Star Trek: Correspondences

October 7, 2019


Watching Star Trek is always an exercise in déjà vu, because I was nine years old when it premiered, and because just about everything in it is borrowed from something else.  Maybe the borrowings are on purpose, maybe they are just accidental in the sense that some themes are always “in the air” at certain times, but the shows are always a bricolage of themes and images.  Part of the fun…

In this episode from the first season, Kirk is trapped on a planet with a lost scientist who has transformed himself into an android to preserve his mind when his body was dying of frostbite.  (Mind-body issues run rampant through Star Trek).  It takes a while for the doctor’s true nature to come out, but he is surrounded by androids he has constructed as part of his insane scheme to overrun the universe with superior beings, you know the drill.  Andrea is one of them, clearly designed for more than protection and conquest, much to the chagrin of the doctor’s erstwhile fiancee who has joined Kirk on his search for the missing scientific hero.


Ruk, an android surviving from the old days of the planet, looks like he escaped from a local production of Pagliacci, is played by Ted Cassidy, aka Lurch, who, it happens, lived just a few minutes from where I was growing up in Woodland Hills, and whose ashes (he died prematurely) are scattered in the house’s back yard.  He is easily befuddled and tricked by Kirk’s superior logical wit.


Kirk on the run, after flummoxing Ruk, makes use of a handy phallic formation for protection.  You have to wonder if he’s just playing hard to get.  The episode is filled with “transgressive” same-sex kissing and fondling, as is the norm for Star Trek’s intrepid exploration of racial and sexual taboos.


The android love nest gets to be too much for Andrea, who “loves” her maker, and who can’t abide rejection.  Another correspondence:  The Strange Love of Martha Ivers comes to mind.


Barbara Stanwyck and Kirk Douglas (hey, another correspondence!) are locked in their love-death embrace in the finale.


Not exactly clear who pulls the trigger, but it’s curtains for the two of them, the only way it could be.

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A final correspondence:  As Captain Kirk is being duplicated into an android Kirk, he shouts out an insulting phrase about Dr. Spock being a half-breed, knowing that the android will then repeat the sentiments when he is sent to the Enterprise to impersonate himself.  Of course, Spock, receiving the insult, realizes that the “Captain” is an imposter, and takes proper action.  It’s all reminiscent of the “Rolo Tomassi” sequence in L.A. Confidential, the best part of that flick, I think.



Serial Murder, and Me

February 23, 2015

Another Odd Couple

I don’t watch TV, an admission that usually meets with startled surprise from people I meet.  “You mean, you don’t have a TV?!”  I do have a TV, or what passes for one these days, i.e., a large flat-screen on which I watch Netflix mostly, generally on DVDs, but sometimes streaming.  I also admit to watching old Hawaii Five-0 shows while I exercise.  But television shows, TV series, no.

I have tried to watch a few series that have a lot of buzz around them:  I made it through three episodes of “Breaking Bad,” tried, Treme, and a few others. I just don’t like the form – it makes me think of The Sims.  Create a world, people it with characters, disturb it, watch what happens…  I prefer to have the sense of watching a story.  Something with a beginning, a middle, and an end, a dramatic arc.  So, I tried True Detective, and I like it!  It’s only eight episodes long (half the length of The Prisoner!)  Maybe the fact that it’s written by a novelist helps.  The whole point to a regular series is just to keep you watching, to keep the show going…for years, if you can.

I rather like Rust Cohle, and his worldview.  I’m down with his philosophy of mind, his dismissal of the fantasy of personhood.  Maybe he’s a David Hume fan too?  For some reason, his cogitations get him down, instead of bringing him joy.  Perhaps he needs to read Fontenelle:

“All this immense space which holds our sun and our planets will be merely a small piece of the universe? As many spaces as there are fixed stars? This confounds me — troubles me — terrifies me.”

“And as for me,” I answered, “this puts me at my ease.”

There are two sex-scenes in the first three episodes (as far as I’ve gotten to-date) that set me thinking.  The first shows Marty getting it on with his hottie from the DA’s office.  She’s naked, he’s not.  The second shows him doing the same with his wife; she’s naked, he’s not.  How come women get naked but not men, I asked my wife?  “Sexism,” she replied.  Not acceptable to show naked men on TV.  (I avoid the word “nude,” which I associate with art history.)  “Not that I want to see those guys with their clothes off, anyway,” she said.  Point taken.  But it emphasizes that it’s a man’s world we are seeing on the screen.

And what is the point of these scenes?  The first was to deepen Marty’s character: it was supposed to be a bit of a shock after hearing him go on about family values so much to anyone within hearing, and there was only a brief hint earlier of his philandering.  The second..?  My wife again:  “It was supposed to show that he was a tortured soul.”  To me, he just seems like a guy with a lot of deeply held and self-serving ideas.  But then, I’m partial to the philosopher of the pair who questions all…  And I guess the fact that his deeply held ideas aren’t helping him so much is part of the drama after all.

Overall, a higher order of television than I’m used to!

What would McGarrett do?

May 19, 2012

Lately, I’ve been watching Hawaii Five-O during my daily treadmill exercise.  At first, it was just a fun bit of nostalgia as I used to watch the show as a kid in the late 60’s.  I thought it was dumb then, with its outrageous spy plots, the unerring McGarrett, and the predictable plots, but watching it today, I like the production values, the mens’ suits, and the bright color of the scenes.

Now, after seeing a season, I begin to fathom the true appeal of Five-O:  McGarrett is a spiritual guide, a guru figure.  He’s always calm, only losing his cool when one of his men is injured by a crook.  He is deeply humane:  gently leading a serial murder psychopath he has apprehended away to the looney bin, without gloating or celebration.  He feels the pain of the victims he interviews:  the flicker of muscle movement on his face shows it.  Women are drawn to him, but he does not pursue them.  He is witty, and enjoys the philosophical games of crime solving.

McGarrett’s arch-enemy is the Red Chinese agent, Wo Fat, with whom he spars on many episodes, holding up the USA end of the cold war game.  The Chinese spymaster is no match for Steve.  (He is played by New Jersey native, Kenneth Dickerson, aka Khigh Dheigh, who is of north African descent – not Chinese – and who created a foundation for the study of Taoism late in life.)  They are an entertaining pair.

The good old days!

May 5, 2010

Loved this show as a kid.  Certainly, this is one of the most memorable sequences in popular TV.

Which door will he pick?

February 17, 2010

Poliphilo must select a door, but he get’s to look behind them first.  He still chooses the “wrong” one…

Alas, I was raised on television…

R.I.P. Mr. Gumby

January 10, 2010

Obit from the Toronto Star


October 24, 2009


RIP Soupy Sales.

If anyone has the lyrics to “Catch a pickled herring, put it in your pocket…” I’d be most grateful.

Prisoner of Love?

January 23, 2009


Just what was No. 6’s position on love? In the final episode, Fallout, he walks into the central chamber to the tune of The Beatles’ All You Need is Love. What follows is anything but a love-fest.  As with Once Upon a Time, which precedes it, there is nary a woman to be seen.  Strictly man (boy) stuff.

And what of romance, of sex? For such a good looking fellow, he seems rather uninteresting to the women, but they are all brainwashed, and he is uninterested in them:  He’s got escapin’ on his mind, and nothin’ else!  Of course, knowing that he was Mr. Drake/Danger Man/Secret Agent in a previous show only piques our curiosity about whether he will ever have an affair in The Village.  Or is he beyond all that?  (I believe there is a theory out there that he is gay!)

No, I think No. 6 is ALL about sublimation. His sexual energy is channeled and diverted towards freedom, individualism, and escape.  He’s a bit of a crank – who has time for love?

Yet…his relationships with women are frequently his undoing.  He is betrayed by women, although it would be going too far to say that they are ensnaring him as les femmes fatales. The Girl Who was Death, being an obvious, comical, and throwaway exception…

In the early episode, The Chimes of Big Ben, he “escapes” with a companion.  They certainly seem to have a bit of flirtatiousness in their exhanges as they encourage each other during their long wait in a shipping crate, bound for the outside.  Of course, she’s in on it.


In one of my favorites, Many Happy Returns, he does actually “escape” and he returns to his house.  (The address on his door, of course, is NO. 1!)  He accosts the new inhabitant, a modish middle-aged widow, Mrs. Butterworth.  She isn’t taken aback at all, but is obviously attracted to him.   When he interrogates her about his Lotus  she drives up in to prove he is the real owner, she replies “Tell me all about your car.”   She likes having a man about the house, and she helps him all she can.  He is charmed like a little boy with an indulgent aunt.

tellmeaboutthecar manaboutthehouse

Of course, she’s in on it.  She has a birthday cake waiting for him when he returns to his real home, in The Village.

happyreturns5 manyhappyreturns

In Change of Mind, No. 6 matches wits with an attractive woman who wants him for his mind, or rather, who wants to mess with his mind.  She subjects him to a limited form of lobotomy to remove his agressive tendencies.

Here they are just after the presiding surgeon gives No. 6 a post-op chat about taking it easy.  “I’ll take care of him,” she says.  As he walks past her, she turns her head quickly in a rapid edit, showing us her profile through the porthole window in the door.  Circles, spheres, everywhere…

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Just a pair of good looking stars strolling down a clinic hallway…


Ah, perhaps we get an inkling now of what’s up…or what could be up.

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The woman is played by the late Angela Browne, a big star on British TV.  She was no stranger to the real femme fatale character, as you can see in the links below:

How to Succeed at Murder

During a follow-up visit with No. 6, she actually comes on to him!

“So, do you like my dress?”

His reply:  “Much more feminine than slacks.”  Women don’t wear dresses in The Village – the fact that she does is a clear indication of her intention to seduce.

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She’s been slipping drugs into his tea, but he knows it and doesn’t drink it.  By way of turning the tables, he goes on,

“If it’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s girls who don’t know how to make a proper cup of tea!”

To her annoyance, he carries on like a cranky old man about how one must make tea, all the while switching the cups so that she gets the drug.  It makes her quite loopy – they almost seem to be having fun!  Will he…take…advantage??? Not No. 6!!  Always the gentleman, he sends her on her way.

Later, he catches up with her, gathering flowers like Ophelia, on her way to report to No. 2.  He hypnotizes her – no, he won’t take advantage! and draws her into his counterplot against the nefarious No. 2


Prisoner fanatics can read the reminisces of the fetching Ms. Browne in this interview.

The Prisoner has escaped

January 15, 2009


Patrick McGoohan has died at the age of 80.  The opening sequence of The Prisoner is the best in TV history, I think.  Watch the clip below…

—- Other Posts —-

Why did you resign?

Going Nowhere Fast

Memorial Notice on Jahsonic

New York Times Obituary


No. 6 addresses the court in the final episode, Fallout.


That car! From the opening sequence.

From my favorite episode:  “A, B, and C” in which No. 2 manipulates No. 6’s dreams.