Little Red (mylittleredgirl) wrote,
Little Red

Life Sucks And Then You Spend Eternity Marooned On A Planet With Noncorporeal Aliens

Das Boy remembered "Charlie X" as an epic hatefest that is actually the worst thing Star Trek has ever done to him. I remembered this episode as a fun romp with card tricks, and I recall being sort of disappointed that crossing my eyes didn't give me supernatural powers. Neither of us remembered the EXISTENTIAL HORROR of it all. Or, for that matter, the red spandex. Wow.

"Charlie X"

Charlie: Marooned alone on a planet at age three after a transport crash and stranded there until the hormonal age of 17, Charlie is the sort of moody, undisciplined teenager you would find on myspace -- except for the ability to control objects with his brain and/or make them disappear entirely. Strangely, he does not use this power to make Janice Rand's clothing disappear. Though he generally WILL NOT SHUT UP in a way that's especially aggravating, Charlie is a disturbingly tragic character. Unlike Q or the Squire of Gothos, who torment the crew for fun, Charlie does it because the last time he saw another person, he was THREE YEARS OLD. So, you know, it's understandable that he's pissed when Spock doesn't let him win at Candyland, and that he's pretty traumatized when he thinks other people don't like him. After he takes control of the Enterprise and makes Janice Rand disappear (there are times Captain Kirk wishes for this power), the noncorporeal aliens who gave Charlie superpowers to save his life in the first place come to retrieve him. Charlie begs for asylum, citing the horrible lonely conditions on the planet ("I can't even TOUCH THEM!"), but the aliens take him anyway. Janice cries, because she's a girl. Kirk's a little bummed out, but it does serve the kid right for taking over the Enterprise and all.

Captain Kirk is a Fashion Statement: After being the loser in the "not-it!" game with McCoy over who has to be the parental figure for Charlie, Kirk figures the best way to go about being a role model is to wrestle Charlie in red spandex pants (this also allows Kirk to maintain his one-to-two ratio of episodes in which he is shirtless to all episodes aired so far). He also confuses the boy's sexuality a bit by babbling some nonsense about how "Man to man is one thing... but man and woman is... another thing." And can I just tell you? Seven episodes in, and Kirk is not much of a ladies' man. I mean, he tries to muster up some... something... over Janice Rand in the past few episodes, but you can tell he'd rather be crooning sweet sweet Captain's Logs to the Enterprise instead.

The Cliff's Notes Version of Modern Medicine: McCoy's reason why Charlie is definitely not an alien? "His fingers and toes are at exactly the same level of development as Earthlings on Earth." Surely there is something in one of his spray bottles that can give him a more conclusive answer?

This Chef Not To Be Played by Jonathan Frakes: The Chef on the Enterprise is quite perplexed when he comms the bridge to say, and I quote, "Sir, I put meatloaf in the oven, but there's turkeys in there now. Real turkeys!" It's not made clear whether the turkeys are alive or not. The voice of the chef? GENE RODDENBERRY. DAMN RIGHT he would keep the best line of the episode for himself.

Star Trek The Musical: Uhura's freaky, bizarro-world crush on Mr. Spock continues, and she spends a scene serenading him in the recreation room. Uhura's song suggests that all female "astronauts" are weak to Spock's devilish wiles. Spock accompanies her on the Vulcan lute and grins away in a very un-Vulcan way, like McCoy spiked his Nalgene bottle. At least he's stopped with the random yelling.

Dammit, Janice: Charlie spends the episode lusting after Janice Rand by slapping her in the ass, wooing her with sweet praise like "you smell like a girl," and making playing cards appear in her bra. One of Charlie's card tricks is to turn the cards into sultry photos of Janice posing with her tricorder purse, perhaps from her Yeomans of the Line calendar shoot. Janice petitions Kirk to help her with something like a restraining order, and Kirk's response is to advise Charlie to "be gentle." OKAY. As the poster child for bad touch situations on this show, Janice isn't entirely surprised when Charlie breaks into her quarters. She makes up for it by looking even more like Barbara Eden as I Dream of Jeanne in a pink nightie and a more "casual" basketweave hairstyle.

Things that Are Not Built Like They Used To Be: Kirk and Spock bust into Janice's quarters to rescue her, and in the ensuing fight scene, Spock crashes back against the wall so hard that it hilariously cracks the cardboard. You can't really imagine that happening on Archer's ship. On the flip side, the walls of Archer's ship were never such stylish hues of purple and pink.

Scenes You Totally Miss in Syndication: So, in talking with redbeard today about how he doesn't remember a lot of the crack of these episodes, I realized it's because he's never seen it. The run time of the full episodes is around 51 minutes, and that's usually cut down to 40 minutes for syndication. That's 11 whole minutes of UNSEEN CRACK, people. They're like these little sub-episodes with lots of crewmen in jumpsuits doing... I have no idea. There was a whole scene where a guy is moving a pole through a grate while Charlie looks on like it's actually the most fascinating pole/grate interaction you can possibly imagine.

Ship > Everything: Kirk demands: "You've got my ship! Release it!" And a few moments later, as an afterthought: "And release my crew!" Good cover, Kirk.

How William Shatner Changed the World: While reading up on "Charlie X" at Memory Alpha - his favorite go-to site for extra WTF after each epiosde -- Das Boy reports that the red-spandex-pants shot was used in How William Shatner Changed The World Starring William Shatner, Based On The Book By William Shatner. OF COURSE that exists.

Poll #1383888 The Burning Question

How William Shatner Changed the World:

The all-important fashion breakthroughs of torn shirts and spandex pants.
Making closed-mouth kissing "sexy."
Revolutionary martial arts advancement in the form of two-legged jump kicks.
Groundbreaking use of the pause in dramatic monologues.
"Rocket Man: Spoken Word Edition."
[tickybox option for katejaneway only]
Tags: megatrekathon, star trek: classic

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