Star Trek: The Animated Series: Albatross   Rewatch 
August 25, 2020 11:24 PM - Season 2, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Following a mission to the planet Dramia, Dr. McCoy is held prisoner, accused of mass genocide caused by a deadly plague committed nineteen years earlier during a previous expedition. When the Enterprise attempts to investigate, it too becomes infected.

Memory Alpha remembers what others have forgotten.

Background Information
  • One draft of this episode's script was submitted on 19 June 1974 though some pages were revised on 27 June 1974.
  • This installment apparently contradicts the Writers'/Directors' Guide for Star Trek: The Original Series, which describes McCoy as having joined Starfleet only in middle age, after he was divorced; that would mean he couldn't have worked on Dramia II during his early adulthood. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 17, p. 73)
  • In a production inconsistency, after beaming up to the Enterprise near the end of the story, Dr. McCoy is seen wearing a gold shirt instead of his usual blue one, while Scotty appeared with captain braids for that scene and a majority of his other transporter scenes.
Poster's Log:

Producer Lou Scheimer gets another vocal workout in this one, voicing both the unnamed Dramian guard who threatens McCoy in his cell and Commander Demos. Both characters carry hints of Scheimer's native Pittsburgh accent.

While some of the plot elements are obvious, there's a compelling story underneath this one. Put "Albatross" on the pile of "would have been better as a full hour live action episode".

Demos literally watching them open the shuttle bay doors and still thinking he was "sneaking" onboard left me questioning the general competence of the Dramian government. Similarly, Kirk going from being deferential to the Dramian Supreme Prefect to ranting about a kangaroo court within seconds is a character departure that surprised me.

Some of Shatner's dialog was inexplicably reverb-y, as if he'd recorded a few lines whilst in the bathroom.

Memory Alpha lists this one as 'average' or 'mediocre', but I came away from the rewatch thinking this was a good outing. Definitely one of the better second season episodes.
posted by hanov3r (5 comments total)
Put "Albatross" on the pile of "would have been better as a full hour live action episode".

Agreed. Over in the TNG rewatch, there was a discussion in this episode's thread about the Prime Directive, and a recurring theme in early-season TNG has been the Enterprise-D helping out with this planet or that's epidemic, as a sort of non-aggro alternative to space battles. And that's fine, but sometimes the Federation's super-medicine seems a little easily able to cure any random pandemic in a matter of hours (certainly more so during The Current Situation), and it's not at all improbable that one of these conveniently-quick cures might actually make the situation worse; plus, if they're really serious about the Prime Directive, might that not entail giving McCoy or whomever up for justice, even if the enactment of same doesn't measure up to Federation ideals? And that's before the investigation (and related shuttlecraft-hangar-bay-door skulduggery). Conversely, I'm less than impressed with some of the reviews cited in the MA article; I mean, everyone's certainly free to air their opinion--I certainly do, in these Trek threads--but not all of them really deserved to be commercially published.

With the full-length-live-action-worthy plot came some really good use of animation. Again, we get classic SF paperback cover background art, and the Dramens have an interesting design, vaguely humanoid but with features--their heads, the tentacle hands--that would have been difficult to do in pre-CGI live action.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:10 AM on August 26, 2020

Again, we get classic SF paperback cover background art

The landscape they beamed down to on Dramia II was *fabulous*. Much more the "plague killed everyone" view I expect, instead of the "dirty New York" of "Miri" or the complete emptiness of "The Deadly Years" (ok, that one may not be a fair comparison).
posted by hanov3r at 3:24 PM on August 26, 2020

It's an ok episode, but one I always forget everything about shortly after viewing. New every time!

"Is this some kind of joke?" No, Kirk, that was last week.

We also get TWO variations of "Beam us up, Scotty" in one episode.

The color-changing makes me think of the Garanian Bolites.
posted by StarkRoads at 7:36 PM on August 26, 2020

While we're here, what does the title have to do with anything?
posted by StarkRoads at 10:39 PM on August 27, 2020

Yeah, I think the weaker moments (such as the stuff involving the "stowaway") could indeed have been punched up given time. The story is a solid one to build some character off of, too; I wanted more screen time for McCoy here, given the nature of what he was accused of.

Similarly, Kirk going from being deferential to the Dramian Supreme Prefect to ranting about a kangaroo court within seconds is a character departure that surprised me.

I dunno, he also got really emotional really quickly in an episode not too long ago where Spock was threatened by aliens (the zoo one IIRC). And it sort of makes sense that Kirk might be a lot more protective of his crew in what appears to be the fifth year of their five-year mission. (He was just two Earth days from retirement!!…)

While we're here, what does the title have to do with anything?

It's probably got something to do with the naval mythology surrounding them. From Wikipedia:
The albatross metaphor is derived from [The Rime of the Ancient Mariner]; someone bearing a burden or facing an obstacle is said to have "an albatross around his neck", the punishment given to the mariner who killed the albatross. A widespread myth holds that sailors believe shooting or harming an albatross is disastrous, due in part to the poem; in truth, sailors regularly killed and ate them, as reported by James Cook in 1772. However, other sailors reportedly caught the birds but let them free again, possibly believing that albatrosses were the souls of lost sailors, so killing them would bring bad luck.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:11 AM on August 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

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