Star Trek – tape 1507

This tape opens with a trailer for Goggle Eyes with Alun Armstrong.

Then, Star Trek – the classic series – with the episode The Changeling. This is a key episode in Star Trek history, as its story also provided the germ of the idea for Star Trek The Motion Picture.

The Enterprise finds a planet where all life has been wiped out. Then something starts firing massive energy bolts at them, threatening to destroy the ship. They manage to make contact with the small craft that’s firing at them. It calls itself Nomad, and it’s not very big at all.

Nomad is somehow derived from an old Earth probe. He calls Kirk ‘The Creator’. And its mission is to seek out and destroy imperfect lifeforms.

But the original Nomad was programmed to seek out new life, so something has affected its program.

Hearing Uhura singing over the radio, Nomad goes to find out what it is. He scans Uhura’s mind. Spock says “She’s a woman.” Nomad says “A mass of conflicting impulses.”

Nomad also zaps Scotty when he tries to stop it scanning Uhura, and he dies. Luckily, Nomad offers to fix him.

Uhura isn’t quite as lucky. Nomad’s scan erased her memory, and Kirk is content with ‘We can re-educate her.’

This is the worst thing the show has ever done to a regular character, and McCoy and Chapel seem fairly sanguine about her total loss of knowledge and personality, and the need for her to completely relearn everything. I’m quite upset about this.

Meanwhile, Nomad’s mission to sterilise all imperfection continues, and Kirk has to find a way to prevent it reaching Earth. He kills at least four redshirts during this episode.

Spock has to mind meld with it to learn more.

As it usual with anything to do with computers, Kirk gets Nomad to destroy itself by feeding it a paradox. This is how I thought all computers worked for years.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 7th April 1993 – 18:00

Before the next episode, there’s the very end of Spain Means Business featuring the Spanish pastime of child balancing.

There’s a trailer for Autumn comedy, including Have I Got News for YouRab C Nesbitt and Red Dwarf VI.

There’s also a caption for The Ronson Mission featuring ‘controversial journalist’ Jon Ronson.

Then, more Star Trek, with Patterns of Force or The One with the Nazi Planet. A Starfleet historian has gone missing some years before, and the planet he ended up on has suddenly become a Nazi planet. This isn’t even a metaphor.

I’m loving the guy in the background on the left. Hair, moustache, eyes wandering all over.

Kirk, Spock and some friendly locals get into a big public event where the ‘Fuhrer’ is going to speak. They pose as a film crew. I’m not convinced by Kirk as a camera operator.

They find that the Fuhrer is heavily drugged, and being made to say whatever his underlings want him to say. When Kirk revives him enough to make a statement that they should end the war between the two planetary races, naturally all the Nazis are perfectly happy to stop the fighting and become totally peaceful, because that would totally happen.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 8th September 1993 – 18:00

We skip a bit further into the year, as recording switches to the end of Delia Smith’s Christmas. Followed by a trailer for Stark, Ben Elton’s eco fable.

Then, Plato’s Stepchildren, a notable episode that had never actually been shown on UK TV until this showing.

Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to a planet where a handful of people are living, the end result of a eugenics programme. They’ve been living for thousands of years, but one of them is now ill, which causes problems when his psychokinetic mind starts lashing out. Cue some melodramatic miming.

It gets even worse when the sick Platonian recovers, and decides he wants to keep the Enterprise crew there. With their mind powers they can force the crew to do anything, including making Kirk smack himself in the face.

Good grief, this is getting very silly.

One thing I do like in this is Michael Dunn as Alexander, the dwarf who doesn’t have the psychokinetic powers the other Platonians have.

The reason for the episode’s notoriety is that, under the control of the Platonians, Kirk and Uhura kiss, one of the first interracial kisses on American TV.

But I don’t think that would have been the reason it wasn’t shown on UK TV until 1993. It’s more likely the scene just after the kiss, where Spock and Kirk are almost forced to torture Uhura and Nurse Chapel. After the faintly ridiculous clowning of the rest of the episode, this sequence is truly nerve-wracking, genuinely scary.

But Kirk and Spock gain the upper hand, when the dose of chemicals from local plantlife they’ve been given by McCoy finally starts giving them the same mental powers as the Platonians, and they’re able to overcome them. They even give Alexander a lift from the planet, so he can find a new life elsewhere.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 22nd December 1993 – 18:00

After this, recording continues. There’s a trailer for Ren & Stimpy. And a trailer for The Wrong Trousers.

Then there’s the start of a programme about cricketer David Gower. After about ten minutes, this stops, and underneath there’s the Rough Guide to Guatemala. This runs until the tape ends.

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3 comments

  1. If Twitter had existed in the ’60s, Uhura’s treatment in “The Changeling” would have sent it berserk. On a lighter note, had it been Kirk singing that would probably settled Nomad’s hash good and proper…

  2. Today was a fabulous day. For today you uploaded the BBC2 autumn comedy trailer first broadcast on 2nd September 1993. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    To explain: For years, at the very start of one of my VHS tapes was the last twenty-five seconds or so of this trailer. I remember being very struck by it at the time, partly because I had just discovered both Red Dwarf and Rab C Nesbitt and was hugely excited at the prospect of new series of both programmes, but also because the trailer was so amazing. It felt as though a lot of love went into that trailer, and the choice of music was spot-on. (I still don’t know what it is.) I hoped I would get a second chance at recording it later in the week, but I never did. I mentioned it to my mates at the time, but none of them seemed to have seen it.

    And that was that. How do you express love for a trailer? It’s not the sort of thing you talk about at parties or write essays about. And yet here it is, an unexpurgated version in all its glory! Once again, my thanks!

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