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

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Old March 9 2012, 10:58 PM   #1
Mutara Nebula 1967
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How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go and

end the episode with humor? How does such a notion get past the script editor given the weighty events in the show.

Another starship wipes out the entire crew of another ship plus dozens more on other ships....the Enterprise crew should have had (a 1960's equivalent) a kind of numbness everyone felt on 9/11/01 at the tragedy of the EXCALIBER even though it was M5's fault and not theirs.

There are other episodes I can't name off the top of my head where they do the same thing...at a time for intropection the crew is cracking wise...usually at Spock's expense.
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Old March 9 2012, 10:59 PM   #2
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Re: How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go

Welcome to 1967.
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Old March 9 2012, 11:48 PM   #3
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Re: How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go

^^^ Pretty much.

It happens in many other eps, too.
"Galileo Seven" ends with them doubling over in belly laughs, even though Gaetano and Lattimer didn't make it back.
And Kirks quips about Nomad even though, you know, an entire planet of Malurians was wiped out.

Hey, 1967 right?
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Old March 10 2012, 12:13 AM   #4
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Re: How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go

There's such a thing as Gallows Humour I guess...

I'd imagine after everything a starship crew ends up seeing you have to develop a pretty good sense of humour otherwise you'd go insane.

Also I'd prefer a comedy episode over a dramatic one tbh.
There's something about people in pajamas standing on sets supposed to represent a spaceship in the future taking themselves super seriously that doesn't quite wash.

I'd rather a light touch every now and then to show its also fun being them as well as an amazing responsibility and such that they're always preaching.
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Old March 10 2012, 01:22 AM   #5
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Re: How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go

I agree completely, Mutara. The way the very end of this episode was written really does irk me. After all, our heroes had just witnessed the slaughter of hundreds of their comrades as they stood by helplessly, aboard the instrument of their destruction. The conversation seemed way too "breezy" considering what had just happened.

I am not so sure that the writing of the 1960s was to blame, either. Otherwise, after Kirk lost Edith Keeler, McCoy would have slapped Kirk's back and exclaimed "Cheer up, Jim! I know a gal on Wrigley's Pleasure Planet that will make you forget ALL about old 'What's-her-name'...!" (cue the light, cheery end-of-the-episode music). Or Spock, at the conclusion of "Requiem for Methuselah"- upon finding his friend and captain emotionally devastated, thrusts a six pack into Kirks' hands and somberly states, "My advice to you is to start drinking heavily". What about the big party scene after Kirk decides to give Tyree's people guns ("Serpents for the Garden of Eden.")?

Heck- I think even the silly "Space Hippies" episode closed on a sad note (with a sad, lute-plucked note, if I remember correctly)!

Plenty of episodes ended with feel-good warm & fuzzy joking on the bridge. I think "Ultimate Computer" would have better been served to have ended on a more somber note.

Last edited by Robert D. Robot; March 10 2012 at 01:34 AM.
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Old March 10 2012, 02:52 AM   #6
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Re: How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go

Can't be doom and gloom all the time, and we get enough 9-11 based crap crammed down our throats all the time, anyhow. I like seeing a silver lining on the gloomy stuff.

you want gloomy, there's plenty of distopian stuff one can watch.
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Old March 10 2012, 04:46 AM   #7
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Re: How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go

For comparison sake, only. The ending of WNMHGB and Charlie X ended on a down beat. So it was a tactic employed when story and execution found it in agreement. Back in '66
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Old March 10 2012, 07:18 AM   #8
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Re: How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go

While it was clear from "The Ultimate Computer" that the Federation Starfleet sustained loss of life during the wargames disaster, and that people were indeed upset while the M-5 was still a menace, there are a few things to consider...

1: the "joke" scene in the turbolift did seem odd, but we don't know exactly how long after the war games it took place. Was it a matter of hours? days? A couple weeks? It is not inconceivable that enough time had passed after the M-5 had been disabled that the period of mourning could have ended. I would not expect the Enterprise or the other ships to return to the space station immediately. Wesley was probably charged with boarding the Excalibur, looking for survivors, and determining if the ship could be salvaged. If a rescue/recovery operation were underway, the turbolift scene could have taken place weeks later.

This would not be inconsistent with 20th century naval analogies or what we saw in "The Doomsday Machine". Consider the Battle of Pearl Harbor and its aftermath. Survivors were found in the wrecked ships in the harbor. Even sunken battleships were floated, rebuilt and put back in service. If a ship as badly damaged as the Constellation is still able to support life, and Spock could not clearly detect life signs aboard her, then maybe it's possible Excalibur either had hidden survivors that sensors could not detect or that the survivors had somehow escaped.

2: We know there were casualties on at least two of the four other starships. Lexington had at least 53 dead. Excalibur certainly had more, but we can't be sure how many. Could Enterprise, Lexington, Hood and Potemkin have found Excalibur survivors trapped in the dead ship, Constellation-style? If so, this would have minimized casualties and given everyone involved cause for celebration. It would also explain how relaxed Kirk and crew were in the final scenes of the show. Maybe some of the survivors were either found on the derelict Excalibur or in escape pods that were already ejected from the dead ship. (It was never made clear in TOS if the Excalibur crew had a means to quickly abandon ship or if they all died in the engagement. It was also never made clear if Federation Starships had escape pods or other means of abandoning ship.)

3: If the casualties clearly mentioned in "The Ultimate Computer" as confirmed are any indication, there could be anywhere from 65 dead to 500 or more. We can't be sure. Consider this passage during the battle after Wesley's force pulls back and regroups:
UHURA: Captain, I'm getting the Lexington again. Tapping in on their message to Starfleet Command, sir.

WESLEY [on viewscreen]: All ships damaged in unprovoked attack. Excalibur Captain Harris and first officer dead. Many casualties. We have damage, but are still able to maneuver. The Enterprise refuses to answer and is continuing attack. I still have an effective battle force and believe the only way to stop the Enterprise is to destroy her. Request permission to proceed. Wesley, commanding attack force, out.

DAYSTROM: They can't do that. They'll destroy the M-5.

KIRK: You can save the M-5 if you talk to it and make it stop the attack.
Consider that at this stage if Commodore Wesley knew that the entire crew of the Starship Excalibur had indeed been killed, he obviously would have reported this to his superiors in this message. Yet Wesley did not do so.

It should also be noted that when Wesley's remaining ships regroup, they do not regroup around the Excalibur. Instead, we see the Excalibur adrift by herself (in both the original and "remastered" footage). So Wesley made a conscious command decision to withdraw from the engagement rather than immediately help the derelict Excalibur. This surely saved lives on the other ships.

It is not clear if Wesley has any communication with the Excalibur at the time he dispatches this message to Starfleet. Are communications ongoing, or erratic, or cut off? We don't know.

4: The Enterprise, with M-5 still in control, must make a pass in the Excalibur's direction in order to scan it and for Sulu to determine it "looks dead". So the M-5 sees the Excalibur is not a threat and then decides not to renew its attack on the derelict vessel. But why did the M-5 decide to approach the relatively nearby Excalibur if she appeared to be stopped in space? Could it be that Wesley ordered either the Hood or the Potemkin to quickly approach the derelict, locate and beam out all remaining survivors (the 22-man transporters would sure come in handy here) and then quickly retreat and rendez-vous with the Lexington and Hood? There's nothing in the dialogue to eliminate the possibility, is there?

If this were the case, perhaps less than 100 starship personnel died in the wargames disaster. This would be serious, and no doubt a cause for a period of both mourning and investigation, but if lives were saved and if the Excalibur was recovered and salvaged, then the mood of the wargames survivors could be tempered with relief and a determination to get on with the rescue and recovery.
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Old March 10 2012, 01:34 PM   #9
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Re: How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go

A light, breezy ending to an episode that bashed technology was probably easier to push past censors...
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Old March 10 2012, 01:55 PM   #10
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Re: How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go

Dick_Valentine wrote: View Post
There's something about people in pajamas standing on sets supposed to represent a spaceship in the future taking themselves super seriously that doesn't quite wash.

.

Exactly! And this is something that all of the spinoff series missed (and why they suck IMWPO) and which JJ totally picked up on! A-ha!

The TOS crew are living some pretty hard core stuff here, and they need to take it in stride. They've come to grips with how enormous the universe is and of how small they really all are in relation to it. That's gotta do something to you, make you feel the need to find the humour whenever you can. Of course, when things cut to close to home (eg. Gary Mitchell, Edith Keeler, etc...) it's harder not to grieve rather than soldier on with a black-slap and witty remark.
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Old March 10 2012, 02:08 PM   #11
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Re: How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go

Doomsday Machine ends with a Gene Coon chuckle scene too, iirc.

It was all part of the tone change Coon brought, making Kirk warmer, focusing on the regular bridge crew more, as opposed to the ancillaries, to give viewers a regular "family" to anchor things. And more humor. Ugh. Trek is not all gloom and doom; fine, on those shows end with a chuckle, but not eps where real serious stuff has happened.

My take on the matter.
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Old March 10 2012, 03:49 PM   #12
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Re: How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go

I'd rather a light touch every now and then to show its also fun being them as well as an amazing responsibility and such that they're always preaching.
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Old March 10 2012, 03:53 PM   #13
Search4
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Re: How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go

You know it's hard to have a 9/11 moment in 1967. But you do have a point.
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Old March 10 2012, 05:39 PM   #14
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Re: How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go

Dick_Valentine wrote: View Post
There's something about people in pajamas standing on sets supposed to represent a spaceship in the future taking themselves super seriously that doesn't quite wash.

I'd rather a light touch every now and then to show its also fun being them as well as an amazing responsibility and such that they're always preaching.
Been nice if TNG had done that as well.
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Old March 10 2012, 06:39 PM   #15
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Re: How do you write a brilliant ep like ULTIMATE COMPUTER but then go

Yeah, this bothers me sometimes, too. As much as we all enjoy the cameraderie of the crew, and those great Kirk/Spock/McCoy exchanges, sometimes the levity seems out-of-place after the dire events of the episode. Another prime offender is "The Apple," where several redshirts are killed horribly, but which ends on a light note, with Kirk joking with the natives about the birds and the bees . . .

On the other hand, you have "Catspaw," which ends with Kirk soberly recalling the redshirt who died in the first scene. Which seems more appropriate. Or "Balance of Terror"--where the death of that newly-married crewman is not brushed off.

Granted, it's a fine line to walk. You can't have Kirk (or Picard or whomever) consumed with grief and guilt every time he loses a crewman, anymore than a doctor falls apart everytime he or she loses a patient, but, yeah, sometimes tragic events get shrugged off for the sake of a cute, upbeat ending.
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