"The Man Trap"/"The Naked Time" Double Feature

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Too Much Fun, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. Too Much Fun

    Too Much Fun Commodore Commodore

    Feb 19, 2009
    I just watched "The Man Trap" and "The Naked Time" again for the first time in awhile. I was surprised by how different they were from a lot of other "Star Trek" episodes (as far as I can remember, having not yet seen every single episode and only going through all three seasons twice). I was wondering if anyone knows why certain good qualities of these episodes were lost as time went on. Was it just because the producers saw how well Kirk, Spock, and McCoy being the focus could work, or was the network hesitant to give other characters more to do just because true ensemble shows were rare at the time?

    I heard an interview once where it was said Rodenberry wanted to make "Star Trek" an ensemble show, but only accomplished that goal with TNG. I think these episodes really show that. They feels much more like good TNG episodes than many others I've seen from this series. One of the biggest reasons is how much they let us get to know some of the side characters. In "The Man Trap", we learn about Sulu's love of botany, and then his affinity for fencing is not only identified in "The Naked Time" - he gets to talk about it as well! It was fun seeing Sulu explain why he's into fencing not for love of fighting or even self-defense, but simply because he thinks it's a great way to exercise (and of course his topless hijinx and Spock's insights show that he also fancies himself a swashbuckler). I don't think the show ever provided so much insight into his personality in any of the other episodes of the three seasons.

    I also don't recall any follow-up to "The Naked Time" reveal that Uhura is a lonely romantic who is attracted to Spock and yearns for him to show her some affection (the new movie doesn't count, I'm talking about a follow-up in the series). I had totally forgotten about that and it caught me completely off-guard. Kirk's feelings about the ship were intriguing too (I love that line, "now I know why they call it 'she'..."), but I don't recall his feelings for Rand being explored further? Why not? Maybe an episode that really deals with them like "Attached" dealt with Picard and Crusher would have been cool. I do think a few things in this episode were followed up in later episodes/seasons, if I recall correctly. I believe Nurse Chapel's crush on Spock (by the way, anyone know why her hair was dyed white in "The Naked Time"?) was addressed later on and of course Kirk's devotion to the ship and Spock's difficulty with emotion recurred throughout the series. I think there should have been more callbacks, though. O'Riley definitely should have come back. It would have been nice for him to become one of those neat peripheral characters like Nog, Vic Fontaine, Leeta, Weyoun, etc. were on DS9. I bet if this show had been done in the 90s, he would have been, since he was so entertaining in his debut.

    I think these episodes might be examples of how despite what a great show "Star Trek" was, a lot of potential was squandered by the timidness of standards and practices during the era when it came out. I'm talking not only about the fact that nobody could (or wouldn't?) explore peripheral characters as much as these episodes, but also the way they dealt with women and race. I've never understood the criticisms of "Turnabout Intruder" being sexist, but some of the stuff with women in these episodes annoyed me. It felt weird how they thought the only way the Salt Vampire could get Uhura's attention was by pretending to be a man who spoke the same language as her and belonged to the same race. We had just seen that she was attracted to Spock, so why imply that only an African man could get her attention?

    I guess you could argue they just wanted to make him really obviously conspicuous since she tended to be the only black person around, but it made me uncomfortable because I felt like it was suggesting that the best bait for her was this kind of man, since black women are only expected to want to be with black men (at the time). I'm less forgiving of Miss Crater's portrayal, though. She seems to be this rather outdated stereotypical idea of a a woman who is remorselessly conniving, weak, manipulative and lacks self-control. :thumbdown: I know Dr. Lester was like that too, but she was clearly a sociopath. Miss Crater seemed more or less normal, so I don't understand why she couldn't just tell someone about her condition instead of playing the stereotypical woman of weak self-control who conceals the truth to try to get what she wants.

    Those are minor complaints that barely detracted from my enjoyment of the episodes, though. To this day, I still think the Salt Vampire has one of the coolest designs of any Star Trek creature and is one of the most believably plausible aliens in Star Trek history (I'm trying hard to not get started on a rant again about how much I hate those silly foreheads, noses, ridges, and scales of the 90s aliens :nyah:). I think we could have used more episodes that got deeper into the ensemble cast psychologically (though hopefully in less cliche ways than Uhura's dialog) in season 3 instead of laughable debacles like "...And the Children Shall Lead" or "Plato's Stepchildren" :barf:.
  2. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    I agree with your comments totally and these early episodes are among my favourites because they involve the support characters at the heart of the stories. The overall series would have been stronger if they'd chosen two or three more ensemble episodes per season in my view.

    Rand and Kirk's unrequieted lust/love was due to be a recurring theme that was dropped after some backdoor shenanigans involving the unfortunate actress. Although she was a secondary character alongside McCoy in season one, she appeared less often (8 out of 12 episodes) and only about half of her appearances were significant. Even so, if they'd kept her as an occasional guest star, it would have retained an extra dimension to the show while still allowing Uhura to take up some of the landing missions that would otherwise have fallen to Rand. I was sorry to see her vanish. Riley was good value too, it's a shame he didn't come back.

    Interracial relationships were a bigger deal in the US than the UK so Uhura wasn't going to be lusting after a white guy. She flirted a bit with Sulu and Spock and got to command a white male security team in City on the Edge of Forever. That was pretty racy at the time.