Yes, the time has come. I’ve decided to do it – to watch and blog Star Trek: The Animated Series. I put this off for a while, because to be honest I wasn’t really sure that TAS had enough substance to sustain an episodic blog. But after realising that I remember so little of it that I might as well rewatch it, then it seemed only natural to add to the sum of my Star Trek blogs by also writing about it.
Unlike the live action Star Trek TV series, TAS is not considered canon – with the possible exception of the second episode, Yesteryear (more on that in the next blog, of course). With that in mind, I won’t be analysing this for continuity, nor holding it to particularly high standards of plausibility.
Anyway, let’s crack on. Beyond the Farthest Star sees the Enterprise exploring the outer rim of the galaxy, when it comes across an ancient and abandoned starship. Initially, this all looks promising – a ship this immense and alien would never have been able to have been depicted in the live action show. Could this be a sign that the series will be using the animated medium to go where no Star Trek episode had gone before?
Well, not quite. In short order, this episode introduces that old Star Trek staple – a malevolent energy being. After that, it’s an on-the-rails “Kirk bluffs the evil being in order to save the ship” storyline, just compressed into half the usual time. Nothing new or original to see here, everyone – time to move on.
Since it’s the first episode, let’s also talk a little about the animation style. I actually quite like the look of the show – the main characters are recognisable as their real-life counterpoints, and the simple, clean lines of the Enterprise are nicely replicated. One slightly odd design choice here is that no one has any whites to their eyes – instead they just blend in to the skin. Also, expect to see a lot of cost-saving repeats in the animation.
The sound effects of the original series are recreated well, and instantly recognisable. The opening theme is a remix of the classic Star Trek opening theme – quite catchy on its own merits, but just similar enough to the original to have a sort of ‘uncanny valley’ effect on the ears.
Pretty much everyone returns to voice their TOS character, although Walter Koenig and Chekov are both absent. In his place as navigator is the decidedly alien looking Lieutenant Arex, voiced by none other than James Doohan. In fact, expect to hear several of the main cast pulling double duty as various crewmembers and aliens of the week – this is nothing if not a tightly-budgeted production.
Summary – Beyond the Farthest Star: A promising start turns into yet another evil energy being episode.