Monday, March 25, 2013

Star Trek: Court Martial

I haven't gotten in any comet watching lately, so the blog is back to Star Trek. Tonight's episode:

First off, let me say that the matte painting used in this episode for Starbase 11 is just awesome:
Adding to the feel of being on an alien world, they provided windows with views like this one behind Commodore Stone:
The Enterprise just was in an ion storm and Ben Finney, the ship's records officer is dead. While the ship is getting repairs Kirk files his report on the incident. Unfortunately, the ship's log indicate that, contrary to Kirk's testimony, the Kirk jettisoned the pod with Finney in it when the ship was only on Yellow Alert and not Red Alert.
In Kirk's defense, the buttons are like right next to each other. Anyone could hit the wrong button once in a while.
Did Kirk commit perjury? Was he negligent in Finney's death? A general court martial will be held to decide. Meanwhile, McCoy uses the fact that he knows Kirk to try to pick up chicks.
The chick in question turns out to be Lt. Shaw, a woman from Kirk's past, who, as we learn later, also happens to be the lawyer from the Judge Advocate's office assigned to Kirk's prosecution.

Kirk's defense attorney is none other than Samuel T. Cogley, played by the wonderful Elishia Cook, Jr.
"What's the matter? Don't you like books?"
Cogley moved all those books into Kirk's place. He gets some great lines and his first exchange with Kirk goes like this:
Cogley: What's the matter? Don't you like books? 
Kirk: Oh, I like them fine, but a computer takes less space. 
Cogley: A computer, huh? I got one of these in my office. Contains all the precedents. The synthesis of all the great legal decisions written throughout time. I never use it. 
Kirk: Why not?
Cogley: I've got my own system. Books, young man, books. Thousands of them. If time wasn't so important, I'd show you something. My library. Thousands of books. 
Kirk: And what would be the point? 
Cogley: This is where the law is. Not in that homogenised, pasteurised, synthesiser. Do you want to know the law, the ancient concepts in their own language, Learn the intent of the men who wrote them, from Moses to the tribunal of Alpha 3? Books. 
Kirk: You have to be either an obsessive crackpot who's escaped from his keeper or Samuel T. Cogley, attorney at law. 
Cogley: Right on both counts. Need a lawyer?
 Kirk is sticking to his guns about the order of events, but the hearing doesn't go well at all, especially when the ship's logs seem to confirm that he is lying.

When Spock confirms that there is nothing mechanically wrong with the ship's computer, Kirk says that maybe he will be able to beat his next captain at chess. That gets Spock to thinking that playing chess is another way to test the computer.
After beating the computer several times, Spock heads down to present the evidence that "Someone, either accidentally or deliberately, adjusted the programming and therefore the memory banks of that computer." This certainly is not the way people think about computers today, is it?

In any case Cogley demands to face Kirk's accuser - the computer, so they take the hearing to the ship.

Everyone is sent to the surface, except for a minimal number of crew members & the officers of the court. Kirk explains, once again, that nobody on Star Trek knows what an orbit is or how they work:
"Our impulse engines have been shut down. We'll maintain orbit by momentum." Presumably, objects like the Moon, have really awesome engines that never run out of fuel. 
I'm a doctor, not Sinatra.
On board, they perform an interesting experiment: listening for everyone's heartbeats. After all the heartbeats have been accounted for, there is still one left - that of Ben Finney who isn't dead. He faked his death to frame Kirk.
Finney sabotages the ship, Kirk's stuntman beats Finney's & then Kirk fixes the ship and all is well.

All-in-all, Court Martial is a solid, enjoyable episode. Not a top 10, but still worth your time.

Next up, The Menagerie.

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