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Nate the Great 09-08-2016 05:06 PM

50th Anniversary TOS Episode Discussion Marathon
Fifty years ago today "The Man Trap" aired in the United States (apparently two days earlier in Canada). It was followed by "Charlie X", "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "The Naked Time," and so forth.

Yikes. If that initial lineup aired in today's world of social media and instant ratings calculations, do you think the series would have survived? I don't.

Anyway, here's what I propose as a forum game for the anniversary. On the anniversary of each episode's initial broadcast (link to Memory Alpha, we'll use the "Initial Airdate" column), somebody (not always me, we can share the tasks) will post a link to the appropriate fiver, and talk about each episode and the fiver for the week until the next episode.

I'll start in the next post.

Nate the Great 09-08-2016 05:40 PM

September 8th, 1966, "The Man Trap"

The Fiver (by IDJ GAF)
Memory Alpha Page
Transcript (courtesy of


* Wrigley's Pleasure Planet was always a funny concept to me. To me "Wrigley" still means chewing gum.
* First example of the captain's log knowing things that the cast doesn't. I mean, it's weird how the captain's log was never fully explained. How, where, and when are these "omniscient narrator" entries made?
* It seems fitting that "may the Great Bird of the Galaxy bless your planet" appears in the first episode aired.

Fiver quotes:

Captain's Log: We've beamed down to the planet to investigate the Crater of two evils.

Oh, the puns in this fiver.

Crater: It's the last creature of its kind -- much like the passenger pigeon, American buffalo, dodo bird...
Kirk: ...Diatryma, Smilodon, Tyrannosaur... I get the picture.

I looked these up. Diatryma was an early giant flightless bird whose status as carnivorous or vegetarian is in dispute. Smilodon was one of the saber-tooth tiger species. That being said, I don't understand the comparison of long-extinct species to those who went extinct in more recent times due to the interference of man.

Kirk: She's an it. It's a salt monster.
Nancy: Mmmm.... Kirk sweat....
Spock: (entering room) Shoot it, Doctor!
McCoy: I dunno, I think I need more evidence than that.
(Nancy morphs into a salt monster)
Salt Monster: Mmmm.... Kirk sweat....
McCoy: Good enough. (Fires)
Salt Monster: GAK!

Ah yes, the ever-popular Gak. But the idea that Kirk's sweat would be considered more delicious than McCoy's or Spocks has disturbing implications.

Further discoveries from the Memory Alpha page:

Mainly because this episode was chosen to be first via process of elimination, the initial reviews weren't all that great. However, this is what got David Gerrold hooked and led to many collaborations.

Comment and so forth. I hope someone else can take care of the main entry for "Charlie X" next week.

NAHTMMM 09-09-2016 08:53 AM

Great thread! :) I'll have to come back later to actually comment.

Nate the Great 09-09-2016 03:26 PM

"The Man Trap" coverage, part two.

The Nitpicker's Guide entry for "The Man Trap" says that Allan Asherman (author of The Star Trek Compendium) dubbed Kirk the "male Fay Wray" because of his ability to scream with expression and emotion. In this episode he does so when the salt vampire attacks him.

Clip of Spock hitting the salt vampire (the nerve pinch hasn't been invented yet) to no effect, only for it to backhand him across the room. This clip also includes the Kirk scream.

A salt vampire cosplayer dances (and strips away her costume) at a Star Trek Beauty Contest at Dragoncon. So, um, that happened...

You probably don't remember Sulu's pet weeper plant Gertrude (formerly known at Beuregard). Well, the creators of The Red Shirt Diaries do. I just discovered these videos, so enjoy their episode for "The Man Trap".
Wait until the end for a special twist. I've just seen the first episode, I want to watch the others as I make the anniversary entries here.

Hallmark made a Christmas Tree Ornament for this episode.

Nate the Great 09-09-2016 03:52 PM

"The Man Trap" coverage, part three. All of this is from Memory Alpha.

The actress inside the salt vampire costume, Sandra Gimpel, also played a Talosian in "The Cage." The staff wanted someone small who could act in costume. She didn't know about the fandom's affection for the salt vampire until she attended her first Star Trek convention earlier this year.

I'd never noticed the salt vampire costume on display in Trelane's mansion along with other aliens.

Originally the NX-01 crew was supposed to go to Wrigley's Pleasure Planet in "Two Days and Two Nights", but Risa was substituted, as the Enterprise was supposed to be far removed from places with human names. After all, W.P.P. does sound like something Harry Mudd or Cyrano Jones would set up, right?

(Okay, this next one is Memory Beta)

If the Star Trek Roleplaying Game is to be believed, Wrigley's Pleasure Planet was built inside a hollowed-out asteroid in the solar system.

Nate the Great 09-10-2016 10:54 PM

Um, guys? Anybody besides NAHTMMM out there?

NAHTMMM 09-12-2016 08:24 AM

Good work digging all that up, Nate. I appreciate it. :)


McCoy: I'm nervous; how come I have to get the girl the first episode?
Kirk: You already got her, and she dumped you. Probably because you're not me.
McCoy: You're doing wonders for my nervousness.
In the actual episode, Kirk's teasing here felt a little cruel to me.

There have been complaints elsewhere about the salt vampire being killed. Letting it live would have been the Trek thing to do, and it should have been within the crew's capability. Stun it, beam it down to the planet, leave it some pellets. If Dr. Crater truly wants to take his chances with it, that's his decision. I don't know how well that ending would have gone over with the rest of the episode leading up to it, though.

The fiver is pretty good. It parodies the plot pretty well, brings out the creature's salt obsession, and takes the "first episode" opportunity to snark on a few Trek cliches:

Transporter Guy: (over comm) Landing party reports one casualty sir.
Spock: Meh.
Uhura: I don't believe it, a man dead and NO emotion from you!
Spock: It'll catch on with the rest of you soon enough.


McCoy: (over the comm) I found something suspicious, could you come down here?
Kirk: Why can't you say whatever it is over the comm?
McCoy: Doctor/cadaver confidentiality.
As far as citing ancient extinctions, maybe IJD deliberately had Kirk miss the point. Or maybe he was just picking words he liked.

Nate the Great 09-12-2016 05:40 PM

I assume I'm doing Charlie X on Thursday.

Nate the Great 09-15-2016 11:24 AM

September 15th, 1966, "Charlie X"

The Fiver (by Derek)
Memory Alpha Page
Transcript by

Thoughts on the episode:

* Charlie learned to talk by speaking to the computer? Yeah, no. Maybe if you plunked a kid in a classroom with a computer specifically programmed to teach language skills like in the NextGen episode "Rascals." In the 23rd century, with a computer designed to be used in a colony, a computer even less sophisticated than the Enterprise's? Yeah, no. At best Charlie would babble at it and the computer would respond "invalid command" over and over.
* The bottom slapping bit always seemed out of place. The final punchline needed to be stronger to justify the setup, and it wasn't.
* Since Kirk is from Iowa, the idea that he'd be the one in favor of promoting at least minimal observance of Thanksgiving makes sense.
* Ah, yes, UESPA, the United Earth Space Probe Agency. After this episode and "Tomorrow is Yesterday", UESPA would be relegated to cameos. Some have suggested that any usage of a military rank instead of a naval rank (i.e. Colonel West) marks a UESPA officer, not a Starfleet one. At least this bit of early weirdness hasn't entirely gone away, unlike Vulcanians and lithium crystals.
* I'm still iffy on this whole "Thasians can teach the ability to transmute matter to humans" thing. When it comes to inhuman powers, I don't think they can be "taught." I'd think teaching a human to nerve pinch would be about the maximum possible without outright genetic modification.
* I do like how Charlie admits that the Enterprise is more complicated than the Antares and he outright can't control everything by himself. It calls to mind Scotty's jerry-rig of the ship in The Search for Spock.
* If the Thasians can grant their power without being able to take it back, I guess they're lower on the cosmic food chain than the Q, who can do it with a finger snap. I like that, they're not quite omnipotent. Call it semi-phenomenal, nearly cosmic.

Thoughts on the fiver:

I understand the Star Wars jokes, but reminding me of the prequels isn't very pleasant. Sorry, Derek.

Uhura: (singing) Charlie X, Charlie X, for you that name might vex. But be glad indeed your name's not Malcolm Reed or you'd be called Malcolm X. Ack!
Charlie: I find your lack of good lyrics disturbing.

Classic trilogy jokes, however, are a-okay.

Ramart: (over the comm) Kirk, I wanted to warn you about Charlie X. He's a Q! GAK!
Kirk: What's a "Q"?
Spock: It's a letter of the alphabet as far as I know.

Classic "Gak!" gag. Obligatory "All Good Things" reference, move along...

Rand: Argh! Enough with the Star Wars quotes already! Get out!

I'm with you on this one, Janice.

Spock: I can't believe my ears!
Charlie: I can't believe your ears either.

Okay, is this more Abbot and Castello or Marx Brothers? Decisions, decisions...

Memory Alpha thoughts:

* I wasn't aware that an early title considered was "Charlie's Law", a science joke. I remember covering this in school, but we jumped quickly to the Ideal Gas Law.
* I didn't know that Gene Roddenberry's only cameo (as a voice) was in this episode.
* I've read the Blish adaptations, but it's been a long time. I didn't know that Blish was able to save the disappeared Enterprise crew by saved by the Thasians.
* The article mentions that Charlie and the Antares crew use leftover, outdated uniforms from "The Cage." This makes sense, as when uniforms are updated priority would be given to the starship crews, with smaller ships and outposts lower down in the pecking order.
* Thanksgiving in 2266 would be on November 22nd, giving an exact "real-world" date for this episode.
* I'm amazed that at various points the Antares is called a cargo vessel, a transport ship, a science probe vessel, and a survey ship. Maybe the last two could be considered alternate terms for each other, but in general wouldn't these tasks require different kinds of crews and ship equipment? Clearly the script needed another run-through by an editor.

Nate the Great 09-16-2016 12:15 PM

C'mon guys, fiftieth anniversaries don't come along every year.

Nate the Great 09-17-2016 01:11 PM

Perhaps we need to change the thread title? "50th Anniversary TOS Episode Discussion Marathon?"

NAHTMMM 09-17-2016 08:45 PM

Sorry, I was going to rewatch Thursday but other stuff kept coming up.

From what I remember, there's an undercurrent of Kirk and the crew failing Charlie. Obviously Kirk didn't know at first how special Charlie was, and he had a ship to run and Charlie was just another passenger, but in the context of the episode Kirk doesn't look very empathetic. (In fact, looking at the transcript, Kirk tries to push the task of an initial father figure off on Bones.) I know it was '60s TV, but seriously:

Well, um, er, there are things you can do with a lady, er, Charlie, that you er. There's no right way to hit a woman. I mean, man to man is one thing, but, er, man and woman, er, it's, er, it's, er. Well it's, er, another thing. Do you understand?
No. Nobody's going to understand that.

I wonder (if I may take this into a weird meta space) how a later Kirk might have handled Charlie, during the second season for example, when the character was more familiar to the writers and Shatner. Could the episode have gone in a different direction, with Charlie and the crew finding some understanding of each other, only for Charlie to be taken away at the end despite showing promise? Would that be more or less effective?

Oh, and the fiver is very good.

Charlie: Is that a girl?
Kirk: No, those are the transporter controls. This is your first time around other people, isn't it?
Classic parodic lines. And the Star Wars jokes are wonderfully over-the-top.

Nate the Great 09-22-2016 09:32 AM

September 22nd, 1966, "Where No Man Has Gone Before"

The Fiver (by Zeke)
Memory Alpha Page
Transcript by

Thoughts on the episode:

* Ah yes, the second pilot. The one that would never have been made in today's television industry. Today "The Cage" would've been rejected and Star Trek never would've happened.
* One of Spock's ancestors married a human? Why wasn't the precise nature of Spock's heritage in the series bible? Sarek and Amanda should've been in the series bible by now.
* Lots of outdated technobabble. I've already preached enough on this topic, I'll move on.
* I always hate it when a show's cast introduces themselves and their specialties in turn. There had to have been a way to do this more organically.
* Like many fans, I interpret the "little blonde lab technician" as Carol Marcus.
* "James R. Kirk." I wonder what name starting with "R" would have been as memetic as "Tiberius".

Thoughts on the fiver:

Kelso: Are you sure? Could be risky.
Kirk: Risk? Risk is our business! That's what this starship is all abou--
Spock: Ahem. Jim? Not till the one where we switch brains with robots.
Kirk: Oh yeah. Sorry.

I always did love the "risk is our business" quote. I remember that the novel Imzadi says that Kirk adopted that phrase as the title of his autobiography.

Okay, activate the transporter.
Scotty: You mean the materializer, right?
Kirk: Materializer? Yeesh, even Archer called it a transporter! What kind of losers are we?

Oh yeah, that's a lame name. Even "Vulcanian" isn't that pathetic.

Sulu: Mitchell's powers are doubling every day. Think of it this way, sir: suppose you make one penny today, then two pennies tomorrow, four pennies the next day, and so on. Know what happens after a month? You get busted for forgery.
Kirk: I'm not sure I followed that.
Spock: Try "us good, Gary bad."
Kirk: Hmmm...yeah, that's better. Let's dump him on a planet and run.

Classic twist on the "wheat and chessboard problem" (I remember the rice variant, but whatever Wikipedia says, goes, I guess).

Piper: Mitchell left after killing Kelso and putting you and Spock to sleep.
Kirk: How did he do that?
Piper: According to our security camera, he started reading out the script of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Nobody deserves that kind of torture.

Kirk: Sorry you got, you know, killed.
Dehner: Meh, no biggie. It was... fun....
Kirk: Why do I feel like I just looked into my own grave?

Yikes, Z. How many shoutouts to other episodes and movies can you fit into one fiver?

Kirk: "James R. Kirk."
Spock: Right. What's with that? A god wouldn't make such a grave mistake.
Kirk: What mistake? It was a sentence: "James are Kirk." Which I are.
Spock: Hmm... becoming the brains of this outfit may be easier than I expected.

Was the juxtaposition of a clever pun with a lame pun your intention? Because that was clever if so.

Memory Alpha thoughts:

* I'd forgotten about Sulu's shifting job description in the early episodes. I almost wonder if this is similar to Chekov and Wesley having multiple jobs to better round out their education and training.
* They bring up Kirk and Mitchell's visit to Deneb IV, to be featured in "Encounter at Farpoint." Odd, while watching that episode I got the impression that Deneb IV had only recently joined the galactic community, perhaps wanting to leverage Farpoint Station and its new trading position to increase it's position.
* I knew that Isaac Asimov was a fan, but didn't know that he first encountered the show at a screening, nor did I know that Roddenberry "shushed" him.

NAHTMMM 09-22-2016 02:51 PM

My favorite bit of the fiver is probably:

Kirk: And now, onward! Onward we go, to expand the frontiers of human exploration and become legends!

Spock: Well, that was a bust.
Kirk: Oh, shut up.
The bit where Dehner says "I think I'm some kind of psychiatrist" amuses me too.

I imagine that the series bible simply said "this guy's half-alien, half-human" and left it at that. A lot of Trek just got made up as they went along; it's a big reason why canon is such an issue.

Zeke 09-23-2016 01:23 AM

This thread is a great idea (though yes, the title you suggested is more on point -- can you change it yourself or is that a mod privilege?). I'll be sure to link it in the next update.

I don't think I was consciously camouflaging a good pun with a bad one -- I think I was just throwing around all the puns I could.

Jim's "middle initial" is one of my favourite TOS references to make (I actually have not one but two more jokes about it in in-progress stuff). I'm particularly proud of the blurb for "The Changeling".

"Risk is our business" is another one I love -- and the reference in Imzadi was actually my first encounter with it! I came in with TNG and it was a long time before I knew much about TOS. (There are still a lot of episodes I haven't seen -- Minutemen 1 is based on a true story. Tried to order the Blu-Ray sets a while ago when I could afford it, only to get nearly swindled by the eBay seller.) Anyway, there have been several references by me and others, some of which I had actually forgotten. Do a Ctrl+F for "risk" in this VVS9 episode.

There's a recent article, based on the big 50th-anniversary book, which discusses Gene's fairly awful behind-the-scenes antics (not news to any Trekkie, though some of the details may be). I bring this up because of a very interesting claim made in the comments: apparently the network's objection to Number One in "The Cage" was less about her being a woman (which was always how Gene told it) and more about Gene giving his mistress a huge role not commensurate with her talents. I wonder if that's true.

Nate the Great 09-23-2016 01:39 AM

Is that what the blank "Title" space is for at the top of the reply page? Hmmm...

One episode a week seems okay, we won't have a break of more than a week until December. I was contemplating doing an overlap of episodes (one from each season per week) so that next fall could celebrate 30 years of NextGen, but that's a lot of work if only a handful of people are reading. In fact, if I'm going to be writing all of the initial posts I may have to write up a batch at a time and just copy-and-paste once a week.

Incidentally, was "grave mistake" an intentional pun anyway?

Zeke 09-23-2016 01:49 AM

Oh yeah, definitely.

(Title now changed, btw.)

evay 09-24-2016 11:50 AM


Originally Posted by Zeke (Post 80563)
and more about Gene giving his mistress a huge role not commensurate with her talents. I wonder if that's true.

Considering that Majel is a perfectly fine actress who brought depth to Christine and Lwaxana, which could both have been cardboard or throwaway roles, I'm thinking "not commensurate with her talents" is the bullshit part.

My favorite Majel anecdote comes from my best friend, who was working security at a Trek con. It was the first con Majel had attended after Gene's death, and the outpouring of love for her as she entered the room was a tsunami. My friend asked if she was okay, and she said something like "Of course, I'm finally home." She later told him she slept through the night that night for the first time since Gene died.

Nate the Great 09-29-2016 12:33 PM

September 29th, 1966, "The Naked Time"

Oh, boy, here we go...

The Fiver (by Derek)
Memory Alpha Page

The episode:

* Let's get this out of the way: Why are the gloves on isolation suits so easy to remove? Tormolen is a shmuck who should've been forced to recalibrate all of the warp coils by hand for that stunt. Couldn't the same thing have been accomplished by him snagging the suit on something and tearing a hole that nobody noticed?
* You need to be in decreasing orbit to conduct scans on a planet that's breaking up? What happened to the probes?
* I'm glad that they acknowledge Sulu's past in botany. The more I read these early episodes the more parallels I see with Worf's status in Season One, a sort of pre-senior officer.
* I remember this one from the Nitpicker's Guide, Kirk's "a disease is spreading that we don't know about" Captain's Log entry. Ugh.
* Spock's read The Three Musketeers? That's a new one.
* Ah yes, the bowling alley. Some have interpreted this as being a joke on Riley's part, but everybody since (and a lot of novels) insist that there was such a place, usually located along the spine of the secondary hull.
* It's always funny to see what precisely will be the tipping point for Kirk in a crisis. Here it's Riley singing "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen."
* Rand is taking the helm instead of Uhura?
* Spock refers to his parents in the past tense. I'm glad this was just polywater intoxication muddling him, otherwise we would've missed out on some great performances. On the other hand, why would Kirk ask him in "The Journey to Babel" if Spock wanted to see his parents if Kirk thinks that said parents are dead?
* Here we go folks, the discovery of time warp. How the script writers (and the viewer) will enjoy using and abusing this plot device in years to come.

The fiver:

Joe: Oh, sir, it was terrible! They just lay down and died. It must've been the Pax!

I Wikipedia'ed "pax" and I'm still stumped (seemingly no applicable definition). We may as well resurrect the old fiver reference thread here as we discuss them.

Sulu: I'm bored at work.
Riley: You could try writing a parody.
Sulu: Nah. What kind of losers would do that?

I'm sad that I came to the site after the BaW era had ended. Then again, at the time I was reliant on college computers for Internet and didn't have the kind of access needed to do impromptu parodies.

Scotty: The engines are off and it takes half an hour to turn them back on.
Kirk: And when you say half an hour, you do mean seven and a half minutes, right?
Scotty: Right, but we're still screwed.
Kirk: Well, fix it anyway and then you can reminisce about this scene on TNG.
Scotty: Okay, okay....

Ah yes, "Relics" reference. The weird thing is, the way everybody was talking, what Scotty did here was a major innovation in starship engineering and would end up in textbooks.

Memory Alpha:

* "The bowling alley on Kirk's Enterprise was located on deck 21 in the Star Trek Blueprints. It was depicted in an easter egg in the aborted PC game Star Trek: Secret of Vulcan Fury."
* The DS9 tech crew put up a sign saying that the Promenade had a bowling alley as well. Odd, as I'd think a holosuite could do that job just as well and let's face it, few nonhumans would want to play it.
* In an interesting bit of trivia, this is the only TOS episode that contained Uhura, Chapel, and Rand together.

YouTube clips:

* Sulu's sword antics
* Somebody set clips to "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah"
* Scotty can't change the laws of physics
* A preview trailer for this episode

Nate the Great 09-29-2016 06:50 PM

More coverage of "Where No Man Has Gone Before"

Final battle

I forgot to mention how they accomplished the silver eye effect for this episode (courtesy of the book Inside Star Trek): a layer of tin foil (with a pinhole for vision) between two glass contact lenses. Ouch. Apparently Gary Lockwood had real trouble with them, only being able to use them a few minutes at a time. Sally Kellerman had no such problem. Incidentally this also necessitated that Gary do that "head tilted up, looking down" pose to look through the lenses which conveyed his growing detachment from humanity and arrogance.

Memory Alpha also mentions that the "James R. Kirk" think was an in-joke; that when they met Kirk told Mitchell that his middle name was "racquetball."

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