Re: "Spectre of the Gun" set "West of Mars"?
I have never been impressed with Spectre's minimalism. I always thought that it detracted from the story, and I was surprised to find people online who thought it was really well done. Given all the other contemporary westerns, I supposed that finding more realistic sets to use shouldn't have been that much of a problem. And, I thought that making Tombstone realistic could, at least potentially, have made it much more frightening, because instead its surreality telegraphed ahead of time that everything was fake.
I couldn't disagree more. "Spectre of the Gun" has a pretty weak story. We already know from the start that the whole set-up is fake -- that the Melkotians have reached into Kirk's mind and his knowledge of history to create the "pattern" for the crew's deaths. If "Spectre" had used a studio backlot frontier town, it would have come across as just another Earthlike-alien-planet-of-the-week episode. As it is, the surreal, minimalist sets make the episode a triumph of form over content. YMMV.
“All the universe or nothingness. Which shall it be, Passworthy? Which shall it be?”