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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old May 13 2013, 03:34 AM   #16
Nerys Myk
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

but as poorly done as The Alternative Factor is......at least Shatner isn't on all fours naying like a horse with a midget on his back riding him.
Wasn't the point of that scene humiliation? It it bothers you to see Kirk forced to become a horse for a midget, then it works.
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Old May 13 2013, 03:48 AM   #17
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

Average episode in my opinion, but of course that's factoring in all of season 3.
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Old May 13 2013, 05:29 AM   #18
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
It's not even fun to watch.
That's just it. This one doesn't even have camp value. At our recent marathon screening it came in last place.

The only things that are noteworthy about are that one shot of the Enterprise from behind and the use of "Romulan Agitato". That was a piece of music composed for "Balance of Terror" but it only ever appears in this episode.
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Old May 13 2013, 06:20 AM   #19
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

Maurice wrote: View Post
ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
...Behind the scenes, John Drew Barrymore was originally cast as Lazarus, but on his second day of filming he went to lunch and never came back. He just abandoned the shoot.
I seem to recall reading that he just never showed up. I tried to look it up in Inside Star Trek but the index is incorrect about the page numbers concerning Barrymore.

EDIT: Correction. I found the quote.

HERB: ...the morning he was scheduled to begin work, November 16, 1966, John Drew Barrymore disappeared, ignoring his role, his moral obligation, and his contract. Calls to his home, his agents, his publicist brought us no insight or explanation. They didn't have a clue. The son of the famous John Barrymore had skipped out on Star Trek.

Inside Star Trek
p.201
No mention in that section about Brown having difficulties with the regular cast, just that the show ran a day over schedule.
Robert Brown, who obviously was also a party to these events, remembered it (just) a little differently. I was going by his account. Upon re-reading it (in the Feb 1991 issue of STARLOG), I see Brown was saying that Barrymore went to lunch on his first day and never came back. That's in accord with Justman and Solow. By the time Brown could be brought in to replace Barrymore, the show was about two days behind schedule.

Brown mentions the tensions and personal difficulties he was put through. INSIDE STAR TREK is a great book that I endorse wholeheartedly, but it's not the only source of information.
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Old May 13 2013, 06:33 AM   #20
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

From reading the call sheets at UCLA, I recall that Barrymore was a no show on day one. Since Brown wasn't present for events before his last minute hiring, Solow and Justman's account is likely the correct one, especially given the details of the SAG ruling which Justman initiated against Barrymore.
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Old May 13 2013, 02:15 PM   #21
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

I've always felt a there are a few more aspects to this shambles of an episode that we've never found out.

Perhaps it was the last minute wholesale script changes that had Barrymore heading for the nearest bar.

For those unaware, Lazarus was set to have a Khan/McGivers style relationship with Masters, but for reasons still unknown, this aspect was excised at the last minute in favour of a scene where Kirk and Spock talk about absolutely nothing for ten minutes in the briefing room, and the infamous multiple cliff dives.

Would love to dig around in those UCLA archives to find out more - Harvey, get back there and do some digging for us
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Old May 13 2013, 04:02 PM   #22
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
but as poorly done as The Alternative Factor is......at least Shatner isn't on all fours naying like a horse with a midget on his back riding him.
Wasn't the point of that scene humiliation? It it bothers you to see Kirk forced to become a horse for a midget, then it works.

Wrong.


It was foolishness, plain and simple. Another thing, it doesn't so much as "bother" me as it looks ridiculous to the casual fan, and very much it underlines many of the negative things people say and think about Star Trek without giving it a chance on its best foot. It perpetuates that negative misconception, similar to the one about Japanese food being simply "raw fish".

Further, Unlike The Alternative Factor, it comes across as a lazy effort - falling back into the Roman/Greek sets and props already previously overused in the series. The whole interracial kiss is the only thing they had worth hanging a hat on, and even then....
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Old May 13 2013, 04:26 PM   #23
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

^Yes, it was foolishness, but that was the point -- the Platonians were a decadent culture who got their jollies by forcing people to humiliate themselves with absurd antics. They see it as comedy and fun, but they're violating people in order to make it happen, and that makes it sadistic and cruel. It's that dark, horrific undercurrent beneath the low comedy that makes it potent.
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Old May 13 2013, 07:17 PM   #24
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

Christopher wrote: View Post
^Yes, it was foolishness, but that was the point -- the Platonians were a decadent culture who got their jollies by forcing people to humiliate themselves with absurd antics. They see it as comedy and fun, but they're violating people in order to make it happen, and that makes it sadistic and cruel. It's that dark, horrific undercurrent beneath the low comedy that makes it potent.
This is topic drift, but what I like about Plato's Stepchildren is that it is, like you say, a parable about bullying, a topic that is of particular relevance today with school shootings and the like. That society did in fact operate like immature and amoral children.

Also, I found it poignant that the midget, in the end, who was lowest on the pecking order, was the one to finally realize how abusive his society was, and turned around and fought back and won.

It reminds me of Sally Kellerman's final redemption at the end of Where No Man has Gone Before.
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Old May 13 2013, 07:22 PM   #25
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

About the only problem I had with this episode is that it is impossible, at any given moment (until the very end, when we find ourselves in the antimatter universe) to tell which Lazarus we are looking at. They both act equally nutso.

That being said, I rather like the literary resolution to this episode. I think it might have been a SNW story:

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Old May 13 2013, 07:27 PM   #26
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

Christopher wrote: View Post
. . . Yes, it was foolishness, but that was the point -- the Platonians were a decadent culture who got their jollies by forcing people to humiliate themselves with absurd antics.
Yes, I think we all understood that. But we didn't need to see Kirk and Spock forced to perform degrading antics for 45 goddamn minutes. "Plato's Stepchildren" was another example of barely 30 minutes' worth of story padded out to a full hour.
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Old May 13 2013, 09:43 PM   #27
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

To add to all the points others have made: TAF is really fucking confusing. Half the time you can't tell which Lazarus is which and the plot is clearly just slapped together.
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Old May 13 2013, 09:53 PM   #28
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

scotpens wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
. . . Yes, it was foolishness, but that was the point -- the Platonians were a decadent culture who got their jollies by forcing people to humiliate themselves with absurd antics.
Yes, I think we all understood that. But we didn't need to see Kirk and Spock forced to perform degrading antics for 45 goddamn minutes. "Plato's Stepchildren" was another example of barely 30 minutes' worth of story padded out to a full hour.
Yeah, "Plato's Stepchildren" is absolute trash. "And the Children Shall Lead" would be another example of an episode I find painful to watch. Just deplorable on every level. "The Alternative Factor," for all its flaws, is still an episode I can get behind. I don't even consider it the weakest Season 1 episode. That dishonor goes to "Operation: Annihilate!" and its fake vomit monsters on strings.
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Old May 13 2013, 11:03 PM   #29
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
Maurice wrote: View Post
HERB: ...the morning he was scheduled to begin work, November 16, 1966, John Drew Barrymore disappeared...
...I see Brown was saying that Barrymore went to lunch on his first day and never came back. That's in accord with Justman and Solow.
Which is not "in accord" with Solow's account. Leaving after a morning of shooting isn't the same as "the morning he was scheduled to begin work."
Harvey wrote: View Post
From reading the call sheets at UCLA, I recall that Barrymore was a no show on day one.
Yep.
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Old May 14 2013, 12:42 AM   #30
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Re: "The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

AtoZ wrote: View Post
....but as poorly done as The Alternative Factor is......at least Shatner isn't on all fours naying like a horse with a midget on his back riding him.
[sarcasm]Thanks for the reminder![/sarcasm]

Re: The Alternative Factor: the one saving grace is the one-shot role of Lt. Masters (the lovely Janet MacLachlan), portrayed as capable and assertive in a way not seen in Uhura, Rand or Chapel in that season. She would have made a fine addition to the regular cast. Big missed opportunity.

EDIT: another saving grace was the 2nd act exchange between Kirk and Spock. Requests for accurate science be damned there, because they play the estimated threat so seriously/well, that it is a memorable scene of strong effect. They could have been discussing the weather, and the exchange would still work.
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