[7.6/10] A fine start to the new series/continuation of the live action version. The transition to animation is a little rocky, but I think the show actually benefits from having to tell its story in half the time. That works here, where the three acts create a pretty nice structure of the episode -- (1.) the crew finds the mysterious planet and the ship; (2.) they get the warning and realize they’ve been invaded by the malevolent entity; and (3.) they fight the malevolent entity and escape. It divides things up fairly neatly and allows the episode to progress nicely with meaningful stuff in each part.
I also liked the premise of the episode. It’s Trek-y in the best way, with a mysterious situation with hints of an ancient civilization, a dire warning (which was really unnerving with the slow-mo voice of the spider alien), and a powerful entity that the crew has to outsmart. While TOS overrelied on the trope, I like the idea that there’s this big universe out there and our heroes stumble across ships from long dead civilizations abandoned millions of years ago, with entities that are just as old. There’s even added dimensions given to the entity, with its pleas that it’s “so lonely,” making it not just an “evil for evil’s sake” being. It has an understandable motivation, even if we’re rooting against it, and a measure of empathy is offered. All good Star Trek stuff.
The catch is that the move to animation has its upsides and drawbacks. It’s great that the show can get more imaginative in its design work. The honeycombed old alien ship has some beautiful, colorful design work on it and creates “sets” that wouldn’t be possible in live action. At the same time, the designers did well to recreate the Enterprise bridge in animation form. The problem is that the actual animation (i.e., people and things moving) is pretty stiff and halting. At times, the episode feels more like a slightly moving comic book than a fully animated show. That’s part of the filmation ethos and it’s churlish to complain too much about a cartoon with that kind of budget, but it does make it harder to appreciate the more action-y moments in the episode.
By the same token, while it’s great that the show managed to secure all the original voice actors from the live action series, it’s clear that not all of them are accustomed to voice acting, and some of their delivery comes off stiff as well. There’s some awkward pauses and other odd hiccups that make some conversations and exchanges feel less than natural. You can tell the show had to stretch for time or repeat animation in places to fill out the half-hour. That said, one consequence of the limits of the animation is that there’s a prominent score to help sell the mood of a particular event, which helps considerably.
Overall, it’s a neat reintroduction to the universe. The new style of the animated show will take some getting used to, but it still presents a story that feels very true to Trek and it’s fun to see the continuing adventures of the crew of the original Enterprise.