Monday, August 08, 2011

The Apple

Note: this post is one of a series of STAR TREK episode reviews originally written for the newsgroup. For more information, please read this post.

Episode 40 of 80
October 13, 1967
Teleplay: Max Ehrlich and Gene L. Coon
Story: Max Ehrlich
Director: Joseph Pevney

The U.S.S. Enterprise visits Gamma Trianguli VI, a planet populated by naïve pacifist natives who worship Vaal, a stone dragon carved into a hill. As with many false gods encountered by Captain Kirk (William Shatner) during his space journeys, Vaal turns out to really be a sophisticated computer constructed by a previous civilization. And, as per usual, Kirk outsmarts it, blows it up, and forces the locals to learn to stand on their own two feet.

“The Apple” (no points for figuring out the plot’s Garden of Eden allusion) is not one of STAR TREK’s finest moments. The makeup on the namby-pamby aliens is silly, the “stone god” is clearly made of papier-mâché, Ehrlich and Coon’s climax isn’t very climactic, and, as all TREK fans know, Kirk breaking the Prime Directive is never a good thing.

On the other hand, the episode is packed with action and death (four “red shirts” die horribly!), stuff blows up real good, and director Pevney cast some gorgeous women. Well, it’s better than nothin’. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) breaks a very phony-looking Styrofoam rock in two, but Jay Jones playing a red-shirted security guard does one hell of a stunt tripping on an exploding rock. Reportedly, the stunt was a little too dangerous, and Jones was hurt (but not seriously) in the explosion.

Obviously, the main point of interest is guest star David Soul in one of his first television acting jobs, one year before signing on as a regular on HERE COME THE BRIDES. After that western went off the air, Soul co-starred with Arthur Hill on OWEN MARSHALL, ATTORNEY AT LAW before achieving superstardom as one half of STARSKY AND HUTCH. Soul’s role as Makora is fairly minor, and it’s hard to gauge from watching what kind of acting ability or screen charisma he may have had in 1967.

The main guest star, as Akuta, leader of the Vaalians, is Keith Andes, who had been a regular on several series, including THAT MAN DAWSON and GLYNIS, and had appeared in films too. Basically, Andes was a sturdy but still leading man type, basically on par with the Richard Carlsons. My favorite Andes credit, however, is his performance as the voice of Hanna-Barbera superhero Birdman (“Birrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrdmaaaaannn!”), who, with his eagle sidekick Avenger, battled evildoers on Saturday mornings during the late 1960s. Later, those shows were repurposed and satirized on Cartoon Network as HARVEY BIRDMAN, ATTORNEY AT LAW with Gary Cole (A SIMPLE PLAN) revoicing the character.

California native Celeste Yarnall, playing Ensign Chekov’s love interest, is gorgeous—certainly one of the most beautiful actresses to appear on STAR TREK. Today an artist and an ardent believer in holistic health care for pets, Celeste was a busy actress in films and television who is likely best known today for starring as THE VELVET VAMPIRE (for which she performed nude scenes) and with John Ashley in the Philippines in BEAST OF BLOOD. I’m still waiting to see EVE, in which she plays a white jungle goddess in a tiny fur bikini. Celeste is generously available to her fans on Facebook.

1 comment:

Ericb said...

This episode plays like weak rewrite of Return of the Archons.