REVIEW: “A Piece Of The Action” (Star Trek: Remastered edition)

Star Trek (Remastered): “A Piece Of The Action”
Remastered Episode #28 (4/28/2007)
Original Episode #49 (1/12/1968)

The Enterprise discovers a planet of mobsters who have patterned their lives on a book called Chicago Mobs of the Twenties. The book was among the items left behind by the USS Horizon, which visited about a hundred years ago and prior to the adoption of the non-interference directive. It is up to Kirk, Spock, and McCoy to undo some of the damage.

William Shatner proves yet again that he’s great with comedy, when given the right material. As Spock, Leonard Nimoy is the ultimate straight man. In fact, much of the back and forth between Kirk and Spock in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the pinnacle of Star Trek comedy, is reminiscent of “A Piece Of The Action.”

After riding along in a 1920s-style car driven in fits and starts by Kirk, Spock dryly notes, “Captain, you are an excellent starship commander, but as a taxi driver, you leave much to be desired.”

Later, when they need the car again, Spock hesitates and notes that it is not as safe as walking.

“Are you afraid of cars?” asks Kirk.

“Not at all. It’s your driving that alarms me.”

The mildly insulted look on Kirk’s face after Spock’s retort is priceless.

* * *

I’m having a harder time getting excited about Star Trek: Remastered versions of episodes with little or no effects. That is no reflection on the shows themselves, as “A Piece Of The Action” is one of the best.

It is also no reflection on the quality of work by CBS Digital. I would be the first to complain if they added barrel rolls or other such nonsense to spruce up the few seconds of time that the Enterprise appears in this episode. For the effects that need upgrading, their work is great.

The main problem is that I have gotten used to watching the classic Star Trek episodes on DVD over the last few years, and it has spoiled me. No commercials to fast forward through, and, more importantly, unedited versions.

Since fewer commercials aired when Star Trek was first broadcast in the 1960s, most of the classic episodes are around 52 minutes long. To fit the commercial requirements of a one-hour timeslot today, about ten minutes of episode have to be trimmed. That means the edited versions have lost an astounding 20 percent of their original content.

Though CBS makes both edited and unedited versions of the syndicated Star Trek: Remastered episodes available, my local station chooses to air the edited versions. They have to pay the bills, after all. Apparently, most of those bills are paid by 900 numbers offering a variety of services, at least in the wee hours of the morning that Trek airs.

This is a fun episode, one of the all-time classics. Make it a double-feature with Star Trek IV and laugh all night.

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