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

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

  1. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    One could write a complete essay on all of the flaws and contradictions of this episode. In fact, I began to start it and was just overwhelmed with all of the problems in this episode that I abandoned doing this.... why waste my time? ;)
     
  2. LOKAI of CHERON

    LOKAI of CHERON Commodore Commodore

    Sorry to go off topic, but that's a marvellous avatar, Gary7!
     
  3. Kinggodzillak

    Kinggodzillak Commander Red Shirt

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    My theory is that we do see the anti-matter Enterprise in this episode; in fact, we spend the entire story on it. That's the only explanation I can think of for Engineering being completely different and for the Chief Engineer suddenly being someone who is very much not Scotty, as well as all the other little moments that feel a bit 'off'.

    Doesn't make the episode any better, but it is a theory. ;)
     
  4. M

    M Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's a shame Kegg/Kegek hasn't posted in this thread yet. As I recall, he loved "The Alternative Factor" and considered it one of his favorites. I would love to hear from him and what it is about this episode that he likes so much.

    As for me personally, I'm no fan of this episode. As others have noted, this sadly isn't even one of those episodes that are so bad they're good.
     
  5. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Something like "counter-part universe" would perhaps be more accurate to the relationship between the two universes' as they are described.

    :)
     
  6. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The best thing to come out of "The Alternative Factor", many years later, was the audio birthday card, which I've seen two versions of:

    [Picture of Kirk and Spock on front of card with text that reads:]
    "Mr. Spock, what would happen if we were to light all the candles on that birthday cake at once?"
    [Open card to hear sound bite of Spock saying:]
    "Annihilation, Jim...total, complete, absolute annihilation."

    [Quoted from memory.]
     
  7. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    Another thing, why did it cause such an incredible fluctuation in readings the first time and put the whole Federation on alert and then subsequent switches weren't even noticed by people in the hall of the ship?

    I just want to add I don't hate this episode, it just has a lot of problems. I think this is about number 8 on my "ten episodes I try not to think about".
     
  8. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Works for me. But I still think it's a better episode than watching William Shatner piss away an hour mooning over Joan Collins.

    And as far as the engineer for that episode goes. It was never stated that that lady was the chief engineer. She could have been a "chief" in the same way that O'Brien was. Remember that was his title on TNG, and he wasn't the chief engineer. The woman could have been in charge simply because Scotty was off-duty.
     
  9. J.A. Morris

    J.A. Morris Ensign Newbie

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    This is one I hadn't seen too many times when I got the dvd set, didn't recognize the title.

    I find it boring, and by the third time we got the negative cinematography, it feels like padding.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Charlene Masters was never addressed as "chief" at any point in the episode -- only as "Lieutenant." Not to mention that she wore a blue science-department uniform rather than a red engineering uniform. And she had no rank stripes, which would've been more consistent with an ensign or enlisted crewperson.

    Nor was there ever any indication that she was in charge of engineering as a whole. She seemed to be the senior officer in the particular subsection of the engineering complex that was responsible for the dilithium circuits, but that's all.

    O'Brien was called "chief" because it's short for his enlisted rating, chief petty officer.
     
  11. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's very kind of you, Lokai. You're welcome on my planet anytime. ;)
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...Perhaps in charge of just dilithium crystal re-amplification, even? It sounds like a rare procedure, and might call for a dedicated blueskirt specialist working with special equipment somewhere far away from Scotty's little kingdom.

    It's nice to have two speaking Starfleet parts down at the facility where the Lazari do their raiding - and it sort of makes plot sense that this facility be a small, isolated, never-before-seen one, because the heists would have been much less plausible down at Main Engineering where Scotty generally has plenty of assistants around.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Which was my entire point. Thanks for agreeing with me.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Well, what you said was "The woman could have been in charge simply because Scotty was off-duty." My point was that it was never suggested that she was even temporarily filling in for Scotty as the supervisor of the whole department. She was just working in one part of the overall engineering complex, and she had one or two people working under her, but that doesn't mean Scotty wasn't on duty as her commanding officer at the same time. After all, engineering is more than just one room and a few guys. It's probably the biggest department on the ship other than sciences, so there'd be a whole hierarchy of officers under Scott -- just as Geordi had people like Barclay, O'Brien, Duffy, Gomez, and Taurik working under him. If Barclay or O'Brien reported to Captain Picard, it wouldn't mean they were filling in for Geordi while he was off-duty -- it would just mean that the thing they were reporting on pertained to their own particular specialties or assignments.

    After all, as stated, the part of engineering we saw in this episode was one we never saw at any other time. So it stands to reason that it's a subset of the overall engineering complex, and Lt. Masters was an assistant engineer who ran that particular section and reported to Scotty, who was in charge of the whole department. There were probably other sub-departments with their own lieutenants in charge.
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    The total absence of a main character from an episode does raise questions. I mean, a ship's doctor might remain unseen, but McCoy is such a busybody; a chief engineer might be off camera if all went well, but no episode is based on all going well. If these people are absent without explanation and 1:1 replacement, something is lacking.

    The secondary bridge heroes have every excuse of being rotated off duty, of course. The odd thing about that is why the sidekicks are so seldom replaced by corresponding other officers; it almost appears as if they are the "A Team", the shift that is awakened every time an adventure is anticipated, and then stays on duty until the credits roll. But there are adventures that start in the middle of the teaser, not prior to it, and nevertheless the "A Team" already occupies the usual consoles...

    In TNG, we often had main characters leave the ship and attend various meetings, conferences, competitions, holidays or whatnot. In TOS, nothing of the sort was ever hinted at; shore leaves were rare occasions that impacted on the entire ship, and no courier service could whisk people off the ship for the duration of a single episode (or else there would have been no "Amok Time").

    So... Where is Scotty?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    One thing good to come out of this episode, Charlene Masters. D*mn, she's beautiful! :drool:

    Sincerely,

    Bill
     
  17. siskokid888

    siskokid888 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Supposedly the episode was chopped to heck to remove an interracial romance or something like that. I wonder if the whole ep exists somewhere, and if it is any better.
     
  18. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    That version wasn't shot. The episode was "chopped to heck," but it happened during the re-write process. I've seen it alleged that this happened after Janet MacLachlan was cast because NBC was leery of an inter-racial romance, but I haven't seen any actual evidence to that effect.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    There are overviews of two drafts of the "Alternative Factor" script available at Dave Eversole's Unseen Elements page:

    First draft
    Final draft
     
  20. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They may not have taken the effort to explain it in-continuity on TOS, but on this type of show, it seems to be pretty standard for most of the actors to get at least a couple of episodes off per season. On TNG, IIRC, everyone but Stewart and Frakes was routinely missing for two or three episodes a season.

    And on TOS, Scotty and company weren't even regulars listed in the opening credits...they were just recurring guest stars listed in the end credits.