Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 3 (1968-69)

by Douglas Buck November 24, 2017 3 minutes (555 words) Blu-ray

Perhaps it was a mistake to introduce the high school supernatural charms of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer to my 12-year-old daughter before finishing Season 3 of the original five-year mission of the Enterprise, because it became almost impossible to return her attention back to the more male-oriented tones of the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the crew. To be fair though, Season 3, apparently due in large part because of the withdrawal of original creator Gene Roddenberry, displayed more than a bit of creative wear and tear (with an often tiresome repetition — especially in the second half of the season — of the Kirk/Spock/Bones triumvirate teleporting on some planet, losing communication with the ship and then having to find their way back), budgetary tightening (while the sets and costumes were never really a high-tech selling point of the show they did contain a certain avant-garde quality, but in this third season things often got really sparse; i.e., a sophisticated extraterrestrial laboratory set made up of a 4-legged wooden table with a few glass jars of color liquid on it), the sudden lack of almost any outdoor shooting, and — it’s biggest flaw, which could have easily overcome the first problems — a more episodic stunt-driven approach to storytelling (an example being Spectre of the Gun, the O.K. Carrol episode), rather than the philosophical place of the earlier seasons, with wonderful sci-fi masters like Theodore Sturgeon writing scripts (the likes of who seemed mostly gone from the credits by the time this last season rolled around).

Even if a bit familiar, it’s still enjoyable to witness the banter between our male triumvirate of Spock, Bones and Kirk as they each revealed their often opposing (and yet, together, almost perfectly amalgamated) techniques in dealing with that week’s conflict… and some of the episodes still managed to stir in some decently heady material (i.e., the one with the two warring opposite half-white/half-black faces characters and the Greek character one, ‘Plato’s Stepchildren’). While Star Trek always had that underpinning feel of a male frat-party (i.e., Kirk’s constantly referenced younger exploits with the ladies, as well as — to my daughter’s complete annoyance — just about every pretty female of the latest alien species the crew encounters inevitably falling head over heels for one of our three, usually the good Captain), it was this third season that really started to — and I’m sure that’s because of the lack of Roddenberry’s determinedly idealistic approach — kick into some overtly sexist territory (as well as some really conservative ones), with lots of evil woman using their beauty to manipulate and destroy including, in the case of one episode so insanely wrong-headed it’s almost a masterpiece of unintentional absurdity, a successful female doctor from Kirk’s past, so devastated by the Captain’s dismissal after a long ago fling with him, has gone mad, waiting years to carry out her revenge (with Kirk and the boys eventually lamenting “If only she could have been happy with her profession and in her life”).

With season 3 being such a serious intellectual comedown from the first two often profoundly realized seasons, I guess it was a good time for the show to end and head full time with the kiddo over to exploring the Buffyverse.

_Star Trek: The Original Series_ - Season 3 (1968-69)

This review is archived under the “Buck a Review” column, written by Douglas Buck. Filmmaker. Full-time cinephile. Part-time electrical engineer. To read more of Buck’s smart and snappy reviews, click on the column sidebar link.

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