For this study I was looking especially at the 3 main characters as I was at the show itself. The show first aired on September 8th with the episode “The Man Trap.” This episode, however, was not the pilot. The original pilot was titled “The Cage” and was not aired until the 80’s. However, much of the footage is seen in the 1966 2 part episode “The Menagerie”. I am not reviewing this episode with the exception of Spock, much of the episode focuses on a different captain and a different crew. The second pilot is titled “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. I don’t know if it was just my mood at the time, but when I started to watch this episode, I found it very boring and didn’t get very far in. Also, Kirk and Spock are in the episode but Dr. Mccoy is not. These are the characters I am focusing on. I only watch ’66 episodes from the season, so I did feel limited. I was unable to watch the first episode with the Klingons, The Khan episode, or and the critically acclaimed “City on the Edge of Forever”
I did watch “The Man Trap” though, and enjoyed it. This was my Dr. McCoy episode. In it, McCoy, Kirk, and Regular Joe Crewman (your typical Red Shirt, but his red shirt was dirty) beam down to a planet to assess the situation and needs of a Robert and Nancy Crater living on the planet. The woman is a ex-flame from McCoy’s past. When we first meet Nancy, she appears different to all 3 men. McCoy sees her as the young brunette he once did, Kirk saw an older version, and Joe sees a young blonde. When they catch up with her later, McCoy sees her as Kirk does, and Joe is dead, with big red rings on his face. Nancy is the killer, but they don’t know this at the time. They leave for the day, and when they come back the next day this time with 2 Joes. On this trip both Joes are killed, and Nancy changes her appearance to that of one of them. Unaware of the 3rd death and the imposter, the crew returns bringing her with them. She wreaks havoc on board the Enterprise, convincing Dr. McCoy to take some super sleeping pills, killing a crew member and freaking out several of the crew. Eventually it is found out that the original nancy is dead and this the last of a species that used to live on the planet. In a final battle between Kirk and the creature, McCoy is unable to act, not knowing it wasn’t Nancy and Spock is forced to kill her.
This first episode lays down the basic personalities for Kirk, Spock and McCoy. In this episode it shows McCoys more emotional nature. He is a little quicker to anger than most, which is sometimes set of by Kirks seeming calm or (what he sees as) foolishness in a tense situation, or Spock’s calculation and logic. In this episode he acts too much on his feelings for Nancy and not exactly with a clear head. In one scene he even stops focusing on the death of the first dead crewman to talk about her as if in a love haze until Kirk snaps him back.
The second episode I watched was an episode entitled “The Corbomite Maneuver”. In this episode Kirk and crew encounter a a weird square in space. The Tesseract? Probably not, when it blocks them from passing they blow it up pretty easily. They keep going until a giant sphere shows up and tells the Enterprise crew they have 8 minutes to pray to whatever deity they have before they get blown to smithereens. Kirk tries contact several times with no success. In what seems like a no win situation Spock tells Kirk that sometimes in chess you just have to accept checkmate. Kirks rebuttal: This isn’t chess. This is poker. He then bluffs the man in the sphere, whose name is Balok. He tells himm that they have a substance called corbomite on the ship and that if you fire on it you will destroy the ship and yourself, as every attacker has in the several years since its creation. Their adversary then calls off their destruction in order to send a small ship to escort the Enterprise back into federation space. When the Enterprise breaks the tractor beam had on the ship and kills the power of the other ship a small boarding party boards it. Its passenger, a childlike man, reveals himself to be Balok and that he was testing them to see if they were interesting.
This episode really shows off Kirks leading style and ability to act. Kirk is serious when needed but often keeps calm and cool. He knows his authority and knows his business. He is willing to take risks and use a little extra force to get the job done. Kirk will Spock and McCoy (whom he calls Bones) as a sounding board even though he has already made up his mind. This may possibly just as a way of telling them what he will do. He has faith in his crew and knows their capabilities. Kirk is able to take moments staring in the face of death and turn them not only into survival but of victory and putting the opponent in a position of disability and fear. His confidence in his commands and knows how to get people to listen is very obvious. He knows how to handle insubordination, big and small, and shut it down effectively and appropriately. Many discussions have been had about who is the best captain, and Kirk will always be my number 1!
The final episode I watched this week was “Balance of Terror”. This episode is the first appearance of the Romulans. This episode was to be my Spock focused episode because I knew a major point of the episode was the similarity in Vulcan and Romulan appearances. However, this episode focused less on Spock and more on Kirks ability to lead.
The episode follows the Enterprise and a Romulan Bird of Prey on a cat and mouse chase. The Enterprise responds to a distress call from one of many outposts along an area called the Neutral Zone. The Neutral Zone is an unpassable area in space that was set up at the end of a Human/Romulan war that marks off the end of their area in space. The war had been fought a hundred years earlier before the two parties had the technology to communicate by any means but subspace frequencies. When the Enterprise is able to latch onto CCTV feed from within the roman vessel they see that they look just like Spock. This causes one crew member to loose faith and trust in Spock, thinking him a spy. (Spock later saves this crewman’s life, convincing him to change his opinion of Spock) Spock, finding this illogical, ignores it. The task of the Romulan vessel is to look for weakness on the federation side of the border. The only advantage they have is a cloaking device that hides them from the enterprise scanners. It is not entirely effective though and the Enterprise is able to follow their weak signal and appear as a echo of the Romulan ship. Several clever tricks and maneuvers between both sides leave both ships battered and low on power but the Enterprise has a slight advantage, in that they faked a worse situation than they are in to bring out the Romulan hail mary pass early. with the Romulan ship revealed visual communication is finally had between the two parties. When Kirk offers up assistance to the Romulans, their captain says that in another life they may have been friends and that he has respect for Kirk, but accepting assistance is not the Romulan way. The warbird then self destructs.
This episode really hits home Spock’s ability to mask his emotions. When the Romulans are first seen, he seems curious, but not surprised, or angry, or anything, just curious. Also, when asked about saving the crew members life he says that he only did it for the good of the ship. Not because he cares, or to prove a point or not do it to get revenge, he did it for duty only. It is odd that most episodes he is a very stagnant character, but when you look at the series as a whole he has just as much character as everyone else. Again, though, this is a Kirk driven episode that shows off his moxie and courage.
In the end, Star Trek has been – and always shall be – one of my favourite TV shows. I believe that it and Star Trek: The Next Generation really raised the bar for the Sci fi industry. Before into comics for about a 3 year period, I would judge the awesomeness of a night or weekend based on how many episodes I was able to watch. That has since changed, but it will always be something I return to.
Star Trek has had many, many, many spin offs including 5 other television series including a cartoon, 12 movies, as well as books, comics and even languages based on it.
Side Note: Unfortunately, I was watching this on dvd, so I wasn’t able to watch it as originally seen. Many shots of the ship had been touched up or even recreated, so it wasn’t quite the way the original was.
This is my final review for 1966. I am considering this week a grand slam. A checkmark in each of my 4 categories (movies, literature, comics, and now tv). It won’t be happening often, so don’t get used to it. Next week will be a good week. I am for sure looking at 3 comic book origins, for which I got a friend and local comic artist to do some art for.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave your thoughts! Live Long and Prosper.