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

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Old June 24 2013, 11:04 PM   #1
JoeD80
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JoeD's TOS rambling review thread

Hm seems it's been almost a year since the last review thread of Original Series episodes, and I finally shelled out the money for a season one blu-ray so I figured why the hell not. I'll just put all the things I thought of out here; not sure how much of a "review" these will be as I am just typing what's in my brain a day after I watched it. (Yes I am watching these in Blu-Ray/airdate order because it's easy.)

The Man Trap
(by George Clayton Johnson)
(And because I'm a credits-geek I will note these:
Music - Alexander Courage
Effects - Howard Anderson Co.)

On ABCD scale I would give this an A. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

I think this is a pretty good introductory episode personally, because it establishes the characters' names and personalities fairly effectively. Watching this as if I've never seen it before --

It is actually an interesting look at preserving intelligent life - there's a scene where Spock and "McCoy" (actually the creature) have a discussion on what to do about it - and Spock says something along the lines (from memory here) "your attitude is commendable but inadvisable." The creature tries to argue its case and Professor Crater mentions it's the last of its kind, and says it just needs love and salt - but I guess it needed more than love because Crater gets killed next. Spock goes a little crazy punching the creature in the face in the end.

The shapechanging was interesting - I get the impression from the episode that the creature could read someone's thoughts and then change according to that - with the crewman mentioning "Rigley's Pleasure Planet" and on the ship with Uhura where he seduces her in the hallway and almost has his salt snack.

The final scene is a nice callback to show that even though the danger is over, the moral implications are still important when Kirk says "just thinking about the buffalo."

I like the way the ship is established as "checking up" on colony worlds - they go to make sure the professor and his wife pass their physicals etc. Also they way they show everyone working to prove whether the plant killed the crewman or not is effective if a bit repetitive - it feels like the ship is a real workplace.

I think the characters are introduced pretty well here. Dr. McCoy comes off as pretty likable, and gets most of the good scenes in this episode. At one point I felt like Captain Kirk was being a dick to him, and thought the Captain isn't too sympathetic, but Kirk did apologize to McCoy for his behavior later. The Captain did come off as a good combination of being above it all to get the job done, and being a friend when needed.

Spock had some good scenes with Uhura early on - I am guessing this episode influenced the current Trek movies' idea for a Spock/Uhura relationship.

So apparently the extra crewmen have never worked professionally with a woman before? They are a little pushy with Rand - (hey, is that lunch for me? )

I was a little confused on just what Sulu does - he's introduced working on plants in what's clearly marked as Life Sciences. Later he seems to be coordinating security. And only in the final scene do we see him at the helm. I guess he just works any job he feels like that day.

edit: oh also I like the way the planet set was done. The filming of it makes it look bigger than it really is. They must have trucked in a lot of sand for that one!

Last edited by JoeD80; June 24 2013 at 11:56 PM.
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Old June 25 2013, 12:16 AM   #2
Lance
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Re: JoeD's TOS rambling review thread

JoeD80 wrote: View Post
Spock had some good scenes with Uhura early on - I am guessing this episode influenced the current Trek movies' idea for a Spock/Uhura relationship.
Pretty much, this episode and the later scene where she teases him in Charlie X. The movies' writers mention them in the commentary track for the first reboot movie as a justification for pairing them up.

JoeD80 wrote: View Post
I was a little confused on just what Sulu does - he's introduced working on plants in what's clearly marked as Life Sciences. Later he seems to be coordinating security. And only in the final scene do we see him at the helm. I guess he just works any job he feels like that day.
One does get the feeling of Sulu being a bit of a layabout. Later episodes stated that he's just a guy with eclectic interests. In The Naked Time he's singing the praises of fencing, and in Shore Leave he professes an interest in antique handguns. I've always figured his botany here is just another one of those personal interests.
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Old June 26 2013, 01:33 PM   #3
Mario de Monti
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Re: JoeD's TOS rambling review thread

I think so too. The way he smiles and obviously enjoys himself when taking care of the plants, it really seems to be one of his passions / hobbies.

One thing I like very much about this episode is its somewhat eerie musical score, thanks to the use of an electric violin. This supports and enhances the whole feel of the episode, IMHO.
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Old June 27 2013, 02:01 AM   #4
scotpens
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Re: JoeD's TOS rambling review thread

JoeD80 wrote: View Post
. . . The shapechanging was interesting - I get the impression from the episode that the creature could read someone's thoughts and then change according to that - with the crewman mentioning "Rigley's Pleasure Planet" and on the ship with Uhura where he seduces her in the hallway and almost has his salt snack.
I always assumed it was spelled Wrigley's, like the gum. You know -- "double your pleasure, double your fun . . ."
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Old June 27 2013, 05:25 PM   #5
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Re: JoeD's TOS rambling review thread

I love these early episodes as they work through establishing the characters and working out the kinks. Kirk seems off character here, only because he know him so well based on later episodes. There is no talk from him about capturing the creature. It's killed his men and is on board his ship, so all bets are off. Meanwhile, Crater and the creature suggest the very thing that would be entertained in later times: keep it fed, talk to it. It's obviously intelligent and rational and isn't malicious. It was trying to survive as it knew how. Actually, in some ways, Kirk is the villain here. The Man Trap is pretty close to what passed for the average SF show of the day: man vs creepy monster. This feels more like an Outer Limits than a Star Trek. On the face of it, I can see why some critics didn't find Trek's premiere to be any better than the average Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode.

Still, with all that said, I do love this episode. It's fun, creepy and is very, VERY serious. The music is so cold and barren, it really contributes to the atmosphere of horror and loneliness of the creature.


Lance wrote: View Post
I've always figured his botany here is just another one of those personal interests.
Yep, in The Naked Time, Riley complains that the previous week Sulu was trying to get him interested in botany. Sulu is clearly a hobbyist.
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Old June 27 2013, 05:38 PM   #6
scotpens
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Re: JoeD's TOS rambling review thread

ssosmcin wrote: View Post
Lance wrote: View Post
I've always figured his botany here is just another one of those personal interests.
Yep, in The Naked Time, Riley complains that the previous week Sulu was trying to get him interested in botany. Sulu is clearly a hobbyist.
Sulu's constantly changing hobbies were originally supposed to be a kind of running gag for his character, but the idea was dropped or ignored after the first few episodes.
TMOST wrote:
[Sulu] changes hobbies about once a week, and whatever he is currently involved in, he lets you know all about it. Biology, fencing, and physical exercise have all been kicks of his at one time or another. Although he goes from one new hobby to another, an interest in space biology has been fairly consistent.
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Old June 28 2013, 08:37 AM   #7
Mario de Monti
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Re: JoeD's TOS rambling review thread

ssosmcin wrote: View Post
There is no talk from him about capturing the creature. It's killed his men and is on board his ship, so all bets are off. Meanwhile, Crater and the creature suggest the very thing that would be entertained in later times: keep it fed, talk to it. It's obviously intelligent and rational and isn't malicious. It was trying to survive as it knew how. Actually, in some ways, Kirk is the villain here.
I really never thought about it that way, but you´re right: The Kirk from, say Devil in the Dark, would definitely have found a solution other than killing the creature. Well observed

ssosmcin wrote: View Post
The Man Trap is pretty close to what passed for the average SF show of the day: man vs creepy monster.
And that is exactly why it was selcted by the network as the premiere episode, IIRC.
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Old June 28 2013, 06:47 PM   #8
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Re: JoeD's TOS rambling review thread

Random thoughts about the episode

Kirk suggests sarcastically flowers to McCoy, while picking some straw Always find that very odd

Darnell - ummm, there is a man with impulse control problems, leaving his post like that - mind you it explains why they believed he would be stupid enough to just eat an alien plant.

"its not a bad life, and you win all the arguments " - now think about their sex life ( or for your sanity, don't)

looking at previous posts, totally agree Uhura seems to be chatting Spock up, and again seems to be flirting in Charlie X. Shes a great character in this showing a terrific feisty and fun persona.
Rand amuses me greatly, shes unfazed by the ogling of various crewmen and is presumably a good enough friend of Sulus she will bring him his meal, but is rude enough to take bits out of his food before delivering it, and its not exactly subtle I mean if she was delivering say Kung po prawns ( sorry I was thinking of that Curb your enthusiasm episode) fair enough but she takes a bite out of his celery and puts the rest back on his plate!
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Old July 2 2013, 09:41 PM   #9
JoeD80
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Re: JoeD's TOS rambling review thread

Lance wrote: View Post
One does get the feeling of Sulu being a bit of a layabout. Later episodes stated that he's just a guy with eclectic interests. In The Naked Time he's singing the praises of fencing, and in Shore Leave he professes an interest in antique handguns. I've always figured his botany here is just another one of those personal interests.
scotpens wrote: View Post
Sulu's constantly changing hobbies were originally supposed to be a kind of running gag for his character, but the idea was dropped or ignored after the first few episodes.
sariel2005 wrote: View Post
looking at previous posts, totally agree Uhura seems to be chatting Spock up, and again seems to be flirting in Charlie X. Shes a great character in this showing a terrific feisty and fun persona.
I'm trying to pay special attention to how well the characters are defined in each episode.

Mario de Monti wrote: View Post
One thing I like very much about this episode is its somewhat eerie musical score, thanks to the use of an electric violin. This supports and enhances the whole feel of the episode, IMHO.
Ah so that's what that was! I did like the music changes synchronized with camera changes.

scotpens wrote: View Post
I always assumed it was spelled Wrigley's, like the gum. You know -- "double your pleasure, double your fun . . ."
I like it.

ssosmcin wrote: View Post
Meanwhile, Crater and the creature suggest the very thing that would be entertained in later times: keep it fed, talk to it. It's obviously intelligent and rational and isn't malicious. It was trying to survive as it knew how.
And yet it killed Crater in the very next scene, I suppose because it felt stronger feelings from McCoy at that point.

Mario de Monti wrote: View Post
ssosmcin wrote: View Post
The Man Trap is pretty close to what passed for the average SF show of the day: man vs creepy monster.
And that is exactly why it was selcted by the network as the premiere episode, IIRC.
The idea I got from Inside Star Trek was that NBC really wanted to push the "strange new worlds" concept, and "Man Trap" fit the bill closest of the completed episodes.

sariel2005 wrote: View Post
"its not a bad life, and you win all the arguments " - now think about their sex life ( or for your sanity, don't)
The thought had crossed my mind when Kirk said that.

sariel2005 wrote: View Post
but she takes a bite out of his celery and puts the rest back on his plate!
Ha yeah thought that was funny.

Well I was on vacation to the San Francisco for a bit but I am back now so I am going to watch more tonight!
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Old July 4 2013, 12:58 AM   #10
JoeD80
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Re: JoeD's TOS rambling review thread

Charlie X (by D. C. Fontana/story Gene Roddenberry)
Music - Fred Steiner
Effects - Howard Anderson Co.)
[I realized that the first version of the compendium lists the credits this way
too; I guess I subconsciously thought of it.]

On ABCD scale I will give this a one a C. I enjoyed parts of it, but overall - well let's talk!

Since I mentioned the effects company, I will point out that I liked the look of the ship and planet in the first episode (yes I am watching the original effects here.) This week was a bit odd - Captain Kirk mentions being alongside the Antares, there's a cut to an outside view, and we only see the Enterprise. The Thasian ship is kind of a wavy green thing, although I thought it was effective at being alien that way. Also the effects inside the ship - the melting chess pieces, the card tricks that Charlie does - there were none! Just camera cutting from the scene and back to it and it's done. I know budget affects these things, but it seemed noticeable to me.

On to characters -

I am pretty sure I heard Sulu's voice there when Kirk calls for security.

I like the way Rand is in this episode; she tries to remain as friendly and strong as she can be with Charlie, and going out of her way to try and help him out by introducing him to another girl; but he's an obsessive teenager and I thought that was a fairly effective part of the story analyzing the kind of attitudes people have of thinking they deserve what they want.

Kirk had a good line to him later in the episode "Charlie there are a million things you can have in this world and a million things you can't. It's no fun facing that fact but it's there." Kirk had effective scenes as he tries to bond with Charlie. I really am liking the Kirk character quite a bit already. He really tried to get Captain Ramart to stay for some entertainment or at least a drink (Saurian Brandy!) Of course the other Captain was hoping to escape...

Charlie's power seems to be limited to making things disappear, but he uses it to have the Antares explode. I guess he's a bit telepathic and can make things appear too? I am thinking of the scene where he produces a bottle of perfume for Rand and making the turkeys in the oven.

Spock and McCoy really come off as old buddies in this episode! The way they are casually arguing on the bridge and needling each other about emotions and science I thought was very good at conveying their characters.

Also the Uhura/Spock interplay continues here with Uhura's song. I enjoyed it a bit but this brings me to me issues:

The episode seems to be a collection of scenes that are not necessarily strongly tied together; lots of good moments, but the crew the whole time is powerless and are only saved because the Thasians come in and tell Charlie to stop. The characters just become observers instead of acting to solve the issue in the end. And everything that disappears comes back in the end, meaning not much consequence for our main characters (except the poor Antares crew!) I did like Kirk's final plea for Charlie though when he says he deserves to live with his own kind.

I did think the story had some good ideas - looking at adolescence, the way it's dealt with, and whether young people deserve chances or not when they are causing ill things to happen.

I enjoyed seeing some more parts of the Enterprise; since there wasn't a planet in this episode. The gym set is fun if a bit sparse. I like the way the monitors on the sick-bay beds look.

The act breaks were a little weird. e.g., the Antares blows up - a dramatic moment. Then the turkeys appear in the ovens - and that's what goes before commercial. Maybe just my preference but it struck me as odd. I recall the teaser ending in a strange place too.

I love Fred Steiner's music. Reminds me of TNG Ron Jones' - very noticeable powerful stuff. (I've seen TNG more recently than TOS so that style of music is fresh in my mind.)

Last edited by JoeD80; July 4 2013 at 02:04 AM.
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