The Doomsday Machine - now 45 years old

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Wingsley, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    Don't look now, but "The Doomsday Machine" turned 45 on Saturday. This outstanding episode made its primetime debut on NBC on Oct. 20, 1967.

    I was saddened to see that William Windom, who played Commodore Decker, passed away this past August 16.

    This episode captivated me from the first time I watched it as a rerun in the '70's. My family used to refer to the alien "planet killer" machine as "the giant rotten carrot". There are only a couple of minor plot holes I never cared for in this story: (1: when Transporter Chief Kyle was about to beam Kirk and his boarding party off the Constellation and the alien machine attacked the Enterprise for the first time (presumably unshielded), I don't understand why that first salvo didn't destroy the Enterprise; once Decker took over and got into a firefight with the Beastie, the Enterprise was hit so many times the shields collapsed and the ship should've been destroyed again... and, (2: McCoy folded way too easily after objecting to Decker's takeover; McCoy hypoed and scanned the commodore, after having found him in a "state of shock", so there should've been enough forensic evidence already on-hand to relieve the commodore of duty on medical grounds, but McCoy seemed to just fold. McCoy was my favorite TOS character, and it seemed to me that it was very un-McCoy to just concede like that. A poorly conceived plot device in an otherwise excellent story.

    I must say that this "Moby Dick"-style story that meditates on the delicacy and dangers of command authority in a time of crisis being left in the hands of a man of questionable fitness is still relevant and interesting to watch even today.
     
  2. t_smitts

    t_smitts Captain Captain

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    Windom wasn't the first actor for the part. The director wanted some other actor who's name escapes me, and still thinks the other guy would've done a better job.

    Windom, for his part, from what I've read, was kind of embarrassed by the episode for a while, until someone pointed out the Moby Dick allegories many years later. I wonder if he was aware Decker in TMP was meant to be his son. (I'm sure bet some fan pointed this out to him at some point).

    It's always nice seeing other Starfleet ship on TOS. (Most of the handful we did see came to bad endings).

    I'm glad the special edition fixed the size discrepancy between the shuttle, the Constellation, and the planet killer.

    Apparently this was one of James Doohan's favorites. (I think his least favorite was the "space hippies").
     
  3. Knight Templar

    Knight Templar Commodore

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  4. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Decker: "Don't you think I know that."

    One of Star Trek's best delivered, most powerful piece of dialog ever.

    :)
     
  5. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    My all-time favorite episode. I don't have nearly enough good things to say about it. Always loved it, from the great performances to the amazing music even to the not-so-great use of the AMT model kit. To this day, I choose to watch the original print over the TOS-R version.

    Great, great episode.
     
  6. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    FYI, Norman Spinrad, who wrote the ep, has posted some YouTube videos where he discusses the making the ep.

    Norman was actually one of my early writing instructors, along with Vonda McIntyre, which I guess makes me a second-generation Trekkie!
     
  7. bbailey861

    bbailey861 Admiral Premium Member

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    I have this You Tube piece 'favourited'. I think it was this forum that steered me to it in the first place. It is well worth hearing the story, from Mr. Spinrad himself, of how this amazing episode came to be. It is Mr. Spinrad who mentions Robert Ryan. I am going to have to watch this again this evening. For those who are looking for the You Tube piece:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=758fT5Ov590&feature=plcp

    Enjoy.
     
  8. Knight Templar

    Knight Templar Commodore

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    One question I have about this episode is

    "Why did so many fans (and reportedly Spinrad himself) down on the design of the Planet Killer?"

    I've heard many maligned the design as a "giant Hoover (vacuum cleaner)"

    But I loved the design. I think it looked powerful, menacing, rugged, durable and extremely old (Spinrads early script had Spock saying it was about 3 BILLION years old).

    And the glowing look it had in distant shots made me think it was glowing due to extreme radiation in the open end.

    I know there were some problems with effects shots. Such as the close, forward three quarter views where you could see stars through it.

    But overall I loved the design.
     
  9. 1001001

    1001001 I Like the Beats and the Shouting Moderator

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    The planet killer looks a lot better in the updated version, IMHO. I watched on Netflix recently.
     
  10. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Spinrad's memory seems faulty. GSchnitzer posted a quote from the script describing the machine, and it's not what Spinrad now says he imagined it looking like.
     
  11. E-DUB

    E-DUB Captain Captain

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    Would have loved to hear McCoy say; in response to the "Mr. Spock knows his duty under regulations, Doctor, do you?" question, "Yes, to report to sickbay and prepare for the casualties you're about to send me.............sir."
     
  12. Revolution

    Revolution Ensign Red Shirt

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    And still brilliant. As far as I remember, it's the first episode I saw and I watched it with my dad as a kid on VHS.

    Very captivating with some very good performances from the leads. The conclusion is always tense no matter how many times you view it.

    I disagree. I thought it looked pretty dreadful. It looked really out of place and it wasn't even a well rendered design- it seemed very fake and lacking body. The kind of thing I'd imagine a 17 year old working with some freeware software in his spare time to produce and upload to YouTube, where he'd get comments along the lines of "Good work!" and "Good to see you embracing the TOS legacy!".

    I've seen a lot of contrary opinion but I always thought the original looked pretty good and pretty real. It looked old and worn, and dangerous.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  13. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I always thought it looked like a giant Bugle.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    Well said. The original almost looked like a rough experiment which managed to "go beserk" before the hull could be refined. The remastered version.....

    ....X-Box CG and TOS do not mix.
     
  15. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    OH, NO!!!

    A whole litter of baby Planet Killers, fresh from Iowa! :rommie:
     
  16. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    The original f/x planet killer is way better than the TOS-R version. The original looks old and rough and genuinely alien.
     
  17. therealsb63

    therealsb63 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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  18. therealsb63

    therealsb63 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Holy crow, me too! back in the day when Bugles were about 50% bigger than they are now...

    Bugles, or I'd make mini planet killers with the foil from my Ring Dings...
     
  19. therealsb63

    therealsb63 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    QFT. Much of the Remastered work looked either cheap or rushed. Why they didn't use the same effects people who were doing the work on ENT at the time has always been beyond me. Take the best shot of the Enterprise from the remastered episodes and compare it to the Defiant in "In A Mirror, Darkly"...