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

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Old March 4 2009, 10:53 AM   #1
J. Allen
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Balance of Terror

Balance of Terror is what I consider, without a doubt, one of the best Star Trek episodes, and in that I include every series, ever put on celluloid. The strategy, the action, the tension, the character interaction, coupled with Mark Lenard's impeccable performance, all of this comes together so flawlessly in this episode.

I do have a question.

In the scene near the end when they're waiting one another out and running "silent", why are they whispering? Now, running silent I can understand. Shut down and try to eliminate all energy signatures, but the whispering I just don't get. Does it add to the suspense?

J.
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Old March 4 2009, 11:44 AM   #2
Alyssa
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Re: Balance of Terror

I always (over)thought that they might be doing it becouse loud voices or shouting would cause vibrations in the hull of the ship that the enemy could detect, but when I think about that TOO much it just seems like a desperate attempt an fanwanking so I just assume that is was more to build tension than anything else.
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Old March 4 2009, 01:11 PM   #3
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Re: Balance of Terror

Yup.

Water carries voices and other vibrations very well, so it makes sense to whisper in a submarine or a ship to avoid detection by passive sonar. Which is why they do it in old and new naval war movies alike, rather realistically - and why it was considered dramatically right to do it here, too.

However, the only way the Romulans could hope to observe the vibrations of the starship's hull is if they could observe the hull (say, by a ranging laser or somesuch) - at which point there would be no reason to run silent any more, as the Romulans would already have Kirk's ship at their crosshairs.

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Old March 4 2009, 05:08 PM   #4
erastus25
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Re: Balance of Terror

Alyssa wrote: View Post
I always (over)thought that they might be doing it becouse loud voices or shouting would cause vibrations in the hull of the ship that the enemy could detect, but when I think about that TOO much it just seems like a desperate attempt an fanwanking so I just assume that is was more to build tension than anything else.
I think it does do an excellent job of building tension even though it's not necessary. And I always figured it was some kind of human instinct to talk quieter when in "stealth" mode or when in the dark. I know I probably would too, in the same situation.
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Old March 4 2009, 06:11 PM   #5
Vance
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Re: Balance of Terror

It's a technical screwup, due to the episode being based on submarine warfare. You could potentially argue that the sensors on each ship could detect the sound affecting the ships themselves, I suppose (they would have to be insanely good sensors)... but, really, best to chalk this one up to 'Hollywoodism' and roll.
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Old March 4 2009, 07:43 PM   #6
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Re: Balance of Terror

I don't know why they whisper, its not really a sub.

I did finally have the pleasure of watching the uncut hd-dvd version, and although I wish they had done more to the episdoe, the remastering is now the official version in my book.

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Old March 4 2009, 08:50 PM   #7
Cakes488
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Re: Balance of Terror

RAMA wrote: View Post
I don't know why they whisper, its not really a sub.

I did finally have the pleasure of watching the uncut hd-dvd version, and although I wish they had done more to the episdoe, the remastering is now the official version in my book.

RAMA
This HD-DVD version...that's different than the remastered version...right?

All these versions are starting to get me confused...and I'm starting to feel a little old. Soon I won't be able to work the VCR
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Old March 4 2009, 09:16 PM   #8
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Re: Balance of Terror

Vibrations on the hull would need to have gas/fluid molecules around it for there to be anything really detectable, like a submarine in water. In space, it's a vacuum--the absence of matter. Thus, no vibration issue there whatsoever.

Certainly, as Timo pointed out, submarine warfare was rather keen in the minds of people back in the day of TOS and the whole "silent running" idea was carried over as a result. It's difficult to find any plausibility in it...

As a totally out of the blue guess, I'd say that it's to avoid any possible electronic emanations. With everyone being vocally silent, they're also more careful about not touching anything that might give off a signal. Of course, somebody does end up making a mistake and accidentally touches one of those loud feedback jelly bean controls on the console.
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Old March 4 2009, 10:03 PM   #9
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Re: Balance of Terror

It looks like the general consensus is that it was more to ratchet up the tension, then. Because even a basic understanding of how sound travels would negate the need for silence in space. That being said, the tension works.

This particular episode was one of the remastered ones, and I had watched it last night on Netflix. Not only did it look great, but it reminded me of how well developed the show was becoming at this point.

Plus, I just wanted to beat Styles in the back of the head.

J.
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Old March 4 2009, 11:38 PM   #10
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Re: Balance of Terror

They're whispering because THERE COULD BE A ROMULAN SPY ON BOARD!

See, now everyone knows.
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Old March 5 2009, 12:29 AM   #11
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Re: Balance of Terror

Outpost4 wrote: View Post
They're whispering because THERE COULD BE A ROMULAN SPY ON BOARD!

See, now everyone knows.
Ah, excellent point. I forgot to bring this up in the first post. Who got the idea there was a Romulan spy aboard? No one had yet seen what a Romulan looked like, so how would they have known?


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Old March 5 2009, 12:32 AM   #12
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Re: Balance of Terror

J. Allen wrote: View Post
Balance of Terror is what I consider, without a doubt, one of the best Star Trek episodes, and in that I include every series, ever put on celluloid. The strategy, the action, the tension, the character interaction, coupled with Mark Lenard's impeccable performance, all of this comes together so flawlessly in this episode.

I do have a question.

In the scene near the end when they're waiting one another out and running "silent", why are they whispering? Now, running silent I can understand. Shut down and try to eliminate all energy signatures, but the whispering I just don't get. Does it add to the suspense?

J.
Not sure. But this is an upcoming episode for me to watch on Netflix, so I might be able to give you my two-cents worth if you want it
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Old March 5 2009, 12:44 AM   #13
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Re: Balance of Terror

^ Certainly. All viewpoints welcome!


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Old March 5 2009, 01:20 AM   #14
hofner
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Re: Balance of Terror

Psychology. They're supposed to be running silent so they just naturally start whispering even though it doesn't matter.

Spock: Pssst, Captain?
Kirk: Yes?
Spock: Why are we whispering? Sound doesn't travel through space.
Kirk: I don't know. Quit asking so many questions; get back to your station quietly.
Spock: Yes sir.

Robert
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Old March 5 2009, 01:23 AM   #15
AJBryant
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Re: Balance of Terror

J. Allen wrote: View Post
In the scene near the end when they're waiting one another out and running "silent", why are they whispering? Now, running silent I can understand. Shut down and try to eliminate all energy signatures, but the whispering I just don't get.
Two thoughts:

(1) they overdid it. "BoT" was, after all, lifted point-for-point from the film "Enemy Below," so I think they overplayed the "silent running" aspect. (If you've never seen that movie, get it and watch it. It's a kick-ass film, and one of my favorite pieces of music of all time -- "Der Alte Dessauer" -- is turned into a drinking song.)

(2) possibly psychological. Heck, when I'm driving in my car into an underground parking garage, half the time I find myself "ducking" a bit in my seat. Ridiculous, but I do it.
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