Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973) – The Magicks of Megas-Tu, Once Upon a Planet, and Mudd’s Passion

Captain’s log: stardate 1254.4

Long before the search for Eden and God led the Enterprise to the Final Frontier in Star Trek V, Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and McCoy (DeForest Kelley) encountered a similar adventure in a similar location.

Written by Larry Brody, this episode aired on 27 October, 1973. The Enterprise is exploring the centre of the galaxy, when they encounter a being, named Lucien (James Doohan) who fits the mythological image of the devil.

Lucien saves the ship for a space storm, and guides them to the planet Megas-Tu. The inhabitants, however, are less than thrilled to see them, and they find themselves placed on trial in a similar method to those that the Megans were tried under on Earth. They are the cause of the image of Satan.

But are they evil? We learn how they advised humanity, until we tried to exploit them, they fled to Salem, and tried to recreate their own world there. Instead they met their fate at human hands.

The episode plays with magic as science, and does it in a fun way, even as Kirk makes an argument in the defence of Lucien, the devil. This episode alone, if there was any doubt beforehand, shows that it could deal with big ideas, even if they are trapped in a Saturday morning atmosphere.

It’s also of note that George Takei not only takes on the role of Sulu, but also one of the Megans for this episode.

Sure it’s a little goofy seeing Kirk use magick to take on the Megans, but the substance of the story is true Trek.

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Captain’s log: stardate 5591.2

Once Upon a Planet sees the crew of the Enterprise return to the Amusement Planet, last seen in Shore Leave in this updated adventure penned by Chuck Menville and Len Janson. It first aired on 3 November, 1973.

Kirk and company are troubled to find that the robots that help to provide amusement on the planet seem to be running amok with no one to control them as the Caretaker is nowhere to be found.

McCoy gives a catch up on what happened in the original episode as the story begins, and with no budget to hold them back this time, the dreams and their subsequent creations this time, get a lot bigger and bolder.

Things go sideways pretty quick when the Queen of Hearts (Majel Barrett) orders for heads to be chopped off, and Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) is captured.

Both M’Ress (Barrett again) and Arex (Doohan) get to man the bridge under Scotty’s (Doohan) command as our trio conduct their investigation and attempt to get the planet back under control.

It tries to draw the story in solidly with the Original Series episode and makes a fairly decent companion piece, even if the reveal of the motivation of the ‘villain’ of the piece is a little less than a real Trek story.

An added bonus is that for the first time, we actually see seat-belt harnesses to hold crew in their seats aboard the Enterprise (something that looks pretty familiar to what we see in the Kelvin-verse films).

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Captain’s log: stardate 4978.5

Stephen Kandell pens the last story for this instalment, Mudd’s Passion. Airing on 10 November, 1973, we see the return of Harcourt Fenton Mudd (Roger C. Carmel) to pester the crew of the Enterprise once again.

This time around, Mudd is peddling a love potion, which affects Spock, causing him to fall in love with Nurse Christine Chapel (Barrett).

I like the callbacks to previous episodes, including all of Mudd’s previous encounters with Mudd, as well as Chapel’s love for Spock. This is something she has always wanted returned in kind, and through Mudd’s potion, gets a chance to see it happen.

Spock acts oddly, but realises that something is wrong right form the beginning, and he Kirk and McCoy try to figure out what is really going on.

Mudd plays true to his character, even in Saturday morning fare. Kirk and Spock race after him, with Christine as a hostage. Will our heroes be able to recover their crew mate, and quell the romantic notions of not only Spock, but the entire infected crew?

I’m thinking probably, and they can do it in less than twenty minutes!

The Human Adventure continues on Thursday…

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