REVIEW: “And The Children Shall Lead” (“Star Trek: Remastered” edition)

Star Trek (Remastered): “And The Children Shall Lead”
Remastered Episode #26 (4/14/2007)
Original Episode #60 (10/11/1968)

“And The Children Shall Lead” is a horrible episode of the original Star Trek. At least, that’s what I’ve read online over the last week or two. And if it’s online, obviously, it must be true.

Why the hatred among the normally mild and gentle online population of Trek critics? For one thing, it is a third season episode. According to conventional wisdom, third season automatically equals bad.

Plus, the episode includes, shockingly enough, children. Children just aren’t cool. And us Star Trek fans are all cool right? We don’t want Annie Skywalker characters to ruin our franchise. We’re better than that.

Wesley Crusher.

Now that I’ve brought you all back to reality, I’m going to go out on a Star Trek limb here and say “And The Children Shall Lead” is not a horrible episode, and the third season is not awful.

There are some horrible episodes of classic Star Trek. I don’t watch every episode through rose-colored glasses (of the future!), after all. I can think of four right now, without even trying very hard.

However, “And The Children Shall Lead” is not on that list.

The problem with “And The Children Shall Lead” is that there are so many great episodes of the original Star Trek that average, mediocre episodes like this one look worse by comparison.

In many ways, the Remastered effort thus far has been a “best of” collection. Since all 79 episodes will eventually be presented, though, episodes like “And The Children Shall Lead” (and even the truly horrible ones) have to be tackled at some point.

After two effects-heavy episodes in a row, this one offers a bit of a breather to the Remastered team. What is here looks nice, and there are the usual small, polishing touches.

There is one thing that continues to bother me about Star Trek: Remastered, though. I have tried not to harp on it too much, but I’ll mention it here as it annoys me every single week – especially in third season episodes.

Remastered team, you’re doing great and I’ve tried to support you as much as possible on this little site, but you really need to do something about that opening theme song. I’m not sure why it was necessary to re-record it in the first place. The rest of the music on the episodes have not been re-recorded, so why re-record this?

The new version of the theme sounds horrible. The female vocalist is way too high in the mix. I even compared it against the original version this week, just to see if I was crazy. Still no verdict on my sanity, but the original does not feature the operatic vocals so loudly. I’d prefer to hear the original theme, but at least try turning the female vocals down a bit if you insist on this new version.

All right, that’s the last time I’ll mention it – unless, of course, it is fixed in the future. Now, on with the episode.

The Enterprise arrives at a Federation colony to find all of the adults dead, apparently due to mass suicide. The only survivors are children, none of whom are overly concerned over the loss of their parents.

They are beamed aboard the starship and soon plot to take it over. The children have been empowered with a form of mind control by an evil entity known as Gorgan. Gorgan wants to use the Enterprise to spread his “wisdom” to other planets.

As you might expect, Captain Kirk objects at this point. The children overtake the bridge crew by capitalizing on their deepest, darkest fears (“the beast that will consume them”).

Uhura sees her own death, an agonizingly slow one where she looks like an outtake from “The Deadly Years.”

Kirk’s worst fears, of course, are of losing command, losing the Enterprise, and being alone.

As for Sulu, he’s apparently afraid of runaway daggars flying backwards through space that would inexplicably destroy the well-shielded Enterprise.  [His other fears are that people will forget to address him as “Captain Sulu” and that Chekov will get all of the good bit-part lines.]

Had they been executed just a bit better and expanded for more of the running time, the “beast within” images of fear may well have nudged this episode up a notch or two. They almost work, creating a sort of Twilight Zone feel. Sci Fi purists will hate it, but they hate most everything (including, alas, the term “Sci Fi”).

Is this a heart-pounding episode that will blow you away? No, but it’s definitely one that’s worth watching. Especially if you’re not busy…busy…busy.

Dramatic Content: 5 (out of 10)
Effects Upgrades: 7
Overall Experience: 5