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Star Trek TOS - Season 1

Star Trek TOS - 1x00 - The Cage

Originally Aired: 1964-12-12

Synopsis:
Captain Pike and his crew are lured to Talos IV by a race capable of creating powerful illusions. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 3.02

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 487 5 3 9 13 34 96 50 61 48 47

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- This is the original pilot of Star Trek. It never aired until subsequent home video releases included it as an extra, but chronologically this is the first episode of Star Trek and many people believe that you should watch this episode first. However, it's worth noting that almost all of the material in this episode will be shown again in a chronologically later episode, The Menagerie, as a clip show. If you hate clip shows, then skip this episode. You'll catch all the important bits of this episode in The Menagerie's retelling of it.

Problems
- Spock at one point incorrectly refers to the Talos planetary system as the Talos "solar system." This is a common error. The term they were looking for is planetary system. The planetary system we live in is called the Solar System because our star is named Sol. As such, the term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term.
- There are numerous inconsistencies in stylistic continuity in this episode with respect to the rest of Star Trek that followed. However there are no significant problems with its internal continuity. If you ignore the stylistic continuity errors, the plot fits well into Star Trek's overall canon. If you're interested in the complete list of discontinuities, here they are:
- In this episode, Spock isn't the logical Vulcan that he is in chronologically later episodes. He displays emotions fluidly. This error is later fixed by revealing that Spock is in fact half human.
- The "time warp" speed in this episode is later retconned to "warp speed" instead.
- Pike calls his first officer a lieutenant, but first officers are later retconned to hold the rank of commander.
- Pike referred to his ship as the United Starship Enterprise, but subsequent episodes retcon this to the Federation Starship Enterprise.
- The colonists mention that they are Americans, but subsequent episodes violate this premise because later continuity establishes that the United States (and all Earth governments) would have reformed into United Earth by this time period.
- Pike claims that the Enterprise is "from the other end of this galaxy." But later episodes establish that no early Earth colony ship would have ever made it that far.
- The ship's "hyper drive" is later retconned to "warp drive" and the ship's "rockets" are later retconned to "impulse engines."
- The laser weapons in this episode are later retconned to "phasers."

Factoids
- This episode was rejected as the pilot for Star Trek by the TV networks for being "too cerebral." Gene Roddenberry was asked to get rid of the female first officer (played by his wife, Majel Barrett) and Spock because the TV networks didn't believe the audience would accept a female in a high ranking position nor an alien as a main character. Roddenberry compromised, getting rid of the female first officer but keeping Spock.

Remarkable Scenes
- Christopher Pike doubting his ability to command the Enterprise.
- Pike, to Number One briefly forgetting that his first officer is female: "I can't get used to having a woman on the bridge."
- The aliens belittling Pike shortly after his capture.
- Pike being transported back into the memory he bemoaned about to the doctor.
- Pike's illusionary battle with the savage.
- Number One using the phaser cannon against the alien door.
- Pike needling information out of his fantasy woman about his captors.
- Pike discovering that intense anger blocks their telepathy.
- Pike's fantasy woman referring to Pike discussing their capture as strange talk that gives her headaches; trying so hard to act as if the fantasy is real.
- Pike transported into a fantasy with Orion slave girls.
- Pike being presented with a "selection" of different girls to suit him for breeding.
- Pike capturing one of the aliens.
- Pike discovering that the phaser not working was also an illusion.
- The captured humans preparing to destroy themselves with a phaser overload rather than live as pets for the aliens.
- The yeoman asking Pike who would have been Eve and Number One quickly striking her down.

My Review
Set deep in the future, a weary captain of the starship Enterprise, Christopher Pike, is lured into an illusionary world created by reclusive aliens who seek to use his reactions to their illusions as entertainment. On at least some level, he finds himself tempted by their illusions, as he told the doctor he was thinking of giving up the responsibility of command to take it easy for a while. But he regains his vigor, breaks out of the cage, and returns to his ship with a renewed focus and conviction.

Aside from introducing us to the Star Trek universe, Star Trek's original pilot is a deep exploration of the psychology of Captain Pike. The plotting, while a bit too verbose at times, is quite strong. We learn what's getting him down and what he thinks he needs in order to recover during his conversation with the doctor, but we also get treated to actually seeing a version of these things as illusions after his capture by the aliens.

The illusions not only allow us to actually see what Pike was discussing with the doctor earlier in the episode, but also represent a new danger for Pike along with a new opportunity for him to recover from his emotional problems and regain his confidence. The revelation at the end that the aliens weren't all bad; only slightly misguided in their moral center was a nice touch. I liked that the aliens were neither terribly benevolent, nor terribly malevolent, but simply a shade of gray, much like their overall appearance.

As a side note, it's impossible to watch this episode without making note of the copious amounts of continuity errors with respect to chronologically later material. These errors exist because the rest of Star Trek retconned things established in this episode. Technically, it's the rest of Star Trek which is a continuity error. However, since this episode never aired during the original run, it's hard to hold any of that material responsible either. For a complete list of continuity errors, see the problems section.

Overall The Cage is a strong story. It is dragged down by unfortunate TV network politics of the time it was made and the necessary retcons by later material along with some of the internal imperfections in the plotting such as the verbosity of the A plot, but for all it has working against it, The Cage is a strong story whether it is the first episode of Star Trek you see (which I recommend!) or it is the last episode of Star Trek you see as a home video extra. It's above average compared to the rest of the series with its complexity and nuance.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 11:46am:
    All in all great episode, and I am happy that they recycled it in The Menagerie. However, it's a feminist's nightmare. Women are either intelligent, in which case they are not sexual, or sexual, in which case they are dumb. The worst, however, is that Pike is such a macho. Not only does he not want the new yeoman on the bridge because she irritates him with her femaleness, he also "agrees" with Mina's decision to stay on the planet so she can live in an illusion and be beautiful instead of going back with the Enterprise and be ugly, but among real people. Who but the most vain person (i.e. a 1960s regular woman, obviously, at least in the writers' eyes) would chose illusion and loneliness instead of a chance for a real life?
  • From Alan on 2009-06-23 at 10:16pm:
    "Who but the most vain person (i.e. a 1960s regular woman, obviously, at least in the writers' eyes) would chose illusion and loneliness instead of a chance for a real life? "

    Wel,i sure would if the illusion was happy and the real life was misery.Let's face it,looking like that what happiness could she have had?
  • From Jem Hadar on 2010-09-02 at 11:59pm:
    Loving the new reviews, keep them up! Great pictures too!
  • From Tallifer on 2011-02-19 at 5:08pm:
    "Sol" is simply the Latin word for a "sun," which is the central star of any system of planets. Scientists in former times preferred terminology derived from Greek and Latin, hence the term solar system. Of course, originally "sol" was only our sun, but now we know that there are many other stars which have planets.
  • From wes on 2011-03-23 at 6:13pm:
    Does anyone actually say what Spock is in this episode? I don't recall anyone saying that he is a Vulcan.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-12 at 10:53am:
    Whenever I watch the Cage, I find myself wishing I could see more of the adventures of Captain Pike. They say the Cage was rejected as a pilot for being "too cerebral." That sounds about right, that's why I like it. Pike comes across as more human that other Star Trek captains; he lets you know what he is thinking and feeling. You learn a lot about Pike in one short episode.
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-01-21 at 6:46pm:
    First, I have to say what a great Website! Thank you Keithinov!

    And like Jem Hadar wrote, I have to say what great photos. I have searched and searched the internet for Star Trek TOS photos and just can’t find good ones. You have come up with some fantastic ones.

    As to your review of The Cage, I thought your rating of 6 was a little low. However, I think your criticisms are correct but I feel the story and presentation holds up very well even after all these years.

    Rhea’s criticism is correct in that the issue of women was never handled properly by Star Trek producers. I think this is a ongoing weakness of Star Trek that was handed down by the great Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry had a marvelous vision of the future but had a terrible view of women in general and the role of women in Star Trek in particular.

    And while I do agree with Alan that given a choice I too would have preferred the illusion over reality, you have to ask yourself if the Talosians knew nothing of human beings could they really care for Vina and all her real health issues better than Humans could? I understand her staying behind made for a good story and she was with the Talosians for 18 years ( although it makes you wonder how they kept her alive all that time not knowing human physiology ). However, I still feel Humans could have done more for Vina health wise than the Talosians.

    And I have to totally agree with CAlexander! Captain Kirk will always be my favorite Star Trek Captain, but I always wonder how I would feel if I had seen more of Captain Pike. Christopher Pike was such an interesting character and I wish we could have seen more of him.
  • From Stephan on 2012-05-17 at 3:58am:
    Nice site, I've just started watching the old star trek and reading your reviews after I watch each episodes.

    I wanted to go back here and make a point in regard to your comment in the problem section about how it's wrong for them to say they are "American". Well, I re-watched it and they didn't specifically say that they were Americans They said exactly: "We're from the American continent". That doesn't mean that they thought the United States still exists or that they have American citizenship, but rather points to the general area they are from.

    Nowadays, when people from the same country encounter each other while traveling meet abroad, they frequently exchange information about which part of their home country they are from. It's not a far stretch to see they would do that too in outer space considering which part of Earth they are from.
  • From Chazz on 2012-07-26 at 11:27pm:
    What a great website! I just discovered it and absolutely love it! The Cage is actually one of my all-time favorite Star Trek episodes. I love the overall theme we humans are insignificant specks in this universe and there are other beings infinitely more superior to us who would view us as less than an amoeba for science experiments. People forget this was still a revolutionary idea in the 1960's when many still thought we were made in the image of you-know-who. As for Captain Pike, I think he would have made ineffective leader, had he continued, especially with his self-doubts, weariness, bizarre fantasies and overall lack of self-motivation. Captain Kirk was a far better leader as he portrayed the real qualities that a ship captain would need to possess to command a crew of 400.
  • From Schreck on 2013-05-22 at 1:59am:
    My brother and i have been going through the star trek chronology watching every episode in order by stardate and i must say i have used this site as a constant reference for comparing as well as seeing how you view some of these episodes and i would like to post my ratings on here in the comments section as well...our ratings scale goes from 1-10 but on a .25 incremental basis...i also rate the episode based on how i would compare it with the rest of entertainment and not just trek so it is likely not going to have any 0's or 1's...
    I give the cage a 6 and my brother gave it a 7
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-06-12 at 9:33pm:
    "The Cage"

    The best thing about this episode is that it is "high-density" material. In other words, there's little or no filler. There's always something interesting happening. Another great thing about this episode is all the elaborate sets -- nothing like the regular show.

    The worst thing: the ridiculous idea of humans preferring death over captivity (more on this later).

    At the beginning we see radio waves distort the view on the screen. Radio waves are not visible! Also, notice that the right half of the sky is just a mirror image of the left! (Well, small parts of it not, but the vast majority of it is.)

    Right after Pike leaves the bridge we see a girl wearing a red top and a white mini-skirt walking next to a guy dressed more for the beach than for a starship. Notice he's wearing shorts and sandals! A pretty lax dress code if you ask me.

    Notice the yellow sheet coming out of some machine on the console. It appears to be a very slow printer producing a rather low quality printout! And this is supposed to be two or three hundred years in the future? Maybe it's "retro," cheap-fax-machine style.

    I love the scene with Spock, Pike, and the blue leaves. It looks like they get some sort of buzz out of the leaves, especially Spock. Look at his smile! Yep, yet another emotion from the "emotionless one." If Spock were truly totally emotionless, he'd be boring.

    Notice the display window containing flowers that the Talosians walk in front of when they make their first appearance. I guess the Talosians just wanted to spruce the place up a bit. And just to the right of that you can just about see one of their specimens moving about and watching from its cage. If you blink, you'll miss it.

    Regarding Vina, Dr. Theodore Haskins said that "she was born almost as we crashed." No. 1 later said she was listed as an adult crewman on the ship. Somewhat contradictory, no?

    Starting a race of humans from two people would result in incest between the offspring. Better to start with unrelated pairs of males and females, no?

    At the end when we see that Vina is in reality grossly deformed, we learn that the Talosians didn't have a model for a human to go by when they "rebuilt" her. Would it be a large stretch of the imagination to at least assume bilateral symmetry, at least for the exterior? I mean, really now. And they knew how to give her an illusion of beauty. Why couldn't they just rebuild her to look like that, or as close as you can get? And if you can get everything to work, how far off can you be? And how could she still have been alive if she was so injured that "putting her back together" would result in something so malformed?

    The transition from pretty Vina to ugly Vina is extremely well done. Her eyes, lips, and eyebrows are even moving during parts of it! Although, admittedly, there is a difference in the overall look of the scene when the transmutation is done and it cuts to Pike and then back to her. During the transmutation it's like she's holding her head still for the hairdresser, but after that her head's sort of bobbing and we're back to "live action." There is a small lack of continuity there, but still pretty good. IOW, the last frame of the transmutation doesn't look quite like the first frame of her after cutting to Pike and back. Slightly overlapping sets of eyes at one point, but still very impressive.

    For some reason I find Pike's continual endless outrage to be annoying. And, while on top of this, parts of the episode strike me as really awkward, I still find the episode compelling to watch.

    Near the end, The Keeper says: "We had not believed this possible. The customs and history of your race show a unique hatred of captivity. Even when it's pleasant and benevolent, you prefer death. This makes you too violent and dangerous a species for our needs." If this were true there'd be mass suicides in prisons everywhere. Please.

    The idea of forcing one to experience an illusion instead of reality can only go so far. I mean, you can "override" reality only so much. If it's all in your head, that's fine (though you would have to synchronize the "dreams" that Vina and Pike share together, etc.). But if you're firing your phaser full blast at the Talosian elevator, and one of the flying rocks hits you in the head, I don't see how any illusion is going to fix that!

    I don't understand why you say, "Technically, it's the rest of Star Trek which is a continuity error." This is only a pilot -- a sales pitch, if you will. I would say the rest of Star Trek is the main thing.

    AEF, aka betaneptune

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Star Trek TOS - 1x01 - The Man Trap

Originally Aired: 1966-9-8

Synopsis:
A shape-shifting, salt-craving creature terrorizes the crew of Enterprise. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 3

Fan Rating Average - 2.49

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 453 16 14 36 36 47 42 37 27 53 21

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's a decent episode, if a bit slow.

Problems
- In Nancy's first scene she walks onto the set singing before being startled to see McCoy. While she's singing, you can clearly see that her lips are not moving.

Factoids
- This was the first episode of Star Trek to air on national television. The true pilot, The Cage, was never aired during the show's original run.
- Vulcan has no moon according to Spock in this episode.
- The "great bird of the galaxy" Sulu referred to in this episode is actually a reference to Gene Roddenberry.
- This episode establishes that Buffalo on Earth are extinct at this time.
- This is the first episode to depict Vulcans' green blood.

Remarkable Scenes
- McCoy and Kirk arguing over how young McCoy's old girlfriend looks.
- McCoy: "He's dead, Jim." Count 1.
- Uhura toying with Spock.
- Kirk yelling at McCoy for changing the subject to his old girlfriend again just after discussing the dead crewman.
- McCoy and Kirk needling Crater for information concerning the connection between his desire for salt and the crewman's death.
- Sulu: "May the great bird of the galaxy bless your planet."
- Kirk and Spock coordinating a stun attack on Crater.
- Crater and "McCoy" trying to defend the salt monster's right to live.

My Review
A considerable time since the events of The Cage, The Man Trap introduces us to a brand new cast and crew of The Enterprise with Mr. Spock being the only recognizable character retained since Captain Pike's days. Captain Kirk now commands the Enterprise and Leonard McCoy is now the chief medical officer. Other new and notable characters include communications officer Uhura, ship's pilot Sulu, and yeoman Rand, who all do quite a nice job of rounding out the cast.

It's important to note that since The Cage never aired until after Star Trek was canceled, The Man Trap is the first episode of Star Trek that original audiences ever saw. As such, the universe of Star Trek is first introduced here. Much like The Cage, The Man Trap depicts a highly technologically advanced future for Earth where presumably ships like The Enterprise roam the galaxy both exploring new space and resupplying and otherwise assisting Earth's various colonies.

As evidenced by Mr. Spock, some aliens even live amongst the humans, however their citizenship status remains unclear. At this point, it's not made clear whether or not Earth exists as a nation or if Earth is just a member state in a much larger nation. Not all aliens are benign, friendly allies like Mr. Spock though, as the salt monster clearly indicates.

Framing the salt monster as an endangered species that should be protected was a particularly clever way to enhance what is, frankly, a meager plot. Right from the beginning we know that Nancy is not all she appears to be, and it doesn't take too much longer for her odd preoccupation with salt to become obvious not just to the audience, but to our heroes as well. Because of this, the plot seems to drag on at a painfully slow pace, what with four extras dying and even Crater dying before Kirk figures out what's going on.

Despite that though there are certainly some nice touches even beyond the endangered species commentary. I liked Kirk's and Spock's coordinated non-lethal attack on Crater along with the attention to detail concerning Spock's alien anatomy. The salt monster itself, once its true form was revealed at the end of the episode, was an impressive costume as well despite it being simply a guy in a rubber suit. Overall The Man Trap is an effective story, but it could have been better if it had a subplot; especially one that focused more on exposition about Earth, the Enterprise, and the nature of their mission.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2007-11-27 at 12:53pm:
    I rated this episode a 4. The pacing is too slow, especially in the second half of the episode. You feel like your watching it in slow-mo. One plus is that the dialog between Kirk and Bones is emotional and passionate.
  • From rpeh on 2010-06-22 at 6:00pm:
    While it's true that this episode is a bit slow, it has to be. Remember this was the one that had to introduce a whole new show, so there was bound to be a bit of an introduction to people, what they could do, where they came from and so on.

    The mistake here is that the alien is revealed to the viewer within the first... 3 minutes. We then end up waiting for the crew to catch up with what the audience knows. Later episodes worked out how to do this much better.

    I'm writing this 44 years after the program was first broadcast, and it's still watchable. That can't be a bad start!
  • From CAlexander on 2011-03-26 at 7:17pm:
    I just rewatched this episode, and thought it was quite good up until the final confrontation. Of course this was the first episode shown, but after watching so many other Star Treks there is something a bit refreshing about this monster. In your typical TNG episode the monster is some unstoppable menace that requires a brilliant plan or new invention to defeat. The salt vampire really isn't so overblown. It never seriously threatens to destroy the Enterprise. It is enough for purposes of the story that a killer is on the loose, and Kirk has to stop it.

    Monster stories usually involve a lot of foolishness by the crew, but in this case I thought everyone reacted fairly logically, given that they think this is a routine checkup (except for the usual question of why the bridge crew has to do everything for themselves). The first death triggers an immediate investigation. Once Kirk sees the second death, he stops messing around and nobody dies on the planet after that (it just takes them a while to find the third death). Once he finds crewman Green's body, he immediately alerts the ship. The fourth death has basically already happened by this point. The ship goes on security alert, and for once it actually works, no more deaths after this point.

    Rewatching the episode, I watched the salt vampire's behavior rather carefully, and its behavior is very interesting. It basically relies on its empathic powers to try to fit in, but it is confused and not very intelligent. It just sort of reacts to what is happening and tries to fit in and find salt, but it is basically certain to get caught. It is not a deadly, super-cunning alien menace, but a confused, hungry creature which must be stopped before it kills again. The episode is more interesting too when you try to figure out what the monster is thinking, since the pace certainly is a bit slow.

    As for the professor's motives – well, he's lost his mind, he's capable of anything.

    The final confrontation is not so great for me, it seems way overdramatized. Also, as has been mentioned in other forums, the total lack of any attempt to avoid killing the creature doesn't seem consistent with the idealistic philosophy of later Star Trek episodes. Well, maybe Starfleet regretted the incident and instituted new regulations to prevent it from happening again. Maybe Kirk was thinking of this incident when he later spared the Horta.

    Problems:
    - Kirk makes a log entry about armed men not being caught off guard unless the creature has hypnotic or paralyzing powers. Not only is this inference unwarranted, this is before he realizes that there is a creature at all, rather than some other cause of death (disease, chemicals, radiation, plants, whatever). But he doesn't seem to be making the entry at the time we hear it (we see him searching the planet), so he must have made it afterwards, and his memories were colored by his later knowledge.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2011-11-13 at 8:18pm:
    Remarkable scenes:

    At the beginning (starting at about 47s), Kirk grabs some "flowers" for Nancy. Huh? Those are not flowers. They're more like straw.

    Guys, try handing these "flowers" to your honey and see what happens!

    At the end of the episode (in the scene starting at 44m31s), Spock is repeatedly smacking Nancy hard -- full force, even! -- with a swinging two-handed fist right in her face! Is this not remarkable? (Yes, I know. It's "really" the salt monster. Still.) The whole scene from Nancy entering the room as Dr. McCoy to the shot of the dead salt monster on the floor is truly remarkable, I'd say. Very well done.

    Problems:

    Even the smacking scene above has problems. Watch the salt tablets go flying out of Kirk's hand onto the floor! I wonder if even a single tablet was caught by "Nancy." Still a great scene.

    Bad:

    Scenes with Yeoman Rand. The "flower" in the scene with her, Sulu, and Green is so obviously a hand in a glove it's just ridiculous.

    Notable:

    It's amazing how Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelly got into character so fast at the beginning of the series.

    AEF
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-01-22 at 4:57pm:
    I totally agree with what has been written here about Man Trap. The story could have been stronger.

    However, I must say that this episode really keeps me interested the whole time. And I think it is because there is a lot of background development of several crew members, which I think is lacking in a lot of episodes.

    You learn so much about the thoughts and feelings of Dr. McCoy, Sulu, Uhura and Rand. And that is so great. I only wish this kind of thing was developed a lot more with the rest of the crew over the years, but alas it was not. A real shame too because good character makes the story so much more interesting.
  • From Strider on 2012-08-28 at 11:59pm:
    I guess I understand why they aired this one first, but I wish they hadn't. This should be the 6th episode, not the first. The relationships are much more solidified than you'd expect in the very beginning--and, indeed, more developed than they are in Where No Man Has Gone Before and The Corbomite Maneuver. Airing them out of order makes it seem like they are backtracking in character development and relationships.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-09-09 at 3:31pm:
    More comments on "The Man Trap":

    Kirk's opening narration is somewhat subdued. He speaks softly.

    The planet is rotating too quickly. (Not unusual!)

    Transitions of Nancy into others, etc., are mostly well done.

    Isn't it a bit weird that the transitions of the monster include clothing? How does that work?

    I agree with Kethinov that the salt monster costume is pretty good. But I think the pace is okay most of the time. I like seeing Kirk and Spock slowly figuring out what's going on as they accumulate clues.

    Why does Kirk scream out for Green? Why doesn't he use his communicator? Must be a communicator breakdown. Or maybe Green left his on the ship.

    What? No bedsheets or even a blanket for McCoy when he's trying to get some shut-eye? No wonder he needs the red pills! (!)

    When Crater shoots down the pillar at 34:20 I think it looks quite good! Even with the frame frozen you can see the phaser beam strike right at the center of the explosion. It's well timed, too. Well done! But I don't understand why the camera rocks left and right. Regardless, it looks pretty good.

    When Spock yells to Crater, Crater looks the wrong way! Spock is on the right and Crater looks to screen left. But the actual shot of him getting stunned is well done.

    AEF
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-10-16 at 9:51am:
    ‘7’. One of the interesting features of this episode is that it shows how quickly Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek evolved from the concepts in the pilot episode into a more ‘final’ form. Every decision – casting, characters, uniforms, equipment, etc – looks like a step in the right direction to me. The fact that this episode was shown out of order indicates that the network either felt it was a better representation of what the show was to be about, or perhaps wanted a plot an average viewer would connect with for debut. Another bonus is that the Enterprise is not saving the Enterprise or the Earth this time. Well, there will always be plenty of time to do that later in Star Trek, oh about 175 times.

    The creature itself, as a shape-shifter that takes on a form pleasing to its victim, resembles a little one of the later Night Stalker episodes - I've always been a sucker for that theme. On the sly, the episode also seems to be a bit of a satirical look at women in relationships or marriage.
  • From Schreck on 2013-05-23 at 2:56am:
    an uninspiring episode...i give it a 6.5 and my brother gives it a 6.25
  • From Scott G. Slaughter on 2013-07-05 at 6:16pm:
    The Antares is variously referred to as a cargo ship, transport ship, a science probe vessel and a survey ship. That's a problem in the episode, if you ask me.
  • From Pat on 2015-11-09 at 1:44pm:

    I have always wondered about this episode. Instead of killing the creature, why didn't they just replicate salt?

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Star Trek TOS - 1x02 - Charlie X

Originally Aired: 1966-9-15

Synopsis:
A powerful teenage boy wreaks havoc aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 1.69

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 558 15 19 18 26 35 31 31 31 15 17

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's a decent episode, even though it could have been better.

Problems
- Kirk's uniform mysteriously changes during his turbolift trip with Charlie.

Factoids
- This episode establishes that there are 428 people on board the Enterprise. This number is up from 203 that were aboard when Pike was in command.

Remarkable Scenes
- Charlie: "Is that a girl?" Kirk: "That's a girl."
- Charlie slapping Rand on the ass.
- Kirk and McCoy arguing over who will mentor the boy.
- Uhura singing to Spock's harp playing.
- Kirk trying to explain why you don't slap women on the ass to Charlie and utterly failing at it.
- Rand trying to hand Charlie off to Yeoman Tina.
- The athletic scene with Charlie and Kirk.
- Charlie making Spock say odd things.
- Kirk taking on Charlie, gambling his powers were being overtaxed.
- Charlie begging to stay on board when the non-corporeal green aliens came to take him away.

My Review
A boy growing up in isolation only to be reintegrated with civilization during his adolescence is a fantastic premise for a story, but this wonderful premise is largely ruined by the annoying supernatural influences injected into the plot in order to make Charlie more menacing. Not every episode of Star Trek needs to have aliens, and this episode certainly could have benefited from a simpler story.

That said, despite the handicaps, Charlie X is still a decent story. We certainly do get to see shades of what such a reintegration of a lost child would be like during the scenes when Charlie isn't using his superpowers. The scoring of the episode is also particularly good, especially in the earlier scenes.

The best moments are when Kirk is forced to play a sort of father figure for Charlie against his will. In spite of his stumbling through it, Kirk's pretty good at it! Overall though the episode is high on potential and low on payoff. A better story would have simply shown us what Charlie's reintegration with his closest family on the colony would have been like. Superpowers simply for the sake of seeing superpowers just isn't a compelling drama.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From cowboy dan on 2010-06-03 at 12:26am:
    This is perhaps my least favorite episode of this otherwise stellar show. Charlie is excruciatingly annoying and Uhuru's singing scene is, without doubt, the low point of the series' run. Bottom line? children and stark trek do not mix.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-03 at 7:44pm:
    You review was interesting, I never thought about this episode having two plots before. I think you may be right, the "Charlie learns to integrate with society" plot could have been the more interesting one. As it was, though, most of this show was a remake of the Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life", but not as good. I'm really not fond of the episode.
    - It is notable that Captain Kirk is absolutely unable to think of any diplomatic way to deal with out-of-control Charlie. All he does is get angry and try to order Charlie around. The crew's total lack of creativity in dealing with Charlie is part of what makes the episode boring; once he goes out of control, the episode just marches inexorably towards the conclusion. The one idea Kirk finally has, overloading Charlie, is rather weak.
    - Kirk totally loses control of Charlie, and decides that it is way too dangerous to let Charlie lose on an inhabited planet. But when the Thasians come, he suddenly argues that Charlie should stay so the Federation can teach Charlie to use his powers wisely. Has he totally forgotten everything that just happened?
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-01-26 at 7:56pm:
    Again I have to agree I too never even considered two plots to “Charlie X.” That was a wonderful point you made Keithinov.

    Although I always felt the strong part of this story was the scenes with James Kirk and Charlie talking about life and relating to other humans. I wish this aspect of the episode had been more fully developed.

    I also agree that the overused supernatural powers really hurt this story. After watching this episode several times I thought had Charlie merely had the ability to make things disappear, then that may have helped the story line.

    I think that would have given Kirk the stage to struggle within himself to decide if Charlie was worth saving. Giving Charlie so many powers it left Kirk with no option but to defeat him, rather than try and change him. Early on Charlie seemed like a kid who was lost and you really felt sorry for him. But by the half way mark you just wanted someone to take a phaser to his ass.

    Looking back now the Charlie X story was becoming a little too much like the Gary Mitchell story of Where No Man Has Gone Before. It had all the same elements. And more development of the struggles of a young man trying to intergrate into human society would have been so much better.
  • From Wiley Hyena on 2012-05-18 at 2:01pm:
    Reviewer's rating is too low here. This episode is one of the most memorable if not iconic, but no consensus can be established as to why. Because of the divergent opinions give it a 6. But the bottom line is all Trek fans remember Charlie X.
  • From Strider on 2012-10-01 at 1:28am:
    I agree with the earlier comment comparing this episode to Where No Man and the Gary Mitchell predicament. Charlie's like a young Gary here in terms of his powers. Obviously WNMHGB was filmed first...and using that order, why isn't Kirk's first thought (stemming from his very hard-won lesson) that the only way to deal with Charlie's powers is to kill him? He almost waited too long with Gary! Even going in the order the episodes were aired, and assuming Kirk had to deal with Charlie before Gary, why didn't Kirk contact the Thasians when Gary started going nuts?

    I know I look for too much continuity between episodes, and I know it's a lot to expect considering each episode had different writers and directors. But still, I like it best when an episode sees itself as part of a whole, not an individual blip in time.
  • From Schreck on 2013-05-23 at 4:09am:
    another weak first season original series episode that really offers nothing to be hopeful of...i give it a 6.25...my brother gives it a 5.75
  • From John Swaisey on 2013-08-25 at 7:18am:
    I like this episode, You kind of half feel sorry for Charlie and half want to get rid of him, i thought the ending was good and the crew were sad at Charlies fate.

    A good episode, of all Charlies tricks i liked it when he made the womans face disappear.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x03 - Where No Man Has Gone Before

Originally Aired: 1966-9-22

Synopsis:
Kirk's friend Gary Mitchell is transformed into a god-like entity. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 2.29

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 463 13 10 23 15 33 40 29 38 22 39

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- This episode is profoundly annoying in characterization and filler plot-wise. Unless you're a hardcore fan, you should probably just skip this one.

Problems
- The existence of a gigantic and unexplained barrier at the edge of the galaxy which prevents ships from leaving requires an extremely high degree of suspension of disbelief, but who knows, maybe some god-like alien put it there...

Factoids
- The uniforms and makeup in this episode are slightly different because this was the second episode to actually be produced (after The Cage). As such, not all of the visual continuity in this episode is consistent with the rest of the series.
- This episode establishes that Spock is part human.
- This episode did not have the "Space, the final frontier" introduction.
- This episode establishes that Kirk's full name is James R. Kirk. This will later be retconned to James Tiberius Kirk.
- This episode strongly implies that humans during the time of Star Trek are slowly evolving telepathic abilities.
- Dr. McCoy is notably absent in this episode.

Remarkable Scenes
- Gary "sensing" trouble with the engines while in sickbay.
- Gary reading people's thoughts.
- Kirk: "I didn't order any..." (Spock walks in with the phaser rifle Scotty was referring to.) Kirk: "Affirmative, landing party out."
- Kirk trying to convince Elizabeth to realize that god-like power was never meant for humans because they lack the wisdom to use it properly.
- Kirk defeating Gary.

My Review
The Enterprise travels to the edge of the galaxy where it inexplicably encounters a gigantic energy barrier preventing ships from leaving the galaxy. Rather than the plot of the episode focusing on such an amazing discovery, instead we spend all our time focusing on Gary, who has become a god-like being due to exposure to said barrier. Why the energy barrier seems to impart god-like abilities on humans with high ESP ratings is a question also completely glossed over because, apparently, that's not interesting to the writers of this plot.

Instead, the plot drones on mercilessly telling us a story about how humans must not acquire such terrible powers, for they will abuse them with all due haste. Consequently, a story that could have been jam packed with the thrill of incredible scientific discoveries on a cosmic scale is reduced to essentially a rehash of Charlie X, except Gary somehow manages to be even more annoying a character than Charlie. I guess it's because at least Charlie has a decent excuse, given his childhood isolation. In any case, this episode is a huge flop and a big missed opportunity to do something much cooler.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Tony on 2008-09-23 at 12:09am:
    Quick Factoid: This was the second pilot episode created for the series; “The Cage” was rejected, but the series was given a chance to create a second pilot and they made this, obviously, it was accepted.
    And now for my review. I felt that this was a great episode, technical issues aside. It was engaging, and had an interesting situation. According to Wikipedia (Memory Alpha), the fist fight was what got this episode accepted, but that is hardly the best part.
  • From curt on 2010-04-06 at 12:06pm:
    Again this is you being way to hard on the seies. We all know that this episode has its faults, but keep in mind its the 2nd pilot. Even the characters have not been fully created. And you call it cliche because of it's godlike premise, but this episode was made before Charile X. So I would say Charlie X is more cliche(Although I do like Charlie X). I know thats not the way it aired but you cant take anything away from an episode just because what order you watch them. Like the episode in Voyager season 1 where they try to get home, by going through a wormhole or someshit. If it bothers you to much, just watch them in a different order. Why cant people look over little plotholes and enjoy the overall story. Its not real life you know.
  • From john bernhardt on 2010-04-26 at 11:07pm:
    An alternate edit of this episode is available on the recent Star Trek Third Season Blu-Ray.
    This includes a new intro and alternative opening monologue from Shatner along with different music cues and some never aired footage.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-03 at 8:22pm:
    I feel that this episode was OK, but could could been better. The way it is paced feels odd to me, sort of flat. We have very little time to see what Gary's original personality is, then he becomes a threat. They talk about his escalation of power being geometric, but it doesn't feel geometric at all – he instantly becomes a creepy supermind, then very slowly gains new powers. On the plus side, Gary does a good job of acting creepy and disturbing, without being so obviously bonkers that you want to kill him right away. And I felt for poor Kirk – how do you put your best friend to death because he is weird right now, but you think it is likely he will become an unstoppable menace in the future? It violates all normal laws and morals.
    - Problem: After Gary is knocked unconscious, he has to stand upright on the transporter pad in order to be transported. It looks pretty weird.
    - The psychiatrist seems to be about as good at psychiatry as the redshirts are at security. She does nothing useful! At least she makes up for it at the end by zapping Gary with her god powers. I liked that part.
  • From Robert Koenn on 2011-08-03 at 2:57pm:
    I found this episode to be fairly good. It's main theme was most definitely scifi core stuff and for being the first episode of this new series at the time was quite good. I gave it a six. Of course there were flaws, even a perfect episode has flaws but the overall theme and plot were very good. It was to me one of those more esoteric plots of the far future. A bit along the lines of some of the early Clarke conjectural stories. There are other episodes like Trouble with Tribbles that use the scifi universe for a fun time but this used it for a very intelligent plot and interesting story. Just my thoughts, hardly a big favorite but still fairly good.
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-02-07 at 5:17am:
    I am not sure I would call “Where No Man Has Gone Before” a flop, but I do agree it could have been better.

    The odd thing about this episode was although it wasn’t the first one aired it was one of the first ones I saw. It really drew me into the Star Trek world and it will always have a warm spot in my heart.

    I do agree with the criticisms here but like someone pointed out it was the second pilot. But watching it now you can really see how the episode is struggling to form the ideas and characters that were later to develop into Star Trek.

    The episode feels a little like Phase Two ( but much more professional of course ) in that it seems a little raw and uneven.

    But one scene stills stand out for me in this one.

    The scene in the Briefing Room with Kirk and Spock talking about what to do with Mitchell. That scene still gets to me.

    When Spock says, “Then you have one other option, kill him while you still can,” that still floors me. I can’t think of another TV show that would ask our hero to commit murder. Very powerful.

    Although I do agree not one of the best episodes but still pretty good.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-10-04 at 11:44am:
    A '6'

    Gary from Where No Man Has Gone Before is more interesting than the later “Q” or Trelane, but the Godlike powers he evolves and adversarial relationship with Kirk are a dead-end combination, as the ending to this episode showed. Gary was much more interesting to me in sick bay reading quickly and making observations about why the impulse engines were going to blow up than he was later strutting around the planet. They should have toned down Gary’s powers, make the relationship between him and Kirk as much distrusting as it is adversarial, give him vulnerability and a common problem to solve. Maybe even have Gary survive, though we’d certainly have to drop him off at a starbase rather than seeing the egotistical Shatner put up in the rest of the series with a rival that is in every way his equal.

    I liked the strong female lead, even though that character’s opinions were unhelpful whenever they weren’t wrong. Shades of Troi, with the strong ESP thing. Pity the show didn’t stick to there being a strong female lead. I also liked seeing the evolution from the original plot to the second pilot. You can literally see the production team fixing one problem after another – casting, sets, props, uniforms – as they go, and their alterations are invariably steps in the right direction.
  • From Schreck on 2013-05-23 at 1:23pm:
    this second pilot has a lot of continuity errors, and i find it weird that the studio didn't like the first pilot because it was called "too cerebral" yet, they liked this one...i still think gary mitchell would have made a better story line than kahn for into darkness...i give it a 6.5 and my brother a 7...
  • From john on 2014-03-31 at 7:23pm:
    This was a great episode. One of my favorites. It shows the fascination and desire for power inherent in all of us but that that goal is ultimately corrupted by human nature. Good production values, action sequences and dramatic story of Gary's escalating powers and the ambiguity in morality of how to deal with it.
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-22 at 9:48am:
    This episode did not establish kirk's full name as James R. Kirk; it established that Gary Mitchell THOUGHT that was kirk's full name. And nowhere in the original series is kirks full middle name given.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x04 - The Naked Time

Originally Aired: 1966-9-29

Synopsis:
The Enterprise crew catch a virus that removes their inhibitions. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 5

Fan Rating Average - 2.52

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 456 2 10 36 12 34 32 66 40 21 37

Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- This is a must-see from TOS. The disease the crew contracts in this episode will recur later in TNG: The Naked Now and the magic time travel formula Spock discovers will also recur several times during TOS.

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode establishes that Spock's mother was human and Spock's father was Vulcan.
- This episode establishes that the ship's engines are powered by a matter-antimatter reaction.
- This episode was nominated for the 1967 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Remarkable Scenes
- Sulu rampaging through the Enterprise with a fencing sword.
- Spock using some sort of neck pinch to render Sulu unconscious.
- Nurse Christine Chapel trying to seduce Spock.
- Spock losing his emotional control after being infected by Nurse Chapel.
- Scotty: "I can't change the laws of physics!"
- Kirk fighting Spock.
- Kirk becoming infected while Spock regains his control.

My Review
The Naked Time is an effective comedy story mixed with a touching subplot regarding Chapel's unrequited love for Spock whom does not return her affection. He ignores her affection for him not because he does not feel the same for her, but because he feels he is ethically obligated to suppress those feelings because of his Vulcan heritage. The other side of the story is full of fun moments such as Sulu rampaging through the ship with a rapier and random members of the crew exhibiting generally amusing drunken disorderly conduct.

Unfortunately, this is all predicated on an exceptionally stupid mistake by the crewman who beamed down with Spock in the opening scenes. They're in a hazmat situation and the damn crewman takes off part of his protective suit in the middle of the investigation which is trying to determine what inexplicably killed that whole colony full of scientists! This is a degree of reckless incompetence that is so high that it renders me highly unsympathetic to our heroes' plight. Then there's the painfully irrelevant ending. To save the ship from crashing down onto the planet, Spock invents... time travel? Seriously?

Worse yet, once the ship is saved, Kirk just sort of sits there and basically says, "gee golly, that's an interesting accidental discovery. We might have to use that deliberately some time." His casual indifference to the magnitude of such a discovery would be like someone from ancient Rome seeing an airplane for the first time and shrugging, as if there was little significance to the existence of such technology. Once you set all that aside though, the episode is highly enjoyable. Above average even. But it would be worth more points without all these wrinkles.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2007-11-29 at 10:17am:
    The remastered episode shows a brightly lit planet. It also appears to be lit on every side (no nightime). Not only is this unrealistic, Spock mentions that the star is that solar system had dimmed out, so if anything the planet should be very dark.
  • From Abigail on 2010-05-27 at 11:42pm:
    Maybe I'm remembering this wrong (which would speak poorly of my brain, because I just watched it today), but there seemed to be a problem with the sequence of events. As I recall, McCoy discovers the antidote and contacts the bridge. Then Kirk goes to tell Spock to calculate how to leave orbit, and he finds that Spock has been infected. Wouldn't it make sense to get McCoy and/or a hypospray and cure him? Kirk is not yet infected, so he should have the brain power to do so. Instead, he slaps Spock several times, yells at him, and then becomes infected. Not exactly a keen example of problem-solving skills... But then again, one of the big things that bugs me about TOS is everyone's general lack of ability to reason through things. Sometimes I feel like I'm watching a ship full of idiots...
  • From Wes on 2011-03-24 at 3:10pm:
    This is also the first instance I recall that we find out that Spock's mother is human. In the previous episode, Spock says that he has human ancestors. So now we know Spock is half human and his mother lives with his father on Vulcan.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-03 at 9:00pm:
    I agree that at the beginning of the episode, it felt like the ship is crewed by idiots. And the ending is beyond belief, I just blot it from my mind. However, the internal portion of the episode is cool. In particular, I thought Kevin O'Reilly was funny, and Nurse Chapel is effective.
    - After rewatching the episode, I have a theory that the red suits they are wearing are cold weather survival suits, not hazmat suits. That would explain why they aren't sealed under the chin. This would make the idiot crewman's actions seem a bit more believable.
    - It seems like TOS was often trying to convey the idea that the Enterprise was crewed, not by the best and brightest of the Federation, but a bunch of average joes attracted by the recruiting posters. Hence the prevalence of foolish actions by the crewmembers.
    - I don't think Kirk was indifferent to the magnitude of the discovery. I think he was trying to make light of the situation as a way to exert leadership. He wasn't going to make any more use of the time warp right at that moment, so he might as well try to snap everyone back to reality and focus their minds on the mundane tasks at hand.
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-02-10 at 4:52am:
    I agree with the review of “The Naked Time.” But I would still rate it higher than a Five. Despite it’s weaknesses this episode has always been one of my favorites. I never get tire of watching it.

    My problem with reviews of the first year of Star Trek TOS is my objectivity. When Star Trek first came out I was 15 years old and the first season made a big impression on me that has never waned over the years.

    In The Naked Time there are so many, many scenes that stand out for me.

    At the top of this list is the scene with Nimoy’s performance of Spock contracting the disease. Spock's scene with Nurse Chapel is moving and the scene in the briefing room is wonderful. That scene was shot in one take! An Amazing performance by Nimoy!

    Another were the scenes with Lt. Kevin Riley played by Bruce Hyde. I adored the character of Kevin Riley and I wish he had been made a regular on the show. He was only in two episodes and I always felt that was a real shame. Riley seem like a real person to me, and someone I could relate to in a way that is hard to explain.

    Sulu, Uhura, Chapel and Scotty all had important roles in this episode and that was so great. But I had a problem with Scotty using the Phaser to burn thu the panel to get to the switch to open the door to the engine room manually. Why didn't Scotty just use the Phaser to blast a hole though the engine rool door itself? They could have been in the engine room in seconds!

    Also I totally agree with the criticism of the ending. That always bothered me too.

    If Riley had indeed turned the engines off, why didn’t the Enterprise immediately fall into the atmosphere and burn up? I know the ending was added for dramatic effect, but I feel it could have been done in a more believable way. I try to gloss over the ending whenever I watch this episode. LOL.
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2012-02-13 at 12:10am:
    Actually, Mike, a better question would be, "Why would it fall into the atmosphere and burn up at all?" The Enterprise is in orbit around that planet, and requires no power to stay in orbit. It takes years for satellite orbits to decay, and that is from low Earth orbit.

    Keep on trek'in,
    Old Fat Trekkie
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-02-16 at 6:41pm:
    You are absolutely correct Old Fat Trekkie! We don't exactly know what effect the so-called "break up of the planet" would have had on the Enterprise and it's orbit, but it is clear from the episode that the planet had little or no atmosphere to speed up the orbit decay. So Scotty could have had his "30 mintues" to restart the engines.

    Excellent point my man!
  • From Strider on 2012-06-27 at 10:08am:
    Best line: "Take D'Artagnan here to sickbay."

  • From Glenn239 on 2012-09-25 at 9:55am:
    I gave this one a '5'. The episode was entertaining and well paced, but it asked the viewer to believe too many 'whoppers' along the way. For example, Riley just clears out the engine room that easily? One of the few places on the ship so sensitive that abandoning your post might be a courtmarshall offense, and the whole engine room crew just buggers off on the word of a man who is visibly intoxicated?

  • From Strider on 2012-10-06 at 1:21am:
    Kethinov wrote: "The Naked Time is an effective comedy story mixed with a touching subplot regarding Chapel's unrequited love for Spock whom does not return her affection. He ignores her affection for him not because he does not feel the same for her, but because he feels he is ethically obligated to suppress those feelings because of his Vulcan heritage."

    I'm not sure it's entirely because of his Vulcan heritage, although that's an element that's always at play with Spock. We have to remember that Spock's engaged to T'Pring at this time--and Chapel's engaged to Korby (although we don't know if Spock knows that). Not only would Spock suppress any attraction he might have to Christine, he would be honor-bound not to follow up on it because of his bond with T'Pring.

    I have a theory that a combination of events in Season 1 are responsible for provoking the onset of Spock's pon farr at the beginning of Season 2. There's this episode, with the aggressive pass by Christine, Mudd's Women (watch Spock's face--no way is he unaffected by those women!), and This Side of Paradise.

  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-02-09 at 9:25pm:
    THE NAKED TIME

    An episode that's more fun than sensible. Sorry, but it has a lot of problems.

    The dead woman at the beginning looks like a mannequin. I think it _was_ a mannequin.

    When we see the red fluid jump to Joe Tormolen's hand, it's obviously just dripping down due to gravity with the camera rotated. And we never hear anything about this fluid again. All we get is McCoy saying, "It's water. Somehow on this planet, water's changed to a complex chain of molecules." So what if it has? How does it get into the bloodstream? And it must somehow convert water in the bloodstream to this new form and then emerge in sweat. Yes, complex water that's carried by a red fluid that defies gravity to infect people via perspiration into the bloodstream. Whatever.

    Breakup of a planet? Shrinking? Losing mass? That violates conservation of energy (mass being a form of energy), probably the firmest law of physics we know of. Patently ridiculous. Even worse is the care they need to avoid spiraling into the planet. If the mass goes down, so does gravity, even if you intentionally spiral in to maintain the same altitude. So where's the danger? The one saving grace about this is when Kirk orders a hyperbolic orbit, which is real thing: an open-ended orbit. And why does the planet moving up in the view screen mean the ship is getting closer to the planet? How do you make up stuff like this?

    Spock to McCoy: "And as for my anatomy being different from yours, I am delighted." Delight is an emotion, no? So much for normal Spock being devoid of emotions. And this is not the only such incident. Well, to be fair, in this episode, he says "he is in control of his emotions". In fact, even as a kid, that was what fascinated me so much about Spock. He was IN CONTROL of his emotions, not emotionless. And, as someone else mentioned, Nimoy does a great scene losing this control and the ability to perform simple arithmetic.

    I like the rattling sound we hear whenever a character is rubbing the infected perspiration on their hands. It works very well.

    Rand: "Spectral analysis tape, sir." Spock plays the "tape" and it's just a video.

    Death by a plain eating knife? If you can keep it straight while using sufficient force, maybe. A respirator without an oxygen supply?

    Sulu with the sword is great!

    Is there any other episode where Kirk can't leave the bridge because there's no turbo car ready?

    Not only did Reilly get everyone out of engineering; he also, despite being punch drunk, took complete control of the ship without a single slipup!

    Yep, they should have phasered the door to engineering. I suppose it's a bit risky, though. You don't want anything else to get accidentally vaporized! I mean, how large an area would disappear? Can you isolate it to just the door? What if the door vaporizes before you stop the phaser? Won't the phaser beam then hit what's behind it? This never seems to be a problem on this show, except here.

    When the ship suddenly tilts at about 26:20, Nurse Chapel and McCoy fall the wrong way!

    I believe we get to see Mr. Spock using a circular slide rule! Please.

    Laughing man with the red paint is pretty funny.

    Time is wasting when Scotty puts down his torch and argues with Spock about time and safety factors and such.

    It's amazing how all the bridge crew know how to work the helm and navigation.

    Uhura over the intercom: "Entering planet's outer atmosphere, sir." She says this in a totally calm manner -- as if it were just informational. I believe she does stuff like this in "The Menagerie", too.

    So a few violent slaps in the face cures Spock?

    This is (I think) the only episode where McCoy can't inject hypo right through a shirt. He has to tear Kirk's uniform to bare his shoulder to give him the shot. Whereas in "The Tholian Web" he injects Jim with hypo right through his space suit!

    OK, the ending. Hyperbolic orbit. That's the only scientifically sensible thing in this entire episode.

    I don't understand why the ending upsets some viewers. I don't see how it's "irrelevant". They save themselves by "imploding the engines", whatever that means. It's apparently quite exotic physics-wise, so I think it's quite reasonable that something extraordinary should happen after trying an untested formula that has a 1 in 10,000 chance based on known physics. It's basically a side effect, but a big one. I do, however, still find time travel totally absurd. But it's still a fun scene.

    Speaking of time travel: Why is the chronometer going backwards? It must be something more than a normal clock mechanism that just runs. It must somehow tap into spacetime itself; otherwise, it would appear to run forward just as everything else does. And it's mechanical! It's just a regular odometer. A motor running some plastic wheels. Why should that go backward just because someone painted some time numbers on it? How does it know that time on the ship is going backward compared to time outside the ship? As a quick aside, it being just a mechanical device at least makes it consistent with the rocker switches you see on many of the control panels throughout the ship.

    Now, since they went back 71 hours in time, they'll be in three places at once for that 71-hour period: One going forward "the first time", one going backwards, and then again going forwards "the second time". And at the moment they switch from going back in time to forward in time, they must split into two. And later, one of them, the one that was also going backwards in time, will merge with the first one and disappear. Sounds ridiculous? It is. But draw it on a piece of paper with the a vertical time axis. I'll try below, but it would look best in a fixed-width font.

    t B D
    ^ | |
    | | |
    | | |
    | | |
    | A C
    +------------>x

    The t line is the time axis, with later times above earlier times; i.e., time goes forward as you go in the upwards direction.

    OK, from A to B they go through all the trouble with the complex water. At B they escape from the planet (and hence a change in x), and begin to go back in time. At C they reverse the engines and start going forward in time. So what does this look like to an external observer? The observer will see two ships, one at A and the other at C. Then the one at C will split in two, with the inhabitants going backwards in the B to C branch, and forwards in the C to D branch. And they'll be overlapping each other until they fully separate as they both "depart" from C! At B, two ships will merge and disappear, again with one crew going forward and the other going backward, overlapping each other into oblivion. After this, the ship at D is all that remains, with normal time flow resumed.

    This is what you have to believe to believe the time travel exhibited in this episode. Yes, it's plain ludicrous. And it violates conservation of energy. Oh, and you have to explain why this effect is limited to the ship, as it comes from the engines. Is it transmitted through solids? Perhaps it has a limited range with a sharp cutoff. That would do it.

    A similar thing does happen with electrons scattering off of photons, sort of. But you get antiparticles annihilating each other at B, which results in an outgoing photon going upwards past B, and an incoming photon turning into an electron-positron pair at C. It turns out that a positron going forward in time is mathematically equivalent to an electron going backwards in time! This is clearly a no-go for macroscopic objects! Plus, in the Star Trek version, there is nothing corresponding to the incoming and outgoing photons.

    >----o----<

    Orion Pimpdaddy says the lighting on the planet in the remastered version is unrealistic. Not really a surprise. I think the remastered effects are overrated and often actually worse. Take "The Doomsday Machine", for example. Engines visible on the rear view screen? C'mon. The machine slowly tilting downward as it dies? Please. The original got it right.

    To Abigail: Yes, McCoy discovered the antidote before Kirk found Spock sobbing in the briefing room. But he told his lab tech, who was off in la-la land, not the bridge. And on top of that, they need time to make the stuff.

    AEF, aka betaneptune
  • From Schreck on 2013-05-23 at 1:56pm:
    there are some really good parts in this story but it is hampered by the first season jitters which all the series seemed to have gone through while the actors, writers, and crew learned their characters...had this episode been later on in the series i believe it would have garnered a much higher rating...i give it a 7.25 and my brother gives it a 6
  • From Dubhan on 2016-12-14 at 3:17am:
    I just re-watched this for the first time in a long time and while I agree that the technical problems detract to some degree I think the character development far outweighs any other issues.

    Here we have the first appearance of Christine Chapel, along with her love for Spock; a significant step forward in the dynamic between Kirk, Spock, & McCoy - especially in the razzing Bones gives Spock over his green blood and bizarre vital signs; significant insight into the character of Sulu - some of which never really gets revisited until the Abrams reboots; Kirk pining over Rand; Uhura playing off everyone; and a fantastic performance by Bruce Hyde as the sadly underused Riley.

    This is also *the* day that Kirk admits to himself that he is in love (above all) to the ship - The Enterprise - that he will never let go. This plays out through the series and the movies.

    The emotional and character content of this episode far outweighs any other issues it may have and elevates this episode to at least an 8 for me.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x05 - The Enemy Within

Originally Aired: 1966-10-6

Synopsis:
A transporter malfunction creates an evil Kirk. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 1.87

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 503 5 6 20 20 29 20 37 32 27 16

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- Pretty lame episode with no significant long term continuity.

Problems
- It seems ridiculous that there would be no other means to retrieve the landing party other than the transporter. Does the Enterprise not carry smaller landing craft? If so, why can't they use them? There should have been some dialog in the episode explicitly ruling that possibility out.
- At one point, evil Kirk's scratches were on the wrong side of his face due to the image being mirrored for some reason.

Factoids
- This episode establishes that the phasers can be used to store energy in rocks so they can be used as a heating source.

Remarkable Scenes
- Evil Kirk being evil.
- Rand telling her story in the presence of good Kirk.
- Kirk confronting his other half.
- Spock Vulcan neck pinching evil Kirk.
- McCoy regarding the alien dog: "He's dead, Jim." Count 2.
- Spock and McCoy arguing over whether the dog died of terror or some technical malfunction with the transporter reintegrating its two halves.
- Evil Kirk pretending to be good Kirk.
- Kirk's reintegration.

My Review
The Enemy Within is story with a high minded idea but poorly executed characterization. The episode seems so infatuated with the idea of Kirk having two mutually exclusive halves to his personality which he's in a constant struggle to reconcile that they exaggerate the whole ordeal to the point of ridiculousness, overlooking any opportunity to more deeply explore his character in the process. That said, there are a few worthwhile details here and there.

I like how one of the first things evil Kirk does is pursue Rand. It's good continuity with The Naked Time where Kirk expressed hidden desires for Rand. Another nice detail was Spock comparing his struggle to reconcile his human and Vulcan ancestry with Kirk's split in two dilemma. Finally, I certainly do enjoy the idea of exploring human psychology in the sense that we all have more basic instincts that we not only need to suppress but also at times need to draw on in order to reach our full potential.

The trouble is what little exploration of this topic the episode engages in is shallow at best. As such, there's little of value in this story other than the amusement of watching evil Kirk do evil things along with one or two decent action scenes. Overall this is a pretty disappointing offering.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Bob Dalley on 2008-02-04 at 8:27pm:
    In this episode when Kirk is on the planet, his uniform has no insignia and even when he and his twin beam up there are no insignia on the uniform. A few scenes later, both Kirks have the insignia on their uniforms. Just wanted to point out this error. You may want to add this to your review.
  • From Mark J on 2008-03-16 at 6:58pm:
    Shuttles were not introduced to starships until around the 'Galileo Seven' episode, which is rather later in Season 1. There was no fanfare to this effect as far as I know.

    Apart from perhaps being a little campy, and Shatner eating the scenery (which I quite enjoyed) and the production mistakes (scratches etc) I thought this was a wonderful episode, especially linking the two halves in with Spock's Vulcan/Human ancestry. OK so the pooch was nothing more than a plot device (where did it come from) but this is more than overwritten by the analysis of a man dealing with loss and the fear that he could lose his crew and himself.
  • From TashaFan on 2008-09-09 at 9:10am:
    I think the lack of insignia on Kirk's shirt is no accident. Since the evil Kirk is supposed to be a mirror image of the good Kirk (I believe the part in his hair is reversed when he first materializes) the insignia on the wrong side of the chest would have made it too obvious that something was wrong to anyone who saw him... I believe this error was deliberate to prevent a bigger problem that would have created a plot hole. The fact that they had to keep reversing the film also accounts for the confusion with the scratches on Kirk's face, most likely. As for not using the shuttle, I remember as a child yelling that at Spock... of course he couldn't hear me. :)
  • From 411314 on 2009-06-14 at 9:43pm:
    "They could have ruled shuttles out with an easy one liner, such as the atmosphere having a corrosive effect on shuttle hulls..."

    Even then, they should have explained why they didn't beam shelter down to Sulu and the other men on the planet to keep them safe untill they could rescue them. I mean, what was the worst that could happen, that the shelter would split into two of itself?
  • From Andrew James on 2009-11-18 at 5:34pm:
    I loved the use of camera filters to make the "good" Kirk look beautific.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-07 at 1:32am:
    I agree, I've always felt the concept here is better than the execution. I've been trying to analyze why. They talk about how it provides fascinating insight on a man's character. What we see is one Kirk with moments of painful indecision, and another Kirk who is decisive but ruled by emotions of lust, hate, and fear. Which I suppose is what they were going for. I think my problem is that I never felt these were two halves of Kirk. I felt that the Good Kirk was the real Kirk. Especially since he is only occasionally indecisive, and it never really hurts him much during the episode, he either gets help from his friends or uses his intellect to overcome it. While the bad Kirk feels like an imposter, not like the real Kirk at all (although he sure is the real Shatner!). We don't really learn anything meaningful about Kirk's character as promised, we see an episode where the crew has to deal with an evil doppelganger of the captain while the captain is suffering from a personal crisis. Which is OK, but not that great. It feels like a few good scenes and a lot of wasted time.

    - To 411314: I don't think we know enough about the exact conditions on the planet to complain about how they were keeping warm. They do seem to have beamed down thermal cloaks. Perhaps the crew found it more effective to sit right on the phaser-heated rocks rather than inside the structurally unsound duplicated shelters sent by the ship.
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-02-17 at 10:49am:
    "The Enemy Within is story with a high minded idea but poorly executed characterization." - I feel like there is a pattern developing here? lol.

    I thoughly enjoy your reviews Kethinov but I sense there is a little "this could have been done better" making it's way into almost every review. I just think this could be said about almost any TV show, especially one made 50 years prior to today.

    Despite all the criticisms listed here ( and again they are all valid ) I enjoy this episode very much. I rate it a 5 and I really wish I could rate it higher but the errors are far to glaring to ignore.

    I watched this episode again for the 100th time and I still enjoy it. But the techincal errors during the fliming are still a little irritating.

    But I beleive the lack of insignia on Kirk's shirt IS, indeed, an accident. When the "other" Kirk first materializes in the transporter room his hair is correctly parted on the left side. The flim was not reversed during this scene nor during the "teaser". So there would have been no need to leave off the insignia.

    In fact, the only time I think the flim was reversed was towards the end of the episode when the "kirk's" have their face off on the bridge. The close up of the other "Kirk" was reversed becasue the scratches are on the wrong side of his face. However, I feel this was done by the flim editor who realized that the scene was shot from the wrong angle and corrected it by reversing the flim. ( I guess they were hoping nobody would notice the scratches on the wrong cheek! lol. ) Also in this scene the top part of Kirk's face is cut from view so you really can't tell the part in his hair. It is still a mystery to me as to why the flim editor felt the need to reverse the film. They wanted the other "Kirk" looking left to right instead of right to left. But why is still a mystery?

    And the reason I think the lack of insignia was a big mistake was the fact that during the "teaser" neither Kirk had an insignia and during the first scene after that in the transporter room with crewman Wilson the other "Kirk" had no insignia. But the very next scene of Scotty escorting a dazed Kirk to his cabin there is an insignia on his shirt! In fact, from that moment on both "Kirks" have their insignias.

    The flim editing was extremely poor in this episode! I could name several scenes that are clearly out of place and moved around. If you are going to move scenes around at least make it look normal.

    Despite this though there are a few things I like about this episode. And, again, for me it is the develpoment of the secondary characters. I like the idea of two men manning the transporter. Wilson is a good character, as well as Fisher and Farrow as well. But just like Riley, they were on a couple of episodes and then gone. Too bad.

    Also several scenes stand out for me. When Spock tells Kirk he doesn't have the right to be vernable in the eyes of the crew that was very powerful. And again towards the end of the episode Spock explains "being spilt into two halves is no theory" for him. Great scene.

    And I resist calling the other "Kirk" evil because I don't think that is correct. Like Dr. McCoy said in the episode that the other "Kirk" isn't "really evil, he's human!" That whole explanation during that scene by the doctor is so great. McCoy was right. Both "Kirks" were the real Kirk.

    I don't feel the episode is a waste. But it definitely has it's problems. I do feel that with some rewriting and better flim editing this could have been an outstanding Star Trek episode.

    A small nitpick of mine. When Spock says "Thermal Heaters were transporter down, they duplicated. They won't operate." I have to ask myself, If I duplicate a piece of equipment why won't it work? The Transporter Malfunction seemed to be duplicating everything and separting their emotions. Eh........Manchines don't have emotions..... Hello!



  • From Kethinov on 2012-02-18 at 4:08am:
    Of course "this could have been done better" makes its way into almost every review. Otherwise every episode would get a 10! :)

    For most episodes it's the reason for and degree to which it could have been better that's interesting to analyze. Anything else would just be shameless gushing or bashing.

    Since most people come here to find which episodes were the best (or worst) of Star Trek, I try to write carefully balanced reviews and highlight both the good and the bad in each episode.

    The rating will thus generally be weighted against the "what worked" and "what could have been better" analyses. The pattern is quite deliberate.
  • From Ken on 2012-07-25 at 8:09am:
    I believe Mike Meares has it correct. The scratches on the other side of the face, were a result of shooting bad Kirk's scene from the wrong angle. I believe they realized that his character would not have been speaking in the correct direction, so they had to reverse the image to make it seem so. However, putting the scratches on the other side of the face was even more noticable.
  • From warpfactor 10.1 on 2012-08-08 at 6:19pm:
    One of the many splendid things about this episode is the animal that is presumably from the surface of the planet. Not only is it able to stand temperatures of - 120 at night but, remarkably, it also looks a bit like an earth dog onto which someone has stuck a horn and antennas.
    A little known piece of trivia is that when Margaret Thatcher was looking to use a Star Trek episode title as a catch phrase to demonise the trade unions she had decided on 'The devil in the dark' before Sir Geoffrey Howe, an avid Star Trek fan, convinced the rest of the cabinet that they should use 'The enemy within' instead. She never forgave him.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-11-06 at 11:44am:
    ‘5’

    Sulu: We’re freezing to death down here captain. Can you send us a shuttle?

    Kirk: No, don’t be absurd. We can’t do that. We don’t want to break up our set. You don’t want us to have to start collecting all over again, do you?

    Sulu: No, but what about the hot coffee we were mentioning in the previous scene?

    Kirk: Are you mad? Too risky. What if you drink the angry coffee by accident?

    Sulu: Ok. Can you beam down a shelter?
    Blankets? How about a fireplace with a warm fire already burning in it? How about just heating stuff up from around the ship and beaming it down? Can you at least phaser out a hole in the ground so that we can get out of the wind?

    Kirk: No, no, no, no and no. Stop whining and be the dramatic tension of the episode like you’re trained to be. Oh – and those phasers you used to warm the rocks around you three scenes ago? Nice try mister. We’re beaming those up so that you can’t do that again.

    Sulu: Captain, this episode has a lot of holes in it.

    Kirk: I know. The most interesting premise was when evil Kirk was going to abandon you, but we even screwed that up by making sure that the whole crew knew it was the wrong Kirk. We’ll try again later this season. Next time we’ll explain the shuttle thing by having it be a shuttle accident. Instead of two of me, we’ll have some dickish Commodore. It’ll be great. Kirk out.

    Later that day…

    Kirk: So you see, Yeoman Rand, it wasn’t really me, it was just the evil part of me.

    Rand: Oh, yeah. Merely the half of you that wants to rape me. Nothing to worry about there.

    Kirk: Yes, that seething cauldron of raw aggression is safely back where it belongs – inside me, frothing just below the surface, and held in check only by the will of that super wimpy guy you saw who couldn’t decide his way out of a paper bag.

    Rand: Perfect.

    Kirk: Really?

    Rand: Yes, captain, you see I’m a women. I crave long-winded overly-rational explanations for all my relationship difficulties, and I do not hold grudges for past slights far into the future. I’m sure that you being slapped back together in some untested half-assed transporter experiment has worked perfectly well, and there’s no possible way that you’d have nodded your head to Spock indicating you were properly balanced if you were not. Nothing could possibly have gone wrong there.

    Kirk: Wow, this show really is out in space, isn’t it?

    Rand: Yes, and I look forward to being part of the adventures for many more seasons to come.

    Kirk: I’m sure you do.
  • From Schreck on 2013-05-23 at 2:31pm:
    Our first transporter accident episode sees kirk split into two halves, the uninhibited and the meek…although this episode has a good premise the execution is poor…Shatner’s acting is good, but even that can’t save this episode…I give it a 6.25 and my brother has it as his third lowest of the original series coming in at a 5.5
  • From Trekkie on 2013-06-21 at 12:43pm:
    This episode, in my opinion, was one of the better episodes. I liked how they showed both Kirk's evil and good side, and also how the episode states that we need to have a little of both (good and evil, that is) in order to make beneficial desicions and be stable.
  • From Katie on 2013-07-07 at 2:24pm:
    Aside from all the other plot contrivances, why was it so hard to find "evil Kirk"? Why didn't "good Kirk" just stay on the bridge and announce that any "Kirk" not on the bridge was the imposter?

    I mean really.
  • From 10toes on 2015-08-09 at 7:46pm:
    Actually, only the last pill was placebo. The ones before that were the real deal.
    Still, doesn't explain why that last pill changed her appearance...

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Star Trek TOS - 1x06 - Mudd's Women

Originally Aired: 1966-10-13

Synopsis:
The Enterprise rescues con artist Harry Mudd and his "beautiful" female cargo. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 1.09

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 574 24 23 17 25 22 30 14 13 3 8

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- Technically Mudd will recur, but all episodes which feature him suck, so they can all be considered bad filler.

Problems
- Visual continuity is a bit off in this episode because it was one of the earliest episodes to be produced despite it being aired so much later. As such, it's easy to notice some obvious out of place details, such as Uhura's uniform being the wrong color.
- If the pills were placebos, then why did the appearances of the women so dramatically change after taking them?
- Kirk's middle initial is established as T in this episode, which is retconned from it having previously been established as R in Where No Man Has Gone Before.

Factoids
- This episode establishes that the ship's power source is lithium based.

Remarkable Scenes
- Mudd: "You'll find out that ships' captains are already married, girl, to their vessels. You'd find that out the first time you came between him and the ship."
- Mudd's customers fighting over the women.

My Review
Mudd's Women does much to assault the credibility of Star Trek's progressive future which was supposed depict, among other things, a world without sexism. It makes sense that even in the universe of Star Trek that there are groups of people or cultural idiosyncrasies that constitute a throwback, but the way that the plot of this episode treats the whole thing as if it were normative and widespread is offensive.

What's worse is even setting that aside, this episode's plot logic doesn't make much sense. If Mudd's magic pills were placebos, then why did the appearances of the women so dramatically change after taking them? And why didn't any of the security personnel assigned to monitor Mudd report any of the numerous things they overheard to the captain? Add to that Mudd's acting. The less said about it the better. This is easily the worst episode so far.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Steve on 2010-02-16 at 1:32am:
    My biggest problem with this episode is that there is no explanation of how Kirk figures out about the Venus drug. Did he interrogate Mudd? When? He beamed down awfully quick to have made the discovery and made the placebos.
  • From Devlonas on 2010-11-20 at 9:18pm:
    Mudd's magic pills were not placebos - they were sparkly. Only the pills that Eve took at the end were placebos (no sparkles!). It made the point, and did so in spades, that you don't need a magic pill to be beautiful (although I guess having a magic pill can't hurt).

    My sticking point with this episode is - If Dilithium (Lithium) Crystals are so valuable, why is there only a three-man operation to mine an entire planet? Seems like a great opportunity for a larger colony to me
  • From Jem Hadar on 2010-12-05 at 8:32am:
    These new reviews are incredible, keep them up!
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-15 at 11:56am:
    - This episode's old-fashioned sexism makes it painful to watch.
    - Harry Mudd is amusing in small doses. I just wish he came in small doses.
    - The police record for Harry Mudd lists him as 6'1". Aside from the unfortunate non-use of the metric system, he looks taller than that; he towers over everyone else he stands next to. That rascal have been slumping when they measured him! (IMDB lists Roger Carmel as 6'3").
    - The moral of the story seems very confused. I guess the moral is "physical beauty is essential for gathering husbands, so it is a good idea to take drugs, but once you get a husband you won't need the drugs and you should send your drug dealer to prison so you don't have to pay him."
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-02-20 at 3:00pm:
    Kuddos on your comments on the last review Kethinov! A great point you made about how your reviews are made. And how you "try to write carefully balanced reviews and highlight both the good and the bad in each episode." I really liked that response!

    However, I now find myself at odds with your review of "Mudd's Women."

    You start your review with the claim that "Mudd's Women does much to assault the credibility of Star Trek's progressive future which was supposed depict, among other things, a world without sexism." And "the way that the plot of this episode treats the whole thing as if it were normative and widespread is offensive."

    Really? I don't get that at all from this episode.

    However, I do agree with the criticism that the issue of sexism is a problem with Star Trek overall ( more on this later ), and in some episodes in particular. And there is sexism in Mudd's Women but I don't feel it is to the degree you aledge to.

    I do think Devlonas has already pointed out that the "pills" were not placebos until the very end. That is pretty clear from watching the episode. But your main point is still correct, when Eve swallows the placebo at the end of the episode how does she change her appearence so dramatically? That is a question that needs answering.

    And I too had some questions about the security personnel and what they overheard. But Harry and the girls did do a lot of whispering. Perhaps the security guys were effected by the drug the women were taking as the other male members of the crew?

    As to the acting by Harry Mudd ( or rather Roger C. Carmel ), which I thoughly enjoyed, I didn't think it was a weakness. Harry Mudd was a great character and I always loved seeing him on Star Trek. Roger is a highlight for me in this episode!

    As to the moral of the show, I feel it is summed up near the end by Kirk and Mudd when they explain that only one kind of man or woman can change their appearence, if they want to, are the ones who believe in themselves.

    For me it is a lot more offensive to have a Captain who goes around sleeping with every woman he sees! That is sexist! To me having a whole race of women who depend on a man to exist ( Spock's Brain ) is sexism in the highest order! To me having women crew members on board the Enterprise wear short skirts is sexist! To me giving up producing and writing for Star Trek in it's third season to produce a degrading movie about women ( Pretty Maids All In A Row ) is very sexist!

    But I digress....... lol.

    Was this a great episode? No! But it was entertaining, although a bit average for Star Trek.






  • From Strider on 2012-07-16 at 11:40am:
    I'm not at all blind to the sexism in Star Trek in general or in this episode specifically. It's interesting to watch as a cultural study--not that the 23rd century still struggles with these issues, but that the 1960's did.

    But it seems completely realistic to me that the 23rd century would still have mail-order brides. It didn't seem like sex-trafficking to me, just matching women who wanted a new life with men who wanted a wife but had very little chance to meet one. Not that Harry Mudd is anyone's example of ethical business practices--he did, after all, try to make the women more attractive than they really were. But besides the "strange effect" they had on men, all the pills really seemed to do was style their hair and apply makeup. If you're going to marry a rich lithium miner, you can probably get someone to do that for you.

    But the highlight of this episode for me was Spock. Some of Spock's best facial expressions of the whole series are included in this episode. When the women appear on the transporter platform, they cut to his face first, and it's obvious that he notices their attractiveness, and is just as poleaxed as the other men in his own quiet Vulcan way. Spock's just better at hiding it, is all. Mudd declares him impervious to the women's influence, but Spock didn't say that--he just didn't argue it. Then all throughout the episode, he's got these half smiles and raised eyebrows...like he's extremely amused (for Spock), but aware that the joke's on him as well. He never seems to be laughing AT the other crewmen, just ABOUT the situation.

    And it was nice to have Kirk able to keep his mind on the job rather than on the beautiful women in front of him! Very captainy of him--and he and Spock were a great team in this.

    Strider
  • From mandeponium on 2012-09-01 at 12:11pm:
    To quote Spock in this one, "I'm happy the affair is over. A most annoying, emotional episode."
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-09-08 at 2:49pm:
    I like the Mudd character and was also glad to see him in "I, Mudd".

    Re Mike Meares' post:

    Kirk didn't sleep with anyone in this episode. In fact, he doesn't sleep with anyone in the vast majority of episodes.

    I don't see "Spock's Brain" as sexist in that manner. They needed a brain, not a man. It just happened to be a man's brain. And it was the women who controlled the men!

    Re the short skirts: from TV Guide, August 24, 1996, p. 26:

    TVG: Anyone offended by the micro-skirts? The sausage-casing blouses? Grace Lee Whitney: Oh, no! Everyone thinks we got rooked into it, but that's what we wanted to wear. I was very instrumental in getting us those mini-skirts -- which, by the way, were skorts. . . . I told the costumer, "Hey, I look just like the men. What a shame to waste my legs. You know, I've got great legs." And then I got this image of space babes with the tight waists, cinched belts, short skirts, and lots of legs and boots and boobs, and great big "Barbarella" hair. So I got that look together and showed it to Gene. He just about fell off his chair. . . .

    Hey, that's Grace Lee Whitney speaking, not me. Don't have that edition of TV Guide? Check

    http://books.google.com/books?id=mqjORRNpo-cC&lpg=PA39&ots=aJmVwm3IBm&dq=tv%20guide%20grace%20lee%20whitney%20%22space%20babes%22&pg=PA39#v=onepage&q=tv%20guide%20grace%20lee%20whitney%20%22space%20babes%22&f=false

    That's the closest to this I could find on the Web. But I do have a copy of this edition of TV Guide, and took my quotes from that.

    According to wikipedia, Roddenberry wrote two episodes for season 3: "The Savage Curtain" and "Turnabout Intruder". I don't know if he produced any.

    AEF
  • From Zerothis on 2012-09-21 at 9:06pm:
    I was under the impression that real pills confiscated from Mudd and the placebos were provided after. Eve's last scene was the only place that placebos were used.
  • From Schreck on 2013-05-23 at 3:02pm:
    Terrible episode that is easily the worst of the first season and my brother’s least favorite in the original series…it just misses all the marks here…I give it a 5.25 and my brother a 4.5
  • From Alan Feldman on 2017-04-07 at 11:54pm:
    MUDD'S WOMEN

    A few things to add:

    How is it that a starship has trouble keeping up with Mudd's small ship? Really? I seriously doubt that Mudd's ship could go warp 8.

    Bones' and Scotty's reactions to the women were nauseating (for lack of better word), esp. in the transporter room. C'mon guys. Get a hold of yourselves!

    When Ruth steps in front of Bones' medical scanner, it bleeps and flashes. We then see Bones for a second or two and then go immediately back to the scanner, and Ruth is gone! Back to Bones for a second or two, and back to the scanner with Ruth in front of it again. Doubtful she could have moved that fast. And this sequence happens twice.

    Ruth says the men are young. Hardly! Yet again, women getting together with men twice their age.

    When Childress told Kirk he'd get the crystals later, why didn't Kirk just beam the women back to the ship and hold them hostage until the crystals were delivered? Or they could have made use of their phasers.

    Spock has a (circular) slide rule!

    Ben Childress's quarters is 11 miles from the mining place. 11 miles? That's quite a long, difficult walk, esp. on that wasteland of a planet!

    When Kirk and Mudd say there's only one type of man or woman, Kirk mentions two types.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x07 - What Are Little Girls Made Of?

Originally Aired: 1966-10-20

Synopsis:
Nurse Chapel's long lost fiance is found. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 4.22

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 64 3 17 26 24 37 47 16 13 14 14

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- Pretty lame episode with no significant long term continuity. Dr. Soong on Star Trek TNG will later (re)invent androids, but it is presumed that his work occurs in isolation with no connection whatsoever to Dr. Korby's discoveries.

Problems
- How could Kirk have strangled an android Korby?

Factoids
- This episode establishes that Kirk has a brother named George Samuel Kirk. He has a wife and three sons. Kirk calls him Sam.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk killing an android.
- Kirk being "cloned" into an android.
- Kirk debating with his android counterpart.
- Android Kirk calling Spock a half-breed.

My Review
While it's annoyingly unoriginal to frame another episode around a Kirk double and another guest star with a hidden agenda, I quite liked Kirk's method of making Spock aware of the impostor by filling his thoughts with hate for Spock during the creation of the Kirk android. Kirk couldn't have known for sure that his tactics would work, so the entire attempt was just one big lucky guess. Nevertheless, that sort of boldness is exactly what makes a good captain.

However, the real meat of the episode lies with Dr. Korby's discovery of technology from an extinct alien civilization capable of manufacturing androids. This technology is even capable of transferring the human consciousness into an android, a capability that he uses to save his life, after which he apparently makes no attempt to contact Earth because he's afraid that his people would find his discovery somehow distasteful. This seems like an irrational notion up until the point when the Enterprise arrives and Kirk and Chapel seem to validate Dr. Korby's irrational fears by reacting with horror at the very idea that Korby has created androids. Kirk even compares him to Hitler at one point without much of a reason.

At about 32 minutes into the episode Korby proposes seeding androids incognito to Earth and its colonies in secret as a means to avoid what he believes would be mass hysteria if their existence were to be widely known. But rather than relieve Korby of his paranoia by explaining to him that that would be unnecessary and that Earth would welcome him, his discoveries, and his android counterparts into the fold, Kirk spends the entire episode overreacting to Korby's overreaction. The ensuing conflict results in the deaths of everyone on the colony and then Kirk goes about his merry way as if nothing of consequence has occurred.

In so doing, the implications of the existence of this android technology are wasted and forgotten. Kirk makes no attempt to retrieve or preserve the technology and the episode itself seems to condemn the very existence of such a technology. At several points, the episode goes out of its way to make the argument that an android which thinks it's superior to a human is a threat which must be destroyed. The episode also demonstrates that the androids were emotionally unstable and not very good critical thinkers, seeing as how Kirk was so easily able to exploit conflicts between their emotional states and their programming. While it's clear the technology has flaws, none of this is enough to support the episode's apparent condemnation of the very idea of androids.

Instead what I can only assume the episode intended us to believe is that Korby was lying to Kirk and that his real intent was to replace key personnel on Earth and its colonies in order to take them over. This is certainly a possibility, given the Kirk double and Korby's admitted desire to keep his discoveries a secret, but at no point in the episode does this premise become conclusive. At best, Kirk could only have a reasonable suspicion of Korby intending to do such a thing and it was as irresponsible for Kirk to act on such a suspicion without proof as it was for him to make no effort to preserve or retrieve any of the technology found on that planet for further study. Overall a pretty lackluster episode.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From djb on 2009-01-04 at 12:21am:
    Kind of a ho-hum episode. As you said, the best part of it was Kirk getting a message through to Spock through his double.

    Also, there seems to be some inconsistency as to what kind of "emotions" these droids are capable of. Also, androids wouldn't "forget" anything, only to have their memories jarred later on-- they would remember everything in perfect detail, unless they were actually programmed to forget, which they wouldn't be. Kinda weird.

    One nitpick too-- Andrea isn't technically an android. She's a gynoid. A rather comely one, at that!
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-15 at 12:38pm:
    Another episode which doesn't come together in execution. In retrospect, I think there could have been something interesting to this story - the idea of Korby saving his life by transferring his brain to an android, then realizing that he is no longer the same person after doing so. But much of the episode consists of Korby boasting about how great his plans are, and it didn't convey a lot of meaning. Nor was I interested in Nurse Chapel, or all that weird TOS stuff about robot logic. Still, it isn't all bad. I like the parts of the plot relating to the android Kirk. His revelation at the dining table is pretty creepy, and the real Kirk's use of "post-hypnotic suggestion" is clever.

    - I don't agree with the comments in the review. Korby lures down the Captain, murders two people, holds the captain hostage, and has Ruk impersonate him to cover up his crime. He then claims Kirk should bear with him, he has a good reason for it. To paraphrase, his reason is that people are too stupid to know what is good for them, so he needs to secretly take over the Federation so he can kill everyone and transfer their minds into a superior race of androids. Korby may sound mild-mannered, but actions speak louder than words, he has totally flipped out into Megalomaniacal Super-Villain territory. Kirk's sole responsibility is to stop Korby and save the Federation. That is my main complaint with the episode, that all the philosophical arguments are basically irrelevant because Korby has become such a monster.
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-02-21 at 9:31pm:
    My biggest problem with “What are little girls made of?” is that it never does seem to make a whole lot of sense. Nothing seems to add up during the entire episode.

    Now the idea of Machine vs. Man has been played out in many a Star Trek episode. It is always the emotionless machines who lose out to the warm blooded humans who demonstrate that they are more compassionate and understanding. Yea right, and if you believe that I have some swamp land I want to sell you.

    But to me the main problem with this episode is the story doesn’t ever really make sense.

    If Dr. Korby was indeed an android then how can he express emotions like he does? All the other androids act like they are emotionless programmed robots. But not Korby. That doesn’t make sense.

    If Andrea is an android, or a gynoid, then why does she kill the android Kirk just because he wouldn’t kiss her? That doesn’t make sense.

    This episode was shown just three weeks after the “Naked Time” when Christine expressed her undying love for Spock. The timing of this episode always seemed a little bit strange to me.

    This episode is by far and away the weakest one of the entire first year of TOS. I have tried to watch it a dozen times and I always get disappointed with it.

    I agree with CAlexander that Dr. Korby acts insane from day one and Captain Kirk doesn’t overreact at all. I think the comparisons to Hitler are good ones. Hitler wanted to create the master race, and Dr. Korby does too in a strange way.

    But even discussing the story seems weird because the story never seems to fit right.

    I agree that the cutest thing about this episode was the android Kirk yelling at Spock. But even that didn’t make sense. Being an android with a computer for a brain, why didn’t the android Kirk realize what he has just said to Mr. Spock?

    And right after the android Kirk yells at Spock he then turns right around and says to Spock in a very concerned tone, “You look upset Mr. Spock, is everything all right up here?”

    In the first place Spock didn’t look upset and even if he did ( which is debatable because after all he is a Vulcan! ) ………even if Spock was upset, would an android ask him if he was all right? I don’t think so! That really didn’t make sense!

    All in all a very forgettable episode! Well not totally forgettable! I did write this review! Maybe a nightmare of an episode would be a better choice of words.
  • From mandeponium on 2012-08-25 at 12:55pm:
    I agree with the review and comments, not a great episode. But to me the most impacting parts of this episode were Andrea's outfit, followed by a naked Kirk spinning on a merry go round. Made the the whole episode worth it.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-09-26 at 1:09pm:
    "What Are Little Girls Made Of"

    At 16:35, Kirk says, "That's why all this make no sense." Drop the "that's why" and it pretty much sums up this episode. Well, it starts out okay, but it makes less and less sense as it goes on. At the end, "making sense" gets entirely thrown out the window.

    Re mandeponium's commentary:

    The "most impacting part" of this episode is not Andrea's outfit; it's Andrea *in* Andrea's outfit!

    Speaking of outfits, Rock's is, uh, a bedspread? A space blanket?

    Rock is fun to watch. When he shows great strength throwing the Captain about, it's intense!

    The hand-held shot of Kirk walking down the corridor and into the turbo lift is also used in "The Man Trap". It's the same shot! The Man Trap: 21:28, Little Girls: 37:34.

    Mike Meares asks: "If Dr. Korby was indeed an android then how can he express emotions like he does?" The difference, I believe, is that Korby contains a "transplanted" consciousness, mind, soul, or whatever -- while the others do not. On the other hand, Rock showed anger toward "The Old Ones" and Korby, and exultation when he realized "existence -- survival must cancel out programming." Are these not emotions?

    Kirk strangling Dr. Korby? Yes, that's nonsensical. I guess we're not expected to remember that far back* in the episode once we learn he is an android. I suppose some do and some don't on a first-time viewing. And what caused the "skin" on the back of his hand to be sheared off? The wall, the door? Not very durable, after all!

    * About 9 minutes.

    The scene in which Korby kills Rock has Rock close to him, then far from him! The sequence of shots is not self-consistent. And why does he walk so slowly toward him? I guess he's struggling to override his programming to protect Korby. But the sequence is still inconsistent.

    The mind is what the brain does, so you can't transplant a mind, or one's consciousness, or whatever you want to call it. Copying, I can see. And here we have a mind (not brain) being "transferred" and "re-programmed", to boot! Talk about mind-altering!

    To comment on everything in this episode that doesn't make sense would fill a small book. Nevertheless, Rock and Andrea are fun to watch.

    AEF
  • From Schreck on 2013-05-23 at 3:32pm:
    Another weak first season episode that fails to draw us in although I do enjoy a good Chapel episode…it bothers me that she was never considered a regular crew member along with Rand…I give it a 6.5 and my brother a 7
  • From Bert on 2014-03-27 at 2:11pm:
    I'm going to have to go back and watch the episode, but I never had a problem with it. Part of it is, you have to think about the attitudes at the time. Robots and androids were generally considered scary monsters. In movies they were almost always either evil or messengers of doom. In novels and short stories, it's the same thing. It's the reason Asimov came up with his three laws, so mechanical men wouldn't realize they were smarter/faster/stronger and take over the world.

    When eveyone assumes something, you don't generally feel a need to spell it out. And when you discover a technology no one will trust, you hide or bury it.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-04-16 at 7:36pm:
    djb writes: " Also, androids wouldn't "forget" anything, only to have their memories jarred later on-- they would remember everything in perfect detail, unless they were actually programmed to forget, which they wouldn't be. Kinda weird."

    You're assuming perfect programming and perfect hardware, neither of which exist (well, above a certain complexity level, anyway, which we have surely reached in this case!). The old memories are probably archived and are therefore not easily accessible. Also, cosmic rays can flip bits. Not very often, but Rock has been around a very long time. Furthermore, androids are supposed to resemble humans. In this case at least some of them are able to "import" another's very consciousness (which is kind of ridiculous), so must resemble humans in some sense. Perhaps Rock was of that type.

    OTOH, these androids are far more advanced that anything we have today. But they're still designed to be like humans.

    Anyway, the whole story is ridiculous. Another example: "Don't you see, Roger. Everything you've done proves it _isn't_ you." Ah, so A doesn't equal A. You're not you! You're someone else! This sentence is false! Right.

    The only reason to watch this ep, IMO, is Rock and Andrea in Andrea's outfit.

    AEF, a.k.a betaneptune
  • From peterwolf on 2015-11-06 at 6:43pm:
    The complicated review searching for a point without really finding it proves that there is more to this story than a plain "man versus machine". Although I do not like the creation scene, when Kirk and the proto-biomass are spinning like crazy, the rest is rather entertaining and full of serious topics. Men (or the old ones) made copies of themselves, perhaps only machines or beings which could be sentient. In this episode, no one ever uses this word (I checked the transcript), which later becomes so important for Star Trek: "a sentient being". Ruk and Andrea seem to be just on the edge of being sentient, perhaps Kirk´s copy too? Ruk shows something like anger, Andrea something like love; both could be simple simulations/emulations, but Korby seems to have transferred his complete mind to his android body copy, and, thus, still himself. I think one idea of the episode, which is admittedly not perfect and lacks humour, is contained in the statement of copy-Kirk, who says "Thank you. I felt quite at home on the Enterprise." Would a purely logical computing machine say something like that? This episode is a forerunner of all the Data episodes and we should be grateful for it. Some eerie and very good scenes are the ones when the android Ruk uses different voices, and in particular, to deceive Kirk, who is knowingly responding to it. Such things were used in X-files episodes as well. Strange enough, the only humour is brought about by Spock, complaining that Kirk was using the rude expression halfbreed ...
  • From Royy on 2016-11-16 at 2:05pm:
    I feel this is a greatly unappreciated episode. I think it is wonderful mainly three reasons:

    1. For me, it is the Star Trek equivalent of Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'. Like Conrad's Novella, the protagonist ( Kirk) goes in search of his hero, only to find he is not what he expects? The plot is subtle, and the diverse dillemma's that provoke alot of thought for me.

    2. The acting is superb. I especially love Dr Corby. I wish they had used him as a villain again e.g. Instead of Kahn.

    3. That female android ... She is gorgeous.

    I can watch this again and again. I pick new things up all the time.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x08 - Miri

Originally Aired: 1966-10-27

Synopsis:
A strange group of children are discovered on an Earth-like planet. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 0

Fan Rating Average - 3.01

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 112 18 26 37 19 17 13 19 23 8 10

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- One of Star Trek's worst episodes and complete filler.

Problems
- In the first scene, Spock mentions that the ship is entering a new "solar system" rather than a new planetary system. This is a common error. The term they were looking for is planetary system. The planetary system we live in is called the Solar System because our star is named Sol. As such, the term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term.
- A planet forming exactly like Earth in every detail, as shown in this episode, is completely impossible. I might have accepted this if they attempted some kind of explanation, but they don't even try.
- Why does Kirk order Spock to make a helm adjustment at the end of this episode? Did he have something against the helmsman or something?

Factoids
- This episode establishes that Star Trek is set during the 23rd century (the 2200s) as there is dialog which states that 1960 was around 300 years ago.
- This episode establishes that Rand has a crush on Kirk.
- William Shatner's daughter is one of the children in this episode.
- This episode is a candidate for my "Worst Episode of TOS Award."

Remarkable Scenes
- Spock: "It could be a beaker full of death."

My Review
An episode about children who age very slowly and then die at puberty doesn't sound like that bad of a story until you factor in the fact that the entire thing takes place on another planet which is inexplicably exactly like Earth where apparently a second evolution of humanity lives. Add to that, none of the characters seem terribly interested in investigating why another planet exactly like Earth complete with a second evolution of humanity could exist. Instead, the entire episode focuses on the plight of the children whose acting performances are insufferably embarrassing to watch.

Even setting aside all of that, the plot is meager and fails to adequately explain how the children could have possibly been able to gather food for 300 years without trouble or why their food source is finally beginning to run out conveniently just as the Enterprise arrives. Likewise, I've got to wonder just how so many of the children, and especially Miri, were able to keep their clothes so pristine after all this time. But it's a necessary plot contrivance, I suppose. After all, how could Kirk seduce a prepubescent girl if she didn't have pretty clothes? Do yourself a favor and skip this one.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 1:52pm:
    English Imperial Units: Who is to say that Starfleet personnel are not allowed to use them? Ok, they use the metric system most of the time, but still I think it is an insignificant detail, since we still get the picture. I think miles and feet had to be expected in Star Trek anyway, given that the English system is still very much in effect in the US, where this series happens to have been created. It doesn’t bother me, to be honest, even though I wish that they would finally come around to the metric system.
  • From djb on 2009-01-22 at 12:21pm:
    I'd have to agree, this episode is really dumb. A duplicate Earth, not explained at all. A strange disease that wiped out the entire adult population of the planet. Kids several hundred years old that have never even mentally matured ... what??

    Just if a child's physical maturing is halted, that doesn't stop them from maturing mentally and emotionally. This episode acts as if maturity is purely a physical thing, and not a simple matter of having been alive long enough. It's probably both, but that detail is lost. The kids are just irritating. I liked Miri, though.

    Moreover, there are loads of plot holes. Wouldn't they investigate the planet a bit before just beaming down? Attempt to talk to someone? Scan for life forms? Send a probe? As you said, what did the children eat? They're obviously incapable of even comprehending rational ideas, let alone farming or whatever.

    Plus, when the crew leaves, they just talk about leaving a medical crew behind to care for the children. A whole planet of children?! At least several hundred million children, all infected with a disease that will kill them when they (eventually) grow old? Asinine.

    It seems as though the producers and writers of this show were really still finding their feet; a lot of the episodes up until now have either been equally or nearly as pointless or have at least had completely random, weird stuff thrown in. Like the "barrier" at the edge of the galaxy in Where No Man Has Gone Before. Or the going back in time at the end of The Naked Time. Oh well. I grew up with TNG, so I can't help but judge this show by TNG's standards.

    In response to metric vs. imperial: Anyone who has studied astronomy, physics, and everything else one would study in Starfleet would be entirely accustomed to using metric units. When I took even a beginning astronomy class, I don't think the word "mile" was uttered once during the class. Starfleet is not specific to one country, so they wouldn't use a measuring system that is only used predominately in one country. Especially Spock, who's an alien. Why would he learn an antiquated (and illogical!) measuring system that's not used by the majority of Earth's population even now, let alone in 300 years?

    The only real reason I can see for the writers using imperial units here is that Americans were extremely resistant to the metric system, and still are to a degree. Fortunately, TPTB wised up by TNG's day, and only used metric from then on (though if you'll notice, they always say Celsius after a temperature, even though that should be obvious).
  • From 411314 on 2009-06-14 at 10:28pm:
    "We're not given any reason for why this planet is exactly like Earth."

    You DO know that Star Trek is fictional, right? I've heard that any real extraterrestrial looking as similar to humans as Spock does (pointy ears notwithstanding) is less likely then a pen thrown into the air doing a perfect curve in the air and then falling perfectly straight and landing on its point. If you're willing to suspend your disbelief in Vulcans looking pretty much like humans except for pointy ears, then why not do the same with alternate Earths?
  • From Kethinov on 2009-06-15 at 12:38am:
    @411314, that argument is completely ridiculous. The odds of a planet forming that is exactly like Earth in every detail are far, far more unlikely than an alien race evolving a similar physiology to humans.

    In fact, one of the foundational science fiction concepts in Star Trek is that (aside from the obvious TV budgetary motive) evolution frequently leads to human-like aliens because it is the most practical morphology to have on an M class world. Planets of similar size and atmospheric composition would inevitably produce organisms best adapted to them.

    However, the key concept here is similar but not identical. This planet in this episode was *identical* in every way. I can live with similar planets; even extremely similar planets if the ridiculous odds are acknowledged on screen. But barring some sort of parallel universe explanation, identical in every way is too absurd.
  • From 411314 on 2009-06-15 at 9:20am:
    "The odds of a planet forming that is exactly like Earth in every detail are far, far more unlikely than an alien race evolving a similar physiology to humans."

    Still, an alien race with an appearance similar to humans is unlikely and nobody on this forum seems to have called than an "absurdity" or expected and explanation for it.

    "In fact, one of the foundational science fiction concepts in Star Trek is that (aside from the obvious TV budgetary motive) evolution frequently leads to human-like aliens because it is the most practical morphology to have on an M class world."

    What's an "M-class world"?

    "...barring some sort of parallel universe explanation, identical in every way is too absurd."

    If you can live with identical universes, why not identical Earths? The fact is, this entire show is not particularly scientific, and complaining about this or expecting it to be scientific is quite silly. It's rather like watching a looney toons cartoon and saying "we are given no explanation as to why Wil E. Cyote, when he runs off a cliff, stays in the middle of the air for a few seconds before he finally falls".

  • From 411314 on 2009-06-15 at 10:20pm:
    This is definitely one of the better episodes.
  • From Kethinov on 2009-06-15 at 11:24pm:
    @411314

    "Still, an alien race with an appearance similar to humans is unlikely"

    Far less so, and there explanations for it. In addition to the one I provided in my above post, see TNG: The Chase.

    "What's an M-class world?"

    Star Trek's shorthand for a planet suitable for human(oid) life.

    "If you can live with identical universes, why not identical Earths? The fact is, this entire show is not particularly scientific, and complaining about this or expecting it to be scientific is quite silly. It's rather like watching a looney toons cartoon and saying we are given no explanation as to why Wil E. Cyote, when he runs off a cliff, stays in the middle of the air for a few seconds before he finally falls."

    Star Trek is actually pretty good about sciencey things, except in horrible episodes like this one. Parallel universes are a real concept which is explored in quantum physics. If a parallel Earth from a parallel universe could somehow be transported from one universe to another, it could explain what occurred in this episode. That explanation is fairly ludicrous, but it's better than what we get in the episode and it might have saved its score from a zero in my book.
  • From Remco on 2009-06-22 at 8:50pm:
    But still, many of these parallel universes would decidedly *not* be the same. There are an infinite number of universes, and it would be an extreme coincidence if something that looks exactly like Earth would pop out from one of those universes into our own universe.

    I like what you say about evolution on M-class planets. But I don't completely buy it. There are many many species on our own planet, and any of them could evolve into having a cerebral cortex and using tools. And some already have, like many primates. They really don't have to look all that much like us. They just need a few limbs to manipulate the world around them. They don't have to stand upright, or even develop verbal communication.

    For budget-reasons obviously, on Star Trek even the weirdest aliens usually look like humans with deformed faces.

    Let me digress a little on our own planet's intelligent life:

    I always wonder what would happen if you would take a Neanderthal baby from the past (or a 50,000 year old homo sapiens for that matter), and raise it like a modern human. I bet he would be as smart as anyone. He would just look weird and have some trouble with the ladies. ;)

    Now I'm wondering what would happen if you'd surgically give a contemporary orangutan the ability to speak (they need an extra bone in their throat for complex sounds). It's entirely plausible that we would consider him an intelligent being, able to cope with math, languages, philosophy... the works.

    If such an experiment succeeds, we may need to reconsider our view of intelligent life.
  • From rpeh on 2010-06-28 at 4:11pm:
    I really don't understand the criticisms of this episode. Sure, the premise of a duplicate Earth is silly, but that's tangential to the main plot, which is the virus and the fate of the children. Most of the children play their roles well, and the delicate subject of a pre-adolescent crush on Kirk is well-handled.

    The duplicate Earth was a red-herring, but there's no reason to give this a 0 because of that. It rates a solid 8 for me.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-03-13 at 12:07pm:
    Yes, the identical Earth bit is just bizarre, and I would certainly complain about it vociferously if you hadn't already done so. Why do they make a big point about it, then drop it completely? But by the same point, I don't see this as contaminating the rest of the episode. You can just ignore it as a temporary script malfunction. The rest of the episode works fine if you just blot this from your mind and pretend that this is just a regular M-class planet. I also found it hard to believe that the children survived in an infantilized state for 300 years, I would find 30 years more plausible.

    (I'm guessing the writers thought they were making a parable about how our Earth could have ended up just like theirs, had we destroyed ourselves with biological weapons, and made the similarities as an incredibly ham-handed attempt to drive home the point)

    Although these are certainly negatives, I thought this episode was not bad, it had some definite positives. While not all of the acting is great, a lot of the scenes invoke legitimate parts of the human experience. The idea that the children were led by a demagogue who was threatened by Kirk's appearance. They way the children shout down Kirk and refuse to listen to him, banding together against the scary outside influence. The way the children, despite their immaturity, are a real menace to Kirk due to their knowledge of the terrain. The difficulty Kirk has trying to deal with children who are immature but know they have power. They way it is hard for them to trust Kirk because they know he will soon become an irrational monster and betray them like all the other adults did. They act unreasonably, but life is full of unreasonable adults, and these are only children. And I like Miri's crush on Kirk, and the way he handles it. The search for the cure was overdramatized in typical TOS style, yet entertained me more than many of the perfunctory TNG equivalents.

    Also, aside from the technical negatives, there is one technical positive. This was one episode where they were sensible about quarantine, refusing to contaminate the ship, yet having the ship beam them down necessary supplies.
  • From nforrest on 2011-08-04 at 11:01am:
    Just started watching Star Trek and Im hooked. Your site has been a great help.

    I will say after watching this episode, although kind of annoying with the children who didn't develop mentally because their physical predicament.

    This comment is to point out the bashing of a"earth" that developed just like our own in every way. Being a physics student this idea isn't so far fetched as one of the theories explains the idea of infinite possibilities, dimensions and so forth. If you are interested in reading more about how this is possible check out this link.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation
  • From Kethinov on 2011-08-04 at 3:44pm:
    That theory refers to the theoretical existence of alternate universes, not second Earths identical to ours in every way that just so happen to exist several hundred light years away. My criticism stands.
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-02-22 at 10:28pm:
    I have really enjoyed reading your reviews Kethinov! I don’t always agree 100 % with your conclusions but I have, up to this point, really been impressed and enlighten by your insights and your observations.

    However, I must say with all honesty I am a bit surprised at your review of “Miri” Kethinov and your rating of zero! Zero? Really? ZERO? Seriously?

    My God, you gave a rating of 4 to “Spock’s Brain” for crying out loud!

    The thrust of your criticism seems to be why a “identical” Earth exists since, in your words, this is impossible!

    I don’t get the criticism! I really don’t!

    Hardly anything in Star Trek is possible. It is pure fiction! Will there ever be transporters, phasers or time travel? Who knows! I just love wondering if they could happen. But that doesn’t mean they will happen or that I believe they will ever happen.

    So following your logic Kethinov: Removing a person’s brain and reattaching it is possible but an identical earth is impossible. OK my friend if you say so.

    To me the “identical” Earth was just a teaser to draw you into the story. And it worked for me. In fact, Star Trek became known for using the “teaser” to draw fans into a story.

    I like the fact that they didn’t explain how the identical “Earth” developed myself. And if you stop and think about it, anything they would have tried to explain about the other Earth’s existence and development would have been pure conjecture on their part.

    I love this episode! I think it was one of the top ten episodes of the first season. I still get goose bumps when I watch it.

    One of the biggest reasons why this story works for me is Kim Darby. I think she is a fantastic actress and she gave such realism to her role. Another was the acting of Michael J. Pollard, which was superb. I know one of the criticisms was the acting of the children but, quite honestly, I never expect great acting from children in shows. And I have to ask: when did great acting become a measuring stone for a great Star Trek story?

    I love William Shatner as Captain Kirk! But do I think he is a great actor in the role? No way! But he makes me believe he is James T. Kirk. And that is all that matters in film and TV.

    I give “Miri” an 8 rating. I think it is that good. I know it has some plot holes and I know it leaves some unanswered questions, but so do many other Star Trek stories. I just don’t think some of the comments on here are very objective and seem to be concentrating on some very petty issues.

    Several positives things about “Miri” that I really liked are:

    (1) We get to see more of Lt. Farrow ( played by Jim Goodwin ) To me Farrow was a very down to Earth ( opps sorry no pun intended ) character. He wasn’t handsome or big or strong. He just seemed like a real person to me. I wish more of the secondary characters could have been like him.

    (2) No “Red Shirts” were harmed during the filming of this episode! Probably the first and last time that ever happened! LOL. In fact, I don’t think Lt. Galloway ( David L. Ross ) nor the second security guard ( John Arndt ) even contracted the virus at all! Wow I guess it paid to be a “Red Shirt” this time around! LOL.

    And finally, (3) I loved how they began the development of the relationship between McCoy and Spock in this episode. When Dr. McCoy injects himself and almost sacrifices his life, I think Spock really starts to admire the doctor and the person that he is. I still get a little chocked up when I hear Spock say, “I will never understand the medical mind.” And of course Spock says it so low that I don’t think anyone else can hear it. A great moment in Star Trek history.
  • From Kethinov on 2012-02-22 at 11:58pm:
    Mike,

    Surgically removing a brain without killing it is considerably more plausible than the hypothetical existence of another Earth identical to ours in every way. The brain is just an organ like any other. As long as the proper fluids are not interrupted and no substantial injuries are inflicted during surgery, there is no reason why the brain couldn't survive independent of the body. In this respect, Spock's Brain is considerably more plausible than Miri, especially given that the episode goes to great lengths to establish that the surgical techniques used are highly advanced.

    Your whole point about how "hardly anything in Star Trek is possible" because it's all just fiction is not valid. Good science fiction builds bridges between real science and the speculative science featured in sci fi stories. Phasers are particle weapons predicated on speculative technological advances in the efficiency of energy storage and release. Transporters work on the same principle but for a (usually) non-weaponized purpose. These devices are plausible assuming that it could some day be possible to harness and control energy so efficiently.

    The planet in Miri on the other hand violates everything we know about nature in space or otherwise. Everything we know about planet formation tells us that every planet in the galaxy is a unique combination of circumstantial randomness when a star system is born. If a planet like the one in Miri did exist, the scientific implications would be daunting. That would imply a considerably more deterministic universe than things like quantum mechanics teach us is possible.

    To put this in perspective, consider the old adage "no two snowflakes are ever alike." Strictly speaking, this isn't true. There are people who have tested this and determined that two snowflakes can be alike, but the probability is insanely small. If the odds against any two snowflakes being alike are infinitesimal, then what do you suppose the odds of two planets being exactly alike are? Earth is huge, and its history is the culmination of billions of years of random events. There's simply no way we'll find another Earth out there. Similar planets, sure. But not the planet found in Miri. It simply cannot happen.

    As such, the premise of Miri is pure fantasy, rather than the kind of responsible science fiction things like phasers or the transporter are based on. As a critic, it's my job to make this distinction for my readers. I want my readers to know which episodes are good science fiction and which episodes are not. This one is not.
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-02-23 at 9:24pm:
    I just found some information about Miri in Memory Alpha that I think it may have made the story a lot better. Very interesting reading. I am reprinted the content here:

    In his first volume of Star Trek episode adaptations, James Blish supplies a backstory that is vastly different to that of the "identical Earth" premise depicted in the television episode( "Miri" ).

    Blish wrote that Miri's planet is the fourth planet orbiting the star 70 Ophiuchus, and is a beautiful Earth-like planet having one large and two smaller continents connected by islands. Ophiuchus IV (or Ophiuchus 4 – Blish never names the planet) is located between twelve and fifteen light years from Earth and had been the first planet outside Earth's solar system to be colonized, in this case by refugees from the so-called "Cold Peace" in the early 2100s, about 500 years before the events depicted in the television episode. These colonists were isolationists who violently repulsed the first attempt to contact them by a later expedition from Earth, and so no further contact was attempted.

    As it turned out, the Ophiuchus system was in a "backwater" part of the galaxy that subsequent years of Earth-based space exploration passed by, and so the belligerent colony was easily ignored and almost forgotten.

    Around 300 years before the events shown in "Miri", scientists on Ophiuchus IV developed the experimental life-prolongation project that resulted in the deaths of every adult on the planet.

    Yet despite their close proximity, the distress signal sent by the colony didn't reach Earth because Ophiuchus IV stood between Earth and the center of the Milky Way, whose radiation created interstellar static that drowned out the SOS signal the colony had directed towards Earth.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-04-01 at 9:07pm:
    Speaking of units, scientists frequently use non-metric units: light-year, parsec, astronomical unit (equal to the radius of the earth's orbit), (an) atmosphere (a unit of pressure, though more for convenience when precision is not paramount), G forces, electron volt, barn (a barn is 10^(-24) cm^2), fermi (which is 10^(-13) cm). These last two are based on a metric unit, but so is the inch (defined as 2.54 cm), so it's just as "bad", sort of). The electrical charge of particles, in many cases, is more conveniently measured in multiples of that of a proton, as in the charge on an electron (which would be -1), or quarks, which, depending on which quark you're dealing with, is +/- 1/3 or +/- 2/3 of that amount of charge. There's also a foot (of cable, or patch cord, if you will), which is how far light travels in one nanosecond. This is useful in high-energy physics experiments for estimating delays. I believe calories are still used by some, though I'm not really sure. Add to all this units of time: years, months, weeks, and days are not metric units, yet scientists use days and years, at least. The dinosaurs were wiped out 65,000,000 years ago. No one converts that to seconds. Angstroms are still used (based on a metric unit, though). There are probably more.

    Bottom line: Use the units that are appropriate for the job.
  • From Mandeponium on 2012-08-30 at 1:59pm:
    Super late to the discussion, but you guys are arguing the wrong point. The issue is not whether an earth-duplicate is possible, as stranger things have happened in the Star Trek Universe. My biggest gripe is that they didn't even investigate it! Kirk says, "It seems impossible, but there it is," and no more is said on the subject. If Picard had stumbled on a planet with The North American Continent staring back at him, he would have gotten to the bottom of it.

    That's what defies my suspension of disbelief, that no one seemed to care about that which in any normal universe (even one with humanoid-looking aliens) could not happen.


    I can forgive it though. These first few episodes are rife with far-fetched concepts that are treated rather nonchalantly: The invention of time travel, shape-shifting aliens, perfect copy androids, and now Earth 2.
  • From Zerothis on 2012-09-21 at 9:41pm:
    The obvious retconning would be to attribute the duplicate Earth to the same Preservers that transplanted the Roman Empire people and Native American people to other planets. 1960 is near the beginning of the Post-atomic age, the Cold War era, and the hybrid age. Presumable the Preservers theorized a scientific subculture in existence around 1960 was about to become extinct (or about to devastate Earth, in which case there should be a whole lot of 1960ish cultures out there somewhere in the Trek universe). In fact this group did prove to be devastating to the planet they were transplanted to. Likewise, the transplanted Roman Empire was presumable defeated by one of the same factors that the Preservers had apparently hoped to rescue them from.

  • From Glenn239 on 2012-10-01 at 1:02pm:
    I can’t believe the tricycle scene at the start isn’t listed as a remarkable scene. When I watched that as a kid, that had as much punch as anything else in the entire series. This episode is naturally around 6 to an 8. I give it a 9 for some counterbalance.

    The children represent the intellectually limited horizon of the human race, the disease they are attempting to cure is the result of our own hubris in the manipulation of nature, and the episode is saying to us that our futile attempts to command the complexities of nature are childlike and prone to disaster.

    I for one have no problem that the Earths are the same, and it was not explained why. All we need to suspect is that it is the Earth, but a less lucky version of it. Who put it there and why they did it, we won’t know. Nowadays every action hero seems to make amazing intellectual leaps of logic to arrive at the correct conclusion in mere seconds, and then blurts out their byzantine (but correct) reasoning at machine gun pace, with only the occasional disinterested flip of their hair to signify to us just how bored all of this actually makes them. Whatever. The fact the identical Earth is not explained was because they had no explanation to give. They were clear on that, and it seems pretty straightforward to me. Onto the story. I’ll take that over idiotic “Q” or TNG techno-babble any day.

  • From Lighternote on 2012-10-06 at 8:55am:
    I too, am very late to the great 'duplicate earth debate'. As far as I understand it physicists think that if our universe is infinite then not only would it be likely that there would be one duplicate of earth... But that it is almost a certainty that there would be an infinite number of duplicate earths along with an infinite amount of duplicate people. In fact, they have even calculated how far you would have to travel in order to reach another earth (it is, naturally a very, vey long way away). So, if the Star Trek universe is infinite, and warp drive let's you travel these extremely long distances then this episode is not as unbelievable as you would think!

    Great site by the way. Working through all Star Trek and love reading the reviews in conjunction!
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-03-18 at 8:57pm:
    The timeline based on "Miri"

    I'm confused about this episode implying that Star Trek TOS takes place 300 years after its making. From the episode:

    KIRK: Identical. Earth, as it was in the early 1900s.

    SPOCK: More the, er, mid-1900s I would say, Captain, approximately 1960.

    OK. Spock is saying that the earth they're on is similar to what our earth was like in our 1960. Then we are told that the place has been like this for about 300 years. All this means is that our heroes find themselves in an earth-like place similar to what _our_ earth was like in _our_ 1960. Their 1960 could have been 100 years before ours. That would put our heroes about 200 years in the future, not 300. (OK, more like approx. 150, if you include the years that have passed since the show aired.)

    Am I missing something here?

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune
  • From DK on 2013-04-23 at 5:20pm:
    I too loathe this episode.  For the longest time this was at the top of my list for the worst Star Trek episode.  Though it has since been eclipsed by a few episodes from later Star Trek incarnations 'Miri' has withstood the test of time to simultaneously annoy me and cause boredom as few episodes of any show have.  Miri has an intangible je ne sais quoi quality that sets it apart from all the rest.  I think the biggest problem was that during early syndication there were but a very few television channels and given the choice between any Star Trek and something else, I still chose to torture myself with 'Miri' which had the result of grinding in my dislike for this episode.  At least 'Spock's Brain' had the quality of being unintentionally funny.  'Miri' was just unintentionally bad.

    As for the duplicate earth debate, I understand your point.  There is no way a duplicate earth could evolve on its own and many of the explanations offered on this page do not hold much water.  And, I too have my pet peeves about certain aspects of Star Trek.  Chief among them are discontinuity issues that need not be there and are due to lazy writing.  That said,  I understand why the duplicate earth was in the script; to make the point that this could happen to us. Plus, similar objections to the absurd implausibility of a duplicate earth could be said of most any Star Trek episode; let's start with the problems associated with faster than light travel.  Absurd implausibility just isn't a road you want to go down when criticizing Star Trek but I guess it is still better than my 'je me sais quoi' objection.  I agree that the whole issue could have been handled better although a way that doesn't its self create problems of its own escapes me for the moment.
  • From Schreck on 2013-05-23 at 4:04pm:
    Those kids are REALLY annoying, but regardless I didn’t hate the episode…I give it a 7 and my brother a 6.75
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-05-27 at 1:20am:
    Yet more on "Miri"

    OK, here's how you can have two identical earths: Macroscopic quantum entanglement! OK, just fibbing.

    I always thought Michael J. Pollard looked a little old for the part. Just checked: He's 8 years older than Kim Darby! Hah! Wait a minute . . . .

    From wikipedia: Kim Darby was born in 1947, making her 19 at the time! Michael J. Pollard was born in 1939, making him 27! Even worse than I thought.

    This type of thing happens from time to time in the entertainment industry.

    You have to admit that Kim Darby did a great acting job in this episode. Add to that the fact that she was a 19-year-old acting as a 13-year-old.

    KIRK: . . . We still don't know what we're fighting.
    MCCOY: No, but we know what it is and how fast it does it. It's progressing. We'll begin to feel it inside soon. Intense fever, great pain in the extremities, fuzziness of vision. Of course, those are the early symptoms. There'll be more.

    Hmmm. It didn't seem like they ever had any of these symptoms anytime in the show.

    Wait a minute. Kirk says they don't know what they're fighting, but McCoy says they know what it is. Isn't that a contradiction?

    Our heroes were there for what, a week? I hope Scotty beamed down some clean clothes!

    More on units: In astronomy we have the Hubble constant. In what units is it typically expressed? (km/s)/megaparsec. OK. First, a parsec is not an SI or metric unit. Second, the constant has dimensions of inverse time (the two distance units canceling out dimension-wise). So in the SI system the Hubble constant would be given in inverse seconds. But knowing the constant in inverse seconds makes it hard to interpret. When given in (km/s)/megaparsec it's quite clear. Assume the constant is 71 km/s/megaparsec. A galaxy's speed is then 71 km/second if it's 1 megaparsec away, 142 km/s if it's 2 megaparsecs away, etc. In SI units it would be some number of inverse seconds, and not very useful in that form. So this is yet another case where pure SI units (or metric, if you prefer) are not the best choice.

    Astronomy is guilty of still more non-metric units! Check the astronomical unit, the average distance from the Earth to the Sun. And then take stellar magnitudes. Not metric at all, and not even linear! A difference of five magnitudes means a factor of 100 in brightness, or energy output. In other words, a 1st magnitude star is 100 times brighter than a 6th magnitude star. Yes, a higher number means a dimmer object. Venus has a magnitude of about -4; the Moon, -13; and the Sun, -27, IIRC. How about _light-year_ as a unit? That's not metric! How old is the universe? About 13.7 billion _years_. A year is not a metric unit. In some cases it might be useful to convert it to seconds. That would be 4x10^17_s. (Underscore used to prevent possibly bad line break.) Sounds better in years, no?

    AEF, aka betaneptune
  • From Deggsy on 2013-10-04 at 6:39pm:
    And on top of everything else wrong with it, the line from Spock: "It could be a beaker full of death." isn't even accurate. I thought it was a flask he held, not a beaker :-)
  • From Ian Smith Adventures on 2013-10-17 at 5:26pm:
    i loved this episode. re-watching from the beginning, i would rank this and "what little girls are made of" as my two favorites so far. is there something wrong with me? :P though mudd's women was by far my least favorite so we're on the same page there. i found the situation to be intense and well-established, i liked the interaction between kirk and miri, and i liked the ending where kirk has to think like a child in order to get through to them, and mccoy takes a big risk to save the team. the fact that the duplicate earth thing isn't followed up on strikes me as a cool mystery to think about, tos is full of odd, cool things like this. i thought the main guest stars did a great job. thumbs up!
  • From jeffenator98 on 2013-12-24 at 11:49am:
    "All right everyone just leave your communicators lying around on a desk somewhere." Capt Kirk
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-04-16 at 6:46pm:
    Correction!

    In a previous post I wrote the following:

    "More on units: In astronomy we have the Hubble constant. In what units is it typically expressed? (km/s)/megaparsec. OK. First, a parsec is not an SI or metric unit. Second, the constant has dimensions of inverse time (the two distance units canceling out dimension-wise). So in the SI system the Hubble constant would be given in inverse seconds. But knowing the constant in inverse seconds makes it hard to interpret. When given in (km/s)/megaparsec it's quite clear. Assume the constant is 71 km/s/megaparsec. A galaxy's speed is then 71 km/second if it's 1 megaparsec away, 142 km/s if it's 2 megaparsecs away, etc. In SI units it would be some number of inverse seconds, and not very useful in that form. So this is yet another case where pure SI units (or metric, if you prefer) are not the best choice."

    OK, the Hubble constant is actually _also_ useful in SI units. Well, in inverse years instead of inverse seconds, anyway. When you work it out, H_0 = 71 (km/sec)/megaparsec = 7.26x10^-11 inverse years. Take the reciprocal of that and you get 13.8x10^9 years, the age of the universe!

    So it's useful both ways, contrary to my previous statement.

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune
  • From Timmersan on 2016-01-10 at 3:51pm:
    Maybe Slartibartfast made all these identical Earths as a sort of practice,
  • From Royy on 2016-11-16 at 3:45pm:
    I agree it is a difficult episode.

    The first one to have a visit to 'Earth' though?

    It is easy to judge these early episodes on the basis of much later material, but if we accept that the only explanation is either a parallel universe or even a time travelling Earth (why not?), then everything is more plausible.

    It isn't a patch on 'what little girls are made of' though.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x09 - Dagger of the Mind

Originally Aired: 1966-11-3

Synopsis:
A new treatment for the criminally insane has deadly results. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 4.61

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 45 5 30 13 15 22 41 26 17 18 13

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- It's worth noting that this is the first episode to feature a Vulcan mind meld. However, none of the exposition revealed here about that requires that this episode be seen before any of the other episodes featuring mind melds.

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode establishes that Vulcans are capable of telepathy when it is focused on an individual through touch.

Remarkable Scenes
- McCoy and Kirk arguing over Gelder.
- McCoy forcing kirk to launch an investigation.
- Kirk annoyed with McCoy's selection for his assistant.
- Adams' toast: "To all mankind. May we never find space so vast, planets so cold, heart and mind so empty that we cannot fill them with love and warmth."
- Noel planting hunger in Kirk's mind.
- Noel planting fond memories of a romantic encounter between them in Kirk's mind.
- Adams' death, nasty!

My Review
An escape attempt by a criminally insane man that isn't what it seems. Certainly an original plot for Star Trek so far and during the first twenty minutes of the episode the plot is well paced and intelligently constructed. It's unclear whether or not McCoy's suspicions will be validated until almost halfway through the episode. Unfortunately, once it becomes clear that Adams is up to no good, the pacing of the episode crashes as the episode begins to focus solely on slowly revealing the exact nature of what specific evils Adams is up to. Of particular note are the frequent, lengthy scenes where Spock and McCoy attempt to access Gelder's memory. Likewise, I would have preferred fewer and/or shorter Kirk-in-the-brainwashing-chair scenes.

Kirk's interactions with Noel were considerably more interesting. While her character was a bit annoying at times for being all too eager to defend Adams even after the originally all too trusting Kirk had moved on from that attitude, the rest of her characterization was well done. I'm amused that Kirk and Noel apparently had some sort of fling at a Christmas party and that while she clearly wishes it had been more than that, she's a great deal more comfortable with the reality of those events than Kirk is. Their sexual tension is well played, tasteful, and relevant, unlike similar scenes in some previous episodes.

What doesn't play as well are Adams' motives. Since the episode offers us little to go on, we can only conclude that he somehow went mad with the power to enslave people with his beloved brainwashing machine. While it's never made clear just what his plans for Kirk and Noel were once they discovered what he was doing, it stands to reason that he was attempting to wipe their memories of what their investigation had revealed. But if that was what he was trying to do, then why was he wasting his time planting so much other nonsense in Kirk's mind when he could have just planted the memory of an uneventful investigation and sent him on his way? Once again we're forced to just accept that another dignified Earth celebrity suddenly went inexplicably crazy. This is already becoming quite a cliche.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 12:16pm:
    just a polite request: could you maybe give it a rest with the pacing? People in the 60s weren't as used to sensual overload as we are today. Just because an episode seems slow to a person who is used 20 cuts per minute does not mean it is bad - I keep thinking that the fault, if you will, is the audience's. I wish things like intelligent detail, good dialog, character revelations or daring experiments (for the time, acknoledging that this is a classic/cult show) would count more in your reviews.
  • From tyrannorustus on 2008-07-08 at 3:18am:
    I'm currently working my way through TOS with your reviews and for the most part find myself in agreement, though I disagree on your comments concerning the pace of the episode. What makes preceding episodes so agonizingly slow paced is the fact that the viewer clued in at least 20 minutes ahead of the crew (e.g. "The Man Trap" and "Charlie X"), making the reaction shots of Kirk's pensiveness and Spock's eyebrow furrowing nearly insufferable. This episode doesn't have that same feel because the viewer is learning along with the crew. For example, there is no obvious music cue to let the viewer know too early that Adams is up to no good. While I don't agree with the previous poster that people in the 60s weren't used to visual over-stimulation (This is the decade that brought us "2001" and "Lawrence of Arabia" after all) I agree that criticizing the show on pacing is inappropriate. Every scene contributes to moving the plot forward and the dramatic build up is very well done. In particular, the parallel climax of Spock's mindmeld with Gelder and Adams' assault on Kirk's mind is well done. A very good episode from the early days of the show.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-10 at 4:04pm:
    I basically liked the episode. Dr. Adams does a good job of being a creepy sociopathic sadist. My only complaint is that it is excessively foolish of him to lock Kirk and Noel in a room with such an obvious escape route. But at least his behavior is consistent – he let Van Gelder get away too!

    As far as the question of Adams motives, it is true that they don't reveal much to us, which is too bad. But what we do see of his personality seems internally consistent to me. Here was my impression of Dr. Adams:

    Dr. Adams has always been an egotistical, sadistic sociopath. He has probably covered up many crimes, and took up penology in the same way that, in other TV stories, an arsonist might take up firefighting. He wrote some good papers and used his manipulative charm to trick the well-meaning but stupid Federation bureaucracy into giving him a penal colony where he could be all powerful. And it worked, until Van Gelder escaped. Being an egotist, he assumed he could bluff Kirk into leaving him alone with Van Gelder, just like he bluffed all the other Federation officials. But when he finds it didn't work and realizes Kirk and Noel have figured out what is up, he can't resist the perfect setup for a little sadism. Then he locks up Kirk and Noel and tries to figure out what to do. Given what we see of Van Gelder, it is clear that while the neutralizer is pretty impressive in the short term at making post-hynotic suggestions, it is far less effective in the long term. He can't just wipe Kirk's mind and let him return to the ship – without constant re-use of the neutralizer, Kirk is bound to recover his memory. Adams knows he is in big trouble, but his ego tells him there must be a way to regain command of the situation. It fits his sadistic style to try to turn the neutralizer on full bore and try to torment Kirk until he can break him down completely. Hard to know what exactly he was thinking, since the plan doesn't get too far. Perhaps it involves brainwashing Kirk into "loving" Dr. Adams and working with him. Perhaps he hopes to drive Kirk insane so the crew will leave him at the penal colony.
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-02-24 at 9:56pm:
    This was a very good episode and a good review by Kethinov. Although I agree with the remarks by CAlexander.

    I did notice a couple of minor problems with this episode.

    The box that is beamed aboard from the Tantalus Penal Colony and the one Dr. Marcus Van Gelder is hiding in is labeled Classified Material - Do Not Open. But the box is clearly unlocked and Van Gelder opens it from the inside with ease. Would the Tantalus Colony really send off Classified Material without checking to see if it is locked down properly?

    When Van Gelder reaches the Enterprise bridge, he attacks and knocks out a security guard. Even after Van Gelder is subdued by Kirk and Spock, Dr. McCoy makes no effort to check and see if the security guard is all right.

    When Spock does the mind meld on Van Gelder there is a slight problem. Van Gelder is in great pain but at no point does Spock show any signs of pain himself. Strangly this is in direct contridiction to Spock's mind meld with the Horta in "The Devil in the Dark." Spock took on the pain the Horta was feeling, why doesn't Spock take on the pain Van Gelder felt?

    This has gotten me thinking too. Would the vulcans have developed a technic whereby you take on the feelings of others? Especially since the Vulcans work so hard to suppress their own emotions?

    All in all though "Dagger of the Mind" was pretty good. The acting by Morgan Woodward and James Gregory were really good. I think it would have been a nice touch to show a painfree Van Gelder at the end of the episode. Woodward did such a great job showing the pain Van Gelder went though, it would have been wonderful to see Val Gelder "healed."

    I also liked the build up in this one too. The story kept you guessing for a long time. However, I do think they could have made it last longer. When Kirk and Helen are first introduced to the neural neutralizer there is a tech operator in the room. After Kirk leaves the tech operator begins to tell the patient in the chair that if he tries to remember any part of the discussion he will feel teribble pain. I think that gave away the plot way to early.

    I wasn't crazy about the "romance" angle thrown into the story. How many ex girl friends does Kirk really need? However, I did enjoy how they handled this one. At first you can actually feel how upset Kirk is about the whole ordel of working with a woman that he had some contact with outside the ship. It was a different approach than they normally did or since and one that was very refreshing.

    And I said it before and I will say it again: I love having two people man the transporter room. I wish they had kept that up.






  • From Schreck on 2013-05-23 at 4:35pm:
    I wonder how many episodes of TOS had to do with insanity of some kind. It seems it is where the writers keep going to it with almost always negative results…I give it a 6.25 and my brother a 7.25
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-05-31 at 12:53am:
    DAGGER OF THE MIND

    Morgan Woodward is awesome in this episode. He said playing Van Gelder was the most physically and emotionally exhausting acting job of his career. Also, it took 3 weeks for him to return to normal after playing the role, during which he was anti-social.

    Re your comment about seeing a normal Van Gelder at the end, what would bring him back to normal? Can the machine be used to undo the damage?

    If the machine empties your mind, and Kirk had a dose at full blast -- twice, even! -- how could he have any mind left? He'd be a vegetable. At the end, Noel says it wasn't set high enough to kill when Adams was there. So why didn't it kill Kirk?

    Whenever the power is out, the emergency lights are awfully bright!

    OK, when the force field is down, Spock says, "Get some security people and follow me down." Why aren't the security people _already_ there? Moreover, why don't they have "security people" there 24x7? Seems like a no-brainer.

    To Mike Meares:

    Helen was not an ex-girlfriend. There was just that single incident at the Christmas party, and it's not clear at all exactly what happened.

    Kirk had four ex-girlfriends:

    Ruth in Shore Leave
    Areel Shaw in Court Martial
    Janet Wallace in The Deadly Years
    Janice Lester in Turnabout Intruder

    If I missed any, please do tell.

    Hey, Helen _Noel_ at a _Christmas_ party. Coincidence?

    AEF, aka betaneptune
  • From gee on 2014-12-06 at 9:05am:
    There is a glaring continuity error regarding the security screen of the penal colony. Selected script excerpts below.

    Berkeley: energize
    Kirk: having trouble, gentlemen?
    Berkeley: I just don't understand the problem, sir
    Kirk: you're beaming cargo down to a penal colony, Mr. Berkeley
    Berkeley: Their security force field, sir.

    Kirk: ...might lead to the power supply, short-circuited, it would cut off the

    security force field

    Dr. Noel turns off the master power switch

    security guard turns it back on, after a struggle with Noel

    Noel kicks him into high voltage circuit, killing him

    Berkeley: Mr Spock, force-field is gone, I can send you right to the source of

    the interruption
    Spock: get some security people and follow me down

    Noel escapes back through conduits
    Mr Spock beams down, turns off 4 switches next to "Security Screen" and lights

    go off
    Spock "Enterprise, this is Spock, force-field has been eliminated"
    Spock flips another switch (apparently the same master voltage switch) which

    re-enables power to the mind chamber

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Star Trek TOS - 1x10 - The Corbomite Maneuver

Originally Aired: 1966-11-10

Synopsis:
Kirk bluffs his way past what appears to be a powerful alien. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 4.58

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 82 7 8 18 10 49 26 36 31 22 20

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- Pretty lame episode with no significant long term continuity. The factoid about Spock's parents is nonessential and can be gotten in context in later episodes when it becomes relevant.

Problems
- Visual continuity is a bit off in this episode because it was one of the earliest episodes to be produced despite it being aired so much later. As such, it's easy to notice some obvious out of place details, such as Uhura's uniform being the wrong color.
- Why did Scotty tell the away team to bend down to accommodate the low ceiling when the next room over was tall enough? Why not just beam them into that room instead?

Factoids
- This episode establishes that the Enterprise can fly at warp speed in reverse.
- This episode was nominated for the 1967 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Remarkable Scenes
- McCoy purposely ignoring the red alert to make Kirk finish his physical...
- McCoy: "What am I, a doctor or a moon shuttle conductor?" (Count #1 for "I'm a doctor, not a [blah]" style lines McCoy is famous for.)
- McCoy, talking to himself: "If i jumped every time the light came on around here I'd end up talking to myself."
- The Enterprise's attempts to escape the cube and eventually destroying the cube.
- Kirk complaining about having a female yeoman.
- Sulu very quickly compensating for Bailey's delinquencies.
- Kirk determined to help the enemy in need.

My Review
An episode with a terrific theme and a terrible execution. The spirit of Star Trek and the mission of the Enterprise, to peacefully seek out new life and new civilizations, is demonstrated to its fullest effect here. Despite what easily could have been an armed conflict with what appeared to be a hostile alien species, Kirk's actions prevail in cultivating a peaceful ending, complete with establishing diplomatic relations and a cultural exchange. That all sounds great until you start to examine the details of the plot more closely, at which point unless you're willing to put up with a lot of stylistic oddness, the episode comes off as largely a dramatic failure due to its overwhelming awkwardness.

There are three details of the plot which render the episode difficult to watch. The first and most obvious detail is the incredibly slow pace. I bet I could find over ten minutes of unnecessary material to cut from the episode just from the various scenes where dramatic music plays while the crew stares anxiously at the viewscreen awaiting their impending doom. It's completely unnecessary for us to spend so much time taking in closeups of each individual character's reaction to each individual plot development several times in a row. Camera focuses on viewscreen, camera focuses on crew, camera focuses on viewscreen, camera focuses on other crew... gets old fast.

But even editorial cuts to speed up the pacing wouldn't save us from the insufferable behavior of Bailey and Balok. Bailey's oft-recurring incompetence and emotional outbursts happened so frequently that I found myself largely agreeing with McCoy's flagrant questioning of why Kirk ever promoted the guy to a bridge officer in the first place. Likewise, Balok's overwrought and intensely awkward proclamations of doom and gloom at various points throughout the episode were reminiscent of the sort of bad acting you'd expect to find listening to a cheesy sci fi radio show from the 1950s. Granted, the acting on this show is not typically stellar, but Balok's was bad even for this show's standards. As for the "real" Balok revealed at the end, the less said about that aesthetic choice, the better...

The final difficult detail to deal with is Balok's shoddy reasoning for his stated motives for his actions, something which is becoming all too common on this show for antagonists. Throughout the episode, everything Kirk does just seems to irritate Balok more and more for no particular reason. Every time Kirk offers Balok the hand of truce and friendship, Balok slaps it away. He claimed he did this to rule out deception in Kirk's statements, but in so doing he gave Kirk plenty of reasons to flee and leave Balok's ship disabled in order to ensure a safe escape. Had Kirk chosen to do that, Balok never would have gotten a chance to participate in the peaceful cultural exchange he desired. As such, his tactics were flawed and worked only because of Kirk's innate desire to take questionable, unreasonable risks in the spirit of fulfilling his mission.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From John Bernhardt on 2010-01-12 at 12:44pm:
    This was the first episode produced after the two pilots.
  • From Paul Loudon on 2010-10-01 at 10:22am:
    Uhura is in a yellow uniform because it is only the third episode ever filmed, her first appearance and hence they were still working these finer points out.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-11 at 12:13pm:
    I thought this was a solid episode, though certainly not perfect.

    - I thought Balok's behavior was strange too, but I interpret it differently. His ship was never really disabled. He was essentially a superbeing who was testing the crew. Superior races in Star Trek consistently have very picky opinions about what makes a lesser race worthy of contact. So I believe he was testing them to see if they "had evolved to a point" where they were worthy of a cultural exchange.
    - I agree that Balok's acting is way over the top. But I don't mind, it is part of the charm. Except that his repetitiousness gets monotonous after a while.
    - I agree that some of the scenes are stretched too long. On the other hand, it can be nice to see a show with a slower pace once in a while. After all, it is still a lot faster paced than real life.
    - My main complaint has always been that I was quite unimpressed with Kirk's bluff. Everyone acts like it is this daring poker bluff, but to me it sounds more like a caricature of a bluff. It is the sort of bluff I might create if I was writing a story about how great Kirk is at bluffing, but had no creativity myself to come up with a clever bluff, so instead I just write that Kirk says something ridiculous and the enemy believes it, "proving" that Kirk is a great bluffer. The bluff is ridiculous; his delivery is good, but not that good. Fortunately, the story doesn't depend on Balok believing the bluff; I assume he didn't, but just pretended that he did as part of the test.
    - I like the bantering between Kirk and McCoy. Except for the complaints about having a female yeoman – what is that all about?
    - Science Note: The cube is 107 meters on a side and 11000 metric tons. But Scotty says the cube is solid. That would make the density of the cube extremely low, around 1% of the density of water, so it is made of something very lightweight.
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-02-25 at 10:03pm:
    I thought this was a great episode! Maybe not perfect but is anything really perfect? I thought the Corbomite Maneuver was one of the best episodes from the first year!

    And considering it was only the third episode filmed in the series the execution was pretty darn good.

    What I thought was flawed was Kethinov’s review.

    The Corbomite Maneuver was taut, tense and dramatic and it keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. What Kethinov calls the “incredibly slow pace” was actually what I loved most about this episode. You can almost feel the tension the crew is feeling as you are watching it. I always enjoyed it when Kirk and McCoy butted heads and their heated exchange in this episode is really good. You can even see the sweat on the crew’s faces which made it all the more realistic.

    When Kethinov complains about the pacing I can almost hear Bailey saying, “I don’t understand this. Spock’s wasting time. Everybody else just sitting around. Somebody’s got to do something!” The feeling Kethinov gets from watching the episode is exactly what the crew is feeling. And that is what good drama is all about.

    Granted the corny figure of Balok leaves a lot to be desired, but look at the shoestring budget the network had them on. Cut them some slack please. A chessy sci-fi radio show from the 50’s probably had a bigger budget.

    And as for Balok’s motives I totally agree with Calexander here. Balok was from an advanced race and the whole thing was a test to see how the Enterprise would respond. Did we really believe that Balok would destroy the Enterprise at the end of the ten minutes? I thought so at the time but looking back I can now see he had no intention of ever doing that. When he allowed the Enterprise to “supposedly” disable his ship this again was another test. If the Enterprise left him to die on his own then he knew this was not a race Balok’s people wanted to have any contact with.

    Fortunately, the writers had the Enterprise, or more correctly James Kirk, make the right choice. That of placing the safety of alien life above the safety of his own life. This kind of moral is what DID SET ( past tense!!!! ) Star Trek above all other science fiction films and TV. And why I enjoyed the first two seasons of Star Trek ( and a couple of the Star Trek movies )so much.

    As for the bluff, I loved it. I still do. I still crack up every time I hear Spock say, “A very interesting game, this poker.”

    And I always wondered if McCoy ever did teach Spock to play poker? LOL.

    As for Kirk’s complains about the female yeoman, I think he was just venting to McCoy about Rand “hovering” over him like a mother. Which brings me to my only complaint of this episode, and really it is a complaint of the series as a whole. And that is the role of the yeoman was always played by a woman. I felt this was sexiest. I think you will find in the U.S Navy over half the yeomen are exactly that MEN! Nowhere that I have ever seen has there ever been a male yeoman in Star Trek and I think it is a weakness of the series as a whole.

    All in all a thoroughly enjoyable episode and one I would highly recommend to anyone starting out watching Star Trek!
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-09-23 at 2:17pm:
    The Corbomite Maneuver

    Terrible story, but with some fun moments here and there.

    In short, the main problem with this episode is that Balok is incredibly cruel and unreasonable -- and that this is somehow justified by the claim that he was only "testing" the Enterprise crew, albeit with faulty logic, to determine their "true intentions".

    Re Kethinov's review: I mostly agree with it, but I think that his final paragraph goes too easy on the episode.

    >----o----<

    On to the story:

    The Enterprise is minding its own business when a "space buoy" chases our heroes down and holds them trapped for what will be 18 hours. (What did they do during that 18 hours?)

    OK, they convene in the briefing room. Uhura looks like she's sitting through a long, really boring class. And Sulu has his head down on the table! Were they in that briefing room the entire 18 hours?

    I like this dialogue:

    [In the briefing room]

    KIRK: Anything further, gentlemen?
    SPOCK: I believe it adds up to either one of two possibilities. First, a space buoy of some kind.
    KIRK: Second?
    SPOCK: Flypaper.
    KIRK: And you don't recommend sticking around.
    SPOCK: Negative. It would make us appear too weak.
    KIRK: It's time for action, gentlemen. Mister Bailey . . .

    So it took 18 hours to get to this point?

    OK. Kirk finally decides it's time for action. He decides to try to get away from the thing in a spiral course. So Balok tightens his grip on the ship and then has his "space buoy" bombard the Enterprise with deadly radiation. Kirk recklessly waits until near-lethal levels are reached and then finally fires phasers to destroy it. (Just what exactly was he waiting for? I found myself screaming at him, "Fire the phasers already!") And then Balok has the chutzpah to complain!

    "Having ignored a warning buoy, and having then destroyed it, has demonstrated your intention is not peaceful."

    What? Acting in self-preservation somehow demonstrates hostility?

    OK, after destroying the cube, the Enterprise goes forward.

    Then the giant flagship Fesarius puts a tractor beam on them, takes control of the ship, gives them 10 minutes to pray or what, after which they will be destroyed. The Enterprise ejects a recorder marker but Balok destroys it. Bailey loses it. Then the bluff trick. But what if Kirk hadn't made the bluff? What would Balok have done? Destroy them? Probably not. But the Enterprise crew didn't know that! That leaves, "Ha ha, just joking!" Seems pretty damn cruel to me. And couldn't they have dispatched a "subspace" message instead?

    Then more crap from Balok with the small tow ship and such. And Kirk nearly ruins his ship to pull free. This scene goes on for too long. And somehow the Captain knows the "maximum temperature" is way off. OK, maybe there is a huge safety factor implicit in the "maximum temperature. Nonetheless, we have Kirk being totally reckless again.

    Now, after all this crap Balok put them through, Kirk is supposed to respond favorably to a distress call? This is all some kind of test? Test of what? To see how much crap they'll put up with and still respond to a distress call?

    It's like you and your comrades are POW's of a ruthless enemy. You've been horribly mistreated. Then you are forced at gunpoint to line up against a wall, face the wall, after which you are told you are to be shot. Then the soldiers lay down their guns, pick up some cameras, and shoot photos of them. This is effectively what Balok did to the crew of the Enterprise. Would you want friends like this?

    And how about testing Balok? Is his behavior somehow acceptable? NO! It's cruel. Pure and simple. I mean, why can't we test _him_ for _his_ intentions? What would _you_ conclude from his behavior? Granted, it was the Enterprise that was trespassing, but the crew had no reason to believe that. And once Balok confronted them with the spinning cube, he proved that _he_ was the one who had hostile intentions and was being totally unreasonable, to boot!

    There's too quick a resolution too late in the show. It feels like a cheat. Similar to a "deus ex machina", though I'm not sure whether this is really the same thing or not. Regardless -- I mean, really: Balok: "It was a pleasure testing you." . . . Kirk: "I see." That's it? And that, all of a sudden, makes everything hunky-dory? Couldn't Balok at least have apologized: "Sorry, gentlemen, for scaring you half to death and nearly destroying you and your ship, but it was 'only a test', and I got a real kick out of it." Yeah.

    It's annoying enough having a sudden last-minute out-of-nowhere save like this, but to help someone who put you through such hell for no good reason? Hell, on that note I'd think an alien with this much power need not fear the Enterprise in the first place.

    And then they leave Bailey behind! Who's to say Balok won't put him through hell just like he did the Enterprise and crew? How do they know that Balok will ever let Bailey return? And what about the cuisine?!

    Would _you_ want to hang out with this Balok dude?

    >----o----<

    A few short points:

    Bailey reports that the buoy is 1593 meters distant. That's about a mile! It's clearly a lot closer than that. (I only have the re-mastered version, unfortunately. So I don't know if it's the same in the original.) And based on the ship being 289 m long and the spinning cube being 107 m on a side, the scale of everything is _way off_ anyway.

    It's funny when Janice places the napkin on Kirk's lap. How could Grace Lee Whitney do that with a straight face? Now that's acting!

    Spock says that Balok is "in some manner reminiscent of [his] father". Say what? Totally absurd. Please. This must have been some desperate "filler" material.

    Uhura says "hailing frequencies open" some seven times, and practically nothing else until the end when she tells us about Balok's "distress signal".

    About that shot of Sulu turning around at about 7m20s: Is this the same shot seen in many other episodes?

    Rand with the coffee: Nice random element to throw in. Nice contrast to the gravity of the situation.

    This Balok dude is really into curtains, no? His "ship" doesn't look much like a ship. It looks like a curtain store. Must be a budget-saving device.

    Which ship was which? When I first saw this episode literally decades ago I thought the small ship was not manned by Balok. Balok stayed on the big ship, safe from any possible Corbomite device and thereby thwarting Kirk's bluff! But as I watch it now it looks like he _was_ on the little tow ship. So what was the point of that? And why does he have the big ship?

    Memory Alpha has a page about the Fesarius: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Fesarius. Among other things, it explains that the special effects to make the large ship was so difficult that it held up the episode, resulting in it being the tenth to be shown.

    Balok says he thought his distress signal was "quite clever". In isolation it _was_ clever, as the distress call was aimed at "the mother ship", and likely not strong enough to be heard (though I'm not sure how you could determine these things). But this is not a dude deserving rescue.

    Spock was clearly unhappy about not finding a solution to the problem. Is this not emotion?

    Boy, it didn't take long for Scotty to evaluate the engines!

    >----o----<

    On the bright side:

    o Yeoman Rand serving greens to Kirk.
    o The look of evil Balok.
    o Spock, Bailey, and Sulu in the adrenaline-gland scene.
    o The hilarity of the briefing-room scene.
    o The chess and poker bit. Spock: "A very interesting game, this poker."
    o Yeoman Rand serving coffee.

    >----o----<

    On readers' comments:

    John Bernhardt pointed out that this was the 1st post-pilot production. Quite believable, as Spock is still using his "loud voice" from time to time (and complains about Bailey raising his!). He clearly still has at least some of the mannerisms of "early Spock" from the pilot episodes, though to a lesser degree.

    I agree with CAlexander about Kirk's bluff being not that good and such.

    A similar Corbomite bluff was used in "The Deadly Years", but was better-played and more believable as a severe-overkill self-destruct mechanism, as opposed to the "reverse reaction" mechanism we see here.

    Re Mike Meares' comments:

    There's "keeping you on the edge of your seat", and there's "let's get on with it already". I found this episode to be more of the latter.

    Why should one place the safety of alien life above one's own? (And this goes double for such a cruel alien.) Behavior like that would quickly doom a species to extinction.

    AEF
  • From Strider on 2012-10-06 at 2:01am:
    This is one of my favorite episodes, and I watch it frequently, all the way up to the last segment with Balok. I always turn it off when they're going into the transporter. I actually love Clint Howard as an actor, but I hate that last segment.

    But up to that, I think it's one of the best episodes in the series. Kirk completely owns this episode. He's human enough to be anxious about the fate of his ship and crew, but he's the one that comes up with all the solutions. Even Spock is ashamed that he can't come up with any logical solutions. And for once, they get out not because some all-powerful entity decides to let them go, but because Kirk is ingenious and courageous. The crew is in awe of him; you can see it on the faces of everyone on the bridge from Spock to Sulu.

    I never found the pacing slow. I, too, found that it built tension throughout the episode. When they counted down the 10 minutes and then they didn't die, that was a huge moment! You can't create moments like that without investing some time in it.
  • From Dos Flores on 2012-12-28 at 12:36am:
    Oh dear. I was nodding along with each of your episodes reviews and ratings, right up to this one - one of my favorite!
    I thought the pacing, really quite different from typical original series fare, was one of its selling points. Was Balok's behavior and response over-the-top theatrical in its Booming Menace and Evil? Well, yes! Because it *was* an act, one-dimensional and heavy-handed, designed precisely to be unreasonable, in order to put them through a dramatic wringer, psychologically, and see how they'd react under duress. And the disabled ship may have been, as someone suggested, a poor way to test their altruism, considering what he had just put them through, but it was a great way to test their level of aggression or vindictiveness, precisely BECAUSE of what he had just put them through. There was a third option, after all, besides either aiding or not aiding a helpless and disabled enemy vessel... what would a Klingon commander have done in that exact situation, for example?
    This episode was also some of Shatner's most restrained acting, and it's a nice reminder of the fact that, when ego and diet pills weren't making him, well, Shatner, he really *could* act. I liked this completely grown-up Captain Kirk, and can actually see him with some emotional weight on him in that command chair. His interactions with McCoy, including quietly snarling at him under pressure, feel real, as do his frustrated attempts to get through to an obviously overmatched bridge crew member. ("Promoted too fast"... uhm, ya think?) He certainly would have made my short list of people to maroon with a strange alien...

    And more! The scenes between Spock and Kirk this early in the series are a huge selling point for the episode, laying such fine groundwork for what is already being shaded as a deep connection. When Kirk, stressed out by the unreasonable countdown to destruction, verbally cuts at Spock for not having a magic-bullet solution, Nimoy just nails the response. You can see his sense of having personally failed the Captain, and it hurts. Plot holes? For sure. But no more than I think are typical for the series overall, and with some nice tension and pacing for distraction!
  • From Schreck on 2013-05-23 at 5:08pm:
    A very early episode that is very slow moving, but offers a few nice moments that clearly show where the crew and Kirk will be going in the future…plus we get Clint Howard!!! I give it a 7 and my brother a 6.25
  • From CAlexander on 2013-09-03 at 6:07pm:
    There has been some discussion about whether Balok’s behavior is reasonable or unreasonable, but I would like to point out that our judgment of Balok’s behavior makes no difference to the episode. We have to keep in mind what Kirk’s mission is. Kirk’s mission is to establish peaceful relations with Balok’s people. If Balok’s culture considers it appropriate to put strangers in mortal danger as a test of character, it isn’t Kirk’s job to tell them that their cultural customs suck. How does it benefit the Federation to needlessly antagonize foreign cultures by denigrating their value systems as inferior to that of the Federation? Kirk’s job is to suck it up, smile, and make good relations with the strange representative of an extremely powerful and dangerous foreign government.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-11-16 at 9:42pm:
    To Dos Flores:

    Regardless of whether this was a great way to test Kirk and crew (and I claim it wasn't), how can you possibly justify such cruelty? You seem to have absolutely no concern for the well being of our heroes. Take the radiation attack, for example. Even though it did not kill them then right there and then, it must have surely caused numerous cases of radiation sickness. (Realistically, it would have. Well, I suppose it turns on just what Spock meant by "tolerance level" and "lethal zone". It's not like everyone would instantaneously drop dead at any point, but having entered the "lethal zone" it seems to me that many should have gotten radiation sickness and cancer and what not. Hey, just for the test, right?) And the Enterprise might have easily been destroyed at some point. A lot of wear and tear, at least. These things are somehow insignificant and justified?

    To Dos Flores and CAlexander:

    What would you have thought if Captain Kirk and crew did all this to a technologically inferior culture who were just minding their own business, just like the Enterprise was? What if either of them did it to you? And if you have children, them? Your kids getting radiation sickness? Just for the test, eh?

    This was like an elephant testing the intentions of a mouse.

    To CAlexander:

    Balok was way beyond unreasonable. He was evil, pure and simple. And he deserved zero good will, irrespective of anything else. Severe punishment would be appropriate. He bombarded the Enterprise with lethal radiation for crying out loud! That's pretty damn hostile, if you ask me.

    What about the Axis powers? Would you have tried to establish peaceful relations with them? Hmmm. Someone tried with one of them. It didn't turn out too well. So you would say that maybe they were just testing us? That our job was to suck it up and let the Axis powers have their way?

    Kirk frequently denigrated alien cultures' customs. He also did something about it! Here's a list.

    Romulans and Klingons in any episode they appear in.

    Balance of Terror
    The Return of the Archons
    Space Seed (well, the culture of Kahn and his crew)
    A Taste of Armageddon
    Who Mourns for Adonais?
    The Apple
    I, Mudd (the androids' culture)
    The Gamesters of Triskelion
    A Piece of the Action
    Patterns of Force
    By Any Other Name
    The Omega Glory
    Spock's Brain
    For the World Is Hollow
    Plato's Stepchildren
    Wink of an Eye
    The Empath
    The Cloud Minders
    The Savage Curtain

    In all these episodes he not only judged and disapproved of the alien cultures; when he could, he put things right, as he should have. And the Federation had no problem with it, to boot.

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune
  • From Rick on 2014-08-26 at 1:03pm:
    At Alan Feldman:

    I dont think you understand the way that "superior" beings are portrayed on Star Trek. From the view of the inferior beings (in this case humans) their actions may seem cruel but that does not make them cruel by their standards (presumably because we cannot understand their standards). Q is a great example of this. Heck, the Federation is a great example of this! Dont you think the prime directive seems extremely cruel to the inferior beings that it negatively affects?

    Anyway, Balok's portrayal is very consistent with the portrayal of superior beings on Star Trek, and therefore shouldnt be considered a negative to this episode in particular.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-09-14 at 5:50pm:
    At Rick:

    "I dont think you understand the way that "superior" beings are portrayed on Star Trek. From the view of the inferior beings (in this case humans) their actions may seem cruel but that does not make them cruel by their standards (presumably because we cannot understand their standards)."

    Sorry, I don't buy your explanation. It's a cop-out. Cruel is cruel.

    I think you used the last occurrence of the word _cruel_ above to mean immoral. Regardless, I find Balok to be both cruel and immoral.

    Now, morality is a slippery term, and I don't want to get into an extended philosophical discussion here, but I think the following is beyond question:

    Balok was cruel, hostile, highly unreasonable, and hypocritical.

    So what bothers me so much is how all this was just hunky dory in the end, and how this testing was somehow legitimate and justifiable. Imagine if our heroes did the same to some inferior race or species.

    What Balok did was awful and he deserves jail, not friends. And why should we go by his standards, anyway? Criminals and psychopaths have their own standards. Would you give _them_ a pass? What's not to understand?

    "Q is a great example of this."

    I know next to nothing about Q. I have seen probably not more than one or two episodes of each of the spin-offs. I care primarily about Star Trek TOS. The rest is of little or no interest to me. Even the Star Trek TOS movies don't interest me as much as the TOS TV show. Q and such is not Star Trek to me.

    As far as being inferior: In this case it's just a matter of technology. It's not like a human compared to a worm or a single-cell organism.

    "Heck, the Federation is a great example of this! Dont you think the prime directive seems extremely cruel to the inferior beings that it negatively affects?"

    Re the Prime Directive:

    Even D.C. Fontana, when asked about it said, "You mean the one Kirk violated all the time?" [Ref. http://youtu.be/ZtEBNNkouck starting at 2:34.]

    There are approximately 11 episodes where the Prime Directive might apply. In only eight of them is it mentioned explicitly (Archons, Apple, Piece of Action, Private Little War, Patterns, Omega, Bread, and Hollow). In almost all of them, Kirk interferes. In fact, Spock asks Kirk in many of these episodes if they had violated (or should violate) the Prime Directive, with Kirk always making up some answer that may or may not pass muster. In a few he tried to undo damage that was already done by others. The Directive was taken most seriously, regardless of consequences to our heroes, in "A Private Little War," and most especially in "Bread and Circuses."

    So where's the damage? [Perhaps you're thinking of the one TNG episode I actually saw in its entirety, in which Picard refuses to interfere, even though the civilization in question was doomed to extinction without some outside help. But this is the TOS forum.]

    "Anyway, Balok's portrayal is very consistent with the portrayal of superior beings on Star Trek, and therefore shouldnt be considered a negative to this episode in particular."

    The closest I can see to Balok in TOS are the Melkotians and the Vians. But the Melkotians had some justification because they made it crystal clear to Kirk right at the outset that the Enterprise was trespassing and should promptly go away. Balok had no justification whatsoever. He was hostile from the outset. The Vians were also pretty bad, but at least they weren't rescued or befriended in the end. Oh, the Metrons also did some testing -- a rather complicated morality case I choose not analyze at this time.

    In TOS, each case of "superior beings" is different. I don't see how you can classify them so narrowly. Trelane was immature, a hypocrite and a psychopath. Gorgan was power-hungry. Apollo was overly egotistical and selfish. The Salt Monster, the fog creature in "Obsession," the huge "cell" in "The Immunity Syndrome," and the ravioli monsters were basically just dangerous animals. The Organians were peaceful and super powerful. The entity in "Day of the Dove" was pretty much evil, don't you think? Sargon was good, Felicia teetered, and Hannock was evil. Jack the Ripper in "Wolf in the Fold" was pure psychopath. I'll skip the rest. All the evil beings were either destroyed, incapacitated, or taken away by others, the exception being Balok.

    What bothers me the most in this episode is Kirk's rescue attempt and befriending of such a contemptible person. That is contrary to what he did with every other evil entity in the show.
  • From Rick on 2015-02-27 at 2:41pm:
    " [Perhaps you're thinking of the one TNG episode I actually saw in its entirety, in which Picard refuses to interfere, even though the civilization in question was doomed to extinction without some outside help. But this is the TOS forum.]"

    Actually there are multiple episodes in TNG where the Enterprise lets a species go extinct. Additionally, in "The Last Outpost" Riker specifically states that the Federation has let numerous races go extinct even though they could have intervened to save them. I imagine if those people that were needlessly killed knew the Federation couldve saved them they mightve thought it was a tad cruel.
  • From thaibites on 2015-09-30 at 4:08pm:
    The best thing about this episode is creepy, little Clint Howard. If you didn't grow up with this episode, you will never understand. I love when he laughs and drinks Tranya - it's so fake, it's awesome! Clint should've gotten and Emmy for this. Love those wacky teeth, too.

    I need some Tranya...
  • From Alan Feldman on 2015-11-13 at 10:47pm:
    Yet more on "The Corbomite Maneuver".

    In reply to Rick on 2015-02-27 at 7:41pm:

    Letting a civilization needlessly go extinct _is_ cruel. And it makes no sense, to boot.

    Yet another strike against TNG.

    >----o----<

    On my list of Prime Directive episodes, a few should be removed, like "Space Seed" and "By Any Other Name". Maybe one could make a case for non-interference in a few of them of the ones still on the list. But I think blind unthinking adherence to it, as if it were perfectly constructed by lawmakers of infallible wisdom, is foolhardy.

    AEF
  • From CAlexander on 2017-04-09 at 11:06am:
    To Alan: The Klingons (like the Axis, etc.) are a good example. They did far, far, far, far worse things than Balok, but the Federation still made peace with them by TNG, even though they were unrepentent. And it is easy to see why – as per Yesterday’s Enterprise, if they hadn’t, the Federation would have been conquered. The Federation is quite capable of engaging in diplomacy with violent cultures when it is in its own best interests. While Kirk certainly loved interfering with alien cultures when he got a chance, but they were different situations for many reasons I’d love to discuss but don’t want to spend the space on, but generally involving foes either still actively threatening the Federation or actively continuing to engage in reprehensible conduct or Kirk being in a position of power, none of which was the case with Balok.
    However, thinking more on this I believe I may have missed something important here. If I recall, the setup was that the Enterprise was on a mission to invade First Federation space to establish contact, and ignored express warnings to not to enter. If interstellar law works like international law on Earth, the First Federation would be well within its right to destroy the Enterprise (remember the Soviet Union shot down U2 spy planes that weren’t even armed, the Enterprise could have reduced the First Federation planets to radioactive slag if unopposed). The Enterprise must have known they were risking a war by entering, and after discovering Balok incredible power, they must have been overjoyed by the end that he wasn’t going to retaliate and that, in fact, they had succeeded on their mission with far less loss of life than they may have anticipated.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x11 - The Menagerie, Part I

Originally Aired: 1966-11-17

Synopsis:
Spock hijacks the Enterprise to return an injured Captain Pike to Talos IV. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 5.06

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 69 12 6 9 2 10 18 39 37 17 34

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- Neither the first, nor the second part of The Menagerie is essential viewing if you're trying to plow through only Star Trek's essential exposition and stand-out classics, but it's definitely among the better episodes. If you do decide to watch The Menagerie, I recommend skipping The Cage unless you're willing to put up with the clip show to get the additional texture.

Problems
- This episode unfortunately inherits many continuity errors due to reusing material from The Cage. See my review of The Cage for a complete list of them.
- Unfortunately, this episode also adds to The Cage's list of continuity errors created by future episodes retconning earlier material. In the document Kirk reads about Talos IV, the text makes several human-centric references that imply that Earth is a nation of humans, rather than Earth existing in what will eventually be referred to as The United Federation of Planets, the multi-species nation Star Trek eventually became famous for. The text of the document even explicitly calls out Spock's half-human, half-Vulcan nature as if aliens living among humans is unusual and expressly forbids humans (rather than citizens of the Federation) from visiting Talos IV. All of this is caused by the fact that at this stage in production, the idea of the Federation had not yet been established by the writers. The Federation was introduced in a much later episode, retconning all of this stuff in the process.

Factoids
- The events of The Cage take place 13 years prior to the events of this episode.
- When Pike was promoted to Fleet Captain, he ceded command of the Enterprise to Kirk. That is when Kirk and Pike first met.
- Spock served with Pike for 11 years, 4 months, and 5 days.
- This episode (both parts) won the 1967 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk blindly defending Spock's good name regarding the phantom transmission.
- Spock sneaking around; up to no good.
- Spock fighting with the starbase officer.
- Spock taking over the Enterprise.
- Spock submitting himself for arrest.
- Spock completely outmaneuvering the captain and the commodore at the trial.

My Review
Spoiler warning: my review of this episode assumes you've seen Star Trek's pilot episode "The Cage" which is the unaired episode that the clips Spock shows in this episode were originally filmed for. You should be able to find The Cage in the extras either at the beginning or the end of your home video collection. My review of this episode does not discuss or analyze any of the events of The Cage itself, but instead focuses solely on the new events in The Menagerie and assumes that you have already seen The Cage. If you're looking for commentary on the events of The Cage, then please read my separate review of that episode first. If you're not planning to watch The Cage, I recommend waiting to read this review until you've seen both parts of The Menagerie to avoid spoilers.

The Menagerie, Part I is a cleverly written episode which rises above the many already-established cliches in Star Trek to tell a story that is fresh, new, and unique despite it merely being a shameless framing device so that the unaired material of The Cage could be put to good use. Even the title of this episode "The Menagerie" is a reference to one of the lines spoken by Pike in The Cage. As for the actual clip show, I don't know whether it was good preplanning or just some damn fine luck that the Talosians as written in The Cage had the ability to show people illusions, because it provides quite a clever way to substantiate their ability to show the court the entire episode in flashback form.

The crafty way the clip show was integrated into the episode was certainly among its most memorable qualities, but the centerpiece of the story is Spock going off on a crazy quest against orders, then getting caught and having to defend himself in a court martial. Unfortunately the court proceedings are admittedly weakly written. Why is Spock still able to give testimony after having plead guilty? Why should Kirk be punished too because of Spock's actions? Why is the death penalty of all things considered acceptable for such a minor transgression? Why was court declared to be in recess at the end of the episode? What is this recess being used for?

These are all trivial questions and there are some fairly trivial answers to them if you're willing to be imaginative. But they all stick out as minor plot holes the episode was unwilling to explain away and were unnecessary details to begin with. Better writing could have avoided the awkwardness. That said, Spock being put on trial for his actions was a fantastic dramatic choice and Spock having manipulated everything carefully enough so that he could control the court proceedings up until the cliffhanger was a delightful touch. On a related note, Kirk and McCoy debating with each other over whether or not Spock was capable of treachery was a terrific scene and placing the scene just prior to Spock stealing the ship was an excellent counterpoint.

In addition to being the first episode to feature a cliffhanger, The Menagerie is also the first episode to feature a shuttlecraft. The shuttle Kirk and the commodore use to attempt to catch up with the Enterprise is intriguing in its design and capabilities; it was presented much as I would expect a shuttlecraft to be like given the technologies at their disposal during this time period. It was futuristic, high tech, and even roomy by our standards of space travel, but compared with a ship as advanced as the Enterprise the shuttle was scaled down both in size and capabilities. A commendably realistic technological portrayal given what assumptions we can reasonably make about their technological advances from our perspective.

It might be tempting to pick on poor old Captain Pike for his rather pitiful wheelchair that only lets him beep things to communicate, but I felt that the episode did a fine job of substantiating this. McCoy makes a big point about how the study of the brain has advanced little over the years. Given that, even something as simple a rudimentary neural interface is a technology light years beyond anything we've got. Crafting a custom wheelchair just for Pike that allows him limited mobility and limited communication is quite an achievement by itself. Just because these people have transporters and warp drive doesn't mean they're magical wizards. Giving them limitations is what makes them human.

This episode ends on both the most dramatic point of The Menagerie, since Spock seems to have lost control of the situation for the first time in the episode, as well as ending on the most dramatic point of The Cage, when Pike is abducted, which is another nice touch. I was pleased that the first thing that came out of Kirk's mouth upon witnessing the footage was a demand to know how Spock could have created it and I greatly enjoyed how Pike slowly started to come around to Spock's side. For a character who can only beep yes or no, he was surprisingly compelling. Overall, this is easily the best episode so far in what has mostly been a sea of duds.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 2:07pm:
    Some additions to your review, which I totally agree with otherwise (especially the absurdities):
    - another problem: the peak of the absurdness in this episode is how easily Spock gets off the hook. Last time I checked this was a military organisation, and stealing a starship, insubordination and mutiny, for whatever cause other than protecting the lives of millions against an evil superior is still punishable. So now all of a sudden it is ok because it was an act of compassion? Yeah right.

    - another highlight: Kirk, acting as a jury member in the trial against Spock. This is one of the very few occasions we see what a hardass military commander he can be - calm, cool, deadly, convicting Spock to death because this is what military law calls for. We tend to forget this side of him because most of the time he is all chummy with the crew and all angry and emotional with the enemy. Now I understand why he got to command a starship with a crew of 400+.
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2011-12-06 at 4:02pm:
    Great site. I do wish to participate in the future.
    Here is my comment.

    There is a scene where Pike continues to signal "No". Commodore Mendez states that he could be questioned for days, without determining the issue. If I assume he can respond "Yes" or "No" to any questions, then any child who has ever played, "Is it bigger than a breadbox?" clearly knows that this is false. Let me ask 50 questions ...
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-02-26 at 7:30am:
    I thoroughly enjoyed the Menagerie! And I totally agree with Kethinov’s review! I still remember watching it for the first time and being in shock at what was unfolding right before my eyes! And
    I still enjoy watching it today.

    I really can’t separate Part One from Part Two, they are linked together and that is the way I will review them. Although I do agree with Kethinov as far as Part One being far superior to Part Two.

    However, like Kethinov pointed out there are numerous questions that pop up about both episodes. I am not sure I would call them “trivial” as he does, but as he correctly pointed out in his review they could be explained away. Well most of them but not all. I just wish the writers had spent a little more time on explaining them.

    I apologize in advance to anyone who takes offense at this, but just because I have questions about the Menagerie doesn’t mean I don’t think it is a terrific episode. I just feel it isn’t the best written Star Trek episode.

    I could name quite a few “mistakes” in both episodes but I will limit my criticism to just two mistakes or problems. And they are whoppers.

    The biggest problem with the Menagerie is that it is based upon the court martial of Mister Spock. Why is this a problem you say? Because in order to conduct a court martial you have to have three officers of command rank onboard. Since leaving Star Base 11, Commodore Mendez was an allusion created by the Talosians. Therefore you did not have three officers of command rank onboard; Ergo, Mister Spock could not have been court martial!

    However, this raises an even bigger and more serious issue to the story.

    If the Talosians could send their allusions all the way to Star Base 11 then why all the charade? When the Enterprise got to Star Base 11 the Talosians could have just created the allusion that everything was normal and Spock could have taken Captain Pike to Talos and gotten back to Star Base 11 and nobody would have been the wiser!

    Granted, it would have been difficult to stretch that into a two part episode! LOL!

    Nitpick: I could say something about Star Base 11 having back to back episodes( based on the way the episodes were filmed ) of a Court Martial against Kirk and then one against Spock, but I won’t! LOL! It is a good thing the Enterprise never went back to Star Base 11. Dr. McCoy or Scotty would have been next! LOL!

    More Nitpick: When they were questioning Pike did anyone ever think of asking a Vulcan to Mind Meld with him? Just asking.
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2012-02-29 at 4:45pm:
    Mike, we don't need a mind meld. See my last comment. 50 intelligent questions that can be answered "Yes" or "No" will get to the bottom of almost anything. I do believe we may assume that in the 23rd century, folks will still be able to ask intelligent questions.
  • From Schreck on 2013-05-23 at 5:41pm:
    The first and only two-parter of TOS that gives us a nice storyline about what happened to Pike and it gives us some nice continuity in the series which is lacking. I give it a 7 and my brother a 6.5

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Star Trek TOS - 1x12 - The Menagerie, Part II

Originally Aired: 1966-11-24

Synopsis:
Spock hijacks the Enterprise to return an injured Captain Pike to Talos IV. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 3

Fan Rating Average - 4.66

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 61 11 8 7 27 19 23 23 23 18 24

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- Neither the first, nor the second part of The Menagerie is essential viewing if you're trying to plow through only Star Trek's essential exposition and stand-out classics, but it's definitely among the better episodes. If you do decide to watch The Menagerie, I recommend skipping The Cage unless you're willing to put up with the clip show to get the additional texture.

Problems
- This episode unfortunately inherits many continuity errors due to reusing material from The Cage. See my review of The Cage for a complete list of them.

Factoids
- This episode (both parts) won the 1967 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Remarkable Scenes
- The revelation that the commodore was an illusion.
- The Talosians welcoming Pike back to their world.

My Review
The pacing of part two crashes hard. Even if you opted out of seeing The Cage prior to watching The Menagerie, the plot still seems to spend a conspicuous amount of time making excuses to put as much of Pike's flashback experiences with the Talosians on screen as possible. At one point Spock is even asked why he doesn't just explain to the court what he's trying to demonstrate and his absurd response was that they wouldn't believe him if he simply explained it, so he has to show it instead. The court then proceeds to make a unanimous vote finding Spock guilty, a redundant action seeing as how he already entered a plea of guilty in part one, at which point despite having both admitted his guilt and having been found guilty by the panel of judges, Spock astonishingly continues to be allowed to present testimony.

All of this nonsense gets justified at the end by the rather meager excuse that Spock and the Talosians were working together to create delays, including the illusion of the commodore's presence aboard the ship, so that Kirk would not attempt to regain control of the ship in time for it to arrive at Talos IV. Using the Talosians' power of illusions to misdirect Kirk was a reasonably good idea for a plot point, but hinging the entire second part of the episode on misdirecting the audience as much as Kirk (annoying the audience in the process) all so the episode could get away with having as little plot as possible was pretty weak.

What's worse is we learn that the whole reason why Talos IV is a forbidden world is because the government bought into the Talosians' absurd fear that establishing some kind of normal trade relations would result in their power of illusions spreading, destroying others as they've destroyed themselves. This fear is a shoddy justification for barring any travel to or communication with Talos IV and an even worse justification for enforcing such a nonsensical law by enacting the death penalty. I was hoping for some new exposition that might at least attempt to give some rational reason for the existence of such a draconian law, but the episode didn't even really bother. What points I grant this episode are mostly riding on the well executed dramatic premise and potential of part one, which part two satisfactorily concluded, but largely failed to do justice to.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From jaylong on 2007-10-09 at 12:12am:
    not really a review. but for people who stumble upon this, how do you guys feel about these two episodes being chosen to be remastered and released into the theatre?

    i really think they could have chosen a better two episodes, but i'm down.

    here's the info if you've been under a rock;

    http://www.fathomevents.com//details.aspx?eventid=685

    "An in-theatre exclusive greeting from creator Gene Roddenberry’s son, Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry is included, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at how the episodes were digitally re-mastered from the original negatives – including the reinvention of the old TV show special effects using new CGI animation, and the orchestral re-recording of the show’s theme music."

    Nice, new CG? I hope Jar Jar isn't in it...
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2007-10-12 at 10:55am:
    Yeah, I can't wait to see this episode in the theatre. I kind of wish they would show a couple of other epidoes instead, but this episode is still classic.
  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 1:37pm:
    Not a full review, just two additions to yours, which I agree with, especially when it comes to the blatant absurdities. Overall, I still enjoyed the episode very much for the thorough character portraits it gave us.
    - an additonal problem: I do not understand how Spock could get off the hook this easily. This is a military organisation, and insubordination is a major crime, whatever the reason. Now, if a commanding officer is unable to perform his duty, then mutiny should of course be accepted, but compassion is usually not a reason for the military to spare someone a court martial and/or punish them. Not credible, now way.
    - an additional highlight: Kirk. This is one of the very very few times we see Kirk in full military commander mode: calm, cool, deadly, convicting a friend to death because this is what his duty demands of him. Usually, he is all buddy with his crew and very angry/emotional or con-manish with his enemies, but hardly ever the hardass officer who can send a man to his death if he has to. Now we know why he got command of a vessel with 400+ crewmembers. It's powerful, and very well acted out by Shatner.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-15 at 2:04pm:
    I love the Cage, but to the extent that the Menagerie is considered separately from the Cage, I am not fond of it. I find it to be a rather forced framing device to re-show the Cage. Everything about the trial is artificial. In particular, the concept that Spock risks the only remaining death penalty on the books is just ridiculous, a totally unnecessary attempt to pump up the drama. Really, Spock risking his career would be quite bad enough.
  • From menagerie on 2011-08-21 at 3:25pm:
    I agree that the second part largely lacked plot or original exposition, and at times made me feel as if I was re-watching "The Cage." But I disagree that any of it is very absurd or particularly annoying.

    I don't think it's fair to criticize the episode for "misdirecting" the audience. Something like 25 - 50% of all of Star Trek seems to be "misdirection" - arguably, that's the best part. In any case, it's almost universally used towards good dramatic effect, and this episode really isn't any different.

    First of, the trial and it's semi-absurdity is explained quite well by the context and the Talosian involvement, including of course the fabricated commodore. And Kirk was going along with it and glossing over its absurdity because he was captivated by the story and wanted to know the truth.

    There's some question about whether it was necessary in the first place, but to give the show credit, Kirk asks that question outright! And it does make a certain amount of sense. Would Kirk otherwise disobey Starfleet orders, risk court martial (and even execution), to assist Spock in helping Pike? Someone he deeply respects, for sure, but has almost no personal history with? To clinch the whole matter, we have to remember that Pike was initially opposed to the whole thing! The trial and the recap was as much to convince Pike as to convince Kirk as to convince us, the audience. In my eyes, it makes sense, and is done well (although I do agree that the sheer amount of reused footage starts to feel a bit contrived and was perhaps a bit much).

    So we are left with the final criticism. Why the travel and communication ban? Why enforce it with the death penalty? I think it makes sense if you consider it. There's more than just the face-value reasons, the threat of Humanity developing "the power of illusion" and meeting the same fate as the Talosians.

    Consider also the sheer power represented by the Talosians. A handful of these folks (perhaps even one) took complete control of a Starfleet flagship, and outmaneuvered its entire crew, its first officer, and its captain. Even at the very end, after Pike escaped from his menagerie, he had no way to get back onto the ship. They were completely at the mercy of the Talosians - the only card they had to play was committing suicide.

    It's safe to guess that this is the most powerful species Starfleet has ever encountered. Sure they proved "too intelligent to kill for no reason," and quite reasonable and benevolent even, but wouldn't it be prudent to stay clear of something so completely out of your league? Especially when they have a history of treating humans as we treat "lower" animals? And even if they were benevolent, what if some renegade captain, or crazed scientist, or even a random stowaway or something learned how to replicate their powers? The threat would potentially be worse than a WMD going on the black market.

    Compound all that with the one explicitly suggested reason, the hypothetical danger of "the Keeper's" prophecy - that we would all become as helpless and on the verge of extinction as they - and the draconian ban begins to make some sense.

    Facing something of nearly limitless power, something they could not even begin to understand or control, in the hands of mysterious beings on a mysterious planet, fleet command decided to, for the time being, just strike the whole matter from the record, classify the whole thing - so no one gets either too freaked out or too curious - delete Talos from the map, and forbid all contact. It shows prudence, and it makes some sense.

    So, in conclusion, I think this two-parter is fantastic - I concur with the reviewers compliments, and even disagree with some of his critiques.
  • From Wiley Hyena on 2012-05-12 at 12:38pm:
    This is one of the site's most inaccurate review ratings. Menagerie II is one of the best, if not the best, episodes in all of Star Trek. The reunion of Pike and the girl, beginning with Pike's wish to go, is great drama.
  • From Schreck on 2013-05-23 at 6:17pm:
    I did not like the second part nearly as much as the first…it could have something to do with the constant rehashing of The Cage…I give it a 6.25 and my brother a 7…Our average ratings for the two parts are a 6.63 for myself and a 6.75 for my brother

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Star Trek TOS - 1x13 - The Conscience of the King

Originally Aired: 1966-12-8

Synopsis:
Kirk suspects Shakespearean actor Anton Karidian as a mass murderer. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 5

Fan Rating Average - 4.88

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 39 7 13 15 15 23 19 43 16 12 16

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's a decent episode, even though it could have been better.

Problems
- Uhura's song was quite obviously dubbed over her performance. In the last scene she's shown singing in her mouth isn't even open!

Factoids
- The episode title is a reference to Hamlet, Act II: "The play's the thing / Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king."
- This episode establishes that the Vulcan people cannot get drunk. McCoy also makes a statement about Vulcan having been "conquered," though we're not told by who. His statement probably jokingly referred to Vulcan being "conquered" by Earth, as Spock is working on a ship full of humans.
- This episode establishes that about twenty years ago, Kirk lived on Earth colony Tarsus IV where he and Riley were two of only nine surviving witnesses to the massacre of 4000 colonists by governor Kodos.

Remarkable Scenes
- Spock: "How could you know this lady is coming aboard?" Kirk: "I'm the captain."
- Spock and McCoy discussing Kirk's behavior.
- Riley calling the rec room.
- Uhura's singing performance.
- Spock and McCoy confronting Kirk.
- Kirk confronting Karidian.
- Karidian's daughter revealing that she is the real murderer.
- Karidian's death, defending Kirk.

My Review
A murder investigation is a delightfully original plot for Star Trek to tackle at this stage and the question of whether or not Karidian could actually be Kodos is intriguing and well plotted. What doesn't work quite as well is Karidian's / Kodos' daughter who as a consequence of both bad writing and bad acting is insufferable to watch. I'm not sure which was worse, her bad romance with Kirk or her incessant quoting of Shakespeare. Likewise I find it a little odd that a simple medical scan couldn't have been used to determine Karidian's true identity, but perhaps Kirk was unable to employ that option due to his desire for a stealthy investigation.

What works best in this episode is the Kirk-Spock-McCoy dynamic which is not unusual. Watching Kirk give unusual orders followed by Spock attempting to unravel their true purpose and then McCoy blindly justifying Kirk's actions to Spock is a lot of fun. It was also nice to see the episode reuse the previously established character of Riley, giving us some backstory on him which he shares with Kirk. In the end you've really got to feel bad for Karidian / Kodos because it's clear that all he really wanted to accomplish was to give his daughter a nice life by hiding the true nature of his past. But unfortunately for him his daughter was just smart enough to figure out his true past without being smart enough to realize why her father was hiding it from her in the first place.

Annoyingly, the episode concludes on a note of rather poorly-earned joy when McCoy says that Karidian's / Kodos' daughter will have her memory messed with so that she thinks her father is still alive, allowing her to recover from her sanity issues and in all likelihood rejoin civilian life. This is a rather unforgivable detail in my opinion. You can't just wipe a criminal's memory of their criminal act and release them back into society as if nothing happened. Even if this could be made to seem like a plausible policy, the episode would have had to spend more time substantiating this idea rather than tossing it in a throw away line at the end of the episode. In fact exploring the idea of the implications of such a technology and policy would be far more interesting than most of this entire episode!

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-18 at 9:21am:
    I liked the general plot and concept of the show, hunting down Kodos the Executioner, Kodos' reactions, and the whole thing ending in tragedy. I wasn't as interested in the part about Captain Kirk's erratic behavior, or the inclusion of Keven Riley. And I think you hit the nail on the head with Lenore – she is indeed painful to watch.

    - I wish I knew the story about Kodos and how he managed to seize power while only leaving a small handful of witnesses, with the ones we see having been quite young at the time. But perhaps it is an artistic choice to leave it to our imaginations.
    - Genetic testing, of course, was not around in the '60's, so the writer didn't foresee it existing in the 23rd century. I'd file it in the same category as other 60's anachronisms on the Enterprise.
    - I believe you misunderstood McCoy's final statement. Lenore's conversation during the final confrontation indicates that she is psychologically disturbed and at least partially delusional. McCoy is just saying that after the trauma of killing her father, she has retreated into her own fantasy world where her father is still alive. She is now getting psychological treatment to cure her "insanity". The wording is confusing because we never hear McCoy diagnose her as mentally ill, and he says something like "She is getting the best available treatment. She doesn't remember anything." But these are just two separate facts he is offering in hopes of comforting Captain Kirk – that she is getting the best medical care, and that she is no longer hysterical with guilt. The whole thing is a rather 60's view of mental illness, but straightforward in that context.
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-03-07 at 5:04am:
    The Conscience of the King is an interesting episode, but I am forced to agree with the review here as I don’t rate this one higher than a 5 either.

    I find myself still enjoy watching this episode, mainly because of the interaction of the three main characters; Kirk, Spock and McCoy. And the acting of Arnold Moss playing the role of Anton Karidian. I thought he was very good.

    But the episode is flawed in many, many, many ways. I thought there was way too many mistakes in the writing that should have been corrected before this episode was even filmed.

    Looking back on the series as a whole I just found it really distracting that the Captain had this many love interests. Kirk just seems to fall in love at the drop of a hat. I find this unbearable to watch.

    And is it just me or does the age thing between Lenore and Kirk bother anyone else? Lenore can not be more than 19 ( and since the events of Tarsus IV took place twenty years prior she may even be younger than that! ) and Kirk is 33 years old. He is almost twice her age!

    And Riley, who could not have been more than five years old when he saw Kodos, couldn’t have possibly remembered his face nor his voice.

    The way in which Lenore is able to go around killing people seemed a little odd to me.

    After killing Dr. Leighton, Lenore and Kirk take a walk together all alone down a path. Now Lenore could have possibly directed Kirk anywhere on their walk, but they end up right at the body of Dr. Leighton! Really? It is almost as if she wanted Kirk to find the body! But why? And she was on the path with Kirk alone. Why doesn’t she kill Kirk right then and there?

    Afterwards Kirk invites Lenore and her acting company to come aboard the Enterprise. If Captain Kirk doesn’t do this how in God’s name is Lenore ever, EVER going to get to Kirk and Riley to kill them?

    And if Kodos wanted to hide his identity from people, why does he become an actor where the whole universe can see his face?

    The story doesn’t make sense!

    And Lenore gets her hands on a Phaser! Really? When Riley takes a Phaser security knows about it in an instant! But Lenore takes one and nobody knows? Really?

    Lenore places the Phaser in Kirk’s cabin and sets it on overload! Really? How in the hell does she do that? How does she even get a Phaser? And how can she possible know how to make it overload?

    We saw in The Cage when Number One sets her Phaser to overload. Number One sets it manually and it starts overloading quickly. But Lenore does this while Kirk and Spock are in the Captain’s cabin talking! And they don’t see her enter the cabin, set the Phaser to overload, hide the Phaser and leave the room? Give me a break!

    And while we are on the Phaser…..

    We have seen people use a Phaser to zap people out of existence! Why doesn’t Lenore do this to Kirk and Riley? And really why not to all her victims? Their bodies would never be found! Lenore is alone (AGAIN!) with Kirk on the Hanger Deck and could zap him easily (And Riley in the engineering room too). But she doesn’t! Why not you ask? Good question.

    All in all a very average episode for Star Trek!
  • From John on 2012-12-04 at 11:18am:
    One of the most memorable scenes was Lenore Karidian dressed in what amounted to a furry barrel. Definite fashion ticket!
  • From happydude on 2013-04-15 at 9:26pm:
    You have completely misinterpreted McCoy's line at the end. He says, and I quote, "She'll receive the best of care, Jim. She remembers nothing. She even thinks her father is still alive giving performances in front of cheering crowds." What he's saying is that the event of her unintentionally murdering her own father was so traumatic for her that she has blocked it from her memory. No where in there does McCoy say, hint or even imply that her memory was intentionally wiped.

    Tell me, at the end of Sacrifice of Angels over on DS9, when Dukat was in his cell imagining himself talking to Ziyal, did you assume that it was because the Feds messed with his mind to make her think she was still alive? Or did you assume that he had become unhinged was unable to accept his daughter's death?
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-06-25 at 9:05pm:
    "The Conscience of the King"

    I like the surprise twist that it was Kodos's daughter, Lenore, who was killing the witnesses, not Kodos himself. Spock, despite being so sure of himself, missed this fascinating detail.

    Why is Lenore interested in Kirk when she wants him dead? And she accuses him of using _her_ as a tool?!

    Yes, the Kirk/Spock/McCoy dynamic is great. In fact, that's one of the few reasons to watch the lesser episodes (except, perhaps, the very worst of the bunch).

    The Double Red Alert scene with the phaser on overload was intense. But what's with the Pressure Vent Disposal contraption? A little too convenient, I would say. How does it work? Also, there's barely enough time for a TV viewer of the time to be able to read the label.

    I, too, like Calexander, would like to know more about what happened when Kodos seized power. On the other hand, that would take some of the mystery out of it, and perhaps make it too easy to figure out if Karidian is really Kodos.

    Re Mike Meares comments:

    Kirk does not fall in love at the drop of a hat. He wasn't hot for any of Mudd's women, or Andrea, Miri, Mea 3, Sylvia (in "Catspaw"), Marta (in "Whom Gods Destroy"), Nancy Hedford, and many other women he came across. Actually, not even this episode. Kirk only fell for Lenore _after_ he courted her for a while. That's the drop of at least a _few_ hats!

    Lenore _was_ 19. The computer told this to Kirk.

    Yes, trying to hide your past by taking on the role an actor in a troupe is, well, kind of dumb.

    Where did Lenore get the phaser? She must have had one before boarding the Enterprise. Or maybe she bribed a guard.

    How does she know how to make it overload? She obviously watched the tutorial on YouTube! :)

    About the slow overload: You can't compare the phasers. "The Cage" happened thirteen years prior. The phasers don't even look alike and are therefore different models. So she set the phaser on time-delay slow-overload mode, giving her plenty of time to plant the thing and leave. But I'm surprised that Kirk and Spock had so much difficulty finding it, esp. Spock with his super-duper Vulcan hearing. Apparently she forgot to put it in silent mode, if it even has such thing.

    About zapping people out of existence: this violates the Law of Conservation of Energy (energy in the form of mass). Both Kodos and the salt monster were not vaporized out of existence when killed by a phaser. (Actually the salt monster took a direct hit [with the phaser set to kill, I assume] and was merely stunned. It took a second hit to kill it. So maybe a third hit would make it vanish.) Maybe it depends on how high the phaser is set, or the type of phaser or the model number. Kind of scary if it would be so ridiculously easy and quick for a murderer to dispose of his victim!

    Imagine the horror of accidentally killing a loved one!

    Speaking of accidents, what if you use your phaser intending to stun someone, only to find out that you killed him because you actually had it set to kill?!

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-05-31 at 8:37am:
    More on "The Conscience of the King":

    How would Lenore know when Kirk would be in his quarters so that she could correctly set the timer on the phaser? How did she get in there in the first place? It seems that quite often in the series anyone can just open the door to anyone else's room!
  • From Rick on 2015-02-28 at 12:12am:
    I thought Barbara Anderson did a fantastic job playing Lenore. She would go on to win an Emmy a few years later for Ironside. Very good actress.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x14 - Balance of Terror

Originally Aired: 1966-12-15

Synopsis:
After attacking an outpost, Romulans battle the Enterprise. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 10

Fan Rating Average - 6.88

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 87 1 3 2 5 3 9 15 24 62 158

Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- This is the first episode to feature the iconic Romulan Empire and is easily the best episode of all of TOS. If you watch only one episode of Star Trek TOS, let it be this one.

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode establishes that according to the science of the 23rd century in Star Trek, there are approximately three million Earth-like planets in the galaxy.
- This episode is the winner of my "Best Episode of TOS Award" and is therefore a candidate for my "Best Episode Ever Award."

Remarkable Scenes
- The wedding interrupted at the beginning.
- Spock explaining the map of the Neutral Zone.
- Stiles describing an ancester of his: a ship captain who died fighting Romulans during the Earth-Romulan war.
- The Romulan ship destroying another Earth outpost before the Enterprise's eyes.
- Kirk chastising Stiles for questioning Spock's loyalties.
- The external closeup shot of the Romulan ship.
- The Romulan commander: "Another war. Must it always be so? How many comrades have we lost in this way? Obedience. Duty. Death, and more death..."
- Spock: "I agree. Attack." I love that line because that was the last thing everyone was expecting him to stay given the newly discovered connection between the Romulans and the Vulcans.
- The battle at the comet.
- The Enterprise outrunning the plasma torpedo.
- The Romulans evading the Enterprise by dumping debris and running.
- McCoy: "In this galaxy there's a mathematical probability of three million Earth type planets. And in all of the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all of that, and perhaps more, only one of each of us."
- The Romulans planting a nuclear warhead in the debris.
- Spock dealing the finishing blow to the Romulan ship.
- The Romulan commander's discussion with Kirk at the end.

My Review
Meet: the Romulan Empire. This episode is quite clearly a 23rd century Cold War allegory in which Earth is the United States and the Romulan Empire is the Soviet Union. You might not think that to be a terribly original premise given how much fiction is out there satirizing the Cold War, but the devil is in the details which are strikingly original and fascinating in their implications. During this episode, Spock reveals that Earth fought an inter-stellar war with the Romulan Star Empire a hundred years ago during the 22nd century. This conflict ended with some kind of stalemate which resulted in a neutral, demilitarized zone of space created to serve as a buffer between the two nations. Since that time there has been absolutely no contact between them. As the title of the episode implies, such a political situation is a terrifying prospect. Imagine a powerful, reclusive nation sitting just on the other side of your border, ready to strike at any moment!

The Romulan Empire chose this moment to strike. This episode doesn't go into the implications of what Earth's political response will be to this blatant attack on its sovereignty as there wasn't enough time, but given the seeming importance of the events of this episode there are without a doubt more stories to be told about the Romulans. Like the political conflict, the revelation that the Romulan species is genetically related to the Vulcans is intriguing, as are Spock's comments about his people's volatile past. The Romulan Empire can thus be seen as a road not taken by the Vulcans. The Romulans are what the Vulcans might have become like had they not embraced logic and emotional detachment at the core of their philosophy. Given that, it's understandable why Spock would urge so diligently to destroy the intruder as he has a deep understanding of the threat they represent. This level of conviction adds new dimensions to both Spock and his people while cultivating a deeper, more interesting and nuanced antagonist at the same time.

While the episode does an excellent job deepening the Romulans through Spock, the plotting also gives them a great deal of time to shine on their own. The frequent cuts to the bridge of the Romulan vessel were an excellent choice on a number of levels. On the surface we get the delightful opportunity to see a space battle from both sides. But moving beyond that simple pleasure, framing the story in this way allows us to get to know the antagonists personally. We get to see them in their element and in their context. In a certain sense the story treats both sides of the battle as protagonists. In this story the tragedy isn't the traditional, expected suffering of the good guys at the hands of the bad guys, the tragedy is the conflict itself. By cultivating Romulan characters who are deep, sympathetic, and nuanced, their deaths at the end of the story are as tragic as the death of the crewman who was to be wed.

This is the sort of stuff the finest dramas are made of and I'm positively delighted to award this fine piece of storytelling Star Trek's first rating of a perfect score.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 12:35pm:
    I am with you on that estimation. Fine fine episode. Prime examle for an episode that tells a great story without even much of a plot or huge effects, just by picking, if you will, two great minds locked in combat. yay.
  • From Nadav on 2008-08-27 at 5:08am:
    I was much less enthusiastic about this episode, because frankly, much of the story sounded inconsistent, and even non-sensical, to me.

    The first thing that didn't make much sense was the description of the earth-romulan war, which supposedly was thought without either side seeing each other. Ahh??? This makes absolutely no sense. I can understand how in a specific battle which was fought with long-distance weapons the sides didn't see each other, but the whole war? And how was the ceasefire treaty signed without communication? And if communication was possible, wasn't it natural to also have visual communication? Also, didn't the Vulcans know who the Romulans are? I find this very strange, to say the least.

    The second thing is that indeed, the battle on this episodes feels like a submarine battle, without any reason. The plasma bomb the Romulans used is cool, but why not use a more conventional ship-to-ship weapon against the enterprise? Isn't it strange that Enterprise shot so many sucessful phaser shots against the invisible Rumulan ship, and the Romulans did not shoot more at the fully visible Enterprise? And isn't it strange that the Romulans have such advanced technology (like cloaking and that astroid-destroying weapon) but couldn't get the basic stuff (like a normal anti-ship weapon, and speed, for god's sake) right?
  • From Kethinov on 2008-08-31 at 2:29pm:
    I couldn't disagree more.

    The Earth/Romulan war being fought without either side seeing each other is entirely plausible. To see how that might have been accomplished, watch Ent: Minefield, Ent: Babel One, Ent: United, and Ent: The Aenar. The recurring theme is that the Romulans did not want the Vulcans to discover their linked heritage.

    Moreover, there wasn't "no communication." There was plenty of audio communication. Again, the Romulans didn't want visual communications so as not to reveal to the Vulcans their linked heritage.

    Regarding the plasma bomb, it was obviously an experimental weapon. It's possible that other weapons had to be removed to equip their ship with it.
  • From TashaFan on 2008-09-09 at 9:20pm:
    It's like a submarine story because, like a sub, the Romulan can disappear from the sight of the Enterprise. Like a sub, the Romulan ship is slower, it relies on stealth not speed. Like a sub, it appears for a moment when it launches it's torpedo. If it misses, it has to try to evade the depth charges (phasers, although the episode mistakenly uses the photon torpedo visual effect, which is more like a depth charge in a way). The resemblance is intentional and, in my opinion, well done.
  • From 411314 on 2009-06-15 at 8:04pm:
    I found this episode disapointing. For the most part, it's just Romulans shooting at our heroes and the heroes shooting back. More characterization and less shooting would've been better. The only interesting parts were Spock explaining why he thought the Enterprise should attack the Roumulans and the crew member who was rascist against Spock. The woman who almost got married was nice eye candy, though.
  • From zook on 2009-07-06 at 3:24am:
    Another factoid: the Romulan Commander is played by the wonderful Mark Lenard, who went on to play Sarek, Spock's father.
  • From Arianwen on 2010-07-18 at 7:12pm:
    This is definitely one of my favourite episodes, although I was slightly irritated by the antique-speak aboard the Romulan vessel; they sounded like they were quoting from a book. But despite that I still find it dramatic and entertaining, with plenty of stuff happening - I have to disagree with 411314, all the shooting was just background to the "will they/won't they/will they start a war" theme.

    Lots of little scenes to enjoy as well; my favourite is Spock completely destroying the soppy moment where Stiles thanks him for rescuing him.
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-03-22 at 9:04pm:
    I totally agree with Kethinov that “The Balance of Terror” was indeed “the best episode of all of TOS.” And his review was very thought provoking and helped to deepen my understanding of the story. Excellent review!

    I would only add another comment about the significance of this episode. And that is the question of racial bigotry. The way it is dealt with in this episode is so great. I kind of wish more episodes had dealt with race relations in the future. I really think it is a little naïve of us to think racism will be non-existent in the future. Especially when you consider all the alien races we will encounter and how “earth men” will think of themselves as superior.

    The look on some of the Enterprise crew’s faces as they see Spock in a new light is priceless. I loved the doubt in their faces. It told a whole story without anyone saying a word.

    And more importantly, how Captain Kirk, the earth man, deals with the defeat of the Romulans, another race. Some aboard the Enterprise would have leveled the Romulan ship until it was completely destroyed ( hmmmmm does this remind you of Star Trek 2009? ).

    However, Captain Kirk doesn’t do this. Instead, He chooses to offer a helping hand to the Romulans. This demonstrated a part of Kirk’s strong character not always seen in later Star Trek episodes and movies. I always admired the ealier Kirk’s stance on the words “to seek out new life” and what those high sounding words really meant.

    And kudos on the acting of Mark Lenard! He really bought the Romulan character to life.

    I just had a couple of nipicks ( don’t I always? LOL ) on an otherwise perfect episode. I only noticed them after watching the episode for the 1,000th time.

    The first was when the Captain enters the chapel and Dr. McCoy says to Kirk, “Call for you from the bridge.” That seemed a little odd to me since the bridge can send out a page to the Captain thoughout the whole ship. Couldn’t the Captain have spoken to the bridge just before he entered the Chapel in the corridor?

    Also, when the Romulans enter the comet’s tail the Romulan Commander clearly says the comet’s “many particles will obscure their sensing device”. But a moment later he is surprised at the fact that the Enterprise is no longer showing on the Romulans sensing device. Wouldn’t the Romulans sensing device also be obscured by the comet’s many particles ?

  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-09-02 at 4:00pm:
    BALANCE OF TERROR

    This episode well executed and is very engaging. The music goes very well with what we see. And it's fun to see each side debate, plan, execute their moves, etc. Also, just like "The Cage", there's a lot of stuff squeezed into the allotted 50 minutes -- that is, little or no filler. You never have to wait for something interesting to happen.

    However, I have these comments and questions:

    How can we still see anything from Outpost 4 after it's been destroyed? Any cameras and transmitters would have been destroyed along with it. Yet we clearly see the Romulan ship, watch it vanish, this time with the stars moving -- all *after* the asteroid has been destroyed.

    Furthermore, how can the Enterprise crew have seen anything at all?
    I would think that the first plasma salvo would have destroyed any surface cameras and transmitters. Look what happened to the command post 1 mile deep! And some surface equipment is going to survive? I don't think so.

    A fun scene, even though it's not possible.

    Along a similar vein, why does the picture from the Romulan ship fade out when it blows up? Being an explosion -- nuclear, no less -- you'd think it would be an abrupt cutoff. So how can we have a fade-out and enough time for the Romulan commander to fall?

    Comets don't have tails out in deep space. They have to be near a star. It looks pretty cool, though, and the music for it was well chosen. But why did they wait until they got out of the comet? Weren't they supposed to see the bird of prey in the comet?

    As to the cloaking device: What's lighting up the ships in the first place? Can they see the relatively tiny ships at fantastic distances lit up only by distant stars? I'm not sure it's possible to construct a telescope big enough, yet small enough to be on the Enterprise, that has sufficient light-gathering power and resolution. If so, why the need for the cloaking device?

    How did the Enterprise get a candid video of the Romulan bridge? Decius sent a message informing the "Praetor" of their "glorious mission" (in the other direction, no less) -- not a closeup of the Romulan commander in thought. It's worth going with this, though -- just to see the reactions on our heroes' faces.

    Don't the Romulans have phasers or the like? All they have is the cloaking device, impulse engines, the plasma weapon, and a really cramped bridge?

    Can't the Enterprise duck the incoming plasma ball? I guess the plasma ball is a heat-seeking weapon. Even so, it seems worth a try.

    Don't they have seat belts?

    During the last battle, the Romulan ship becomes visible in order to fire its weapon. Kirk gives the order to fire, but the phasers are inoperable due to the coolant leak knocking out the operators. It takes a while for Spock to run down the hall and press a few buttons to save the day. What in blazes are the Romulans waiting for during all this? They had about 35 seconds to fire their weapon! I guess their weapon malfunctioned too. But if it did, it should have been shown.

    Why can't the phasers be fired from the bridge? In which case, why is the phaser "control circuit" located on the bridge?

    Speaking of phasers, they repeatedly fire the luckiest shots. ". . . the wildest stroke of luck," as Stiles puts it. Kirk's not a "sorcerer", just incredibly lucky -- for this, anyway. On the other hand, the Romulans had an incredibly lucky shot with their "nuclear device of some kind". Or is it standard procedure for starships to go through debris? Note also that it detonated only 100 m away. A nuclear explosion at 100 m and the Enterprise survives? Those are some shields!

    Hmmm. A couple of rounds of phaser shots and the phaser control circuit overloads. They must have been using aluminum wiring. And then after a few more rounds Spock has to work on the transfer coil again! What are these, bargain basement phasers?

    Why do the ships tilt when damaged? There's no up and down in deep space.

    I can see radio contact without video. Video takes *a_lot* more bandwidth. It's sort of like Morse code being able to work where audio can't due to noise or distance.

    What's with the "play dead" game? If the Romulans can pick up Spock accidentally turning on something on his dashboard, why can't they detect the ship while they're still turning everything off (except the gravity, of course)?

    The ships at this stage are "motionless". Motionless relative to what? so the motion sensors pick up only motion relative to the galaxy? How does that work?

    Why didn't Spock save Tomlinson? I hope it was because he was already dead. Spock often seems to care more about other sentient life forms in other episodes -- like the cavemen in "The Galileo Seven", and the Horta in "The Devil in the Dark" -- and even expressed regrets about destroying Nomad and shutting down the M5. I prefer to think that Tomlinson was dead by the time Spock got there. In fact, Stiles is still moving while Tomlinson is lying motionless. But do we need to wrap up the bigotry bit somehow, I suppose.

    AEF
  • From zerothis on 2012-09-21 at 10:33pm:

    I think a remarkable scenes is when Spock accidentally breaks stealth by grabbing at his station to lift himself up. This is keeping with a perhaps coincidental theme where one of Spocks hands, perhaps subconsciously motivate, does something irrational that turns out to be beneficial (Like in Galileo 7 when he dumped and ignited the shuttle's remaining fuel)

    Seat belts, lol, a consistent oversight in all Trek incarnations. Second only to lack of the need for toilets (ST5 exceptionish noted).

    I like to think the addition of a visual signal on the Romulan ship that can be tapped into would be due to Tal Shiar (Yes, cannon does establishes it predates the Federation) wanting to make it easy to spy on their soldiers. Its there unbeknownst to the Romulan captain and crew, and made easy to use for the Tal Shiar (and unfortunately and unforeseen of them, easy for the Federation to use also).

    The submarine parallels and the logic of similarity between space and undersea vessels were obvious to me the first time I saw this episode. The similarity between sea-surface and space vessels is in language only, similarities are comparatively few. In fact, in ST2:ROK, Khan's mistaken thinking on this very point is fatal.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-12-06 at 8:56am:
    ‘10’. It feels like a submarine story because it was adapted from one. This is one of the few episodes which takes a more technical approach to creating drama by way of the interplay of balanced (but asymmetrical) ship systems and commands. This episode also stands out for creating its dramatic tension almost exclusively from the scientific-technical elements inherent to the show’s premise. Too often Star Trek relied on some cheap gimmick, such as Godlike powers or the latest group of clowns to take over the ship, to eliminate some of the technical premises of the Star Trek world. This one stands out, along with one like the Cloud Minders, as taking special effort to avoid that narrative clique. It is also a highlight showing why episodes including the Klingons or Romulans seemed to have a ‘natural’ bump in quality..
  • From Rick on 2014-08-26 at 8:52pm:
    At Alan Feldman:

    I will show you how pretty much everyone of your "problems" isnt one:

    1. maybe this camera is not actually on the asteroid but was orbiting it. That would certainly be practical and make a whole lot of sense.

    2. same as 1

    3. maybe the initial explosion was not nuclear.

    4. i never heard any character say that they were not near a star.

    5. im sure 200 years from now they can build quite advanced sensors that could fit on a ship. hardly a problem that they couldnt build one now.

    6. great response to this question from an above poster about the tal shiar.

    7. Spock covers this problem when describing the power cost of the cloaking device.

    8. you answered this question yourself.

    9. both ships are heavily damaged as you stated and the romulans were already stated to be very low on power so it probably took them longer to fire their weapon. Additionally, the Romulans may have been complacent thinking the Enterprise was defenseless (like they stated, "at our mercy.")

    10. they got lucky...

    11. they got unlucky... (sometimes things go right and sometimes they dont, hardly a problem that kirk fired lucky shots and that the weapons malfunctioned)

    12. the ship tilts because it just got hit by a nuclear weapon (lots of force). that is obvious, and i dont understand your objection. any loss of balance or changing perspective for the actual people can be explained by gravity plating not functioning correctly...... when hit with a frickin nuclear weapon.

    13. the play dead game is a very real thing for submarine battles. Why cant the same be true in this situation?

    14. motionless relative to each other. come on, that was easy, you didnt try very hard on that problem. perfect example of fishing for problems where they dont exist.

    15. you answered this yourself.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-11-26 at 12:18pm:
    At Rick about his 2014-08-27 at 12:52am post:

    "I will show you how pretty much everyone of your "problems" isnt one:"

    First of all, there's no need to be hostile. Second, you need to fix your Shift keys. Third, your lack of quoting makes parts of your post hard to follow. Even a few snippets of quoting here and there or a few contextual clues, which would have taken very little effort on your part, would have helped. OK, here's my rebuttal.

    1. maybe this camera is not actually on the asteroid but was orbiting it. That would certainly be practical and make a whole lot of sense. 2. same as 1"

    The fireball is coming straight at the camera. It fills the frame, meaning your satellite camera is directly between the ship and the asteroid, which means it would have been destroyed. No, I don't believe your satellite camera could somehow survive being enveloped by the plasma ball. Even if it did, I don't see how it could survive an asteroid underneath it being pulverized. And there _are_ problems with the idea of an orbiting camera.

    If the camera is in orbit around the asteroid, how does it get a radio signal through a mile of almost solid iron? Iron is conductive, which makes matters even worse! ELF is needed just to get to our submarines here on Earth. There's precious little bandwidth with ELF, so forget video. And iron is eight times as dense as water.

    A long-term stable orbit might well be difficult to achieve: Asteroids are very small, so their gravitational fields are very weak. They are irregular in shape, meaning the field will not be spherically symmetric. Furthermore, they are rotating, meaning the gravitational field will vary in time.

    Another problem: We see the bright flashing from the control room for too long. The camera there would probably have been destroyed too soon to see most, if any, of that.

    Yet another problem: When the Romulan ship first becomes visible, the stars are not moving. When it vanishes, the stars are moving as if the Bird of Prey were moving backwards at warp speed (and on impulse power!). Did your satellite camera, showing us this, assuming it somehow survived, also go into warp drive to follow the ship? Strangely, when the Romulan ship disappears, there is no break in the view of the moving stars. It's as if the shot of the fading ship were superimposed on the star field the Enterprise was flying through at the time, which also makes no sense.

    3. maybe the initial explosion was not nuclear.

    Maybe the Romulans just like to make some thermite fireworks before self-destruction.

    It was a rather long initial "explosion" -- about 8 seconds, in fact. And the picture fades out with the bridge still intact, so the nuke couldn't have gone off even then. While it does take an initial explosion to set off a nuke, it can't take 8 seconds. Actually, it was just a lot of flashing light and noise for effect. Some explosion. And why the fade-out? Don't you think if a nuke destroyed the ship the broadcast would just abruptly end? Why would anyone even expect a fade-out instead?

    4. i never heard any character say that they were not near a star.

    No one said the comet was not in the Andromeda galaxy, either. But I think it's a safe bet that it wasn't. The same goes for the comet not being near a star. Notice that there are stars zooming by when we see the comet. This would not happen if the comet were near a star. Besides, why would Spock mention just a comet if they were heading through a solar system? The comet would be only a very tiny part of it. And its sun would light up the Bird of Prey, causing the cloaking device to tax the ship's power source even more, which is clearly not in the Romulans' interest.

    And comets don't come in flashing colors. In fact, the earth passed right through the tail of Halley's Comet in 1910 and no one saw anything from that. A comet's tail is quite tenuous. See http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/12/science/space/rosetta-philae-comet-landing.html?ref=space for another example.

    5. im sure 200 years from now they can build quite advanced sensors that could fit on a ship. hardly a problem that they couldnt build one now.

    A totally unsupported statement. We're talking about seeing an extremely dark, relatively extremely tiny ship at an incredibly enormous distance. We can _barely_ measure the sizes of nearby humongous stars.

    One of those stars is Betelgeuse. It angular diameter is roughly 0.055" (with a large uncertainty), which is approx. 3x10^-7 radians. If our Bird of Prey is 100 m wide and 100,000,000 km away, its angular size would be 10^-9 radians, which is a factor of 300 smaller. Now you're going to tell me that we could measure the size of something almost totally dark with an angular size about 1/300th of an incredibly bright star Betelgeuse, and which could well be edge-on? I don't think so. And simply being able to detect it wouldn't be enough. You have to find it and identify it. That's hard. Finding Betelgeuse is easy. It's the bright red star in Orion. You can see it with the naked eye. You already know where to point your detector. That gives you an enormous head start. Yeah, you've got those motion sensors. Still. I'm amazed if even those work at "extreme range."

    Consider that a 100 watt light bulb emits about 10^15 photons / cm^2 / second at a distance of 1 meter (a quick fact from my _Classical Electrodynamics_ textbook by Jackson.). Let's say your detector is 10m x 10m (1000cm x 1000cm). That gives you 10^21 / d^2 photons/second in your detector, where d is the distance in meters. So at 100,000,000 km (less than the distance from the Sun to the Earth), you get 10^21/[(10^11)^2] = 0.1 photons per second. Then you have to include the inefficiency of your detector and be able able to pick out those 0.1 or fewer photons / second from those from the background stars. Add to that the noise you'll get, and you'll find it rather impossible to detect a dark extremely distant ship. Add to that you don't even know which way to point your detector. And you're telling me we can not only detect, but also _find_ and _identify_ a tiny at such a distance? I don't think so. You also have resolution problems due to the unavoidable diffraction of light. There are certain limits imposed by physical laws that you simply cannot get around.

    Granted, the ship isn't a 100 W bulb, but this is close enough to see how hard this is. There are no explicit distances given but we do have Sulu saying, "Something visual ahead, Captain, at extreme range." So I think 100,000,000 km is on the short side if anything. Even at 1,000,000 km, you get only 1000 photons per second.

    Maybe, just maybe there'll be a way to accomplish this in the future, but if so it probably would take time to collect enough photons. But I hope you can now appreciate just how hard a problem it is. I think it highly unlikely that it will ever be practicable.

    6. great response to this question from an above poster about the tal shiar.

    The Tal Shiar is a ridiculous explanation. Commenter zerothis, whom you referenced for this, says, "I like to think the addition of a visual signal on the Romulan ship that can be tapped into would be due to Tal Shiar (Yes, cannon [sic] does establishes it predates the Federation) wanting to make it easy to spy on their soldiers. Its there unbeknownst to the Romulan captain and crew, and made easy to use for the Tal Shiar (and unfortunately and unforeseen of them, easy for the Federation to use also)."

    OK, so you're saying that the Federation somehow knows about this Tal Shiar even though the Romulans in their own ship don't know about it? Wouldn't Romulan ships detect the Tal Shiar beams from each other? If the Federation can, then certainly other Romulan ships can. I think they'd catch on at some point. And it's kind of a dumb thing to do being that, as you yourself said, the enemy can easily pick up the video too.

    There's also the rule of silence that Decius broke. Tal Shiar would break that, too. And as the transmission would be aimed the other way, it's amazing the Enterprise could detect any signal at all.

    There is nothing in the episode to indicate that there is such a thing. In fact, the reason given was that Decius sent a signal to the Praetor. And it's quite clear from Uhura and Spock that they're getting the video from and because of the communication by Decius, not by any separate signal from a 24/7 security camera. And they lost the picture when the transmission ended. Why would Decius send a live video feed from the bridge? You could say that the Tal Shiar sneaked it in. Fine, but that takes a lot more bandwidth than a glorious message, so it wouldn't work, on top of the other problems given above.

    The communication was in code. Uhura made a tape of it so that Spock could decode it _later_. And the video portion certainly wasn't in some known format like NSTC or PAL or whatever they use on the Enterprise. But you would have him getting and _decoding_ a secret video in an unknown format in real time (and before analyzing the tape to decode it!) from a signal aimed away from them, only seconds after the beginning of the transmission, and somehow even know that there was video in the message in the first place?! "I have a fix on it, Captain. I believe I can lock on it, get a picture of their Bridge." I don't think so.

    Tal Shiar may pre-date the Federation, but it was made up _after_ TOS. That's a weakness at best.

    7. Spock covers this problem when describing the power cost of the cloaking device.

    Are you talking about having to turn off the cloaking device to fire the plasma ball weapon? I was asking about why the Romulans don't have _phasers_.

    8. you answered this question yourself.

    They could have at least tried to steer away from the plasma ball. They have done evasive maneuvers in other episodes.

    9. both ships are heavily damaged as you stated and the romulans were already stated to be very low on power so it probably took them longer to fire their weapon. Additionally, the Romulans may have been complacent thinking the Enterprise was defenseless (like they stated, "at our mercy.")

    If the ships are heavily damaged they'd be unlikely to be able to fire their weapons at all. Even so, 35 seconds is a long time. And what good are the cloaking device and the plasma weapon if the ship is so vulnerable to mere phasers during that time interval? Don't they have any decent shields? As for "very low on power": If your car is low on gas, you can still accelerate at the same rate. Only if you're running on batteries would this be a problem.

    Once you make your own ship visible, it is a no-brainer to fire as soon as possible.

    10. they got lucky...

    As for lucky shots, we're talking lotto-jackpot lucky here. (Remember when Stiles says, "the wildest stroke of luck"?) When they lose the Romulans in the comet, Kirk fires the weapons and somehow hits their ship, _even though they have no clue as to which way to fire_! Kirk even says, "Now, fire blind." All of the phaser shots are lotto-jackpot lucky except the last barrage when the Romulan ship is visible. Hell, if they can hit the ship even with its cloaking device on and firing blind, what good is this amazing device?

    11. they got unlucky... (sometimes things go right and sometimes they dont, hardly a problem that kirk fired lucky shots and that the weapons malfunctioned)

    Unlucky? As in the phasers crapping out three times in the same episode?! So you're saying they can get a video of their bridge, see extremely dark extremely tiny ships at extreme distances, make lotto-jackpot-lucky hits repeatedly with phasers that have a range longer than that of the plasma ball chasing the Enterprise for more than two minutes, and aim them from that same distance (!), yet these same phasers somehow crap out not just once, but three separate times? And no backup phasers? You can't have it both ways.

    12. the ship tilts because it just got hit by a nuclear weapon (lots of force). that is obvious, and i dont understand your objection. any loss of balance or changing perspective for the actual people can be explained by gravity plating not functioning correctly...... when hit with a frickin nuclear weapon.

    You seem to have totally misunderstood what I was asking. I said: "Why do the ships tilt when damaged? There's no up and down in deep space."

    There is no up and down in deep space. Tilting then becomes a matter of "relative to what?", not an indication of ship damage.

    It's clear that the "tilting" was meant to show damage. And having people falling across the bridge was meant to show that the ship has been tilted. The problem is: how do you square this with the fact that there is no up and down in space?

    It is very difficult or even impossible for most of us, if not all of us (aside from astronauts), to imagine what it's like to be in an environment without an up direction. (In fact, I recall one astronaut saying that to avoid disorientation, they (or he, at least) have to mentally and forcibly choose an arbitrary direction to be up.) This follows from the fact that we evolved, grow up, and live in an environment with an up direction, which is determined by the Earth's gravitational field. The up direction, along with the gravity that determines it, is of enormous consequence in our lives. That's probably another reason it's so hard to shake off.

    And this is why tilting and falling across the bridge are so problematic. It presumes an external up direction. But an up direction comes from gravity, and there is no external gravity here, hence no reference for absolute tilting or falling. BTW, notice that Kirk and Uhura fall "uphill" while everyone else falls "downhill". The only thing that saves this is that in the "tilted" position, they are not aimed at the enemy. I'll grant you that.

    So it is difficult to portray something more realistic. Also, notice that the debris in the Romulan bridge falls straight (perpendicular) to the floor, contrary to what you would get if the ship really "tilted," but exactly what you would expect from just the camera tilting. But at least the Romulans all fall "downhill", and the actors' timing is truly remarkable!

    I don't know enough about the gravity plating to comment on how it might malfunction. But I think your explanation is rather unlikely, and the mere existence or even possibility of such plates is very unlikely. Also, there is, AFAIK, no explanation in TOS as to how they work or that they even exist.

    Back to the ships: The Enterprise would have been rotating after the nuke went off. It wouldn't just rotate a little and then stop. Besides, based on the apparent tilt, the bridge crew didn't even "fall" in the right direction. Another problem is that at the end of the episode the Romulan ship appears to be rotating in a way that violates the law of conservation of angular momentum.

    13. the play dead game is a very real thing for submarine battles. Why cant the same be true in this situation?

    Fine. All I was asking is why the Romulans couldn't detect and find the Enterprise _while_ it was shutting down its non-critical systems. I'll cut you some slack here. (~_^)

    14. motionless relative to each other. come on, that was easy, you didnt try very hard on that problem. perfect example of fishing for problems where they dont exist.

    Well hell, why doesn't the Enterprise just move a little then? And it's ridiculous for other reasons. The Enterprise often "stops" in space. It seems from the series taken in totality that nothing can move without being actively propelled. Or needing continuous power just to stay in orbit. Orbits decaying in hours or less is ridiculous. And it's only once that I can recall that "coasting" was a real thing. It's as if Newton's laws of motion didn't exist.

    And if they have motion sensors, why not also radar? Actually, if the motion sensors work by the Doppler effect, zero relative motion would also be detectable, which basically would be the equivalent of radar.

    In this episode: "Captain's log - supplemental. Now motionless for . . ." Relative to what? Well, approximately to the galaxy, I'd presume. How would you measure that? BTW, the galaxy itself is moving! It seems clear to me that the writers for TOS had no conception of relativity theory, and were assuming the world of absolute time and space given in Newtonian physics (but not his laws of motion) -- and I believe even Newton realized there was a problem with that, in particular, finding which inertial reference frame is the one that is truly "at rest." Relativity solved that problem by determining that there is no such preferred inertial reference frame and more.

    15. you answered this yourself.

    I believe this is in reference to my comment: "Why didn't Spock save Tomlinson?" I still think it's a point well worth some discussion, as there is too much ambiguity with it. And especially since Spock seems so concerned about other life forms (and even entities like M5, Nomad, Landru, but then only to exploit or study) and so little about humans if they're not useful for something he deems important enough.

    I still love Star Trek TOS, even with all its problems.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x15 - Shore Leave

Originally Aired: 1966-12-29

Synopsis:
On shore leave, the crew's thoughts come to life. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 5.05

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 75 7 8 6 13 18 26 25 64 27 18

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- This world is revisited in TAS: Once Upon a Planet, but it is not necessary to see this episode before watching that one.

Problems
- The yeoman's broken uniform was broken on the wrong side after she changed back into it after taking off the Medieval dress.

Factoids
None

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk getting a massage from his yeoman thinking it was Spock.
- McCoy to Sulu regarding Kirk: "You've got your problems, I've got mine. But he's got ours, plus his, plus 430 other people."
- McCoy seeing things from Alice in Wonderland come to life.
- McCoy describing what he saw to Kirk and Kirk believing he was joking.
- Spock maneuvering Kirk into taking some time off.
- McCoy and Kirk joking about the rabbit and reminiscing about Finnegan followed by Finnegan appearing out of nowhere and starting a fight with Kirk.
- Sulu's fight with the samurai.
- McCoy's apparent death.
- Spock and Kirk running through a set of dangerous illusions.
- McCoy's reappearance in the company of some 23rd century playboy bunnies.

My Review
This silly, whimsical episode manages to do humor better than any other so far. For most of the episode the unusually light hearted tone serves as a nice change of pace and the nonchalant way in which the crew investigates the strange things they're seeing is amusing. It was nice to see the characters get lost in some mostly harmless fascinations without the need for the plot to manufacture some danger to justify the aside. Unfortunately, things got considerably less entertaining after McCoy's apparent death.

Granted, it was a fantastically shocking moment when McCoy suddenly died while refusing to believe what he was seeing was real, but the shock's implications weren't taken quite seriously enough as the episode seemed to stubbornly refuse to change its tone once McCoy had seemed to die. The most annoying example of this is that Kirk's immediate reaction to McCoy's apparent death is to start chasing down imitation Finnegan so he can delight himself with an irreverently prolonged brawl with his imaginary friend.

I find it beyond irresponsible that Kirk would choose to focus on this rather than getting some answers. Sure, he tries to ask Finnegan for some answers, but Kirk should have known better than to expect Finnegan to give them to him. After a while Kirk seemed to give up on answers anyway and just enjoy the fight at which point Spock restores some sanity to the plot by deducing the cause of these manifestations.

Another unsatisfying aspect of the plot is the alien race which owns the planet who refused to identify themselves and the purpose of their seemingly uninhabited planet until after the crew was sufficiently traumatized. This omission of such a basic courtesy to foreign visitors to their world was rationalized by the idea that this alien race is so intelligent that they're unable to think the way humans do; a weak excuse. Overall though these critiques are small flaws in what is otherwise a highly entertaining story that is predicated on well executed comical absurdity.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From technobabble on 2010-11-22 at 7:03pm:
    I enjoyed this episode very much as well, lighthearted romp in a pastoral backdrop after a tense space battle.

    Only explanation for Kirk's Finegan reaction after McCoy's death is the fantasy world's hallucinations may had an affect on psychologically distracting the crew. Like Sulu shooting the firearm and fascinated with it without being cautious.



  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-23 at 1:24pm:
    The main plot is effective if you accept the premises. Not an episode of great significance, but memorable.

    - The episode is sort of a variant of the Naked Time, revealing the hidden fantasies of the characters.
    - I came to the same conclusions as the previous comment. The crew acts irrationally from the very beginning, paying little attention to the peculiar inconsistencies of the planet. Everyone acts like they are intoxicated by the visions they see. The show seems to imply that this is a normal part of being a humor episode, but if you want to look at things logically, it makes a lot more sense if you assume that the planet can influence minds as well as read them.
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-04-10 at 3:44am:
    A highly entertaining episode of Star Trek, which I thoughly enjoy. And still enjoy watching it, despite the many, many, many flaws in the script.

    I loved the concept of the show. And much like the Enterprise crew I become mesmerized by what I am seeing appearing right before my eyes.

    But if we take a step back and look at this episode "logically" it is really a very weak story, filled with a lot of mistakes.

    I rate this episode a six because of it's entertaining value. But it could have been produced much better.

    Over the years some of the writers have admitted that this episode, as well as many other episodes, went though so many re-writes that the flow of the story suffered greatly. It is said Roddenberry was re-writing scenes as they were actually being shot. Not sure how true that is, but it would explain some of the problems in the story.

    The biggest problem in the script is the death of Dr. McCoy. The story explains that this race is so advanced that it can "repair" or bring someone back to life who is stabbed to death in the chest! REALLY? And we are suppose to beleive this just because they say so! I am sorry the explaination leaves something to be desired!

    And while we are on the subject, this knowledge is something the Federation is not really interested in? Give me a break please! No one seems to care that this race can actually bring back the dead! I get more reaction from somebody when I show I can open a bag of bagels.

    To make matters worse, this "advanced" race doesn't realize that the crew of the Enterprise doesn't understand what is going on the whole time! You have to ask yourself: why doesn't this advanced race show themselves after McCoy's death? Instead they "sneak" away McCoy's body without explaining to the rest of the crew what they are doing! The race continues with their illusions even though it is clear to a two year old human ( we must assume their two year olds are smarter than our two year olds! ) that at that point the crew of the Enterprise had abosolutely no idea what the hell was going on around them.

    And the crew's communications were interferred with because of transmissions of this "advanced race". Even the transporter power aboard the Enterprise. REALLY? And this "advanced race" doesn't realize this at all? You have got to be kidding me?

    Spock even says that the power was so strong that he reasoned that they only enough energy to beam down one more person before they lost the use of the transporter. Gee how lucky for them. I ain't buying it.

    And as Spock is beaming down Sulu makes a staement that I am still scratching my head about. Sulu says, "Someone beaming down from the BRIDGE." Oh really? And how does Sulu know where the person is beaming down from? Spock could be beaming down from the Sick Bay for all Sulu knows. Correct me if I am wrong, but if you saw someone beaming down wouldn't you just assume they are beaming down from the.... eh.... oh I don't know.... THE TRANSPORTER ROOM!

    All of these mistakes are due to the writing and should have been corrected before fliming. And they are all weak plot devices used to make the story workable, but they are just not every creative.

    Everytime I watch this episode I have to ignore these aspects of the story or else I can't enjoy the show.

    It is very odd but this episode can be summed up in three words. Enjoyable but flawed!



  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-03-05 at 6:48pm:
    Just watched this episode, and I agree with much of what "Kethinov" has to say. It gets annoying to see the downed crew members give Spock so much flack. It was a bit overdone (presumably in the name of selling this particular element of the episode), but I liked the basic premise and dynamic.

    Yeah, that ambassador was a real jag-off. Could have been much less heavy-handed with that character.

    The choice of giant, hairy primitives seems odd. I can't help but think that this was a bit of dumbing down, possibly by the network, so things didn't get too (gasp!)...intelligent or creative!!

    Overall, though, it's a decent enough episode. Nice job touching up the visuals, too. What year did they do that, anyway? They look damn good.
  • From Yonagonaf on 2016-04-23 at 3:07pm:
    There is a word in the sentence “The yeoman's broken uniform was broken on the wrong side after she changed back into it after taking off the Medieval dress.” that needs to be changed.

    The word “broken” is incorrect.

    The words “torn” or “ripped” are used when describing damage done to material.

    In this case a uniform.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x16 - The Galileo Seven

Originally Aired: 1967-1-5

Synopsis:
Seven Enterprise crew members go on a shuttle mission with Spock in command. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 4.65

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 81 18 4 6 4 9 15 35 35 36 16

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's definitely a fun ride!

Problems
- Kirk says Spock's shuttle could be lost in one of "four complete solar systems in the immediate vicinity" in the teaser. Uhura later in the scene also mentions one of the "solar systems." This is a common error. The term they were looking for is planetary system. The planetary system we live in is called the Solar System because our star is named Sol. As such, the term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term.
- The Murasaki quasar system was originally intended to be an actual quasar, but scientific knowledge has advanced considerably since the time that this episode was filmed. As a consequence, we now know that there are no quasars in the Milky Way galaxy. A quasar is in fact an extremely bright but distant galaxy. As such, we must conclude that the system under study in this episode actually a quasar-like phenomenon rather than an actual quasar. This is luckily a reasonable conclusion for us to draw because Kirk's standing orders were stated to be that he study any "quasars or quasar-like phenomena" that he should encounter.
- The rock prop that fell on Spock's leg was so light that Nimoy actually had to quite obviously hold it on his leg to make it appear "stuck" there.

Factoids
- This episode received an extensive visual effects update when it was remastered that was far greater in scope than that of the other remastered episodes.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk justifying his curiosity to Ferris.
- The shuttle launch. The first time we see one launch!
- Kirk arguing with Ferris over what should and shouldn't have been done and what to do now.
- Spock declaring that he will decide who will and will not be left behind.
- An alien monster killing one of the crew members.
- Spock's negative reaction to the idea of taking the life of an alien indiscriminately.
- Scotty's idea to rig the phasers as a power source for the shuttle.
- McCoy harping on Spock for making bad decisions.
- Spock: "Strange. Step by step I've made the correct and logical decisions and yet two men have died!"
- Kirk being forced to abandon the search.
- Spock igniting the fuel in a flare in an attempt to get the Enterprise to notice them.
- Spock, explaining his desperation: "I examined the problem from all angles and it was plainly hopeless. Logic informed me that under the circumstances the only possible action would have to be one of desperation. A logical decision, logically arrived at." Kirk: "Ah hah. I see. You mean you reasoned that it was time for an emotional outburst."

My Review
Obligatory Earth bureaucrat of the week becomes a repetitive pain in the ass for Captain Kirk as the Enterprise feverishly engages in the search and rescue of the derelict Galileo shuttle which veers off course not long after beginning its mission and crashes while attempting to study the Murasaki quasar-like multiple star system. I have mixed feelings about this premise. Parts of it are fantastic but other parts are riddled with unnecessary details that drag down the appeal of the plot. None of these annoying details ruin what turns out to be an exceptional story for the most part but are regardless worth a mention. The two most prominently poor choices are the character of Ferris and the choice to have the shuttle crash on a habitable planet.

First let's talk about Ferris. The whole point of his character was to force Kirk into having a short window of opportunity with which to rescue the downed shuttle. We didn't need such an overdone character to achieve that. Something along the lines of Starfleet Command radioing Kirk every now and then and yelling "where the hell are you?" would have even been sufficient to achieve this dramatic effect. Instead we get a useless character trolling the bridge in nearly every one of the Enterprise's scenes acting smug and self-righteous; contributing absolutely nothing useful to the story.

Second let's talk about the habitable planet the shuttle crashed on. Of all the random gravity wells the shuttle could have fallen into they happen to land on a habitable planet? In the middle of a quasar-like system? I find that hard to believe. But even setting that issue aside, the planet's habitability was not an asset to the story largely because the subplot concerning the crew fending off the primitive natives followed by the subsequent burial controversy was not terribly compelling. A much more compelling and realistic story would have had the shuttle crash on a deserted wasteland not unlike Mars or Venus forcing the crew to don spacesuits in order to make repairs. Personally I find the idea of a hostile environment on the planet far more compelling than spear chucking hostile aliens.

Ignoring those annoying aesthetics, this episode is terrific. It's a lot of fun watching Spock handle his first command and getting a chance to see him as fallible just like the rest of us. Granted, many of those serving under him were a bit too quick to criticize the many reasonable choices he made, but it's also clear by his own admission that some of his choices were not at all appropriate. The most obviously poor choice Spock made was to order Gaetano to patrol the periphery of the crash site alone, rendering him an easy kill by one of the aliens. This is counterpointed brilliantly by Spock's innovative act of desperation igniting the improvised flare at the end of the episode. Indeed we learn a lot about our pointy-eared friend in this great Spock character drama, not the least of which is that while he may not be perfect, he is certainly decisive and thinks on his feet well. These qualities in my opinion portrayed him as a fine leader.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 3:04pm:
    Does anybody else think that Spock's command performance was made a little bit too weak? Sure, he has problems with the human factor, and he does have a different approach than Kirk, but I still thought (and have thought so on several occasions when Spock was in command), that from the way I understood the character (his personality, his training …) he should have been able to enforce his command position more ..well..forcefully, demanding respect, not accepting open hostility etc. The writers' fault, maybe?
  • From TashaFan on 2008-09-09 at 9:51pm:
    Good point, Rhea; I noticed in the episode where Kirk is caught on the Defiant that McCoy challenges Spock's command until they view Kirk's final orders, and in "The Gamesters of Triskelion" McCoy is downright insubordinate and doesn't back down until Spock outright asks him if he's planning a mutiny. The same in the epsiode when Kirk loses his memory and becomes "Kirok" on the "Native American" planet. It seems the idea that humans won't follow the unemotional alien was a bit of a theme. This continues in TNG when the somewhat Spock-like android Data takes command of a ship in Picard's makeshift fleet during the Klingon civil war, and the first officer is constantly insubordinate.
  • From NickyP on 2009-10-02 at 12:44am:
    Nice comments you guys about Spock being challenged by McCoy and simply not doing anything about it or demanding respect for his new position. I do think this may be a theme of humans not wanting to follow the unemotional alien. But I also think that when Spock didn't really challenge McCoy until he finally had to ask him if he was planning mutiny, that it just goes to show how cool Spock is. I think that McCoy constantly challenging Spock just rolled right off of Spock's shoulders.
  • From technobabble on 2010-11-26 at 2:52am:
    Time & again Spock was given a pathos test by his human subordinates and accepted it a necessary venting of his overly passionate shipmates but never put the verbal smack down on them as Kirk did.

    I believe Spock viewed such heavy-handed command style as an affront to emotional ego on the part of the commander and would not do follow that model. Throughout the series, many viewers & his fellow starfleet servicemen they viewed it as heartless &/or weak. But it was respect in his Vulcan way for letting them express their emotional platitudes...sigh. Spock I get you bro.
  • From Devlonas on 2011-02-18 at 7:50pm:
    Kethinov, your's is hands down the best ST review site. To add to all the Spock editorials, I just wanted to say that I love this episode if only for the scene of McCoy (my man) checking on the status of the crew after the crash landing. I enjoy seeing him in the role of competent emergency medic. Also this is the episode where I first noticed that every alien planet has the same "weird chimes" sound effect outside...
  • From wes on 2011-03-30 at 4:30pm:
    The crew laughing at the end of the episode and blatantly dragging it out is pretty laughable in and of itself.
  • From ProfZoe on 2011-10-02 at 11:44pm:
    When I first saw this episode, back in 1967 when I was in high school, I remember my friends and I discussing it as an example of the difficulties a woman or a minority would have with command, not just in 1960s USA but other times and place. The 19th century Dreyfus Affair comes to mind: discriminating againsy a Jewish French officer to the point of manufacturing "evidence" and bearing false witness.
    Also recall that this time was the height of US involvement in the Vietnam War.The incidents of "fragging" officers (murdering in out of sight locations), because they were either incompetent or "different" had been a growing problem.
    The best science fiction addresses current problems in such a way that people are willing to reconsider their previous assumptions, biases, beliefs, or practices.
    THAT was the joy of TOS with all its faults.The sum TOS is truly greater than its parts.
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2011-12-06 at 5:41pm:
    "Spock's first command?" He is in charge of 7 people. Who was in charge of the Enterprise when: Kirk was down on the planet in "Mudd's Women", Kirk was strapped to a table being Android-ize by Dr Corby in "Little Girls", Kirk was having his mind scrambled by Dr Adams in "Dagger"?
  • From Kethinov on 2011-12-07 at 1:52pm:
    In those previous episodes Spock was not in command long enough, especially in screen time, for the plot to deal substantially with the impact his leadership style would have on those under his command during a crisis situation affecting the ship.
  • From Josh on 2012-06-05 at 9:51pm:
    I'd have to agree with the previous commenters: The issue of 'us' vs 'them', the people serving under a foreign officer in a tense situation is the heart of this episode and provides the important drama.

    One issue I noticed just having rewatched this episode: in an episode only a few chapters prior, Kodos the Executioner was condemned for making the exact decision that Spock makes at the start of this episode. In both episodes, some people would be sacrificed for the greater good of the rest. Spock makes this determination unfeelingly, of course, but still accepts it as in inevitable fact. As Kodos said earlier, 'if that supply ship hadn't arrived early I might have been seen as a hero.' Had Spock decided to stay and build a new society on this habitable planet rather than leaving men behind, perhaps he would have been seen as a hero by his descendants :)
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-07-14 at 8:47pm:
    I really enjoyed this episode! To me the way Spock handles command is one of the great strengths of the Galileo Seven.

    I kind of disagree with some of the criticism posted here. If I understand it correctly. I think Spock was very forceful while he was in command. He never gave in to the emotions of everyone else and made discisions that was in the best interest of the crew as a whole.

    However, the other part of the criticism was right on. There have been numberous examples of human resistance to alien commanding. Balance of Terror comes to mind. I wish it had come up more often in Star Trek myself. I think it was a very strong statement about human racism and how we deal with it.

    And while I agree with Josh that there are some things similar to the Kodos affair there is one major difference. Twice Spock put himself in harms way for the good of the crew in this episode. He went back for the missing crew man which could resulted in Spock being killed. And then again when he was pinned by the rock and told the crew to "take off" without him. These were command decisions that Kodos never made. It showed how Vulcans make their command descisions based on what is the best for the whole and not on their own emotions.

    And finally, I loved this episode because it has Yeoman "Mears" in it! Despite The spelling, to hear my family name on my favorite TV show was mind blowing. lol.

  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-02-09 at 8:03pm:
    THE GALILEO SEVEN

    My biggest question for this episode: Why couldn't they deliver the emergency medical supplies first, and _then_ check out the "quasar-like" phenomenon?

    I understand your gripe about Ferris, but I don't think occasional prods from Star Fleet command would work. I also don't it's realistic that they would be calling often enough to have the same effect. And it's interesting to have the PITA high official actually be right for a change. Sending a shuttlecraft into the Murasaki system before delivering the emergency medical supplies was plain dumb. I mean, really: There's an out-of-control plague on New Paris. Science can wait a few days.

    It's also interesting to see our hero, Kirk, being wrong and having to sweat it under Ferris while at the same time trying to save face with his lame scientific-duty routine. You also need Ferris to force Kirk abandon the search at the last possible minute. That wouldn't work with Star Fleet command on the radio. You need a Ferris on the bridge to force a turnaround; otherwise, Kirk would stay.


    Two quick asides:

    How do these people memorize regulations down to the paragraph number?

    It must be no fun to work for Star Fleet, as can be seen in episodes in which they do give direct orders to Kirk.


    My second biggest question is about Spock's supposed lack of emotions. He clearly gets angry at the Galileo crew, and is sympathetic to the plight of the aliens. Are these not emotions? And just prior to leaving the planet he exhibits a whole slew of emotions. More on this below.

    The problem with being logical is that it is not enough. You need a goal. And goals come from emotions; they do not pour forth from logic. Subgoals, yes -- but not ultimate goals. You could say that Spock has his emotions more or less under control (less in this episode!), but not that he doesn't have them or has completely suppressed them.


    There is nothing at all quasar-like about the Murasaki system that I can see. I could go with the "Murasaki effect", but not it being quasar-like.

    How could the ship have landed safely so close to all the large rocks? On top of that it's incredible that they had as soft a landing as they did! Look at how hard it is to safely land something far smaller on Mars. And again, as in other episodes: why are there no seat belts?

    Yes, landing on a habitable planet is pretty long odds, but that's pretty normal for Star Trek. I'm not sure of what kind of similar story you could have landing on a "deserted wasteland not unlike Venus or Mars", but I think even that would be incredibly unlikely. And Venus is far worse than a wasteland. You couldn't survive there at all. Furthermore, landing on anything at all, much less a solid planet, much less a habitable one, would still be highly improbable.

    Just after the soft landing, Boma's explanation is pure babble.

    Scotty is really focused on fixing the ship, unlike in "The Naked Time" where he pauses cutting through the bulkhead to talk to Mr. Spock when minutes, if not seconds, are crucial. This was quite welcome.

    Spock says he will decide which three people to leave behind on the planet based on logic. Well, I guess this means leaving behind the three heaviest people. Simple! Okay, we need someone who can pilot the ship and do quick repairs, so Scotty is a safe bet. And Spock is the commander, in effect, Captain of the ship. And Spock, as Captain, has to get a seat on the ship, as the Captain always goes down with his or her ship. Yeah, he can pilot the ship and help Mr. Scott fix things, too. And perhaps you can make a case for saving the doctor. But for the rest you go by weight.

    I like when Bones and Scotty come to Spock's defense when Boma gets out of line about having a burial for Gaetano.

    Phasers do pack a lot of energy in a small device, but enough to launch a space ship? I'm skeptical. And how does "phaser energy" turn into fuel that burns?


    Spock ordered Latimer and Gaetano to remain within visual range of the ship. Looks like they disobeyed this order.

    Why does Spock instruct Gaetano to be a guard -- a lone guard, no less -- so far from the ship? Seems quite illogical to me. Actually, I believe "foolish" is a more accurate description. Just as you said.


    There's an interesting twist here: In the scene starting at 20:37, some of the crew go out of the ship to see what the noise is. Apparently the natives are making their sound and preparing to attack. (The sound is a great sound effect, but is that really what wood on leather sounds like?) Then the crew discusses tactics. Now look at who's getting logical and who's getting emotional!

    SPOCK: I am frequently appalled by the low regard you Earthmen have for life. [He says this with anger, and is it not also an expression of sympathy? E-mo-tions.]

    GAETANO: Well, we're practical about it. I say we hit them before they hit us.

    SPOCK: Mister Boma?

    BOMA: Absolutely.

    SPOCK: Dr. McCoy?

    MCCOY: Seems logical to me.

    SPOCK: Yes indeed. It seemed logical to me, also. But to take life indiscriminately. [Sympathy!]

    GAETANO: The majority.

    SPOCK (_in anger_!): I'm not interested in the opinion of the majority, Mr. Gaetano.

    Not only does Spock get angry (emotion!), he just asked their opinions, and after he gets them he says he's not interested. (Illogical!) And just prior to the above conversation he eagerly asked Mr. Boma about how they can use his observation about the aliens being tribal against them. Spock is right that it is he who is in command, not the majority -- but he should have stated it that way. Asking for advice and following it are two different things, as Kirk pointed out in "Dagger of the Mind".

    So Spock has no problem leaving three crew members behind to die, but killing the alien "humanoids" to save their own skins is somehow appalling. And he seemed to have no emotional reaction at all when encountering a dead Latimer. [This reminds me of Spock not saving Tomlinson in "Balance of Terror". Was Tomlinson already dead when Spock showed up, or did Spock really, coldly, leave him there to die? It's not clear, but as I said in my review on that episode, I certainly hope it was the former. But if it was the latter, then again he has no problem leaving humans to die (and neither did anyone else in that episode).]


    I don't have the remastered version, but by looking at the photos on your site I see that yet again they make things worse. The Murasaki system in the original is just a more or less homogeneous thing of illuminated dust, gas, and solar systems (sorry, we disagree on the definition of "solar system"). In the remastered version there is, at the center, some kind of star with high-energy jets, perhaps even a black hole. Now, if the Galileo were to be drawn to the center of the remastered nebula -- well -- I don't think it wouldn't survive. The Murasaki system also looks too much like a work of art. Its structure looks quite unnatural to me. It was done right the first time, except that it "swirled" a little too quickly.

    And the jettisoned fuel doesn't look right. Yes, the quality of the imagery is superior, but I don't think it makes things more realistic. If anything, just the opposite. In TOS, it looks like a plume within a plume. Much more likely and realistic. Scotty clearly said that Spock "ignited" the fuel. The fuel in the remastered version doesn't look like it was ignited, while it _does_ in the original version.

    The worst thing about the remastered version is the fact that the rear view is partially obstructed by the engines! That's patently ridiculous, ugly, claustrophobic, and pretty piss-poor for a 23rd-century viewing system. Simply awful. Judging by the photograph on this website, the camera is on the outer rim of the upper part of the ship. One could at least put cameras below the shuttlecraft bay doors.

    Near the end of the episode the Galileo is having trouble maintaining orbit. But we see it in what looks like deep space with stars zooming by. This is patently ridiculous, as is the concept of a rapidly decaying orbit outside a body's atmosphere. But such things are, unfortunately, more or less a normal part of Star Trek TOS. Wait, there's more! The stars are moving even when we see Taurus 2 stationary from the Enterprise! I'm sorry, but this is totally nuts.


    Notice how Spock exhibits the following starting with being pinned by the large rock: altruism, anger, fear, panic, and a hint of desperation. Are these not emotions? We don't need to wait for his jettisoning the fuel for him to exhibit emotions.

    Spock's jettisoning the fuel is the climax of Spock's adventure as commander, of course. I think it was both logical and emotional. You have to weigh being bright for a brief period of time versus dark for a longer period of time. I think all indications are that the former was more likely to be successful. Having won doesn't prove that argument is right, of course, as sometimes the less likely thing will happen. But the best you can do in life is play the odds. Scotty: "A distress signal? It's like sending up a flare. Mr. Spock, that was a good gamble. Perhaps it was worth it." Absolutely. This was a great line, and well-delivered, to boot.

    Quick aside: That "FUEL JETTISON" switch is just a little too easy to hit by accident, no?


    When the Galileo crew is rescued, no one on the bridge notices that two are missing. They seem to act as if they know what we know, that only five are on board and that no major characters were killed. And since they couldn't know that, we see that they also don't seem to care in the slightest about who died or that anyone died at all! In fact everyone on the bridge is so unaffected by this that only a short time later they can freely laugh at Spock's admitting being stubborn instead of mourning the three dead.

    Why does Kirk order the Enterprise to go at only warp factor 1 if they were so pressed for time? Oh, and why only "full normal speed" to go back to Taurus 2 for the rescue? And just what is "full normal speed", anyway? It doesn't sound fast, like "emergency warp". It seems the Enterprise is never moving fast in this episode.


    Lots of fun, but lots of problems.

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune
  • From Rick on 2014-08-26 at 2:35pm:
    Alan Feldman

    "My second biggest question is about Spock's supposed lack of emotions. He clearly gets angry at the Galileo crew, and is sympathetic to the plight of the aliens. Are these not emotions? And just prior to leaving the planet he exhibits a whole slew of emotions. More on this below. "

    Becoming forceful in order to enforce a position of power is not the same as anger. Spock is not sympathetic to the plight of the aliens but is rather respectful of other lifeforms. Of course there are lots of problems in this episode: just like every episode of every show on tv, and every review that is overly critical and overzealous in trying to find errors that do not necessarily exist...
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-11-23 at 9:41pm:
    At Rick

    C'mon, Spock was clearly angry. There is no question about it. In fact, I just watched it again. That's anger.

    Additionally, the scene clearly shows the struggle within him between Vulcan logic and human emotions. In fact, this is in large part what makes Spock such a fascinating character, of course. I recall that as a child I was in awe of his ability to control his emotions, to be lord over them, to master them. What is also fascinating is that in this scene it is the humans who are being logical!

    If you respect, in the relevant sense of the word, other life forms, then you care about them. That includes sympathy, or, if you prefer, concern. I mean, if you don't want to kill them, you care about their well being, or at least their being alive, no?

    I am not overly critical. And I am not overzealous about finding errors. They stick out like a sore thumb. I call 'em as I see 'em. I make both positive and negative comments, even in my original review on this very episode! Hell, even in this very post!

    I love Star Trek TOS. And part of the fun is discussing both its strong points and weak points in a forum like this. And for that I say, thank you, Kethinov!

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Star Trek TOS - 1x17 - The Squire of Gothos

Originally Aired: 1967-1-12

Synopsis:
A powerful entity known as Trelane torments the crew of the Enterprise. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 5.14

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 38 4 13 15 10 24 44 33 15 13 22

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's a decently entertaining story nevertheless.

Problems
- The atmosphere is reported to be extremely hot and toxic with tornadoes raging and volcanos erupting everywhere. So they beam down with no protection other than breathing masks? Why not have full space suits? Or better yet take a shuttle?
- Given that Trelane's information about Earth is stated to be 900 years out of date, numerous details are flagrantly anachronistic including but not limited to references to Napoleon, references to Alexander Hamilton, dueling pistols, the spherical globe, the Rococo style painting and fireplace, the quality of Trelane's mirror, Trelane's too modern for the time period outfit, Trelane's collection of too modern European flags, the harpsichord, the yeoman's dress during the waltz, the waltz itself, and the 17th century dueling sword. At one point Trelane even quotes a play by Christopher Marlowe published in 1604: "Is this the face that launch'd a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium?" (The play is Doctor Faustus.)
- Kirk speculates that the range of Trelane's power is probably limited to "the point [they] first entered [Trelane's] solar system." This is a common error. The term they were looking for is planetary system. The planetary system we live in is called the Solar System because our star is named Sol. As such, the term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term.

Factoids
- The Enterprise is said to be 900 light years from Earth in this episode.
- A stuffed trophy salt monster is featured in Trelane's manor. One of these creatures was originally featured as the primary antagonist in The Man Trap.

Remarkable Scenes
- Trelane making his entrance.
- Spock to Trelane: "I object to you. I object to intellect without discipline. I object to power without constructive purpose."
- Trelane magically giving Uhura the ability to play a harpsichord.
- Spock: "'Fascinating' is a word I use for the unexpected."
- Kirk firing on Trelane's machine rather than Trelane during the pistol duel.
- Kirk arguing with Trelane at his little court.
- Kirk convincing Trelane to be more "sporting."
- Trelane enjoying Kirk's game.
- The revelation that Trelane was just a child.

My Review
This simple but charming story is the first to turn a god-like antagonist into a compelling character, something this show has had difficulty doing in previous episodes. Indeed Trelane is both well acted and for the most part well written aside from a few technical goofs. Unlike previous god-like characters, the narrative of this particular story refuses to take Trelane too seriously, which is its greatest asset. Comparatively, Charlie from Charlie X and Gary Mitchell from Where No Man Has Gone Before were both painfully overwrought.

Much like Shore Leave, this episode proves that Star Trek is adept at doing humor. Unlike Shore Leave though, this episode didn't quite lose itself in whimsy which unfortunately ruins some of the fun. It's obvious from the very first moment that Trelane is up to no good despite his incessant smile, so none of the characters can take much delight in the period eccentricities. One of the most amusing moments of the episode is Uhura's silly joy at suddenly knowing how to play the harpsichord. The reason that small moment is so satisfying is because for whatever reason, Uhura allowed herself to enjoy that small detail in spite of the obvious danger she and her comrades were in. A very human moment.

However, most of the episode is comprised of the crew not trusting Trelane and trying to find a way to escape. In this sense the plot is somewhat slow and repetitive. A better episode would have featured more plot than Trelane toying with the crew and perhaps more substance than merely an immature god-like alien playing with humans like pets. These details are without a doubt fun but more texture and nuance would have enhanced the comedy and provided some actual opportunity for drama rather than leaving us with this slightly oversimplified goofiness. On the whole though the episode is well done goofiness, so at least there's that!

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From 411314 on 2009-06-15 at 10:08am:
    This the thrid episode broadcast where a villain assumes cruel power over everyone else (the first two being Charlie X and Where No Man Has Gone Before), but this one is much more interesting then the other two. Trelane is a great character who reminds me of Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. The part where Trelane's parents scold him cracked me up, especially when one of them said something like "let [Kirk] go, or you will not be allowed to make any more planets". The way Trelane whined "aw, but I was WINNING, I would have WON", I woud've felt sorry for him if "winning" didn't mean murdering someone. I thought it was interesting how Kirk cleverly used Trelane's own phsychology against him ("it's not nearly sporting or exciting enough to just hang me, is it? Wouldn't you rather hunt me?")
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-23 at 2:11pm:
    Trelane is great. He does a wonderful job from the start trying to portray an immature god-like alien.

    - As soon as Kirk and Sulu are abducted, Spock orders red alert and full reverse. Pretty quick reflexes. What ever happened to just sitting around dumbfounded :-)
    - TOS didn't seem to be very clear on what the year was, or maybe it was just not spread around to all the writers. Trelane was clearly not imitating the 14th century in any way, rather the episode seems to think that Earth time is much later than the 23rd century.
    - I like that Kirk tries two very reasonable approaches to defeating Trelane (destroying his machine and playing on his ego), either of which could have been successful in a different episode, but neither of which works here. It shows that Kirk doesn't have to be infallible to be a hero, just persistent.
  • From Tooms on 2013-09-03 at 3:49am:
    I'm not a fan of any episodes where characters have unexplained god-like powers. Especially when they are bratty kids.

    I did enjoy the salt monster (from The Man Trap) being on display in Trelane's room.
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-03-19 at 9:02pm:
    Just watched this episode for the first time. Not a bad one. It was just intriguing enough to keep me watching, though (like many episodes), it probably could have been streamlined into a better 30-minute tale.

    The notion of beings who have mastered energy-matter transformation is an interesting one, though it's odd to hear the creatures talking like a bickering, petty family. Is it too much to ask that they be a tad more evolved in their demeanor and behavior?

    Also, any story that uses a Deus ex Machina like this one automatically loses a few points in my book. Way too pat a conclusion.

    I did enjoy Spock's confrontation with Trelane. His few lines about intellect and power are some of the more thoughtful ones in the series so far.
  • From Peter Collins on 2015-02-10 at 5:33pm:
    I think this episode, despite flaws, benefits from great acting by Trelane, which makes him believable as a truculent kid trying to act grown up. I"m not sure the criticism of the time flaws holds water. First, if he knows earth only from a certain point in its history, it's not unreasonable for him to have picked bits and pieces from different times as he saw fit. As for the crew, isn't it fair enough to assume that they were unclear, without external help, what earth times specifically Trelane had based his role-playing on? Anyway, having just watched that one today, I rather enjoyed it.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x18 - Arena

Originally Aired: 1967-1-19

Synopsis:
Kirk is pitted in a barehanded duel with a Gorn. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 5.9

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 42 6 11 4 4 15 23 37 38 45 22

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's definitely a fun ride!

Problems
- The nation in which Earth resides is retconned away from various previously used terms such as "United Earth" to the more generalized term "The Federation" in this episode.
- There are frequent references in this episode to the uncharted "solar system" ahead. This is a common error. The term they were looking for is planetary system. The planetary system we live in is called the Solar System because our star is named Sol. As such, the term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term.
- At one point Kirk mistakenly refers to the planet he fights the Gorn at as an asteroid.
- When Kirk finds the sulfur he utters a line to the recorder without moving his lips!

Factoids
- This episode establishes that the Enterprise is capable of warp 7 and warp 8 but only at great risk to the ship.
- William Shatner (Kirk) and Leonard Nimoy (Spock) both suffered from tinnitus as a result of being too close to an extremely loud special effect during the filming of this episode.
- When this episode was remastered they enhanced many of the special effects, as is typical of the remasterings. But my favorite enhancement is that they digitally made the Gorn's eyes blink! Every time I see the Gorn blink now, I giggle a bit. :)

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk and company beaming down into a battle.
- The space race pushing the warp engines to their limit.
- Kirk being transported down with the Gorn by the Metrons.
- Kirk attempting to fight the Gorn strength against strength and utterly failing.
- The Gorn communicating with Kirk.
- Spock figuring out what Kirk is planning and kind of keeping it to himself much to the annoyance of McCoy.
- Kirk constructing a bamboo cannon. Awesome!
- Kirk firing diamonds into the heart of his enemy.
- Kirk showing mercy on his enemy and refusing to deal the final blow.
- Kirk: "We're a most promising species, mister Spock, as predators go. Did you know that?"

My Review
This exciting and fast paced story could have been as good as Balance of Terror were it not for a few bad choices in terms of aesthetics and plotting. The most annoying detail is that we're introduced to yet another god-like alien race: the Metrons. How many of these are there in the Star Trek universe? The second most annoying detail is the one-dimensional way in which the Gorn are presented. Unlike the Romulans, the Gorn are pretty much just sneering, growling, hissing monsters and don't really have much depth to them beyond the surface. A better episode would have allowed the conflict between Kirk and his Gorn counterpart to emerge organically rather than using the super lame super aliens to set up the duel. Likewise a better episode would have fleshed out our Gorn characters a bit more. I like the idea that they probably thought they were merely acting in self defense, but something more nuanced would have been more interesting.

Another problem with the Gorn is that their physical deficiencies in terms of agility were blown quite a bit out of proportion to what is realistic. For a creature that has evolved bipedalism, the Gorn captain's level of clumsiness was highly exaggerated. But who knows, maybe this Gorn was arthritic or something. Unfortunately arthritis doesn't quite explain the scene where the Gorn pins Kirk with a rock, goes to deliver a deathblow to Kirk, and then conveniently decides to stop and move the rock off of Kirk which allows Kirk to escape before the Gorn can resume his attempt to deliver the deathblow. But who knows, maybe the Gorn captain was stupid as well as arthritic...

One detail I enjoyed quite a bit was Kirk's bamboo cannon. While the bamboo cannon was well within the bounds of realistic science, don't try it at home kids, because there are many risks associated with trying to slap together something like that. Firstly, Kirk's bamboo shaft must have been unusually strong because most ordinary bamboo shafts used in this way would shatter in all directions from the explosion rather than directing most of the explosive force at the diamond projectile as intended. Likewise, Kirk's charcoal must have been some pretty potent stuff, unlike what you'll find for use in grilling steaks. In short, Kirk got pretty lucky. If the materials he found weren't sufficiently well suited for this little science project, his bamboo cannon easily could have injured or killed him instead of his opponent. That said, the Metrons picked this planet for the duel for a reason and I find it hard to believe the bamboo cannon wasn't within the bounds of their imagination.

Kirk showing mercy on the Gorn at the end was a great detail and nicely demonstrates the spirit of Star Trek. If we didn't have the Metrons getting in the way of the plot, a better ending could have depicted Kirk showing mercy on the Gorn at the end as a means to open diplomatic negotiations regarding the status of Cestus III. I imagine the Gorn would be compelled to cede the world to the Federation as some sort of penance for their ruthless surprise attack. The Federation would in turn be prohibited from making any further incursions into territory claimed by the Gorn. Unfortunately that much better ending full of space politics and treaty negotiations isn't at all what we got. What we got instead was a bunch of vague philosophizing about humanity's promise and potential. Nevertheless it's not a bad story though. Certainly one of the better ones so far.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From technobabble on 2010-11-26 at 3:27am:
    After much lamenting of kethinov about human looking aliens with minonr cosmetic or no visual differences at all finally we get a reptilian hissing barbarian! It may look like a fake guy in a foam suit to our CGI spoiled minds 40 yrs later but dammit in 1967 TV this was hot!

    I enjoyed the Gorn hissing & chuckling to himself while he laid traps, his slow but unrelenting brutishness & this ep was also originally penned by the great scifi writer Frederic Brown.

    The enduring theme of this simple combat piece was you may encounter enemies whom you may want to hate & destroy in anger & revenge but even they may have legitimate reasons behind their violence.

    The metrons were portrayed by an androgynous girly dude but after 1500 yrs alive I would consider primitive sexual appearances rather pointless as well...lol.

    Factoid: Both Shatner & Nimoy suffered for years from tinnitus (chronic ringing of the ears) from pyrotechnics explosions that went off next to them in the Cestus III scenes.
  • From Ryan on 2012-06-14 at 3:11am:
    I used to agree with your opinion that there are too many all powerful beings on TOS. Then I remembered Who Watches the Watchers and I changed my mind. Picard's line is something like, "any sufficiently advanced race would seem all powerful." In this context, I think all of the supposedly all powerful beings are well used in TOS. It stands to reason that there are many races that are far more advanced than we are, and using Picard's logic, they would appear to be all powerful. Therefore, I dont think the multitude of "all powerful beings" on TOS is misplaced in the Star Trek Universe. What do you think?
  • From ChristopherA on 2012-07-12 at 8:41am:
    I loved this episode when I was a kid. Watching it again as an adult, the execution of the episode seems more awkward than I remembered, but it is still a classic.
    - The sluggishness of the Gorn doesn't bother me. The concept is that the Gorn has much greater strength and toughness, the human much greater speed.
    - You are right that the scene where the Gorn removes the rock from Kirk, letting him escape, is quite strange to watch. Maybe the Gorn made a mistake in the heat of battle because he instinctively assumed his foe could remove the rock at any time and was just going to use it as a trick of some sort.
    - Kirk’s final solution is cool. But we've seen the Gorn survive being buried under a falling rock that must weigh several tons, and keep going. I found it somewhat challenging to believe that a creature with such comic-book toughness could be killed by Kirk’s silly improvised weapon, at a distance, while Kirk's fragile human body, at point blank range to the explosion, is unharmed. As you mention, those materials must have been just perfect for the job.
    - Although it seems a shame we learn so little about the Gorn, I believe this may be necessary. At the end of the story, much of the force of Kirk’s morality is his decision to spare an opponent he knows little about and who has repeatedly tried to kill him. If the audience had been given enough back story to already be sympathetic to the Gorn, that scene would lose much of its effect.
    - The Gorn seem to be rather ineffective at the art of war. They trick the Enterprise crew into beaming down into a trap. But the trap is pathetic, just a weak, ineffective mortar barrage that does little more than scare the landing party. Kirk then responds with a Federation mortar of enormous power. If the Gorn had an equivalent weapon – or even taken the Federation weapon when they destroyed the colony earlier – or laid a booby trap, or just done anything effective – Kirk would have been killed. Then again, the Enterprise really should have been able to detect that Cestus III was destroyed before Kirk beamed down. It seems they really wanted to film a scene of Kirk beaming down to a destroyed base while bracketed with explosions, whether it made sense or not. And it was a pretty cool scene!
  • From warpfactor 10.1 on 2012-09-12 at 7:05pm:
    Why has Sulu got that ridiculous slick of hair on his forehead? What is he thinking? Even when the Enterprise is in danger of imminent destruction he continues with his absurd new look.

    I'd like to see the Metrons take on the Providers from 'Gamesters of Triskilion'. See how they like it.

    Having said all that it's a great episode and just shows how better things were before CGI. Nothing ever looks quite right to me with CGI.

    Once again the deaths of hundreds of people seems to be no big deal. Couldn't the gorn (gorns?) have tried explaining to the outpost that they were trespassing before wiping them out? I certainly wouldn't be falling over myself to invite them into the Federation.
  • From zerothis on 2012-09-21 at 11:52pm:
    Problem: Or rather just odd. The Metrons are remarkably adept at covering, dramatizing, and producing steady in focus shots of live events with multiple 2D invisible cameras.

    The Metron's "Does my appearance surprise you captain" could have answered:
    "Well no, not really. most aliens I've meet lately look a lot like humans and some of them look like kids"
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-02-12 at 12:22am:
    ARENA

    I'm a little puzzled by the Metrons' rationale for all this. Instead of letting our heroes and the Gorns fight it out for themselves, the Metrons have the captains fight it out man-to-Gorn, and they will destroy the ship of the loser. Either way there will be death and destruction. The only differences are that 1) the death and destruction will be on only one of the two sides, and 2) we get a show out of it. How is their option any more civilized? Well, maybe there will be a little less death and destruction their way, and perhaps quicker, more merciful deaths. Still.

    Contrast this to what the Organians did in "Errand of Mercy".

    Why didn't the Gorns put up a NO TRESSPASSING sign? Why didn't they go to Cestus III and say, "Uh, excuse me? This is our place. Would you kindly pack up your stuff and leave?" Or, they could have charged rent!

    It must have taken a considerable amount of time to set up Cestus III. Where were the Gorns then?

    When Kirk launches the blue grenade, he aims it to his left while Kelowitz says the enemy is to his right, or did I miss something? Maybe the launcher puts a wicked spin on the blue ball? Regardless, it looked and sounded pretty cool when it went off! The (unexploded) blue balls looked pretty cool, too.

    How did the ships transport their crews up when they were at an extreme distance from Cestus III? I really didn't like this.

    Spock is on his respect-for-sentient-life kick again. Kirk is right. You don't let murderers walk free just because it won't raise the dead.

    I don't know why, but the Gorn works as a scary opponent for me. Maybe it's the "sneering, growling, hissing" noises he makes. Whatever it is, I think he looks pretty cool. Oh, I love the expression he makes when the big boulder is about to clobber him! Speaking of the big boulder, how did Kirk aim it so accurately?

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune
  • From DK on 2013-04-23 at 8:03pm:
    I'm not certain I understand the motives of the Metrones.  It sounded like to me their goal was to stop interference.  I assume this means alien interference with the Metrones; either from the Federation or the Gorn.  I can think of several ways better than the one they chose to accomplish this goal but really, how was anybody interfering with the Metrones in the first place?  Had the Metrones simply let the two ships fly on by nobody would have interfered with them.  And, if their was a goal to teach some sort of lesson, what was the lesson learned by a personal battle followed by the destruction of one or the other of the ships?  And, of there was no lesson; just a 'less large' version of the ship to ship battle that was going on then the Metrones don't have much moral authority to begin with.  I didn't explain myself very well but I just don't understand where the Metrones were coming from.
    But, never mind; this episode is a cult classic.  You could put a picture of the rubber-suited Gorn right next to a Tribble or the Enterprise herself as an icon of the TOS franchise.
    As with 'The Galileo Seven' Star Trek really needed to make their rocks heavier; at least heavy enough to keep from wiggling when touched.  A light breeze would have sent them flying!
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-03-21 at 8:23am:
    I agree with nearly all of Kethinov's opinions here. Like many of these early episodes, this one had some strong elements, but also several missteps and missed opportunities.

    The look of the Gorn is goofy, to be sure, but I was willing to overlook that due to the effects and budget of the time. Once he starts moving and fighting, though, I had to laugh. How do these creatures react during a space duel between ships? Just pray that they don't have to make a fast turn? Pretty poorly thought out, that little detail.

    And once again, the godlike beings. This is now back-to-back episodes that feature such beings. Boring. Having one unimaginably powerful race of creatures as part of the mythos is very intriguing. When you start having two, three, and more, it starts to get dull. It's also a very weak plot device.

    Once again, though, a strength is seeing how Spock's reactions contrast with his very reactionary shipmates.
  • From themadworld on 2014-05-21 at 1:28am:
    I'm not fond of this one. There's plenty of good ideas, particularly the idea that the Gorn weren't in the wrong, but the arrival of the Metrons (aka, superior beings #473) really ruined for me.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x19 - Tomorrow Is Yesterday

Originally Aired: 1967-1-26

Synopsis:
The Enterprise is thrown back to 20th century Earth. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 5.06

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 41 6 7 11 17 10 29 29 26 19 12

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- Pretty lame episode with no significant long term continuity.

Problems
- The pilot beamed off the aircraft shouldn't have been standing upright after transport because he was sitting in the plane cockpit.
- Kirk mentions that the Enterprise is a "United Earth" ship, which seems to contradict the previously retconned establishment of "The Federation" in the previous episode.
- In the remastered version of this episode the remastered shot of the Enterprise orbiting Earth with the moon in the background has an error. The moon is partially covered in darkness, but in the area covered by darkness you can see stars through the moon as if it were transparent.
- Kirk's interrogator threatens to lock Captain Kirk up for two hundred years. A bemused Kirk replies, "that ought to be just about right." However, in fact it would have to be three hundred years for that line to be "just about right" due to it having previously been established that Star Trek takes place in the 23rd century.

Factoids
- Kirk said in this episode that there are only twelve ships like Enterprise in the fleet at this time.
- Spock's rank is established to be that of lieutenant commander in this episode.
- This episode was meant to originally be a follow up to the time warp in The Naked Time.

Remarkable Scenes
- The Enterprise being chased by US fighter aircraft.
- The look on the pilot's face after having been beamed up.
- Spock meeting the pilot.
- The computer being awkward.
- The pilot arguing that his sudden absence from Earth would have just as adverse an effect on the timeline as his returning with information from the future would followed by Spock countering the pilot's argument by claiming that according to his research, the pilot never contributed anything significant to history anyway. Ouch.
- Spock discovering that the pilot must be returned to Earth after all so that he may father a child who goes on to make significant contributions to history.
- The Air Force sergeant's behavior after having been beamed up.
- Kirk's interrogation.

My Review
A gravitational anomaly accidentally propels the Enterprise into the past whereupon the crew accidentally contaminates the timeline. I've never been a fan of the use of time travel in science fiction mostly because the power to travel through time is unimaginably dangerous in its implications and the resultant time paradoxes are a storytelling nightmare. Most time travel stories irresponsibly gloss over this stuff and this episode is no exception. While this episode goes to great length to clean up the timeline to remove all contamination, it does so at the expense of the credibility of the Enterprise's century because we've now learned that the magic time travel technique Spock invented in The Naked Time is a pretty damn reliable tactic. Twice now we've seen the Enterprise travel through time just by Spock crunching some numbers and plugging them into the ship's computer and twice now the implications of this power have been ignored as relatively trivial.

The truth is that no society, not even one as enlightened as the Federation, or United Earth, or whatever they're calling themselves now is going to ignore this kind of power the way our heroes seem to be doing. If Spock's magic time travel formula is as accurate, useful, and reliable as depicted in this episode and as depicted in The Naked Time, then why not go back in time and erase the Earth-Romulan war in the same fashion they erased their mistakes in this episode? Why not travel into the future in order to plunder its technological advancements? Why not do any of a million possible things this sort of technology enables? I'll tell you why. Because the writers have failed to properly comprehend what would realistically ensue if time travel technology were actually invented.

But misuse of time travel isn't this episode's only sin. I'd be negligent if I didn't mention the embarrassing "sensual computer" scenes, or the fact that Captain Christopher managed to escape his quarters because nobody felt it necessary to place a guard, or the even more idiotic decision by Spock to inform Captain Christopher of the significance of a child he hasn't even had yet. It's a good thing Spock's magic time travel formula let them erase that mistake.

What was with that whole transporter merging memory wiping thing anyway? Kirk says he'll transport Captain Christopher to a time before any of this happened which will cause him to have no memory of these events. Is the transporter somehow combining the uncontaminated Christopher with the contaminated Christopher and erasing the memory of future events? If so, since the goal is to no longer have a contaminated Christopher, then why not just blow the contaminated Christopher right out the airlock instead rather than risking a dangerous transport operation in the middle of the whole silly slingshot effect? Doesn't this transporter merging of the two of them effectively kill the contaminated one anyway? Because I fail to see the difference between that and merely executing the contaminated version. Either way an uncontaminated version lives out his normal life as history intended.

As written, this episode is simply riddled with far too many technical and logical problems to be worth many points. Let's all hope the next time they use time travel on Star Trek they treat the subject with a bit more care and take the implications of what would realistically ensue due to their plot device a bit more seriously.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From 411314 on 2009-06-15 at 4:45pm:
    I really enjoyed this episode and seeing the reaction of a character from when this was made seeing the future as presented in Star Trek. The slingshot effect didn't bother me at all. Obviously, Star Trek takes place in a fictional world where the rules are different from what they are in the real world.
  • From Arianwen on 2010-07-20 at 10:15pm:
    Also one of my all-time favourite episodes. The dialogue was excellent, the acting on a par to the dialogue. I really think this is one of Shatner's best episodes.

    The slingshot effect is probably very daft (so is the whole time-travel thing; they managed to drop their visitors off at the exact moment after they had taken them?), but then so are most of the premises of Star Trek or any other Sci-Fi show. (Ever seen Doctor Who? Now there's suspension of disbelief for you.)
  • From Strider on 2012-10-24 at 1:50am:
    This is one of my favorites, too. I liked that Captain Christopher was strong and not easily intimidated, and that he both gave respect and earned the respect of the Enterprise's officers. I could really see him becoming a starship captain if he'd been born at the right time. When Spock stopped him from holding them hostage at the end of the episode, I got the sense Spock knew what to do because he knew Jim so well, and Captain Christopher was the same kind of man.

    As far as time travel goes...if this happened to me and my crew, it would never make it into my log. I wouldn't want Starfleet or the Federation to have that information.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-02-11 at 12:33am:
    TOMORROW IS YESTERDAY

    Ridiculous time-travel problems, but if you can swallow them, this can be a fun episode to watch. Ok, let's go!

    >----o----<

    Near the end of the episode they're heading for the Sun. What do we see on the screen? Stars whizzing by and no Sun. Where is the Sun? They're heading straight for it and it's not on the screen! What are all these "stars" moving by doing in the Solar System? At times the ship doesn't look like it's moving at all.

    >----o----<

    There's another problem with the scene with the Moon in the background: Not only can you see stars through its dark side, the moon, as rendered, is WAY TOO BIG! It wouldn't look any bigger from low-Earth orbit than it does from the ground. Still yet again, the remastered effects make things LESS realistic.

    >----o----<

    Yeah, the time-travel paradoxes are a nightmare. My additional question: How can you change a future that already happened? Does this question even make any sense? If it does, then they can't screw things up; otherwise, the Enterprise and its crew wouldn't already be as they are/were in the 23rd century in order to go back to the 1960's to be as they are/were then to mess things up in a way that makes everything happen as it did the "first time", as there is no "second time". Got it?

    And what about the butterfly effect? Well, it turns out that it is irrelevant.

    OK, analysis: There is a time interval in which there are four Enterprises at the same time. One is the one that first went back in time. The second is the Enterprise going forward again, splitting off from the first. If those on the second Enterprise could see their counterparts on the first one, they'd see them going backwards, and vice versa. The third Enterprise is going back in time as it heads toward and then away from the Sun. The fourth is the ship going forward in time again, back to the 23rd century. Again, each crew would see the other going backwards. And, as I mentioned in my review of "The Naked Time", there will be two overlapping enterprises near each turnaround point. Sorry my diagram didn't make it over intact in that review. Think of it this way: You're in one place at 2:00 going backward in time. At 1:00 you switch to going forward in time and at 2:00 your in another place. So at 2:00 you're in two places at the same time, going backwards in one, and forwards in the other. At 1:00 your two places are overlapping and begin to separate. So from the viewpoint of an outside observer, you suddenly appear as two overlapping ships that separate, with one crew going forwards and the other going backwards. Cool, huh?

    Things like this are what you'd have to accept in order to believe in time travel, unless you make a discontinuous jump in time, in which case you can avoid this overlap paradox.

    As for Captain Christopher: If Spock and crew got the timing just right, Christopher was being beamed out of the plane by the Enterprise going forward in time the first time at the same time that the Enterprise going forward in time for the second time beams him back in. And that time one beaming him back is going faster than warp 8 while beaming him back! If Spock's timing is off, there will be a time interval with either no one in the plane, or two overlapping pilots in the plane. Yuck! Now the hardest part. Does the plane break up, or return to base? Both possibilities are going forward in time. The episode has him doing the latter, but I think in fact it would be the former, with our new Christopher ejecting or dying in a crash. Why? At this point there are four Enterprises. And one of them destroys the plane with a tractor beam. None of the other three can do anything to prevent that, so the show is inconsistent. And he would later appear out of nowhere to snoop around the base with Kirk and Sulu. Sometime after that he'd be beamed up and never appear on Earth again! But that's not how it happened on the show. We have the same problem for the sergeant encountering Kirk and Sulu, but this has the same contradiction problem. So according to the episode, all this trickery somehow wiped out the version with the plane breaking up and the sergeant finding Kirk and Sulu looking for films. Sorry, that doesn't fly. It's a total mess. Well, I almost got it to work.

    So what would this look like to an outside observer? This is basically what I said above, but in chronological order. She'd first see the Enterprise, with our "stowaways" on board, pop out of nowhere. It would immediately turn into two overlapping ships and would begin to separate. (This violates conservation of energy, energy in the form of mass, i.e.) The overlapping ships then continue to separate with one heading for the Sun, with its crew doing everything backwards, and the other heading for Earth, doing everything forwards. Both have Christopher and the sergeant on board. Both Enterprises then pass near each other by Earth. One transports Christopher from the plane to the ship. The other from the ship to the plane. Note that the Enterprise coming from near the Sun is traveling at over warp 8 while they beam the stowaways back to Earth! The outside observer would then see another pair of Enterprises pop out of thin air and separate. One would be in orbit with the crew going forwards. This one would beam Christopher and the sergant up to the ship. It would later head for the Sun. The other would head for the black star with its crew going backwards. So we find that at two points, one Enterprise would beam people up from Earth, and another would beam them back down. Then the unavoidable contradiction.

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-03-21 at 6:34pm:
    Not a very good episode, for all of the reasons that Kethinov points out. Time travel is always a tricky one, and unless handled very deftly, a ruinous one. Some people don't mind the paradoxes, contradictions, and willful ignorance of writers towards the ramifications of time travel. I, however, am often greatly bothered by sloppy time travel stories. This was one of them.

    I found Kirk's attitude in this episode pretty annoying, too. Partially due to the script and partially due to Shatner being Shatner, the smarmy, self-satisfied demeanor was a nuisance. His sarcasm and condescension towards the Air Force officers, who were only doing their jobs, seems far beneath one of Kirk's station.

    If had been watching this episode back in 1966, I probably would have been pretty disappointed. Much of the story takes place on "modern" Earth, which is not what I'm watching a science fiction show for. Add in the fact that the "science" in the fiction is weak, and it's not a very strong entry into the canon.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-11-28 at 1:10pm:
    TOMORROW IS YESTERDAY - My 2nd post

    Correction to my first post:

    I got the time-order of events as seen by an outside observer not quite right, or at least not clear enough! I will correct it here. (Recall that we get multiple ships as follows: Say at 1:00 you're going forward in time. At 2:00 you start going backward in time. So at 1:00 you're going backward in time. And now your ship is in two places at the same time!)

    There are basically as many as five ships from the viewpoint of an outside observer present at a single time. As viewed by our heroes, there is one ship on one trip, but divided into five parts in time. I drew myself a space-time diagram to figure this all out, but unfortunately I am unable to post it here. I'm forced then to leave this as exercise for the reader: Draw 7 parallel horizontal lines on a sheet of paper (landscape mode). Label them t0 at the bottom through t6 at the top. Draw a vertical line on the left (leave a little room for ship A). That will be the black star. Draw a vertical line down the middle to represent Earth, and one on the right to represent the Sun. Draw the path through space-time based on my description below.

    A - going forward in time, from before any of this happened, to the encounter with the black star, t0 -> t6.

    B - going backward, from the black star to earth, t6 -> t2

    C - going forward, from earth until zooming toward the sun, t2 -> t5

    D - going backward, as they zoom to, and then away from, the sun, t5 -> t1

    E - going forward, passing Earth for the beam-backs at t3 and t4, as they return to their own period, t1 -> t6 and forward.

    An outside observer would see A through E as five distinct ships. Here's the timeline. Each t<n> is a point in time:

    t0 - Just one Enterprise, zooming along before any of this happened.

    t1 - Ships D and E appear out of nowhere at the same place -- yes, overlapping -- and then separate. Inside D, from t1 to t5, things are going backwards. This is the second turnaround from going backward in time to forward in time as seen by our heroes. Ship A is also present.

    t2 - Ships B and C appear out of nowhere at the same place and then separate. Inside B, from t2 to t6, things are going backwards. This is the first turnaround from going backward in time to forward in time as seen by our heroes. Ships A, D, and E are still present. There are now five ships existing at the same time!

    t3 - Ship C beams up the pilot, while at the same time ship E beams him back to the fighter jet. Ships A, B, and D are still present. Shortly thereafter, the fighter jet breaks up.

    t4 - Ship C beams up the sergeant, while at the same time ship E beams him back to the base. Ships A, B, and D are still present.

    t5 - Ships C and D merge together and disappear. Ships A, B, and E are still present. This is the second turnaround from going forward to backward in time as seen by our heroes.

    t6 - Ships A and B merge together and disappear. This is the first turnaround from going forward to backward in time as seen by our heroes. Ship E continues to the next episode.

    At some unknown time between t1 and t5, ship D reaches its closest point to the sun, and then reverses to move away from the sun.

    Kirk and Sulu are on the base at some time period between t4 and t5.

    From t2 through t5 there are five ships present!

    There are then two problems: (1) the sergeant would remember what happened when he was on the Enterprise, and (2) at time t3, ship C destroys the fighter jet, while ships A and E do nothing to put it back together. Too bad for Captain Christopher!

    But if we follow what Kirk says, from Christopher's viewpoint, what happened from the time when he was beamed up to the time when he was beamed back, somehow "never happened". And similarly for the sergeant. This is quite problematic for what the outside observer sees!

    Yes, this is what you get when you work it out. And having multiple Enterprises popping out of thin air, so to speak, and disappearing, violates conservation of energy (energy in the form of mass), which is one of, if not the, most firmly established laws of physics.

    >----o----<

    Some new comments:

    Spock complains about "poor photography" (funny!) while he's smearing up the film with his hands!

    Capt. Christopher is credited as _Major_ Christopher in the ending credits.

    Can you imagine what it would be like to be transported by surprise, and not having watched Star Trek? I think Capt. Christopher was surprisingly rather underwhelmed by it. I mean, really. He was flying a fighter jet, then suddenly he's standing in the transporter, and his first words are, "You speak English." Only later does he start asking the obvious questions and such. He then adjusts to the situation rather quickly. The sergeant's reaction seemed like a much more likely and believable one to me -- well, perhaps a little too overwhelmed.

    "Now the experts can figure out who you are, what you are."

    "I'll have it disassembled and examined. We are not dummies, mister. We know how to find out things we want to know."

    Who are these experts, and how can they be this good?

    >----o----<

    To Kethinov, who asked, "What was with that whole transporter merging memory wiping thing anyway? . . ."

    Yes, the beam-merging makes no sense. But it's not just that. They have to wipe out the part where Christopher's jet is destroyed. I don't see how the beam-merging is supposed to fix that. It's nuts, but if you go with it you get a fun episode. I still enjoy watching it, though I do cringe during the beam-mergings. And the reason to watch it is the interactions between our heroes and 1960s people. Oh, and the computer being affectionate, with Spock being disgusted by it being female! "Computed"!

    >----o----<

    To Scott Hearon:

    I like the scene with Kirk being questioned by the Col. Fellini. I think Kirk did just fine. So he made a single smart-ass remark. I don't think it's _that_ much of a big deal. And here we have clear evidence of our heroes normally being 200 years, not 300, in the future (from c. 1967).

    As far as this episode taking place on "modern Earth," we also have our heroes and the Enterprise from 200 years in the future interacting with present-day people (assuming you're in the late 1960s, of course). That, and the fact that there is some time travel going on, make it science fiction.

    Weak science in just this episode? The entire series is loaded with weak science, and occasionally really, really bad science ("The Alternative Factor" comes to mind). Still a fun show to watch, except for a very few episodes.

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune

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Star Trek TOS - 1x20 - Court Martial

Originally Aired: 1967-2-2

Synopsis:
Kirk is recalled for a potential court-martial. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 5

Fan Rating Average - 5.03

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 43 6 10 12 15 22 44 22 27 19 14

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's a decent episode, even though it could have been better.

Problems
- Vulcans are inexplicably referred to as "Vulcanians" in this episode.
- Why does the captain's chair aboard the Enterprise have a "Jettison Pod" button right next to the red alert button?

Factoids
- Captain Kirk's Starfleet serial number is SC937-0176CEC. Kirk's many commendations include: Palm Leaf of Axanar Peace Mission, Grankite Order of Tactics (Class of Excellence), Prentares Ribbon of Commendation (Classes First and Second), Award of Valor, Starfleet Medal of Honor, Starfleet Silver Palm (with cluster), Starfleet Citation for Conspicuous Gallantry, and the Karagite Order of Heroism.
- Kirk previously served aboard the Republic, the registry 1371.
- No starship captain has ever stood trial before this episode, according to the commodore.
- Spock's Starfleet serial number: S-179-276SP. Spock's many commendations include: Vulcanian Scientific Legion of Honor, Award of Valor, and he was twice decorated by Starfleet Command for other unspecified reasons.
- McCoy's rank is established to be that of lieutenant commander in this episode. His many commendations include: Legion of Honor, Award of Valor, and he was once decorated by an organization called the Starfleet Surgeons.

Remarkable Scenes
- The frantic girl accusing Kirk of murdering her father.
- McCoy, to a beautiful woman: "All of my old friends look like doctors. All of Kirk's look like you."
- Kirk's revulsion at the commodore's suggestion that Kirk just take this lying down; just sweep it under the rug.
- Kirk flirting with his old friend while she's trying to give him legal advice only to find out she's going to be the prosecution.
- Samuel T. Cogley's eccentric introduction.
- Kirk to Spock: "Who knows, maybe you'll be able to beat your next captain at Chess."
- The girl apologizing to Kirk for her prior hostility.
- McCoy: "Spock, you're the most cold blooded man I know." Spock: "Why thank you, doctor."
- Spock beating the computer at Chess and discovering the computer had been tampered with.
- McCoy using the amplified sound of heartbeats to prove there is someone hiding on the ship.
- Finney's appearance.

My Review
Say hello to Samuel T. Cogley, an old fashioned man who still uses books in a world where computers are everywhere. Frankly, I found this eccentric luddite of a man far more entertaining than most of the actual plot which while interesting had several weak moments. The worst problem is the character of Finney, whose actions make him come across as a complete psycho and undermine his dramatic appeal. Did he really think he could hide in the ship long enough to get Kirk convicted? What was he planning to do afterwards given that he faked his death? Just go grab his daughter and find some quiet place in the Federation to live for the rest of his life in hiding? For a guy who claims to really love the service he effectively ended his career in the service the moment he pulled this stunt.

Then there's Cogley's questionable lawyering. Between not cross examining the witnesses and worse yet failing to procure a copy of the damning video evidence during discovery (was there even any discovery?) so as to mount a defense against it, Cogley, while amusing, didn't seem terribly competent. Likewise, why does the captain's chair aboard the Enterprise have a "Jettison Pod" button right next to the red alert button? And why are we now referring to the Vulcans as "Vulcanians" all of a sudden? All in all while this episode could easily have been worth an above average amount of points if it had better written guest characters and fewer errors in the plot, it's definitely a nice story as is.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Lenny Sundermeyer on 2006-08-15 at 7:17pm:
    During the fight scene, in the engine room of a 23rd century matter/anti matter powered star ship, of what use is a 20th century 18 inch cresent wrench? The only uses I see are, (A) plot device weapon or (B) for tighting the hydralic steering lines of Scotty's antique Big Foot Truck!
  • From Arianwen on 2010-07-20 at 11:23pm:
    Here's a problem for the books: apparently by installing a booster they can increase the magnitude of the auditory sensor by 1 to the 4th power. That's a biiiiig number...
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2011-12-06 at 9:00pm:
    Every show under the Sun puts their principles on trial at least once. And they all stick. There is one exception however, when Trelane did it. Now that was funny.

    "Until your are Dead, Dead, Dead."
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2011-12-07 at 6:37am:
    In my last comment I meant to say. "They all stink"
  • From zerothis on 2012-09-22 at 1:06am:
    Crescent wrenches, screwdrivers, hammers, pliers. Of course they will still be around for millenniums. They're simple, reliable, durable, and overall great tools. Impervious to a wide various of future problems including many time-space disasters, dilithium decrystallization, various greek-prefix radiations, etc...

    But you've missed a much bigger problem. That is, how is it that Kirk walks into a room without a crescent wrench sitting on a stand in the corner but just as Finney drops the phaser they are there. Seems at least one space-time disaster caused a crescent wrench to move from where someone left it.



  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-03-22 at 12:02pm:
    This episode has some clear strengths, but I found a few thing annoying. I enjoy how the early parts of the story reveal the kind of character Kirk is. Thus far in the series, his bravery has been on display, but it was more interesting to hear his make-up described by those who know him best.

    It was actually intriguing to wonder about whether or not a perfectly capable, skilled leader could make a mistake that costs a crew-member his or her life. I almost think it would have been far more interesting if Kirk HAD made such a mistake, and then had to deal with it. Instead, we get a bit of a bail-out to the story by providing a bit of computer sabotage.

    The layout of the panel on the captain's chair was ridiculous. Are we to believe that "Jettison Pod" is really of such importance that the captain has to have it literally at his fingertips? I doubt it.

    I can see how Cogley might be endearing to some people, but I thought his character was poorly written and overplayed. The basic idea is good - a man who has a passion for old-fashioned texts and historically significant legal documents. But some of his rants seemed oddly placed within the context of the story.

    Overall, a decent but not great episode.
  • From Harrison on 2014-08-14 at 7:47pm:
    One rookie writer's mistake in this episode has always irked me. As the court is convened and Kirk is explaining how the computer can monitor audio, he says that it a booster is installed that will amplify sounds by "one to the fourth power". One to the fourth power is, of course, one, so the booster does absolutely nothing.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x21 - The Return of the Archons

Originally Aired: 1967-2-9

Synopsis:
The Enterprise crew finds a world run by a computer named Landru. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 3.94

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 55 8 29 15 16 22 12 14 15 12 16

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- Pretty lame episode with no significant long term continuity. This is the first episode to mention the Prime Directive, but you don't need to watch this episode to understand the Prime Directive when it is used later. Ironically, Spock misuses the term in this episode, so add that to the list of reasons to skip this episode. ;)

Problems
- The window in the room where the landing party stays overnight seems to randomly shift between being pitch black and having a clear view of the festival violence.

Factoids
- The starship Archon disappeared when visiting this planet 100 years ago.
- Jon Lormer, who plays Tamar in this episode, also played Theodore Haskins in The Cage and in The Menagerie.

Remarkable Scenes
- The festival of violence. Nothing like a healthy bit of meticulously scheduled anarchy.
- The instant the clock chimes the violence either starts up or completely stops. Hilarious.
- Kirk neck pinches a guard, then Spock punches one out. Kirk to Spock: "Isn't that somewhat old fashioned?"
- Kirk telling the computer to destroy itself.

My Review
The Federation starship Archon reportedly disappeared while exploring the planet in this episode and the Federation apparently didn't bother to dispatch another ship to investigate the disappearance until 100 years later for no particular reason. By the time the Enterprise arrives, the Archon's apparent descendants seem to have colonized the planet but reverted to a 19th century society in the process, also for no particular reason. After a painfully slow-paced and dull plot, Kirk and his team finally discover that a computer apparently left behind by former occupants of the planet is what originally brought down the Archon and transformed its crew and its descendants into zombies. Once they discover this, Kirk and Spock simply talk the computer to death, because computers in the Star Trek universe have a tendency to be emotionally unstable and explode when they are sufficiently upset, contrary to how computers work in the real world.

And then there's lieutenant Lindstrom, the mouthy officer who accompanied Kirk to the surface. Nearly every word out of that guy's mouth jeopardized the mission. My favorite one of his lines was him saying "what kind of a father are you?" to the only man on the planet who could offer the landing party any answers or help. Way to go trying to alienate your only ally there! But Lindstrom's not the only moron among the cast this week. I'd be negligent in my duties if I didn't mention that Spock took readings which indicated a clear and present threat to the Enterprise, but failed to mention it. Kirk later in the scene deduces the threat to the Enterprise and was forced to ask Spock for confirmation of his hypothesis. Spock answers in the affirmative, as if it was obvious. No, Spock, it isn't obvious. That's why Kirk asked. Spock also mentions a non-interference policy that the Federation has called the Prime Directive, but such a policy clearly would not apply when dealing with humans descended from a Federation starship! This isn't Spock's day.

Landru himself wasn't exactly the brightest star in the sky either. My favorite line from him was the one about how he had created a world without conflict or violence or war. Yeah, all except for that "festival" thing. Apparently when the violence is scheduled and regulated it doesn't count anymore? The episode didn't even try to explain the purpose of the festival. Although I admit the festival scenes were the high point of the episode simply due to the sheer absurdist comedy value. Pretty much everything else in the episode is a waste of time. The poorly acted zombie antagonists spend most of their time just rambling slowly and incoherently. Frustratingly, they resist nearly every one of Kirk's inquiries for exposition about Landru. It's as if the plot is self aware. "Quiet! Be careful! Don't ask too many questions! We don't want the plot to advance too quickly! We've still got two more acts to get through!" But hey, at least the 19th century costumes looked great on the cast despite being strangely irrelevant.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From John on 2007-02-25 at 1:38am:
    I believe this episode is a stab at organized religion (most likely Christianity). Example: People blindly following the "will of Landru." Gene Roddenberry was an unapologetic atheist. This episode would be consistent with his core religious beliefs.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2007-12-10 at 11:18am:
    Problems:
    - At the beginning, when Sulu and the other crewmember are standing against the wall waiting to be beamed up, you can clearly see a reflection of one of the hooded lawgivers waiting to enter the scene.

    - The episode never explains why there is a festival.
  • From David in California on 2008-02-20 at 1:06pm:
    Wow, I've never been so put off by the difference between my own reaction to an episode as compared to that of others. I thought this one was terrific!

    I disagree that the only interesting part was the revelation that Landru was a computer. That was, as you say, somewhat standard. Moreover, the script is aware of this and works to ensure that it doesn't come off as the main point. Spock and Kirk both indicate several times that they suspect it's the case, and when Landru is revealed the exchange of looks between them and Kirk saying "of course" in an unsurprised way just to drive this home. Then they quickly dispatches the computer through simple logical appeal to its prime directive.

    Rather, I believe the focus of the episode is supposed to be around the reactions of the various people on the planet and the effects on them.

    The Festival is one such effect, and I think it's understood that the only way Landru can keep suppressed passions from boiling over is the occasional scheduled release of the anarchy. Personally, I find this notion dubious philosophically and psychologically, but it's surely a common enough idea to be grasped without explicit explanation?

    Also, we see the effect of some resisting and forming the "underground", the emotional reactions to the Festival and their enforced participation and on family members, how they hold onto a messianic myth about returning Archons, how they react to the introduction of the "outsiders", how they react with fear to the growing revelations about Landru, and so on.

    Now, I'm not saying any of the above is astoundingly original or anything, only to point out that the reveal of Landru as a machine isn't really the point, and that the episode is more concerned with the reactions of the human characters and is handled well, IMO.

    As to the theme against so-called "organized religion" (should we prefer disorganized religion?) even as an atheist myself I don't see why the reaction of a believer would be that this is somehow wrong or grossly polemic in some offensive way. I know religious folk who would acknowledge that there are "bad" aspects to a certain *manner* of holding religious belief--the blind conformity to unexplained traditions, the willful resistance of thinking and understanding and fear of inquiry, etc.

    So, overall as I'm watching the new CGI enhanced TOS and catching those few that I'd not seen while growing up, I was delighted to come across this one for the first time and disagree with both the review and the prior reader comment.
  • From Deggsy on 2012-02-22 at 7:12am:
    Hi, love the review website, always up for commentary on Trek :-)

    As for this episode, as far as I am aware, the plent and its people were already here, and the Archon came along, got caught up in Landru and his cronies, and were absorbed into the society. The locals' descendants then built up the myth about "Archons" someday returning.
  • From Ryan on 2012-06-20 at 7:13pm:
    I think you may have missed a major part of the plot which may be contributing to your low rating of the episode. As one of the posters above me noted there were definitely people on the planet long before the "Archons" arrived. Landru lived 6k years ago. So the Archons didnt revert to a random 19th century age, thats just where the people of this planet had progressed to so far.
  • From ChristopherA on 2012-07-11 at 7:58am:
    It feels like someone wrote a solid science fiction story, then it was rewritten and edited into a disorganized mess. Practically nothing about the society is explained to us, we just get led from one scene to another. The pity is that most of the individual scenes could have been good had they been part of a better connected story. You can imagine what they might be trying to achieve (with the festival, for instance), but it just doesn't come together in the final product.
    - The way in which Kirk defeats Landru is especially unconvincing, even for Star Trek. Proper form for destroying computers in Star Trek is to use the computer's own logic to prove it has violated its own directives. But all he really does here is to assert without proof that the computer's stagnant society is bad rather than good. Why would the computer just take Kirk's word on this and destroy itself?
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-03-07 at 10:50pm:
    RETURN OF THE ARCHONS

    This episode takes bizarre to a whole new level.

    Re the Festival: When do the cleaning crews arrive? And with all the rock-throwing you'd think some ambulances and repair crews would be in order. I'm guessing this must be an annual thing. A society couldn't survive if it happened much more often. And at some point in this episode the Festival is completely forgotten.

    I like the way Bilar speaks. I also like the voices of the Lawgivers. Their hoods and robes look cool, too.

    All of the inhabitants we see are zombies except for a few. It is understandable that the members of the underground aren't, as they are immune to "absorption", and are therefore not of the Body. But why is Hacom not a zombie? And why doesn't he notice the difference? Actually, before Festival, Bilar and Tula aren't _totally_ zombied out, but they're not normal, either.

    Yeah, it's frustrating with Kirk constantly asking about Landru and not getting much of an answer.

    Landru looks pretty cool and spooky.

    The scene with Kirk defying the lawgivers is just plain goofy. Tamar is killed by a sparkler tube. After brief defiance by Kirk, the Lawgivers consult. Then the talking one clarifies. Kirk defies them again and simply grabs the tube (even though he wasn't close enough in the preceding shots). As a result, the Lawgivers turn 90 degrees as our talking Lawgiver says, "It is Landru." Hacom turns and says, "Landru", and just leaves. Why? Where does he go? Then Reger leads everyone out while the Lawgivers are "communing". Say what?

    Of all three times Kirk talks a computer to death, this is by far the worst. Spock's brief lines during this scene don't really help. Kirk and Spock tell computer Landru that the Body is dying. Well, the Body is bizarre and lame, but not dying. Seems stable to me, aside from the occasional "Festival". After a brief display of hubris, computer Landru becomes increasingly incoherent, erratic, confused, and panicked. These are elements of a "mere machine"? I like it when computer Landru says, "Help me! Help me! Help me! Help me! Help me!" as it destroys itself. Where did sci-fi writers of that era get the idea that computers are packed with explosives and can be talked into suicide?

    There are reasons the Landru society was sick, but not most of the ones Kirk came up with. And instead of celebrating anything positive that the newly freed inhabitants might have done they go for domestic quarrels and knock-down-drag-outs, which is defined at webster.com as "marked by extreme violence or bitterness and by the showing of no mercy". This is a good thing? I think freedom and creativity should be celebrated instead, which is something Spock should have pointed out. The problem wasn't that the society was too peaceful (again, forgetting the Festival); it was that it was lame, boring, devoid of freedom, and apparently stagnant.

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune
  • From Rick on 2013-05-01 at 1:09am:
    I think I finally featured out the festival. I think its Landru take on human mating. Seriously.

    There are a couple references to this. One of the old guys says that Kirk is young so he should be out there. That one is pretty weak, but the main one is that in every scene there is a man picking up a woman, throwing her over his shoulder and running off the screen. Cant believe I didnt see that before but its there. They couldnt come out and just call it an orgy so they went with this festival thing.
  • From kevin on 2017-02-09 at 12:58pm:
    Very under rated, but still flawed. The ending alone of talking the computer to destroy itself was horrible. Many other points seemed obvious to me,such as the Festival. I believe they mean it only happened rarely, as they mention Kirk and crew travelling a long way to participate in it, and as mentioned above was most likely an orgy or sorts, and violence to get out pent up anger.

    The planets people had been there for over 6000 years, so the main review missed that. The archons were simply assimilated into their 19th century society.

    A great idea, but not well executed in some key ways.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x22 - Space Seed

Originally Aired: 1967-2-16

Synopsis:
Kirk meets Khan, a leader of Earth's Eugenics War. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 5.99

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 60 6 3 12 23 6 4 18 28 63 56

Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- Aside from being a terrific, classic episode of Star Trek, this episode is also the premise for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Problems
- It is stated during this episode that the 1990s dictator Khan is from "two centuries" ago. However he in fact would have been from three centuries ago seeing as how it has previously been established that Star Trek takes place in the 23rd century.
- Kirk's stunt double is clearly visible during the fight with Khan.

Factoids
- This episode establishes that in the Star Trek universe, the mid 1990s was the era of Earth's "last world war" according to Spock: the Eugenics War. During this time, Earth possessed interplanetary spacecraft, but no warp drive. Khan's vessel the Botany Bay was serial number DY100. During this time vessels from Earth did occasionally attempt to travel to other stars in sleeper ships, but this practice ceased for unspecified reasons around 2018. It is unknown whether or not any of these sleeper ships ever successfully reached other stars, given the stated long odds of 10,000 to one for Khan's journey.

Remarkable Scenes
- McCoy expressing an aversion to using the transporter.
- McCoy, just after Khan grabs his neck and puts a knife to it: "Well either choke me or cut my throat, make up your mind!"
- McCoy: "It would be most effective if you would cut the carotid artery just under the left ear."
- Khan and Spock debating the morality of eugenics.
- Khan's behavior at the dinner.
- Khan manipulating McGivers.
- Kirk, Scotty, and McCoy briefly admiring Khan in his historical context.
- Khan's surprise at how little man has evolved since his century despite the technological improvements.
- Khan breaking out of his quarters.
- Khan conquering the Enterprise.
- Kirk and Spock ambushing one of Khan's men at the decompression chamber.
- Kirk's fight with Khan.
- Kirk dropping the charges on Khan and McGivers and offering to let them settle on Ceti Alpha V.
- Kirk: "A statement Lucifer made when he fell to the pit: 'It is better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven.'"

My Review
The dictator of more than a quarter of Earth from 1992 to 1996 in the Star Trek universe, Khan Noonien Singh ruled much of east Asia and the middle east until he was deposed in what is by the 23rd century referred to as the Eugenics War. In this episode the Enterprise discovers Khan and a number of his genetically engineered comrades frozen in cryogenic stasis and revives them, oblivious to their true place in history at first. We're treated to a number of fascinating tidbits about the Eugenics War throughout this episode as Khan's true place in history is slowly revealed. The Eugenics War apparently was a long lasting global conflict centered around the controversial practice of genetically engineering superior human beings who apparently had a tendency to seize power by force and establish authoritarian dictatorial regimes throughout the world until they were eventually defeated and exiled (or probably assassinated in some cases). Khan and his comrades were exiled only to be reborn by captain Kirk centuries later in this episode.

In a subsequent episode it would be a lot of fun to go into more depth about the exact events of the Eugenics War such as exactly how long it lasted, who the belligerents were, and what exactly the diverging point is between Earth's real history and the Star Trek universe's version of Earth. For the moment though, what exposition there is in this episode is more than adequate to tell a terrific story. As the episode states itself plainly enough, Khan is magnetically charming and charismatic despite his obviously terrifying lust for power. The move by the writers to include a scene where Kirk, Scotty, and McCoy briefly admire Khan in his historical context simply because he was one of the more benevolent dictators of the day was a smart choice and exactly the sort of detail that develops nuanced, interesting characters. Indeed at every stage of the story Khan continued to deliver as a well crafted antagonist while being ever so human despite his superhuman characteristics.

The one detail that didn't work dramatically speaking was the character of McGivers. Right from the moment her character was introduced when Kirk said that the discovery of an ancient Earth spacecraft would give her "something to do for a change" the episode was already beginning to falter with her characterization and we hadn't even seen her on screen yet. In the very next scene we see her whiling away her day dreamily painting the sexy men of the past she evidently spends her days fantasizing about. Throughout the episode McGivers struggles with reconciling her attraction to Khan and her duty as a Starfleet officer. Kirk was right to reprimand her for this behavior. Some might argue that this episode (like some others before it) has a streak of misogyny with regards to how Khan treats McGivers, but I would sooner argue that the true misogyny of the episode is McGivers' characterization itself rather than how she is treated. I simply do not find a woman this consumed by a masochistic attraction to abusive tyrants to be a very compelling character.

The decision at the end of the story to maroon Khan, his comrades, and McGivers on Ceti Alpha V was also a curious choice. It's well within the realm of realism that Kirk could have the authority to do something like this (or that he could have the ability to get away with it by faking documents or something), but Kirk should have been smart enough to realize that he was handing McGivers a probable death sentence by giving her the option to go with Khan to avoid her court martial. To be clear the danger to McGivers wasn't necessarily from the stated harsh conditions of the planet which she chose to accept, but from the dangers presented to her by Khan's personality which I have my doubts she was fully aware of. Kirk as captain should have realized that McGivers was not in a position to make a rational decision about whether or not living with Khan would be a smart choice and should have made that decision for her as his first duty is to protect the lives of all members of his crew. She would have been better off court martialed for sure.

Setting that aside though this episode is outstanding and easily the best episode since Balance of Terror. With better characterization of McGivers (or perhaps the omission of her character entirely), this episode too could have been worth a perfect score.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Abigail on 2010-06-02 at 12:01pm:
    It turns out that this rather important episode was amont the few remaining episodes of Star Trek that I had never seen! I watched it last night, and I did enjoy the plot. I suspect that I now need to rewatch "The Wrath of Khan", as I could more fully appreciate it.

    It was definitely a fun factoid that the Eugenics War took place during the 1990's. How'd I miss that one?! :)

    I have to say, though, that McGiver's role made me rather sick to my stomach. I know you have to remember the time period in which it was made and try not to judge it so harshly... But it was so painful when Khan made her beg to stay in the room with him and she gave in and did so! I had sat down with the plan of watching both this episode and the subsequent one, but this one was so hard for me to stomach that I had to move on to another activity.

    Luckily, I'm not totally dissuaded. "A Taste of Armageddon" is still in my immediate future!
  • From Rick on 2011-09-07 at 12:13am:
    I love this episode...but...another "problem" with the episode is the speed of Kahn's spaceship. He used a ship that would take years to travel from planet to planet. A ship that slow wouldn't get very far from Earth in 3 centuries.

    I read someplace, that if the Voyager spacecraft was headed to Gleise, which is 20 light years away from Earth, it would take 360 thousand years to get there.

    So, using that as a guide, Kahn's ship wouldn't be very far out of the solar system in 3 centuries. The Enterprise could have discovered it in space like in the episode. But it would have been a very quick trip back to Earth, instead of Kahn's sleeper ship making it all the way to ceti alpha.
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2011-12-19 at 5:18pm:
    The timing of this episode has always bothered me, even in the 60's when I first saw it. If the Eugenics War took place in the 90's, then judging from Khan's age, he would have had to have been born in the 1950s, maybe 60's. So, I take it this process was already in effect when the episode ran.

    Even further, wouldn't selective breeding require several generations before truly superior beings were the result? So, this process had to have been going on for several decades, and perhaps even in the 19th century?
  • From Kethinov on 2011-12-22 at 3:07pm:
    Rick, I agree that the facts surrounding the distance Khan's ship traveled are fuzzy, but I don't think they're necessarily a problem. We don't know 1. how fast the ship was moving or 2. where exactly the Gamma 400 star system where the ship was found is. Assuming the ship was moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light and that the Gamma 400 system is relatively close to Earth, the problem may be moot.

    Old Fat Trekkie, I always got the impression that the genetic engineering wasn't literally selective breeding which as you've stated would take too much time but instead actual artificially created super-embryos. Star Trek Enterprise later confirms this in their augments arc during the fourth season.
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2011-12-22 at 3:45pm:
    Kethinov, Ahh, that makes much more sense. I have just started Enterprise. I look forward to that fourth season. Contrary to much of what I read, I am actually enjoying Enterprise more that the other sequel series. TOS is still my favorite, however.
    Nostalgia, no doubt.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-09-26 at 8:29am:
    An ‘8’. Ricardo Montalbán puts in what might be the strongest guest appearance in the whole series. He effortlessly makes Khan both believable and complex. Most enjoyable was the 'alpha dogs' scene at dinner; his sparring with Kirk and Spock. No wonder they brought him back for Star Trek II!
  • From Oz on 2012-12-15 at 11:11pm:
    The 23rd century starts at just after midnight, Jan 01, 2200. It has been said repeatedly that the 23rd century is 300 years from now. Not true, it's 200.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-05-27 at 11:19am:
    To Oz:

    Three hundred years from 1967 is 2267, which is in the 23rd century. Thus, even though the _beginning_ of the 23rd century isn't 300 years in the future, our heroes _are_.

    AEF, aka betaneptune
  • From Arthur in Trinidad on 2013-08-30 at 8:33pm:
    I've never liked Ricardo Montalban, but the reasons I dislike him are what made him perfect for the role of Khan. The man oozes ego and narcissism. But he was never able to convince me that he was of Indian/Sikh origin. For me, he will always be Mr. Roarke from "Fantasy Island". Anyway, one aspect of this episode that never washed with me was that Khan and his followers were of different races. My take on eugenics (and I freely admit that I may be wrong) is that, most likely, the scientists who embarked on it would have concentrated on one race, i.e., the one they would have considered the "best" and then worked from there. I imagine that Khan's makers would have been "Social Darwinists", subscribing to the kinds of ideas Hitler would have found appealing. The fact that Khan and co. are so "cosmopolitan" runs counter to that sort of thinking. But I can easily overlook that as this is such a fine episode, made moreso by the fact that Sr. Montalban is undoubtedly Mr. Shatner's equal, if not superior, in the realm of hammy overacting.
  • From Ian Smith Adventures on 2013-10-25 at 6:20pm:
    An amazing episode. Definitely my favorite so far. Not just for its story and concept but the direction and acting were first rate and really sold this as a suspenseful battle with a superhuman genius.
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-03-26 at 11:15pm:
    Great episode, despite McGivers.

    Digging into the past mythology of Star Trek is great. And the fact that a "Eugenics War" is still a relevant concept in 2014 (and will be for a while) speaks to some strong speculative fiction writing.

    Khan really has been the most interesting guest character so far. A perfect way to represent humans' repulsion from and fascination with people of great power, ability, and megalomaniacal ambition.

    I'm already looking forward to when I get up to watching Wrath of Khan again. It's been ages since I last saw it, and now that I've seen Space Seed, it will have much more meaning. I also can't help but wonder if it will alter my opinion of Star Trek: Into Darkness.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-06-18 at 10:03pm:
    "SPACE SEED"

    Pretty good, but as usual, there are problems.

    I must say it was idiotic of Kirk to give Khan unfettered access to his ship's manuals. You'd think they'd be top secret. Spock was quite right to be concerned. Khan could have gotten caught up on new technology without them. It's like when the guy in "The Naked Time" takes off his glove and thereby gets himself infected. Do something dumb to get yourself in trouble, and then get an exciting episode out of it by trying to save yourself. I believe this to be one of two strong contenders for the weakest part of the story.

    I doubt that the Botany Bay could go at significant fraction of the speed of light in the 1990s, even in the Star Trek universe. Not until 2018 did ships get reasonably fast, according to Marla. So it must have been close to our solar system when Kirk and company came upon it. Still, they most likely traveled at warp speeds once it was in tow, making it easy to get far from our solar system. Regardless, Gamma 400 was their "heading", not the place where they encountered the Botany Bay.

    Breeding superior human beings in less than 3 decades? I don't see how that's possible.

    SPOCK: Of course. Your attempt to improve the race through selective breeding.

    It's pretty explicit: selective breeding, not creating artificial embryos. Even if it were, it's rather unlikely you'd strike gold on the first try, in which case you're back to a somewhat large number of decades, if not centuries. The fact that Star Trek Enterprise says it was embryos just creates an inconsistency. Who's to say which is "right"? And by what criteria? Still, it doesn't matter.

    How could Khan be Napoleon, Leif Ericson, and Richard the Lionheart? These are not four men who look alike. Assuming somehow he was, how did Marla figure this out? (That must have made a big impression on Khan, of course.) And how does this jive with the eugenics bit?

    Again, I don't see how Star Trek was established to be 300 years in the future (from 1967). In "Miri" it was _Miri's_ civilization whose 1960 was approx. 300 years in the past, not Earth's. This means you have to go with "Tomorrow Is Yesterday"'s figure of approx. 200 years, which is consistent with this episode. (Well, perhaps approx. 230 years, to account for the time between the 1960s and 1990s. But this is still several decades short of 300.) To give another "data point," consider for a moment just Wrath of Khan:

    At the beginning of the movie we find Romulan Ale from 2283.

    Kahn: "These people have sworn to live and die at my command two hundred years before you were born." Say about 1990. (Well, certainly before 1992.) 1990+200+43=2233.

    A few breaths later he says:

    "On Earth . . . 200 years ago . . . I was a prince." So that puts the movie at about 1996+200=2196 or earlier.

    That's three rather different numbers _in the same movie_!

    Face it: Star Trek has just not been consistent on its own timeline, and I don't see how you can justify one timeline over another.

    No regulations about romance? Really? Hell, where I work we have rules for that. You can get some serious conflict-of-interest issues!

    At the dinner, Khan appears to be no match for Kirk and Spock questioning him. Perhaps he thinks that his drink was spiked. He _does_ pause to look at it in brief contemplation just before he gets up to leave. Who knows? Maybe it _was_ spiked. I'd give it a 35% probability.

    It sure took a long time for our heroes to notice Khan had escaped! He had to knock out the guard, leave him lying on the floor, coordinate with McGivers, walk all the way to the transporter (and he's rather easy to spot!), disable the operator, beam over to his ship, revive his crew, beam them and himself back to the Enterprise, make it to Engineering, kick out anyone who was there, and finally take over the ship -- all unnoticed by anyone. Additionally, it would have taken a considerable amount of time! How could the crew have possibly missed all of this? This is the other strong contender for the weakest part of the story.

    Why didn't the crew on the bridge die from lack of oxygen or at least suffer some brain damage?

    You'd think Kirk would get the bends in the decompression chamber, no?

    Spock is "pleased" to see Kirk alive after that. Still yet another emotion from the "emotionless" one.

    At about 44m01s, Kirk runs from the intercom station to Engineering. What a great tense exciting moment! If only they could have made it last!

    Why are our heroes' voices broadcast to Engineering so that Khan can hear them? And with them mentioning Engineering as to where Khan most likely is, no less! OK, perhaps an error on their part. Or maybe Khan found a way to monitor it! I'll go with the latter.

    Maybe it's just me, but it looks like not much is happening to the phaser while Khan is "crushing" it. I think it was already mangled before Khan started crushing it (replaced between shots, i.e.). As a result I find that shot rather annoying.

    Another remarkable scene to add to your list, or more accurately, shot: Khan looking nasty at Kirk after he crushes Kirk's phaser. Good music for this shot, too. Awesome.

    How could Kirk not lose his fight with Khan, given that Khan has five times Kirk's strength and can crush a hand phaser with his bare hands? -- Khan comes off as an unexpectedly lousy fighter. Regardless, Kirk had to, and did, pull off a clever, effective way to end it. But what _is_ that white (hard plastic?) thing he pulls out of the control board to hit Khan with?

    Why does it take pressing so many buttons to abort the overload?

    Why does Kirk drop all charges against Khan and then strand him on the planet? And how can he do this given the charges are dropped?! Obviously this is just job protection on Shatner's part, with a movie sequel to star in! :-D (Yeah, but I just had to say it.)

    What's with the bell at the hearing? We see that in "Court Martial," too. Maybe that's a good thing -- to clearly mark the beginning of a trial.

    About Marla McGivers and her relationship with Khan: Yes, she was infatuated with him, but he must have been infatuated he with her, since he forgave her rescuing Kirk. Interesting. So love is illogical, as Spock would say. On the other hand we must keep in mind that he was impressed that she figured out "who he is." She also said "No" to him when he told her to go. As for as McGivers herself: Yeah, not the most admirable figure.

    On the positive side, Montalban is awesome as Khan, obviously. Some great action at the end, too. And it's still a pretty good episode, despite all of the above.

    I wouldn't give it a 9, primarily because of the two major weak points. But Montalban is so much fun to watch, as well as our heroes. Maybe an 8.

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune
  • From Rob UK on 2014-06-20 at 10:58am:
    @ Alan, if that is what you say about an episode that you like i'd hate to read a review of an episode you hated with a passion.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-06-26 at 9:18pm:
    To Rob UK

    Well, I suggest you not read my review of "The Empath." I'm also not terribly fond of "The Corbomite Maneuver," so you might want to skip my review of that one, too. (But the latter episode _does_ have a few fun scenes worth watching.)

    Sorry, but I call 'em as I see 'em. But I do love the show.

    Remember that the plot is just one element of an episode. So even if it has some plot holes, other facets of the episode may make up for it.

    Since you pointed this out, I just might lower my rating of Space Seed from 8 to 7. I mean, c'mon. You see the crew suffocate on the bridge. Then you see them sitting around fully alive as if nothing had happened. How can you not notice things like that?

    Maybe it's just not possible, or at least very difficult, to write a good story without plot holes, at least for some genres. Also, you get some constraints if you want to see your heroes again next week. But again, you still get many episodes well worth watching because of other things about the show.

    >----o----<

    While I'm composing this post this anyway, please allow me to make a correction. When I wrote above, "...make it to Engineering, kick out anyone who was there, ...", I should have written "...make it to Engineering, _capture_ everyone who was there, ..."

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune
  • From Rob UK on 2014-06-27 at 3:33pm:
    You can tell you love the show, it is only when we watch them se intently that we can pull them apart so much, i seriously doubt when this was made they ever thought anyone would watch any episode more than once in a decade due to tv broadcasting practices back then, never did they dream (even GR) that we would all own every episode in HD and watch them until we fried out hard drives or whatever other futuristic viewing devices we have they never dreamed of. i find myself watching them and loving the bad just as much as the good, like Kirk's fighting and womanising (if she's green he's keen)or the Vulcan Neck Pinch (i cringe with pleasure every time they use it).

    I am strangely looking forward to reading how much you tarred and feathered the above mentioned episodes.

    Quality patter all around

    Rob

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Star Trek TOS - 1x23 - A Taste of Armageddon

Originally Aired: 1967-2-27

Synopsis:
The Enterprise is diverted by two planets fighting a computerized war. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 4.91

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 46 21 1 4 12 23 14 24 19 25 20

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's a decently entertaining episode, even if the actual entertainment value may not be exactly what was intended.

Problems
- How can the Enterprise be attacked by "sonic" weapons through the vacuum of space in which no sound can travel?
- Spock at one point incorrectly refers to the aliens' planetary system as a "solar system." This is a common error. The term they were looking for is planetary system. The planetary system we live in is called the Solar System because our star is named Sol. As such, the term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term.
- Vulcans are inexplicably referred to as "Vulcanians" in this episode.

Factoids
- The USS Valiant was lost at this planet 50 years ago.
- This episode establishes that Vulcan mind melds can occur without physical touch, but it is strongly implied that they have reduced efficacy in this case.
- This episode establishes that the Enterprise cannot fire full phasers with their defense screens up.

Remarkable Scenes
- The revelation that the war on this planet is a computer simulation and that people are executed on each side like some sort of a lethal game.
- Spock: "Sir, there's a multilegged creature crawling on your shoulder."
- Scotty: "The best diplomat I know is a fully activated phaser bank."
- Scotty refusing to follow the Federation diplomat's orders.
- Kirk destroying the war computer.
- Kirk: "I've given you back the horrors of war."
- Kirk convincing Anan to open peace talks with his enemy.

My Review
No matter how tragic it may be for the society in this story to have been locked into this terrifying "neat and painless" war for so many centuries, the greater tragedy is the profound stupidity of their society in the first place for inexplicably denying itself the obvious solution to their centuries-long problem. Instead of fighting a real war until peace is attained through annihilation of their enemy or through treaty negotiations brought about by fear of said annihilation, both sides have decided without a credible reason to just volunteer casualties at regular intervals; the numbers decided by a computer program. The resultant status quo is more terrifying than any real war could possibly be and this society's inability to see the plain obviousness of that is staggeringly hard to swallow.

Underscoring their profound stupidity is the fact that in a single day, captain Kirk single handedly ends their centuries-long war merely by blowing up the computer they used to make pretend warfare. Setting aside simple questions such as why there aren't backup computers or why they don't just equip all citizens with some sort of instant-vaporization collars rather than employ a limited number of vaporization chambers with clearly insufficient capacity to meet their "quota" given even the most minor disruptions, I can only wonder why Kirk's simple idea hadn't occurred to at least one person across those two planets in the last 500 years. Perhaps their entire race is genetically predisposed to poor critical thinking skills, despite their conspicuously unexplained resemblance to humans.

The aliens of the week aren't the only thing to pick on though. Ambassador Robert Fox continues the conspicuous trend of Federation officials tending to be unreasonably difficult to deal with and Kirk's own actions in destroying the war computer would seem to be in violation of the Federation's prime directive non-interference policy. Moreover it's never quite explained just why establishing a port in this vicinity is so important. Ambassador Fox does mention that thousands of Federation lives have been lost over the last 20 years in this region, but he doesn't bother mentioning why. We're apparently supposed to believe that the Federation having a friendly port in the region would somehow prevent that. But why? It couldn't be due to the war because all a ship has to do to escape the war is get to a higher orbit, as is demonstrated by Scotty.

Speaking of Scotty, his time in the big chair during this episode was fantastic. Scotty in command was a delight to watch and I greatly enjoyed seeing how his dealing with McCoy's signature badger-the-man-in-command routine differed from that of Kirk and Spock. Likewise, despite the writing of the aliens making them out to look terribly stupid, it gave Kirk several opportunities to deliver lines that were quite profound. It would have been nice if the writers had earned Kirk this distinction without it being at the expense of the authenticity of the aliens, but many of Kirk's lines were nevertheless insightful. My favorite was "I've given you back the horrors of war." In fact a great deal of this episode is a joy to watch in spite of its half-baked premise. As such, perhaps the best way to describe this episode is as a well executed bad idea.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From David in California on 2008-02-26 at 2:16pm:
    Wow, so again I must dissent from the review and the average rating and say that I'm much more positive on this episode! (As with "Return of the Archons".)

    I suppose as a more "causual viewer" of Star Trek and not a dedicated Fan, this might be expected as I'll not be bothered by some of the understandable Fannish concerns. I did guess that there would be some objection to Kirk and the crew's actions as regards the Prime Directive, but thought the objection from Fans would be stronger.

    I'm not bothered by aliens looking like humans without further explanation, personally. I generally accept a sci-fi "parallel evolution", or perhaps "genetic seeding" conceit to explain this and I just apply that to Star Trek, but I suppose I'm learning here that this isn't the way it works for ST Fans in the ST Universe.

    Also, I'm not bothered by the Prickly Federation Official (TM) as I think it sometimes makes more dramatic sense for the Enterprise crew to be more-or-less on the same page and for the opposing point of view and conflict to come from others in the Federation. Otherwise in order to explore issues and choices that come up in the plot, you can sometimes get contrived arguments between the crewmembers that aren't always consistent with their characterizations, IMO.

    This is, however, the first time I was really bothered by the Useless Epilogue (TM) on the bridge, which is just insulting, IMO, even to 1960s audiences who were, I'm sure, perfectly capable of grasping the themes and motivations of the preceding story. This episode should have ended before the needless wrap-up and silly Spock-needling humor.

    Dissenting from the review, I found the actions of the society plausible, especially if I consider a generation raised on this notion (as opposed to the first few generations who did this.) I would imagine that what we didn't see in the episode was periodic pockets of dissenters who don't go along with the program and are probably underground and controlled by strong police measures. If I just assume this exists but didn't play a role in the story, then the plausibility increases.

    Not to be controversial here for the sake of it, but the parallel that comes up for me with our own society is in certain areas of modern welfare-state wealth redistribution. Bear with me and I'll explain.

    Even those who support such things--just about everyone--do acknowledge when pressed that what's going on there is that property is taken coercively from some in order to give to others.

    If someone comes up and hits you and grabs your wallet--we call it theft. But by having a "civilized" system of coercive taxation where some of the money is simply handed over to others, we don't tend to see it as "theft" in the same way (at least most do not) even though on an abstract level something is being taken forcibly by some and given to others.

    People who think such "wealth redistribution" is a positive good (likely many ST Fans) often offer the practical argument: "Well, if we didn't do this, then the poor would rise up and just take what they want more directly. You'd have a rebellion of sorts by the 'underclass' and things would get really violent. By forceably redistributing wealth in this more 'civilized' fashion, we avoid that ugliness from taking place."

    Ever heard that? I'm sure most have. Now, I realize that taking property forceably isn't as morally wrong or a violation of rights as killing--theft is a lesser crime than murder, obviously--but I think the principle here is similar to what we saw in the episode. Some view the above "practical" argument for wealth redistribution as basically advocating that rather than a government protect people from criminal theft, it should simply do the job of potential criminals for them. Some find that notion disturbing in the same way as the scenario here in the episode--just of a lesser degree.

    I hope the similarity is clear. In that case, the government provides a surface-level "civilized" version of something which might otherwise normally take place in a more brutish, violent and ugly manner. To head off the one kind of "theft", you introduce the other. Is that really so different from what the society in this episode was doing as regards war?

    Finally, what I loved about the episode was Kirk and crew taking a principled stand against all of this and taking positive steps--without debate--to end the horror of what was going on. Kirk's solution of acting the part of the violent "barbarian" to basically frighten the misguided leaders, and the notion that if one takes away the visceral horror and property and infrastructure damage of war then it becomes more "acceptable" and therefore prolonged, was quite thoughtful, IMO, and it was enjoyable to see Kirk playing all of this out with some style and even humor.

    I found the whole crew to be displaying the kind of "heroics" acting from moral certainty I'd personally prefer more of in Star Trek, but I realize goes somewhat against the tone and "message" of the show and what Starfleet is supposed to stand for and so on--and that this is dear to the show's Fans, which I respect. So it makes sense that stories like this which appeal to me are few and far between, and maybe confined to TOS alone.

    If I imagine this same scenario playing out in, say, Voyager, I realize there would be a whole business of Janeway or Chakotay or whoever trying to make a case for non-intervention into this horror, which would probably have me yelling at the screen!

    Obviously I really loved this episode.
  • From Arianwen on 2010-07-21 at 6:51pm:
    In answer to David (off-topic, I know) I have to say that taxation gives to all, to finance public institutions and infrastructures - it doesn't "take from some and give to others".

    Either way, I find this episode very interesting. The irritating diplomat was, well, irritating, but he did provide a more complex plot than might otherwise have been the case. It could have been improved by a better defence of his side of the argument - someone on the crew siding with him, for instance - because otherwise it just turns out as "diplomacy is bad". Fox did have a point and although his blind trust was annoying, he was right (sort of) to try to find a peaceful solution. The problem is that as he's a complete idiot it's rather hard to see it.
  • From Baron on 2010-11-11 at 6:29pm:
    Do you even like the show or sci fi in general? This was one of the best star trek episodes and sci fi episodes that I've ever seen. The point of the episode was that all war is insane. No sane civilization would start a war. Forcibly making millions of people kill themselves in a death chamber was an obvious reference to the Holocaust. Which would still be on the minds of most people watching this show since it took place only 22 years before this episode. The Holocaust was just as insane as this computer holocaust. At the end they even drive home the point that we should do everything we can to stop wars.

    The Prime Directive limits the storytelling of star trek alot times. It's also violated alot of times anyway with no consequences, so I wonder what actual power it has in the Federation.
  • From ChristopherA on 2012-07-09 at 11:04pm:
    A good episode, I like the plot and the resolution. I agree with the other commentators that the scenario in which this society finds itself is a very reasonable sci-fi scenario and not does not indicate they are “stupid”. Lots of things seem stupid in hindsight, but they expressed very well their belief that breaking the agreement would result in the end of both cultures, and they dared not risk the consequences.

    I do agree that almost everything in the episode is way too easy for Kirk and company – from the repeated escapes, to holding the high council hostage, to disrupting the disintegration chamber network, to having a single computer be essential to the treaty that has lasted 500 years. I treat this as an artistic abstraction, as if what really happened on the planet would take more than a one hour episode to portray, and we are seeing a simplified rendition of it meant only to capture the essential points.
    - I agree with Arianwen that Fox has a reasonable point of view which is disguised by making him a complete bozo. But I love that this gives us the great scene of Scotty flat-out refusing to follow Fox's orders.
    - Scotty generally gets a great chance to show his command ability. Plus a notable quote – "The haggis is in the fire now for sure." They have interesting sayings in the 23rd century.
    - I agree that the fact that the episode never explains the purpose of the treaty port is a bit odd, because it is hard to figure out why the Federation would have such urgent need for a port on a planet that, apparently, it knows almost nothing about. But this isn’t a big deal, Kirk has his orders, presumably the answer to this question is complex and irrelevant to the plot.
    - I used to think this episode was a classic example of Kirk violating the Prime Directive due to his personal moral convictions, but now I'm changing my mind after seeing it again. I'm not sure the Prime Directive applies to a civilization as advanced as Eminiar. But even if it does, it is clear that the Federation has given orders to Ambassador Fox and Kirk to interfere with the culture and obtain a treaty port "at any cost". If anyone has broken the Prime Directive, it is whoever gave that order. While Kirk's approach is unique, he pretty much has to do something drastic in order to follow orders. To avoid interference with the culture would result in the failure of his mission.
  • From Strider on 2012-07-24 at 2:22am:
    I don't get what makes this culture so "advanced," anyway. Because they have computers? I mean, they walk voluntarily into death chambers so they don't mess up their pretty city. And they are so ignorant of the values of other cultures that they just expect other people to go along with that?

    Kirk, Spock, Scotty, and McCoy are completely awesome in this episode. I don't know that Kirk would have gone so far as destroying the war computers and completely restructuring this society if he weren't so irritated at being held prisoner and being expected to just consent to the deaths of everyone on his ship. He's got this, "Do you seriously think you can mess with me" thing going on that's characteristic of Kirk at his best.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-10-22 at 8:52am:
    “No security men were harmed during the filming of this episode”

    A solid ‘5’. I liked Scotty’s competent command decisions. I liked a planet that finds the Enterprise’s technology threatening and imposing rather than the usual ‘magic’ gimmick, where the antagonist of the week fires some sort of intergalactic pixie dust and the Enterprise and all its technology is suddenly held hostage to destruction. I also liked Kirk’s kick ass approach.

    Re – Prime Directive. I don’t think it was violated. I’m guessing that the Prime Directive can not apply to the preservation of any culture currently practicing genocide, and since this one was unquestionably doing so (3 million dead per year, I think), the prime directive may actually require that the Enterprise use force stop it.

    Re – Single computer crucial to prosecution of the “war”. No, I didn’t get the read that sabotaging the command center was a fatal blow. The reason why the war ends is because Scotty has been ordered by Kirk to execute something called General Order 24, an attack on the infrastructure of the planet in response to their hostile actions against the Federation representatives. This is obviously a bluff on Kirk’s part, but the planetary council doesn’t know it and they surrender for fear of it. Blowing up the computers was entirely secondary, simply enriching the bluff with a humane show of force.

    Re – Speaking of General Order 24, it has to be a pre-arranged bluff, right? The Federation simply can’t have a standing order of that nature. “Oh, you said General order twenty THREE, ‘Shore Leave for everybody’. I thought you said General Order twenty FOUR, ‘Blow up the planet’. ”

    Re – Treaty Port. The requirement might refer to unpoliced shipping lanes, where a port would allow better protection against piracy.
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-03-29 at 5:44pm:
    I'm very much with Kethinov on this one. There are actually a few elements that are somewhat well-done. However, his description of this episode as "a well-executed bad idea" is spot-on to me.

    On its surface, there are a few things going for it - having the crew divided into those who are perilously embroiled in a bizarre interplanetary war, and those who are on the ship, attempting to sort it out while dealing with conflicting diplomatic directives.

    However, the notion of the computerized war doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Either culture would HAVE to realize that the optimal solution when dealing with a hostile enemy is to eliminate that enemy, not to agree to engage in an eternal war. In fact, what IS the point of the war, if neither side plans to actually completely defeat the other side? It is ridiculous to think that neither side in this episode would, after five centuries, realize the utter pointlessness of this exercise. Clearly the writers hadn't either. It smacks of something that seemed like an interesting notion of speculative fiction, but it really shouldn't have gotten much farther than a few minutes of consideration.

    And yes, I find "Badgering, Belligerent Diplomat #3" rather annoying. There must have been a more mature way to provide tension between a Federation official and the Enterprise's command. The guy, just like his predecessors, comes off as so dimly aggressive that I had to question just how he became a diplomat in the first place. Certainly not with his people skills, that's for sure.

    Just too many major problems to overcome a few of the lesser strengths in this one. I gave it a "3."

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Star Trek TOS - 1x24 - This Side of Paradise

Originally Aired: 1967-3-2

Synopsis:
The Enterprise visits a colony where indigenous flower spores provide the settlers with peaceful contentment. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 3

Fan Rating Average - 5.06

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 52 1 8 19 8 23 18 14 41 17 22

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- Pretty lame episode with no significant long term continuity.

Problems
- Vulcans are inexplicably referred to as "Vulcanians" in this episode.
- Who beamed up Kirk when he returned to the ship to find it deserted?

Factoids
- When asked for his full name by Leila, Spock answers, "you couldn't pronounce it." This implies that all Vulcans do indeed have multipart names like humans, but casually shorten their names so that other species can interact with them.
- According to Spock, his mother was a teacher. His father was an ambassador.

Remarkable Scenes
- Spock hanging from a tree.
- Kirk getting irritated at all the infected crewmen.
- Kirk alone on the bridge.
- Kirk insulting Spock.
- Kirk: "Maybe we weren't meant for paradise. Maybe we were meant to fight our way through, struggle, claw our way up, scratch for every inch of the way. Maybe we can't stroll to the music of the lute; we must march to the sound of drums."
- Spock: "For the first time in my life I was happy."

My Review
Much like The Return of the Archons, the pacing of this episode is mind numbingly slow. It takes twenty minutes for the story to finally get to the point which is (for the most part) the emotional unraveling of Spock. Once Spock's emotional control is finally destabilized, we get a reasonably amusing story which explores Leila's unrequited love for Spock and Spock's secret desires to explore his humanity. Unfortunately these themes are not explored in much depth though because the story focuses mostly on the silly mutiny aboard the Enterprise. While Kirk does an excellent job dealing with the silly mutiny in a professional and innovative fashion, the mutiny wasn't a terribly interesting plot thread to begin with.

Another one of the episode's missteps was the overwrought capabilities of the flower drug in the first place. By the end of the story we learn that consumption of the flower spores can not only insulate people from deadly radiation, but that it can also vastly improve physical health, an effect which McCoy even mentions is permanent in the final scene. For that reason alone these flowers should be harvested and studied for their medicinal use, but no serious mention is ever made of their incredible scientific potential. They are instead only regarded as a pest for their mutinous side effects. Once again a Star Trek episode fails to thoroughly think through the implications of a plot device.

Overall the episode is mildly entertaining. If you can sit through the first twenty minutes without getting too terribly bored (which is challenging), it can be a lot of fun to watch the main cast run around doing crazy things once they all get infected. The story also offers some decent character development for Kirk as well as Spock. A better episode however would have limited the scope of emotional destabilizations just to Spock for the sole purpose of exploring his constant struggle with emotions due to his "half-breed" nature. We got a taste of how good a story that could be in both this episode as well as previously in The Naked Time and I believe a story focused solely on that would be a superior piece.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2007-12-14 at 1:54pm:
    I truly think this episode deserves a 10. Am I crazy? Well, I just think that almost every moment is entertaining. The moments that stick out the most are:

    -Spock daying “I don’t think so, sir.”
    -Spock hanging from a tree and looking playful
    -Kirk making Spock angry. This part has some of the most funniest dialogue in the franchise! Your father was a computer, and your mother was a librarian. You should be squatting on a mushroom. Classic!
    -Kirk walking around an empty ship. They writers actually allow Kirk to reflect on it.
    -Dr. McCoy starting a fight
    -Spock’s love story, which is done very well.

    I think this episode also has a meaningful lesson: A society in paradise cannot advance itself.

    To top is off, there’s a great, grim line from Spock that ends the episode, as opposed to the cheerful jokes that often end TOS episodes.

    Great episode!
  • From tony on 2009-01-16 at 9:33pm:
    When Kirk beamed back up, there were many crewmen left. In fact, he ordered some back to their station.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2009-10-27 at 4:18pm:
    I just watched this again on Blu-Ray, and I still love it. The picture quality has been upgraded dramatically. Specifically, there are many scenes that take place outside in the sunshine, which shows off the high contrast of HD.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2014-07-03 at 11:53pm:
    "This Side of Paradise" or "The Amish on Drugs, but without a religion"

    Re the problems you mention:

    Vulcans and Vulcanians. Just like Australians and Aussies, Dutch and Netherlanders, New Jerseyans and New Jerseyites, or Brits and Britons, etc. No biggie. Several states in the U.S. have multiple names for their residents (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_demonyms_for_U.S._states ). Some countries do, too. BTW, I do prefer "Vulcan," but I can go with Vulcanian. Adds some variety and spice, if you like.

    "Who beamed up Kirk?" When Kirk returns to "an empty ship," there must have still been a few remaining to beam down. There's nothing I see in the episode that's inconsistent with this. In fact, just before he goes back, Spock says, "Almost the entire ship's complement has beamed down." So Kirk could still get back up to the ship. Once he reaches the bridge, _then_ the very last of his crew leave the ship.

    >----o----<

    I think the first 20 minutes is fine. Spock is already infected halfway through the 16th minute. Think of it as "the first fifty pages" of a novel, if you have to.

    Hey, for once the planet isn't rotating way too fast! In fact, it looks like it's not rotating at all, which is how it would really look. Bravo!

    A fun episode, but as usual, there are some problems.

    >----o----<

    This is paradise? Working the fields? Not _my_ idea of paradise! If you ask me, in "paradise," _someone else_ works the fields, _someone else_ does the dishes. OK, to be fair to all involved we'd need to make robots to do all the grunge work. I suppose that's the trouble with paradise: somebody somewhere has to pay for it. Even the berthold rays can't do everything. And what about entertainment? Ah, the spores numb you from the awfulness of boredom.

    And they also give you perfect health! But can they regrow an amputated limb? That would be pretty good! --- Yes, it'd be cool to use it as the all-purpose cure. You get sprayed by the spores, then use strong or violent emotions to return to normal. (Pretty bizarre cure.) But it doesn't ruin the point of the story.

    Oh, another thing that would help make a place paradise is a perpetual motion machine. Yeah, good luck making one!

    What about plumbing, and all such related matters? Could get pretty messy. And what about other basic supplies? This is paradise?

    >----o----<

    Where do the berthold rays come from? I don't think it was ever said. They were just there. It _was_ said that they were a "recent discovery." Still.

    "Is it possible that they're not [alive]?" asks Sulu. Say what?

    They grow only enough food for themselves. Well, that's bad if there's a famine (unless you include that in the calculation). Aside from that, whom else should they be growing food for? Did they travel there to start a business?

    Why does Star Fleet insist on a forced evacuation due to the danger of the berthold rays? It's pretty damn obvious that after three years, the colonists' superb health shows that they're not in any danger. (Of course it'd be less of a story without the orders for an evacuation.) And why should they leave if they don't want to, anyway? They're self-sufficient and happy, even if boring, stagnant, and unproductive. And they're not bothering anyone. Leave 'em alone. OTOH, they apparently didn't want that life once they were forced off the spores. (Well, except for Leila, who apparently wanted Spock at all costs.) Could go either way, I guess. Additionally, who the hell is Star Fleet to order them around, anyway?

    Lots of fun stuff, esp. with Spock, as has been pointed out by others. Most of the scenes with Spock high are terrific. It's always a blast when he smiles so much! Fortunately it's quite rare, so as to not ruin the effect. The only other episodes I can think of offhand with Spock smiling big-time are "The Menagerie" (yes, "The Cage" part) and "Plato's Stepchildren". Oh, and "Where No Man Has Gone Before".

    McCoy definitely sounds high on the spores. Sort of like a drunken (for lack of a better word) happiness, but still mostly in control of himself. He must have had a strong dose!

    How is it that when Sulu and the blue-shirt were sprayed by the flower, not even one spore landed on Kirk, even though he was right next to Sulu, whose chest got covered by plenty of them?! OK, he was maybe few inches back. Still. But since it was obviously intentional, it was well done. The spores only hit Sulu and the blue-shirt. I wonder how many takes it took.

    Notice that the plant that did get Kirk, wasn't there in the scenes just prior. Perhaps overlooked, or maybe there just wasn't enough time to redo the scenes due to the tight shooting schedule. And the plant picks itself up to shoot at Kirk!

    I loved it when Uhura turned around in the seat all glowing with some kind of high: "Oh, I'm sorry, Captain. I can't do that," and with just the right music to set the mood. Pretty good.

    I love the scene where McCoy gets hostile with Sandoval.

    Why does the subsonic transmitter make that obnoxious noise on the ship? (Speaking of which, tricorders also make an annoying noise.) I'm almost amazed they didn't have some "audible" subsonic sound down on the planet. But I am glad they didn't. And via what communicator are they broadcasting these subsonic sounds? How does that work?

    "We wanted to make this planet a garden," Sandoval says. This is the big goal? To make the planet a garden? I see. Travel dozens of light years or more to some strange planet to make it a garden. Some goal. Maybe I'm missing something here.

    The scene with Kirk goading Spock into a fight was pretty good!

    Isn't Spock visibly concerned with letting down Leila at the end? Isn't that emotion? Isn't there just that slight smile on his face when he says, "You couldn't pronounce it"?

    Speaking of Leila, I think Jill Ireland did a great job as her.

    That "sweet" flute music is used several times. It works best at the end when Spock says, "I have little to say about it, Captain, except that for the first time in my life, I was happy." What motivates him the rest of the time? Logic doesn't provide a goal; it just helps you get there.

    I'd definitely rate this episode higher than 3. Certainly at least a 6. Perhaps a 7 or an 8. There's definitely lots of great stuff in this episode!

    AEF, aka betaneptune

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Star Trek TOS - 1x25 - The Devil in the Dark

Originally Aired: 1967-3-9

Synopsis:
An unknown monster threatens a mining operation. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 6.38

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 23 8 5 30 7 9 18 25 43 41 43

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's definitely one of the better stories of the series.

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode firmly establishes that Vulcan mind melds can be performed without touch but are more successful with touch, a fact previously only implied by a couple prior episodes.

Remarkable Scenes
- Spock proposing that the monster might be silicon-based and McCoy's reaction.
- The hilarious looking silicon-based life form.
- Spock hypothesizing that the silicon-based life form may be the last of its kind and that they should protect it at all costs.
- Spock: "The creature is in your area. Take a life form reading." Kirk: "That's not necessary Mr. Spock. I know exactly where the creature is." Spock: "Where, captain?" Kirk: "Ten feet away from me."
- Kirk hesitating to kill the creature.
- Spock's mind meld with the silicon-based life form.
- McCoy's reaction to seeing Spock mind melding with the silicon-based life form.
- McCoy: "I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer!" (Count #2 for "I'm a doctor, not a [blah]" style lines McCoy is famous for.)
- McCoy: "By golly Jim, I'm beginning to think I can cure a rainy day!"

My Review
The Devil in the Dark is a terrific story with excellent pacing, especially at the beginning. I'm not typically a fan of the horror movie aesthetic, but this episode rises well above that by delivering a narrative with a compelling moral dilemma enhanced by well crafted sci-fi texture. Stories about how human resource extraction often comes at the expense of indigenous life are nothing new, but the alien characteristics of the lasagna monster--er, I mean silicon-based life form are what make this story particularly compelling. Scientists have long suspected that because silicon and carbon share many chemical properties that it may be possible for a hypothetical type of biochemistry to exist based on silicon instead of carbon. While I have my doubts that the lasagna monster depicted in this episode is a very realistic extrapolation of what silicon-based life might look like, the episode grapples with the idea in a reasonably intelligent way for the most part, even if it may leave you slightly hungry for lasagna after you're done watching it.

One of the best details of the episode is the plot's constant struggle to reconcile the desire to protect the miners with the concurrent desire to preserve the life of the creature. At first Spock questions the need to kill the creature only to be lectured by Kirk that a murderous rampaging monster cannot be permitted to live. But later on in the story their positions interestingly reverse. When Kirk personally confronted the creature, he realized that in its wounded state it had been rendered far less aggressive and Kirk started to ponder a means of rendering it harmless without killing it. Spock by this point was quite taken with Kirk's prior pragmatic attitude and advised killing it on sight. The way both men wrestle with their duty to save the miners and their scientific curiosity about the lasagna monster was nicely done and the use of a Vulcan mind meld as a means to fully understand the creature was a nice bit of continuity. I just wish those mind meld scenes weren't so frequently poorly acted and painfully slow.

After the mind meld Spock learns a whole slew of fascinating things about the creature which is apparently an intelligent animal, possesses language, and calls itself a horta. While it was fairly obvious from some of the first scenes that the silicon nodules were in fact eggs, thankfully the plot did not hinge its entire dramatic appeal solely on this revelation. Instead the focus on forging a peace treaty predicated on trade and mutual cooperation between the miners and the lasagna monsters was an excellent idea, true to the spirit of Star Trek. Much like in The Corbomite Maneuver or The Menagerie, the alien of the week has turned out not to be an evil monster after all but instead a sensitive intelligent creature which likewise desires peace and cooperation. The idea that all life shares at some level a desire to avoid conflict is perhaps Star Trek's most inspiring theme and this episode is the best one so far to directly tackle it.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Kelli Tipton on 2008-11-20 at 2:55am:
    You have something against English Imperial Units, I take it? And are you sure they are not U.S. Customary Units instead?

    If you look at the Apollo plans, components are measured in U.S. Customary Units. Why would Roddenberry use Metric? Seriously, the only people who ever seem to care about Metric are people who feel the need to feel scientific. Meanwhile, they can't seem to use a unit that can be divided by 3. Just think of that... You can't have a third of something, nor measure out 7/16 of an inch easily. How lame is that.
  • From Giuseppe on 2009-03-09 at 9:03pm:
    I don't really mind it when they use the Imperial system, however it does make sense that they would use the metric system. After all, the Enterprise is an Earth built ship with a mostly Earth crew and the metric system is the most widespread measurement system on Earth (that was also true back in the '60s). In fact today there are only three countries in the world that don't use it as a primary system: The US, Myanmar and Liberia. Even the Brits who invented the Imperial system now use metric as the primary measurement system.
    The comparison with Apollo is forced to say the least. The Enterprise isn't an all-American project like Apollo was.
    And yeah, on a starship you'd expect that they use the best scientific measurement system around and, for the moment at least, that's metric. It's based on decimal multiples, just like our numbering system, you don't have to mess with various conversion factors when converting from one unit to another (you just have to move the decimal point or change an exponent), nor is there a need to express measurements in fractions.
  • From 411314 on 2009-06-15 at 7:12pm:
    I loved how this episode looked like a standard fight the dangerous monster episode and turned out to be completely different. I never saw the ending coming until the eggs were found.
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-03-31 at 8:04am:
    I really liked this one. Aside from the almost comical appearance of the Horta, there was a lot of thought in this tale.

    Most of my gripes are related to McCoy's healing of the Horta. From Kirk's oddly agressive insistence that McCoy shutup and do something that he's not trained to do, to the eye-roll inducing line, "I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer!", I had to cringe.

    Aside from these a few other very minor oddities, this was a great little story of rethinking initial impressions. There is, of course, the core Star Trek element of not only seeking out new life, but attempting to forge peaceful bonds with it, whenever possible. This episode took advantage of the opportunity to capitalize on this grand notion, whereas some previous episodes (such as "Arena") missed out.
  • From Alan Feldman on 2015-01-24 at 12:27pm:
    THE DEVIL IN THE DARK

    Episode is better than one would think given a synopsis (one without spoilers, anyway) of it.

    You wrote: "When Kirk personally confronted the creature, he realized that in its wounded state it had been rendered far less aggressive and Kirk started to ponder a means of rendering it harmless without killing it." Good point. I never thought of that. OTOH, Kirk earlier warns us that there's nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal. So I guess the devil is in the details. (Sorry -- couldn't resist.)

    I thought the mind-meld scenes went on for too long.

    Units again? Scientists often use non-metric units. High-energy physicists, for example, measure mass and energy in electron volts. An electron has a mass of about 511 keV, which is more convenient than 9.110x10^-28 gm, especially in relativistic formulas. A proton has a mass of about 938.3 MeV; a neutron, 939.6 MeV. In the case of calculating the binding energy of nuclei they often use atomic mass units with a table of "mass excess". They also use feet! Electrical signals travel at close to the speed of light. They take 1 nanosecond to travel 1 foot. This is useful in estimating delays due to cabling. Angular momenta of particles, nuclei, and electrons in an atom are most conveniently measured as integral or "half-integral" (0, 1/2, 1, 1 1/2, 2, 2 1/2, . . .) multiples of Plank's constant divided by (2*Pi). (In the first two cases it's a special form of angular momentum called spin.) Then there're light years and parsecs, neither of which is metric. There are many more examples. Oh, and astronomical units. Bottom line: use the right units for the job. (Similar to, "Use the right tool for the job".)

    Notice that Kirk said, "The chart says these tunnels converge a few thousand yards further." A few thousand yards?! That's a few kilometers (to put it in metric units)!

    KIRK: You take the left (points to his right); I'll take the right (points to his left). Do they really think we're that stupid?

    Notice the cave floor is just a regular floor. Not a biggie. Just sayin'.

    23rd level? There are at least 23 levels? That's a lot of levels!

    "We'll use clubs." Seriously? 30:31-30:36, 44:08-44:15, 44:25-44:28. I guess so!

    At 44:08 the miners club the red-shirts. Shouldn't they be charged with a crime?

    AEF

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Star Trek TOS - 1x26 - Errand of Mercy

Originally Aired: 1967-3-23

Synopsis:
Kirk and Spock battle Klingons to free Organia. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 4.82

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 84 0 9 9 5 7 7 29 38 28 27

Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- This is the first episode to feature the Klingon Empire.

Problems
- Kor tells Spock, a Vulcan, and Kirk, an Organian (as far as Kor knew at the time) that the mind probe on its highest setting leaves something not at all "human." As far as Kor knew, no one in the room was human. Why would he say that?
- Vulcans are inexplicably referred to as "Vulcanians" in this episode.

Factoids
- Kirk mentions in this episode that the Federation invested a great deal of money in his (and Spock's) training. While the line could merely be hyperbole, it could also indicate that the training of Starfleet officers comes at great cost to whatever resources in the Federation are nonrenewable and thus precious.

Remarkable Scenes
- The Enterprise being attacked by a Klingon ship and destroying it.
- Kirk describing the horrors of the Klingon Empire to the Organians.
- Kor appearing, taking over the planet, and declaring himself governor.
- Spock passing the lie detector even though he was lying.
- Kirk's private discussion with Kor after Kor discovered Kirk's true identity.
- Kirk: "Gentlemen, I have no great love for you, your planet, your culture. Despite that, Mr. Spock and I are going to go out there and quite probably die in an attempt to show you that there are some things worth dying for."
- Kirk: "What would you say the odds are on our getting out of here?" Spock: "Difficult to be precise, captain. I should say approximately 7824.7 to 1." Kirk: "Difficult to be precise? 7824 to 1?" Spock: "7824.7 to 1." Kirk: "That's a pretty close approximation." Spock: "I endeavor to be accurate." Kirk: "You do quite well."
- Kirk, after infiltrating the Klingon base: "Well, what are the odds now?" Spock: "Less than 7000 to 1, captain. It's remarkable we've gotten this far." Kirk: "Less than 7000 to 1. Well, getting better. Getting better."
- The Organians stopping the fight between the Klingons and the Federation.
- Kirk and Kor arguing with each other, justifying their positions for war.
- The Organians telling Kirk and Kor that in the future the Klingons and The Federation would become friends.
- Kor briefly proposing to work together with Kirk to defeat the Organians.

My Review
A proxy war between two large inter-stellar nations which takes place on a (seemingly) backward planet is an intriguing premise for many reasons, not the least of which are the parallels to the many similar proxy fights during the Cold War which doubtlessly inspired this story. It's somewhat annoying that the writers didn't take this opportunity to reuse the excellently characterized Romulan Empire from Balance of Terror, choosing instead to create the never before seen Klingon Empire for this installment's Cold War allegory, but that said, there's no reason why there couldn't be multiple inter-stellar nations battling as cold warriors during Star Trek's 23rd century. Indeed, the Klingon Empire's foreign policy toward the Federation heats up rapidly in this story as after negotiations break down, the Klingons declare war and launch an exciting surprise attack on the Enterprise! Though it wasn't much of an attack. For all that the battle seemed intense at the time, a few (lucky?) shots from Sulu pulverized the surprise Klingon attacker with only trivial damage to the Enterprise.

Thankfully the Klingons are characterized far more successfully the very moment Commander Kor walks onto the screen. The delightful actor John Colicos cultivates an impressive presence for an antagonist not seen since Khan from Space Seed. Kor single handedly exposes us to the Klingon Empire's apparent warrior culture, demonstrating that their ambition for conquest is not merely a means to an end for them, but an end unto itself. This is made most clear when Kor expresses disappointment over his various easy victories in this story, instead preferring a victory that is hard fought and thus, from his perspective, better earned. Even more intriguing is Kor's reverence for the autocracy he lives in. Rather than merely considering it a necessary evil, he instead sees it as the ideal form of government as it rewards the strong at the expense of the weak, an extension of his warrior ideology. This nicely contrasts the crew of the Romulan flagship from Balance of Terror who experienced deep cynicism about their government.

The terrific premise of this story is sullied by a number of imperfections in the story though. For instance, while John Colicos' performance as Kor was excellent, the less said about the other actors playing Klingons the better. Also, why was Sulu placed in command of the Enterprise instead of Scotty? It was established in A Taste of Armageddon that Scotty is the ship's second officer. Was Scotty off the ship at the time? Another wrinkle in the story is the recurrence of the "mysterious aliens slow down the plot" cliche. Once again we have alien guests whose true nature is conspicuously withheld simply to give the plot more time to unfold, as the Organians spend much of the episode saying what basically amounts to, "we have no defenses! Nor do we need them! We're not going to explain why!"

The climax of absurdity here is that their superpowers are revealed about twelve minutes into the story, but Kirk and Spock remain oblivious for a considerable time thereafter despite obvious evidence presenting itself before their eyes. They do wonder how the Organians can know things like the presence of ships in orbit, but do not bother to speculate or consider the possible implications. Though perhaps maybe the reason Kirk and Spock remained so oblivious for so long is because they're soldiers, not diplomats, as Kirk so emphatically stated at one point during the episode. This statement annoyed me because it seems to fly in the face of Star Trek's stated premise which is to peacefully explore the galaxy and to make contact with new civilizations.

Those are minor nitpicks though compared to a few considerably more serious issues with this episode's story. Once again we have an alien race, the Organians, that looks identical to humans and our heroes don't even blink. The profound similarity is even acknowledged in dialog by Kirk and Spock when they admit that Kirk can reasonably pass as an Organian with a mere costume change as if human-looking aliens with no noticeable physical variations are accepted as common throughout the galaxy. If this is indeed the case, I sure would like to know why. Even the Klingons had rather unambitious makeup in this respect. Darker skin and different hair isn't even as creative as the already lazy pointed ears of the Vulcans. As for the Organians, even though it is later established that they could have chosen to appear in any form they wished, the fact that neither Kirk, Spock, nor Kor found the Organians' similarity in appearance to humans conspicuous is most odd. Worse yet, Kirk's orders to establish a base on Organia and share technology with what at the time seemed to be a primitive society would seem to be a blatant violation of the Prime Directive.

But the Organians were indeed more than they appeared to be and while the slow unfolding of this fact by the plot was a bit irritating, it was quite amusing to observe the rather nonchalant way in which they dealt with the invasion of their planet. Perhaps the best part of the story was when the Organians insisted that one day the Klingons and the Federation would become friends and even work together. Given the highly advanced nature of the Organians, we can't simply relegate this statement to the territory of an idle optimistic prediction. On the contrary, they may very well be in a position to know! More importantly though, they may also very well be in a position to influence events in favor of their preferred outcome. They appear to have single handedly stopped the war in this story. Will they prevent further conflict between the Federation and the Klingons?

This question opens up a larger problem that has been slowly climbing its way to the forefront of Star Trek's storytelling which is to what degree do all these god-like aliens actually control the fates of our heroes? Kirk expresses awareness of the conundrum caused by being unambiguously relegated to that of a lesser species in his final lines of the episode when he states that it's unsettling to learn that he and his comrades are not the most powerful beings in the universe. He further expressed dismay that the Organians "rigged the game." Kirk has good reason to express dismay. If the galaxy is truly filled with god-like aliens interfering with the events of the lower planes, then the relevance of our heroes is seriously undermined. At any moment, a deus ex machina can suddenly change the course of their history arbitrarily and for no apparent reason. Let's hope that in the future Star Trek reins in the use of these god-like aliens considerably, or it may become difficult to take the show seriously anymore.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From technobabble on 2010-11-23 at 2:16am:
    But they do have a form of currency in called Federation credits but they don't seem to have any physical money. The various series & movies touched upon that the economics of the Federation are vastly different than the capitalist model. With no hunger, disease or poverty they live in a post scarcity society. Check out the wiki writeup under "Federation credits".

    It is still odd that Kirk would refer to efforts expended to train Spock in a monetary sense though.
  • From John on 2011-02-16 at 9:28pm:
    Kirk is such a fathead in this one. This episode is a prominent example of the differences between Kirk and Picard. I'm not saying one is better than another, but Picard would never have tried to foist his own view of "the way things should be" on an independent world the way Kirk does here. These people don't want his help, because ultimately they don't need it, but that doesn't stop him from forcing himself upon them.

    He learns a valuable lesson for his trouble -- things are not always what they appear to be. But he promptly forgets it and goes back to being the same old Kirk for the rest of the series.

    The other thing that doesn't click for me is the brain scanner. I guess it's because I'm used to the "non-Soviet" Klingons from TNG and DS9, but this certainly seems more like a Romulan weapon than a Klingon one.
  • From ChristopherA on 2012-07-04 at 9:48am:
    A classic. This is the TOS episode that puts the Klingons in the best light, in the sense of them being worthy enemies of the Federation. I love Kor's combination of ruthlessness and philosophy, and the concept of the wolves among sheep. And the episode has a great sense of wartime excitement. I quite like this episode, even though it does have some weaknesses.
    - I agree that it is very odd how Kirk and Spock fail to react to the Organians’ demonstration of knowledge they should not have. The episode would make more sense if they simply couldn’t overhear the weird conversation between the Organians.
    - It is funny that the first time I watched the episode, I never really noticed how the attitude of Kirk and Spock towards the Organians after the Klingons arrive is quite irrational. They constantly berate the Organians for not fighting back. Yet the Organians, as far as Kirk and Spock know, have no military and are vastly technologically inferior to the Klingons. The Klingons are totally ruthless, a fact which Kirk himself tells the Organians. They have announced massive retribution for any deaths. Even if the Organians pull off some sort of incredible resistance on the ground, the Klingons can obliterate their society from orbit if they so choose. Obeying the occupation force costs them their freedom but allows their culture to survive. It is understandable that Kirk and Spock would want the Organians to assist them, but it is puzzling that both of them, even Spock, act as though the Organians are fools for not doing so. And blowing up the munitions dump seems like a somewhat callous act, given the likelihood of Klingon reprisal. I assume they justify it by military necessity, and a feeling that life under Klingon rule is worse than death and thus anything the Organians do to increase the chance of Federation victory would be good for them in the long term. Apparently the Prime Directive is so totally overruled in time of war that Kirk feels no need to respect the Organian culture of pacifism and can simply make decisions for them.
    - Kor's decision to wait 12 hours before mind-sifting Kirk makes little sense to me. If Kirk is a worthy foe, he will not cave in to Kor’s demands; if he is not worthy, why give him the extra 12 hours? I'm wondering if the Organians are playing with Kor's mind. Or perhaps the success rate of the Mind-Sifter is not really very good; that could explain why it never shows up again. Or perhaps Kor just wanted to see how Kirk would react if given some time to think about his impending horrible demise, just to gauge what kind of man he is and understand the mind of the enemy.
    - It is interesting to compare the ruthlessness of Kor to the recharacterized TNG Klingons. The later series spend a lot of time painting the Klingons as a proud, honorable warrior race with a culture that seems strange and violent to the Federation, but is very worthy in its own way. Conveniently, they don’t really mention what happens to the losers when the Klingons actually win a war; the Klingons would seem a lot less like fun, good-hearted frat boys if you knew about the horrors of Klingon occupation, as Kirk describes here. Come to think of it, maybe the Cardassians are the real spiritual successors to Kor’s Klingons.
    - I love the Organian gesture of greeting. I should start using that myself.
  • From Strider on 2012-07-25 at 1:28am:
    I think this episode has some strengths. Kor is awesome. Kirk is frustrated into anger, and even Spock accepts the necessity to try to persuade the Organians to fight. I like to see the heroes kicking ass, but really, nobody stops to wonder if there's more going on here than meets the eye? And in another episode, they claim that they can't violate the Prime Directive on pain of death or whatever, but where the heck is it now? Why do they assume that the Organians (as they understand them at this point) haven't thought about the implications of their pacifism? They would rather be conquered than use violence-- their choice. People who are truly committed to pacifism have thought these things through.

    But my greatest irritation is with any episode or movie of any kind where a short explanation could resolve the misunderstanding. I realize it would have made the episode about 6 minutes long, but why won't the Organians just say, "Look, we've got some powers you don't know about, and these guys can't hurt us. It's all good." Then maybe showed them that hot-weapons trick or something? A simple misunderstanding just isn't enough to hang a whole plot on.

    Strider
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-10-01 at 9:58am:
    ‘7’. The Prime Directive obviously does not apply to strategically located Class M planets in key sectors bordering a dangerous enemy. By the time of the NG the Federation is apparently able to allow its enemies all the advantages in battle, and then pull it out at the end with the Boy Wonder and Filter Face issuing some embarrassing technibable while reconfiguring the deflector into a time machine or whatever. (So what are those hippies back at Starfleet design academy doing? Didn’t anyone notice that the deflector array can be changed into a new handy device by a 15 year old marketing device?) Anyways, by NG the Federation might be strong enough to act weakly, but in the original series the Federation clearly has to watch out for the possibility of being conquered, and that must mean the Prime Directive is not universal.

    This one looks to be a French resistance story from WW2 crossed over to science fiction. It’s a pity Spock’s interrogation took place off screen; that would have been a strong scene. Spock and Kirk play the role of incompetent British operatives, (Kirk, I’m pretty sure that you should be hiding you Vulcan from the Klingon occupation army rather than parading him around in front of the governor). The Klingons emerge as a solid, well conceived opposition for the Enterprise, but then a promising premise is squandered by yet more advanced entities deciding to finally do their godlike duties in enforcing decent principles and prevent war. Nice, but where have you been for the past 10,000 years and why did you show up just in time to wreck a great ending?

    This episode may have contained the single biggest error in judgment pertaining to the longer term survival of the series. If they had let the war just starting play out over the course of following seasons, then the writers would have had a strong ‘fall back’ story arc they could draw upon to replace or pump up future turkeys like ‘The Apple’. Since Organia is a key sector, just have the Organians prevent the war within their area, but what happens further away than that they do not care about. So the war continues, but the logistics of it are difficult for both sides hence it becomes drawn out. Star Trek stories in a war background in science fiction are inherently stronger pieces: Exhibit A, Wrath of Khan. Exhibit B: The Undiscovered Country.
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-03-31 at 6:52am:
    A really strong episode, mainly because of Kor.

    Instead of giving us a 1-dimensional "evil invader," the story gives us a fully-developed antagonist who brings out the most aggressive side of Kirk. The characterization of Kor could have been horribly oversimplified, which would have made for an extremely boring episode. As it was, it was one of the best ones that I've watched so far.

    I, like Kethinov, grow very tired of unimaginably powerful beings in the series. Sure, the mystery of their true nature lends a certain air of suspense and wonder through most of the episode. But the eventual revelation that they are virtually omnipotent and omniscient is rather dull.

    Still, it's good to see that one of the most iconic alien races that Star Trek produced had such a strong introduction.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x27 - The Alternative Factor

Originally Aired: 1967-3-30

Synopsis:
An alien being fights himself between two realities. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 0

Fan Rating Average - 2.5

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 114 31 15 20 37 13 4 14 12 6 8

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- If you skip only one episode of all of Star Trek, let it be this one.

Problems
- The entire episode's premise is an unworkable problem. See my review below for more details.
- Spock says the entire magnetic field of this "solar system" simply blinked. This is a common error. The term they were looking for is planetary system. The planetary system we live in is called the Solar System because our star is named Sol. As such, the term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term.
- Why wasn't the clearly unstable Lazarus under more heavy guard throughout the episode? The guards seemed to come and go whenever they wanted.
- Lazarus' fake beard seems to change in thickness throughout various scenes. The most obvious (and unintentionally humorous) example occurs around 24 minutes and 20 seconds into the episode.

Factoids
- This episode establishes that there are at least 431 people aboard the Enterprise at this time.
- This episode is the winner of my "Worst Episode of TOS Award" and is also the winner of my "Worst Episode Ever Award."

Remarkable Scenes
- Just when you think the technobabble and bad science can't get any worse, it gets worse. All through the episode.

My Review
The Alternative Factor is an overwrought story in which the fate of two entire universes hangs in the balance over what amounts to little more than an incoherent stream of technical nonsense vomited at the screen by nearly every character. Vague, half-assed references to parallel universes, time travel, dilithium crystals, and antimatter get strewn about the dialog as if they somehow constitute a satisfactory explanation for the incessant glowing, psychedelic flashing, screeching, and noisy interludes which mightily assault your visual and auditory senses every few minutes. Production quality on Star Trek was never something to write home about, but this episode's is unforgivable.

But even with better production quality, there would be no saving the science in this story. The most incoherent scene is when after a lengthy discussion filled with pseudoscientific reasoning, Kirk and Spock deduce that the two Lazari must be matter/antimatter opposites from parallel universes. They further reason that their cosmic battling is what's causing the universe to occasionally "wink out" because an antimatter Lazarus coming into contact with a matter Lazarus would, they surmise, destroy both universes. Except for the pesky fact that that makes no sense at all and it isn't even consistent with what appears on screen.

Assuming for the moment that it's possible for a parallel universe made up entirely of antimatter to exist and that a man from an antimatter universe and a man from a matter universe could ever come in contact with each other via some means similar to what's depicted in this episode, then the two men in question would most certainly not enter into some sort of cosmic psychedelic wrestling match as this episode depicts. Instead they would instantly annihilate each other. Moreover, their mutual annihilation would not destroy any universes, let alone two. Their mutual annihilation would not likely even destroy a single planet, seeing as how planets like Earth have withstood repeated asteroid impacts which released considerably more energy than the ~90kg matter/antimatter explosion the two Lazari would yield.

A related problem is introduced when Kirk accidentally travels to the antimatter universe. Since Kirk is made up of matter, the very moment he came into contact with anything from the antimatter universe, he and it should have instantly annihilated one another. And while we're on the subject of the episode's bad science, Spock mentioned that he used the ship's dilithium crystals to localize a source of radiation on the planet. Setting aside the fact that that line makes no coherent sense at all, Spock later contradicts it entirely by saying that the ship's instruments cannot see the radiation at all; a statement which by itself doesn't make a lot of sense because the radiation source is visible to the naked eye. Do none of their sensors measure visible light?

As if the bad science in this episode weren't enough, the actual storytelling is abysmal. Once again we revisit Star Trek's tried and true cliche in which the mystery guest of the week fails to adequately explain what's going on despite repeated direct, pointed questioning. We don't want to let the plot move too quickly now, do we! There is some legitimate dramatic appeal in the idea behind a story about two identical men seeking to destroy one another, but whatever potential there is in the idea drowns under the weight of bad writing, bad science, bad production quality, and bad acting.

The climax of absurdity is Kirk's final line, "What of Lazarus? What of Lazarus?" Uttered in a fashion intended to be thoughtful and reflective, the line is in fact overwrought and laced with false profundity, much like the rest of the story. I didn't think it was possible for an episode of Star Trek to be worse than Miri, but here it is folks. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Tim on 2006-05-07 at 3:50pm:
    I SO Agree with this review! Spot on. I HATE this Episode.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2007-12-13 at 10:05am:
    I just watched this episode with my wife and I have to say we were not entertained. I think the whole universe blinking out thing was too over the top. Neither of the two Lazaruses were interesting, especially compared to other guest stars you normally see on the show. Also, you can kind of tell when the actors think that the episode is bad; everyone seemed subdued here. I would have also liked a little more background about Lazarus and his people. There are so many unaswered questions. I gave this stinker a 1, not a zero, because it was original. That is the only good thing to say about it. Warning: do not watch this episode late at night, you'll fall asleep!
  • From TashaFan on 2008-09-11 at 2:00am:
    I agree with every point made so far. Where is the parallel Enterprise? The other universe seems to be empty. How does "our" Enterprise limp away without retrieving the 2 dilithium crystals left in the parallel universe? Two particles, identical but one "anti" and one not, destroy EACH OTHER totally, not the ENTIRE UNIVERSE. And, the biggest problem, where the heck is the DOOR to Lazarus's ship? The front of it is just a big empty HOLE! He must get a lot of bugs in the face flying through the atmosphere.
  • From b goldstein on 2012-01-08 at 10:56am:
    It's nitpicky, I know, but Solar system is generic. It is a set of planets rotating around a star.

    Ours might be the "Sol system"
  • From Kethinov on 2012-01-08 at 1:25pm:
    Sorry Goldstein, that isn't correct. Sol is the Latin term for our star. Thus the term "solar system" only refers to our system because the term "solar" is an adjective derived from Sol.

    A lot of people mistakenly believe "solar system" is a generic term precisely because Star Trek and other media like it made this error over and over again. But just because it's a common error doesn't make it any less an error.

    If you pay close attention, you'll notice that later Star Trek eventually corrected themselves and began using more correct terms over time, although the occasional error will still creep in.
  • From Mark on 2012-05-01 at 11:23pm:
    Wow! I'm watching all of the original series episodes on Netflix. I've loved them so far. Then I came to this one. I thought to myself that this one MUST be the worst episode ever. On a whim, I Googled "worst Star Trek episode," and this page came up. I LOVE that I'm not alone in disliking this episode. However, Uhura's legs are awesome.
  • From Cameron on 2012-08-22 at 4:27pm:
    I agree in so many ways -- there's nothing resembling a story arc, just a bunch of disjointed incidents. As for the "science," I'm willing to suspend disbelief for something dramatically compelling.

    But my next point: I frankly envy you who are so dismissive that the harshly disturbing resolution didn't "implant" in your brain like with many of us. I was on a forum with a woman saying she saw this years ago and it still bothers her. Me, too - for all this episode's sins I give it a perverse credit. The idea of the ultimate sacrifice being not death, but having to eternally endure combat in that nauseatingly spinning chamber. It still bugs me when I'm reminded of it. Maybe a quality episode could be made with a similar ending - but I'm not sure I'd enjoy it.
  • From warpfactor 10.1 on 2012-09-10 at 9:24am:
    I want 50 minutes of my life back. This was so tedious. I wish I had read your review first and avoided it. I did fall asleep for part of the time and I can only be thankful for that. Don't watch it; you'll hate yourself.
  • From Tom Gettins on 2012-09-16 at 4:48pm:
    I watched this episode as a kid - and I found the payoff (Lazarus fighting a loony for eternity to save the Universe) quite haunting.


    Bad science? What bad science? It happened people!
    There IS a small corridor between parallel universes to act as a safety cut out for bad AM confinement.

    We owe thanks to the original research carried out by Star Trek writers.

    Otherwise we wouldn't know that Anti Matter only affects people that it is related to.
  • From Glenn239 on 2012-10-20 at 8:13am:
    '1'. My favorite bit is where Star Fleet determines that a threat to the entire galaxy exists in Enterprise's sector, so it runs away and tells Kirk to handle it alone.

    I save '0' scores for episodes so bad that I would not watch them again, being wretched enough that I don't even consider them part of the series. This one is horrendous, up there with waterboarding if inflicted repeatedly upon prisoners against their will, but not quite so traumatic that I can't rule out another peek in 10 or 20 years.
  • From Oz on 2012-12-15 at 11:42pm:
    The use of uncapitalzed (or spoken) "solar system" to refer to another sun with its associated planets is fine. This is much the same as the Church largely refers to the Catholic church, where "church" is any church. I don't think we would call our solar cells something else just because we were on Vulcan. "Sol" refers to the Roman sun god. Great website by the way.
  • From Kethinov on 2012-12-16 at 2:09am:
    Thanks Oz.

    The use of "solar system" is definitely not correct. It's not a generic term, it's a proper noun. People get this wrong a lot and most science fiction frequently misuses the term.
  • From Sloop on 2013-08-30 at 10:05am:
    This is the first TOS episode I had to watch a second time just to take it all in. With regards sloppy science, pacing, repetitive effects etc, almost all of the TOS episodes have plotholes so I think we should cut 'Alternative' some slack. Its ambition alone makes it a worthy episode. For me, Mudd's Women is the poorest season 1 episode.
  • From Tooms on 2013-09-06 at 11:17pm:
    I think it would be more correct to say there is no standard term for a star and planetary system outside of the solar system. If there is no official term, I don't think it's necessarily an error to use solar system. It's possible that will eventually be the standard term. It's just not something that we've needed a term for until recently. The study of geology on another planet would probably still be called geology even though geo means "earth".

    As for this episode, definitely a 0!
  • From Kethinov on 2013-09-08 at 3:00am:
    There is a standard term. The term is "planetary system" which is well documented by the scientific community.

    Geology on other planets is still geology. The Latin root comparison is wrong because "geo" is the Latin word for earth, not Earth. The term "earth" can be generic to refer to the ground or soil, whereas "Earth" is a proper noun referring to our specific planet.

    Such is not the case with Sol. There is no accepted generic form like with earth and Earth.
  • From John on 2013-09-09 at 7:22pm:
    I have just watched the episode and, of course, I immediately hit the internet with a search for a review...I found the episode irritating at best, and I needed to see I am not alone in being totally dumbfounded by the 'science', the plot and the uninspired acting.
    With regard to the science, I understand that writers were under no obligation to provide scientifically accurate details to their stories. Even if it was a not-so-secret agenda of the show to promote interest in science, kindling interest in something is not the same thing as explaining it or teaching it. You learn science from books on science, not from a tv fantasy show. However, kindling interest is one of the things what they dismally failed to do here. The confusion caused by Kirk touching antimatter to go into the parallel universe (as antimatter?) then coming back to send...whatever, its irritatingly confounded!!
    As for the ending, it is haunting, true. But it comes after such a bungle of ideas and underdeveloped themes that it loses much of its force. It is a pity as the theme of personal sacrifice (with its references to abortion, public health and social policies) is an important and recurring theme throughout the star trek shows. It would have made an excellent contribution to the franchise but not this terribly scripted stinker.
    Excellent site, by the way!!
  • From Tooms on 2013-09-11 at 3:20am:
    The term planetary system does not include the star. Sol and it's planetary system make up the Solar System. Much as you compare earth to Earth, you could also compare the Solar System to a solar system. You could use extrasolar system to be more descriptive, but there is no standard term for a star and its planetary system other than our own.
  • From Kethinov on 2013-09-11 at 12:03pm:
    Tooms, your post is full of misinformation.

    "The term planetary system does not include the star."

    Yes it does. A planetary system cannot exist without something for the planets to orbit. The term necessarily implies a central star.

    "Sol and it's planetary system make up the Solar System. Much as you compare earth to Earth, you could also compare the Solar System to a solar system."

    There is no "solar system" generic term. The term literally doesn't exist. Lots of people think it does, but it doesn't. It's not recognized by the scientific community. There is only "Solar System" the proper noun.

    "You could use extrasolar system to be more descriptive, but there is no standard term for a star and its planetary system other than our own."

    That's not true. There is a standard term. The term you're looking for (and what Star Trek is looking for) is "planetary system." That's the term the scientific community uses when referring to a system of planets orbiting an arbitrary star.

    There's tons of information out there confirming what I've been saying. Look it up!
  • From jeffenator98 on 2013-09-26 at 2:08pm:
    My favorite part is when Lazarus opens the panel in the hallway and switches a couple of Radio Shack type fuzes to start a fire.Uhuras legs are awesome.
  • From Deggsy on 2013-10-04 at 8:30pm:
    Part (but not all) of the incoherence in the story is due to extensive rewrites caused because originally, there was a romantic subplot between Lazarus and Lt Masters, but the actress hired was black and the network didn't want to upset the Southern markets, so it was hastily rewritten to put in more planetside scenes of Lazarus falling and other crap.
  • From Tony Cole on 2013-11-15 at 8:32pm:
    I really think you people need to get over the solar vs. planetary argument.
    Who cares?
    The last comment I read was the most compelling. The one about the deleted romance. It explained a lot of the disjointed scenes, the repetitive, boring hikes on the planets surface, the lack of scenes with anti-matter Lazarus. Even as a young kid I remember the controversy over Kirk's kiss with Uhura. But I agree this one's a stinker!
  • From SheriDH on 2014-02-02 at 7:50pm:
    As I watched this episode, I kept wondering where Scotty (James Doohan) was? Lt. Masters had a blue uniform (usually implying science or medicine although that's not consistent in the series), what was she doing in engineering with no sign of Mr. Scott?

    Interesting comment about the scenes that implied a romance between Lazarus and Masters being deleted - what's the source for that?
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-03-31 at 5:33pm:
    Wow. Atrocious episode, on nearly every level.

    I would give a blow-by-blow of what bothered me, but Kethinov and all of the other commenters have done it for me.

    On top of the serious logical errors with the plot, the episode was just plain boring. Raving psychos are usually boring, and Lazarus was another example (and what are the chances that some dude from a far-off planetary system is named "Lazarus," anyway?). The acid-trip wrestling matches were equally tedious.

    I had read that this episode was bad, but I'm forcing myself to watch the entire first season (I've never seen any of them before), the good, the bad, and the ugly. The one was one of the absolute worst, along with "Miri."
  • From Mike Chambers on 2016-10-02 at 2:35am:
    Horrible science aside, this episode actually would have been decent if you were to cut out about 30 minutes of completely useless scenes.

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Star Trek TOS - 1x28 - The City on the Edge of Forever

Originally Aired: 1967-4-6

Synopsis:
Kirk and Spock go back in time to save McCoy. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 6.88

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 44 10 29 8 11 5 12 13 35 40 148

Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- Aside from being one of Star Trek's most famous episodes, this episode is also a prerequisite for watching TAS: Yesteryear.

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode won the 1968 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Remarkable Scenes
- The look on Sulu's face when he was injected with Cordrazine.
- Kirk and Spock questioning the Guardian of Forever.
- McCoy destroying history.
- Kirk trying to explain Spock to the police officer.
- Edith Keeler's speech: "One day soon man is going to be able to harness incredible energies. Maybe even the atom. Energies that could ultimately hurl us to other worlds in some sort of space ship. And the men that reach out into space will be able to find ways to feed the hungry millions of the world and to cure their diseases. They will be able to find a way to give each man hope and a common future."
- Spock discovering that Edith Keeler may be supposed to die.
- McCoy on a rampage.
- Spock proving Edith Keeler must indeed die.
- McCoy: "I'm a surgeon, not a psychiatrist." (Count #3 for "I'm a doctor, not a [blah]" style lines McCoy is famous for.)
- Edith Keeler's death and Kirk restraining himself from saving her.

My Review
What if going back in time and saving one person from dying in a terrible tragedy led to an even greater tragedy for millions more people a short time later? The City on the Edge of Forever is not the first episode of Star Trek to deal with issues raised by contaminated timelines, but it's certainly the best one to tackle the issue so far as it features both excellent humor and a terrific dark dramatic story. The humor in McCoy's insane rampage, the drama in Edith Keeler's death, the dynamic nature of the storytelling, the unusual pacing, and the unusually high quality acting on the part of the main cast make this story easily among the most memorable episodes produced thus far.

Unlike previous dabbles into time travel storytelling such as Tomorrow Is Yesterday, this episode treats the implications of time travel notably more responsibly. Even little details such as Spock remarking on how much useful historical data he could collect using the Guardian of Forever are an excellent illustration of this, but no scene is more compelling in this respect than Keeler's death. Beyond the dramatic appeal, there is also time travel intrigue. She died crossing the street, trying to find out what Kirk, McCoy, and Spock (well maybe not Spock...) were all so happy about. Thus, they are the direct cause of her death! This episode didn't merely acknowledge the implications of a time travel paradox, it used one for dramatic effect!

Though no matter how captivating this story may be dramatically, it is not without its flaws. Chief among the issues in this story is the Guardian of Forever itself. What was it doing there? Why didn't they investigate it any further? Why did they just leave such a powerful and potentially dangerous piece of technology laying around there for anyone else to find and misuse in the way McCoy accidentally did? Why was the landing party insulated from the changes to the timeline? Did the Guardian of Forever protect them somehow due to their proximity to it? This episode definitely treated time travel more responsibly this time around, but still not responsibly enough for a perfect score I'm afraid. With more careful writing this episode certainly could have earned one.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Arianwen on 2010-07-22 at 8:29pm:
    Well, I suppose I can't be applauded for my originality; like the majority of fans, this is for me one of the best TOS episodes ever. I think the reason I find it so enjoyable (I never once feel the need to skip forward) is that it takes the show out of its comfort zone. No redshirts, no all-powerful, murderous or otherwise interfering aliens, no fight scenes, no long, penetrating Kirk-stares... it flows very well. I really appreciate all the detail in the guest characters, the background people, the scenery - as well as in the little twitches in the characters' expressions. As you said, the acting is excellent.

    With all of this going on, I wasn't too bothered about their not wrapping up the business with the Guardian of Forever. In fact, I think it makes the episode rather more real - Kirk is in no mood for mysteries, he just wants to "get the hell out of here". The episode had to end there; anything afterwards would have felt false.
  • From Robert Koenn on 2011-02-17 at 2:45pm:
    Of course there is all the controversy concerning this episode. I have never read Ellison's original script, although I think it is available, but from what I have read about it it is even more powerful than the episode. I enjoyed greatly that it dealt with time travel in a very rationale way. The story itself was great and the way the writers wrote in Keeler's insights were perfect, even if slightly corny. And tying her into the existing and the alternative history was plausible. Finally the underlying love story made sense and was heart felt, especially Kirk watching her die at the end. And for me I found the guardian excellent. It was perfect advanced technology scifi the way they did the guardian and I loved the effects and sounds at the portal. This is still my favorite episode of the entire universe although there are many other excellent episodes. Interesting that it was written by an excellent alternative fiction writer. Amok Time was also by an established scifi writer and another of my favorites.
  • From John Bernhardt on 2014-01-30 at 11:50pm:
    Shatner's performance here makes me think of the overall issue of William Shatner's acting. He is a very erratic actor. It is often commented on how he overacts, over emotes, does those trademark pauses between words etc. It's all true. The irony is that he actually does have acting chops, he just lacks restraint. The great range he shows here-the charm, the humor, to the extremely believable pathos and anger at the end shows off where his strength's are as an actor when he just shows a little restraint.
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-01 at 6:50am:
    Kethinov raises just about every issue that came to mind as I was watching this episode, which I thought to be very good but not without some problems.

    Time travel stories are always fraught with peril, and this one is no different. As is stated in Kethinov's review, I feel that some of it could have been explained with a tiny bit of smart exposition. Perhaps the landing party WAS insulated from the greater effects of the time distortion, but the fact that this issue isn't even raised by any of the crew was glaring.

    I also found the pacing a bit odd. The romantic relationship between Kirk and Keeler seemed both rushed and forced. It was difficult to see exactly what Keeler saw in Kirk, and her strange intuition was a bit nebulous. This part of the story could probably have used more time to develop, though this is unrealistic for a 50-minute TV show episode.

    These problems, though, are fairly minor. The overall story was a strong one, and the tragic and emotional punch at the end may be the strongest of the series so far. The entire story was a creative reworking of the classic, "If you could go back in time and kill Hitler, would you do it?" idea. By flipping the script and asking whether you would allow a good person to die in order to save millions, this story adds a far deeper and more probing question.

    I didn't find this episode to be my absolute favorite one, but it may be the one that stays with me the longest.
  • From Peter Collins on 2015-02-25 at 6:14pm:
    I've just seen this for the first time in maybe 20 years and I was struck by the use of the song Goodnight Sweetheart, both in itself and as a repeated piece of incidental music - slightly heavy handed in foreshadowing Edith Keeler's death, but also interesting in that Goodnight Sweetheart is the name of a British situation comedy of the 1990s that involved a young man finding a rip in time in east London that transports him back to the wartime London of the 1940s and back. It too had many flaws, not least in making the time traveller - who ends up married to two women in different times - extremely unlikeable. I suppose the sitcom writers chose the music for a reason...
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-22 at 10:41am:
    Under "problems", you list "none", and then in the narrative proceed to list several problems! Clark Gable did not appear in any movies in 1930, and he was far from a household name at the time, yet Edith expresses great puzzlement when McCoy and later Kirk don't recognize the name. At one point, Spock says he needs three or four pounds of platinum, apparently unaware of how rare and expensive platinum is. Hard to believe, since Spock usually seems to know a lot about earth and it's history. When the timeline has been restored (Edith hit by truck), Kirk and Spock, followed by McCoy, return through the Guardian of Forever - but they are leaping through it. How do they know to "leap"? As mentioned by others here, there are always problems with time travel episodes. If there never was an Enterprise, then how did McCoy get to the Guardian of Forever in the first place?

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Star Trek TOS - 1x29 - Operation: Annihilate!

Originally Aired: 1967-4-13

Synopsis:
The Enterprise crew saves Deneva from deadly parasites. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 4.89

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 46 6 22 5 7 13 26 29 28 25 9

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's a decent episode, even though it could have been better.

Problems
- Spock refuses the goggles during the intense light experiment on the grounds of precisely duplicating the conditions the colonists will experience. The logic being that the colonists won't have goggles, so he shouldn't have any either. His desire for scientific precision is admirable, but misguided. There is no good reason why they could not have tried the experiment with the goggles first then, if it didn't work, try again without goggles (in desperation) to see if the goggles for whatever reason make a difference.

Factoids
- This episode establishes that Vulcans have an inner eyelid to protect them from extreme brightness. This evolutionary peculiarity is a consequence of the extreme brightness of the planet Vulcan's star.
- Kirk orders Sulu to reduce the ship to sub-warp speeds while moving away from the star. This line implies that the Enterprise is capable of using its warp drive inside of a planetary system.
- Scotty spent some time in the Deneva system doing cargo runs for the asteroid miners.
- This episode establishes that there are 14 science labs aboard the ship which feature the finest equipment and computers in the Federation.

Remarkable Scenes
- The Enterprise flying too close to a star.
- Kirk losing his brother.
- The landing party engaging the parasites.
- Spock getting messed up by a parasite.
- Spock on a rampage.
- Spock resisting the parasite with his Vulcan discipline.
- Kirk revealing that his duty may require him to kill over a million people on the colony in order to prevent the parasites from threatening more colonies.
- Kirk proposing that radiating the parasites with light is the solution to their woes based on the star incident at the beginning.
- Spock volunteering to be blinded.
- Spock's nonchalant reaction to becoming blind.
- The Enterprise deploying the parasite-killing satellites.
- Spock casually explaining why he was able to recover from his blindness much to Kirk's and McCoy's astonishment.

My Review
Following up on the quick aside in What Are Little Girls Made Of establishing that Kirk has a brother named Sam, this episode opens quite dramatically with with the death of Sam along with Sam's wife. While the dramatic potential in such a momentous event in Kirk's life could have been better harnessed rather than killing off both characters so unceremoniously, it was nevertheless quite effective in setting rather unusual stakes; especially given the plot's focus on Kirk's struggle to balance saving Sam's orphaned son with saving over a million colonists from the ravioli pancake parasites. The ravioli pancakes themselves weren't the most terribly effective props, but I nevertheless admire the ambition and originality of the attempt. It sure beats another god-like alien.

The next most remarkable feature of the story is Leonard Nimoy's dynamic performance as Spock. Right from the moment the poor guy is invaded by the ravioli pancakes, he instantly becomes the most interesting character on the screen. Rather than subjecting us to the already tired trope of watching a character violently struggle against affliction of the week, Spock rapidly gains control over both his emotions and his actions while still exhibiting subtle visible signs of the intense pain he is experiencing. This allowed for an excellent opportunity to contrast Kirk's and McCoy's reactions to Spock's behavior under this kind of pressure, which added fantastic texture to the story.

Likewise, aside from the goggle logical mishap noted in the problems section of this review, the plot point pertaining to blinding Spock in the interest of scientific research was also nicely done. You feel bad for Spock even though and perhaps especially because he takes it so well. Then to make matters even worse, McCoy discovers after the fact that visible light wasn't even necessary to kill the parasite! So Spock is blinded needlessly. Finally, at the last moment, Spock reveals the details surrounding his inner eyelid to the astonished Kirk and McCoy; he was only temporarily blinded. This plot point borders on a lie to the audience as it's easy to wonder why Kirk and especially McCoy would be so ignorant about this anatomical feature of Spock, but it's just so damn charming that it's easy to forgive their ignorance.

The episode isn't all sunshine and rainbows though, as several aesthetic choices diminish the enjoyability of the story. In addition to the aforementioned goggle problem, the underutilized dramatic potential of the deaths in Kirk's family, and the almost-but-not-quite lie to the audience about Spock's blindness, we also see the recurrence of the just plain annoying cliche where a clearly unstable person confined to sickbay (Spock in this case) is simply allowed to walk out with little to no resistance.

Another bad aesthetic choice centers around Kirk and Spock speculating as to the origins of the ravioli pancakes. Kirk presumes that because their anatomy is so unusual they must be from another galaxy, a deduction that doesn't follow at all. Spock then builds upon this faulty logic by suggesting that they must come from a place where "our" physical laws don't apply. These throw away lines don't really affect the plot, but they are annoying examples of plainly pseudoscientific reasoning unbecoming of a science fiction show. Finally, while the deployment of the UV ray emitting satellites was a cool detail, it seems like yet another overwrought capability for the Enterprise to possess. Imagine the destructive potential for misuse of that power!

Overall though this episode is easily above average, as it successfully integrates a reasonably dense sci-fi plot with well executed elements of adventure, danger, drama, high stakes, and humor. A good send off for the first season.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From ScienceGuru on 2010-08-05 at 7:05pm:
    They said radiation did not kill the creatures, but they ended up dying to to ultraviolet RADIATION. Bad science.
  • From Strider on 2012-08-21 at 1:08am:
    I'm frustrated by the bad science that the science and medical officers display--they don't even wait for the results of the first test before they conduct the second!

    However, besides that, I think this is a brilliant episode. Yes, it has flaws, but there's such great acting by all three principals. I agree that the Kirk family drama seemed to go unaddressed on the surface, but it was there in the whole drama with Spock being infected. Every glance of Kirk's seemed to say "not Spock, too!" And when Spock was blinded, and Kirk's rage all went to McCoy--that was clearly an overreaction powered by his grief over his brother and his fear for Spock.

    Nimoy's acting, especially, is unparallelled in this episode. He's so subtle, so controlled, that you never forget for an instant that he's in pain and will almost certainly die.

    Plus--yay for security procedures in the transporter room! Scotty defeats Spock and keeps him from transporting just because he has orders--that's how it should be more often!
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-09-24 at 2:37am:
    To ScienceGuru: I believe that when Bones said "radiation" he meant ionizing radiation, such as alpha rays, beta rays, gamma rays, X-rays, proton beams, and such. That is the typical use of the word in this context, and most UV radiation is not classified as ionizing radiation. On the other hand, in sufficient quantities it is not safe, so the inhabitants of Deneva would likely have been harmed by it.

    AEF
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-01-27 at 2:28pm:
    OPERATION ANNIHILATE

    Another remarkable scene: Scotty holding Spock at bay with his phaser!

    The Ravioli Monsters make for a fascinating case of a parasite. Here on Earth there are parasites that target the nervous systems of animals to control their behavior to the benefit of the parasite, just as in this case. Nevertheless, generating the uncontrollable urge to take over a space ship to infect a new planet is pretty advanced! And then to have the crew beam them down? Still, I can go with this.

    In response to Kethinov's review: As for the "effectiveness" of the Ravioli Monster props, I thought it was good. And any monster that flies is automatically more scary, as such a creature is rather hard to run away from.

    The special effect when they shot the crazies with the clubs was very well done.

    On my response to ScienceGuru: We normally reserve the word "radiation" in this context to mean _dangerous_ ionizing radiation, in spite of the fact that sufficient quantities of UV are also dangerous.

    Regarding the blindness bit: Why didn't they wait for the analysis that showed only UV light was needed? But that, too, would be harmful to the eyes. And why does the inner eyelid allow any blindness to begin with? So it can, in this case, allow just enough light through to cause blindness that one can recover from? That's one pretty extreme case of an after-image! And why does the experiment with light make such an ear-piercing sound? And why does Spock not realize he is blind until he bumps into the desk? The whole thing is pretty silly.

    As for soaking the planet with UV rays: If they're powerful enough to kill the Ravioli Monsters, they're probably also strong enough to give the Denevans a really nasty case of sunburn!

    If they couldn't find a way to kill the Ravioli Monsters, why would they have to kill all of the inhabitants of Deneva? The Ravioli Monsters can't escape the planet without a space ship, and may well survive anyway. So why not just quarantine the place?!

    Not a great episode. And though I like watching it, I can't help but badly cringe in horror watching the experiment on Spock. And the hysterical behavior of Kirk's sister-in-law was a bit "over the top." And what are those changing black specks on the view screen in the scene with the Denavan heading straight for the sun?

    AEF
  • From Alan Feldman on 2013-12-08 at 5:59pm:
    I forgot to mention that I think the location chosen for the city was pretty good! It doesn't look quite as futuristic to me as it did when I was a kid, but still pretty good. Notice how they were careful not to show any parking lots or streets. Also notice that the place has ordinary push/pull doors! I think it's weird seeing Kirk pull open such a contemporary door in a place as advanced as Deneva.

    On my previous comments about the inner eyelid: Oh, the inner eyelid must take a long time to open. I don't know why I forgot that before. Still, the whole blindness bit and the UV radiation not being considered harmful is ridiculous. I suppose they had to fill up the allotted time one way or another.

    I agree that Nimoy's acting is excellent in this episode.

    Overall, a mediocre episode (yes, up a notch from my last comment), as it does have its high points.

    AEF, a.k.a. betaneptune
  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-04-03 at 6:40am:
    I agree with all of the comments here. This was a pretty good episode, despite its obvious weaknesses. I gave it a 6/10.

    One thing that I would add to the problems for me was the notion that the ravioli monsters were "part of a much larger organism." I feel as if Spock was implying that there was some massive, multi-celled titan that was engulfing all of them at that very moment. It seems like this pseudo-scientific idea was thrown in to make the creatures sound even more bizarre, instead of just calling them a "hive," which seems more accurate.

    I share everyone's admiration of Nimoy's performance in this one. He does extremely well with the pained restraint throughout the episode, and he holds the screen in every scene. Mainly because of him, this episode carries along very nicely.

    It was a solid way to end the first season, no doubt.

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