on December 13, 2000
The Star Trek DVD series is being issued in more-or-less the order in which the episodes were originally produced. So to date, some of the best episodes of the series have been issued in the same volume as some of the most, well, mediocre.
Both episodes on volume 20 are fantastic and emblematic of the best shows in the original series. "Mirror, Mirror" easily makes just about everybody's top ten list of best episodes. While the concept of alternate realities was hardly invented on Star Trek, this series (and its progeny) handled the "world-turned-upside-down" set up better than any. "Mirror, Mirror" is in many ways the inspiration for The Next Generation's "Yesterday's Enterprise" episode which finds the Federation losing an interstellar war to the Klingons. The mirror universe first introduced in "Mirror, Mirror" was the setting for a good half dozen episodes of Star Trek Deep Space Nine.
The premature aging concept at the core of "The Deadly Years" is hardly innovative either, but again, it is executed deftly on Star Trek. Watching the crew stumble into senility is amusing, but doubly so since we've got the benefit of still knowing the actors some thirty years after this story was filmed. Jimmy Doohan (Scotty) for one seems to age better in this episode than he would in real life.
If you're cherry-picking your way through this DVD series, this is among the handful of Star Trek volumes that you really must have.
Volume 20 of Paramount's complete Star Trek collection contains two ever popular episodes from Season Two.
More than thirty years after its original airing, Mirror, Mirror, remains on most Trekkers' lists of Top Ten episodes. This story has also spawned a spinoff novel by George Takei, follow-ups on Deep Space Nine, and been touched upon in William Shatner's Star Trek novels. It's not hard to see why. From the redecorating of the ISS Enterprise, to the sexy uniforms, to being able to watch each Trek character engage in evil scenery chewing, this episode has something for every Star Trek fan. Indeed, this is one of the few episodes to make use of the entire ensemble cast. George Takei and Nichelle Nichols in particular shine here.
The Deadly Years is less effective now than it was originally. Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, it's a relief to know that the Star Trek regulars have aged more gracefully than portrayed here --even if some of them have been aided by cosmetic surgery and expensive hairpieces. Actually, hairpieces are one of the problems here. The visual restoration has been successful to the point that the seam in William Shatner's toupee is glaringly evident when the "old" Kirk's hair is combed straight back. (Look at the forehead, just under the hairline, and you can't miss it.) For the most part, though, the old-age makeup stands up to today's standards surprisingly well. The Corbomite reference near the episode's end is a testament to how seriously story continuity was taken.
Sound and picture have never been better.
Another reviewer hit the nail right on the head when he stated that so many times in the Star Trek: The Original Series DVD sets, a very good or great episode is paired with a real clinker. However, not this time. This DVD pairs up two terrific episodes that succeed on every level. Both episodes offer the varous cast members ways to play off of their usual characterizations on Star Trek:
MIRROR, MIRROR: I love watching films or TV episodes where you know that the cast and crew must have had a ball filming it. Mirror, Mirror is one of those episodes in spades. Those who have been to a Star Trek convention have, more than likely, seen the Star Trek blooper reel. It seems that a quarter of the bloopers shown are from this episode. William Shatner, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan and Nichelle Nichols must have felt cheated, not being able to play their snarling, savage altnerate counterparts for the entire episode. Of the four, only Shatner, in his inimitable small-screen Charlton Heston way, gets to play his evil self at all. George Takei gets the Snidely Whiplash prize for the most flamboyant evil counterpart. With his red uniform shirt, huge scar and lecherous leer, Takei jumps into the role with both feet as the Gestapo-like head of security on the I.S.S. Enterprise. Walter Koenig plays the alternate Chekov as a sneering rat and is, unfortunately, gone from the episode too soon. The best performance in the episode, however, is from Leonard Nimoy who manages to make Spock fit into the alternate universe while still maintaining the integrity and intellectual honesty that is so much a part of the character. It's one of the great episodes of the series and regretably wasn't followed up either later in the series or in one of the feature films. I would have loved to have seen how the crew of the I.S.S. Enterprise was doing 15-20 years in the future.
THE DEADLY YEARS: Star Trek fans have become used to the robust images of the original crew. So much so that even when the cast, some well into their sixties, appeared in the feature films from 1979 to 1991, the producers had them jumping through the same hoops as if they hadn't aged since the 1960's. (The Simpsons brilliantly spoofed the advanced ages of the Enterprise crew in a vignette called "Star Trek 6: So Very Tired.") In The Deadly Years, however, fans did get to see their heroes age and become physically weak and vulnerable. The writers of this episode do an excellent job of aging each character differently. (I especially liked the touch by DeForest Kelly of making Dr. McCoy's southern accent thicken as he aged). Most moving, however, is the relationship between Kirk and Spock when the aging disease takes hold. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy's chemistry works very well because of their divergent acting techniques. Shatner hams it up and emotes furiously while Nimoy underplays, letting only the smallest indication of emotions leak out. Of course, the way the roles were written do, to a large extent, dictate how the actors perform them. However, try to imagine Shatner playing off of the much more emotive Martin Landau who was originally cast as Mr. Spock. When Spock conducts the competentcy hearing that removes Kirk from the captain's chair, Shatner becomes emotional and accuses Spock of stabbing him in the back. Nimoy, through very subtle gestures, shows that the situation pains Spock just as much as it does Kirk. It's a terrific job of acting, writing and directing that works perfectly.
The picture quality is as clear as a bell. The only problem I have with this (and all the other) DVD's is that not enough extras were included. The DVD only offers teaser previews for the episodes on the disk. Too bad the producers of this DVD didn't include the bloopers from Mirror, Mirror -- they would have added immensely to the DVD.
on August 1, 2002
"Mirror, Mirror" is a Trek classic and fan favorite, one of the better "alternate dimension" stories in cinema sci-fi. After a failed attempt at convincing a neutral and pacifistic planet to provide resources for the Federation's weapons, Kirk, Uhura and McCoy beam back aboard ship - but find themselves on a completely different Enterprise in a parallel dimension, fascistically tyrannical, imperial and sadistic. It's easier for them to masquerade as barbarians to fool this dimension's Empire than for their swapped counterparts to fool the more equable Federation, and it falls on the Spocks of both dimensions to logically determine what has gone on and come up with a solution to return everyone to the universe in which they belong.
A great episode, very dramatic and suspenseful, and - to use Spock's own word - it's "fascinating" to see the usual cast members playing against type. Sulu becomes an especially sadistic S.S. style security man, Chekhov a treacherously backstabbing mutineer, and Spock a ruthless (but still logical) bearded cossack. Barbara Luna has a nice supporting guest role as the alternate universe captain's main squeeze, who figures out about the same time Spock does that the crewmembers who beamed aboard her Enterprise are not the same ones who left.
"The Deadly Years" is unintentionally more comical than not, largely due to William Shatner's tendency to ham-it-up when not carefully restrained. The story is pretty good - Kirk, Spock and McCoy become infected with an alien disease that causes them to rapidly age - but the makeups are uneven and not always convincing (the production crew was rushed, over-time and over-budget), and so are the performances by the three principals. Shatner doesn't act old age convincingly at all, and you often get the impression DeForest Kelley is deliberately overdoing it just to have fun - but it is kind of entertaining, actually.
on October 31, 2001
These are oddly matched episodes, but still worth a look.
In “The Deadly Years”, a landing party led by Captain Kirk contracts a rare disease causing accelerated decrepitude. The symptoms, though aren’t fast enough to avoid being painful and terrifying. With all of the Enterprise’s chief officers inexplicably sent to the planet where the disease was contracted, the crew finds itself without an effective Captain, Dr. or Chief Engineer. As the ship veers into Romulan territory, a Starfleet Bureaucrat seizes power, forcing Dr. McCoy to try a dangerous and painful cure. This is a good episode – the script plays each of the infected crew with a different aspect of old age, senility, crustiness and feebleness. It’s a painful idea, and a brave one. (spoiler)
The real treat is “Mirror, Mirror”, in which a transporter accident sends a returning landing party into a “parallel universe”. (Actually, the differences are so pointed, that this new reality seems less parallel than divergent; why the crew never considers being in an alternate history is something else not quite clear since the phenomenon wasn’t unknown to them – but that’s just a trekker’s nitpicking). In this new universe, everybody is evil – officers receive promotions by killing their superiors (perhaps the alternate reality is our own), everybody carries daggers, women wear revealing clothes (yes, even worse than those miniskirts) and scariest of all: Spock has a beard!! While in our universe, the crew had been sent to negotiate trading rights for dilithium with the peace-loving Halkans. Unsure of Starfleet’s motive’s the Halkans refuse to give or sell their dilithium. In the evil mirror universe, where Starfleet (actually, “The Empire”) has more open motives, the Halkans (who are good and stubborn in both universes) face extinction for their refusal to turn over the precious dilithium. Now the crew has two missions – save the Halkans and save themselves.
“Mirror” is a great episode because it’s funny and scary at about the same time. The comfy grooves that the series dug for each of its characters have been uprooted, and nobody can be trusted. Campy yet consistently fun, the script deftly avoids some obvious pratfalls – like explaining why this other universe is sooooo bad, or even coming up with an improbable ending in which the evil empire is destroyed. If anything, this is the episode in which you’ll hear Dr. McCoy utter the words – “that’s the spot where I dropped acid three years ago”. Apparently, the bureaucratic mentality is not the sole universal constant.
As a personal note, I'm not sure why these episodes were paired - maybe because somebody thought that there was a common theme – in “Years” they get old, in “Mirror” they go bad. The moral ambiguity of the characters in “Mirror” seems to have more in common with the conflict between Kirk and Spock in “Enterprise Incident”, or the paths taken by rogue starfleet officers in “Patterns of Force”, “Omega Glory” and “Bread and Circuses”. Still, “Years” deserves the attention because it’s among the most unique episodes, hardly comparable to “Patterns”, “Glory” and “Circuses” which seem interchangeable.
on April 4, 2007
I saw this episode when it was first shown in 1967 and I loved it then. It inspired me to write a 266 page novel of my own, based on but not like this program. Over the years I watched it every chance I got and kept looking for a copy of my own. I was delighted when I found it on Amazon and ordered it immediately. The idea of another universe existing alongside our on in another dimension has always appealed to me and, I found this one really intriguing and great to watch. I wish they had done some follow ups, it would have been interesting to follow the exploits of that other Mr.Spock and Captain Kirk on their voyages for the Empire. I would reccommend this one to every Star Trek fan. It is simply fantastic.
on October 22, 2001
BOTH of these episodes are great, which makes this DVD a real bargain. "Mirror/Mirror" is finely acted with real intensity, and "The Deadly Years" has some of the most hilarious performances of any episode, but it can still keep you on the edge of your seat. The DVD visual quality is excellent, allowing you to see the episodes in amazing detail, which, in "Mirror/Mirror" is really nice, since it gives you great views of Nichelle Nichols' gorgeous abdomen and pretty navel.
on April 27, 2013
This episode alone made this sale for me. I'm a sucker for time travel and alternate realities. This was always a favorite episode.
The Deadly Years, on the other hand, is an interesting concept that made for a dull episode. I get through it MST3K style, making "get off my lawn" jokes throughout it.
on September 18, 2001
With each episode paired with another, this pair seems to be one of the best. There are several good episodes paired with a weeker one. Mirror Mirror is one of my favorite epsiodes of all time. Where the deadly years offers a change of pace. If I was starting my Star Trek collection on DVD, I would make Vol 20 one of the first that I buy.
on November 18, 2005
Spock is the constant in both universes: warlike tensions and forces surpressed by principles of logic and wisdom, an intellectual powerhouse in both universes. Spock offers wisdom. Most advanced and civilized societies have histories of brutality, conquest, and imperilism. Spock rational viewpoints seem neural in Universe that has migrated towards imperilism, militarism, and universal dominance.
This episode introduces the first rip in the space-time continum and poses the possibility of infinite alternate realities coexisting simulateously. On the time side, future episodes will explore more fully this rip in time, as Picard moves through time and problem solving with Data at different points in time. However, in Mirror/Mirror a moral diploma not physics theory is unreveling.
The Enterprise encounters an ion storm and while beam down to the Hulkins, they switch places with identities of an alternative Universe. The Alternate Universe is imperilistic, antagonistic, and forceful. In the Alternate Universe power, glory, and strength are worship and command structure advanced is through assassination by lower ranking officers. Captain Kirk has managed to maintain supreme power by a weapon of emmense power given too him by an alien race and with this video interface weapon, he has been able to locate his enemies and vaporize them. No opponent dare oppose Captain Kirk because that would mean annihilation. The Hulkins are a peaceful people driven by a deep morality code too preserve the peace. The Hulkins tell Captain Kirk, they can not give the Federation Dialithium mining rights because the Federation would use the power generated by the crystals for war and destruction. This information did not set well with the Alterate Federation council and a decision was made too destroy the Hulkins and take the crystals by Force.
Jim orders in the alternate universe instruct him to destroy the Hulkins. Spock is order to kill Kirk, if he fail in destorying the Hulkins and Sulu order to kill Spock should Spock fail in his assignment. Spock eventual deduces that the original landing party has been acting strange and engages in hand to hand combat, in which, he is fatally wounded; McCoy is allowed to remain for five minutes to save Spocks life; Spock revives and mind melds, gaining an exact understanding of the other Universe. Jim soldifies the moral debate with Spock before switch back too his universe. Kirk asks Spock how many years until the Hulkin Revolt. Spock tells Kirk, "five year". "What is the outcome?", "The rebellion will be crushed", "In every generation there must be one who is the voice of revolution" "A man must have the power" "In my quarters is a machine of emmense power", "Indeed", "Consider the useless of waste". The moral illogic of imperilism is that control comes at a high cost in human lives. War is wasteful, war only serves self interest, this is wasteful. Consider the possibility that there exists an infinite resource of energy, energy that does not come at the cost of human lives. Vulcan the God of fire and warfare yielding too the promise of infinite energy and infinite human diversity with a morality too use this energy peacefully producing long term responsibility and abundant utility from human prosperity.