8/13/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Terratin Incident"

Vital Information
Series: The Animated Series
Episode:S01E11
Air Date: November 17, 1973
Written by: Paul Schneider
Directed by: Hal Sutherland

Premise
HONEY, I SHRUNK THE CREW!

Review
So, the Enterprise picks up a distress signal from a nearby planet. Most of it is garbled, but what they can pick up is a signal that hasn't be used for hundreds of years transmitting the word "Terratin". Based on that alone, they go in orbit of a planet and the planet shoots out a beam of light that paralyzes them and peels their dilithium crystals like the skin of an orange. Lucky for them, the planet below is lousy with dilithium.

All well and good so far, right? Well, let us discuss how poorly they treat the rest of the story. The beam of radiation, as it turns out, diminishes the amount of space between the molecules in their body, thus slowly making them tiny, but, as Bones explicitly states, retaining their original weight. Supposedly, all organic matter is shrinking at the same rate, including the fibers of their clothing. So, when before they know all this Kirk turns to Spock and asks if he's slouching, it doesn't make any sense because they would both still be the same height relative to each other.
"It looked for a moment as though you were going down on me."
Everyone gets smaller and smaller until they have to start crawling around on the consoles to reach the buttons. Which, since they are the same weight concentrated on the tiny point of their feet, should make dents in the consoles, but it doesn't. Spock starts having trouble pushing the buttons, but his hands are still the same weight as before - he should be able to just rest lightly on them. People start falling over and leaving no trace of a dent on the floor. Tiny wooden ladders are able to hold them when they likely wouldn't hold a cat of normal density. Basically what I'm saying here is no one ever does miniaturization right.

Eventually Kirk beams down to the surface of the planet with the goal of finding some dilithium or some help. What he finds is that the transporter puts all his molecules back in the right spot and makes him normal sized again.The planet, however, is erupting with lava everywhere. And before the automatic beam-up takes place, he sees a tiny city. When he's back on the Enterprise, his goal is to contact that city. When he does, he finds that they not only have some of the crew, but a plethora of dilithium crystals to bring back up.
Group pose!
Turns out this little city used to be a settlement from Earth named Terra-10, but over the years the pronunciation got garbled. The natural radiation on the planet makes people tiny, so they've pretty much adapted to it. And when people came looking for the settlement, they were too tiny to find. With that exposition out of the way, the crew beams back up, becomes regular sized, replaces their dilithium crystals, saves Terratin from the volcanic planet and goes on their way. Just another day in space.

Overall Thoughts
I just can't get over how terribly they handled miniaturization. Even while recognizing they're the same weight, they seemed to completely forget in the next scene. Deep Space 9 handled miniaturization better than this, and that's saying something.