Star Trek: The Animated Series: Once Upon A Planet   Rewatch 
June 9, 2020 10:48 PM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

The Enterprise returns to the shore leave planet in the Omicron Delta region where the crew once took shore leave. As with their previous visit, things go wrong when the illusions turn deadly.

Memory Alpha takes us down the rabbit hole:

Background information
Story, script, and production
  • This episode is a sequel to "Shore Leave". Another sequel to that installment, with the working title "Shore Leave II", had been proposed for The Original Series but remained undeveloped. In this installment of TAS, the use of animation allowed for the realization of some concepts which Theodore Sturgeon had originally conceived for the live-action episode "Shore Leave" but which hadn't been depicted therein. These ideas included mechanical arms that arise from trap doors. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One, "Shore Leave")
  • In a production inconsistency due to the use of recycled footage from "Beyond the Farthest Star", close-up shots of Kyle operating the transporter were used in an instance where Scott was actually the transporter operator. More serious, however, are Sulu's multiple appearances on the bridge while he was actually on the planet surface, most glaringly at 20:19 when a quick cut changes from the red-shirt to Sulu.
  • Marking the third character crossover from The Original Series, Alice and the White Rabbit, previously played by Marcia Brown and William Blackburn, return, this time voiced by Nichelle Nichols and James Doohan, respectively.
  • This episode includes the first time that the interior of the Enterprise's hangar deck is shown in the animated Star Trek series. Visible in the hangar deck are a heavy shuttle from "Mudd's Passion" and a long range shuttle from "The Slaver Weapon".
Poster's Log:

As noted on Memory Alpha, the animation shortcuts are very obvious in this episode. Part of that may be due to a chunk of the animation budget being spent on that rockin' two-headed red dragon.

This episode features a more diverse cast than most with multiple crewmen of color appearing, including the third appearance of Engineer Gabler.

As I rewatched, I wondered how much of M'Ress's vocal pacing was another time-waster to fill screen seconds.

I wonder what the other languages on the Keeper's tombstone are.

I realize Memory Alpha is fan-written, but I question how they're counting "character crossovers from the Original Series". This is the fourth episode to bring back TOS characters ("Yesteryear", "One of Our Planets is Missing", and "More Tribbles, More Troubles").
posted by hanov3r (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As before, I have yet to rewatch this, but I thought that I'd mention one of my favorite fan theories: that, from the point of "Shore Leave" onwards, McCoy is a robot. (In that ep, he gets a lance clear through the chest, appears to be dead... then later appears alive, on a planet that instantly creates simulacra of whoever you're thinking of or want to see. Yeoman Barrows was particularly grief-stricken over McCoy's death.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:35 AM on June 10, 2020

Just rewatched, but I watched "Shore Leave" first, and the cartoon is a big improvement on the original. "Shore Leave" may have been written by Theodore Sturgeon, but it was heavily and hastily rewritten by Roddenberry, and aside from Alice in Wonderland, the two main consequences of thinking of anything seem to be a) thinking of something dangerous and not being able to wish it away, it just keeps on keepin' on, or b) getting to fuck a robot. There's also some mind control at work, as with poor Yeoman Barrows, who is almost raped by Don Juan, but a few minutes later is flirting with McCoy, who ignores the trauma that she's been through and is grooving on the whole thing. At the end, Barrows seems to be ready to hook up with McCoy, and Kirk, Sulu and Rodriguez are, well, going to fuck robots. Nice rewrite of the script, Gene. Have you heard of Sturgeon's Law?

"Once Upon a Planet" ditches the skeevy bits to get more into some of the cool things that you can do with animation: double-headed and double-tailed dragons, pterodactyls, giant cats, zero-G on the bridge (and seat belts, which wouldn't happen in live action for a surprisingly long time), and of course Arex and M'Ress. The planet's AI has had it up to here with those damn meatsacks and their robot-fucking, and is yea close to going Skynet, but in the best Trek tradition, everyone talks it out, Spock gets a new AI buddy and everyone has a picnic with the dragon, and how cool is that? Sometimes, less adult is better.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:37 PM on June 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

I wonder what the other languages on the Keeper's tombstone are.

Wait, you don't mean to suggest that there aren't already three-plus spin-off novels per language?… oh wait, right, this is the Animated Series.

Sometimes, less adult is better.

Well put. This episode was strange, but not too strange, and strange in a mostly good way for this show. The re-re-re-re-re-visiting of the old "talk down the killer computer" plot was at least handled kind of differently this time. I am, though, increasingly concerned about the editing/pacing, which shouldn't feel as jerky as the animation itself. Presumably another sign of the same sort of sloppiness that led to Sulu's bilocating here.

What I really liked was Uhura getting some truly meaty moments. Probably among her meatiest.

I also noticed a cool-looking new shuttle design with elevated, mini-Connie nacelles, presumably soon to be featured in "Mudd's Passion" or "The Slaver Weapon."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:04 AM on June 12, 2020

My personal shore leave theory (which does not preclude McCoy being a robot post this ep) is that Kirk & co never left the Shore Leave planet. Kirk or Sulu thought "if only Spock would beam down here and figure out what is going on", and the Shore Leave planet created a Spock robot and had him show up. After that, the planet got better at predicting what would be a believable and entertaining simulation for the crew, and the entire rest of TOS all takes place on the Shore Leave planet, with Kirk thinking he racing around saving the galaxy.

I don't really believe it, as later Trek series easily refute it, but it was fun to entertain back when TOS/TAS was the only Star Trek.
posted by fings at 9:01 PM on August 11, 2020

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