideas. If you can get past the low budget animation and just immerse yourself in the stories, you’ll be entertained.

Another reason to watch this episode? Gorn! (you’ll have to watch and see what this means)

Episode rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ 

TV SERIES Review: Star Trek: The Animated Series S1E11 – The Terratin Incident ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Season 1
CBS All Access (Original TV network: NBC)
November 17, 1973
Run Time: 24 minutes

Episode 11 – “The Terratin Incident”

While investigating a planet gone supernova, Arachna, a two-hundred year old coded signal causes the Enterprise to divert to the nearby planet. The signal contains a repeating word, “Terratin.” Upon arriving at the planet, the ship is hit by a large yellow beam and begins to cause the entire crew to shrink.

Will the crew be able to stop the shrinking process before they are too small to operate the ship?

Summary

After watching 11 episodes, a familiar, repeating story formula appears. The Enterprise is usually researching something on a planet or in space when something unusual happens. Often the conflict worsens to the point of where death or severe harm appears imminent, only to find a solution in the ending.

What’s missing from these shorter episodes is the intro and coda at the end. Instead of having the cold open, the animated episodes start with the title sequence and goes directly into the action.

This episode is perhaps most obvious it’s fitting into a specific type of formula. It’s an entertaining episode, albeit a bit predictable once we know the basic framework.

Episode rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

TV SERIES Review: Star Trek: The Animated Series S1E10 – Mudd’s Passion ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Season 1
CBS All Access (Original TV network: NBC)
November 10, 1973
Run Time: 24 minutes

Episode 10 – “Mudd’s Passion”

The Enterprise stops by a mining planet to arrest galactic swindler, Harry Mudd pitching what they to be fake love crystals to a planet. After Mudd is aboard the ship he uses the cyrstals on various members of the planet, including Nurse Christine Chapell (Majel Barett-Roddenberry) and Spock. When more members of the crew become infected by the love crystals and dangerous rock creatures on the planet attack a landing party, how will the crew overcome the drug and return to normal?

Summary

The transporter crew dancing and drugged out while these multi-eyed rock creatures are attacking the landing party is the but one humorous part of this episode. This episode captures the comedic elements of The Original Series and yet includes the danger of the alien creatures. It’s a fun combination.

My only knock against this episode is the resolution comes too swiftly. I’ve mentioned the show length in a couple other reviews and this is another episode that sets up a potentially great episode, but is cut short by a too fast finish. It offers a solid first and start of a second act and then just ends abruptly.

Am glad to see they brought back the character of Harry Mudd. In an earlier animated episode featuring the tribbles (TV SERIES Review: Star Trek: The Animated Series S1E5 – More Tribbles More Troubles ½), I wondered why they didn’t have Mudd for that episode, but it seems they were saving him for this one. This episode is not quite as entertaining as the tribbles episode and, somewhat ironically, also suffers with the ending. Just can’t overstate how any story, however promising, must have a worthy ending.

Some of these animated episodes feel more rushed than they needed to be. It’s too bad, because the voice acting and stories through the first 10 episodes anyway are good, some have been great. I’m not sure episodes like this would appeal to children. That was one of the complaints about the series when it ran. It appealed more to adults, which wasn’t the demographic they were targeting in the Saturday morning timeslot. I don’t remember seeing this episode in the 70s.

Episode rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

TV SERIES Review: Star Trek: The Animated Series S1E9 – Once Upon A Planet ⭐️⭐️

Season 1
CBS All Access (Original TV network: NBC)
November 3, 1973
Run Time: 24 minutes

Episode 9 – “Once Upon A Planet”

The inevitable shore leave episode has the Enterprise inexplicably returning to the robot amusement park planet in The Original Series episode “Shore Leave.” As if things didn’t go wrong the first time around, they beam down again for shore leave. This time everybody except Uhuru beams back to the ship to try and explain why the robot master computer shouldn’t attack the Enterprise.

Summary

My biggest problem with this episode is it makes no sense returning to the planet. Was this trying to be a reboot of the Season 1, Episode 15 TOS episode? It isn’t as good as the live action episode, leaving me just puzzled why they didn’t do a more original series.

Nothing wrong with revisiting characters and planets from TOS, as they did in the animated series and in later Star Trek series, but it should add in some way to the prior story and be a logical reason for the crew to return. The first shore leave didn’t go so well, so why when they are going to rest and relax return on this planet again? I just couldn’t get past this vexing plot point to enjoy the rest of the episode.

It’s kind of like how I felt about Futureworld ⭐️⭐️ movie compared to Westworld ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Once the robots went haywire in Westworld, who would ever trust enough to visit the robot fantasy land (so soon) again? Maybe many years later with much heightened safety protocols in place. Jurassic Park had the same issue with the ensuing sequels. When enough time had passed and we wanted to see the dinosaurs again, Jurassic World came along to enjoy success. It also expanded the idea by moving the dinosaurs out of a contained area which is an expansion on the original idea. Idiots just revisiting the dinosaur island expecting a different outcome is the type of story that strains credibility.

Ironically, my favorite movie Star Trek The Wrath of Khan revisited the TOS episode “Space Seed.” A lot of Trek fans consider that to be the strongest Trek film to date. Another favorite is First Contact which revisited an encounter with The Borg for The Next Generation crew. Both those films weren’t empty rehashed and rebooted plots, they went somewhere fresh. That’s what a sequel film should do. Cobra Kai is killing it on the TV side by taking The Karate Kid characters and conflicts and exploring it much, much deeper.

That all said, this is my least favorite episode of The Animated Series rewatched to date.

Episode rating: ⭐️⭐️

TV SERIES Review: Star Trek: The Animated Series S1E8 – The Magicks of Megas-tu ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Season 1
CBS All Access (Original TV network: NBC)
October 27, 1973
Run Time: 24 minutes

Episode 8 – “The Magicks of Megas-tu”

On a mission at the center of the universe, the Enterprise encounters a violent whirlwind storm that sucks the ship into the unknown. While not in time or space as they understand it, a minotaur-like alien appears and takes them to explore the planet Megas-tu.

Summary

Lucien is a curious character in a wondrous place. This story is very wild and trippy and makes me wish this was what Gene Roddenberry should have done in the first Star Trek film. It feels like too much story material to sandwich into 24 minutes.

It’s not often that I criticize something for being too short in run time, but this story needed more. I liked the episode for the supernatural take on what might exist in the middle of the unknown. I’m sure a planet like Megas-tu exists somewhere, if only in our imagination.

Love this series! If you enjoyed the original Star Trek series, you need to check this out on CBS All Access, soon in 2021 to be rebranded as Paramount+.

Episode rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

TV SERIES Review: Star Trek: The Animated Series S1E7 – The Infinite Vulcan ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Season 1
CBS All Access (Original TV network: NBC)
October 20, 1973
Run Time: 24 minutes
Written by Walter Koenig (Chekov on The Original Series)

Episode 7 – “The Infinite Vulcan”

The Enterprise is visiting the newly established planet Phylos and landing party is on the surface. Lieutenant Sulu sees a moving plant called a Retclaw, bends down and picks it up, only to be poked by something in the plant. Seconds later he collapses, poisoned. Doctor McCoy attempts to help Sulu when a living green plant appears and saves Sulu’s life.

Next, the plant people kidnap Spock, leading to a conflict with Kirk and team to retrieve Spock. Why do they want Spock?

Summary

Chekov (Walter Koenig) from The Original Series (TOS) was the only primary cast member that didn’t return to be represented in the animated series, due to budgetary reasons. He was invited to submit this script, which is different and interesting.

Good dialogue, voice acting, a plot that could have been another adventure on TOS, an all around solid, fun, entertaining episode. The plant people design is curious as well. They probably look better animated than they would have looked in the 70s. I’m guessing better than the Gorn did in TOS, with the phony non-moving mouth.

The alien that replaced Chekov as a regular ship navigator sitting next to Sulu was voiced by Scotty (James Doohan). Check this episode out, it’s well worth watching.

Episode rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️