Thursday, September 20, 2018

Star Trek -- Season 1 Episode 15 (Shore Leave)

There are certain things that I never noticed about Star Trek when I was growing up.  Mostly, it’s the implausibility of a lot of the episodes.  They had great stories, but would usually break down upon further inspection.  Take Shore Leave.  The crew of the Enterprise finds a planet that seems uninhabited.  After beaming down, strange things start happening.  McCoy sees a white rabbit chased by a young girl.  Sulu is attacked by a samurai.  Not bad for an uninhabited planet

It turns out that the planet is maintained by an alien race, who were underground.  The place is used as a sort of amusement park, only no one bothered to tell the people on the Enterprise.  This was actually the first question I had.  Many of the things that people imagined turned out to be dangerous, like a tiger or a warplane.  Granted, warning signs might ruin the illusion.  However, you’d think there would at least be an automated hail explaining what’s going on.

If a race is powerful enough to read minds and produce what people are thinking of, they have some responsibility to others that visit the planet.  There is an actual caretaker on the planet, and I don’t buy his claim that he didn’t know that the crew didn’t understand.  If the caretaker can read thoughts mechanically, he can also tell that the visitors aren’t members of his race.

It also seems to take a while for the landing party to figure out what’s going on.  No one realizes that what they think is what they get.  Sure, finding a gun is a little implausible, but Kirk should have had a stronger reaction to meeting two people that he knew fifteen years ago.  Add to this that McCoy is seemingly killed and dragged off.   This should be the surest sign that their scanners missed something.

The episode is fun, but it’s hard to take the danger seriously.  We know that everything is going to be ok in the end.  I think this may be the strangest, most trippy episode so far.  It does look like something out of the 1960s.  I have to wonder how it would have looked if it was remade as a Next Generation episode.  Would it have been more straight laced? I do see elements of it in episodes from the spin-off series, but a straight-up remake is hard to imagine.

On that note, the planet isn’t ever mentioned again.  The Next Generation had Risa.  I’m curious if anyone ever came back to the planet.  I could see the caretaker having an issue with too many Starfleet people visiting the planet.  It would make for a great way of exploring overuse.  Alas, it seems to be another aspect that will be never be visited again.

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