REVIEW: “The ‘Galileo’ Seven” (Star Trek: Remastered edition)

Star Trek (Remastered): “The Galileo Seven”
Remastered Episode #41 (9/15/2007)
Original Episode #14 (1/15/1967)

A new season of Star Trek: Remastered is upon us. By default, this is the last season–at least for updates to the original series. Unless, of course, they decide to CGI all of the visuals on the animated series. Once they had their approach down, they could even create new episodes to fill out the season. I’m sure there are some leftover scripts or concepts around somewhere.

Back to reality, though. “The Galileo Seven” kicks off the 2007-2008 season, a perfect choice for the lead-in. One of the best Star Trek episodes, it also offers a potential extravaganza of visual effects. With last season’s 40 episodes under their belts, is CBS Digital ready to take it to a new level?

Things start promisingly enough, as we get a fantastic view of the Enterprise approaching Murasaki 312, a quasar-like formation. The Enterprise is en route to Makus III with urgent medical supplies, but since he has a couple of extra days, Captain Kirk decides to send a shuttle out to investigate the quasar.

Kirk claims he must do this, due to “standing orders to investigate all quasars and quasar-like phenomenon.” I don’t buy it, though. I think he just wants to get under the skin of Galactic High Commissioner Ferris, on board to deliver the medical supplies. Ferris is one of those annoying Federation bureaucrats that the Enterprise carts around from time-to-time. You know, the ones who are always trying to order Kirk around aboard his own ship. The plague of government bureaucracy is alive and well in the 23rd Century, it seems.

Though he stays aboard the Enterprise (someone has to organize the subsequent rescue attempts, after all), Kirk loads the shuttlecraft up with just about his entire senior staff. Also joining Spock, McCoy, and Scotty are Yeoman Mears and Lieutenants Boma, Gaetano, and Latimer.

The shuttlecraft launch is outstanding, and we even get a nice view of another shuttle, Columbus, sitting on the flight deck as the Galileo departs. Star Trek: Remastered has featured shuttlecraft launches before, but I still can’t get over how real the effect looks. To see the Enterprise and other classic vehicles from original Star Trek fully realized for the first time has been nothing short of amazing, a lifelong Trekkie’s dream-come-true. CBS Digital is doing all of this with budget limitations that are rivaled only by time constraints.

Things go horribly wrong and the shuttle crashes after losing contact with the Enterprise. Not only has the Murasaki effect crashed the shuttle, it has also severely limited the Enterprise‘s sensor capabilities (not unlike the Mutara Nebula would in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, actually). They are essentially left to search for the shuttle within four solar systems by sight. Ferris, who opposed the scientific mission in the first place, is none too pleased when Kirk informs him that finding a needle in a haystack would be “child’s play” compared to finding the lost shuttlecraft.

All of this before the opening credits!

While Kirk has to deal with the nagging Ferris, Spock has his own set of naggers to deal with during his first command. Dr. McCoy gangs up with Lieutenant Boma to pester Spock at every turn. Though I’m a McCoy fan, the writers take him a bit too far in this episode. It seems out of character for him to allow Boma to insult Spock so often and even to jump in with a few thorns of his own. Sure, Spock and McCoy have an ongoing “feud” about passion versus reason but it is usually good-natured.

Here, McCoy just seems mean. Perhaps he has a hard time dealing with stress when Kirk isn’t around, as the only other episode I can think of where he seems so out of kilter is “The Tholian Web”–where Kirk is presumed dead and Spock is in command.

The rest of the episode overcomes the problems with McCoy, though. As we see Spock in command for the first time, the Vulcan learns a number of lessons about logic. As he would later tell Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” Full of tension, drama, and action, “The Galileo Seven” represents Star Trek at its best.

Speaking of one of his command decisions, Spock notes, “I may have been mistaken.”

McCoy retorts, “At least I lived long enough to hear that.” That‘s the McCoy we know and love, so the writers weren’t completely off target.

As for Boma, he places extremely unrealistic demands on the Vulcan. Though he is supposed to show the human consequences of Spock’s logical decisions, his constant nipping at Spock gets annoying. When the planet’s ape-like natives kill two members of the shuttle crew, Boma insists that they take the time to bury them despite the enormous ongoing danger posed by the natives (the damaged shuttle needs to be freed of excess weight if she is ever to lift off).

While I understand the need to give the dead a proper burial, it is just not the right time for it. You don’t jump out of the trench in the middle of a battle to bury the poor guy killed next to you. Otherwise, you had better dig two holes.

Aboard the Enterprise, Ferris repeatedly stalks on and off the bridge, reminding Kirk constantly of exactly how much longer he has to conduct the search before he assumes command of the ship to deliver the medical supplies. Kirk shows great restraint by not knocking the guy on his bureaucratic rear-end.

The ape-like creatures have not been updated. They still throw small spears that suddenly turn larger (a creative but failed attempt on the original episode to give a sense of enormous scale to the creatures) and they still look way smaller than 10 to 15 feet tall as they approach one of the crewmembers for a kill.

CBS Digital usually does not tackle these sorts of changes to the on-set costumes and effects, though they did make the Gorn blink last season on “Arena.” The end results would likely not justify the time. I think it is fine as it is, as I do not want every single piece of the classic show to be updated anyway. Yes, the creature looks fake, but it is a charming reminder of the simpler television times of the 1960s.

The newly created visuals are breathtaking throughout. We even get to see the Columbus ferrying back and forth from the Enterprise as she searches for the Galileo. One of these includes a movie-quality shot of the Enterprise from below. Fortunately, the Columbus is not similarly affected and crashed or Kirk would have even more officers to find.

If you have an HD DVD player, episodes like this one may make the remastered Star Trek season 1 set worth the high cost in November. Since “The Galileo Seven” was part of the original series’ first season, it is included on the set. (The remastered episodes air out of sequence in syndication.)

“The Galileo Seven” represents the finest work of both the 1966 and 2007 creative teams. This is a must-see.

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