Yet Another Doomsday Machine Thread

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by ssosmcin, Oct 22, 2020.

  1. ssosmcin

    ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, off of the others are too old to revive, so....

    Two nights ago, to celebrate the 53rd anniversary, I watched The Doomsday Machine. Yet again. My love for this episode is boundless. It is my all time favorite Star Trek episode franchise wide. It has so many amazing aspects.

    1) It wastes no time. The story kicks right in. No preamble, no banter, no funny bits, just Kirk striding onto the bridge and Lt. Palmer’s first line is immediate. The episode is the most tightly edited of the entire run. After the intro of the wrecked Constellation and Commodore Decker, the episode kicks into high gear and doesn’t let up until the end credits.

    2) It’s very serious. Unlike most other episodes in the Geen Coon era, there are no real moments of levity, no pauses for characterization, no quipping. You either know the characters or you don’t and this is not a good episode to introduce people to the series on that level. If not for the Spock-heavy plot, this would fit in as an early episode.

    3) It’s the first time we see another Constitution class starship. The fact that’s it’s wrecked shows how powerful the planet killer is before we even see the machine itself.

    4) William Windom delivers a powerhouse performance. When you realize his thought very little of the material, it makes his work even more impressive. A true pro who embodied the role. I’m sure he felt ridiculous in the costume and doing the fight scene, but I loved him.

    5) The music!!!! Good lord, what am insanely good film quality score. The leitmotif heavy score by Sol Kaplan weaves themes for the Enterprise, the Constellation, the Planet Killer and even the damned transporter. Not a note is wasted and NONE of this music is left off my Best of Trek playlist. The music backing the Decker/Montgomery fight scene is some of the most complex scoring of the series.

    6) The performances: everyone brings their A-game. Shatner is in top form, Nimoy is at his stern best, Kelley (for his limited screen time) delivers the goods as a chastened McCoy, and Doohan is in his glory.

    7) The effects. Sue me, I love the oringal FX. The AMT model effects have been such a part of my life for so long, no new “improvements” work for me. The original design of the Planet Killer is understated and terrifying. My friends have called it a cannoli, a space cornucopia, a Deadly Bugle snack and the Space Poop. I don’t care. For me, it’s perfect.

    I never – ever – tire of this episode. I watch the Laserdisc version most often, with the original sound mix. It is the one hour of television I would take with me on a desert island.
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'd say he's even more the pro for the fright scene. Although there even he fails to deliver; it just isn't possible to make the audience scared of a play of light on the actor's face.

    But it's pretty amusing to see a male face in a cliched scream-of-terror shot for a change...

    Yes and yes.

    I'm afraid I have to. This is one of the very few episodes guilty of looking like Flash Gordon at its worst, for all the 2D shots of starships from the side. And the death rays look particularly crude yet wimpy this week. (Whereas in the remake, they only look wimpy.)

    But I do love the DDM itself.

    Little disagreement there. Out of the space battle eps, this has "Balance of Terror" beaten to pulp, for avoiding all the cheap WWII story copy pitfalls, even if the scifi elements make limited sense. And even when the whole beaming-down-to-a-doomed-planet bit establishes Decker as a lying bastard of some ill-defined sort.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  3. Noname Given

    Noname Given Admiral Admiral

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    My only issue/nit pick (which I've had as a kid since I saw the episode): Wouldn't a photon torpedo fired straight into it's maw have accomplished the same thing as the Constellation impulse engine reactor explosion? Those things have to pack a punch of 97.835 megatons. :angel:
     
  4. 1001001

    1001001 Very Stable Genius Moderator

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  5. ssosmcin

    ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well @Timo , my favorite doesn’t have to be yours, of course. Balance of Terror is easily in my top 5, but if I had to bring ONE episode, this would be it.

    I fully admit the AMT model and the DDM effects have plenty of technical issues. However, like King Kong and Flash Gordon, I grew up with them and don’t look at them with today’s eyes. I always watch them with the same wonder as the child I was when I first saw them.

    Well, we don't really know for sure. Photon torpedoes were more well defined much later in Trekdom. A full spread of torpedos would blow up a regular ship (Errand of Mercy) or simply diable it (Elaan of Troyius). The concentrated explosion of the power source of a starship (with the whole matter/anti-matter thing) is probably much stronger.
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It should be noted that one of the tricks of the Machine was the "deactivating" of antimatter. In retrospect we can identify the photon torpedoes as antimatter weapons and the heroes as clever folks who'd anticipate all their warheads being duds...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  7. hofner

    hofner Commodore Commodore

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    Back in the early '70s when I watched Star Trek reruns, "The Doomsday Machine" was the one episode I most wanted to see again. The episodes were broadcast in random order Mondays through Fridays at 6 p.m. and you have no idea how agonizing the wait could be for then to show TDM again.
    On monday, I would wait in anticipation and it turns out to be "And The Children Shall LEad". On tuesday I wait expectantly to see its "The Alternative Factor". Wednesday, it's "Plato's Stepchildren". Thursday brings "Spock's Brain", and friday, it's "I, Mudd".

    Oh well, so much for this past week, three days until the next Monday to wait for the chance that they'll show TDM.

    The effects are pitiful by today's standards but they were awesome in the early '70s, the only thing better was the movie 2001.

    I was an avid literary science Fiction reader and this episode made me want to read Norman Spinrad's books. I couldn't find many but two I did find were pretty good.

    Robert
     
  8. BillJ

    BillJ Canon Warrior Premium Member

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    If someone’s poop looks like the Doomsday Machine, they should probably go immediately to their physician. :rofl:
     
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  9. Noname Given

    Noname Given Admiral Admiral

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    Good point. I guess my nit is picked.:beer:

    Has a child of the 1960s; The first thing I thought of when I saw the doomsday machine for the first time was:

    Wow an alien race created a flying space joint. Kirk should just smoke that thing and problem solved...:techman: :hugegrin:
     
  10. Redfern

    Redfern Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    [​IMG]


    "Due to an embarrassing miscalculation of scale, Matt Decker saved the day and actually lived to tell the tale."
     
  11. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Okay - on the shape of the DDM - if it's made out of pretty much solid neutronium (is there such a thing?!?) there would have to be some very strong force-fields keeping it from collapsing.

    Now, knowing that this thing is what 10's of thousands of years old (or 100,000 or...) I would bet that it has occasionally faced energy shortages so... The idea here is that it was a perfect cone shape when built but, has partially collapsed over time to become the "space joint" or "cornucopia of death" we all know and love.

    Of course, this would also explain why no one's running around in the galaxy with pure anti-proton beam based weapons and other such tech since the DDM would have started crunching itself up into a little ball of neutronium pretty much right after the Constellation blew its guts out!
     
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  12. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Plus this guy:
    doomsday_security_guard.png

    Yeah, I don't see how they could be considered improvements, they are just substituting VFX that look like the '60s, like the rest of the production, with VFX that look like the early 2000s.
     
  13. jackoverfull

    jackoverfull Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    One of my favorite episodes as well, and yes, you are totally right in pointing out that the scoring was fantastic, just thinking about it stuck the Doomsday Machine theme in my head.

    About the “improved” FX, almost every time I watch TOS-R I feel the CGI looks very bad anyway...

    By the way, I highly recommend the fan made New Voyages episode In Harm’s Way, which is a follow-up of sorts and quite enjoyable.
     
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  14. ssosmcin

    ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Jerry Catron! He was amazing! He was a solid actor/stuntman. He died so young.
     
  15. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  16. Henoch

    Henoch Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    My favorite episode, too. Great story, acting, directing, music and special effects.

    I first remembered William Windom from My World and Welcome to It (which I actually watched back in 1969-1970) only to later make the connection to The Doomsday Machine during its reruns. I think Windom said that he didn't realize it that the story was a Moby Dick takeoff until he watched the show many years later. :lol:
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2020
  17. ssosmcin

    ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I had read that he died in a motorcycle accident in the early 70s

    https://therealnerdherd.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/2-21-happy-birthday-to-the-late-jerry-catron/

    It was discussed in his “death” thread.

    also note that there isn’t a single acting credit for him after the 70’s date of his death.

    https://www.trekbbs.com/threads/securitys-finest-jerry-catron.287984/
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2020
  18. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  19. Push The Button

    Push The Button Commodore Commodore

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    This is one of my all time TOS favorites, an episode that I will return to a few times every year.

    DM was also James Doohan’s personal favorite. Scotty was my favorite character, certainly one of the reasons that I pursued a career in tech and became an engineer myself. And I think that out of all the TOS characters, Doohan may have come the closest in real life to his.

    I like the remastered effects, but there was something about repurposing that off-the-shelf AMT model for the wrecked Constellation - the same model that any of us could buy and build ourselves - that was really cool.
     
  20. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    The Jerry Catron who died in 1972 was a different guy. Someone wrote into the fact check blog about this a few years ago — we were able to confirm this using the identifying information for Catron on the episode’s cast sheet (now at UCLA) and the information on the death certificate of the other Jerry Catron from 1972.