Monday, December 11, 2006

Termite Television: Space Seed

I had a full on flirtation with Star Trek nerdness back in 8th grade. I even attended a Star Trek convention in New York City (just one, and no, I didn't wear a costume). I'm still sort of fascinated by the original series, with Kirk, Spock, and the rest, and I've been DVRing it here and there the last couple of months. I keep waiting for someone to put that Star Trek animated series, freshly out on DVD, on television so I can see it again for the first time since childhood, when I completely adored the reruns that used to pepper Nickelodeon's schedule the way Spongebob does now, but I guess the live-action series will have to do in the meantime.

So, Space Seed. This episode introduces Ricardo Montalban's Khan, the outlandish villain who reppears in the one Star Trek movie even non-Star Trek fans agree is actually kind of good, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In the hourlong episode, written by Gene L. Coon and Carey Wilber and directed by Marc Daniels, the Starship Enterprise stumbles on a sleeper ship drifting in space. This "SS Botany Bay" houses a race of supermen, who fled the Earth following the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s (remember those? Good times...), and have spent the last two centuries in suspended animation. Captain Kirk and his away team inadvertantly revive their leader, Khan, who returns to the ship, acts like a douchebag, causes all sort of havoc, is defeated, and then left for dead on a wasteland planet.

The idea behind the Khan character is that he is some sort of pefect human specimen; a superman, the ubermench, and so on. When they transport over and investigate, Kirk brings along a crew historian, a female lieutenant named McGivers. Despite whatever training she has, whatever allegiance she holds to her captain, her ship, and her home planet, she takes one look at Khan while he's still in suspended animation — before he's even uttered a word or shown off his awesomely manly and totally hairless chestal region — and she is so smitted she doesn't even hear Captain Kirk's orders while she thinks of at least ten different ways to bang the guy.

I love that in 1967 with all of Hollywood at its disposal, the producers of Star Trek chose Ricardo Montalban as their emblem of unchecked masculinity. Look at that man! Is that man-beauty or what?!? How the hell did he keep himself looking so brown in suspended animation? Did he freeze himself inside his tanning bed? He truly is a super man!

Khan's man-booty is so blazingly hot it's a wonder the male crewmembers don't lose themselves in his powerful eyes and Montalbanian pectorals as well (Montalbanian pectorals being defined as pectorals so choked in self tanner that they resemble rich Corinthian leather). Somehow Kirk and company take their eyes off his hotness long enough to regain control of the ship and defeat him, but not before Khan gets to tell McGivers that she "amuses" him and hiss the word "fatigue" in such a way as to make it sound eighteen syllables long.

It's remarkable that someone thought this material had the potential for a great Star Trek movie because it is one of the silliest episodes of the first series that didn't involve the crew going to a planet of gangsters or talking bunny rabbits or something. In the big Khan/Kirk fist fight, they don't even attempt to disguise the pair's stunt doubles ("Dude Khan suddenly got much more pale! And Kirk's girdle isn't as tight!"). But someone did recognize the potential, and hey it worked. This is why I don't work in movies. I just make fun of them.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you see the 16mm air print of "Space Seed" someone dug up?

8:09 AM  
Blogger Matt Singer said...

I did not. I just watched it on TV Land.

12:14 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home