Star Trek: The Animated Series: The Eye of the Beholder
July 21, 2020 10:35 PM - Season 1, Episode 15 - Subscribe

Beaming down to a planet to search for the crew of a missing ship, the crew is captured by its alien inhabitants.

Memory Alpha has a few observations to make.

Background information
Story and script
  • The writer of this episode, David P. Harmon, had previously written TOS: "The Deadly Years" and co-written (with Gene L. Coon) "A Piece of the Action". Harmon recalled about "The Eye of the Beholder", "I did that for Dorothy Fontana." (Starlog issue #117, p. 44)
Production
  • The shots of the Enterprise that are shown when Kirk contacts the vessel were an economical measure, as they lessened the amount of character animation that had to be created for the installment. Another such measure was the fact that the Maravel dragons that attack the Enterprise landing party used a recycled character design that appear as the Swoopers in the earlier TAS installment "The Infinite Vulcan" and are seen again as the mechanized sentinels in the episode following this one, "The Jihad". These cost-cutting measures enabled Filmation to concentrate on the unique designs needed for this episode, such as the Lactrans and their city. (TAS DVD text commentary)
  • The design of the Lactrans was well-suited to animation. For example, their mode of travel was very economical, since the animators did not need to illustrate moving feet, and the large eyes of the aliens proved an effective means of conveying emotion without dialogue, thereby helping to minimize not only the quantity of lip movements that had to be drawn and synced with the speaking in the episode's soundtrack but also the amount of dialogue that had to be recorded for the episode. The Lactrans' snouts did require a considerable number of drawings, but only when they were moving. (TAS DVD text commentary)
Poster's Log:

Kirk complaining that another ship's commander wasn't operating "by the book" seems a little disingenuous.

There's a surprising amount of new animation and artwork in this episode, including multiple animated creatures, the boiling and steamy background in front of which the crew materializes, and new movement animation for our intrepid crew.

Animation highlight of the episode: the overly-dramatic way the dinosaur creature collapses after being phasered.

This episode brings to mind "The Cage", of course, with hyper-intelligent creatures keeping humans in cages. For TAS, this became a teaching moment for kids to consider the treatment of zoo animals and how they might feel, knowing that kids laughed at them or were scared of them.
posted by hanov3r (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's a pretty solid example of the People Zoo trope [TVTropes; CW for some really appalling examples of Man's Inhumanity to Man in the "Real Life" section]. The concept and execution of the Lactrans is a bit of a switch for the franchise; usually, superior beings are shown as being quasi-godlike, assuming humanoid shapes for interacting with humans and also just being real jerks in general. The Lactrans are just really, really smart, and although the crew's attempt to communicate with them just amuses them, they don't have a real problem with freeing Willy (Shatner).

I also noted the new designs, although there was also the problem of the moving insignia (a reflection of the crew in water shows their insignia not mirror-reversed, and some of the crew from the other ship have the insignia on the wrong side for one scene).
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:42 AM on July 22


Kirk complaining that another ship's commander wasn't operating "by the book" seems a little disingenuous.

There's a somewhat popular fan theory (I heard it from Keith RA DiCandido and/or Christopher L Bennet) that RebelKirk is essentially a product of the film series, particularly going against regulations to rescue Spock. Certainly in TAS he hasn't bucked any Evil Admirals and such.

They started to take Picard in this direction in Star Trek Insurrection, it didn't stick.
posted by StarkRoads at 11:27 AM on July 22


Voyager's People Zoo installment was the slight but enjoyable "Displaced".

Sometimes I think this show took the "animation frees up our design thinking" ball and ran a little too far with it, and the Lactrans are one such example. I struggle sometimes to take the proceedings seriously when stuff is just so dopey. That said, the story here is better, deeper, and explored more fully/satisfyingly than "Displaced" and the other People Zoo episode I recently watched, The Orville's second episode. I especially liked Scotty establishing rapport with the baby Lactran and saving the day, though it would've been nice for that scene to be played out a bit more. Indeed, this is another one that makes we wish TAS episodes were longer, because I found I wanted a philosophical discussion about the ethics of zoos period, perhaps between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy back on the bridge.

I also noted the new designs, although there was also the problem of the moving insignia (a reflection of the crew in water shows their insignia not mirror-reversed, and some of the crew from the other ship have the insignia on the wrong side for one scene).

What's funny about that is I'm convinced that, in one scene, they deliberately put that brown wall in front of a character's torso (Spock's IIRC) to cover up the reversed insignia, yet in later scenes they just seem to have forgotten about it. I'll assume a rushed production schedule, or multiple editors, or something. (I bet this crew often wished the insignia were in the center of the uniforms!)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:08 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]




Does anyone know anything about this?

There's been talk about two new animated series for a while, with "Lower Decks" being more adult oriented and a then-unnamed "kid-friendly" show.

I guess "The Animated Adventures of Wesley Crusher" was a little too on the nose for a series title.
posted by hanov3r at 11:58 AM on July 23


CNET's got more.
posted by hanov3r at 12:13 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Hhhhhhhuh.
Here's hoping it goes better for them than it did for Red Squad.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:15 PM on July 23


« Older Stargirl: Brainwave Jr....   |  Book: Don Quixote... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments

poster