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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
Olive, the Other Reindeer
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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
Olive, the Other Reindeer
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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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Old April 19 2014, 07:15 AM   #11
JoeD80
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Re: JoeD's TOS rambling review thread

More ramblings. I watched "Where No Man Has Gone Before" quite awhile ago. A+ is all I have to say.

Looks like I spent almost a year not watching Star Trek (more busy job) and I finally crammed in a few episodes last week. I'll just put some thoughts about each episode here and some general sense of what I remember. (I watched all of these without writing anything down in between).

The Naked Time - very fun and also very tense episode, when Kevin Riley turns off the engines. I like the idea that there was a space virus that McCoy was dealing with but we didn't really get into any technobabble and focused on the characters here. There were really great scenes for everybody (Sulu's famous fencing scene, Scott's famous Can't Change the Laws of Physics line, Spock trying to hold in his emotions). A+

The Enemy Within - good tense episode. I like the ticking clock of Sulu and the other crew trapped on the planet and the cuts back to him. Send down some rice wine! The shots of "evil" Kirk and "good" Kirk were well lit to give mood and I really enjoyed the music here which was pretty much wall-to-wall (was this Sol Kaplan's score?) The scenes with Yeoman Rand were intense. Spock's comment at the end about the other Kirk having "interesting" qualities has certainly raised discussions before but Chapel did say that men from Vulcan treat their women strangely in the last episode so I guess that explains his creepiness here...There are some great beginnings to the Spock/McCoy love/hate relationship here "for once Dr. McCoy and I agree." B+

Mudd's Women - I thought this episode had some good stuff. In the end I felt a little too much focus was on the miner and the girl, but the concept of space being so vast that there are these lonely places still in existence is an intriguing one. The scenes with Mudd are over-the-top but in a fun way. Roger C. Carmel nailed this character pretty well. I believe this is the first Majel Barrett computer voice. I did like the character of Kirk here when he says he'd basically save any man's ship if he's in danger even if it's someone they don't necessarily like. Solid B for me.

What Are Little Girls Made Of? - I thought this one is a pretty interesting exploration of what makes a human. I like that the android Dr. believes he is doing good work here but obviously something went wrong or the real Dr. would still be alive. I'll be a little pervy here and note that Andrea's outfit is very nice in HD . Ruk is a well-done character. I was a little sad that the resolution is so tidy that all the androids all kill each other and Kirk and Chapel make it out OK, making it easy enough to forget this adventure. (Two red-shirts do end up dying here. I always wondered how early that started happening.) I started noticing that there aren't really many alien cultures explored in these early episodes (although I like the feeling of space as a vast empty that is still worthy of exploring with many discoveries to come; a feeling I get from episodes like Mudd's Women and this one) B

Miri - This episode has a special place in my heart because it's the first episode of the original series that I ever saw. I think it still holds up and has some lovely scenes of Kirk and McCoy getting tense as the clock ticks down on the virus for them. The scenes with the kids are done fairly well and Miri is a guest star that holds her own around this crew. It's good to see some more Rand/Kirk interaction which leads to Miri's jealousy showing. I like the exploration of Spock and McCoy's approach to the vaccine research - where McCoy finally just leaps and injects himself. A

Dagger of the Mind - This is the first episode that was a little bit of a let down for me. I felt it started out quite good but the resolution didn't quite do it for me. Was the Dr on the planet always crazy? Did he just start going crazy? Was he actually a patient? I wish that was explored a bit more. Every time something interesting was about to happen, the Doctor would have a line of dialogue that said something like "Ah, I knew you would discover this. No worries." Seemed to cut the tension too fast. I enjoyed the ship-board Spock/McCoy scenes quite a bit (when they don't believe what they are hearing from the planet; the mind-meld) and I found myself enjoying the scenes on the ship much more than those on the penal colony. I did like the Helen Noel fantasy sequence but a lot of the neural neutralizer stuff wasn't that interesting to watch to me. I do like that Helen got to do some action scenes though! C+ overall.

Character Stuff - Random character stuff. I think the Spock/McCoy relationship really takes off in these early episodes. Very fun to watch. Several episodes with McCoy's comments about not trusting transporters. I like that he's grumpy but still positive. Kirk is a good Captain, balancing doing the right thing with the things he wants to do. I really like Shatner's performance early on. I like all of Scott's scenes (not too many yet) and he always seems like he is a pessimist but still pulls through. Sulu and his hobbies are fun and I enjoy the way he interacts with the other crew. Uhura doesn't get many lines but I noticed that she's very good at reacting to everything that goes on in the bridge and Nichelle did a lot of physical acting to portray emotion with the events going on around her.

Music Stuff - Fred Steiner is awesome. I like all the composers so far (which I believe is Courage, Kaplan, Steiner at this point).

Effects Stuff - I am still watching with original effects and think it looks fairly decent. I did notice that Westheimer is slightly better than Howard Anderson (of course a lot of the shots are mixed from stock so it's hard to necessarily tell who did what.) The one episode done by Cinema Research had a much sharper looking ship in the flybys.

Definitely enjoying revisiting this series. On to Corbomite!
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Old April 21 2014, 01:47 AM   #12
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Re: JoeD's TOS rambling review thread

The Corbomite Maneuver - Enjoyed the feeling of tenseness evoked by this episode. I thought the character of Bailey was a nice touch, where someone doesn't share the even calmness of the rest of the characters. Gotta love Sulu though, just counting down time to death calmly. This gave the feeling that space is a scary place but that we can use our human ingenuity to solve our problems. I miss this kind of feeling in the later Trek spin-offs. Kirk had some great moments here, (not Chess Mr Spock, Poker.) Really enjoying the Captain. A bit of background on Spock's parents thrown in here and Scotty commenting "heaven help your mother. ; not at all she considered herself fortunate." I like the effects of the cube and the sphere ship in this one. A-

The Menagerie Part I - This one had a great setup. Heading to the starbase (I like the look of this one) and seeing Spock sneak around to accomplish his goal was fairly fun and a bit of a mystery. I like the Commodore Mendez character even if he didn't have too many lines. There was some flirting between Miss Piper and Kirk, but I'm not sure what that was about. It's never followed up on again. McCoy's defense of Spock really shows his loyalty to his friend. I like that Spock is trying hard to get to Talos IV but when he realizes Kirk doesn't have enough oxygen to get back to the starbase he relents and lets him board. A good first part. A+

The Menagerie Part II - And now we see most of the original pilot here. I like that we are finally getting to see some interesting aliens. There have only been a couple so far in the first season. The power of illusion being so great that the aliens stopped rebuilding is an interesting concept. I like the resolution of our current time story too, with the Commodore being another illusion of the Talosians. However, one strange act break - near the end, the screen goes blank and the court-martial votes. It seems like the Taloisians had reason to cut the feed - but after the break it goes right back into playing the end of the feed without any comment on why it stopped. So I guess the aliens knew we needed time for commercials. In the end Captain Pike gets his illusion and Spock is a free man. A+

---

Random character thought - whenever Scotty is around it seems it's his job to man the transporter. I guess it makes sense that every mechanical piece of equipment is part of his engineering domain.

Random effects thought - I really like the flyby of the ship in the second Menagerie episode - it shows it almost full size and retreating to a speck in the distance of the stars without looking too much like a model. Well done.

Random music - Alexander Courage's pilot score seems to have a lot more horns in it than I remember. Really enjoyable.

---

On to more!
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