Thursday, November 26, 2015

17 to 01: A Private Little War

There are so many parts of "A Private Little War" that are really intriguing and then get lost in the mire. It's amazing because so many things exist in this episode without the whole thing breaking down. None of it works, but it manages to stumble along for 50 minutes without completely crashing so...yay?

I've heard this episode used as an example of Star Trek's strong and nuanced take on politics, but I'm not seeing it. Is "A Private Little War" Star Trek's most overrated episode?

Episodes of 17 to 01 are available on iTunes. It updates Thursdays at 01:00 AM CT and Friday nights at 8:30 PM ET / 9:30 CT. We're also amazingly on Stitcher.


SkilTao said...

The "ambitious manipulator who uses witchcraft to beguile and seduce" niche seems to be filled, these days, with vampires. Hard to guess where feminists might stand on Lady Roma Macbeth as glittery androgyn.

This could almost be the same planet from The Apple. Not enough time for that civilization to split into three ethnic groups, of course, but the whole "imperialism deforms local cultures" thing is a solid thematic link. (I might not've noticed had they not reused the blond wigs.)

Memory Alpha mentions a hilarious number of rewrites, including a final teleplay, a revised final teleplay and a second revised final teleplay; I can't help but wonder if the leap from "find evidence against the Klingons" to "supply just as many weapons as the Klingons" is due to the censors imposing pro-war attitude on the script, or Roddenberry dialing it back.

VanVelding said...

Feminist views on Nona and Lady MacBeth, as I understand them, are that they're assertive characters who pursue their own desire in a distinctly feminine way. The chief complaint is not that they exist, but that so many assertive females in fiction are cast in that mold; distinctly bad and working in distinctively feminine ways. If there were more females like Aliens' Vasquez, it wouldn't be an issue. When you've got 9 Nonas and 1 Vasquez, it's something worth talking about.

It would've been cool if the production system would've allowed having some of these stories being connected as a way to follow-up on Kirk's earlier adventures. Having this be a "two years later" follow up to The Apple would've been cool.

From what I can tell, Memory Alpha gets a lot of it's info from my book. Really, they only leave out the most trivial trivia. AFAIK everyone was behind the Vietnam allegory, but the exact shape of it was really determined by the needs of making the story work, with Roddenberry handling final say on everything outside of that.

According to memos directly quoted in this book, Executive Producer Robert Justman actually had complaints about how the ending wasn't optimistic enough, he felt Nona should've held her own physically against Kirk, and he thought it was too much like other episodes. Surprisingly progressive guy

...according to that source at least. Shatner just released a shitty take-down on behind the scenes crap on the TNG set and while I haven't seen it, it's fuckin' baby stuff compared to what had to have done down in the days of TOS.

SkilTao said...

Okay, yeah, gaining ground on Vasquezes sounds like a fair trade for losing ground on MacBeths.

It's easy (at least for me, who's never worked near TV or film production) to forget just how much "the needs of production" shape the story; not surprising that TOS (and TNG, if I remember right) never revisited a planet, and that the writer objected for creative reasons instead of ideological ones. Considering who founded Desilu, though, I'd hope that their executive producers would be on the progressive side.

Didn't know about Shatner's thing. Quick googling makes it sound like all stuff that's already known, but I haven't looked into TNG behind the scenes stuff before; might check it out.