Episode 5 – The Enemy Within

The Enemy Within – First aired on October 6, 1966

Well, here we go, it only took Roddenberry 5 episodes to get to one of Star Trek’s bread and butter scenarios, the dreaded transporter accident!! I have never taken the time to count, but I would be willing to bet that at least 60-70% of all Star Trek episodes involve some sort of minor transporter malfunction, and I’d wager a good 15% or so have a transporter accident as one of the main plot devices. With as inconsistent and unreliable as these transporters seem to be, our hardy heroes sure don’t shy away from using them! Well, ok, Archer does for a while, but I think that taking the shuttles everywhere got old pretty fast. Needless to say, anytime you hear a “beam me up Scotty” (although that phrase is actually never used in the series) you had better be prepared for anything. You could wind up disfigured/dead, or a transporter ghost, or in another dimension, or in another time, or in the case of our good captain, split into two different versions of yourself.

We begin this particular transporter adventure on the surface of a planet currently being explored by Kirk and his crew. Kirk is leading the expedition, while Sulu is investigating the local wildlife. Now, if you are like me and get a kick out of good old fashioned practical effects, then you must have loved the marquee alien of this episode. Or, as I like to call it, Unicorn Dog. How you go from a creature like the one we saw in The Man Trap, to this fuzzy fur ball of 1960’s bad cosplay I have no idea. I’ll still take it over a Jar-Jar Binks any day though.

First thing Sulu does on an unexplored and unknown planet? Start picking up the furry and horned indigenous life forms of course!

Anyways, we quickly move on from our adorable Unicorn Dog to an accident where we see a minor injury sustained by Geological Technician Fisher. He winds up covered in what appears to be a harmless yellow ore from the surrounding rocks, and is quickly beamed up to sickbay to tend to his injuries.

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Episode 4 – The Naked Time

The Naked Time – First aired on September 29, 1966

It might seem like the concept of “let’s get our whole crew drunk and have them do ridiculous things” is a little bit simple at first. However, one of the tricky side effects of alcohol is that it tears down the walls of inhibition that we place in our minds. This often results in us saying things that we otherwise would never even dream of uttering aloud. Usually, this just results in superb moments of embarrassment. We get plenty of that from the Enterprise crew, as well as an intriguing look at some of the deeper thoughts and motivations buried within their personalities.

Of course, the crew doesn’t become inebriated through drinking, no Starfleet Officer would ever be drunk while on the job! No, the crew isn’t done in of their own accord, but rather by the inability of a certain Lieutenant Joe Tormolen, to follow standard procedure. The Enterprise has been sent to monitor the breakup of a planet, and when they get there Joe goes on an away mission with Spock to investigate the strange deaths of some scientists.  Joe removes his glove because of an itchy nose and comes in contact with some blood-like substance. We never find out if it was blood or if it was something else (they do call the thing affecting them a virus, but the virus could still have been contained in another organism). Personally, I like to think that it was not blood. The reason for that is because when we see the clip of the substance dripping onto Joe’s hand, it “drips” sideways. It is possible that gravity was doing some funky things on this planet because it was beginning to break up. I find that unlikely though because a shift in gravity would have affected other things in the environment as well, such as Joe himself, but that didn’t happen. I prefer to think that maybe this red liquid was some kind of life form, perhaps one that was indigenous, or perhaps one that evolved due to the circumstances of the planetary breakup. At least that would explain why it seems to defy the laws of physics. It also gives the episode a much creepier tone when you see a goopy red life form reaching out and infecting Joe rather than just a sideways blood drip.

Of course, these deaths might not be all that mysterious. Perhaps the scientists were abducted and replaced with 1960’s style mannequins. To Spock’s tennis ball canister, a dead body and a mannequin might give the same reading.

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Episode 3 – Where No Man Has Gone Before

Where No Man Has Gone Before – First aired on September 22, 1966

When your best friend becomes a God, you would think that life would be pretty easy from there on out. Unfortunately for James R. Kirk….sorry, that’s James T. Kirk, it doesn’t quite work out that way.

Personally I would be ok with changing this to a T in a future release. It isn’t like we would be changing who shot first….Lucas….

As you may or may not know, this episode was the second pilot for Star Trek. I believe it is easy to see both why it was a great pilot that led to the show being picked up, as well as why it was not the right episode to air first.

The quick and easy answer to why this episode should not have and did not air first, is that it is lacking a proper introduction to Spock and McCoy. First of all, McCoy is not even in this episode, the role of the doctor was recast after this episode was made. It would have made no sense to start the series off without him and then introduce him later. The major reason that The Man Trap was such a great broadcasting pilot is that it gives a great all around synopsis of our three main characters and how they work together. With McCoy completely absent, and Spock a weirder, louder, more annoying, and more aggressive version of himself, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” would have run the risk of starting the series off on the wrong foot. Continue reading

Episode 2 – Charlie X

Charlie X – First aired on September 15, 1966

Teenagers….. it’s fortunate that I haven’t been one for a few years. Now, I can laugh at them without making fun of myself. Then again, I will probably feel the same way about 20 year-olds when I hit my 30’s. Of course, laughing at teenagers is what got the Enterprise crew into so much trouble this time around, so maybe we ought to be more careful with who we laugh at.

It is hard to not feel sorry for Charlie, his family was killed in the crash that left him stranded all alone on a backwater planet. He had absolutely no human contact until the crew of the Antares rescued him. Thanks to this he definitely wins the “Most Awkward Boy of the 23rd Century” award. Essentially, I think that what we get with Charlie is a look at a teenager without a filter. Since he was never told what was right from wrong, Charlie is constantly acting on impulse and desire. The twist is that this particular uninhibited teenager has acquired near Q like powers.

Perhaps due to having a B.S. in Psychology, I cannot help but analyze young Charlie and conclude that part of his problem is that he is in a very egocentric state of mind. Developmental Psychology tells us that, as adolescents, most of us go through a phase where have a Personal Fable and an Imaginary Audience. During our teenage years, we assume that we are the center of attention and that others are constantly watching us and judging us. The normal human reaction to this is to stress out over anything and everything about us that could possibly be a source of embarrassment. Eventually these feelings die out and we look back at how silly we were to think that our entire high school would care that we had a giant pimple on our face or that we didn’t dress cool enough. Unfortunately for Charlie, his imaginary audience was a little more real than the average teen, and his personal fable was under some serious attack.

Everyone is watching me…

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Episode 1 – The Man Trap

The Man Trap – First aired on September 8, 1966

In Star Trek, a routine medical examination is rarely ever routine.  This may be why almost all the Starfleet captains famously put off and avoid theirs (I’m talking to you in particular Jean-Luc).

That is how this pilot begins, and yes I am starting with this episode and calling it the pilot because it was the first episode ever aired.  While “The Cage” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before” may have been the original pilots, this was the first one that the public viewed and I have decided to review these episodes based on their initial air date.

So we begin with a routine medical examination which is scheduled for a scientist and his wife who have been studying some ruins for the past five years on an out-of-the-way planet called M-113.  The only interesting thing which Captain Kirk notes in his log is that the wife of the scientist, one Dr. Robert Crater (also referred to as the Professor), is a woman from Dr. McCoy’s past named Nancy.  It is this small piece of knowledge that sets up the dramatic ending to the episode, but more on that later.

Right off the bat we see that something is amiss because Kirk, McCoy, and their companion blue shirted crew member all see a slightly different woman when they look at Nancy.  In the case of the crewman, it is a completely different woman, while in Kirk’s case she is an older version of what McCoy sees.

The many faces of Nancy Continue reading