Star Trek: The Original Series (1969) – The Way to Eden and The Cloud Minders

Captain’s log: stardate 5832.3

If there’s a worse episode than Spock’s Brain, then The Way to Eden has to be it. I knew, even when I saw it as a child that this was a terrible episode. The story and I did not reach, man.

Written by Arthur Heinemann from a story he developed with D.C. Fontana, this, well, atrocity, first reached screens on 21 February, 1969.

This episode also features a number of characters acting completely outside the norm for what they have previously established. Chekov (Walter Koenig) seems to suffer the most from this.

While the episode may boast having Charles Napier in its cast, there isn’t much to redeem this episode at all.

The Enterprise picks up a bunch of, well, space hippies who are fixated on travelling to a planet they believe exists, the mythical Eden.

Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) clash with the anti-establishment nature of the hippies, and an ex-girlfriend (Mary Linda Rapelye) of Chekov’s makes him seem like a stick in the mud, while the hippies, led by Dr. Sevrin (Skip Homeier) with his sidekick Adam (Napier) promote their easy going free love New Age ways.

Coming up against Starfleet mentality did not meet do the Hippie movement any good, and makes them look fairly inane and moronic, which was not the point of the movement, but how it’s portrayed here.

None of the story works, from Chekov’s unusual characterisation to Spock jamming with the space hippies on his Vulcan harp.

As the story progresses, the Enterprise is forced to go to Eden, and of course, things aren’t as good there as Sevrin and his followers believed.

It’s a bit of a silly story, and I never enjoyed this episode even as a child. Sure it’s great that Chekov has a bit of a love life, but it’s too bad that he had to act so strangely for the story.

And while Kirk may be the best captain in Starfleet, I think it’s hard to believe that Sevrin and his lot have a hard time understanding his motivations and actions. This whole episode bothered me as a kid, and now.

It’s bad.

At least with Spock’s Brain there was the chance to laugh and enjoy the camp, none of that seemed to happen in this episode. In fact every time I watch it I struggle to find something redemptive in the episode, the story, anything. And each time, I come up short. It’s just so, so… silly.

Ugh.

Yeah brother.

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Captain’s log: stardate 5818.4

Science fiction legend David Gerrold (who was very disappointed in how the script turned out) and Oliver Crawford came up for the story of The Cloud Minder which was adapted to a teleplay by Margaret Armen and aired on 28 February 1969.

This is an episode that I have seen less than a handful of times.

The Enterprise is on its way to a planet to recover some minerals which can be used as a cure for a botanical plague that is wreaking havoc on a nearby planet. Beaming down, Kirk and Spock find themselves caught up in a revolution between the workers on and below the surface and those that live in the cloud cities that float above the surface of the planet.

These cities serve as the home to the intellectuals and the artisans who live in luxury on the back of all the work the troglite miners perform for them.

The allegory is pretty on the nose here, and doesn’t need much of a genius to see what they are really talking about. There is classism and elitism at work on both sides of the story, and poor Kirk and Spock are caught up in the middle of everything.

As the story progresses, Kirk traps the leaders of both sides in a cave with him, exposing them all to a deadly gas that has inhibited the troglites for years. The climax that follows is a bit silly, and everything is made better by the introduction of filters, but no real changes to the society beyond that. Hmmm.

The Human Adventure continues next week as we breach the final three episodes of the original series, and boldy go beyond them…

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