I will add more episodes whenever I have time. However, it will take
a while till the guide will be completed.
The episodes are listed according to the order they were aired first
(original order) not by stardates or
production time (used here and there nowadays).
Texts: © 2005-2009 Zelda Scott
Texts can be used when a reference to this site and me is made or after I agreed to it.
Special thanks to Madlyn Cardwell for proof-reading. She is not native to English either but an English teacher and much more proficient than I. The texts already checked by her are marked as MC approved. The other mistakes are all mine.
Episode "0": "The Cage"
Star Trek, a time before the era of Captain Kirk: The Enterprise is commanded by Captain Christopher Pike who is tired of his responsibility. He longs for a simple life when the Enterprise receives a distress call, origin: the planet Talos IV. Indeed they discover a group of survivors who stranded there ten years ago - all old men with the exception of a young woman: Vina.
The plot of "The Cage" should sound familiar to the one or the other: It is used in the TOS double
episode "The Menagerie". Indeed this is Roddenberry's very first draft of STAR TREK that was rejected by NBC that time.
Episode 1: "The Man Trap"
Together with his wife Nancy, archaeologist Dr. Robert Crater lives alone on the planet 113 to study the remains of an old culture. Kirk, McCoy und crewman Darnell go down to conduct the routine medical check-up and to deliver supplies.
Whereas Dr. Crater acts in a cool way and insists on restocking the salt supplies first, McCoy meets in Nancy Crater an old love. What is unknown at that moment to everyone with the exception of Dr. Crater is the fact that the true Nancy has died a long time ago, having been killed by an intelligent being, the last of its kind. That being needs salt to survive and is able to adopt every desired shape.
When the need for salt is growing the being kills crewman Darnell to obtain the mineral out of his body - further crew members die and the being is able to go aboard the Enterprise replacing a recently killed crew member…
Produced as the fifth episode, "The Man Trap" has the honor to be the very first Star Trek show ever to be aired - although that is not deserved. It is surprising that not the real pilot -
namely "Where No Man Has Gone Before" - was aired first but any pretty below average episode.
As a conclusion the characters are not really introduced although some approaches are made to show the life aboard the Enterprise. One of them is Uhura's argument with Spock about his planet Vulcan which is pretty entertaining. Spock mentions casually that Vulcan has no moon which contradicts the look of Vulcan in "Star Trek - The Motion Picture". That is, however, more a mistake of the movie of course.
As an introduction, "The Man Trap" is nevertheless not suited since Roddenberry's concept of a peaceful co-operation of all races and cultures are annulled. Large parts of the story deal with the hunt on the "creature", disregarding the fact that it is an intelligent being which indeed just wants to survive. To be cornered that way, it behaves quite normally. The way in which the "salt vampire" is treated is therefore completely atypical for Star Trek. The same is true for Kirk who behaves like a snob and who is unnecessarily cruel towards McCoy. Then, the character of the CMO that was at first not planned to be a leading role, got a surprisingly large part of the action. In the "official" history" resp. the "canon" McCoy has an ex-wife which is apparently not identical with "Nancy".
A good approach is the underlying criticism regarding the extermination of Earth's buffalos but every good approach is drowned unfortunately pretty fast in senseless action. Kirk's and Spock's pursuit of Dr. Crater belongs to that category. Kirk makes so many tactical mistakes that he survives only because Crater never really meant to kill him. It is extremely unwise, to say the least, to throw oneself UNDER a building which is about to collapse… There is, however, a certain problem in the idea itself: No archeologist would destroy his own research objects. Furthermore it would have been much easier for Kirk and Spock to beam aboard and stun Crater with the Enterprise phasers.
To be fair it must be considered that plenty of possibilities were invented later. So it should be overlooked that some technical facilities behave a little strangely, especially the intercom. It becomes very obvious that the actors needed some time to get accustomed to their environment which indeed included plenty of futuristic elements regarded by a perspective of that time. Nevertheless the acting is done quite decently with only few exceptions.
The "three Nancys" effect at the beginning is pretty well done, a further explanation is missing, though. Crewman Darnell acts so unprofessionally that it hurts watching him. It is surprising that he is so beside himself when it is considered how (sparsely) the Enterprise women are dressed. It is possible, however, to witness virtually by accident a woman in pants. Otherwise the uniform skirts are standard and for sure no less attracting than Darnell's Nancy. Darnell is not even mentioned by Kirk when beaming down, his purpose on the planet is not revealed. At the same time he doesn't even wear a read shirt .
With the exception of Kirk who cries out pretty much when being attacked by the vampire all further victims including Darnell are dying silently. It that a tactic of Kirk or only odd by itself?
If it's possible to die because of a spontaneous salt loss is unknown to me, the idea is interesting nevertheless. But: the salt supply of the Craters was pretty low but obviously not completely exhausted. Why murdering before it becomes really necessary? The being is intelligent, risks too much without a need to. Furthermore the replicators aboard the Enterprise provide an easier possibility to get salt. Most likely the replicators have not yet been invented although they are later a part of TOS. They would have shortened the episode considerably, though.
Uhura, who had not that much to do during the series, and who pretty fast thought about leaving the show has comparatively large part here. The man of her dreams is in my opinion somewhat exaggerated, a perfect cliché. What a pity. In return Sulu can be seen in the botanical laboratory in his off time. The room itself is not exceptionally realized but was most likely the maximum that was possible that time.
As a consequence not a highlight for Star Trek standards and a pretty average introduction with good ideas, though.
Episode 2: "Charlie X"
Stardate 1533.6: 17-year old Charlie crashed on Thasus at the age of 3, he has survived for 14 years completely on his own. The Antares picks the adolescent up and hands him over to the Enterprise where Charlie gets in contact with a human community for the very first time. The question how he was able to survive is answered when Charlie is more and more losing control and, in doing so, demonstrates astonishing capabilities…
"Charlie X" is mainly about the problems of growing up. The inner conflict, the insecurity, the pomposity, all that is very well portrayed by Robert Walker jr. His weak-mindedness is tolerated by the crew as far as possible due to his special situation. So he is not the "common" evil, more a failure in life, a victim of circumstances.
As a positive side effect the episode reveals much about the board life, shows recreation possibilities and the gym of the Enterprise. Uhura is placed in the centre of things when she sings while being accompanied by Spock on his lyre - and, in doing so, teasing the first officer and later Charlie. As far as I know Nichelle Nichols did the singing all by herself and did that more than only acceptable! Spock's facial reaction is wonderful to watch.
Another scene shows Kirk and Spock playing chess again. These small gestures are one of TOS strengths - nearly all episodes are stand-alone shows but such nice little moments have an enormous impact. Playing chess - the idea of a 3D version alone is outstanding, which is, by the way, indeed possible to play - is one of TOS myths. It is an intelligent game that demonstrates solidarity between Kirk and Spock that attracts many fans on a nearly supernatural level. Kirk is able to defeat Spock here although the Vulcan has not anticipated it. When I remember the rules of normal chess correctly, however, and it is supposed that they are only extended for the 3D version, Kirk's move must have been really extraordinarily. Kirk is in check when he checkmates Spock. In general, the threatened party must at first bring its own king out of a check situation. So Kirk's move must have been so ingenious that he rescues his king and at the same time attacks the one of Spock - everything done so that the Vulcan had not recognized the threat… Well, let's concede some brilliancy to Kirk .
Then, Janice Rand as Kirk's yeoman plays again a leading role as it is true for nearly all other episodes at the beginning of TOS. Nevertheless and despite the fact that she is the centre of Charlie's attention, she is not able to develop some screen presence worth mentioning. It is not the case that she disturbs but rather she is not palpable even given her share of the script. Of course she is pretty much reduced to an object of desire. Once again the subjects sex and reproduction are dealt with in an uptight way by a today perspective - back in the 60s it was the normal way of living which has to be taken into account and till today there are still things that can be done with a man but should be avoided with a woman :
Apart from the gym that looks authentic with the exception of the embarrassing pants of the men (especially regarding the shirtless Kirk), for the first time the brig is part of the show. Optically that is a nice asset but is a completely illogical move nevertheless. To imprison someone with telekinetic abilities is pretty useless and condemned to fail right form the start…
Furthermore there have to be some "stores" on the Enterprise but they are never appeared in the whole series. Then, they are mentioned when Charlie gives Janice the perfume. It seems possible to manufacture it with the replicator that is part of the Star Trek universe already at TOS times and can be seen in various episodes (e.g. in "The Trouble With Tribbles")
A further improvement must be a cabinet in the turbo lift so that Kirk is able to change clothes - of course that is only a wit and a nice blooper of the episode. During the show Kirk wears alternately both of his uniform shirts: the green one that was invented for his double role in "The Enemy Within" and which was maintained afterwards because of the good optical effect and the usual yellow one. In one scene, though, Kirk enters the turbo lift - and leaves it with the other one on the bridge…
Considering the uniforms in general there is even more to say in "Charlie X". The ones of the Antares are pretty awful. While in the later series the Enterprise symbol was used for all Starfleet uniforms, there were far more distinctions in TOS times. Even more interesting is the women in uniform pants. She can be seen shortly only in one of the Enterprise gangways, most likely a residue of "The Cage".
Also in a gangway a horror effect can be witnessed that is till today pretty frightening: in his rage, Charlie takes away the face of a woman.
As a consequence, "Charlie X" is a good episode. Not answered are the questions on the origin of the information regarding the natives of Thasus that raised Charlie and whether it would not have been possible somehow to integrate him in a human society.
Episode 3: "Where No Man Has Gone Before"
The Enterprise seeks out the border of the Galaxy. 200 years previously, the USS Valiant was destroyed when trying the same. The flight recorder of the Valiant delivers some insights, among them that inquiries for ESP - Extra Sensual Perception - has been made.
When trying to break through the galactic barrier, the Enterprise is heavily damaged. Kirk's best friend, Gary Mitchell, starts to change afterwards and gains more and more extra sensual abilities. Finally he becomes an uncalculated risk and Kirk decides to leave him on the uninhabited planet Delta Vega…
Although aired as the third episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before" is indeed the very first Star Trek show. After the rejection of "The Cage" by NBC as being too demanding Star Trek wrote history even before it actually started. Completely out of the usual way a second pilot was
ordered (of course not without a drastically shortened budget and not without
reducing the production time to ensure a weekly rhythm).
The result was in many ways different from "The Cage" although the main principles remained. The basic appearance of ship and crew structure were left untouched but only "Mr. Spock" and in a changed form "Number One" managed to be part of the new pilot. Besides the assignment as science officer Spock receives the post as second in command while Majel Barrett ("Number One" and Roddenberry's later wife) didn't appear directly in "Where No Man Has Gone Before" - she returned as nurse Chapel though. In addition, since "The Cage" she is the voice of the Enterprise computer and that is how she obtained Trek immortality even before returning in TNG in another role (L. Troi). Roddenberry explained his decision to increase Spock's part and reduce the one of his wife with the statement that it had been better to promote Spock and marry Majel instead of the other way around. Nevertheless the decision to increase Spock's role was an (admirable) risk since especially the religious regions of the USA were most likely to reject Spock's "satanic" exterior.
In many regards "Where No Man Has Gone Before" is an atypical episode since a lot of things were changed in the later series.
Even the intro is different, the famous sentence "Space - The Final Frontier…" of Shatner was added to the sequence later.
Visually there are many differences; the most obvious ones are the uniforms. Red is still missing completely, yellow and blue are the main colors whereby the later assignment to different departments (technical staff red, science blue, command yellow) is missing. So Spock is wearing yellow instead of blue, Scotty too is dressed in yellow instead of red whereas Sulu, usually in yellow, can be admired in blue. The stripes are not "correct" either. Kirk has only two stripes instead of three, Spock only one. All uniforms appear slightly plushy and are not fitting really well. In addition, the yellow didn't always look alike - which can be best seen on Gary Mitchell. The women's uniform dresses (which are in my eyes a step backwards since I would consider them very unhandy in daily duty) had not yet been invented. In all the uniforms have more in common with the ones of "The Cage".
Sulu is part of this episode but is introduced as head of a department without leaving a lasting impression. His place on the bridge is occupied with Lee Kelso who was not allowed to survive this episode. Dr. Dehner and Gary Mitchell share that fate whereby too much time is used to introduce their characters.
Especially Mitchell, who is characterized as a close friend of Kirk, is wasted potential. The slight rivalry between Spock and him for Kirk's friendship is already noticeable; the same is true for a hinted evil trait of Gary Mitchell. It would have been extremely interesting to see that conflict grow and observe Kirk's difficulties to wage friendship against duty.
However, not only the uniforms take a lot of time to get used to, the same is true for the scenery. Kirk's command chair possesses some kind of microphone-add-on, the conference room is adorned with a wooden table, the triangle screens are missing completely and much more.
Concerning the well-known crew, besides Kirk and Spock only Sulu and Scotty are present. The CMO is named Dr. Piper but looks old enough to make a retirement after this episode possible. Spock's eyebrows are much steeper than usual and in the very first scene he shows two displays of emotion although he is in total portrayed less emotional than in "The Cage". Nevertheless he has no objections in touching Kirk's arm although as a Vulcan he should reject physical contacts of every kind.
In a direct compare of "The Cage" with "Where No Man Has Gone Before" it is not - at least not for me - clear why one pilot was rejected while the other one was approved. Both posses a supernatural element, the one with the alien mental forces, the other with increased ESP abilities. Both are therefore "demanding". As a stand-alone production I would even consider "The Cage" to be better because "Where No Man Has Gone Before" often leaves the impression that the characters didn't know their positions yet. Additionally, lots of good aspects where removed, be it the women's uniforms that where butchered on the altar of "sex sells" or the mixed bridge crew with a woman as second in command. Furthermore, nearly all interesting characters never survived the second pilot.
The beginning of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" needs some time to get its pace, at the end some action is thrown in to make NBC comfortable. In doing so some pretty heavy mistakes are made. It is never shown how Kirk receives his injuries, from one moment to the other he is covered in blood. Later his hand is bandaged which has been uninjured till then while his face is now without scratches.
The tombstone is the most obvious mistake - "James R. Kirk" can be read on it. In the book series "My Brother's Keeper" the R., which contradicts the later T. for Tiberius, is (unofficially) explained as in insider joke between Mitchell and Kirk.
In all "Where No Man Has Gone Before" should not be judged by today-standards. As the first production it possess a special bonus, too. The acting of Gary Mitchell and Dr. Dehner is authentic, especially Gary. Both actors have my whole sympathy alone for wearing the thick contact lenses. That lenses had the side effect that the actors were forced to walk through the scenes with raised heads which fits the role but was necessary to see at least a bit under the edges of the lenses.
Between pilot and series usually some times goes by - Star Trek used that time for plenty of improvements.
Considering the time it was made a milestone was created with a SF series with an emphasis on peaceful exploration, which was demanding and which didn't focus on space battles.
Episode 4: "The Naked Time"
The planet Psi 2000 is about to be destroyed, the Enterprise should pick up a team of scientists. They are all dead, though. The circumstances leave only one conclusion: the scientists ran amok. Spock and Lieutenant Tormolen beam down on the base in protective clothing where Tormolen gets infected with the virus due to extreme carelessness. Once aboard the Enterprise, the virus spreads rapidly and causes the out acting of deepest wishes and fears - which threatens the ship to be destroyed together with Psi 2000…
Apart from the silly behavior of Lieutenant Joe Tormolen (why does one wear protective clothing…?) and apart from the appearance of these clothing (shouldn't it at least appear to be isolating?) the episode is brilliant.
There are deep insights into the characters and everything is absolutely exciting till the end but there are plenty of entertaining moments as well. Bruce Hyde as Kevin "Take Me Home Again, Kathleen" Riley is an absolute highlight. He has been so convincing in that role that he does not only leave a lasting impression (as a perfect opposite to e.g. Lieutenant Leslie*) who has an appearance in nearly every episode but practically never stands out) but he returns once again in "Conscience of the King".
Sulu's fencing scenes are amusing and Uhura has several nice moments. On the one hand she proves competence when she takes over the helm, on the other she is quick-witted when replying with "sorry neither" to "fair maiden".
The most interesting are, of course, the "confessions". Chapel confesses Spock her love which is mentioned later albeit decently only (e.g. in "Amok Time"). Spock on the other hand fights with his Vulcan heritage that does not allow any emotions. Kirk intimates that the Enterprise takes him in completely and forces him to live her life. It becomes clear how difficult it must be to captain such a ship which demands complete isolation from the crew (especially in sexual regard which is a perfect explanation for Kirk's affairs with the beauty of the week ). By the way: Spock must have some difficulties with his ears in this episode since Spock takes no notice when Sulu declares his departure from the bridge. Usually, his sense of hearing works quite well (e.g. in "Operation-- Annihilate!" ).
*) Who likes it exact: Lieutenant Leslie (aka Eddi Paskey) were part of 55 (!) episodes as a member of different departments (in different uniform colours) and, sometimes, even dead.
Episode 5: "The Enemy Within"
While sample taking on Alpha 177 a mineral damages the transporters. Kirk, suspecting nothing, is beamed aboard shortly afterwards - and is split in two parts: one Kirk possesses all the good traits but has more and more problems making decisions. The evil one, at first unnoticed, has no scruples, drinks, attacks crew members and tries to violate his yeoman Janice Rand.
In the meantime on the inhospitable planet below the landing party is stranded, suffering under the constantly dropping temperatures.
While the "good" Kirk is having more and more problems keeping under control, Scotty and Spock are trying to repair the transporters…
Star Trek's (first) answer to "Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde" is outstanding, mainly because here there is not only a "good" and a "bad" Kirk. The "evil" one possesses traits that enable him to captain a starship, amongst them will power and decisiveness. At the same time it is the evil and unscrupulous Kirk who nearly dies out of fear. As a result the character Kirk is analyzed. Who is he indeed, which half is dominant? The answer is clear: no half is dominant, both are needed. For the era a really remarkable answer. Also remarkable is the courage demonstrated in making the episode: to even hint a violation was more than the usual TV program would even dare thinking of. In addition, Kirk's image is drawn into a grey area.
Whereas Spock states that Kirk could not allow himself to appear anything less
than perfect in the eye of the crew it becomes clear that he is a human of blood and flesh only. Janice
Rand, Kirk's yeoman and one of the leading roles at the beginning of TOS, vanishes only a few episodes later (in "The Conscience of the King").
Shatner can use all his talent in this double role, especially concerning the evil part which is not only displayed well but really frightening. The different uniform shirts are not needed to distinguish both parts. The episode's atmosphere is so dense that the inconsistencies are not pushing the overall opinion too much. For the sake of completeness it should be mentioned that the fate of the landing party is exaggerated. Even defect transporters should have been able to transport some aids down. It is out of my imagination how a "bad" blanket should warm less than a "good" one . Then, there are shuttles that would have been able to solve the problem immediately. Fact is that shuttles have not yet been invented or built. At least it should have been possible to mention them just to exclude them as a solution.
The doubling process is also posing some questions. Since nobody knows how transporters are working - only that they do - one should not poke around into that subject too much…
Apart form the tribbles it is by the way the only time a pet can be seen. The dog-like creature is well made - of course it appears just in time to precede Kirk's fate…
Besides the dual character of each person it is worth mentioning that Spock himself talks about his hybrid heritage as half Human/half Vulcan. That allows some insights into his real motives which must be the reason why he forgets his real rank in a log entry. He declares himself "Second Officer" - a mix of "Second in Command" and "First Officer"? Also, in regard to Janice, Spock must have been confused. There is no other way to explain his final remark that hints that Kirk's attempted violation must have also had some positive aspects. From today's point of view an impossible thing to say, even given the fact that Janice was interested in Kirk in "Miri".
In all based on the phenomenal total impression absolutely recommended!
Episode 6: "Mudd's Women"
The Enterprise rescues Harry Mudd and his three "passengers" out of his vessel just before it is destroyed in an asteroid field.
Harry Mudd's crew consists of very beautiful and seducing women in search for a husband. All have great influence on all males onboard the Enterprise.
The Enterprise herself was heavily damaged in the rescue attempt and is urgently in need of dilithium crystals. When Kirk tries to buy some from three miners he has to notice that Harry Mudd has already made contact before...
"Mudd's Women" is the first of two "Harry Mudd" episodes. The fact that "Mudd's Women" got a sequel proves clearly how much the character was liked who is so completely different from all others, not neat and clean but an amiable rascal. That's why Roger C. Carmel is the star of the week. There was even a third appearance intended - in "The Trouble with Tribbles" -
but due to schedule problems another actor and therefore another character (Cyrano Jones) got the role. The similarity to Harry Mudd cannot be ignored, however.
Completely unusual for the time is the fact that drugs are dealt with. Back in the 60th, almost everything that could only hint at a problem was banished mercilessly from screen. That makes it very difficult to mention such things nevertheless. Star Trek proves to be a master in doing so, this episode is one of many which shows how to wrap unloved topics to hide them from censorship.
Unfortunately also typical of the time and nearly THE drawback of the episode is the female role model. While "Mudd's Women" arrives at the conclusion that women don't need to be pretty it is said at the same time that the only life objective for them can constitute in an existence as a housewife for a man. It is frightening that this attitude was not essential for the episode only but for a whole era. So it is only natural that from today's point of view it has an antique touch.
Apart form the zeitgeist haunting the episode so intensively the episode is really great. Besides the deep meaning there are numerous funny and worth seeing moments, especially the reaction of the male crew towards "Mudd's Women" as well as some critical situations. In one of them Kirk explodes, something that is pretty rare in TOS but which gave the whole events more depths.
Spock can be proven guilty of a near smile plenty of times. Seldom is it possible to witness so many emotional reactions in the half Vulcan. By the way: Uhura is wearing a yellow (instead of a red) uniform but since her role is pretty small that is not that important.
The Enterprise computer contributes to the episode's success but shows talents as a lie detector which would have been useful later in the series if someone had remembered them .
Of course there are some inconsistencies. The Venus drug is something that nearly everybody who is not a model would like to test only once. That it should be possible to reach the effect by wishing only should speak surely for the force of mind (if anybody succeeds - please notify me :-)). Be that as it may, the beauty and the charisma of the women turn everybody's head. Security guards ignore conspiracies; Eve is able to enter Kirk's quarters and so on. Even Uhura must be influenced because she doesn't notice Mudd's contact to the miners. The miners are a subject by themselves. If they are really that rich as their possession of dilithium crystals indicate, they should be able to afford some machines to make life and household easier. I am thinking of replicators which lead used pans ad absurdum or a house robot - OK, women are able to do the same and they are most likely not so sand prone .
In all "Mudd's Women" is a nice episode that is worth watching from time to time over and over. It could have been better with a different female role model, the way it is mirrors the time in which it was produced.
Episode 7: "What Are Little Girls Made of?"
On Exo III the Enterprise discovers the famous and lost scientist Dr. Roger Corby who is additionally the fiancée of Christine Chapel. He was her reason to join Starfleet and to give up a career in science.
According to Korby's wish Kirk and Chapel beam down on the planet all by themselves at first where they are confronted with technology of an ancient civilization: a robot, a perfect doppelganger, can be produced of each person…
"What are Little Girls Made of" deals with two subjects often used in Star Trek in general and in the original series in particular: doppelgangers and androids.
The idea itself is really good and an especially pleasant surprise is Chapel's share of the action. Indeed not long ago she confessed her love for Spock in "The Naked Time" but this doesn't have to be a contradiction - after all her fiancée Korby has been lost for five years. In addition it becomes apparent that Chapel is not "only" a simple nurse but actually a scientist.
Pretty quaint is the scene in which she confirms Korby's identity and asks Spock whether he has ever been engaged. As it turns out only shortly afterwards (that is to say in "Amok Time") Spock is indeed engaged (to T'Pring) but his reaction fits perfectly into the Vulcan philosophy to keep private things private.
The setting with Kirk in his double role belongs to the nice moments too - especially the assembly of the scenes was done in a really good manner considered the time back then. The dialogues in these scenes are also something special. Kirk divulges some information about himself resp about his brother which is used later in "Operation -- Annihilate!".
Then there is Ruk whose superiority is also worth seeing although some questions suggest themselves: why does Ruk obey (at least partially) Korby? He clearly outmatches him. How did the reprogramming happen? When Ruk was "turned off" at Korby's arrival, the real Korby still must have had enough strength left to restart Ruk and give him a new program - something which seems highly unlikely when the kind of Korby's injuries are taken into account. If Ruk has never been "turned off" though, then why does he obey Korby?
Actually the androids behave very illogically. Korby is very human (which is positive in general) whereas Andrea appears to be only silly and naïve. Her behavior is not the one of an android and Kirk's usual method (the one in which a planet beauty must learn about human sex ) should not work.
Furthermore the Kirk clone is not unconditionally rational when insulting Spock. Of course, that is one of the key scenes and Kirk's method therefore a certain highlight. The reaon why Spock recognizes the copy as such is something which is certainly not noticed by most people when watching this episode for first time.
An explanation for the robot's behavior can be the brown-greenish glop which they are made of, probably it has some influence on their brains .
Episode 8: "Miri"
Stardate 2713.5: An automated distress call leads the Enterprise to a planet identical to Earth. Kirk beams down with a landing party and discovers ruins of a civilization that corresponds to Earth, approximately 1960. In the destroyed town some children are living that call themselves "Onlies". An Onlie, Miri, joins the landing party. Very soon the Enterprise crew realizes that the children are several centuries old and the only survivors of an experiment to extend the life span - an experiment which resulted in death for all "Grown ups". The Onlies are condemned to death, too, as soon as they enter puberty like Miri does now. Then, the members of the landing party show first symptoms, too…
"Miri" is another episode based on a really good idea. Technology used but not controlled, "ancient" children that have to deal all by themselves - that is all very interesting. The actress playing Miri - who was by the way 19 years old when playing a girl in puberty - contributes to the episode's success. The problems of growing up as well as the complexity of the situation make her a congenial and complex character.
The weak point is therefore more the way the idea is realized. The parallels to Earth are absurd in their extent and do nothing to really contribute to the story. In the course of the series a great number of Earth-like planets were explored, mainly to the delight of the financiers because this way it was possible to use already existing sets with avoiding expensive new ones. In general, there is nothing to say against saving money - but: while in some episodes, like here, the crew wonders about the parallels to Earth, others refer to a theory about parallel planet development. One way or the other, a 1:1 copy is complete nonsense and, to quote Kirk: "It seems impossible, but there it is."
In "Miri", many of the Onlies were played by children of persons involved in the show's production. That includes both sons of Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand) as well as Roddenberry's children and Shatner's daughters Lisabeth and Melanie Shatner. He carries one of them, Melanie, on his arm at the end of the episode. Unfortunately the children's behaviour is completely nerve-racking, starting with the songs to the games and doesn't benefit the show.
Like nearly every other episode at the start of the first TOS season the character of Janice Rand gets a pretty large part of the action. She is allowed to join the landing party without explaining what duty she should fulfil on the planet. Her main role here is to compete with Miri; her preference for Kirk is never shown as clearly as in this episode and is mentioned as one possible reason for her leaving the show only a few weeks later. Above all things Spock (!) must be the one to tell Kirk of Miri's feelings, the captain's behavior towards her can not be described exactly as fair. Then, the jealousy of Yeoman on the one hand and teenager on the other is a nice comparison. Nevertheless, the overall impression remains that Janice Rand was not able to really support an episode - not really a fault of Grace Lee Whitney but more a result of her role as Yeoman.
The whole landing party shows clear deficits in "Miri". Both guards disappear at some point, especially when the communicators are stolen. The children's success says more about the "competence" of the landing party that gets rid of their devices far too easily, including the ones of the two security officers. The reason why they didn't take the communicators with them when going on patrol remains their secret forever. Unfortunately, the crew on the Enterprise does not react not better. After the landing party has no opportunity to call the ship anymore anyone aboard should realize something was wrong. If nobody was able to beam down, it would have still been possible to beam some devices like a communication's system. A little bit of logical thinking would have put an end to the episode quite too fast, so the whole impression is a little ruined even despite the good idea. Kim Darby, who is outstanding here, makes the show worth seeing nevertheless, though.
Episode 9: "Dagger of the Mind"
When exchanging goods with the Tantalus penal colony a stowaway gets aboard. He turns out to be Dr. Simon van Gelder, originally not inmate of Tantalus but assistant of the director, Dr. Adams. McCoys gets suspicious and demands an investigation. As a result, Kirk beams down to the penal colony together with Dr. Helen Noël. Very soon it turns out that Adams has something to hide. Aboard, McCoy and Spock, too, find out with the help of van Gelder that something is amiss…
This pretty brutal episode contains the first Vulcan mind meld ever. That is kind of the only positive aspect of the show.
Kirk behaves out of character at the beginning when he doesn't take McCoy's concerns seriously and asks for a specialist to accompany him instead of taking McCoy with him as usual. Isn't Kirk in general the one with the talent for insights and hunches? In turn, McCoy "takes revenge" by choosing Helen Noël. It is odd that Kirk is surprised by her attendance - shouldn't he know the ones under his command?
In all, the script author must have considered the names he used funny. To call someone Noël who was met first at a Christmas party (= French for "Christmas") and to name a progressive penal colony "Tantalus" when considering the proverbial Tantalus torments is somewhat morbid. Following the principle 'nomen est omen' Kirk is promptly tortured leaving the question unanswered what Adams could gain by that act. He would not get command over the Enterprise since nobody behaved "normally" after a "treatment". OK, Adams is crazy, nevertheless…. By the way: the torturing scenes are again the reason why England originally not aired the episode. They are turned into a laughing matter when Spock shows up exactly as Kirk kisses Helen under the "treatment's" influence. At least in my view that gag is not really felicitous.
At the end Kirk returns to business as usual as if nothing has ever happened.
As a consequence, "Dagger of the Mind" is an under average episode with the Vulcan Mind meld as the only highlight.
Als Konsequenz ist "Dagger of the Mind" (deren dt. Titel wohl alles an Dämlichkeit überbietet) eine unterdurchschnittliche Folge, die bis auf die Mentalverschmelzung nicht sonderlich sehenswert ist.
Episode 10: "The Corbomite Maneuver"
During a mapping mission in an unknown space area the Enterprise is stopped by some kind of space buoy. Several attempts to avoid the cuboid object fails,
so Kirk finally orders to destroy it. He decides to continue the course despite the underlying warning to follow his ongoing mission to "seek out new life and civilizations".
In doing so, the Enterprise meets the Fesarius, a gigantic, ball like space ship that is under the command of an alien called Balok of the so called First Federation. He regards the proceeding of the Enterprise as a provocation and gives the Enterprise ten minutes to prepare for death. Even Spock has no logical solution to offer while the countdown goes on…
After the second pilot, "The Corbomite Maneuver" is actually the first regular episode but it was aired considerably later to lure the audience with more alien planets first. In contrast, this episode is set completely in open space but has no reason
to hide behind others. The SF element is more of an underlying nature. The Stardate shows the early point in time, Uhura's yellow uniform can give another hint on the original production order since she would soon change into her customary red.
Kirk is not to be envied in this episode when facing a no-win-situation. The countdown is nerve-racking; the psychological war is extremely exciting. As a bonus there are not just one but two good dialogues between Kirk and Spock. The first deals with the question whether the Enterprise should explore the unknown area or not. Nimoy and Shatner add a nonverbal communication to the equation; an indication that captain and first officer understand each other without words. That can be witnessed again when Spock quasi advises Kirk to surrender. Spock even tries to apologize for that before regaining his Vulcan composure. Those unspoken dialogues, the relationship between the characters are the secret of TOS and "The Corbomite Maneuver" is an ideal example.
With all due respect the end is quite disappointing. Shortly until the last scenes a banana is promised and then a cucumber is served, something which can not satisfy anyone. The here invented "First Federation", a name which is not taken up too gladly since it is very similar to the one of the known Federation, is never mentioned again, neither in TOS nor later. The large ship is pretty impressive, though. Especially the proportions are well done in contrast to the Enterprise. In general, the technical possibilities of that time are used well and the setting doesn't appear ridiculous by no means.
Balok himself has a threatening touch, even by today standards. By the way: the scene with his face was used in all TOS end credits as background, when "Herbert F. Solow", producer and vice president of the DESILU studios was named. That is an insider gag with Robert H. Justman as the one responsible. Justman, first assistant director, later associate and supervising producer, wanted to take "revenge" at Solow but had to swallow that his victim liked the side blow very much. Balok's monster face became additionally famous that way.
However, it is surprising that Spock noticed some resemblance to his father. After all, Mark Lenard, who personified Ambassador Sarek in "Journey to Babel", looks quite different. Spock mentions his parents in a past tense form but of course that fits to the estrangement that is the subject of "Journey to Babel".
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Bailey has the task to lighten up the story but he is more a source of irritation. Right from the start he is not able to follow direct orders, something which of course doesn't get better when facing the crisis. McCoy considers him too young for his position. Chekov, however, who was about to do the same job from the second season on, should do it disproportionately better - even given the fact that he would be a much younger ensign. In addition, Baily doesn't appear as young as he is pictured to be. The actor was 26 year old when the episode was filmed.
Further weaknesses concern the already weak end: Kirk, McCoy and Bailey accept drinks although they are rightfully suspicious - they can not be sure whether the drinks are poisoned or not. Their host drinks out of a different bottle and nobody conducts a tricorder check. Then, the inside of the alien ship should appear very small but fortunately the next room is pretty high. Why didn't the landing party use that spot to beam in before?
Finally, the episode is great, most of it compensates the end. The Corbombite bluff is used once again in "The Deadly Years".
Episode 11/12: "The Menagerie" Part I/Part II"
Captain Pike, former captain of the Enterprise and for eleven years Spock's superior has been injured so severely in an accident that he is now chair bound and able to communicate with light signs only. Spock fakes a distress call and hijacked the Enterprise to help Pike. Then Spock is captured and must face a court martial in which the past becomes vivid…
The only TOS double episode owed its existence to the first pilot *). Because of the considerable differences between the first crew around Pike to the second and known around Kirk airing the first pilot was not possible without an explanation. On the other hand "The Cage"
was simply too expensive and well done to not use the material. The solution consists in embedding the old material in a frame Story and "The Menagerie" was born.
Stories which form the framework are easier said than done. Often it becomes visible that the core lies somewhere else and the rest is only pieced together. But not here! The frame Story belongs to the best which TOS has to offer. Mainly Kirk and Spock are the ones making the actions outside of the flashback so worth seeing. Spock's superiority has never become clearer when he assumed command without an effort and fooled everyone with his technical abilities. At the same time it is inevitable to suffer with Kirk who has constantly backed up his friend and first officer which makes the betrayal even harder. The end of the first part is a cliff hanger; Kirk's career is at stake, too.
In addition the happenings of "The Cage" are presented with Captain Pike as the link. Jeffrey Hunter originally featuring in that role was not available anymore and therefore Pike was played by another actor. That was possible because Pike's accident had distorted him so that nobody would even think about not facing the same person. Furthermore, Sean Kenney, playing the disabled Pike, looks extremely like Jeffrey Hunter.
Due to the fact that the set was changed between the first and the second pilot the impression was strengthened to see recordings of an older Enterprise of a different time. (I just wondered why Pike's crew counted 200 men while in Kirk's time the double number fit into the ship. It can be guessed that the Enterprise herself hasn't become larger )).
At the end of part II everything blows over. The solution is almost too simple, starting with the person of Mendez to the fact that Kirk didn't bear a grudge towards Spock for his behavior.
All in all an outstanding (double) episode, even better than "The Cage" as a stand alone production.
*) "The Cage" was produced as the first Star Trek pilot but was rejected at the time. For the second pilot a new crew was presented. Since I you will find a review to above, I don't include the content of this first pilot in the frame of this double episode.
Episode 13: "The Conscience of the King"
Stardate 2817.6: Dr. Thomas Leighton summons the Enterprise under false conditions. In truth, he suspects that the actor Anton Karidian is nobody else but "Kodos, The Executioner", a man who committed mass murder twenty years before as governor of Tarsus IV. Kirk belongs to the few survivors that are able to identify Kodos. When Leighton is murdered, Kirk who is not sure about Karidian's identity takes the troupe of actors aboard…
Kevin "Take Me Home Again, Kathleen" Riley, who was brilliant before in "The Naked Time", has his second and unfortunately last appearance. In exchange, his role is pretty important - after all he belongs besides Kirk to the two only living witnesses with the ability to identify "Kodos, The Executioner". The shadow of the past is something special, many interesting questions arise but even more, several persons, especially Kirk, get more personal background. Unfortunately not all questions are sufficiently answered. Some of them are:
- Why are there nine eye witnesses only on a colony out of 8.000 with at least 4.000 survivors, especially when the computer has stored recordings?
- Are the recorded data not sufficient for identification? Even without the possibility of DNA comparison which was not known at the production time there must have been other solutions (even fictional ones).
- What was Kirk doing on Tarsus IV back then? He grew up on an Iowa farm.
- The named Stardates are impossible when it is considered that they should represent a time 20 years ago; the progress of Stardates in TOS is too rapid.
- Is there any investigation conducted concerning the murder of Dr. Leighton? If so, why isn't it mentioned?
- Does Kirk really have the competence to turn the Enterprise into a passenger cruiser without the need to give account for it towards Starfleet?
Nevertheless "The Conscience of the King" belongs to the TOS stories that put a focus on exciting characters instead of on space battles. Especially Spock's share of the action is worth noting. Obviously, he is concerned about Kirk, he investigates and confronts McCoy (even touching the CMO despite Vulcan reticence!). The computer that gives some pretty odd information here leads him on the right track all the while Kirk is occupied with Leonore Karidian and whispering sweet nothings into her ear. His behavior is tremendously exaggerated of course but it must be taken into account that it has a purpose here. Leonore Karidian, played by the 21-year-old Anderson, appears very world-wise for a 19-year-old. The development of her character is not really elaborate, though, it is more or less standard procedure.
In other respects, the episode allows some insights into crew life: The rec room is fully occupied but even in off-duty-time uniforms are the first crew choice. Uhura can reinforce her reputation as a proficient singer even although her kind of music needs to get accustomed to (after all that is the taste of the future!). Her voice his very good and according to my knowledge Nichelle Nichole did the singing by herself. Of course it is meant only to distract Riley who has to work somewhere in "solitary confinement". Since the Enterprise is in general overcrowded I always wondered where this tiny little spot must be . Anyhow, now we know that even in the 23th century spray bottles with cleaning agent are still up-to-date .
Considered the costs the episode was quite cheap since the action takes place mainly on the Enterprise. Some planet sets were recycled, e.g. the ones of "The Menagerie" resp. "The Cage" and of "The Enemy Within".
At the same time it was the last episode for Grace Lee Witney as Janice Rand. The reasons for her "retirement" are to a large extent unclear. Rumors range from alcohol over weight problems to the fact that especially the female audience should see an unbound Kirk. The true background will probably remain the secret of the Star Trek producers forever. The only thing that can be said for sure is that Rand's leaving the show didn't attract any attention. Not until the first movie she should return. Bruce Hyde (Kevil Riley) who had worked together with Shatner in "Dr. Kildare" before and who worked in Star Trek in the communications department of the Enterprise retired only shortly afterwards from acting - to become, above of all things, teacher for communication.
Episode 14: "Balance of Terror"
Stardate 1709.2: Romulans with which the Federation was at war 100 years ago destroy an Earth out post. The Enterprise is on patrol at the border of the Neutral Zone, a buffer between Romulan Empire and Federation. To prevent the Romulans from returning home, Kirk starts a cat-and-mouse-game with the opposing commander. In the process, the Enterprise crew is the first in history to ever see a Romulan face to face - and to everyone's astonishment, they look exactly like Vulcans…
Without doubt this episode is another highlight of TOS, a brilliant mix of a war of minds and action with strong characters and additional melancholia.
The Romulans are presented for the very first time, till then an enemy without face. Today, everyone knows who and what Romulans are of course and how they look like. Four (resp. five) subsequent series and several movies made sure of that. Unlike the Klingons, they are multi dimensional right from the start and especially their relationship to Vulcans make them most interesting.
While later productions use slightly different make-ups for Vulcans and Romulans they are looking exactly alike here. It is not surprising that Spock is astonished when seeing the Romulan Commander for the first time - he has not only a strong resemblance to Vulcans in general but to Spock's father Sarek in particular. Mark Lenard impersonated both characters and he has on both occasions a phenomenal charisma which is one of the great assets of all episodes he took part in.
There are many aspects that make the episode something special. For one thing, there is the focus on both commanders, Kirk on the one hand and the Romulan, played by Mark Lenard, on the other. Both seem alike, both anticipate the other's moves, they value their opponent and detest what they are forced to do - and only one can be the victor. The final comment of the Romulan, that in a different reality Kirk and he could have been friends, makes it clear that this victory is a hollow one. Another ending that makes the senselessness of wars clearer is hardly possible.
According to the balance of both ships and commanders the battle is nerve racking, even more so that it is not reduced to a mere mutual shooting. With the cloaking device, the Romulans possess superior technology; each opponent has strengths and weaknesses that are to be used resp. covered. Contrary to some of the later episodes, some things are done differently on the Enterprise or they are not explained sufficiently, e.g. the question whether the bridge can activate the phasers (that have a strong resemblance to photon torpedoes here) or not or if the phaser banks elsewhere are necessary to do so. There are several such aspects but they can be neglected since they make the whole story even more exciting. The book, purpose unknown, used in a briefing is a little odd, though.
The dramatic events are underlined by the heart breaking love story of the couple that was about to get married at the beginning. Splitting a story in a main and a subplot was unusual in the 60th but it is a great asset to the episode. The action gets a personal touch but even more important: living on a starship gets more human. Kirk's wedding speech was recycled later in DS9 at the O'Brian marriage and is a clear prove that TOS possesses plenty of timeless elements.
The wedding, however, is not really festively, everyone wear usual uniforms. Most likely nobody had yet invented the dress uniforms due to the early time of the series. This earliness does affect Spock's position, too. Later, his integrity would be out of the question but here, a subordinate namely Stiles opposes him openly. Considering the fact that TOS was only a few episodes old, the whole subject is interesting. Nevertheless, Spock's position as second in command should have earned him more respect. This way, Kirk gets the opportunity to back the half Vulcan at least. The whole matter must have gotten to Spock since he made a completely atypical mistake that makes him more human, though.
In all, there is not much to criticize the episode for maybe only Rand who acted pretty unprofessional. Obviously, she is (like McCoy, too) allowed to enter Kirk's cabin on her own. Uhura is a sort of balance. Her role was meant like some sort of Galactic telephone operator but she became more and takes a place at navigation, quite remarkable for the time.
The whole subject of "Balance of Terror" is timelessly great. It doesn't matter whether the story takes place on a ship, submarine or starship and what technical means are at the deposal. Here it becomes clear that by all that features only a frame is given but that the human (resp. alien) factors are all that matters.
Episode 15: "Shore Leave"
The Enterprise crew is looking forward to a shore leave on an uninhabited but paradise-like planet. There, McCoy discovers figures out of "Alice in Wonderland". What appears to be a joke at first continues when other crew members see things and persons that shouldn't be there at all. Finally, Kirk beams down und he promptly has a run-in with his old archrival Finnegan out of his academy days and his early love, Ruth.
Bit by bit it turns out that the whole planet is some kind of leisure ground to fulfil the desires of its visitors… At that time, however, McCoy has already been killed by an illusion…
A saying states that you should be careful of what you wish for. "Shore Leave" is a direct realization of that phrase and in all well done. The start of the episode is stern; the crew is tired and urgently in need of rest. Kirk is even that tired that he didn't notice that a yeoman gives him a massage while he believes Spock to be the one.
So why does Kirk refuse to go on shore leave? Till now he has never appeared to reject such activities. His refusal, however, is the basis for a real fabulous scene in which Spock "convinces" him to beam down after all. Personally, that scene is one of my personal favorite moments of the whole series since wit, friendship and so much more blends.
On the planet, the main focus is divided between several groups. Unfortunately, too many clichés are used. It would have been better to concentrate on fewer persons. Finnegan, for example, is really great and would have had potential for a lot more. Ruth on the contrary is superfluous and just squeezed into the story. The principal, that less is sometimes more is true for the other crew member on shore leave as well.
Then, McCoy's death did not posses the significance it should have and is even ridiculed in the final sequences. Fortunately, the episode didn't repeat the mistake on other occasions so that even figures like "Alice in Wonderland" are no slapstick. By the way: the White Rabbit leaves the same footprints as the Mugato out of "A Private Little War"!
My conclusion of the episode is one of a slightly above average level without being a Trek highlight.
Episode 16: "The Galileo Seven"
Stardate 2821.5: The Enterprise transports drugs urgently needed on Markus III as well as the Federation commissioner Ferris when passing a quasar. Since Kirk has the standing order to investigate such phenomena he uses his two-day-timeslot to send Spock and the Galileo to do some researches concerning the Quasar Murasaki 312. The shuttle has barely taken of when the first problems occur. The Galileo gets lost and is able to conduct an emergency landing on the barren and hostile planet Taurus II while struggling with technical problems. Spock now with his first ever command encounters more and more resistance from the other six members of his party while Kirk is running out of time. Finally, Kirk is forced to leave the area to deliver the drugs in time…
"The Galileo Seven" is Star Trek's plea for (more) humanity and therefore quite timeless. The story is divided in two parts. The main events surrounding the landing party under Spock's command are framed with the occurrences aboard the Enterprise where Kirk conducts despaired and basically doomed rescue attempts.
Spock's predicament to fail despite of logical decisions is the main element. The situations resulting out of his failures and McCoy's reaction to them are very well manufactured. To create as much conflicts as possible some facts are bowed, e.g. the claim that the Galileo mission should be Spock's first command. To savor the situation: Spock is first officer and second in command of a starship with a crew of more than 400 and he should have NEVER in his Starfleet career had a command of his own? If you are generous Spock's scientific background can account for that but it remains most unlikely nevertheless. Another curiosum is the behavior of the landing party. Just like in "Balance of Terror" Spock's rank is put into question by subordinate crew members. Where is the respect which is his due as first officer? Boma often is very close to mutiny. The characters are meant to be in constant confrontation with Spock and deliver the frame for his inner battle which became at one point so strong that the half Vulcan is openly annoyed and nervous. Brilliant! Scotty is the only albeit mostly silent support. The presence of the chief engineer is a blessing in disguise although it is a little odd that he was assigned to join the party the first place.
That Kirk let his people go without him is pretty rare. Usually he is the first to be endangered therefore it is refreshing to see other characters in the focus. The events on the Enterprise are very interesting, too. Although Uhura's share is quite small it has a strong basis. The position of the commissioner, however, is sound, by the way more than ever at the beginning when questioning the whole mission of the Galileo. It is indeed an unnecessary risk which is clearly proven by the later events, standing order or no standing order. At the end three crew members had to die and nevertheless Kirk is delighted when a part of the Galileo crew is rescued. The dead just don't count anymore. Cause of death is in all cases more or less the native giants with their lances which look even for the 60th very primitive. To manufacture those spears it would have helped to have wood at hand but the surroundings of the shuttle look entirely barren. Then, the dimensions concerning the natives are not coherent, either. I would have hoped for more effort in this regard.
Basically, the episode proves something else namely that logic is a matter of discussion. Spock considers it logical to leave a single man behind in a hostile environment. The only thing missing is giving him a "Shoot Me" sign. Maybe Spock had just wanted to reduce the shuttle's weight and in this respect his course of action would have indeed been logical…
In return, Spock's "act of despair" at the end is labeled illogically by everyone. To mark the shuttle so that it is able to stand out is indeed sound because the probability to be seen rises dramatically - especially regarding the fact that Spock knows Kirk's character and can therefore assume that Kirk would wait longer than officially allowed. Spock doesn't think much about the calculation of odds, though; he answers McCoy on one occasion quite vaguely. Most likely the whole situation got on him more than he was willing to show - exactly the antagonism between logic and humanity that makes every Spock centered episode worth seeing!
Episode 17: "The Squire of Gothos"
900 light-years away from Earth the Enterprise receives some nonsense messages originating from Gothos, a planet with a non-hostile environment. Shortly afterwards Sulu and Kirk vanish without a trace from the bridge.
Spock sends a landing party down, consisting of McCoy, geologist Karl Jaeger and navigator DeSalle. Most surprisingly they met pleasant environmental conditions. Then, they discover an old castle and are welcomed by the "Squire of Gothos", Trelane. Sulu and Kirk are there, too, frozen in a corner until being revived by Trelane. It turns out that he is a fan of Earth and has observed the ongoing development there for some time. He didn't take the distance into account though therefore he considers the events of several hundred years ago up-to date. As a consequence, all of his Earth imitations are antiquated and inchoate like fire without heat and food without taste.
With Trelane the Enterprise fell into the clutches of a volatile but powerful maniac. An attempt of escape fails and so Kirk accepts Trelane's challenge to a duel…
The mix of threat and childish behavior is the essence of this episode. Mostly, it can cover the span between both extremes and especially Spock as Trelane's nemesis is quite refreshing. So the whole development is pretty exciting till unfortunately everything is blown up and turned into a laughing matter.
Additionally, the miscalculation of time is unfortunate, too. Trelane's telescope is supposed to show Earth approximately 900 years ago. Then, however, events are mentioned that are much younger. In addition, there is the question of how Trelane acquires his information. Fire and food are just a fake but he knows of the consequences of a missing atmosphere. He creates a life-sustaining oasis although air etc is basically invisible, too.
By the way: in the course of the series, Trelane was about to make a metamorphosis from "Squire" to Klingon - William Campbell was also part of "The Trouble with Tribbles" as Koloth. Some of the settings were recycled, too. They were reused in "Bread and Circuses" and in "Catspaw". In return, the salt vampire out of "The Man Trap" is a decoration at Trelane's - the costume is unobtrusively located in a niche until it becomes the victim of Trelane's phaser games. A very nice little gimmick.
Every TOS fan that put some effort into taking a closer look at "Star Trek - The Next Generation" will become startled at the TNG pilot. With Q a being was introduced that has a very strong resemblance to Trelane, the court scene out of "The Squire of Gothos" is mirrored there, too. TNG had shamelessly "borrowed" elements without creating a connection of Trelane's people in inventing the Q continuum.
Episode 18: "Arena"
The Federation outpost on Cestus III has been completely destroyed, responsible are the Gorn. Kirk chases them mercilessly to wipe them out. Then a foreign, far superior race intervenes and transfers Kirk as well as the captain of the Gorn vessel to a lonely planet so that they can fight hand-to-hand...
"Arena" is a good episode which could have been outstanding.
Strictly speaking it is a "Kirk show" whereby the captain didn't cut a fine figure during the whole time. At first he is unaccustomed hard and insists on the destruction of the Gorn vessel then on the planet he doesn't even think of using his recording/translation device to talk with the opposing
captain. While the Gorn is using his time reasonably Kirk stumbles around aimlessly searching for weapons.
However, Kirk's inferiority compared to the Gorn is one of the extremely positive aspects.
The Gorn seems to be superior in all senses, perfectly displayed when he
snaps off a branch whereas Kirk is just holding a match in his hands… Mentally the Gorn is fit as well, he lures Kirk effortlessly into a trap. The recordings Kirk does throughout the
whole episode amaze me again and again - why did he never think of the possibility of the Gorn hearing him? Isn't that a tactical mistake? Also tactically not comprehensible is the rolling Kirk and Spock do on Cestus III during the attack. It seems a bit exaggerated (and therefore delivers a perfect basis for
The good moments take the larger part of the show. Starfleet - acting similarly to the USA as world police - is not simply on the right side. A message that is downright revolutionary for an US series of the 60th (and it is still revolutionary for today!). The superiority of the Gorn adds to that. The solution and the way Kirk is changing the odds are really inventive, not a flat and often used standard way-out like "place them into the transporter and then everything will be fine".
Regarding the trick elements the Gorn is of course not up-to-date any more, the same is true for the "rocks". As mentioned before, however, that is an aspect that should not be a basis for a rating - considering the possibilities of that time the Gorn is well done. By the way: now almost forty years later a Gorn can be seen in the episode "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II" of "Star Trek: Enterprise".
On the other side the mask exaggerated a bit when it came to using eye shadow on the male crew members. Well… At least Uhura is as beautiful as ever but she is reduced once again to the role of the weak female allowed to scream and look scared only. Be that as it may, "Arena" is a really good Trek episode, basing on a short story written by Frederic Brown.
Episode 19: "Tomorrow Is Yesterday"
By accident the Enterprise is thrown back into the 20th century and is photographed by an Air force pilot, Captain Christopher. To avoid a change in history the crew tries to get hold of the film…
After watching "Tomorrow is Yesterday" for the first time you get the impression of an entertaining, enjoyable
and by all means exciting episode. The more often you see it, the more the serious deficiencies in the Story attract attention. There are so many mistakes that the first good impression is shattered nearly completely.
On the one hand there is the crew. The whole lot seemed to have received their officer's degree by accident. It occurred to Spock only with significant delay to not only check Captain Christopher's biography for future relevant details but also the ones of potential decedents (not to mention the fact that there are far more possibilities for a single person to change the future). Where is Spock's usual brilliancy? Kirk didn't even think of that possibility when having Christopher beamed aboard (why not stunning him instantly?). Furthermore Kirk acted very carelessly with the situation, the Prime Directive seemed non-existent. In addition there is a security guard who got overwhelmed so easily by Captain Christopher that the question evolves which qualification is needed to get into the Enterprise security team. It is possible to continue with that list almost indefinitely but that is not the only thing that disturbs the episode.
Very sever are also the paradoxes that are usually a by-product of time-traveling-tales but which take here a special position. Why had the whole doing been necessary when afterwards nothing of it happened at all? And why does Captain Christopher not remember anything, but the Enterprise crew does?
However, as mentioned before, this episode contains good moments as well. Evaluated with the view of our present time the time-traveling of the Enterprise is especially interesting since it is the Earth sixties in which the crew must act. And this period is of course displaced authentically, much better than it would be possible today. The tapes - labeled by Kirk as old-fashioned but up-do-date that time - are now indeed old-fashioned. Besides that the episode is - like "Space Seed" overhauled by reality. Unfortunately it is not possible anymore now that Captain Christopher's son will reach Saturn in time…
Episode 22: "Space Seed"
The Enterprise discovers the "SS Botany Bay", a sleeper ship of the late 20th century (!), carrying 70 survivors onboard. They revive the leader who turns out to be Khan Noonian Singh, a genetically improved human who ruled a quarter of Earth between 1992 and 1996.
Khan, completely aware of his charisma, seduces the historian Marla McGivers and awakens with her help the rest of his crew. That way he is finally able to take over the Enterprise...
There is a reason why this episode was the basis for the second Star Trek movie and its name is Ricardo Montalban.
As Khan Montalban possesses an enormous allurement, it is easy to see a super human in him. It is him who is the star of the episode, all others are forced into the background. He doesn't ask, he takes what he wants, including Marla McGivers.
Although Khan's appeal is palpable, she throws her complete life and her career over board, very fast. Right from the start she nearly jumps into his arms. In doing that she belongs to the long row of pretty weak female characters whereby Khan is a sufficient reason being quite contrary to others.
Completely unlike McGivers McCoy opposes Khan in one scene, the moment is wonderfully done and one of the episode's highlights. Kirk is sceptical due to the origin of the name "Botanty Bay"; nevertheless he allows Khan to study technical details. Spock is right to reprimand him for doing so.
The whole subject was ahead of its times. Genetic engineering and cloning are real threats today whereby these terms were not common in the 60th.
However, Khan would have to be born around the time TOS was produced to be able to have left Earth with his vessel in the 90th - something pretty unrealistic. Whereas the 90th were far away that time the state-of-the-art of the 60th was something which should have been taken into account. Anyway, all named dates prove clearly that nobody would have imagined in the slightest that Star Trek would survive such a long time period. Reality caught up with fiction - at least I can't remember that a Khan Noonian Singh ruled a quarter of Earth between 1992 and 1996….
By the way: this episode contradicts the newer Trek history as well. The Eugenic Wars were addressed as World War III whereby according to DS9 that war took place much later. In exchange "Star Trek: Enterprise" tries to bridge the gap between the Eugenic Wars and Data's creator Dr. Noonian Soong (!) - a self-evident thought due to the similarity of names.
In all the episode is pretty well done although it is shown up to the absurdity by reality. Ricardo Montalban is one of the most outstanding TOS villains and the closing rate constitutes a perfect bridge to the second movie.
Episode 23: "A Taste of Armageddon"
The Enterprise is ordered to ferry ambassador Fox to Eminiar VII to establish diplomatic contact with the Federation. Then, the planet signals the Enterprise to stay away. Fox overrides that and as a consequence, a landing party becomes involved in the war between Eminiar and the neighboring planet Vendikar.
To maintain civilization both planets agreed 500 years ago to fight virtually. A computer system calculates the victims that die voluntary to sustain the status quo. With the arrival of the Enterprise the Federation ship becomes a target itself - and is shortly afterwards registered as "destroyed" by the computers. By that the whole crew is condemned to death…
Once again an episode with a pretty good idea especially when considering how relatively unimportant computers were back
in the 60s, let alone virtual worlds. The subliminal terror is well transported by an impersonal cinematic narrative style. Nevertheless it is left in the dark how exactly Eminiar and Vendikar made up that war of computers. To invent such a complex system a high degree of cooperation is necessary.
If they were able to get along so well, why weren't they able to make peace? That seems to be the easier way… Thus a war continues forever with nobody remembering the reason. One of the positive messages of this episode and likewise a mirror for our society.
Another mirror or rather a copier is used in a negative sense when considering the numerous familiar elements that are repeated here. It starts with the "super computer" and passes on to a complete area of subjects up to the ambassador himself. Following a known management principle which states that one is promoted until reaching the position of incompetence, a paper pusher is in command. Fox must possess special abilities, though, since the Enterprise is able to beam him although the shields are raised . Till now the shields must have been down do use the transporter.
One way or the other, the intervention of the Enterprise constitutes of course another violation of the Prime Directive whereby that violation is ordered by Fox. The following action is pretty comprehensible. Who would like to be butchered senselessly? The first landing party, however, should not have survived as well because persons in their direct vicinity were marked as victims. Probably the locals didn't want to annoy the landing party with death or Eminiar and Vendikar are using the current Version of a certain Microscrap running system which produces a "fatal error" when calculating the "deceased" . It is also possible that the computer system is one of the devices destroyed in former episodes - to save money some of the backdrops were recycled, namely using elements from "The Menagerie", "The Return of the Archons", "What are Little Girls Made of?" and "Dagger of the Mind".
Considering the whole situations it must have proved interesting what connections exactly had been present beforehand between Federation and Eminiar resp. Vendikar since the latter must also be highly sophisticated. The Federation didn't know anything about a war, though. Instead Eminiar did know the codes to signal the Enterprise to stay away.
As a consequence an entertaining episode with weaknesses.
Episode 24: "This Side of Paradise"
Stardate 3417.3: Four years ago a group of settlers left Earth to start a new life on Omicron Ceti III. Now the colony has been existing for three years but the contact to it is lost. Since currently it has been discovered that Berthold rays have a fatal effect on the human organism, the Enterprise didn't anticipate meeting living settlers. Then the settlers are not only not dead they are perfectly healthy and happy. Amongst them is a young botanist, Leila Kalomi, who fell in love with Spock six years ago. And very soon it turns out that the paradise is no coincidence…
"This Side of Paradise" is the first but not the last encounter with the subject religion. The message that paradise is no place for mankind can be found too e.g. in
"A Private Little War", "The Apple" and "Who Mourns for Adonais?".
Here settlers are the ones that have found their private paradise and being happy with it. In some sense the plants are drugs and therefore delivering a sufficient reason to justify the "banishment of paradise". Nevertheless they contain a substance that is obviously not harmful which evolves the question why this planet was never mentioned again, nor in TOS or later. Is this not the ideal answer to all diseases? Just take a fatally ill, take him or her to Omicron Ceti III till he/she is healed and then finally free him/her of the spores' effect. Even McCoy, after sicken incurably in "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" doesn't remember the spores. By the way: The plants look suspiciously like the plant in "The Apple" which has had such a fatal effect. Well, probably you should not be that accurate. )
The suspense in this episode is created mainly by the helplessness that resulted of the spores' effect. Spock is no longer interested in duty and the crew mutiny openly. Some of the best scenes are the result of that, e.g. Spock hanging form a tree (how was he able to get the perfectly fitting clothes of the settlers?). However, also Kirks desperate try to get his crew back, no matter how, is very interesting, especially when a crew member confirmed that this is a case of mutiny - which nobody seemed to mind except Kirk.
The good impression is dashed by the romantic touch concerning Spock which is far too crude. Every appearance of Leila Kalomi is underlined with heartrending music that has exactly the opposite effect. In addition once again a female scientist is presented that is through and through naïve and not authentic.
Then the settlers' housings are too perfect, especially considering the fact that it took the settlers one year to get there and they were able to take only the necessary with them. It would have been realistic to build the accommodations of the ships bodies. As well I am of the opinion that Kirk, who is an "Iowa farm boy" should have acted in a different way on a farm.
The climax of the episode is of course the insults Kirk throws at Spock. Unlike the usual "final joke" the humour is far more subtle and by the way a hint to ""Journey to Babel" is given when Spock mentions that his father is an ambassador, his mother a teacher. And Spock's more than human strength is well shown.
The solution of this episode is too plain and simple and offers exactly the solution that was to be anticipated. In all it is nevertheless above average since it has more strengths than weaknesses.
Episode 26: "Errand of Mercy"
After peace negotiations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire have failed, the planet Organia gets into the focus of both sides since it is located in a strategically important position. It is inhabited by obviously primitive but peaceful natives that reject any form of violence. When the Klingons, lead by Kor, try to annex the planet for the Empire Kirk and Spock beam down. The council of the Organian Elders, consisting of Ayleborne, Claymare and Trefayne, still rejects any help on the part of the Federation. Although outnumbered, Kirk and Spock start to fight against the Klingons nevertheless - and have to realize that the Organians have indeed no need for it…
The Federation is at war. This fact vanishes in its importance in the course of the episode which is reduced to the events on the planet. Nevertheless war is the basis for the story. The hostility between humans and Klingons that have their first ever appearance in this episode are described in a realistic manner whereby both sides are frightening similar. The parallels to the political situation of that time are obvious and even today the USA regard themselves as some kind of world policeman, here personified as the Federation. The subliminal criticism on the Federation is even more remarkable since it hasn't lost its validity, now less than ever.
It is Kirk's task to represent the Federation and so he acts in this whole episode in a manner atypical of him. As a starship captain he can't afford to follow his moods - much of what he wants to do can only be described as silly and is prevented only by Spock who contributes more than his usual share of logic. Only few episodes before Kirk was eager to preserve freedom, now he seems anxious to play war. However, Kirk's behavior underlines the similarities between both parties.
The Organians appear (mentally) superior right from the start, even when they were considered to be a stagnated and primitive culture. Their role is a very clever move and it is regrettable that they have never been mentioned again.
In other respects it is not comprehensible why Kirk and Spock beam down on the planet and of all things right into the middle of the village (!). The "Prime Directive" seems non-existent.
In all this episode is an exciting one since Kirk and Spock are fighting on a loosing battle and the outcome is therefore dubious.
Episode 28: "The City on the Edge of Forever"
Sulu is injured when the Enterprise approaches a planet emanating turbulences in the form of temporal waves. McCoy rescues him with two drops of Cordrazin but injects himself the tremendous rest of the hypo by accident when the Enterprise is hit again by turbulences. Driven by the drogue McCoy runs amok and finally beams down on the planet below. There, the "Guardian of Forever", neither being nor machine, serves as a portal through time. When the guardian displays the New York of the 1930th, McCoy breaks free and vanishes in the past. Therefore, he changes history, the Enterprise is no more. The landing party is stranded with the only chance to undo what McCoy has done. So Kirk and Spock, too, go into the past and meet a social worker, Edith Keeler, who soon turns out to be the focal point…
Generally "The City on the Edge of Forever" is considered the best (Classic) Trek episode. That reputation is well deserved although it is not my personal favorite (which is "Journey to Babel"). Be that as it may, I am unable to give less than six out of five stars.
The script was written by the famous SF author Harlan Ellison who was not that happy about the screen adaptation and finally broke up with Roddenberry about it. There was not much left of his original script that won the Best-of-Category Award of the Screen Writers Guild, when Roddenberry was finished.*) In general, what was left, namely the known episode, is considered a mere shadow of the original script although nobody denies that the result is still great and received the Hugo International Award for best Science Fiction Dramatic Presentation in the year 1967 and justifiable so.
It is idle to discuss the differences since even the original script passed through several versions. Personally all I was able to read about it was not able to convince me that the TV adaptation was worse. By using McCoy to change history there is instantly more emotional attachment involved as if they had used an unknown crew member. It is true that "The City on the Edge of Forever" loses some of its ethical impact, there is however also much gained. The episode's end is the ultimate sacrifice, the consequences of events enormous.
Although all is about time traveling, the story is logical, it enfolds bit by bit when the details come to light. Completely unlike "usual" planned shore parties, Kirk and Spock have to deal with 1930 without any preparation. There is no camouflage for Spock's ears and at first no work. The difficulties of the alien environment are mentioned marginally but are put very well nonetheless. However, both officers are really lucky when finding perfectly fitting cloths, including a woolly hat , respectively a work that is able to finance Spock's pretty expensive hobby. Some quite funny moments are the result; one of the absolute highlights - ever - is the rice-picker scene in which Kirk tries to explain Spock's ears.
During the whole show the acting of all involved is phenomenal. McCoy develops unknown talents when he overpowers the transporter chief and breaks loose afterwards to jump through the guardian - a perfect display of a half insane. Joan Collins, even before becoming famous as a "bitch" in "Dynastie", portraits Edith as an intelligent woman far ahead of her time. Very fast Edith Keeler develops into the most authentic female character of TOS, completely unlike the typical weak "standard women". Even her clothing separates her from the usual, she is dressed in an elegant conservative style, and she is neither silly nor naïve. It is easy to imagine Kirk falling in love with her. Right from the very first meeting there in a tension in the air hinting on something special that needs no words. Shatner and Collins share a perfect rapport. Besides Edith Keeler nearly all female guest stars are degraded to dilettantes, it is clear that here the one and only love can be witnessed. Musically well underlined, "Good Night Sweetheart, Good Night" will forever remind me of this episode. While in other episodes, e.g. in "This Side of Paradise", a lot is ruined by bad music, here it is quite different in the most positive sense.
When the drama goes on, Spock is always at Kirk's side, as Edith Keeler has figured him to be. He supports him and despite his obvious non-emotionalism Spock suffers with his friend. Nimoy is therefore offering acting at its best.
The whole result of the episode is bitter sweet; the end is a guarantee for Goosebumps, at least for me, no matter how often I watch "The City on the Edge of Forever".
Unfortunately there is no evidence of what happened later, after the return to the Enterprise. Kirk's stony face gives a hint but nearly always I miss at least a few scenes explaining how it goes on.
Since absolutely all TOS episodes are stand alone stories it remains that way although it can be doubted that Kirk is able to return to "business as usual".
Finally I like to add a few words to the production that is, as mentioned before, outstanding, too. The "Guardian of Forever" alone is realized very well. There are nevertheless some inconsistencies as well: McCoy possesses a phaser in 1930 whereby its origin is unknown. Aboard he wears none, especially as a physician and when beaming down, he has none either - but even in this case it would be poor work for the crew if they had not confiscated his phaser upon capturing him on the planet. Then, Spock's tricorder is able to store BOTH history versions and Uhura has once again nothing useful to say except "Captain, I am frightened". A really qualifying remark that must have really helped in this situation…
At the end, that does not attract that much attention- anyone looking for REALLY GREAT Science Fiction must watch this episode.
*) The original script can be found in the book by Harlan Ellison "Six Science Fiction Plays", Pocket Books, New York 1976. According to my knowledge, a drug dealing crew member (Beckwith) was the one to travel into the past, not McCoy. Then, Beckwith rescues the life of an Edith Koestler. Kirk is not ready to prevent it, so Spock takes over that part. In one version the "guardians" take care of Beckwith and he ends up in the core of a sun, in another he jumps again through the time portal.
Episode 29: "Operation -- Annihilate!"
The people on the planet Deneva, including Kirk's brother George Samuel Kirk and his family, are
either dead or have given way to madness. The cause are some jelly like, out-fanned aliens that affect the nervous system as a parasite. When the Enterprise arrives, Kirk's brother is already dead. Then, Spock becomes affected, too...
While the scientific laboratories on the Enterprise are searching for a solution, Kirk must face the possibility to not only lose Spock and his brother's family but to be forced to destroy a whole planet to avoid the spreading of the danger...
"Operation -- Annihilate!" repeats the mistake
of "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Instead of Gary Mitchell, it is this time Kirk's brother George Samuel Kirk, called Sam, who dies without the possibility to really get to know him. While Gary had at least some short appearances, Sam is already dead before being able to utter even one sentence. Personal background belongs to the main ingredients that make an episode worthwhile and Kirk's family ties would have offered plenty of that. The one and only to survive is Kirk's nephew Peter, played
by Craig Hundley. He has a strong resemblance to Tommy Starnes known
of "And the Children Shall Lead" - both are impersonated by the same actor
In "What are Little Girls Made of?" there are two further sons of Sam mentioned but here there is no reference to them.
At least it is nice that nevertheless a bridge is build to the other episode. However, it is never explained what became of the orphaned children. Obviously, they didn't stay aboard with Kirk.
Apart from the wasted chances, the episode is pretty good and focuses on Spock's alieness. Again his superiority can be witnessed; the myth around Vulcans is nourished. Taken the production time of TOS into account, the invention of a species as superior as the Vulcans is downright revolutionary. They possess not only better senses, they are more intelligent, too. At the same time it is Kirk to find the answer here.
Then, the gimmick around Spock's blindness belongs in the category "dramatic but unnecessary". It is practically idiotic to hurry and use someone as a guinea pig. Why are ten minutes under the given circumstances so important while there is obviously no immediate danger?
One last word considering the acting performance: Shatner is often described as a bad actor; here he has the opportunity to show the opposite. There is not much space for him to express the mourning of his dead brother, nevertheless the dichotomy between personal feelings and responsibility is made clear. Like mentioned before, Sam's sudden death wastes a lot of narrative potential. Then, the threat gives no opportunity to pursue that matter further. Insofar Shatner delivers as much of emotional depth as possible in this situation. Nimoy, too, is able to excel when showing us a Spock nearly taken over by alien beings.
The final end usual joke at the episode's end is better than usual, nevertheless not authentic regarding Kirk's recent loss. Sam, who was played by Shatner himself, gave way to many speculations. While some regard him as a pretty far relative, for others he is Kirk's close advisor. Be it one way or the other, he is an interesting side character and proves that the episode is even in her final version good enough to be emotionally touching.
Episode 35: "The Doomsday Machine"
The Enterprise receives a distress call of the USS Constellation. They find the Enterprise sister ship heavily damaged, the crew is, with the exception of the commanding officer Commodore Decker, no longer aboard. Decker beames them down on a planet to protect them from the "Doomsday Machine", a device that pulverizes planets systematically and uses the debris for energy - it also uses the one on which the Constallation's crew has been. While a landing party under Kirk's command takes a closer look at the Constellation the "Doomsday machine" returns. Decker assumes command of the Enterprise to stop the machine…
The story starts in "medias res". All starts with a distress call which results in instant suspense. The Story belongs to the reasons why Star Trek received the (justified) reputation of wrapping socio-critical subjects into science fiction.
The "Doomsday Machine" is a threat as well as criticism of the society and shows how fast weapons can be fatal to their constructors. Nevertheless it is not the raised forefinger which is in the focus but the danger that threatens not only the Enterprise and the Constellation but the whole galaxy.
Considering the production there was not much extra effort needed since the interior of the Constellation mirrors the one of the Enterprise. So again it is proven that it is not money that makes the difference between a good and a bad show.
The characters of the Enterprise all behave authentically, starting with the security guard that is overpowered in a realistic manner and not with the usual strike in the neck over Uhura's replacement at communication to Spock. Spock manages brilliantly to express impatience, sorrow, disapproval and so much more straight-faced. In contrast, Kirk can show that he is able to not "only" command a ship but that he is also familiar with its components when demonstrating unknown technical knowledge in repairing and operating the Constallation.
The only major weakness of this episode is Commodore Decker. Right from the start he is not introduced as a stern and decisive leader but as a babbling wreck with a designer stubble (which doesn't vanish in the course of this episode and underlines his confused condition). It is obvious that he shouldn't be on active duty, least of all as a commanding officer. The explanation why McCoy is not able to declare him unfit for command is far fetched and totally unfounded. Of course this episode would not have been possible without Decker…
Actually Decker is completely different from Kirk. The whole Enterprise crew is disproportionately young in the course of TOS (which forms a sharp contrast to the movies where everyone is aged accordingly…). In contrast, Decker is much older than average. Usually that would make everything more realistic but Decker doesn't seem to have grown wiser with his years. His decisions are emotional, illogical and mostly childish, naïve and defiant. While Kirk is at peace with himself and emanates self assurance Decker can hardly be seen in the same way even under the best of conditions. His rank - commodore - is another miracle. Why isn't he captain when commanding a ship resp. why is he commanding a ship as a commodore? The rank of "commodore" is not mentioned again in the movies but is used frequently in the series.
As a conclusion this episode is very good and exciting. Despite slight weaknesses it demonstrates what the essence of Star Trek is.
Episode 36: "Catspaw"
Sulu and Scotty vanishes on Pyris II, another crewman dies. Kirk, Spock and McCoy go looking for them. They discover an ancient castle inhabited by two aliens that are able to do "magic". Then, the Enterprise is taken over by them…
Nowadays, Halloween is known not only in America (which was quite different in the 60s) but nearly worldwide and "Captspaw" is an All-Halloween-Trek episode. Back then, a foreign audience would have had much more problems to understand the meaning behind but honestly: even knowing that background doesn't improve the episode.
The first few minutes are really interesting, though: a dead crewman, of course dressed in the appropriate red, and a sinister situation makes the start sinister. Kirk, Spock and McCoy investigate - and from that moment on they stumble from one cheep setting into the next. Only highlight is Spock's comment in regard to the witches but afterwards everything goes down the drain.
The black cat should appear over-sized - it doesn't. Shadows alone are not sufficient to fake a big monster and the hint to magicians is a damp squib. The dungeon looks far too sterile to be convincing and the chains holding our triumvirate don't have the effect they should.
Chekov was hit hardest; his wig looks more than ever like a dead pet put on the wrong side. Walter Koenig should be given credit for it. Compared to Chekov's wig the "true" shape of the aliens are a real treat. Unfortunately, even a five-year-old must notice that string puppets were used: the cords are clearly visible.
Usually, I always put the story above the look especially concerning a series so time-honored like this. An episode, however, that tries to live solely by special horror effects must fail when using the means of "Captspaw". The story around is not a real thriller, either. Kirk tries his charm on another "beauty of the week" whereby it is indeed new that the trick is revealed as such.
Finally, whether one knows Halloween or not, "Capspaw" is one of the worst-ever TOS episodes.
Episode 39: "Journey to Babel"
The Enterprise is assigned to transport ambassadors and delegates of various Federation members to "Babel", where the admission of the planet Coridan should be discussed. The opinions regarding that matter are divided and since some of the represented planets have own interests the atmosphere aboard is tensed. In addition, the Vulcan ambassador Sarek who is accompanied by his human wife Amanda is Spock's father to whom the First Officer has not talked to for 18 years. Finally a Tellarit is murdered and Sarek becomes the prime suspect…
Okay, I admit it, it is impossible to allocate six of five
stars. The "Journey to Babel" is my personal all-time favourite episode and this
with good reason. Here everything that is the essence of Star Trek
can be found: an absolutly perfect story is enriched additionally by dramatic elements due to the constellations of the persons involved as well as with a felicitous atmosphere that evolves because of the interaction of the characters.
At last, Spock's parents who have actually been missing during his "wedding" in "Amok Time" are presented. However, the estrangement between Spock's father Sarek and the First officer can explain their former absence. Both actors playing the parents are a lucky pull. Mark Lenard, although with two guest appearances in TOS only, became a legend. As Sarek he is not only authentic but he has also managed to transport how hard it must have been for Spock having him as his father. His superiority, not based on arrogance, becomes clear everywhere when discussing with further ambassadors. He is able to out-manoeuvre them effortlessly while his wife Amanda is the perfect personification of a lady aged in grace. She belongs to the few TOS women who were allowed to wear more than a short skirt - fortunately because Amanda's cloth fit her well. The interaction between Amanda and Sarek is done in a perfect mix of strangeness and geniality.
For Spock himself it must be indescribably embarrassing to have his parents aboard especially under the given circumstances. That becomes clear in the "sehlat" scene in which Amada talks about Spock's childhood. Although the "fat living Vulcan teddy bear", the sehlat, is mentioned in this TOS episode only, Spock's pet was used later again and again and appeared in various stories, also in the animated series.
The Story itself is pushed forward more and more. When Kirk is stabbed the situation escalates. The motivation for Kirk going to the bridge despite his injury is not mentioned explicitly but it can be guessed that a good portion of friendship to Spock has something to do with it. Spock on the other side looks suspicious when Kirk appears on the bridge but he prefers not asking. Is he clutching at a straw to free himself out of his precarious situation? To me, the personal touch that is visible throughout the whole episode is the element that makes it so extraordinary, the inner conflicts are far more crucial than the outer threat.
Also the last scenes are very felicitous when McCoy enjoys his position. The situation between Sarek and Spock seems to be solved and the resemblance between f ather and son becomes all the more visible. A nearly identical reaction to the Tellerit's death ("interesting") of both of them was already displaced before, in sickbay it resulted in the "it was logical to marry Amanda" discussion.
Despite all commendations the episode contains some minor flaws as well - but expressively not concerning the masks. For a series produced back then the alien makeup is quite authentic - except for the Tellarits - and it is just unfair to judge technical (and financial) aids. The question that appeared for me concerns the fact why Kirk didn't knew anything of Spock's parents when he is so close a friend. The answer has of course dramaturgic reasons but it is not quite understandable. In addition, the Enterprise looks very overcrowded during the whole episode - expect for the time when Kirk is attacked. Again dramaturgic effects are the reason whereby it can be argued that deck 5 contains officers quarters only and therefore it is likely that fewer persons walk around there. The scene in which Kirk reprimands Uhura is exaggerated and presents the communications officer unnecessarily incompetent. However, everybody makes mistakes… Nevertheless why did McCoy not have sufficient blood aboard? When Spock possesses the same blood type as his father the CMO must be prepared to treat the first officer in an emergency…
In a direct opposition to the later series the maximum speed of the aggressor is named with warp 10. That is later declared impossible but the mistake is rather made in the successors that base on TOS, not vice versa. Actually the later series refer to TOS in general and this episode in particular in a really small amount. The Babel conference that had been so important that Sarek put his health at stake is no more than a footnote in Trek history. Plenty of the alien races have never been mentioned again, e.g. the Tellarits, but also the golden painted Lilliputians who didn't even get a name. Only "Star Trek: Enterprise" tried to refer to some of these things but that didn't change that a lot of possibilities had been simply ignored.
Episode 46: "A Piece of the Action"
Sternzeit: 4598,0: Some time ago, the U.S.S. Horizon crashed on the planet Iota and left a book about the Chicago mafia of the 1920s behind. 100 years later an automated distress call reaches the Federation. When the Enterprise investigates the incident they have to realize that the inhabitants have fully adopted the life style mentioned in the forgotten book…
"A Piece of the Action" is the counterpart to the awful Nazi episode. Here and there a piece of Earth history is mirrored. Indeed at first both ideas had been one and were split into two episodes. Apart from this "A Piece of the Action" has not much in common with "Patterns of Force". Instead of insufficient historical respect this episode takes herself not too seriously right from the start and is with that one of the few TOS productions with an emphasis on comedy.
At no time the crew is really endangered, despite the heavy use of weapons and plenty of potentially dangerous situations. Only "The Trouble with Tribbles" offers a similar situation which shows clearly how variable a 40 year old series can be.
"A Piece of the Action" is so great mainly because the fun is not based on slapstick but on well observed parodies of certain circumstances. So it is a little paradox that the adoption of certain behavior patterns is something mirrored in our reality of all things in "Star Trek" where some fans focus their whole lives on a TV series (and force them among other things to spend their leisure time on building up a homepage .
The fun all the actors have posing as "gangsters" is palpable and is one aspect making this episode so good. Those who want to know what I mean should watch "Pirates of the Caribbean" - Johnny Depp has at least as much fun playing a pirate as all actors here playing gangster.
One of the highlights - of TOS in general - is the invention of the game "Fizzbin". Shatner is just great; the same is true for the script writer. Especially worth mentioning is the own "gangster" slang used in this episode.
Summoning everything it is easy to forget that the basis for the story - the restructuring of a whole society (on a whole [!] planet) only based on a book (publishing date: 1992 [!]) in 100 years only is extremely thin. In addition, the question arises why the Federation had not found a trace of the destroyed vessel in all the time. The criticism on the other hand that Kirk once again violates the Prime Directive is without reason since the violation took place long time ago. Besides the episode put an emphasis not on a consistent story but more on entertainment. Based on that "A Piece of the Action" is one of TOS best.
Episode 47: "The Immunity Syndrome"
Stardate 4307.1: All life in the system Gamma 7A has been destroyed. In addition, Spock felt suddenly the destruction of the USS Intrepid, a sister ship of the Enterprise manned with Vulcans only. While investigating the Enterprise discovers a hole in space which seems to absorb all energy. Not only the ship's systems are affected, the crew becomes weaker and weaker too. Then the Enterprise gets entrapped in the dark zone…
This out-standing episode has a constantly high suspense level. Several factors come together: the threat imposed by the hole in space over the rivalry between Spock and McCoy to Kirk's difficult decision. The sparring between physician and Vulcan itself is worth the money for the whole production. Spock hits several times when accusing Earth's bloody history while McCoy strikes back and still is not able to name good arguments against Spock's reasoning. Both are adversaries especially when a volunteer is needed.
But then it became clear that their words are not meant as harsh as they sounded and that both are friends involved in a personal game. Kirk's decision which one of his friends he should condemn to death is a sol inner battle. The solution is open till the end although all TOS episodes have a "happy end".
Optically the amoeba is well done and in my view a very good realization of a very good idea. Only downer: the heritage of the amoeba is never found out and in sickbay only female patients can be seen although it is proven that men including Kirk are affected by the amoeba, too. However, Uhura has some good moments - her expression at the beginning when shore leave was postponed is worth her weight in gold.
This episode belongs to my personal favorites.
Episode 49: "Return to Tomorrow"
Three entities of pure energy, Sargon, Thalassa and Henoch, survived on a planet which is otherwise uninhabited. All three are far advanced compared to the development of mankind but their people became the victim of their own abilities.
After deliberate consideration Kirk finally agrees that the three will takeover his body and the ones of Spock and of astrobiologist Dr. Ann Mulhall, so that the energy beings can build androids to bottle their consciousnesses.
Henoch - in Spock's body, however, has no intention to follow Sargon's leadership. To get rid of Sargon, Henoch murders Kirk's body and Thalassa, too, has become used to Dr. Mulhalls appearance...
In an outstanding manner the Enterprise meets superior beings. From now on that happens several times, especially in later Star Trek shows (e.g. "Q" in TNG).
Here the topic is still new and has a fascination that is especially underlined by the discussion whether the potential gain justifies the risk or not. The enthusiasm of Kirk's speech is transported well once again McCoy is the consciousness but finally bent to the public euphoria.
Diana Muldaur has her first Star Trek appearance in "Return to Tomorrow" but was about to come back in TOS as Dr. Jones in "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" and, of course aged accordingly, in one TNG season as a permanent character (Dr. Pulaski). In all her roles Muldaur emanates a toughness which is quite a (welcome) contrast especially in TOS.
The takeover by aliens enables the actors to use all of their skills. While Shatner as Sargon appears indeed mature and wiser (which is also underlined by Sargon's voice), Nimoy is able to display emotions that would usually be out of the question for Spock. At the same time Spock's superior physiology is depicted again, becoming a thread through TOS.
Although this episode belongs to my personal Top Ten, there are some flaws as well. The background of Sargon, Thalassa and Henoch is not explained, the same is true for the extent of their abilities. Are they able to take over foreign bodies only or is that valid for things, too? Is it possible to share a body without problems? And so on.
Especially the fact that at the beginning Kirk changes his body with Sargon and suffers under the consequences stands in direct contrast to the last scene. Not realistic is the android's body which is due to its ugliness nearly screaming for Thalassa's rejection. However, some past and (out of this episode's perspective) future TOS adventures prove that female androids can have real attractive bodies. Which "Jane Doe" would not like to look like Andrea ("What Are Little Girls Made of?")?
Episode 53: "The Ultimate Computer"
The Enterprise is chosen to test the new multitronic computer M5. The inventor, Dr. Daystrom, was a boywonder and revolutionized computer science at the age of 24. Now he longs to regain some of his old glory with M5.
The new computer would make a crew of a starship superfluous, that's why the crew of the Enterprise is reduced to 20 for the duration of the test. And indeed it seems at first, that M5 is superior…
Men are replaced by the progressing automation. That was so back in the 60th of the 20th century and ironically it is still valid, maybe today more than ever. The so induced fears are perfectly shown with Kirk who becomes "Captain Dunsel", something that is in essence superfluous. Of course it is obvious that the message wants to prove the opposite and therefore it is also obvious which direction this episode will take. But the "how" is what goes under the skin.
The confrontation of Dr. Daystrom (which got an institute named after him in DS9 - apparently his other achievements weigh more than the M5 fiasco…) with Kirk is one of the focal points of this episode. Both are "boy wonders". Dr. Daystrom was on the height of his days at 24 and tries now to reach again fame and acknowledgement. All other Starfleet captains shown so far not only in this but in all other episodes are far older than Kirk; his career had been accordingly rapid.
Both characters deserve sympathy. However, only one of them can be successful at the cost of the other. If Daystrom's invention worked properly, Kirk would be unnecessary and the other way around. Of course it is clear how everything will end but that doesn't ruin the show. Especially the roles of McCoy and Spock make everything worthwhile; both are supporting Kirk's side. Spock, Mr. Logic himself, surprises when he not only admits not to be willig to serve under a computer but that the leading figure of a captain is in his opinion imperative. These are the moments making the Vulcan so human, showing the friendship between the classic triumvirate and raising the characters above the everyday TV life.
The second half of this episode is unfortunately not able to meet the same standard as the first because Dr. Daystrom shares the fate of all geniuses and crosses the barrier to insanity. Commodore Bob Wesley evens that a bit by balancing such failed Starfleet VIPs like Captain Tracey, Captain Garth and so on.
By the way: the Federation seems to consider the M5 test very important since not only the Enterprise is used as a guinea pig but also four (!) additional starships. Since the fleet possess only twelve of them, an astounding amount…
Episode 56: "Spock's Brain"
The Enterprise registers a highly sophisticated space vessel - shortly afterwards a woman appears on the bridge and stuns the whole crew. When regaining consciousness, they have to notice that Spock is located in sickbay, his brain missing and with that condemning the Vulcan apparently to death.
Kirk refuses to give up and follows a trace to the Sigma Draconis system….
Often this episode is regarded as the worst ever and although in my view "Patterns of Force" deserves that label more that judgment is not entirely unjustified.
The whole subject is weird - lots of scenes are unwillingly funny. The Spock-o-mat is one of them, making noises as if the Vulcan had swallowed a bulk of gears beforehand. Later then he gives McCoy advice in an operation which could not have been more moronic. This surgical procedure is not only completely sterile and bloodless - McCoy is starting to lose his knowledge without anybody having the idea of providing somebody else with the alien know-how (another example in which highly sophisticated knowledge is not used by the Federation after the end of the episode). Instead Spock himself gives McCoy orders for the operation whereby I keep asking myself what qualification he has for such a feat. The "tests" are really embarrassing the same is true for Spock's head, perfectly styled afterwards without the loss of even one hair. Obviously the gears were mixed with some hinges…
Then Kirk ignores once again the Prime Directive without even giving it a thought when beaming down on the inhospitable planet. There it occurs to nobody to put on some jackets or similar warming clothing; instead everyone stands in the landscape, freezing.
Concerning the planet's inhabitants it is more advisable to say nothing - the outfit of males and females, resembling dominatrix without whips, is not really elaborate, the demonstrated intelligence quotient resembles the one of a wrenched vegetable. In a subtle way it is mentioned that women need a male leader, something which is additionally underlined by Kirk's demeanor.
The names for men and women resemble the "Eloi" and "Morlock" used by H.G. Wells in his "Time Machine". There are further parallels which make coincidence most unlikely.
The only positive aspect is once again the friendship between Kirk and Spock as well as Kirk's talent for "hunches". As a start for the third season "Spock's Brain" is not a good choice, though.
The episode was written by Gene L. Coon, using his alias Lee Cronin. That is remarkable since the 1972 deceased Cronin belonged to the best TOS authors and had been active temporarily as producer as well. He is responsible for some of the best TOS episodes, amongst them "Arena", "Space Seed" and "Errand of Mercy". So Star Trek owes him a lot, e.g. such outstanding characters as Khan, who was not only part of the later motion pictures but who also casts a shadow on the later series. First and foremost the invention of the Klingons had to be mentioned in connection with Gene Coon.
So this man is an essential part of the Star Trek universe. The fact that he wrote "Spock's Brain" using an alias gives room to speculations about his motives. Rumors have it that he had intended this episode to be a parody to everything Roddenberry considered to be SF.
Episode 57: "The Enterprise Incident"
Kirk who seems to be totally overworked orders a course leading the Enterprise through the Neutral Zone into the Romulan Empire. Barely arrived the Enterprise is surrounded by hostile vessels, appearing out of nothing.
The Enterprise has no chance against that superiority, so Spock explains to the Romulan Commander that Kirk is the only one to be held responsible…
"The Enterprise Incident" is a breathtaking episode that raises some ethic questions.
Until then the Federation has been standing for the "good and the right" but here Kirk is sent into a spy mission that is to be considered at least dubious. In addition, he would be the one to blame if anything went wrong. In contrast, the Romulans act extremely
honorably; they stand to their agreements and seem to treat all their prisoners well. After a casualty they allow that the "corpse" is brought back to the Federation ship.
Kirk's scheme, which is the beginning of it all, contains many aspects that condemn it to fail if the Romulans would not have helped him again and again. A hostile vessel is for instance not the best place to tell McCoy the truth. At least I would have expected some bugs in a cell to eavesdrop.
The fact that the Romulans use Klingon technologies comes in extremely handy due to the reduced production costs. The uniforms as a contrary are related at least distantly with the ones of the Federation; here, too, women wear almost nothing, even if they are commanding the whole fleet. That it is indeed a woman to be at the top of the Romulans is very welcome; unfortunately the good effect is ruined when she finally gives in to her emotions. She loses her status as an equal opponent but still she is nevertheless one of the guest characters of the classic series that are used frequently by authors, books and fanfiction alike.
To succeed, Kirk and Spock act "out of character". Especially Spock's "love interest" produced heated moods although those scenes are well explained by the circumstances. Besides the non-existent Vulcan death-grip (does the in "Journey to Babel" mentioned tal-shaya not fit in this category?) the myth that Vulcans cannot lie is one of the episode's highlights. Nevertheless it is really stupid for the Romulans to simply believe Spock's statements. If he is capable of lying then that must also be valid in regard to this question. Furthermore it is correctly mentioned that he is half human. An old paradox…
Besides some other Vulcan myth, e.g. the non-emotionalism, are put into question as well. When one Vulcan myth is not true who says that another one is not wrong as well? Vulcans as a people in general and Spock as a Vulcan representative in particular gain enormously in depth and get even more interesting than before. The kindred ship with the Romulans who in the TOS era have the same appearance like the Vulcans contributes to that, too.
Despite all similarities between Romulans and Vulcans the first named must be considerably weaker since Kirk is able to beat all Romulans effortlessly while he always had more problems if Vulcans, especially Spock, was concerned. Romulan technology is no problem for Kirk as well; Scotty on the other side seems to sweat a lot when dealing with it.
Considering all events it is surprising that the Romulans have obviously no overview about their crew. Would it not have been easy to unmask Kirk as an intruder? The more so since that ears do not fit Shatner well (what a luck that it was Nimoy to play the Vulcan ). However, that goes along with Kirk's part here. Not going along with known technical knowledge so far is the fact that Kirk could be beamed so easily. Only logical conclusion is the assumption that neither the Enterprise nor the Romulans have activated their shields (!).
The invention of the cloaking device (which shows a considerable similarity with a lamp - was IKEA already present in the USA that time? ) is a first class idea, also the involvement of the Romulans.
Finally I can say that I have ambivalent feelings for this episode. It is made fantastically, offers nerve thrilling moments, but it also drags the positive picture of the Federation into a gray area. The Federation is no longer the white knight but an organization which doesn't hesitate to sacrifice a pawn (Kirk and the Enterprise). Kirk knows at the beginning at least his crew behind himself, they follow him despite his behavior. Nevertheless some "smudges" remain, underlined by the many lucky outcomes in the course of events. Even the script author finally distanced herself from the final version although I can't name her reasons for that for sure.
Episode 60: "Is There in Truth No Beauty?"
Stardate 5630.7: The Enterprise transports three passengers: a Medusan ambassador, the telepath Dr. Miranda Jones and Lawrence Marvick. The Medusans are renowned navigators but humans get insane when looking at them. Dr. Jones, however, is able to communicate with the ambassador without endangering her health due to her education on Vulcan. The rapport between the ambassador and Dr. Jones raises jealousy in Marvick who tries to kill the Medusian. He fails and gets insane in doing so. As a consequence, the Enterprise is navigated into unknown territory by Marvick. Only the Medusan ambassador might be able to help…
After "Is There in Truth No Beauty", Diana Muldaur had here her second TOS guest appearance whereby much later, she was about to return in a TNG season as the grumpy CMO Katherine Pulaski. Even now she is not one of the typical nice and kind women. She is a tough customer and therefore quite refreshing. Since she has, compared to her role in "Return to Tomorrow", a different hair style including a different color (obviously inspired by Kelinda of "By Any Other Name") it is not that obvious that she is the same woman indeed.
Considered TNG, the most fascinating detail is her "visor" and her dress which were combined for "The Next Generation" to be a permanent part of the show. That fact is another proof that TNG used plenty of the ideas presented in TOS first and developed them further what is of course legitimate for a sequel as long as the origin is still valued. Be that as it may, Geordi's visor was birthed right here, the way from a hair band to vision aids was not far after "Is There in Truth No Beauty".
Admittedly, the glasses serving here as a visor are not able to convince thoroughly. Anyone who had once witnessed a solar eclipse (e.g. the one in Europe in 1999) would recognize the design. In addition, the use of the visor is not consequent, Spock and Dr. Jones put them on and off down to their whim, no matter whether the ambassador is near or not. Either they don't consider it a necessary precaution that can be ignored - or the visor has indeed no effect …
The insane outbursts contradict this assumption, however, so the on and off of the glasses makes completely no sense at all. By the way: to express mental instability the camera team used distortions, a quite nice effect.
However, the real topic of this episode should have been beauty resp. ugliness which is discarded almost all the time. The Medusan ambassador is shown in psychedelic lights that are less ugly, only foreign. Therefore, the original intention is lost; the focus lies more on mental capabilities. It is only possible to communicate with the ambassador using telepathy which puts per definition the natural telepath Spock into the center of events. Furthermore, the VULCAN IDIC principle is explained for the first time, representing infinite diversity in infinite combination, which has a special relevance due to the meaning to Vulcan philosophy.
At the same time it is shown that humans are capable to master Vulcan mind disciplines as well. It is even more fascinating that "of all people" a woman is allowed to be that human. Unfortunately, the zeitgeist of the 60s is visible nevertheless since a career woman is portrayed as something "unnatural", a person that gave up being a woman. So Miranda Jones is not only tough but also very unappealing. Her mistrust is not entirely unhealthy, though - Kirk tries to distract her in a very crude way which is quite unnecessary. For one thing that woman is intelligent, and then I still haven't understood why her "handicap" should prevent her from being a navigator. After all, the Enterprise isn't a car where you have to see where you are driving. If she is capable to act so unobtrusively during her daily life navigating a ship should not pose an insurmountable obstacle. The Enterprise's officers see that differently and are busy whispering sweet nothings. Of course, Kirk is the worst but even McCoy is able to keep up with him, supported by the other men.
Yes, that were the 60s but I guess that even back then it would have gotten on my nerves. So as a conclusion I consider it only an average episode which was clouded by the message that the thirst TOS season would be the last.
Episode 61: "Spectre of the Gun"
Kirk ignores the warning of the Melko not to enter their territory. As a consequence, the aliens transfer Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty and Chekov into Western scenery out of Kirk's memory:
The Enterprise people become the "Clantons" and have to stand up against Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Back in Earth history, the Clantons died at the "Fight at the O.K. Corral". When Chekov, impersonating Billy Clayborne, dies it becomes clear that they didn't relive history exactly since Billy Clayborne should have survived…
Star Trek's answer to the western series of the 60s, the most favourite type back then, is mostly uninteresting. It did make a virtue out of necessity, though: the cheap settings got a story background that didn't make it necessary to cloak the incompleteness of the houses resp. it became superfluous to build up real Western scenery. For the three TOS seasons, the Enterprise was visiting so many Earth-like planets mostly because it pleases the financiers and offered the possibility to reuse existing settings. Here, exactly that happened whereby the trick with the Melkots was the ideal excuse. The music, too, was able to underline the unreal surroundings. Unfortunately, that didn't make the story any better. The only positive aspect to mention is the criticism of violence, one of the ever-present subjects of Star Trek. Nevertheless this episode appears half-hearted all the time, even for the standards of that time. In addition, it remains a miracle why the landing party includes both commanding officers and with Scotty additionally the number three in the chain of command- not to mention why it is necessary to be accompanied by a the chief engineer when going ashore.
Like the "King Arthus" saga the fight at the O.K. Corral belongs to the evergreens in storytelling, in the past as well as in the present. Of course, the "King Arthur" saga is more known. For DeForest Kelley, it must have been some kind of déjà-vu since he had been part in the 1957 movie "Gunfight at O.K. Corral" with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. He had played the part of Morgan Earp.
For a Non-American audience, especially back in the 60s, it hasn't been common knowledge what happened in the Wild Wild West, though. This episode provides some essentials but so emotionally unappealing that it is impossible to develop a rapport to the great fight if you haven't had any before.
Worth mentioning are the Spock moments only resp the scenes in which Kirk and Spock are feeding each others lines. Focal point of the episode is, of course, the gunfight itself whereby the projectiles hitting the limber wall are very impressive indeed. As a conclusion, that is not enough to make "Spectre of the Gun" a good episode so it gets stuck in a lower rating.
Episode 64: "The Tholian Web"
The Enterprise discovers her sister ship Defiant - the Defiant's crew has mutinied and killed each other. While a landing party in space suits investigates the phenomenon, the Defiant dissolves slowly. When problems with the transporter occur Kirk stays behind and is
thrown into another space together with the Defiant.
While Spock believes in a chance for Kirk to reappear again together with the Defiant after a certain time period, the Enterprise crew starts to experience collective madness and Tholians appear that claim that area in space for themselves. With their arrival the Tholians disturb the already fragile space so that Kirk is declared dead. Spock as acting captain argues with McCoy, meanwhile the Enterprise is trapped in an energy field by the Tholians…
Kirk, Spock and McCoy form the "classic triumvirate" in which Spock personifies logic, McCoy the human/emotional compound and Kirk glues everything together as the balancing factor. Hardly any other episode makes this clearer than this one.
Kirks "death" disturbs the balance of that very triumvirate; Nimoy as well as Kelley can be seen at their best. Partly, the tone between both of them is a little bit harsh which doesn't change the fact that it is only great to watch them. Especially the end in which they demonstrate a nearly obtrusive unity explains the true character of their arguing.
For me it was surprising that McCoy was very soon willing to leave Kirk behind and with that condemn him to death. In all Kirk's memorial service occurs very fast but only this way the later events become possible (Kirk's crew, however, should practice "spring to attention", when considering the twisted figures in the mess ).
The story itself is fascinating, the Tholians are serious opponents. The "net" on the other side is something which sense I still have not understood. In the frame of this episode it fulfils its purpose very well - but what are the Tholians doing with their energy net in a normal case? What sense does it have? Of course it is possible that it has one and it is only me not seeing it .
Due to the budget space suits instead of life support belts had to be used which were realized later in the "Animated Series". The spacesuits are not really highlights, especially since they are obviously penetrable for McCoy's hypo (whereby the use of a space suit is usually NOT being penetrable for anything ). Furthermore a word to the way this episode was made: always, when ghosts appear in TV/cinema, walls and things are no problem to cross - but the floor remains solid. Very handy…
On the other side the belts in sickbay proves astounding qualities since they are able to hold patients in their beds even when they are applied so strangely as here. Once again it becomes clear that in sickbay and in the crew's quarters too blankets are out of fashion.
In addition the claim that there was no previous mutiny on a Federation vessel is simply wrong, since Garth in "Whom Gods Destroy" has obviously been overpowered by his crew.
In all that is a lot of nitpickery but "The Tholian Web" proves very clearly that the often disgraced third TOS season has a lot to offer.
PS: Does anybody know what happened to the Defiant? For me it seems to be not a good idea to let one of twelve precious starships drift in space…
Episode 65: "Plato's Stepchildren"
The Enterprise receives a distress call whereupon Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down on a planet inhabited by "Plato's stepchildren". The small group has been existing for centuries and is geared to the ideals of Ancient Greek. However these ideals have been distorted in the course of time, supported by the Platonian's power of telekinesis. When McCoy cures leader Parmen the Platonians have no intention of let him go anymore…
In this episode the first kiss between white (Kirk) and black (Uhura) can be seen - unfortunately done by force. The southern states of the USA didn't air this episode because of that kiss. It is really frightening what social opinions were omnipresent not long ago (1968) but it clearly shows how courageous Star Trek's way had been.
Here, too, Kirk proclaimes the message that all people are equal
meaning the black/white problem but Alexander who is excluded by
his fellow Platonians because of size and lack of abilities. In some sense it doesn't miss irony that this episode containing THAT special message wasn't aired in the southern USA (obviously they should have done so, maybe the massage would have found one or two brains…)
However, besides the message this episode is quite disappointing. The main part consists of torture scenes in which Kirk and Spock are forced to plenty of actions mostly of embarrassing nature. The extent is exaggerated, as well as the way they are done. Why it was just Uhura and Chapel that where chosen by the Platonians of all the crew is not clearly visible. Of course that choice is explosive because of Chapel's feelings and at least I have always asked myself what Uhura's selection should express…
Kirks remark in that context that they had not been entertaining enough is one of the better ones of this episode.
There is not much of interest left beyond that point, at best Spock's battle with his (partly forced) feelings, well displayed by his more than human strength. Michael Dunn, playing Alexander, is very convincing. For Barbara Babcock, impersonating Philana, it was already the second Star Trek appearance after "A Taste of Armageddon". In addition the knife that can be seen amongst the torture instruments in one of the last scenes was derived from "Wolf in the Fold".
It has to be mentioned that also "Plato's Stepchildren" is not well thought-out. While it is not that important that Parmen and the Platonians cannot know plenty of the Earth history related details (e.g. flamenco) because of their early departure form Earth the kironides are far more severe. At first McCoy is able to have that rare substance at hand and then the effect of the kironides is never used again. Unfortunately that often happens in Star Trek. It almost seems as if such episodes have never existed. Here, too, a new discovery is "forgotten" immediately afterwards.The possibilities of the kironides are enormous and after all history proovs that everything that can be done will be done - an absolute ban is impossible…
Episode 72: "That Which Survives"
Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Lieutnant D'Amato strand on a planet while the Enterprise is moved to the other side of the Galaxy by an alien woman, Losira. Losira appears sporadically on the planet, always eager to kill a certain person of the landing party without being vulnerable herself.
While the Enterprise is searching for a way back the stranded landing party is fighting for survival…
"That Which Survives" is a pretty weak and mostly unexciting episode. The reason for that is the fact that the one group on the planet, consisting of Kirk, Sulu, McCoy and D'Amato, has no clue how to free themselves. The story is occupied in letting them
stumble about in the landscape more or less without sense.
Every now and then Losira shows up, appearing naive, especially every time
when she announces the name of her victim. Even before it is made clear why the
landing party is composed in the way it is and in no other -
the only surprising aspect is the color of D'Amatos uniform… This way lots of time goes by which doesn't contribute to entertainment or suspense.
More interesting is the situation on the Enterprise on which Spock and Scott are working together on a solution. So they form the other important group. Fortunately, Scott has a large share of the action and can once again justify his reputation as a genial engineer. On the bridge, for once an obviously competent woman is on duty that has more to do than fainting in the wrong moment. In conclusion, "That Which Survives" shows no highlight and is one of the episodes which are not a "must watch".
Episode 74: "Requiem for Methuselah"
On the Enterprise, Rigelean Fever has broken out. McCoy badly needs Ryetalyn to cure the crew. The only source nearby is the planet Holberg 917-G which is inhabited by man named Flint who doesn't want to be visited at first. Flint changes his attitude, though and promises to help while he introduces Kirk, Spock and McCoy to a woman: Rayna Kapec.
She is beautiful, intelligent, in all a perfect woman. Kirk fell instantly in love with her. Flint reacts jealously when Rayna repeats Kirk's feelings. Rayna, however, is not what she has appeared to be…
Once again Spock has the task of saving an episode and that is not limited to the notorious finishing sequence. He alone is in the know while Kirk's behavior can be described partly only as dim-witted. OK, again he fell in love and it is common knowledge that love is blind.
That love would have been much more authentic, however, if his acquaintance to Rayna would have lasted more than only one (!) afternoon and if there would have been some episodes less which throw Kirk into an emotional chaos ("The City on the Edge of Forever", "The Paradise Syndrome" and "Elaan Of Troyius", to name only three). The captain even wants Rayna to accompany him to the ship to stay with him! Regarding the past episodes a remarkable plea.
That is too much of a good thing, the commensurability just doesn't fit.
In "Operation: Annihilate" Kirk had to put his personal matters and his brother's death aside here a few hours with a complete stranger are sufficient to distract him from the essentials. The most essential should be the epidemic aboard the Enterprise. A nice idea which is unfortunately not directly shown - there is only a report about the problems aboard but every detail remain in the dark. The vaccine has taken a back seat anyway so that way the threat is softened.
Flint is far more interesting, worth a closer look. At that moment, when living on the planet, he appears to be an old man - a fact that should be taken into account if he is indeed an immortal, non-aging man. His motivation remains in the dark all the time. On the one hand he explains that he wants to protect life, on the other he tries to kick the landing party out and threatens them.
Flint, who is according to his unique biography invaluable for mankind, offers some approaches that TNG should have picked up. Even if Flint doesn't want to hand over his knowledge concerning Rayna, Data should have made a trip to Holberg nevertheless. After all Flint managed to do exactly what Data tried to find without success in seven TNG seasons.
McCoy's log should have been most interesting, too, since he examines a robot here! One way or the other, to keep Flint's existence a secret should prove to be impossible.
Additionally, there are a few minor lapses in the episode. The main viewing screen of the Enterprise appears to be a window that is one with a very strange sense for angles, especially in the scene in which the ship is scaled down and Kirk looks "into" his bridge. Spock's working phaser belongs into the same category. It should not have worked at all if taking the previous events into account. M4 (is this the predecessor of M5 of "The Ultimate Computer"?) has a strong resemblance with "Nomad" which can be explained by the fact that some parts of the probe ("The Changeling") had been recycled.
The best and most interesting part of the episode is the last sequence.
Spock erases Kirk's memory regarding the recent events because both Kirk and McCoy had stated before the wish to be able to simply forget. In the essence, such an act is unforgivable but according to the circumstances it is justified nevertheless. Be that as it may, it is fascinating because Spock can demonstrate his human side using his Vulcan abilities.
Episode 76: "The Cloudminders"
Stardate 5818.4: Ardana, a member world of the Federation, conducts mining operations to obtain zenite. The Enterprise needs that mineral to stop a plague on Merak. What appears to be a routine mission at first becomes a problem when the miners refuse to hand over zenite. Kirk and Spock, having beamed down on the planet, get involved in the conflict between the upper-class people living in a cloud city and the miners, the so called "Troglytes"…
The bad reputation of the third TOS season is not entirely undeserved - this episode shows why.
The story criticizes the two-tired society, something which is indeed important and a good message. Unfortunately, it is done in a crude way with most of the characters risible and with a far-fetched story.
On the one hand, there is the Federation member world Ardana, a planet that sustains itself by exploiting the "Troglytes". Till now the Federation has been described as an association of equal worlds, based on democracy and progress. That is out of the question on Ardana and it seems far-fetched that nobody knew of the class distinction. Somehow the cloud city has to be maintained and a huge laboring class can not be hidden forever. The term "Troglytes" is equally "funny" as the names in "Dagger of the mind"…
On the other hand, Ardana's cloud city is cherished as an abode of knowledge, art and culture. The whole city hovers in the clouds - that is to say on air - and the government can not figure out a harmful effect of gas? It is not really worth mentioning that the protective mask worn by Kirk at the end looks quite dimwitted even for the standards of the 1960th.
This episode must be the worst for Spock fans, though. His behavior can only be explained by the aftermath of the episode "Spock's Brain" - his brain must have suffered considerably. In a forced try to draw a bow to "Amok Time" (what is basically a good thing) he talks freely about Pon Farr with Droxine. In "Amok Time" he had difficulties to even confide in his best friend, Kirk. With some efforts it is possible to ignore that lapse and to explain Spock's newly acquired freedom with the long time he has served with humans. But why does he make advances to Droxine then? Apart from the fact that she leaves the impression of a pretty but hollow hat stand with the only remarkable trait that she has a fancy for Spock instead of Kirk, there is absolutely nothing which makes her special and what justifies Spock's reaction. OK, there is no accounting for taste. However, the largest "sin" of Spock is the constant whispering of sweet nothings. That is usually hard to swallow with Kirk but it is impossible if the (half-) Vulcan is doing the same. That is too out of his character.
By the way: One scene shows Kirk's hidden talent as a ventriloquist. He can be seen talking without moving his lips at the beginning.
"The Cloud Minders" was written by David "The guy who invented the Tribbles" Gerrold ("The Trouble with Tribbles"). That proves that even good authors can produce a real mess.
Episode 77: "The Savage Curtain"
The Enterprise is orbiting the planet Excalbia when Abraham Lincoln appears. Although it can't obviously be the real Lincoln the man behaves in exactly the manor Kirk who worships Lincoln has pictured him to be.
Kirk and Spock beam down on the planet and get involved in a fight. The natives, being made of stone, doesn't have a concept of "good" and "evil" and created a test scenario in which Kirk and Spock have to fight together with Lincoln and the founder of the Vulcan philosophy, Surak, against a group of villains, amongst them the Klingon Kahless as well as Genghis Khan. Since the opposite site doesn't act fair, an unequal fight…
"Kahless" and "Surak" are pillars of the Star Trek universe. After TOS, the subsequent shows use both characters and they become legends in Klingon resp. in Vulcan history. "The Savage Curtain" is their first appearance ever but unfortunately the episode is not able to live up to this "responsibility". With the exception of Lincoln all guest stars are very plain and uninteresting which is also true for the stone beings. A really nice and "vivid" stone was shown in "The Devil in the Dark". The aliens here are spangled with bulbs while Surak is dressed in something which has a strong resemblance to an old
curtain (maybe a hint to the episode's title? ). The used fabric must be of really bad quality since Shatner's uniform pants were ripped in a fight.
So really everything looks very cheap although the most part of TOS has proven what was possible with even a minimum of resources back in the 60s. Of course, in the meantime the budget had hit rock bottom and "The Savage Curtain" is one of the last episodes of the series when the end was in sight and irrevocable. Only this way it can be explained that the message is not really wrapped but is delivered too plain and unloving. Spock, usually battle-scarred and able to knock out every opponent with a nerve pinch doesn't perform too well in several skirmishes. Once again "good" has to face "evil. The whole test is only boring and pretty unnecessary. If the stone aliens are able to fake humans that well as they did e.g. with "Lincoln", the whole test makes no sense at all.
Lee Bergere as Abraham Lincoln is the only reason for me to watch this episode from time to time. The actor who died in January of 2007 became famous as the butler in "Dynasty" and is the only one able to radiate some dignity. Lincoln is presented as Kirk's archetype whereby past and present got mixed in a peculiar way. Whether the canned Abraham Lincoln knew the present remained in the dark since his behavior is contradictory. Some things seem natural to him, e.g. doors that open automatically while others don't e.g. beaming. Furthermore, the whole time it is indicated that the fleet now uses some other units that have to be converted for Lincoln. Over seventy previous episodes clearly show the opposite. Apropos "show": again, there is scene which shows a reversed and therefore wrong image.
What is Lincoln in his position as Kirk's archetype, Surak should be for Spock. Like already mentioned he is only a feeble attempt of an archetype but it is almost even feebler that Kirk doesn't know Surak. Of course, Surak get his meaning for Star Trek later but Kirk's historical education alone should have made him familiar with certain details of Vulcan history even more so considering the friendship between Kirk and Spock.
The later shows are not without deficits though, especially regarding "Kahless". Ever since the Klingons got a new look in "Star Trek - The Motion Picture", these changes has been in the focus of multiple discussions. The best way to deal with the differences is shown in the DS9 episode "Trials and Tribble-actions" while "Star Trek: Enterprise" delivered only a very feeble explanation. This explanation is lead to absurdity by Kahless appearance in "The Savage Curtain" because he looks like a TOS standard Klingon.
Episode 79: "The Turnabout Intruder"
On Camus II Kirk meets an old acquaintance of him: Dr. Janice Lester. Despite of being successful herself she has never forgiven Kirk that he had the career she always wanted. Using some ancient technology found on the planet she exchanges her body with the one of Kirk and takes over command of the Enterprise…
The last TOS episode is like exploring known territory. There is again an ex-lover of Kirk, there is again the doppelganger theme. Considered the fact that such an exchange should be unique it happened quite often in "Star Trek" (e.g. in "Return to Tomorrow" and later in Star Trek II and III). Here, it is more "business as usual", too. In addition, there is no difference to a normal episode, the end of the third season and the one of the whole series is not mentioned in any way - the unspectacular end of an era. Retrospectively, that was a very fortunate move that enables the sequels although usually a series is better served with a real end.
Although "The Turnabout Intruder" is not suitable for closing the series it is different when examining it as a stand alone episode. The story belongs to the better parts of the in general more or less week season. Especially Shatner and Sandra Smith are brilliant; they are very convincing when playing a person in another body. Kirk in the female body of Janice Lester radiates the same presence usually known of Shatner while Shatner personifies a hysterical woman. Of course I can not help criticizing the way Dr. Lester is portrayed: hysterical, cantankerous, nuts, crazy. So even this last TOS episode follows the tradition to make career women look like the axis of all evil. Then, Dr. Lester passes the psychological test while still being in Kirk's body and she turns it haywire in the process. Kirk must had had an extreme bad day when doing the test for the first time years ago or Dr. Lester already had done that first test for him herself. Identical results seem impossible as well as the fact that she knows the Enterprise so well. Of course, some preparation are basically possible but to this extent?
References of several former adventures stand out rather positive. The Vians are mentioned as well as the Tholians. What a pity that they started this late to remember older events whereby they forget the computer's ability to function as a polygraph as demonstrated in "Mudd's Women". It would have been quite helpful here. Concerning the characters, the development underwent over the time is almost never more visible than here whereas Spock must be named first in this context. His friendship and loyalty shows clearly when putting his Starfleet duties behind until finally conducting a mind meld. Eventually the Enterprise crew can life up to the reputation of a flag ship. Unfortunately, Uhura is not part of the game whereby Chapel has a larger share of text as usual. A second look is a must, though, since the nurse's hair suddenly turned dark!
Two bloopers are apparent: the one concerns the pretty odd behaviour of doors, the other Lieutenant Galloway who had passed away in "The Omega Glory". Obviously, he didn't know that since he rose from the dead especially for this episode.
As a conclusion this last episode is maybe not a great end for a great series but it is worth seeing nevertheless.
After this episode rumours came up that Star Trek would be continued. That rumours came and went but never died. Finally, there was an animated series first, and then a concept for another Star Trek series ("Phase II") was developed but never realized. One adventure of "Phase II" was much later published as a book ("The Joy Machine"). Star Trek, however, was about to return as a motion picture and crosses in doing so another frontier: the one between TV and cinema.
Sources Used and Remarks:
This guide is based on the original (American) version of "classic" Star Trek aired
between 1966 to 1969.
All texts are written by me, originally in German. Till now, all translations are also done by me. A friend did some proof reading (see MC approved for reference). Since neither of us is native to an English speaking country please be patient concerning language and grammer mistakes. Correction is always welcome, please send me a mail to Zelda.Scott@web.de or use the Guestbook.
The texts are based on my observations and on information gathered over the years. For verification, I used some (German) literature:
- "Das Star Trek Universum - Band 1" by Ralph Sander, Wilhelm Heyne Verlag München 1989
- German Version of "The Nitpicker's Guide For Classic Trekkers" by Phil Farrand, Wilhelm Heyne Verlag München 1996
- http://www.episodenguide.de/startrek/ by Florian Heidinger