Don't look now, but "The Doomsday Machine" turned 45 on Saturday. This outstanding episode made its primetime debut on NBC on Oct. 20, 1967.
I was saddened to see that William Windom, who played Commodore Decker, passed away this past August 16.
This episode captivated me from the first time I watched it as a rerun in the '70's. My family used to refer to the alien "planet killer" machine as "the giant rotten carrot". There are only a couple of minor plot holes I never cared for in this story: (1: when Transporter Chief Kyle was about to beam Kirk and his boarding party off the Constellation and the alien machine attacked the Enterprise for the first time (presumably unshielded), I don't understand why that first salvo didn't destroy the Enterprise; once Decker took over and got into a firefight with the Beastie, the Enterprise was hit so many times the shields collapsed and the ship should've been destroyed again... and, (2: McCoy folded way too easily after objecting to Decker's takeover; McCoy hypoed and scanned the commodore, after having found him in a "state of shock", so there should've been enough forensic evidence already on-hand to relieve the commodore of duty on medical grounds, but McCoy seemed to just fold. McCoy was my favorite TOS character, and it seemed to me that it was very un-McCoy to just concede like that. A poorly conceived plot device in an otherwise excellent story.
I must say that this "Moby Dick"-style story that meditates on the delicacy and dangers of command authority in a time of crisis being left in the hands of a man of questionable fitness is still relevant and interesting to watch even today.
Windom wasn't the first actor for the part. The director wanted some other actor who's name escapes me, and still thinks the other guy would've done a better job.
Windom, for his part, from what I've read, was kind of embarrassed by the episode for a while, until someone pointed out the Moby Dick allegories many years later. I wonder if he was aware Decker in TMP was meant to be his son. (I'm sure bet some fan pointed this out to him at some point).
It's always nice seeing other Starfleet ship on TOS. (Most of the handful we did see came to bad endings).
I'm glad the special edition fixed the size discrepancy between the shuttle, the Constellation, and the planet killer.
Apparently this was one of James Doohan's favorites. (I think his least favorite was the "space hippies").