First on this tape is The Immunity Syndrome. Spock senses the deaths of an entire crew of Vulcans on a ship.
Pretty soon, an entire planet has been reported dead. There’s something bad out there. And the Enterprise finds it. A big black void.
As the Enterprise approaches and enters the void, it starts losing power, and members of the crew start reporting illness, as if they’re all slowly dying. At the centre of the void is a huge single celled creature.
There’s some good interaction between Spock and McCoy as they argue over which of them should take a shuttlecraft into the organism to run tests. Spock wins, but it seems he is lost when they lose contact with him.
But they destroy the creature with an antimatter bomb, and manage to rescue Spock when escaping so it’s a happy ending, and Kirk can do some leching over a young lieutenant. I’m really finding the casual sexism quite unpleasant.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 19th December 1985 – 18:00
The next episode is A Private Little War. Kirk and the team beam down to a planet where Kirk, as a young officer, had visited 13 years ago. It’s another idyllic paradise with completely peaceful people. Except they spot some locals with flintlocks, something that’s way beyond what their technology would have produced.
Spock gets shot in the chest, and spends the rest of the episode in sickbay, hovering between life and death. It was the 60s, so a near-fatal chest wound is represented by a tasteful green stain (remembering that Spock’s blood as green because it’s based on Copper).
Kirk and McCoy dress up in local garb to meet with the locals that Kirk knew years ago. I’m not quite sure, if they’re now worried about the Prime Directive, why they didn’t dress up in the first place.
Kirk is attacked by a monster wearing an unconvincing white costume, and whose bite is poisonous.
He’s helped by the locals, one of whom, Tyree, he got to know on his previous visit. It’s yet another stupid blonde wig.
His wife is Nona, who can cure Kirk of the monster bite, but because of the cure, he will have to do what she says. She’s played throughout as scheming and power hungry. Like all women, right Gene?
The reason the opposing village has flintlocks is because there’s a Klingon there supplying weapons. So this becomes a weird parable about maintaining equality in destructive capabilities because that’s where peace comes from.
Nona tries to deal with the opposing villagers by offering McCoy’s phaser to them, but they decide they’d rather molest her, and the only reason it doesn’t descend into rape is a) it’s 60s TV and b) Kirk, McCoy and Tyree turn up. At which point the opposing villagers just stab her dead, because obviously that’s what she deserves.
Meanwhile on the ship, Spock is trying to come out of his coma, but because of how Vulcan physiology works, the doctor has to slap him around the face repeatedly. Was Roddenberry or the writer really into S&M or something?
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th January 1986 – 18:00
Lastly, Return to Tomorrow. Sometimes Trek titles are so generic I can’t remember which story they are. I thought this one was a time travel story, but no. The crew travel the furthest they have ever travelled, and find a planet with no atmosphere, and in a chamber deep beneath the surface, the last surviving inhabitants, surviving as minds in spheres.
The show guest-stars Diana Muldaur as a young officer, chosen by the mindballs to come to the surface. She was obviously a particular favourite of the show, since we also saw her recently in another role in Is There In Truth No Beauty, and, of course, she was dropped into season two of The Next Generation as Doctor Pulaski.
The mindballs ask if they can swap minds with Kirk, Spock and Muldaur so they can travel off the planet and build robot bodies for themselves. Trouble is, the mind that uses Spock’s body doesn’t want to give it up, and who can blame him. Nimoy has a lot of fun letting loose for once.
Kirk and Muldaur’s guest minds enjoy being in bodies again.
I enjoyed this episode, particularly the resolution, which had both jeopardy and a clever reveal.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 16th January 1986 – 18:00
After this, a trailer for Pot Black with David Icke.
Then the recording stops, and underneath there’s the end of Bookmark, with a profile of Roald Dahl.
Of particular interest is his working setup. I was having a conversation about his little ad-hoc writing desk with my wife a few weeks back, so naturally it pops up on one of my tapes.
There’s also an interview with Janni Howker, and I’m rather sad that I missed the Shirley Hughes interview at the start, as I loved reading her books to the children.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 19th December 1985 – 20:10
There’s a trailer for Christmas programmes on BBC2, yes, it’s still Christmas here.
Then, the very start of an episode of My Music. Even in 1985 this seems like a document from a bygone era, as the panel of, let’s be honest, older gentlemen wittily answer questions about music that’s never newer than 50 years old. Nothing against that, I love a bit of opera, but it definitely feels like the end of something.
The quizmaster is Steve Race
The panellists are Frank Muir and John Amis
And Ian Wallace and Denis Nordern.
I really wish I had more than a few minutes of this, not least because who doesn’t love watching Muir and Nordern be clever a lot? But the tape ends here.