Star Trek 082: Yesteryear

82. Yesteryear

FORMULA: The Guardian on the Edge of Forever + Amok Time + Journey to Babel

WHY WE LIKE IT: Real insight into Spock and Vulcan, and a surprisingly uncompromising story.

WHY WE DON'T: The child actor's reading isn't really up to the task.

REVIEW: With D.C. Fontana doing the writing, and the return of some the classic elements from the original series, like the Guardian of Forever, Vulcan, and Spock's parents, Yesteryear had a lot of things going for it. It succeeds on more than that basis tough. For one thing, time travel paradoxes have always been interesting to me, and the twist here is that Spock was always meant to go back in time, since he remembered a long-lost cousin.

Good premise, made better by the return of Mark Lenard as Sarek, a man very hard on his young son. Indeed, I thought this was a very realistic take on the family situation for Saturday morning viewing. The death of Spock's pet selat is equally surprising, and the episode does a fair job of teaching kids to handle the heart-breaking death of a pet, a not-uncommon occurence in the life of a child. You don't see cuddly animals dying much anymore in cartoons, I don't think. No Care Bear heads on a lance, for example.

This episode offers good reason to think of the animated series as canonical, with the various insights on Vulcan culture (love the explanation offered for their logical society's many ancient rituals) and on Spock's family. His mother gets her canonical last name, Grayson, from this episode, for example. We see Spock decide to embrace his Vulcan half more than his human half, and what about that funky parallel history where Kirk's first officer is an Andorian!

The episode falters in some of the voice work, especially young Spock's stilted dialogue. My research indicates they used the child actor's cold reading audition, and it shows. The other Vulcan kids are much too emotional, and the new, ghostly voice for the Guardian is vastly inferior to the original. The selat is ok, but other alien creatures are a little too fantasy-inspired for my tastes (a hallmark of the series, I'm afraid). And there's the matter of Kirk returning to the Guardian without all the emotional baggage from City. But those are just details.

LESSON: Saturday morning cartoons have really changed in the last 30 years.

REWATCHABILITY - High: I can see why this episode would win an Emmy. Yesteryear is very relevant to the character of Spock, brings up various fairly adult issues, and even manages to come off as touching. Of interest to any fan of the original series.


Bully said...

Another one of my favorite animated episodes, although only recently did it occur to me how...ahem...illogical it is that because Spock was somewhen else in history while history was being replayed, he disappeared from that replay.

That's a little like, now that Jerry Orbach is dead, he's gonna disappear from my Law and Order DVDs.

Beautiful story, though. And I love how the crew doing the Star Trek Remastered series took the look of Spock's home city from this and CGI'd it into Amok Time.

Siskoid said...

Oh my, I've been out of the Star Trek circuit too long! (Doctor Who is a demanding mistress.) I wasn't even aware they were Special Editioning TOS!

Well, looks interesting, but it doesn't air in my area. I'll download a peek, maybe, and wait for the DVD.

Now if they can make boxed sets that actually fit on a shelf, THAT would be special edition enough!

LiamKav said...

Did you ever watch the TOS special edition stuff? You could get another 79 days worth of material out of it!

Siskoid said...

I've never seen them, except in screen shots or trailers. Paramount just isn't making it cost-effective for me to get them. If they didn't also have the original cut, that might drive the price down AND remove a redundancy. I think Paramount just do the very worse treatments for DVDs and yet price them above anything else on the market.

Besides, I don't think a effects changes would merit so many reviews. Perhaps a post down the line discussing the changes in a batch.

LiamKav said...

I was very surprised to find Bravo over here showing the special editions on TV. I assumed they would be DVD/Blu-Ray only.


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