Plot: What’s it about?
Episode #49- “A Piece of the Action” >>> Airdate 1/12/68
The planet of Iotia hasn’t been visited by Federation forces in over a hundred years, so Kirk and the rest of his crew decide to drop in, to check up on the residents. It seems not all is well here, as the citizens have developed a new society, based on a book left behind by the last Federation crew to visit the planet. That book is Chicago Mobs of the Twenties and of course, that means their civilization has become violent and unstable, as Kirk and the others soon discover. Now the crew is trapped in the middle of an old style gangland war and unless they can act soon, the entire planet could be blown to bits.
As if Kirk battling modern day mobsters wasn’t enough, how about Spock in a pinstriped suit? Yes, this episode is quite fun and it has some great moments, some of my favorite ones from the entire series, to be honest. This isn’t the best episode in the whole run, but it is one of my favorites and as such, I am pleased to own it in such fine form. The premise is good and the execution is even better, I’d almost go as far as to say the episode was well written, I was that impressed. But it does have some flaws here and there, although William Shatner’s ace performance is enough to compensate, if you ask me.
Episode #50- “By Any Other Name” >>> Airdate 2/23/68
A distress call is heard and since Kirk is a man of honor, he leads the U.S.S. Enterprise on a rescue mission, but his kindness is exploited in this case, to be sure. Instead of finding a crew in need, Kirk and his buddies end up caught in an ambush, staged by some Kevlan aliens. The Kevlans have assumed human forms and even hatched a massive plan, which begins with taking control of the Enterprise. After hijacking the ship, the Kevlans turn some crew members into crystalline blocks and then head back home, in order to take their plan to the next level. Can Kirk and Spock manage to thwart this most evil plot in time, or will the Kevlans take over the Milky Way and assume power like no one ever has before?
I’ve always thought Kirk’s kindness was a weakness and here, we learn how true that is. I didn’t care much for this episode when I saw it on television, but I warmed a little the second time around, though I still don’t love it by any means. The idea of crew members being turned into blocks of crystalline is classic, even if the props used look so poor, you can’t help but giggle at times. I don’t think this one is well written or performed, but the bad special effects and maverick performance of William Shatner more than elevate the entertainment value, at least I think so. I wouldn’t recommend this episode to most people, but of course, fans of the series will like it and who wouldn’t, with the awful crystalline blocks involved?
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio, having been digitally enhanced and remastered for this release. The episodes look better than you might expect, with minimal grain or debris to lessen the experience. The colors look good enough and flesh tones seem natural, with no errors to report on either front. No issues with the contrast either, as black levels are accurate and detail is always high, quite solid work indeed. I also so no compression flaws, which leaves me to score this one well above average.
Audio: How does it sound?
The world of Star Trek has never sounded better, thanks to new Dolby Digital 5.1 remixes, as heard on this release. The surrounds won’t rock the foundation by any means, but the mix is immersive and presents the shows in fine form, which is what counts. The musical score is the most dominant element in the surrounds, but a few wacky sound effects can also be detected, so it has a rich overall presence. The dialogue is not a problem either, as vocals sound clean and full at all times, as it should be. This disc also includes English subtitles, should you need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a promotional trailer for each episode, which is a welcome touch.