Wednesday, September 02, 2015

In Which I'm Exposed as a Rabid Trekkie

In Which I'm Exposed as a Rabid Trekkie.

This infographic appeared on Facebook having been posted by RevolutionSF.

I thought, "nice".  Then I started looking at it. 'He's dead, Jim' was said 22 times...? Having made my own "He's dead, Jim" t-shirt in the the 1970s, I know that one is wrong.

Trouble This Side of Paradise

In Star Trek, "He's dead, Jim" is said four (4) times. The rest are some variation of [S|He|This man]'s dead [sir|captain]. Even then the grand total of individual death pronouncements is something like 17. The only way you get to 22 is if you count the times that somebody other than McCoy pronounces someone dead. Uhura, Kirk, and Chapel all said "he's dead", and McCoy himself was pronounced dead by Yeoman Barrows in 'Shore Leave'.

Here are the episodes in which McCoy says, "He's dead, Jim":
  • 'The Enemy Within'
  • 'The Changeling'
  • 'Wolf in the Fold'
  • 'Is There in Truth No Beauty'

Where No Clone Has Gone Before

Now I became skeptical about the rest of it and decided to explore it a bit to confirm or dispel my suspicions. Unfortunately, they were confirmed.

For instance, Kirk being cloned requires a very broad definition of "clone" that doesn't involve any cloning.
  • He was duplicated by an android in 'What are Little Girls Made Of?' 
  • In 'Mirror, Mirror', the alternate universe version of him that was Kirk, not a clone. 
  • A transporter accident split Kirk into two beings in 'The Enemy Within'... I'd let that one go, except that they were both imperfect halves of one whole. 
  • In 'Whom Gods Destroy', Garth of Izar was a shape-changer, but there's no evidence that his DNA was altered as he changed shape.

Assignment: Time Travel

Next, the graphic states that the Enterprise traveled back in time on five separate occasions.

Not in the original series, it didn't. The Enterprise only traveled back in time 3 times in the original series, excluding movies: in 'The Naked Time', 'Tomorrow is Yesterday', and 'Assignment: Earth'. Not five.

I assume the other two times they're thinking of must be 'The City at the Edge of Forever' and 'All Our Yesterdays', but the ship didn't go back those times... just select members of the crew. On both occasions it was the same members: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.
(As an aside, the librarian in 'All Our Yesterdays' had the best librarian name evah... "Mr. Atoz" (A to Z)

The Lights of Studio

You don't have to take my word for it.
Belatedly I turned my attention to the prominent graph. Surely that is OK!

Nope. "Gold Shirts".

In the original series the shirts were actually more green than gold, but the lighting and film processing altered the color on-screen. Some shirts (like Kirk's wrap-around tunic) were made of a different material and showed up on-screen as the original green.

Yes, "gold" may have been made canon in later media (i.e. the Animated Series), but we're talking about Original Series Fandom here... no retcons and revisionist history allowed.

Speaking of green, I think I'm going to need a jolt of Scotty's Aldebaran whiskey to get through the rest of the infographic.

Is There In Truth No Accuracy?

Not Triskelion
Beside what's already mentioned, several of the species under "Kirk's Love Story" are inaccurate. "Skallosian", "Triskelion", and "Kelvan" are all mis-spelled. Kirk has never romanced a Triskelion native: the natives of Triskelion are disembodied brains.... Shahna was not a native.

Also, Kirk never romanced a Vulcan. You can fudge that if you allow that he loved his best friend, Spock. (I'm talking love, not romance; though I'm sure some will score this one as a win for slash fiction.)

I must admit I'm wracking my brain about the "Zeta" thing... there was an episode called 'The Lights of Zetar', but the romance there was Scotty's, and lettuce all agree that Mira Romaine was decidedly human. (See what I did there?)

Dagger of the Meld

As for mind melds, I count nine in the following episodes: 'Dagger of the Mind'; 'The Devil in the Dark'; 'The Changeling'; 'Mirror, Mirror'; 'Turnabout Intruder'; 'Is There In Truth No Beauty?', and 'Spectre of the Gun'. A whopping three of them were in 'Spectre of the Gun' alone. Why only four are counted in the infographic is a mystery.

Operation: Annihilate the Crew!

Hell, I'll even challenge the number of crew. That's the standard complement of a Constitution class starship, but they either killed or left behind crew members so often that it was unlikely that this number was accurate within hours of leaving spacedock.

Patterns of Farce

It's not the end of the world.
'Mirror Mirror' depicted an entire
universe where every detail about
Star Trek was messed up, but it still
had its good points. Yup.
So far, everything I've bothered to fact-check prior to breaking off to write this post has been inaccurate in some way. This severely affects the probability that these errors were inadvertent. After all, the author did spend some time on this. Why be so publicly wrong in so many ways for such a high-profile property with such an attentive fanbase... unless it was your intent to be wrong?

Therefore, I choose to believe that this is deliberately constructed as a "busy box" for genuine TOS fans. The object isn't to accept the "facts" as given, nor even to find out whether they're right... it's to determine how they're wrong.

It's devious, it's ingenious, it's clever... and if you're the person who put that infographic together, I suggest you adopt it as your official story and stick to it.

With that in mind, I'll turn my attention to the remainder of this puzzle in private and allow you to do the same, dear Reader.


Turnabout Intentions

OK, I was going to finish it in private. I changed my mind. So... "Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more; or close up the wall with our redshirt dead!" (That's so much better in Klingon, don't you think? Short and to the point:"Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam")

The infographic pegs the number of Vulcan nerve pinches at 34. Now, that's a lot of nerve pinches. But it's certainly plausible, given that the technique first appeared in 'The Enemy Within', which was only the fifth episode that aired. So I started counting.

I count 37 or 38 Vulcan Nerve Pinches in the original series, though some are difficult to detect on screen and not all of which are successful. In any event, it's more than 34.

Here's what I think the infographic misses:
  • In 'Whom Gods Destroy': there's a double nerve pinch, showing off Spock's ambidexterity.
  • In 'I, Mudd' it was unsuccessful attempted against an android 
  • In 'Friday's Child' Spock uses it on a guard In Eleen's tent. As the guard is already swinging with forward momentum, it's difficult to see that Spock's hand is indeed on his neck, applying the grip.
  • In 'The Apple', Spock uses it against a native who has already overextended his reach in a clumsy attempt to use a club. Nevertheless, it's the pinch that puts him out.
dgmpepper8 has collected them all in a YouTube compilation. Don't let this throw you, though... several of them are depicted several times, some from different angles. You should count each distinct grip.

The Enterprise Incidents

Now, flying a starship is a dangerous business, but I think it strains credibility to say that the Enterprise was actually captured sixteen times in the original series!

I think it's fifteen, and keep in mind that I mean captured. It's possible that a looser definition might get more numbers, but I'm no more in favor of loosening the language here than I was for the clones. By "capture" I mean that the ship (not crew... this has to be the hardware) has been seized or overcome by some external entity, excluding internal strife... mutinies and like. Within that stricture I'm going to be pretty lenient, as I want to get to 16. So, these are the voyages....

  1. 'The Squire of Gothos'. This one's debatable, but I'm going with it. Trelane never leaves his world, but that's really not a condition of "capture". The escape of the Enterprise is clearly thwarted as Trelane plays with it as a cat would a mouse. It has only the freedom he allows.
  2. 'Arena'. Yup. Gotta go with this one, too. The Metron has captured and disabled both the Enterprise and the Gorn vessel, and would have destroyed one of them if the humans had not declined the "favor".
  3. 'Space Seed'. Hell yes. Khan subjugated the crew and gained the firm upper hand. He didn't keep it, but them's the breaks.
  4. 'Who Mourns for Adonis?' This is a solid capture, by a giant space-hand wielded by a Greek god, no less.
  5. 'Catspaw'. Using technology that's indistinguishable from sympathetic magic, Sylvia and Korob encase the Enterprise in an impenetrable force field, forcing Kirk to surrender his ship.
  6. 'I, Mudd'. Yeah... this was a solid capture as well. The android Norman infiltrated the ship and returned it to his homeworld. Now in captivity, the crew eventually defeat the androids by posing the Liar Paradox, which works because computers in the future are utter shit.
  7. 'Wolf in the Fold'. I'm going with this one, as Redjac clearly does get the capture. Of course he doesn't hang on to it long, as he's the only entity on board who doesn't know that Starfleet computers are not only total shit; but that Starfleet programmers never bother with bounds-checking. Redjac is thereby defeated by a high-school math problem.
  8. 'The Gamesters of Triskelion'. Yup. Captured. Probably wouldn't have been if Spock weren't so clever as to track down the abduction of Kirk, Uhura, and Chekov. I bet 100 quatloos he won't make that mistake again!
  9. 'By Any Other Name'. A solid capture by the Kelvans of the Andromeda galaxy. If they could have held their temper and their liquor they might have also held the ship.
  10. 'And the Children Shall Lead'. Yeah, but I admit this one reluctantly, as it was a terrible episode. The Gorgan, through the children, does manage to control and manipulate the ship. But kids being kids, they're defeated by some home videos of Mom and Dad.
  11. 'Day of the Dove'. Yes, the Enterprise was once captured by a reflection of light on toilet water and turned into an arena for an endless Human/Klingon grudge match. It's a wonder that the Organians allowed it.
  12. 'Wink of an Eye'. I'd have to say yes on this one, though briefly (smirk). The time-accelerated coup didn't last long because... physics... but it was real while it lasted. 
  13. 'Let That Be Your Last Battlefield'. OK, sure, though I'd argue that "hijacked" is more descriptive, as there was never an intent to keep the ship. But I'm trying to get to sixteen, and this is already pretty late in the third season.
  14. 'Requiem for Methuselah'.  Miniaturizing the ship and displaying it on a tabletop has surely got to count.
  15. 'The Way to Eden'.  A well-executed coup by space-hippies that pre-sages the events of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.  

So what's missing? Probably 'The Enterprise Incident', in which our dauntless Starfleet crew are held in the Neutral Zone by three suddenly uncloaked Romulan ships of Klingon manufacture.

I know what you're thinking... am I mad? Well, maybe I am, but that's not relevant. Though this superficially appears to be a classic military capture, it is revealed to be a highly classified mission. Kirk deliberately places his ship in enemy hands and Spock deliberately surrenders himself to their authority so that Kirk (having been thought killed by Spock) might steal a cloaking device. This wasn't a capture, it was the mission.  There are already a few hijackings on the list, so I'm just not letting this one through. If my arm were twisted to put it on, I'd drop Gothos and Battlefield from the list at the same time.

In case this wasn't what was left out, I've prepared a list of all the episodes you could possibly offer as depicting the capture of the ship, and my reasons why they don't:

  1. 'Charlie X'. Close but no cigar. Charlie never really had control of the ship.
  2. 'Where No Man Has Gone Before'. Nope. What Gary Mitchell attempted was a mutiny.
  3. 'The Naked Time' No again. Kevin Riley's lockout of the controls was no capture.
  4. ' The Corbomite Maneuver'. No again. It was a stand-off.
  5. 'Court Martial'. Nah. For most of the episode it was judicial due process; then it was sabotaged by Finney
  6. 'Return of the Archons'. No way. The Enterprise was embattled, but not captured. And the crew won, too.
  7. 'This Side of Paradise'. No capture here, though the ship was almost entirely abandoned.
  8. 'Errand of Mercy'. The Organians incapacitated both the Klingon and Federation fleets, but they captured nothing... and indeed, would have no use for the ships had they done so. It amounted to a firm spanking.
  9. 'Operation:Annihilate!' While under the control of a flying amoeboid, Spock attempts to seize control of the Enterprise. Key word: attempts. Nurse Chapel thwarts the attempt with a dose of sedative.
  10. 'The Changeling'. Nomad never captures the ship. It's brought on board, studied, found to be dangerous, in part because it is obedient to a fault. It is then destroyed. It does attempt to improve engine efficiency and does a few other things without prior permission, but un-does what it can when ordered.
  11. 'The Apple'. The computer named Vaal drained some power from the Enterprise, but never captured it.
  12. 'The Deadly Years'. Oh, puh-leez. Starfleet chain of command.
  13. 'Return to Tomorrow'. I'm saying no on this one, though it's arguable. Three of the crews' bodies are willingly donated, an at one point Sargon's consciousness takes refuge in the ship itself; but "capture" signifies a certain intent that is absent with regard to the ship. And if you look at it fairly, the very purpose of a starship is to provide refuge.
  14. 'The Ultimate Computer'. Hardly. Engineering incompetence and Starfleet mismanagement do not count as a capture. By the way, regarding the M-5... I might have already mentioned that computers in the future are utter shit.
  15. 'Is There in Truth No Beauty?' Jealous and deranged, an engineer named Marvick diddles with the controls and sends the Enterprise off course. This is a capture only if you feel that batting a baseball is the same as catching it.
  16. 'Spectre of the Gun'. Crew members are captured by the Melkotians... but not the ship.
  17. 'The Tholian Web'. No cigar. The Enterprise just sat there trying to get Kirk back from a dimensional rift while the Tholians set about attempting a capture. In the end the Enterprise simply flew away through the unfinished web. Getting "webbed" by the Tholians is a bit like being attacked by sloths.
  18. 'The Savage Curtain'. The ship was threatened, but not captured.

That Which Salutes

Hmm... how about something easier to check... the number of Vulcan salutes in the show. Can it be only be seven? I'm understanding this to mean salutes in the Vulcan style; not those that are given by Vulcans. So we're looking for seven salutes. We'll start with the easy ones... the "Vulcan episodes":
'Amok Time' - 4
  • The salute is given by T'Pau and returned by Spock. T'Pau then appears to briefly mind meld with Spock. 
  • After the koon-ut-kal-if-fee it is given by Spock and returned by T'Pau.
'Journey to Babel' - 4
  • Spock demonstrates the salute to McCoy as the Vulcan delegation exits the shuttlecraft. McCoy tries and fails to return it. 
  • Sarek presents the salute to Kirk, who gives a slight bow in return. 
  • Spock presents the salute to Sarek, who ignores it. 
  • Sarek returns McCoy's verbal greeting with the salute.
     Uh-oh. Myth busted already. But let's keep going, shall we?
'Is There in Truth No Beauty?' - 4
  • Upon beaming aboard, Dr. Miranda Jones gives the salute to Spock, who returns it. That's two more.
  • On leaving the Enterprise the same exchange is made, in the same order.
'The Savage Curtain' - 2
  • Upon their first meeting the construct representing Surak presented the salute to both Kirk and Spock. Spock initially pontificates until Surak prompts, "Whatever I am, would it harm you to give respons?" Spock responds with the salute and, "Live long and prosper, image of Surak, father of all we now hold true."
I've counted fourteen salutes in four episodes. Furthermore, as you can see, I've grouped them in exchanges, of which we see there are nine. So even counting greeting-and-response as one "salute" there are not seven salutes.

At least they're consistent.

The Alternative Factoids

There are a number of facts that the graphic doesn't include, but could have. I'm not sticking with just numerical "facts", because as we've seen they can be pretty boring.

  • How many episodes took place entirely on the Enterprise? 
  • Who played James T, Kirk's brother Sam? 
  • Where is Gary Seven's "cat" Isis right now?  
  • How many of Kirk's relatives appeared on-camera in the original series?

You take a shot at answering them in the comments, and I'll post answers in this same spot later.

No comments:

Post a Comment