Thursday, January 14, 2016

17 to 01: The Ultimate Computer

This one took a while to produce because a small oversight in the execution of our new and improved recording system created echoes of our voices and I had to manually remove every echo of every word. :)

Derek and I finally find an answer as to why Commodore Wesley is such a jerk. I'm satisfied with it, honestly. Also, I sincerely apologize for not slipping in a "shut up Wesley." I am so, so sorry.

Are we wrong in not taking Kirk's side on this thing? If Kirk isn't necessary, he's not necessary. Star Trek validates the arbitrary nature of fulfilling our dreams (like starship captain), but on the other hand, the only reason the M-5 isn't a good captain is because it just doesn't work right? Is the message that anything complicated enough to replace a human role as demanding as starship captain must also have human foibles?

17 to 01 is 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 origin of BattleTech's Caspar drones! (As in, the exact origin. The Star League Sourcebook has a summary of this episode.)

The M-5 and Kirk's ex aside, this episode raises so many questions about Starfleet's shipboard procedures.

Was this on your "Star Trek primer" short list? Fast-paced, thematically dense, and I really enjoyed the guest star's delivery.

Despite tackling a bunch of themes, I don't think the episode really resolves any of them, which would fit with McCoy failing to find a pithy moral in the denouement. If there is a message, I think it's just "computers are only as good as their programming" - which, considering how many times Kirk talks machines to death, must have already become trite even back then. That the machines often have human foibles seems to be part of "the language of television" rather than any deliberate statement about emergent behavior or the complexity of their role.

I noticed that the computer judges itself a criminal and tries to carry out its own sentence, which implies that it considers itself authorized to enforce "the laws of God and Man;" it's a miracle that it never tries to execute the crew for mutiny.

I bet the M-5 series was repurposed for holodeck control.

VanVelding said...

Holy shit! I did not know that about the Caspar Drones. When it comes to space drones in battletech, my eyes sort of glaze over. TBH, I read the Drone Independent Command Event Decision Tree to get to sleep some nights.

It wasn't on the short list. I think "City on the Edge of Forever" and "The Galileo Seven" edged it out. Also, I think "Those Whom Gods Destroy," which was included for full disclosure reasons.

Agreed on resolution of the themes. The research shows that these are often based on a compelling idea, but the myth that every episode builds towards some sort of lesson is bunk. This is a good show, but it's not getting at anything.

That's a pretty good point on the mutiny. I assumed "suicide from grief," but that one makes a lot more sense.

SkilTao said...

So, so many references to Star Trek and Doctor Who in old BT books. It's like, the more sci-fi universes you publish, the more they borrow from each other.

Re mutiny: I can't rule out penitent martyrdom completely, but yeah, it *is* the mind of "You're great, I'm great" Daystrom we're looking at here.

VanVelding said...

Was not aware. I think I started with Battletech in '98 or '99. With, the Clan invasion trilogy. Most of my sourcebooks are BMR & Maximum Tech and later so I never really ran over the classic stuff, TBH.

Granted, it makes the mythological status conferred to the 4th SW generation work a bit better.