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

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

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Mar 15, 2001
That wasn't settled on until TNG, and not until after the early first season (since Geordi said in "Where No One Has Gone Before" that they were passing warp 10). Roddenberry arbitrarily decided that warp 10 should be an absolute cosmic speed limit, and then the tech people decided to equate it with infinite speed -- which, if you think about it, is the exact opposite of a speed limit. Which has confused a generation or more of fans, since using a finite number to represent infinity is sending mixed messages.

(The reason you'd occupy every point at the same time at infinite speed is because any number divided by infinity is zero -- or rather, the limit of n/x as x approaches infinity is zero -- so the infinite-speed travel time between any two points regardless of distance would be zero. Basically it's just an unnecessarily complicated way of saying "infinite speed," another way that the explanations of warp 10 just confused the issue.)

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It's just easier to assume the warp scale was redefined by the time of TNG.

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Mar 15, 2001
^Well, yes, it's a given that the warp scale was redefined in the TNG era, given the numerous references to speeds above warp 10 in TOS and TAS. I'm just saying it was redefined in a pretty silly way, which mainly came down to Roddenberry's ill-conceived insistence on a "speed limit" that wasn't really a limit at all.

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... and then there's warp 13, from All Good Things.... Another recalibration? A breakthrough?

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Mar 23, 2004
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Gov Kodos on Mohammed's Radio, WZVN Boston
A warp ten mutated wizerd-lizard did it. That would make more sense than anything in Alternative Factor. The episode is amusing with a few beers, though.

6. PavonisCommodoreCommodore

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Apr 26, 2001
COTEOF and Inner Light are about character, while TAF is about a concept. That's probably why you're in the minority opinion with respect to all these episodes.

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Yeah, could be. But I also enjoy character-based episodes, just not in either of those cases.

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May 3, 2013
So I've been a member here for less than a month, this topic is exactly why I joined. I love seeing how much you all know about the episodes. I can't even remember guest character names let alone rules, laws, and EVERYtHInG in between. It makes me want to be a bigger fan! I never second guess what I see, Ill have to watch TOS all over. It'll be like the first time again!!

My question is would it be a good idea to start a topic like this on every episode just for people to weigh in them? Likes, dislikes and whatnot. I would love to get in on something like that!

As for TAF I had never thought twice about it, I liked the idea of the episode. Never looked into what made sense or logical to the Star Trek world. I just had fun while watching it! I'll go back to that one tonight.

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Mar 23, 2004
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Gov Kodos on Mohammed's Radio, WZVN Boston
If you really want to rewatch the series and have a commentary on the episodes as you go along, you should start a thread to that purpose. 'New fan watches Trek' or some title to that effect. As to how you approached this episode, that's fine. I can enjoy any TOS episode pretty much. Some more than others, of course, but all of them have something to enjoy either as dramas in their own right, or just as goofy fun.

Enjoy the series just as you're doing, any show is more fun that way. TOS has its faults, every series ever made does, and no series will hold up to a hostile viewing no matter how lauded. I'll look forward to your review thread should you decide to give that a go.

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shores of Australia
Welcome aboard

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May 3, 2013
Thanks for the welcome everybody! I will have to start on my great Trek rewatching. I agree with you Gov Kodos, I can have fun watching any of them. Even my least favorite I still enjoy the characters!

Anybody recommend any DVDs that have good commentary on them? From directors, cast, or writers that may shine a better light on the Trek universe.

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May 22, 2013

13. BennieGamaliCommanderRed Shirt

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May 22, 2013
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Norway.
The beard was quite amusing. I think the beard was what made him seem insane to me. I liked the episode well enoug. Not my fave. But it was entertaining.

14. Delta VegaLieutenant CommanderRed Shirt

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Nov 17, 2011
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The Great Barrier
Confusion

Confusion, I was confused when I first saw TAF at the age of 10

Every time I have viewed it since, I am now 52, most recently a few weeks ago, I am still confused

Two Lazarii, both barking mad, both at large on the ship, inane fight scenes, drunken man stumblings from not very high cliffs for no apparent reason, not once but twice.

Then a silly wee ship that supposedly travels through time and alternative versions of space.

An actor who was plainly shit, Brown, a regular cast who were not too enamoured with a shit script.

"And what of Lazarus ?"

And what...............

Not in the same league of casual badness as "A Piece of the Action" for example, but bad enough.

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May 3, 2013
I watched it again after reading through the reasons it is horrible... Yes all those reasons are very valid... But I still have fun watching it, I can't help but enjoy it. It's the cheese factor I enjoy sometimes. The idea behind the episode is great... With more work and planning could have been amazing!

Yes the beard pushes the limits of cheese in this! It looks like a mix between raj agul from batman with the hair of I don't even know!!

Someone mention earlier the half completed door of the ship... I thought it was more like a doorway to the other dimension than broken/unfinished prop... Ie kirk walking through it passing into good laz place..?

You pretty much echo my sentiment. When I saw other TOS episodes as a kid, I got them with rarely any confusion. But this one left me confused and disappointed. The imagery with that "place where the two universes meet" was stupid, not to mention how Lazarus mysteriously just teleports there without warning. How does he get dragged in there anyway? And if he's a time traveler, why doesn't he travel back to the point before the accident happened and the two Lazaruses meet? Then there's that ship. While somewhat cool, it's a half-baked pod that doesn't look at all capable of space travel. And why would two dilithium crystals be set opposite each other that would then send whoever crosses it into the alternate universe? It made no design sense whatsoever. It looked jury-rigged due to insufficient time to think it through. And the other thing... there didn't look to be any kind of sensible door possible for that thing, given the arc in the bubble and the gap in the body.

The only thing I liked about it were the two new engineering extras, who Lazarus duped in order to get the crystals. They seemed like decent actors who could've been recurring extras like Eddie Paskey or William Blackburn.

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Mar 15, 2001
I'm curious... what do you consider to be the idea behind the episode? To me it's a jumble of ideas that don't really add up to anything. Which of them is the one you think could've been the core of a worthwhile episode?

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May 3, 2013
It is very jumbled and that's the problem I believe(too many different ideas)... The part i like is the 2 characters bouncing in and out on each others dimensions. That I think could be explored MUCH better than what they originally did, BUT who am I to Monday morning quarterback someone else's work!

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Aug 26, 2003
Hmm... The classic Evil Twin concept probably deserves another novel method of introducing both the Twin, and the manner in which the Twin can be mistaken for his less evil counterpart. This episode didn't really provide any - but if it had pulled its act together and explained to the audience (via pretty VFX) how one Lazarus suddenly becomes the other in the middle of the action, switching from noble motivations to evil ones, this story would have earned its place in any scifi context.

In such a case, the conclusion of our main hero Kirk figuring it out and freeing the two of this devilish curse of alternation and instead allowing them to confront each other directly would have been satisfactory enough. The meat of the episode would have come from a more careful exploration of the good and evil ways the Lazari use in their own attempts, while the "if they meet in uncontrolled circumstances, horrible things will happen" thing could have been kept as is, forcing Kirk to be clever somehow.

(It's not as if the technobabble would really need changing, though. Our heroes speak of these two universes by comparing them to matter and antimatter, but the comparison need not be exact; "antimatter universe" could be a practical if inaccurate expression for something vastly more alien.)

Timo Saloniemi