(written from a Production point of view)
|"The Lorelei Signal"|
|TAS, Episode 1x04|
Production number: 22006
First aired: 29 September 1973
|←||6th of 22 produced in TAS||→|
|←||4th of 22 released in TAS||→|
|←||83rd of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
The Enterprise is drawn to a planet populated solely by women who dominate the male crew members's minds to the point where Uhura must assume command to rescue them.
- "Captain's log, stardate 5483.7. The Enterprise is en route through an unfamiliar sector of space, where a series of Earth-Federation ships have disappeared mysteriously during the last 150 years. Recent joint discussions with the Klingon and Romulan Empires have revealed that a starship has disappeared in this sector, precisely every 27.346 star-years."
The Enterprise arrives in the region where the series of ships have all disappeared, moments before the next time period occurs. Captain Kirk orders the ship to yellow alert in preparation of the unknown.
At the moment they were preparing for, Uhura receives a strong subspace radio signal, which appears, to her, to sound more like music than a message. Spock, however, notes that the ship is being probed and that its source originates from a star system, twenty light years away. Spock further identifies the source as the Taurean system, a small star at the extreme edge of their sector. The male bridge crew, including Kirk, Spock, and Scotty all feel as if the signal is calling them. Uhura notes no resemblance in the message to a summons that the male members are sensing. Kirk notes Uhura's opinion and continues to proceed to the Taurean system at warp 7.
En route, Uhura summons Nurse Chapel to the bridge to observe the male reaction to the message the Enterprise is receiving. Moments later, the male crew members begin to experience audio-visual suggestion, or dimensional visions, created by the probe. Spock receives a suggestion that likens the signal to a Vulcan marriage drum; Kirk receives one of a beautiful woman holding a flower; Dr. McCoy receives one consisting of magnolias in blossom. Both Uhura and Chapel note no visions to Kirk, who then requests Dr. McCoy to report to the bridge to make a medical scan.
- "Ship's log, stardate 5483.8. Engineering officer Scott in command. We are in orbit around planet two in the Taurean system. Probes and sensors indicate that there was once a vast civilization here – (sigh) lovely, lovely – however, life readings are sparse and concentrated. Captain Kirk is beaming down with scouting party to investigate."
Uhura and Chapel analyze the probe data the Enterprise had been receiving, noting that their figures do not match up with Spock's, counting at least three sensor readings that are off.
On the planet's surface, the scouting party, consisting of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Lieutenant Carver, encounter a series of structures of fantastic architecture built by an incredibly advanced race. Carver offers to take tricorder readings, but Kirk assigns the task to Spock. McCoy notes that there is something compelling about their location, and Kirk agrees. Spock observes that the urgency of their feeling suggests visual compulsion, and advises remaining at a distance until he can determine the extent of its influence. Kirk disregards Spock's comment, and the group enters the main complex.
Inside, they discover a great hall lined with several female statues, where several blond females greet them. Theela, the "Head Female," welcomes the scouting party, fully aware of each male's identity – as it was revealed to them by their opto-aud. Spock scans the females and observes that they are indeed humanoid, with many internal differences including endocrinology variations, noting that their bodies appear to function on an unusual psychokinesis-level.
Theela reveals the tonally-controlled opto-aud to the scouting party, noting that it will reveal whatever it is asked. She explains that they are honored that the Enterprise was able to answer their call as she invites the crew to a feast they have prepared for their guests.
- "Captain's log, stardate 5483.9. The beauty of this place is unequaled... it's the answer to all a man's dreams... exquisite in every way. We're here to investigate... to investigate... the women radiate delight..."
The male scouting party members sit on pillows as they observe some of the most beautiful women in the galaxy perform various forms of entertainment. McCoy is curious where the men are, and is told that they occupy another compound. Suddenly all of the males experience fatigue and nearly faint, so the females take them to the slumber chambers to rest. McCoy states that it is probably their nectar, which he says is as potent as Saurian brandy.
After some time, the landing party is revived. Each is wearing a headband and appears to have greatly aged.
Back aboard the Enterprise, Chapel and Uhura coordinate with the ship's female science teams to determine an answer to what is going on. Chapel requests the computer to make a summation of medical, biological, and astrophysical scans. The computer determines that the probe from the planet's surface is very intimating to humanoid males. Exposure causes increasing weakness, possibly to point of death. Uhura assumes command of the Enterprise and calls Security Officer Davison, ordering her to assemble an all-woman security detail on all transporters immediately.
On Taurus II, the headbands of the landing party are now glowing, as they approach Theela and request to return to their ship so that they may resume their duties. But she will not allow them to return, noting that all of the men on the Enterprise are needed and will soon be joining the Taurean females.
Meanwhile, back on the bridge of the Enterprise, Scott sits in the captain's chair singing Welsh ballads. Uhura and Chapel enter the bridge. Uhura informs Scott she has taken command of the Enterprise and assigns Nurse Chapel as chief medical officer.
- "Ship's log, supplemental. Lieutenant Uhura recording. Due to Chief Engineering Officer Scotty's euphoric state of mind, I am assuming command of the Enterprise. I accept full responsibility for my action. A detailed account will be recorded later."
On the surface, the landing party, in an aged and weakened state, discovers that they have been left alone. Discovering that he still have his medikit, McCoy attempts to find something to alleviate their condition. He determines a hypospray of cortropine, a strong stimulant, could help.
Upon taking their injections, they move about and discover that they are locked in their room. The lock is magnetized, but Spock is able to disrupt its field with the scanner of the medical tricorder. They escape the compound, only to be pursued by the females of the planet. They climb into a giant urn and successfully elude their pursuers.
Hiding in the urn, the men determine that the headbands they are wearing glow intensely when the women are nearby, and diminish when the women are not present. Spock theorizes that they may be polarized conductors, which transfer the men's vital energy, or life forces, to the bodies of the women. Spock observes that since the men arrived and acquired the headbands, the women have gone from being listless to more energetic and vital, while the men have aged rapidly, nearly ten years per day. McCoy surmises they will be dead in four days. Because of his Vulcan physiology and longer lifespan, Spock volunteers to return to the temple to find the communicators so that they can contact the ship.
Spock returns to the temple and locates the opto-aud, which he uses to request the location of their equipment. It is revealed to him that they are located under Theela's throne, where he finds them and is able to contact the Enterprise. Suddenly he is discovered, but before he is captured, he is able to alert the Enterprise to send down an all-female security squad.
- "Ship's log, supplemental. Lieutenant Uhura commanding. We have assembled an all-female rescue party in accordance to Mr. Spock's request."
Lieutenant Uhura, Nurse Chapel and their female security detachment transport down and are immediately greeted by Theela. Uhura demands the return of Captain Kirk, but Theela demands that they leave. The Taurean women approach, and are immediately stunned by the female security officers. Uhura orders the group to search the temple in parties of two. Spock senses Chapel and directs them to his location, where they locate the now extremely aged Vulcan lying in bed. They transport back to the Enterprise.
Meanwhile, outside, a thunderstorm approaches. Kirk, McCoy and Carver attempt to escape but are trapped in the giant urn as it begins to fill with rainwater.
In sickbay, Nurse Chapel removes the headband from Spock. He orders them to have a female engineer redirect all ship's energy into its deflector shields to block the Taurean probe.
Uhura returns to the surface and threatens to destroy the temple unless Captain Kirk and his men are released. Theela and Dara surrender and use the opto-aud to explain to Uhura their situation.
The opto-aud reveals both sexes of the race from which they are descended, and Theela explains that they came to Taurus II when their homeworld began to die. They built the temple and all surrounding it. They did not know that the planet drains humanoid energy. The women's bodies developed a glandular secretion that enabled them to survive and to manipulate certain areas of the male's brains to influence their emotional senses, ultimately draining the men. This caused them to weaken and die. To survive the females must revitalize every 27 years. They are eternal prisoners because they neither age nor die, nor can they bear children.
Uhura still demands to know the location of the men and the opto-aud is asked to reveal their location. It shows them floating in water; however, Theela reveals that the closest body of water is many cusecs from the temple. Uhura realizes it is not a body of water but a pool or tub, and it dawns upon Theela that they must be located in the urn in the garden.
Uhura and one of her security officers locate the urn and destroy it with their phasers, on setting one, releasing the water and the trapped crew members. They are quickly returned to the sickbay of the Enterprise. Chapel tries everything she knows in her attempt to reverse the aging process. Spock suggests that the transporter is the key to their age restoration, because it holds the molecular pattern of their original bodies when they beamed down. Although feasible, this procedure has never been attempted before. Spock states that the odds are against them, 99.7 to 1. If it fails, their patterns will break up and scatter in space.
Scott, who is no longer affected by the Taurean probe, transports the four aged crewmen to the planet's surface and prepares to transport them back aboard upon reprogramming the transporter. Despite a brief scare, their transport-transformation is successful.
Back on the temple on Taurus II, Theela destroys the opto-aud, the probe that lured men to their planet, with a phaser, as part of a prearranged agreement. Uhura explains that a crew of women will bring a ship back to transport the Taurean women to the first suitable planet, where, according to Dr. McCoy, their physiology will return to normal within a few months, ultimately offering them a better future than immortality.
"It seems to be calling us."
- - Scott
"I want you to observe the men here. It seemed to start when we picked up that signal, but it's gotten worse."
- - Uhura, to Nurse Chapel
"Fascinating, like a Vulcan marriage drum. I am experiencing audio-visual suggestion, captain."
"So am I."
- - Spock and Kirk
"Fantastic architecture. Only an incredibly advanced race could have built it."
- - Kirk
"They are here. Aah... such wondrous ones."
- - Lorelei women, about the Enterprise men
"Release Captain Kirk and his men, or we will destroy your temple!"
- - Uhura
Title, Story, Script and Production
- The title of this episode is a reference to the Legend of the Lorelei (also Loreley), which is an old German tale similar to the legend about the Sirens from ancient Greek mythology. Loreley is the name of one of the beautiful Rhine Maidens who lure sailors to the sandbanks and rocks with their alluring singing. (Star Trek Concordance, 2nd ed., p. 80; et al.)
- The writer of this episode, Margaret Armen, also wrote another installment of Star Trek: The Animated Series, "The Ambergris Element". She previously wrote scripts for TOS: "The Gamesters of Triskelion", "The Paradise Syndrome" and "The Cloud Minders". Armen once expressed that this episode (in common with "The Ambergris Element") was fun to write and that she enjoyed doing it. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 98)
- A revised draft of this episode's script was submitted on 22 May 1973, although another revision (which included the cast list) was made on 5 June 1973.
- This is one of two TAS episodes that feature the most characters voiced by Nichelle Nichols (the other installment being "The Time Trap" for which, in common with this episode, Nichols provided the voices for a total of four different roles).
- The USS Enterprise visits a completely different planet named Taurus II in TOS: "The Galileo Seven".
- The aging syndrome that affects the men may be similar to the effects of the radiation poisoning that TOS: "The Deadly Years" describes, but this has not been officially established.
- This is the only occasion in either TAS, the original series or the movies when Lieutenant Uhura assumes command of the Enterprise. For that reason, Nichelle Nichols held a certain fondness for this episode. (Beyond Uhura, p. 205) David Gerrold remembered, "Nichelle was reading through the script [....] She says, 'I'm taking command of this ship!' And then she goes, 'At last!' She just got so excited." ("Bem" audio commentary) Gerrold also stated, "She just had so much fun with that, and that goes back to who Nichelle is." ("Drawn to the Final Frontier - The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series", TAS DVD) Uhura also briefly assumes command, though not explicitly stated, in the episode "Bem".
- Just as the holodeck from TNG was "predated" by episode "The Practical Joker", so was Data, by this episode. Here, Spock manages to mimic the voice needed to activate Theela's main computer. This is an example of one of the many skills that the two science officers have in common, before their eventual meeting in "Unification II".
- The editors of Trek magazine collectively scored this episode 3 out of 5 stars (a rating that they termed "good"). (The Best of Trek #1, p. 109)
- The reference book Star Trek 101, by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, cites this episode as the Star Trek: The Animated Series winner of the "Spock's Brain" Award and complains that the "beautiful sirens" in this outing "aren't a lot brighter" than the Eymorgs from the episode "Spock's Brain". The book goes on to question whether the female Taurus II inhabitants ever think to utilize their male-luring signal to summon help or ask a passing starship if it can take them to a safer planet.
- In the unofficial reference book Trek Navigator: The Ultimate Guide to the Entire Trek Saga (pp. 131 & 132), co-writer Mark A. Altman rates this episode 3 out of 4 stars (defined as "good") while fellow co-writer Edward Gross ranks the episode 2 out of 4 stars (described as "mediocre").
- This episode was novelized by Alan Dean Foster in Ballantine Books' Star Trek Log 2. As such, the book describes the story as being chronologically set between TAS: "The Survivor" and "The Infinite Vulcan", both of which are also novelized in the same book, although this order does not match that of the actual episodes. The novelization of this episode also names the mysterious region where ships have regularly disappeared the "Cicada Sector" and the male-luring Taurean hypnotizing equipment as the "Lura-mag". Additionally, the adaptation has an extended introduction and involves the transporter operation that returns the landing party to their original bodies actually affecting their memories, as well, requiring that they be informed of the episode's events in retrospect.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (CIC Video): Volume 2, catalog number VHR 2536, 6 December 1991.
- As part of the The Animated Series LaserDisc collection.
- As part of the The Animated Series DVD collection.
Links and references
- George Takei as Sulu
- Nichelle Nichols as
- Majel Barrett as:
- James Doohan as:
- Eight Taurus II inhabitants
- Four female Enterprise security guards
- Female Enterprise transporter chief
2119; astrophysics; cortropine; cusec; Earth; euphoria; Federation; Klingon Empire; logic; magnolia; medikit; Milky Way Galaxy; opto-aud; type 2 phaser; psychokinesis; Romulan Star Empire; Saurian brandy; Taurean headband; Taurean nectar; Taurean system; Taurus II; Taurus II inhabitants; transporter; Vulcan marriage drum; yellow alert
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