Episode of the Week : Balance of Terror

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Botany Bay, Mar 8, 2014.

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Rate "Balance of Terror"

Poll closed Mar 15, 2014.
  1. 1

    1 vote(s)
    2.1%
  2. 2

    1 vote(s)
    2.1%
  3. 3

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. 4

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. 5

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. 6

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. 7

    1 vote(s)
    2.1%
  8. 8

    4 vote(s)
    8.3%
  9. 9

    18 vote(s)
    37.5%
  10. 10

    23 vote(s)
    47.9%
  1. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    ^ There's a good moment in that scene though, as Scotty sort of smirks when Spock pushes the book aside and quotes the comet's statistics from memory.
     
  2. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's a minor point for me, Kirk was often grabbing his crew, although usually to snap them out of some kind of funk or from being infatuated with some villain of the week. I found it more frustrating that Rand (or any of the yeomen) rarely got to show that they were actually qualified to be in space so in that respect it is a bit irritating. From what I recall, Rand doesn't really notice.

    Rand did take the helm in the Naked Time but was replaced in the next scene and Landon got to show off some judo moves because the actress had some training but mostly the purpose of the yeoman was to look pretty and ask obvious questions.
     
  3. AtoZ

    AtoZ Commander Red Shirt

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    I know this episode is loved and even more in some cases, but try as I might I have no "ohh-aah" feelings about it. I give it a solid 9-rating simply because it hits the ball out of the park on a number of levels regarding the characters and the story and its objective.

    Mark Lenard was brilliant. The interaction between he and his immediate command crew was well crafted and the dialogue exchanged gives us insight into what they as Romulans were all about. I liked the spartan control bridge and the "all or nothing" feel lent by their ship's limitations, all for the sake of the big KO punch it packed.

    Also of note was the phaser control team aboard them Enterprise. We get more than just some voices over the intercom, we see a dedicated team behind the decisions made on the bridge and the key nature of their responsibilities. All of this good stuff is framed by the initial joy and promise of a rare shipboard wedding between two key crew members only to have it all fall to tragedy.... the singualr death aboard the Enterprise in this one tumultuous episode...the groom-to-be. Kudos to Shatner and Kelley for giving us many well delivered scenes.

    Balance of Terror is no doubt one of the most well polished gems in all of Trek. I do appreciate it and have grown to really like it. I just don't love it.
     
  4. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Easy. The draft of the writer-director guide you're thinking of was written after "Balance of Terror" was written, produced, and broadcast.

    I've scanned all three versions of the guide; at some point I'll have to write an article going over the differences.
     
  5. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I much prefer the original silent f/x of the "phaser bursts" which gelled with the description given in The Making Of Star Trek.

    Apparently those bursts were originally supposed to have a sound effect, but they either overlooked it or never got around to it in post-production. Nonetheless for decades we saw them as soundless phaser bursts until they "fixed" it much later for DVD with the inappropriate photon torpedo sound.

    I wish they'd just left it alone.
     
  6. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    The book was entitled TABLE of COMETS and subtitled GALAXY something. I'd sure like to know the whole title.

    [​IMG]

    The HD frames at TrekCore don't catch this one moment that would have shown it clearly:

    http://tos.trekcore.com/hd/albums/1x14hd/balanceofterrorhd300.jpg

    Can anybody make it out? Or maybe you have the BluRay and can check it?
     
  7. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks, Harvey, that makes sense. So that version of the Guide was really saying "we'll never do this kind of scene again". I've been trying to figure this out ever since the first edition paperback of the Whitfield book, which gives you an idea of how long I've been fussing about it. ;)
     
  8. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I hear that (see what I did there?). At least the "original mono broadcast track" on the Blu-Ray is correct for that episode (aside from the opening credits). I found the silent shots to be very effective. A totally different feel. But I'm already the BBS "sound mix wackadoo."
     
  9. Push The Button

    Push The Button Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That line of the book title looks like Galaxy Quadrant to me.
     
  10. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    According to the script (7-18-66):

     
  11. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    10.

    As an example of Trek's ability to adapt concepts from other genres and make them even cooler, it never got better than Balance of Terror, which sums up in its running time everything that made Trek a standout franchise. Its space duel is still unrivaled in the televised canon, and arguably still better than TWOK even with the latter's better effects. (This episode is in fact my favourite Trek episode period.)
     
  12. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's less amusing that they have a physical book there than it is that they apparently didn't know a comet was ahead of them until Spock called up the info at the meeting. So why was this random book of comets sitting there? Were Spock or Kirk actually aware of it and wanted to introduce the concept as a dramatic way of presenting their strategy? Or did Nimoy deliver the line "incorrectly?" He made it sound like a discovery, but Kirk knew immediately what comet it was. So he was familiar with the comet activity in that area.

    Also, Stiles' rant to Spock make little sense to me.

    STILES: These are Romulans! You run away from them and you guarantee war. They'll be back. Not just one ship but with everything they've got. You know that, Mister Science Officer. You've the expert on these people, always left out that one point. Why? I'm very interested in why.

    They never actually discussed it in the episode (which means they never discussed it). So what was Stiles expecting?
     
  13. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Like most Star Trek, and TV/movies in general, you can shred it to pieces if you examine it closely enough. Like most Star Trek, it is the acting and directing that are just superb.
     
  14. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    The book is really just a visual cue for the audience. And space can be full of things they might not pay any attention to unless necessary. They might already have known comets were in the area and thought nothing of it until it was advantageous.

    I wasn't bothered by this in the least. Truly cringe inducing is the book scene in TUC. That was very stupidly done. Another example in a long line of examples of characters poorly utilized. It was done as a cheap sight gag for a laugh.
     
  15. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    It'd be interesting to get the dates on those various versions. I often delineate TREK in terms of pre- and post-Coon, and that sounds like something he'd've put in. I'm unaware of any claims that other folks (re)wrote GR's bible for TOS, but given the Gerrold issue on the TNG bible and his WORLD OF STAR TREK notions that GR put in for the p2 bible (written mainly by Jon Povill, wasn't it?), certainly the revised TOS bible could have actually been done by Fontana or at least with input from Fontana and Coon.
     
  16. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    As far as I know it was a budgetary thing. Originally, according to ILM's Bill George anyway, it was a suspense scene that relied on visual effects, with three shots of the ship slipping into a field of rocks to mask its passage through Klingon space. It is entirely possible that it was designed to emulate the 1990 Paramount film THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER's scene (absent from the novel) where the russian sub does all its fancy maneuvering to avoid deep sea rock outcroppings, though that is just speculation on my part.

    When Paramount drew the line at 27 million on the budget, all sorts of stuff came out (a tiny bit of which came back in later once they saw the movie was going to turn out okay), including the whole 'rounding up the crew' sequence, which would've had potentially pricey views of San Francisco with the flying cable cars and the matte shot of BOUNTY after it had been retrieved from the bay.

    That point in time is significant, since the counterproposal to keep the budget down was to drop ILM entirely and go with less expensive vendors -- which scared Paramount shitless, given the negative reception of fx in TFF (especially with the info HARVEY posted here recently indicating TFF's VFX cost more than the earlier ILM trek shows!)

    But while going with other vendors would probably have meant not getting stuff like the creature morphs and the CG shockwave and the klingon blood (at least not in the fashion ILM delivered the blobs), it is entirely possible that Paramount could have established new relationships with VFX companies that would have been long-term beneficial.

    I've always thought that DreamQuest would have kicked serious ass on any Trek film, as they were innovative as all get-out and rarely delivered sub-par anything. On an even lower-budget basis, the Skotak Bros might have really impressed.

    I actually find ILM's spaceship work on GEN and FC to be among their best, but certainly the money would have stretched a lot further if Par had a reliable inexpensive option, especially on GEN with Bernie Williams seemingly sabotaging Carson's attempts to get something that looked like a movie up on screen. Somebody probably should have told him the Ralph Winter line, words to the effect that if you don't take the time to make the most of your locations, even if it costs bit more, then you might as well have stayed on the lot.

    Man that is one helluva digression, sorry, just got to typing ..
     
  17. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Don't get me wrong, this is in my top 5 episodes of the series. Just one of those things that occurs to me after 42 years of watching these things over and over and over......

    But Stiles' rant always kinda gnawed at me.
     
  18. AtoZ

    AtoZ Commander Red Shirt

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    Having come to respect the viewpoints of many of the regulars that frequent these boards, and understanding just how highly "Balance of Terror" is viewed, and how I have never actually embraced it for its true merits, I took the liberty of watching it again last night with fresh eyes.

    Weighing it against factors many of you have listed in this thread, and doing away with the burned-in impression I may have formed of it decades ago as a child, I see now that it is without a doubt, one of the most crisp, well presented and delivered, gems of not only TOS, but Trek in whole, across the board.

    To be sure, they hit their marks on this one, from the writers all the way to the crew and the actors. I gave it a 9 for being a solid episode a few posts back, but after the review last night I'd give it an easy 9.5 or even a little higher. It a great character episode as it reveals shades of the characters we love as they interact with the presented characters (one offs) for the story. It's also lightly sprinkled with a fleeting touch of irony...delivered so carefully by Lenard and Kelley.

    I may have learned to like this one over the years and admitted to not loving it amongst the fine and critical reviews in this thread, but after last night....I have learned to indeed love it....and I now believe wholeheartedly that it is amongst the top five and certainly top ten episodes of this classic series.

    :techman:
     
  19. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    To me one of the finest sequences is at the very end where Kirk consoles the young widow then briskly heads back to work through the corridors. Simple, underplayed and yet it spoke volumes of Kirk's command presence.
     
  20. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I'm confused because I really don't see what this has to do with my post.

    In TUC they show the bridge crew with a pile of books trying to fake speaking Klingon. It's all done in a stupid manner that makes fun of the characters to no reason other than an easy laugh. It would have been much better just to show Uhura struggling with getting the message across (not speaking fluent Klingon) while everyone else sat by tensely. It would have been a nod to Uhura being able to handle more than being a switchnoard operator and treated the character(s) respectfully. Yeah, she could have still made a couple of mistakes for a smirk, but it wouldn't have looked nearly as ridiculous as it was filmed.