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

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Old March 7 2015, 01:45 PM   #1
MarsWeeps
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The Phaser and The Bum

In The City on the Edge of Forever, we see McCoy go back in time in a drug induced state. He meets a street bum and then passes out. The bum pats down McCoy and steals his phaser.

As the bum checks out the phaser, he appears to turn the wheel on top, the phaser then begins a slow whine, almost as if warming up. The bum then turns the phaser around and vaporizes himself.

I always wondered what exactly happened here. We never heard the slow whine of a phaser before (except in overload) so did the bum accidentally set the overload on the phaser? I don't think so because I would imagine there would be some type of explosion. It seems as if the phaser fired while the bum had it pointed at himself.

Every time I saw that episode, I just figured that the slow whine build up was due to the fact that McCoy had traveled back in time and it somehow had an effect on the phaser.

Any other explanations for this scene?

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Old March 7 2015, 02:52 PM   #2
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Re: The Phaser and The Bum

MarsWeeps wrote: View Post
I just figured that the slow whine build up was due to the fact that McCoy had traveled back in time and it somehow had an effect on the phaser.
Why would time travel affect the phaser and not the Enterprise crew? Stay away from nonsense like that unless you're writing a story and need it to set up a situation. (But such an excuse is weak, and your audience will dislike you for it.)

I'd say you already figured out the situation. The bum pushed the phaser into overload, then shot himself before the explosion—which would have taken out McCoy, at least according to Franz Joseph's TECHNICAL MANUAL.
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Old March 7 2015, 02:57 PM   #3
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Re: The Phaser and The Bum

Well, if we actually count [i]"Star Trek: Voyager"[/b], we know trips through time do affect people. So the Enterprise crew were affected, but in a negligable way that likely was not onlu untracebable in their time but also they didn't even know to look for. So it is not entirely without reason old equipment like that could be affected in some way. We have no idea the affects of time travel, especially on the substances in the phaser.
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Old March 7 2015, 03:35 PM   #4
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Re: The Phaser and The Bum

Metryq wrote: View Post
Why would time travel affect the phaser and not the Enterprise crew? Stay away from nonsense like that unless you're writing a story and need it to set up a situation. (But such an excuse is weak, and your audience will dislike you for it.)
Yeah because we NEVER saw nonsense in a Sci-fi show especially with regards to time travel!
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Old March 7 2015, 04:02 PM   #5
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Re: The Phaser and The Bum

The other oddity about the scene is: what happened to the phaser? Even if it vaporized the bum, did it vaporize itself too? How would that work? We should have seen/heard the phaser clatter to the street after the bum disappeared.
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Old March 7 2015, 04:20 PM   #6
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Re: The Phaser and The Bum

The whole idea behind the scene is he doesn't understand future-tech which causes it to malfunction. So I don't think he just shot himself. I think he made it overload and rather than just blow up it also discharged. So the phaser would not drop to the ground afterwards intact.
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Old March 7 2015, 04:40 PM   #7
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Re: The Phaser and The Bum

mos6507 wrote: View Post
The whole idea behind the scene is he doesn't understand future-tech which causes it to malfunction. So I don't think he just shot himself. I think he made it overload and rather than just blow up it also discharged. So the phaser would not drop to the ground afterwards intact.
But if you watch the scene, all he does is move the wheel a little and then looks the phaser over. Maybe he pressed the trigger on the bottom, I don't know, but from what's shown on screen, it's difficult to think he somehow set it to overload. Especially if you look at "A Private Little War" where Nona (Tyree's wife) has the phaser and tries desperately to get it to fire and yet nothing happens. Maybe the "safety" was on?

I think that perhaps the Guardian of Forever could have affected the phaser, not so much time travel itself, but the manner in which time travel was carried out. We don't know how the Guardian worked, maybe it had some type of draining effect on the phaser which then needed to "warm up" before being ready to use and then the bum just pressed the trigger while it was pointing at himself. Since he was holding the phaser, it was also vaporized, the same way everything attached to the man was vaporized too.
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Old March 7 2015, 06:20 PM   #8
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Re: The Phaser and The Bum

I agree with that! The phaser vaporized itself and the tramp!
JB
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Old March 7 2015, 06:28 PM   #9
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Re: The Phaser and The Bum

Metryq wrote: View Post
The bum pushed the phaser into overload, then shot himself before the explosion
Right. That's the only conclusion that accounts for all the audio and visual cues.

He accidentally put it into overload, then fumbled to try to stop the whining, accidentally vaporizing himself. Makes perfect sense.
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Old March 7 2015, 06:31 PM   #10
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Re: The Phaser and The Bum

The script is no help. It describes the action thusly:

100 OPTICAL ANGLE ON RODENT
Phaser in hand, having pushed the wrong button, OPTICAL of him being bathed in blue light and DISSOLVING AWAY to nothingness. The alley where he stood is empty.
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Old March 7 2015, 06:33 PM   #11
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Re: The Phaser and The Bum

Without the overload whine, and just a phaser sound, there wouldn't be any question that he'd just shot himself accidentally, I think.
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Old March 7 2015, 06:41 PM   #12
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Re: The Phaser and The Bum

johnnybear wrote: View Post
I agree with that! The phaser vaporized itself and the tramp!
JB
Right. Basically exactly what happened with the old-style phaser that vaporized Dr. Korby and Andrea.
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Old March 7 2015, 06:58 PM   #13
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Re: The Phaser and The Bum

This is how they take care of the homeless in the future. Must make life difficult for Starfleet CSI to solve crimes.
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Old March 7 2015, 07:03 PM   #14
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Re: The Phaser and The Bum

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Without the overload whine, and just a phaser sound, there wouldn't be any question that he'd just shot himself accidentally, I think.
Maybe the phaser had another mode. Maybe it had a delayed firing mode in which you set it and so many seconds later it fired its beam (as opposed to just blowing up when set to overload.) The whining build up was an audio queue to let the person know it was charging up to fire.
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Old March 7 2015, 07:04 PM   #15
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Re: The Phaser and The Bum

Doug Otte wrote: View Post
The other oddity about the scene is: what happened to the phaser? Even if it vaporized the bum, did it vaporize itself too? How would that work? We should have seen/heard the phaser clatter to the street after the bum disappeared.
LMFAOschwarz points to the answer from "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" as the androids--and the old style Phaser all vanish when the trigger is pulled. It is clear that a Phaser hitting the object holding it would (naturally) consume the weapon, too. "Rodent" was doomed from the moment he fiddled with the Phaser controls.
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