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Old August 22 2012, 10:27 PM   #1
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Watching Trek in Airdate Order

I'm actually watching all the shows in airdate order pretty much for the first time. I usually just pick whatever episode I'm in the mood for, but after awhile, I found I was falling back on the same dozen favorites. So now I'm just staring from the premiere and following the network run (the original versions, not TOS-R). We'll see how long this lasts before I'm distracted by something else ("Oo, piece of candy!").

I'm only two episodes in, but man, it's funny how wacky some of the editing choices were. I credit all of them to the production being under the gun and getting the bugs worked out. I'm not faulting them. It's just amusing:

1) to hear Scotty responding to Kirk on the communicator when he's not in the episode (Man Trap), or Sulu doing the same thing (Charlie X).

2) Seeing close up shots of actors whose expressions don't match the master shot (Kirk, Spock and McCoy on the bridge in Charlie X - Spock says "out of the question" with a different haircut and totally different tone of voice and mood).

3) "When I came aboard!"

4) Uhura's close up looking like she's about to cry a full second after she was giving Charlie a thoroughly nasty look. And the close ups of McCoy and Spock and then Kirk standing in totally different positions on the bridge than in the master.

It's also interesting to note that Charlie X has no shots of the "series version" of the Enterprise miniature. It is the only regular episode to use only shots from the pilots. Which means it's the only regular episode to be relatively consistent when showing the Enterprise. No spinning nacelle lights, no glowing ball, different impulse engines and the taller bridge dome.

Lots of interesting sound effect choices in The Man Trap as they get things worked out. When Spock expands his sensor search radius, we get an awesome but stereotypically sci-fi sound effect I don't believe is ever used again. The tricorder sounds different (and Kirk carries it!), as do most of the landing party equipment. It's all a lot of fun watching this stuff evolve.

They eventually get the glitches ironed out (although the third season had more than a few 'reverse shots" of Shatner close ups to fill in some holes), but in the beginning, some of these things were just weird. Mudd's Women will also be fun on this level (vocal inflection changes, mismatched close up shots, etc.).

Beyond that, I'm happy to be seeing some episodes I don't normally revisit. Man Trap I've seen too often, but Charlie X was one I usually skipped. Too much time spent on Uhura singing ("Charlie's our new DAHHHHH-LING!"), but the story is a great update of Twilight Zone's "It's a Good Life." Same "kid with powers who wishes you away when he's mad" but this one picks up when the kid is a few years older. It starts off as an awkward and uncomfortable coming of age story, but switches into horror when Charlie's powers are outed. The blanking of the girl's face is extremely chilling, very Twilight Zoneish. Yet, for all that, Charlie's fate is still sad. Never a favorite episode of mine because of the singing. I remember liking it more as a kid, but that was probably because the rec room scenes were cut for syndication.

As far as The Man Trap, it's a weird episode to kick off the series with; actually this and Charlie X are odd ones to start things off. But MT is fun, I like monsters and this one is handled pretty intelligently. I still think Kirk was a little over the top in killing it when it could easily have been reasoned with. Killing the monster stalking the corridors was Irwin Allen territory, but the extra dimension of sympathy for the creature makes this different. Considering the creature was simply trying to survive, and knowing that giving it a supply of salt would keep it in check, killing should have been a last resort. Gene Coon would have handled this episode differently (he did, actually, in Devil in the Dark).

One thing I'd like to have confirmed; some of the dialog makes it seem as if the creature was physically changing its form, but in the teaser, it looks different depending on who is looking at it. In fact, it seemed somewhat telepathic. So was it actually changing its shape or was it making people see what they wanted to see? Seems a little fuzzy and the telepathy wasn't touched on really, which is a shame; it's an interesting tidbit. I'm more in line with it fooling people rather than being an actual shape shifter. Which means McCoy wasn't being hugged by a Nancy replica. He was hugging a hairy, suction cupped, fanged monster. That's pretty creepy.

All in all, two good, if weird, hours of Trek.

"Tranya is people!"
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