So, I decided to watch Star Trek: The Animated Series. I’d seen a few episodes here and there, but decided a full rewatch was in order. It premiered in 1973, and I am not sure how often it’s been in syndication. For a while, it seemed to disappear, but it’s on Netflix now.
I watched some of it with my daughter-who grew up with far more sophisticated animation. So her observations were ‘why do all the faces look the same?’ and ‘ why do their mouths just move up and down like that?’ She also noted that there are only about four pieces of music used over and over. And there is a separate animated series theme rather than the classic Alexander Courage theme.
Still, even if you’re not watching it with snarky offspring, the animated series was enjoyable. The animated series is meant to be a continuation of the original series. It was to appeal to all ages. Some of the more romantic themes in TOS are dropped, but it never became a ‘kiddie’ show. It’s solid Trek for the most part.
The original crew is back -minus Chekov. He’s replaced by Arex(voiced by James Doohan), a tripedal alien and another feline officer, M’Ress (Voice by Majel Barrett). Because of Nimoy’s intervention Nichelle Nichols and George Take-originally cut-were asked back for voice overs. Walter Koenig was also cut, but did write a script for one episode.There is also the appearance of the first Enterprise captain, Robert April and his wife, Sarah, the doctor on the first Enterprise. The animated series gave them the chance to have more alien looking aliens that were not possible with special effects at the time of TOS. There are some neat ones introduced; a few goofy ones (“Bem”) and at least three feline aliens. Someone much really love cats.
And it gives more screen time to other characters-Uhura gets more command time and away missions; and Sulu actually uses his weapons expertise. It’s not all Kirk-Spock-Bones. Most are solid, old style TOS episodes with powerful godlike beings who are really just advanced aliens; science saves the day; reflections on the goals of the Federation, etc. There’s a goofy Tribbles/Klingon one (“More Tribbles, More Trouble”), and a few silly science (“The Counterclock Incident”). The episode “The Slavers” was written by Larry Niven is a crossover from his Ringworld universe. I particularly liked this episode’s use of Uhura-Sulu-Spock; rather than the usual Kirk and Spock. The animated series is debatable canon, but there are recurring characters from TOS. The episode “Yesteryear” was clearly mined for used in the 2009 movie and in Enterprise’s season four Vulcan episode arc. And there is also a pre-cursor to the holodeck. (“The Practical Joker”) Oh, and apparently, a giant clone Spock is still out there. You’ll have to find that episode on your own.
I had a great time watching this.