The Deadly Years
We all hope we’ll grow old gracefully. But what if we were forced to grow old in 72 hours or less? Kirk and his crew find out when we put “The Deadly Years” in the Mission Log.
Tags: aging, corbomite, David P. Harmon, Joseph Pevney, The Deadly Years, The Original Series, The Original Series Season 2, TOS
Another good discussion, gentlemen, and I quite agree with you on a number of points, especially the wasted opportunity in treating the illness as just a scary disease of the week instead of a chance to reflect on the inevitability of growing old (and I’m surprised Uhura wasn’t one of the victims, since every other episode seems to reference how she wants to stay young and beautiful forever and never grow old).
Kirk’s old man performance felt for me to be slipping into James Cagney impressions; I kept expecting him to stammer, “You dirty rat, Spock!”
And I also agree that it was a pleasant surprise to have Stocker depicted, not as an antagonist being confrontational, but rather someone genuinely trying to help fellow Starfleet officers, but lacking the experience to carry it through. He even remains gracious at the end (“I am now quite aware of what a starship can do… with the right man at the helm”)
I don’t think this episode ever intended to be a serious examination of aging. The characters could just as easily have been struck by purple mind-affecting space pox, for purposes of the basic storyline. The aging aspect was just there to create mystery, IMO, and to give viewers the fun of seeing familiar characters behaving oddly. If it doesn’t hold up today (and I’m not necessarily saying it does), it’s because our expectations have changed.
I would watch a Lazarus, Miri and pancake aliens marathon twice before watching this episode again. 10 minutes of story spread onto 50 minutes of show. The courtroom sequence was painfully redundant.
I was distracted by Shatner’s hair, so I must link to the excellent Shatner’s Toupee blog post: http://shatnerstoupee.blogspot.com/2011/03/deadly-years-hd-study.html
Stocker was one redeeming factor, a Starfleet Commodore who seems like he deserves the post. He took command reluctantly and showed compassion for the crew.
The fellas bringing up the issues of ageism hit home, we need to be on guard against this. But this seems to be an instance where our heroes age but don’t acquire the experience that leads to the heroics of Star Trek movies V and VI. Perhaps if the radiation sickness somehow imparted the kind of knowledge/wisdom that comes with age, this would have given the episode a better message.
As always, you guys gave me lots to think about an episode, in this case, one that I thought had nothing to offer. Excellent podcast.