Tuesday, November 13, 2007

TOS Rewind #12: "The Conscience of the King"

We've added our latest podcast, "The Briefing Room" to this entry.  It's a long one, but we had Eric participating as well.

Download it here

After "The Menagerie," we make a decidedly different turn to The Conscience of the King (Original air date:  12-8-66).  First off, I hadn't seen this one in a while, but remembered enough of it to be wary of revisiting.  When I was growing up, this was a bit of a snoozefest for me primarily, as Eric has pointed out that it really isn't science fiction at all.  I think I actually appreciated it more now than before.  There are some ideas expressed in this episode that are important, such as the revelation that Kirk was present on a colony where there was a mass slaughter and the placing of the often-told Nazi hunter character onto Kirk. 

We also get another situation that pits Kirk against Spock.  Kirk is going underground in pursuit of Karidian, including taking the Enterprise off course.  This scenario will be brought back in the episode, "Obsession." 

Highlights:  I liked Kirk in this show.  He gets to be a slightly more complex character, especially when he seduces Karidian's daughter to get close to him (some of the back and forth flirting is pretty silly though).  He is obviously attracted to her, but in the end plans to use her to accomplish his goals.  He also expresses a truly thoughtful side when he ponders whether or not Karidian is the man he's after.  Kirk really seems to be conflicted when he considers that the man may not be the mass murderer he's looking for instead of just pushing blindly ahead.  The actor playing Koridian does a nice job, dramatic, but appropriate.  I was also glad to see Kevin Riley return and wish they'd found a way to make more use of him.  Finally, there's a short scene where McCoy is drunk in sickbay and tries to get Spock to join in. 

Lowpoints:  The character of Lenore is really overdone, IMO.  The dramatic scenes she's in had the tendency to make me giggle.  I blame the acting as well as the writing.  And, the superimposing of the Shakespearean elements onto the story are heavy-handed at times.

So, a bit of an oddball episode, but it does have some good qualities. 

And now, Eric:


This will be a short review—I think Doc, Andy, and I had a good discussion of this episode in our podcast. And, more to the point, “The Conscience of the King" isn’t one of my favorite episodes. It’s
not that there’s anything glaringly wrong with it: the story and direction are both good, the production values are decent, and the acting is reasonably good too. The problem is that this episode isn’t science fiction or Star Trek; it’s Star Trek does Shakespeare. The plot, characters, and even the title are all Shakespearean, and as such, they work pretty well. Lenore has interesting elements of both Lady Macbeth and Ophelia, and Anton Karidian is basically an amalgam of Lear and Macbeth. All well and good, but “The Conscience of the King" is a story that could’ve been done by any TV drama. Star Trek is at it’s best when it does stories that can only be told through science fiction, and we’ll see some great examples of this in upcoming episodes.

Next time:  “Balance of Terror"