Monday, March 23, 2020

Review of "Star Trek Animated Series Episode 18: Bem"

Review of

Star Trek Animated Series Episode 18: Bem

Four out of five stars

 “Bem” is episode 18 of the Star Trek animated series and it first aired in September 1974. It was written by Hugo and Nebula winner David Gerrold, most famous for being the author of the original series episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” Like that episode, this one involved an alien creature of questionable use.

 Bem is from the planet Pandro, a planet recently contacted by the Federation, and his species is interested in witnessing how the captain and crew of the Enterprise conduct their missions. That mission is to a planet inhabited by reptilian creatures that have a primitive non-industrial society; therefore, their mission is to observe without being seen.

 Bem proves to be a nuisance, getting captain Kirk and Spock into extreme difficulty. It also turns out that the creatures are under the protection of a powerful non-corporeal entity that calls them her “children.” Her words are spoken with tenderness, but she makes it clear that no violence against her charges will be tolerated.

 The episode has a powerful religious overtone, it is clear from the perspective of the creatures, the entity is a god. For that matter, there are hints that the crew of the Enterprise should think so too. One strong feature of the episode is the actions of Lieutenant Uhura. When Kirk, Spock and Scotty are on the surface, she directly contradicts Scotty in insisting that they must follow orders.

 Despite the crudity of the animation compared to what can be done now, this episode illustrates that there were things that could be done in animation that were impossible in live action. Something that makes all science fiction stories stronger if it is properly done.

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