Friday, November 09, 2007

trek gods and debauchery

So while we're speaking on Star Trek, one of my very favorite episodes was on yesterday.

Ever see the one called "Return of the Archons?" It's pretty good. It's one of my favorites, if I didn't mention that already. Somehow I think I've given the synopsis on my blog or my site before, but hey, here it is again.

The Enterprise is investigating the disappearance of the U.S.S. Archon that disappeared 100 years earlier. I don't know why it took them so long to get around to finding this other ship or how the search would even benefit something that was lost for so long, but give them credit anyway. The ship was last seen around the vicinity of a planet inexplicably inhabited by humans (or maybe they're aliens that the production people at Paramount didn't have the budget to apply makeup to) and the crew checks the place out. The people on this planet do nothing but walk around like zombies, being vaguely pleasant to each other except for during a specific time during the week. This time is known as "The Festival" or "Red Hour." At Red Hour, the clock chimes and the townspeople cease somnambulism and cut directly to unabashed debauchery -- unbridled sexuality, looting, throwing stuff, etc. Eventually Kirk and the crew find that they're in a place similar to that place with the glowing brain in A Wrinkle in Time. The people are controlled, but secretly hope for more "Archons" like the ones from 100 years ago who shook up their backward society, but ultimately failed to overthrow the control.

There are some wonderful gems. "They're the sweetest, most wonderful people in the universe -- it's paradise." Such things are countered by Kirk and co. at the climax when he argues against this idea, positing that "good must transcend evil" and ultimately that such mindlessness is vacant contentment and not real contentment in the least. The cold logic and order of this planet was God to the people. Apparently a being with merely the means to keep tabs on millions of people and provide safety is hardly God at all. The cold logic didn't have the soul or the spirit of true love and leadership.

I didn't mean to get all this serious.

Anyway, a couple of things were unnecessary, but very welcome. First of all, there was no need to have the original Archons in the story at all. The slight story widening was sort of fun to consider what happened during the events of 100 years ago, though.

The other thing that's stayed with me ever since I first saw the episode is the concept of Red Hour. One guy commented on the imdb that he liked the episode, but it bugged him that the idea of Red Hour was never explained. He assumed that since there was so little action, the producers just threw in people going crazy to make the episode more exciting. No. That's not the case. Perhaps a more elaborate explanation was lost in syndication episode cuts, but the reason for Red Hour is because humanity can't be constrained by constant control. Whatever power was holding the people back needed to let loose to ensure a sort of pressure valve. People who independently better themselves probably wouldn't need Red Hour. This concept was unnecessary for the purposes of what actually happens in the story, but I feel it deepens some of the themes involved.

It turns out that Ben Stiller named his production company "Red Hour" in honor of this episode.

People who know me really really well, know why I really love the concept of Red Hour. I always relate it back to my days at BYU. Some would say that BYU is far more controlled and far more soulless than 99% of all other college campuses in the country. But, BYU had a Red Hour in the form of dance classes. The decentest, most conservative people there always took a dance class and it was the one time during the week when co-human full-body rubbing was guaranteed. The Latin and ballroom types were the most depraved. I never took a dance class, but I made observations. I couldn't imagine participating objectively without my own carnal self getting involved. I suppose my pressure valve was breaking all the other rules.

J.R. if you're still doing the Star Trek Netflix thing, let me know when you get to this episode. Also, I want to do a commentary on Star Trek II sometime in the future.


Blogger Maria said...

I love it when you talk about ballroom dancing at BYU...seriously


November 09, 2007 7:38 PM  
Blogger J.R. said...

No Star Trek yet. It's next in my que after Twin Peaks season 2. I'm half way through that then Star Trek Season 1 should be on it's way. I'll let you know.

Hey not only do we do the super sexy dancing, our teams constantly win chamionships doing acceptable visual arts erotica.

November 11, 2007 3:55 PM  

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