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Star Trek The Animated Series: Beyond the Farthest Star

The Agents of Doux decided to try something new with The Animated Series – a discussion review. Let us know what you think of this format. Mikey starts us off.

Mikey Heinrich: The Enterprise and her crew, newly reborn in animated form, undertake a relatively traditionally mission that's not a million miles from the sort of thing they got up to on the original series proper. While searching out the origin of a mysterious radio signal for... star charting!... (Seriously, why does William Shatner give such an enthusiastic reading of their mission objectives?) They encounter Standard Occurrence 1: An ancient abandoned spaceship floating in space, SO 2: a booby trap in space that they must escape, and SO 3: An evil alien intelligence taking over the Enterprise itself.

So it should feel like a retread of standard Trek stuff, but for some reason it's a lot more cozy and charming than that. Maybe it's the style of animation. This show and I were both conceived in the early 70s, and so I'm hardwired to read this style of early 70s action cartoon animation as super cool and exciting. Does it read differently to different age brackets?

I also think that going with a standard Trek set-up was probably a good call for the first episode. They wanted the audience to see this as 'Look, more of that show you like, just less expensive for us to make!' so staying in familiar territory was a good way to go.

They did have a few examples of 'Look what we can show you now that we only have to draw it' – specifically the insectoid alien ship and new three armed/three legged Chekov substitute, Arex.

A couple things I really loved: the conceit that instead of drawing space suits, they'd just mention that they have force field belts and only have to draw a yellow line around anyone wearing one was cute. And Lieutenant Kyle is clearly Scotty wearing a ridiculous moustache and doing a cheesy English accent (being voiced now by James Doohan does not dispel this idea). Which makes me wonder if there was a transporter accident and there are also an Irish Scotty and a Welsh Scotty somewhere on the ship harassing Yeoman Rand.

Billie Doux: Thanks for taking this on, Mikey. I know I've seen this episode before, many moons ago, but I really didn't remember it at all. It was both better and worse than I expected.

Better in that it was really very much the original series, and not just because they brought in the voices of the original cast, plus James Doohan with that cheesy accent. But worse because it was just a tad boring. I wonder if it would have been more exciting if it had been live action?

As you said, I did like the easy animation adds of life support belts and the alien sitting in Chekov's chair on the bridge. And that the 300-year-old starship looked like a necklace a hippie would have worn in the sixties. The bad thing in the end sounded very Dalek-like to me. "Obey me!" "Exterminate!"

Mikey: OMG, was this the long sought after Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover and we all just missed it?

Billie: LOL, Mikey. I do know it was a serious attempt to satisfy all of those Star Trek fans clamoring for the show to return, except it absolutely did not work. And I don't think it was because it was animation. There's so much great animation out there, says the woman who has recently become obsessed with BoJack Horseman.

Juliette: I'm never sure how I feel about elements in animated Star Trek series that could only be done because it was animated, like M'Res (is that the cat-crewperson's name?). On the one hand, I get it, and it's cool, and it expands the Star Trek universe beyond aliens with bumpy foreheads. On the other hand, you never see these aliens in the main Star Trek shows and it makes it feel a bit weird and not quite like "proper" Star Trek. Like the cat doctor on Lower Decks, whom I love, but who also makes it feel a bit less like Star Trek to me (this would not be a problem in, e.g., Doctor Who, where cat aliens have featured in the live action show – but they never have on Star Trek as far as I remember).

I don't know how much what TV Tropes calls the "animation ghetto" affected the show. I know that both my parents, who are nearly 70 and who watched the original series when it originally came to the UK, consider "cartoons" to be for children and they have no interest in them. They still do. They used to tease my brother and me that The Simpsons was a kids' show (even though I'm sure they knew it wasn't, really!).

Mikey: I know what you mean. I was just thinking the other day that if Strange New Worlds really wanted to make a statement, they should surprise us with Arex as a regular crewmember.

Billie: Discovery has that reptilian crew member with the blinking eyes. He's pretty cool.

So, any other comments? Should we rate it?

Mikey: All in all, I think this one accomplished what it intended to. It's just that what it intended to accomplish was to prove that it could be exactly like the live action series in tone and content and as a result didn't become anything more than that.

Still fun to be had though. I don't know, five out of ten? Anybody have a counter-offer?

Billie: Two out of four hippie necklaces? I think I forgot to mention that I really dislike the musical score. It feels generic and artificial. I wonder why they didn't get the rights to the original series music?

Mikey: Ooo, I actually looked that up at one point – apparently the composer of the original series music wanted too much money for the rights (probable translation – wanted to be adequately compensated for their work) and somebody (probably Gene) commissioned a 'close as we can get without getting sued' replacement.

Hippie necklaces. LOL. I meant to mention that earlier.

CoramDeo: It’s well-documented that Roddenberry screwed Alexander Courage over many times. He even wrote lyrics to the original Trek theme that he never intended to use just so he could get part of the royalties.

Billie: Wow, Mr. Roddenberry. Harsh.

Mikey: Not cool, Gene.

Kinda respectable in a despicable genius kind of way...

But still not cool.


  1. Technically, I think we have done a discussion review before:


  2. I'm loving these discussions. Can't wait for next episode - the Vulcan Wonder Years.

  3. The lyrics Roddenberry wrote for the original series theme are really dumb too. I think he wrote them just about as fast as he could type.

  4. Loving this new format for reviews guys. More please!

  5. I quite like this format. It brings back memories of Ebert & Siskel.


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