"The Alternative Factor" - Why is it so universally hated?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Caligula, May 12, 2013.

  1. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    If you let the viewer in on the secret of what's going on with the two Lazurus before the characters figure it out then you make the heroes look stupid. The idea is for the viewer to follow the heroes trying figure out what's going on. It's a revelation for the viewer as well as the characters.

    Yeah, the science is wonky, but the point is to deliver a tangible sense of drama and jeopardy rather than a hard science dessertation.

    Re: "Plato's Stepchildren." Yeah, the antics were embarrassing and humiliating to the heroes because that's the whole point of the scene, to show how degenerate the Platonians are. Hell, today people openly humiliate themselves on television without any apparent regard for how asinine they look. They seem to have no genuine self-awareness or even self-respect. And because it's in the real world they're publicly humiliating themselves far more than what we see in this TOS episode. TOS' heroes were bullied by immoral degenerates rather than willingly denigrating themselves.
     
  2. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Maurice already corrected your error here, but you might also consider Justman's account of Desilu's grievance (through SAG) against Barrymore. The actor's feeble defense was one of forgetfulness, which led to him being barred from work for six months. It's believable that he might have forgotten his obligation and never shown up (though this was unprofessional, and he was suitably punished). It's not believable at Barrymore showed up for half a day and then forgot he had to complete work on the episode.

    Inside Star Trek has a few mistakes and hazy memories in it -- enough that I have thought about addressing them in a short article -- but this is not one of them. Brown wasn't there, Justman was, and the archival record supports Justman's version. QED.
     
  3. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    I don't recall anything on the level of dying actors used until the end, men in women's angora sweaters, frightened police officers and giant, hairy wrestlers running through Enterprise halls.

    Even Irwin Allen's all time low points was superior to the eternally strange & inept Ed Wood.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's too narrow an interpretation. It's not like the studio defined the entire universe of discourse. He was out there in the world, and they'd contacted him before to arrange his guest spot. If he hadn't reported for work that morning, and they tried to locate him and there was no sign of him anywhere they looked -- if nobody, not even his agent, was able to locate him -- then it would be natural to say he had disappeared.

    Besides, the first part of that sentence is the telling part. "The morning he was scheduled to begin work." Saying he disappeared in the morning means that he didn't disappear at lunch. And saying "he was scheduled to begin work" indicates that he never actually began work -- he was expected to, but didn't. The sentence is quite clearly stating that he never showed up at all.
     
  5. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    My biggest problem with Alternative Factor, simply, is when the admiral (sorry I haven't seen it in a while) says the effect was felt all through out the galaxy and beyond. So, the Federation has instataneous communication through the whole galaxy and beyond? Did they switch long distance carriers? That just does not fit for me. Even the anti matter/matter problem is less of a problem for me, although it is still bad. It could be an alternate dimension where two of the same would "cancell" each other out, but that wouldn't be antimatter, so it could be just a term problem there. Doing the fall of the cliff twice was bad, too.
    The beard, nuff said.
    So, the regular characters did okay and were well acted, but the plot and terms and story flow weren't too good.

    BTW, I don't hate it.

    My biggest problem with "Plato's Stepchildren" is simply this: Dr. McCoy just whips up powerful telekinesis just like that and no one ever uses it or mentions it again.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  6. LOKAI of CHERON

    LOKAI of CHERON Commodore Commodore

    I guess it all comes down to how each of us responds to any given episode. I commented recently in another thread I was quite bemused at the level of vitriol heaped on this particular segment by fandom. I really wouldn't have thought of TAF in this manner pre-internet.

    Regardless, TAF remains one of my favourite entries from S1 despite the eloquent arguments presented by previous posters. While I certainly understand the rationale behind many of the criticisms, I can still easily dismiss them and enjoy the show completely unburdened - like many other episodes from across the franchise. For me, it's all about the "vibe".

    Personally, I find it absolutely astonishing TAF would come bottom in a grading of TOS episodes behind the likes of Spock's Brain, And The Children Shall Lead, The Way To Eden etc.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  7. feek61

    feek61 Captain Captain

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    Barrymore came in for a fitting previously but did not show up for the shooting at all: period. That is why he is said to have "disappeared" because he did show up prior to the first days filming but not ON the day of the filming.

    Regarding TAF, it's def not one of my favorite episodes but as with most TOS episodes there are some cool things about it. The "only seen once" engineering section, the "only seen once" back / bottom view of the Enterprise and of course that cool ship little flying saucer looking ship with the Galileo's chair in it (and the dome that became the Gamesters habitat).
     
  8. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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  9. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed. One of the reasons I like The Alternative Factor is that it deals (admittedly loosely) with the idea of a parrallel universe. I think the episode is still one of TOS' best shows. My only complaint was that we didn't get to learn more about the differences of this anti-matter reality. For example, if there were two Lazarus', where was the anti-matter Enterprise and her crew? In orbit around the anti-matter planet? That we didn't get to see THAT is the thing to be annoyed by, if anything is.

    And I also agree with your assertion about how fans react to any given episode. While I'm in the minority in my liking for this one, I'm also in the minority for my absolute dislike for City on the Edge of Forever and The Inner Light, two episodes most fans seem to love, although what the hell for is anybody's guess. I personally think they were two of the worst things Star Trek ever did.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I won't quibble about the others, but "Spock's Brain" is a much better episode than it's given credit for. I think the reason it gets so much attention as a bad episode is not because it's the worst episode, but because it's the most entertainingly bad episode. It's silly, yes, but it's fun, unlike some of the other "worsts." It maintains a good pace and the cast seems to be having a good time. It has good production values, particularly that great rear-projected graphic on the bridge viewscreen, something we almost never saw in TOS. It gave the supporting cast bigger roles than usual since Spock was absent for much of it; the scene of Kirk, Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov reasoning out a problem on the bridge is just great stuff. And it has Fred Steiner's best, richest, grandest musical score of the entire series, as if to make up for the story's shortcomings.
     
  11. LOKAI of CHERON

    LOKAI of CHERON Commodore Commodore

    All excellent points, I certainly don't disagree. In fact, I do enjoy Spock's Brain, and even the other two episodes cited to a lesser degree. As I mentioned, it's all about "the vibe", and I just find it extraordinarily difficult to get past the ridiculousness of remote control Spock - and the horribly annoying "clicking" sound effects to boot! I know there are other equally farcical contrivances elsewhere in the series, but for some reason, that one rankles me particularly!

    Totally with you reference the score, it really is outstanding.
     
  12. feek61

    feek61 Captain Captain

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    Actually it was the ONLY time we saw the rear-projected view screen (we saw a static version during "The Doomsday Machine" when Kirk walked in front of it) and we get a good view of that little shown defense station to the right of the view screen . I agree with you on the score which is fabulous except that annoying spacey sounding stuff. It's kind of what I was eluding to earlier; even the worst episodes had some unique and interesting elements to them.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2013
  13. spockboy

    spockboy Commander Red Shirt

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    I know exactly what's wrong with it, and I would give my left nut to have the money/time to redo the effects. That cheesy shot of Andromeda spinning and the negative footage of two guys on a stage (walls clearly visible) and recycled fight music, didn't live up to what I think is a BRILLIANT concept as far as the story goes. Some day when I can afford the time I will take a stab at it. (Maybe Kickstarter is the answer ;)
     
  14. spockboy

    spockboy Commander Red Shirt

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    Great points. I read that the intention was for Spock's Brain to be a comedic episode like Piece of the Action, but Freiburger disagreed. Would be interesting to re-edit it with some comedic Trek music and see how it turns out. :)
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's actually the Trifid Nebula.


    No way. The music was the best part.
     
  16. spockboy

    spockboy Commander Red Shirt

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    I stand corrected (Ahh Trekkers)
     
  17. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    Agreed. I always thought Steiner's score was good on TV, but the recent CD is a revelation.
     
  18. Caligula

    Caligula Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's a fair gripe to have, however they also didn't seem to distinguish "quadrant" from "sector" on TOS. Also, the Enterprise was capable of traveling much faster than Warp 10, well before it was established that this was the unattainable speed that would you to "occupy every point in space at the same time." It doesn't surprise me that they would make an outlandish claim like being able to communicate throughout the galaxy "and beyond" since the Alpha/Beta/Gamma/Delta quadrant boundaries of the galaxy we're now quite familiar with were not being recognized at this point.
     
  19. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    To be fair, de Forest Research did advise the production that the line was ridiculous, but it was never changed:

     
  20. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    That was cool.

    All good points--especially Steiner's score. Lovely music during the 1st act.