Star Trek: The Omega Glory

Cloud William: "Ay plegli ianectu flaggen, tupep like for stahn..."
Kirk: "And to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

I don't think anything can excuse "The Omega Glory." Episodes like "The Apple" and "Spock's Brain" are so campy that they've become somewhat fun to watch. But "The Omega Glory" is so bad that it's actually painful.

It started out so well, too. The deserted U.S.S. Exeter and the empty uniforms dripping chunks of crystals was intriguing as well as creepy, even though turning a crew into the contents of a Dustbuster seemed a bit familiar since it happened in the previous episode.

But then we beamed down to the planet and were subjected to a way too familiar theme (the temptation of immortality) and a second way too familiar theme (someone from the Federation violating the Prime Directive and interfering with another culture) layered on top of American imperialism, the evils of communism and the "yellow threat." What's saddest is that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry actually wrote this travesty that outright contradicts the positive vision of a diverse future that he created in the first place. What was he thinking?

I love my country, and we have some inspiring founding documents. But what was our Constitution doing on Omega IV? If this had been a story set on future Earth after a cataclysm knocked us back to the stone age for a few centuries, the "holy words" might have made some sense. But on a planet with no connection whatsoever to our own? This was not only way past coincidence, it was like stating that the American way is the only good way and every culture (every white culture, anyway) is bound to arrive at this exact same form of government. It's not just offensive. It's bad science fiction.

The only fun bit was Spock as a servant of the devil. Was that a Bible they had there, too? I bet it was the King James version.

Ben says...

I have always loved William Shatner's reading from the Preamble to the Constitution. In a series which has forever been associated with his particular inflection and overacting, this reading was perhaps the best single moment. It works so well because Kirk reads it like a pop-culture biblical prophet (which is essentially his role here): "Look at these three words written larger than the rest, with a special pride never written before or since. Tall words proudly saying, We the People!" It makes you want to start chanting USA! USA!

Hey, I just realized that this episode is the basis of much of the philosophy of the U.S. Tea party movement. I think Glenn Beck may be borrowing his whole style from Kirk in this episode, the combination of the pedantic and the religious awe. After some research, I discovered what I consider incontrovertible evidence of the link between Beck and Trek:



I have nothing to add.

USA!

Okay, maybe just that.

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

— No stardate is given. Planet Omega IV, and the deserted U.S.S. Exeter.

— One red shirt (Lt. Galloway) is beamed down to the planet and disintegrated by Captain Tracey.

— Spock was able to influence Cloud William's girlfriend/wife/whatever without touching her. This happened once before. It always bothered me because it was too much like a superpower.

— Captain Tracey was played by Morgan Woodward, who was just as nuts as Simon van Gelder in "Dagger of the Mind," a much better episode.


— The Yangs appeared to be wearing costumes much like those worn by the humans in Planet of the Apes. Which is in fact a movie where a story about "mangled holy words" might have worked.

— The walls of the jail cells were different shades of purple. That's so true to life, because most primitive cultures paint their jail cells purple. They also tend to make the bars so flimsy that anyone can escape using just their bare hands.

Quotes:

Kirk: (re: the neck pinch) "Pity you can't teach me that."
Spock: "I have tried, Captain."

McCoy: "I've found that evil usually triumphs unless good is very, very careful."

One out of four tattered, improbable American flags,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

5 comments:

Mark said...

Don't forget that the first pilot ("The Cage") was rejected for being too cerebral. And NBC execs wanted to chose from three scripts for the 2nd pilot. I think they chose the right one ("Where No Man Has Gone Before"), and that Roddenberry was covering his bases: "Mudd's Women" for comedy, and this ep for shameless patriotic cheese.

I agree, this ep was just bad, but not bad enough to be (campy) good.

Anonymous said...

I believe that this episode was a mishmash of two scripts, which explains the disjuncture between the very interesting first half (what happens when a crazy star ship commander uses advanced technology to obliterate one side in a local war), and the much weaker second half.

Jerry Modene said...

The fact that this episode was originally written as a candidate for 2nd-pilot explains some of the unusual touches; Spock's hypnotic power, for instance, as demonstrated in this episode, was originally intended to be a mainstay of the character when the show was still in its formative stages. They ultimately dropped the idea in favor of the Vulcan mind-meld, I guess, but a touch of it survived in the final shooting script of this episode.

Note that Eddie Paskey is one of the security guys who beam down with Sulu at the end of the episode to arrest Captain Tracey. I guess he finally got over being killed in "Obsession" and passing out on the bridge in "Immunity Syndrome".

Another big claim to fame for this episode - this is the one they used for the Viewmaster reel version of Star Trek. No kidding.

Sgspires68 said...

I like about half this episode, too. The flag/Constitution thing has bothered me for years. I guess there just was not "infinite diversity" on old Omega IV.
What redeems this for me is Morgan Woodward's crazed "And they CAME ... AND THEY CAME" speech about the battle with the Comms.
It is so over the top that I love it.
Only Brian Blessed's "Gordon's ALIVE!" from Flash Gordon trumps Tracey's speech about the fight.
Also, it should be taken into consideration that the United States was in the middle of advising and providing support for various tribes and governments across Southeast Asia when this episode was written. I think a lot of the non-interference preaching was aimed at Vietnam by Roddenberry in another of his back door social criticisms.

tinkapuss said...

Oh dear. I am out-voted. I liked this one! (But I am an Australian, so you will have to forgive me).