Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 27 – The Alternative Factor

I want to start by stating, unequivocally, that this episode is easily the worst episode so far in the series.  It’s as if they forgot to order a story and then just had one of the stage hands write it at the last minute.  It’s really that bad.

The Enterprise is near an uninhabited planet when suddenly a huge surge of energy followed by a “winking out of mass from the nearby planet tells Spock that some sort of rift in time-space has occurred.  And after it occurs the sensors pick up a life form on the planet and Spock and Kirk beam down to find out what it is.

They find a man running around on some desert mountains screaming about a monster that has killed off his world.  He falls off the cliff and is brought back to the Enterprise to receive medical attention and to be questioned on the strange phenomena associated with his presence.

When he comes to the man whose name is Lazarus tells Kirk that he is chasing after a monster in the likeness of a man that destroyed his world.  He goes on and on about it and acts pretty crazy.  Kirk agrees to go down to the planet with Lazarus and search for the monster.  While on the planet Lazarus claims to see the monster and goes running into the hills looking for him.   While this is going on some really cheesy special effects occur that are supposed to reflect the meeting up of two universes; one matter and one anti-matter.  Basically, an image of the trifid nebula is shown superimposed over a negative image of Lazarus fighting with someone.  It’s remarkably bad.  Eventually Lazarus shows up again and warns Kirk of a large rock falling down the mountain and then Lazarus falls down the mountain again.  Remarkably he survives again and once again is dragged back to the Enterprise to be patched up and interrogated.

When Lazarus hears that the Enterprise has dilithium crystals he demands to be given some of them to allow him to recharge his ship and find his enemy.  After being refused we see Lazarus stealing the crystals in the engineering department. When Kirk locates Lazarus, he denies that he stole the crystals and claims the monster stole them.  In the next scene Lazarus starts a fire in engineering as a diversion and steals more crystals then beams down to the planet.

Now Kirk is really ticked off so he beams down to the planet and finds Lazarus installing the crystals in his ship but just as Kirk reached the open ship he is transported into the other universe.  There he meets the monster.  It’s an identical version of Lazarus except he isn’t a raving lunatic.  This anti-matter version of Lazarus explains that he stole the first dilithium crystals and he plans to trap Lazarus in an interdimensional chamber that connects the universes but once they are there together, he intends to seal off both exits and remain trapped with his insane twin for “all time.”  By doing this he will save both universes from being destroyed by the matter/anti-matter annihilation that would occur if the two Lazari met in one universe.

Kirk agrees to the plan and goes back to the crazy Lazarus and after a truly pathetic excuse for a wrestling match throws Lazarus through the portal.  They go back to the Enterprise and Spock declares that everything is back to normal and both universes are safe.  Kirk ends off by saying, “yes for you and me, but what of Lazarus, what of Lazarus?  Imagine being trapped for all eternity with a madman at your throat.”

What can I say?  The plot stinks, the dialog stinks and it looks like they shot the whole thing in a couple of hours.  The best part of the episode is when Kirk speaks to the sane Lazarus and he explains in two minutes what the whole mish mash of a show is supposed to mean.  If only he could have met up with him at the beginning of the show, we could have skipped the whole thing and saved forty minutes that could have been better spent cleaning the dust off my computer monitor.  As for the Shatner mockery let’s say the “what of Lazarus” thing and the wrestling match were pretty mockable the best I can do for this whole thing is 2 // 6.  It should be avoided by all except Star Trek aficionados.

 

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Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 26 – Errand of Mercy

Kirk and Spock beam down to the planet Organia to attempt to convince the inhabitants that they need to permit the Federation to

Defend their planet against the Klingons.  The Enterprise destroys an attacking Klingon ship but Kirk gives Sulu orders to retreat and bring the Federation fleet if a Klingon fleet appears.  And that is exactly what happens.  Now Kirk and Spock are trapped on the planet as a Klingon army occupies the town.  The Organians are completely non-violent and completely unconcerned by Kirk’s dire description of what life under a Klingon occupation would entail.  But they are anxious to protect Kirk and Spock and disguise them to prevent them being killed as Federation agents.

The Klingon Commander attempts to intimidate the Organians but is aggravated by their placid and agreeable manner.  It becomes apparent that both Kirk and Kor despise the Organians for their passivity and what they think is lack of courage.  Kirk and Spock begin guerrilla operations against the Klingons but they are quickly discovered and the Organians reveal their identities to forestall the Klingons using their mind sifter on the two officers to learn the truth.  Apparently, the mind sifter would also destroy their minds in the process of reading them.  Kor brings Kirk into his office and congratulates Kirk for his legendary exploits as the Enterprise’s captain.  He gives Kirk the chance to reveal information on the Star Fleet’s location.  But does not begrudge Kirk his resistance but merely tells him that he and Spock will be destroyed the following day under the action of the mind sifter.

While Kirk and Spock anticipate their fate suddenly the head Organian, Ayelborne, opens their cell door and offers them escape.  Confused but with no other choice they follow him.  After another futile attempt at convincing the Organians to resist the occupation, Kirk and Spock return to the Klingon headquarters with the plan of kidnapping Kor to force the Klingons to stop the mass killings until the Federation fleet can arrive.

When they break in on Kor in his office he seems unafraid and he reveals that his office contains a surveillance camera and immediately four Klingons enter with weapons drawn.  Kirk and Spock aim at the Klingons but simultaneously both the Klingons and the Federation officers fling their weapons away as if they were red hot.  Immediately following, we shift the scene to the Enterprise bridge where Sulu is preparing to give orders for the Federation fleet to fire on the Klingon fleet.  But simultaneously all the crew jump out of their seats as if they were in pain.

The Organians enter the office and reveal to both sides that they are not backward villagers but highly advanced beings who have outgrown the need for material bodies.  These advanced beings inform the Klingons and Kirk and Spock that they will not permit the war.  The Organians announce that on both Klingon and Earth an image of himself is announcing to both sides that they will not be permitted to go to war.  Both Kirk and Kor are highly incensed that the Organians would dare to interfere with their war.  Finally, Kor laments to Kirk that it is a pity it was prevented because it would have been a glorious war.

Back on the Enterprise Kirk feels embarrassed at how bloodthirsty he acted in front of the Organians.  Spock defends him saying that there is no shame in being less advanced than a race with a million years more evolution than humans possess.

This episode’s story is simple but reasonably well done.  Also, the dialog between Kirk and Spock has several funny exchanges.  When Kirk asks Spock how likely they are to succeed in their attempt to kidnap Kor, Spock replies that it is hard to be precise but he calculated the odds as 7,429.7 to 1.  Kirk reflected for a second and asks if he didn’t think that was close enough and Spock replies that he always endeavors to be precise.   On the merits I’ll give it a 7.

On the Shatner mockery scale there is much to enjoy here beyond the usual shoulder rolls and grunting.  When Kirk is explaining to the Organians the danger of being conquered by the Klingons, Shatner’s inflection is almost identical to the way it was parodied so wonderfully by Kevin Polack in his classic imitation of Shatner.  For that reason, I give this episode a 7 // 8.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 25 – The Devil in the Dark

The Enterprise is summoned to a mining planet that is experiencing a series of killings.  Some sort of underground monster is killing the men by means of a highly corrosive chemical that eats away the body leaving just some ashes.

Kirk, Spock and McCoy lead the investigation.  Administrator Vanderberg explains that a few months ago the miners opened up a new level and shortly afterwards the attacks began.  While listening to his story Spock noticed a spherical silver mineral specimen on Vanderberg’s desk and asks him about it.  Vanderberg tells him that thousands of these nodules were discovered on the new level.

Spock theorizes that the monster may be a silicon-based lifeform and advises that a more powerful phaser weapon be used to attack the creature.  When Spock discovers that the creature is the only one of its kind in the area, he states that destroying it would be a crime against science.  Kirk states that killing the creature is the only choice available.

After several more deaths the creature steals the circulation pump for the colony nuclear reactor.  Emergency repairs by Scotty allow a temporary reprieve but very shortly the colony will need to evacuate or suffer a meltdown.  Finally, Kirk and Spock find the creature and wound it with their phasers.  Eventually they corner it and seeing that the creature seems intelligent Kirk changes his mind about killing it and lets Spock mind meld with it to find out where it has hidden the pump and why it is attacking the colonists.

Meanwhile Kirk summons McCoy to heal the badly wounded creature.  When Kirk orders him to help the creature, McCoy makes one of his trademark statements, “I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!”  Spock performs his mind meld and discovers that the Horta is a peaceful creature.  It is the only one around because every fifty thousand years all the Hortas but one die off and the remaining one guards the eggs and serves as mother to a whole generation of Hortas.  When the miners opened the new level, they unconcernedly destroyed thousands of the silicon nodules which, of course, are the Horta’s eggs.  The angry colonists calm down once they realize that they were the original aggressors and can find a way to live and let live with the Hortas.  But Spock reminds them that all this may be moot because the Horta is badly wounded.  Suddenly McCoy speaks up and says that the Horta will survive.  He had the Enterprise beam down a hundred pounds of thermo-concrete and he troweled it on the wound and it will form a bandage until the Horta heals.  He becomes so excited he yells out, “Why I can cure rainy day!”

As the Enterprise is preparing to depart the planet, we hear from Vanderberg that the baby Hortas are hatching out and they are providing the miners with tunnels to help them find minerals more quickly.  So, everybody’s happy.

This episode has a lot of things going on.  There is some interesting interaction between Kirk and Spock.  Spock exhibits human emotion when he thinks Kirk is in danger.  In fact, in a radio exchange during a cave in Spock calls him Jim, which doesn’t sound very Vulcan.  The story is definitely interesting although the secret of the silicon nodules is fairly transparent.  Bones, of course has the best lines in the episode.  But there is a dark side.  During his mind meld with the Horta Spock takes on the voice and facial expressions of an hysterical woman.  The weeping and agonizing are awful to have to watch.

My rating.  As a show the grade is 8!  Shatner mocking isn’t a thing here but for this episode I’ll substitute mockery of Spock.  The mind meld is awful and deserves a 9.  Total score 8 // 9.

 

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Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 24 – This Side of Paradise

This episode is unique in that for the majority of the episode Spock reacts like a normal emotional human.

The Enterprise is sent to a recently colonized planet to confirm that the colonists have succumbed to the effects of deadly Berthold rays, which apparently are very bad.  But when they arrive, they find the colonists very much alive and in perfect health.  McCoy discovers that not only are they healthy but show remarkable signs of regeneration such as self-repaired lung damage and regrown organs that had been surgically removed.  In addition, one of the colonists, Leila (played by the very attractive Jill Ireland) is an acquaintance of Spock’s.  She had been in love with him when she knew him previously though he never reciprocated the feeling.  She asks Spock to go see some plant life that was important to the investigation into why the colonists had survived.  When she brings him into a field, she points to a flower shaped like a lily and when Spock approaches it, a puff of pollen blows into his face.  After exhibiting pain from the exposure, suddenly Spock began behaving as a human expressing happiness to see Leila.  He kisses her and they talk about how the plant spores protect the colonists from the Berthold rays.  And Spock agrees to stay with Leila and live on the planet.

Meanwhile Kirk has been telling the colony leader Elias Sandoval (played by talented character actor Frank Overton) that the Enterprise will be evacuating all the colonists to a nearby star base.  Sandoval placidly refuses.  When Kirk attempts to call Spock on his communicator, at first, no one answers.  This is when we cut back to Spock sitting with his head in Leila’s lap watching the clouds in the sky and acting like a man in love.  Finally, he answers the call and tells Kirk that he isn’t leaving the planet and to stop bothering him.

Kirk and several crewmen search for Spock.  When they find him, he’s swinging on a tree branch and smiling like a man without a care in the world.  When Kirk demands an explanation, he brings them to one of the lilies and all the crewmen except Kirk are sprayed with spores and begin acting like Spock.  Eventually everyone but Kirk are controlled by the spores and begin to transport down to the planet from the Enterprise.  Kirk is basically in despair because without his crew he cannot even leave the star system with the Enterprise.  Finally, a lily that is on board the ship sprays spores onto Kirk’s face and he becomes like the others.  He calls Spock and tells him that he will be joining them soon on the surface of the planet.  Kirk goes to his cabin and collects his effects (which he packs into a very recognizable samsonite carrying case) but as he is looking at one of his Star Fleet medals, he becomes angry and this has the effect of shaking off the control by the spores.  Kirk then dictates a captain’s log to let us know that his plan is to lure Spock back onto the Enterprise in order to get him angry enough to escape the control of the spores.  He adds that considering the much greater strength of a Vulcan he is taking a dangerous risk by angering the very emotional Spock.  And that’s what he does.  He calls Spock a half-breed and a traitor out of a race of traitors.  Spock flips out and throws Kirk around the transporter room.  Bu the plan works and Spock overcomes the spore control and assumes his normal Vulcan persona.  Together Spock and Kirk rig a subsonic noise that irritates the colonists and crewmen and they all start fighting and then come to their senses.  Leila says a sorrowful goodbye to Spock and everyone heads up to the Enterprise.  On board Kirk asks Spock to describe his experience and he replies, “I’ve little to say about it Captain, except that for the first time in my life, I was happy.”

This was a pretty good episode.  Let’s call it a 7.  As far as mockery, there were some pretty good payoffs.  When Kirk is throwing off the control of the spores, he is hunched over in a pose that I guess is supposed to be towering rage.  It looks more like constipation.  During his baiting of Spock, he taunts him in a voice that is more whiny petulance than anger.  And perhaps the most embarrassing aspect of the whole episode is the awful southern accent that Doctor McCoy affects when he is controlled by the spores.  He blathers on about mint juleps and other inane things.  Terrible.

So, I’ll call this a 7 // 6.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 23 – A Taste of Armageddon

In this episode the Enterprise is on a diplomatic mission to a star system with an advanced civilization.  But when they attempt to communicate with the planet they are warned off.  Ambassador Fox, the head of the mission, orders Kirk to make contact and of course Kirk and Spock head down to the surface leaving Scotty in charge.  When they reach the surface, they are met by a typically beautiful woman named Mea 3 (played by a young and petty Barbara Babcock who later on was Grace Gardiner on the 1980s NBC show, Hill Street Blues).  While the planetary leader Anan 7 is explaining to Kirk about a 500-year-long war that is still going on, an attack takes place between the planet they are on and their enemies on the third planet from their sun.  But when Kirk speaks to the Enterprise, they tell him that their sensors show that no attack occurred.  Spock figures out that the attack is just a computer simulation that is played between the strategic computers on the two planets.  Anan 7 confirms this and explains that whatever the calculated damage turns out to be those located in the affected areas are declared casualties and have a day to report to a disintegration chamber.  Anan 7 explains to Kirk that by allowing a million self-inflicted casualties every year both sides sustain their infrastructure and thereby ensure that the war will go on indefinitely.

Unfortunately, in the latest “attack” both Mea 3 and the Enterprise are virtual victims.  Anan 7 arrests Kirk and Spock and orders them to send their entire crew to the planet to be disintegrated.  When they refuse Anan 7 uses a voice simulator to impersonate Kirk and tell Scotty to send the entire crew down to the planet.  Scotty, of course, figures it out and puts the ship on a war footing and raises the shields.  The planet’s offensive weapons are brough to bear on the enterprise but the deflector shields hold.  Meanwhile the imbecilic Ambassador Fox contacts the planet and believes Anan 7 when he says it was all a misunderstanding.  Fox orders Scotty to drop the shields but he refuses.  Ambassador Fox beams down to the planet to conclude a treaty and is immediately marched off to the disintegration chamber.  But luckily for him Kirk and Spock escape from captivity and rescue him and Mea 3.

Now Kirk puts his plan into effect.  He destroys the disintegration chambers and finishes by blowing up the computers that report casualties with the enemy.  Anan 7 is in despair and tells Kirk that the enemy will stage an actual nuclear attack.  Kirk informs him that two worlds that have kept a gutless fake war going for 500 years will be so frightened by actual war that they’ll both negotiate a peace rather than get their hands dirty.  Ambassador Fox volunteers to assist them in the negotiation.

I like this episode.  Anan 7 is such a sniveling cowardly bureaucrat that every time he calls Kirk a barbarian you can’t help but like Kirk more.  Kirk shows resolve and ingenuity.  Scotty also displays courage and grit when he disobeys the chain of command and refuses to lower the shields at the order of that other idiotic bureaucrat Ambassador Fox.  This is a solid 8 episode.  Kirk does some brawling and tumbling around but he’s not particularly comical so there isn’t a high Shatner mockery score.  Let’s call this an 8 // 2.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 22 – Space Seed

I have previously reviewed this episode as part of ShatnerKahn I.  But I think it is desirable to provide a standard treatment for all the Star Trek episodes so I will follow the usual procedure here.

The Enterprise encounters a derelict space ship drifting slowly through space and identifies it as an old Earth vessel from the 1990s.  Upon scanning it they find signs of life and board it.  They discover the crew to be in suspended animation.  Upon rescuing the leader from his sleep they discover that the crew are eugenically produced supermen who were forced to flee Earth after their dictatorships were overthrown.

Their Leader Khan Noonien Singh, played by the inimitable Ricardo Montalban, dissembles his intentions and seduces crewmember Lt. Marla Mcgivers into assisting him in capturing the Enterprise in order to aid his people in finding and conquering an Earth colony for their new home.  The supermen quickly overwhelm the crew and Khan puts Kirk in a vacuum chamber and threatens to suffocate him if one of the crew does not assist him in his plan.  We get a view of Kirk gasping like an out of water goldfish which will earn this episode a very healthy Shatner mockery score.  But McGivers repents of her mutiny and saves Kirk from the death trap.  With the assistance of Mr. Spock Kirk is able to use knockout gas to subdue the mutineers.  But Khan escapes to the engine room and is causing an engine overload that would destroy the whole ship when Kirk arrives for their showdown.  Khan starts by prying Kirk’s phaser out of his hand and then bending it into a curve with his bare hands.  And here Khan makes his famous taunt.  He says, “Captain, I have five times your strength!” in his unique Ricardo Montalban enunciation.  Khan proceeds to toss Kirk around the engine room like a rag doll while Kirk attempts some pretty rudimentary martial arts moves.  I’m not 100% sure but I believe there was a stunt double for Shatner in some of the acrobatics.  But naturally Kirk fights dirty.  He grabs a metal rod and starts hammering Khan in the head and back until he passes out.

In the final scene Kirk convenes a court and dismisses all charges against the supermen if they will agree to exile on a deserted and inhospitable planet.  When asked if he accepts the offer Khan asks Kirk if he knows his Milton.  Kirk nods in understanding.  Then Kirk gives Mcgivers a choice; go into exile with Khan or stand trial for mutiny.  She eagerly accepts exile.

Scotty pleads shameful ignorance as a Scot for not knowing the Milton reference and Kirk explains that in Paradise Lost, Lucifer declares that he would rather reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.  The show ends up with Spock and Kirk wondering what they would find if they were able to come back in a hundred years and see what fruit had grown “from the seed” they were now sowing.

This is one of the quintessential Star Trek episodes.  Kirk is out macho-ed by Khan.  Spock gets to act appalled by the humans’ clear admiration for Khan’s obviously authoritarian methods, to which charge Kirk admits and explains humans have a primitive streak that allows them to admire an enemy for his strength.  In these days of #metoo Khan would never be allowed to rough up McGivers as he does to dominate her into helping him.  Of course, he also plays with her hair quite a bit so he is a romantic too.  One of the ludicrous things about the episode is Kirk giving Khan access to the ship technical manuals.  These allow Khan to capture the ship.  I mean come on!  What part of superman is hard to understand?  Couldn’t he have just given him a game of free-cell to keep him from getting bored?

Kirk’s fight with Khan is also classic.  His shirt manages not to get shredded but he has several awkward and lame looking judo holds that helps qualify this episode for a decent Shatner mockery score.  And above all there is Montalban.  He struts and brags and mocks Kirk for being inferior in all ways.  It’s quite entertaining.

Let’s give this a 9 for the episode and a 7 for Shatner mockery.  9  //  7.  Well done Ricardo.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 21 – The Return of the Archons

The Enterprise is investigating the 100-year-old disappearance of an Earth ship called the Archon.  They are in orbit around a planet called Beta III.  Now first of all it’s a hundred years later who gives a damn?  Second of all they send down Sulu and some other guy.  As everyone knows Sulu is the lamest character except for Nurse Chapel.  Anyway, he returns from the planet having been brain washed into a state of placid stupidity.  He talks about Landru as if of a deity.

Kirk, Spock, McCoy and a couple of red shirts go down to the planet and observe the population acting the way Sulu did.  But while looking for a place to stay they observe a ritual insanity where at the stroke of 6 pm all the younger people go on a rampage smashing windows and ravishing the very cooperative women.  But at the stroke of 6 am everyone returns to their normal placid behavior and resume normal life.

Kirk and Spock figure out that the population is controlled by a force that calls itself Landru.  Landru was an historical figure from six thousand years earlier who reformed their civilization into the placid soulless existence it currently has.  The system is monitored by Landru’s robed priests who can deal out deadly force.  At the same time the Enterprise reports that a powerful heat ray is threatening the ship.  All the ship’s power is needed to power the deflectors but because of this, the ship’s orbit will soon decay and destroy the ship.

Finding allies among the native population, Kirk and Spock finally identify that the Landru controlling the planet is actually a six-thousand-year-old computer that has Landru’s knowledge and plan.  But Kirk argues the computer into knowing that the Landru life system is actually a living death and therefore it blows itself up.

This is the first mention of the non-interference prime directive and, of course, the first occurrence of Kirk ignoring it.  Also, Kirk’s ability to talk computers into destroying themselves is an often-repeated plot device that will be seen over and over.  But because these are the first occurrences, I’ll give this episode the pride of place.  Let’s call this a 7.  There is no Shatner mockery to speak of so let’s give the overall score of 7 // 1.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 20 – Court Martial

Kirk is on trial for the wrongful death of one of his officers.  Lt. Commander Finney, the records officer, was in an ion pod (whatever that is) during an ion storm and according to the Enterprise’s computer telemetry Kirk jettisoned the pod prematurely before a red alert was declared.  The court martial featured one of Kirk’s old girlfriends as the prosecutor and Elisha Cook Jr. as his defense attorney.  We see a video clip of Kirk jettisoning the pod before the red alert status occurs.  This evidence seems to seal Kirk’s fate.  After this scene we hear Kirk telling Spock that at least Spock’s next captain might not be able to beat Spock at chess.  After hearing this Spock raises an eyebrow.

In the next scene we see Spock in his cabin playing chess against the computer.  McCoy enters and berates Spock for his unfeeling frivolous actions while Kirk’s career is in jeopardy.  Spock explains that he has just beaten the computer five times in a row.  Even McCoy recognizes that this is an impossibility.  They rush down to the trial and Kirk’s lawyer reconvenes the trial on the Enterprise where we learn that Finney is not dead but hidden on the Enterprise and is responsible for faking the accusatory video evidence against Kirk.  In a climactic scene Kirk fights Finney and after a vicious shirt tearing fight defeats Finney and saves the Enterprise from crashing by pulling loose a couple of electrical cables.

As silly as this episode sounds it was actually fun.  Seeing Shatner calmly shrug off the cold shoulder he was getting from his peers at the star base where the trial was taking place was interesting.  And Elisha Cook Jr. was amusing as the eccentric lawyer who preferred paper books to computer files.  The courtroom drama was fairly entertaining.  All in all, I’d say it was a 7.

 

The Shatner mockery index was low.  It really didn’t break a 4.

7 // 4

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 19 – Tomorrow is Yesterday

In this episode the Enterprise is inexplicably sent back in time by getting too close to a “black star.”  I guess that’s supposed to be a black hole.  They find themselves in Earth’s upper atmosphere above Cape Kennedy right before the first moon shot.  A jet fighter is sent up to investigate the “UFO.”  The Enterprise locates the fighter jet, and fearing that it might have a nuclear weapon, grabs it with a tractor beam.  But this destroys the plane and the pilot is beamed aboard the Enterprise to save his life.

Spock informs Kirk that the pilot cannot be released back to Earth because his knowledge of the Enterprise would alter history.  But then Spock discovers that the pilot’s yet-to-be-born son will be an important man in the future of space exploration.  Therefore, the pilot must be returned or that would change history.

After that Kirk and Sulu beam down to an Air Force base to retrieve evidence from the wreckage of the jet that would prove the Enterprise was a real UFO.  This leads to another man being beamed aboard the Enterprise.  At this point the writers put the plot mercifully to bed.  The Enterprise would fly very fast toward the sun ending up even farther back in the past and then “slingshot” back out and start going forward in time.  Somehow, when they reached the time where each of the men captured from the past had been affected by the Enterprise they would be beamed into the spot where their bodies were.  So, we see the pilot in his plane and suddenly we see the appearance of someone being beamed into his location.  But somehow after the beaming occurs the pilot no longer remembers anything about the Enterprise and goes about his mission and returns to Earth.

And the Enterprise hurtles into the future at faster than Warp Factor 8 and in order to prevent overshooting their “present,” Scotty puts on the brakes and the crew pitches back and forth in their chairs.  They’ve made it home and everyone is happy.

So, this is the first-time travel episode.  So that’s something.  But it’s kind of meh.  The pretense of a rationale for how they went back in time and the even flimsier logic for how they retuned wouldn’t convince the lowliest of geeks.  Spock and Bones bickering about the fate of Kirk during his burglary is kind of contrived and silly.

As for Shatner mockery points, he does get a scene where he has a fist fight with three or four Air Force servicemen.  He gets to roll around a bit and throw some pretty phony looking punches.  But it’s also nothing to write home about.

If you’re interested in the nostalgia of seeing the Enterprise interact with 1960s Americans, I could throw an extra point in and call this a six.  Put that together with the Shatner score and I’ll call this a 6 // 5.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 18 – Arena

The Enterprise reaches the Cestus III Outpost and after Kirk and company beam down, they find they have been lured into a trap.  The outpost has been destroyed and the enemy attacks the Enterprise landing party.  Kirk and Spock fight off the attack and once back on the Enterprise chase the enemy into unexplored territory.  But before they can overtake their target both ships are frozen in place and a voice announces that an outside entity, the Metrons, is putting a stop to the fight.  Because the Metrons consider the violence exhibited by the Humans and Gorns (the name of the race on the enemy ship) as barbaric they will minimize the destruction.  Kirk and the Gorn captain will be transported to a barren planet where their personal combat will decide which of the two ships will be destroyed and which will be spared.

The Gorn and Kirk show up on a barren planet that looks a lot like southern California.  The Gorn looks like and is a man in a really phony rubber dinosaur suit.  It turns out the Gorn is inhumanly strong and tough but pathetically slow.  Kirk rolls a boulder on him but to no effect.  And just to put some drama into the situation, Kirk runs into a trap and injures his leg so the possibility that the Gorn might eventually catch him won’t seem completely implausible.

Kirk was given a device to record his thoughts during the trial but the Gorn is able to hear his every word and thereby judge how badly Kirk is hurt.  The Gorn offers to kill Kirk mercifully if he will stop running.  Kirk exchanges insults with the Gorn over their treachery at the   Cestus III Outpost.  But the Gorn claims that the base itself was an act of war by invading their territory.  Eventually the Enterprise bridge is also given an audio-visual transmission of the combat.  And so, Spock is able to annoyingly claim that the humans deserved to be wiped out for unknowingly settling Cestus III in enemy territory.  Also, he cheers on Kirk’s gradual identification of the ingredients for a weapon.  Kirk finds a bamboo cylinder, a rope-like vine, potassium nitrate, sulphur, coal and large sharp diamond crystals.  He converts these into a makeshift firearm.  Just in the (painfully slow} nick of time, he shoots the Gorn.  But instead of finishing him off with the Gorn’s own stone knife, Kirk calls to the Metrons and refuses the kill.  An effeminate young man in a khiton shows up and congratulates Kirk for only being a semi-savage.  He tells Kirk that he will release the Gorn ship and promises to check back with humanity in a few thousand years when they may be ready to dialog with his people.

Kirk returns to the Enterprise and the ship mysteriously finds itself 500 parsecs away from their former position.  Kirk and Spock muse on their changed ideas about the definition of civilization.

Okay, so this is mostly an amusing episode.  The only thing that really annoys me is the idea that Kirk, Spock and McCoy think that if humans accidentally colonized an uninhabited planet that turns out to be in some other race’s home range that they deserve to be massacred.  This is just so self-hating that I would expect it to come from Picard but not Kirk.

That aside, watching Kirk fight a man in a rubber dinosaur suit in slow-motion can’t be anything but comedy gold.  Shatner rolls around and grimaces and gives us a great show.  The Gorn hisses like a snake so he can be heard like a half a mile away.  It’s wonderful.

I’ll give this episode a 9 // 8.