These Are The Voyages-Star Trek TOS Remastered and Reconsidered


#884

Wait, you’re saying the drink serving ladies are a long term story setup? I honestly don’t believe you.

(But that is a great hook to keep me tuned in to the end. The mysterious drink ladies long term plot payoff).


#885

I’m saying there is a payoff. And I am not joking.


#886

Avert your eyes! My impressions, one day early.

“The Devil in the Dark”

There’s parts of this episode that are so hokey. The “horror” portions with the monster hunting them, and them hunting the monster was all so tediously executed. And the little balls are eggs. Really? No one there say this coming?

On the other hand, it presents a side of Star Trek that I do love. Tolerance of others, even when you initially think they are monsters. Even though, in their eyes, you are the monsters. It’s the message of Ender’s Game/Speaker for the Dead, but presented here in a much more cheesy manner.

When they first showed this planet, I thought, wow, even in a world with no more profit motive, where humans live in a Eutopia, I guess someone still has to do the blue collar jobs. Of course, that was the way TNG presented the Star Trek universe. Maybe in The Original Series, they weren’t quite there yet. At the end of the episode Kirk even tells them they can be rich if they work with the Hortas. So clearly the profit motive is still in full effect here.

Overall I ended up kind of liking the episode because of its high concept science fiction, but also kind of hating it for being a cheesy horror flick for most of the episode. But in the end, it was quintessential Star Trek with its positive, hopeful, un-cynical, idealistic message. So kudos.

Edit: Also, did MOO2’s silicoid race come from the species shown in this episode?

image

Looks very similar.


#887

Pretty enthusiastic for this week’s episode, are we @Rock8man? One might even say suspiciously so, eh Mr Rock (who) Ate (a) Man??? I’ve got my eye on you.

Moving along, we are indeed watching and discussing Devil in the Dark, and this is one I’ve seen a whole lot of times for whatever reason, and I’ve always liked it a lot. I didn’t find the horror show tropes to be silly, certainly no sillier than the Frank Castle movies of the era, though I guess it’s no Hitchcockian masterpiece either. But the episode establishes a paranoid feel from the start, with a security guard getting all jumpy when his relief shows up. We find out lots of folks are being burned alive, subsequently discovering they’re eaten alive by acid (not really a step up in terms of pleasant endings) by some weird lumpy, fuzzy creature. It’s a horta! And it’s only defending its young. Whoops, spoilers, sorry.

It’s a straightforward little story, but I quite liked the little fakeout that the plot sends us on. We might be thinking at first that this is another salt vampire story (who, as you’ll recall, the Enterprise crew had no compunctions about killing even though it was the last of its race. Then again, it never begged for its life like the horta). But we eventually find out that while its appearance and response are quite alien, its motivations are not. Even the miners, out for blood for the deaths of their fellow crew, have to stop when they find out that all those nodes they’ve been carelessly destroying were the horta’s young.

In this episode we get to see Spock mind meld with another being once again, and I bet at this point Spock has serious regrets about ever bringing up that particular skill to begin with. We see McCoy demonstrate his troweling skill, and Scotty not being a miracle worker. It also amused me that Spock demonstrates initial hesitation to kill the horta, knowing it’s the last of its kind, while Kirk adamantly insists that his security team kill it on sight, not willing to risk another member of his crew. Then as soon as he’s stuck with it, both flip their positions with Spock apparently deciding that the horta must die and Kirk deciding it’s the cutest pile of rubble he’s ever laid eyes on, I guess.

But peace, love and understanding win the day, as was the way of things back in the 60s. Except in Vietnam, the deep south and, well, anywhere else I guess. Good thing we had television back then to show us the way!


#888

Oh hey, I wanted to mention one last thing about This Side of Paradise before we moved on - can’t believe nobody (myself included) commented on the fact that Leila was played by Jill Ireland, Mrs Charles Bronson herself! For some reason I didn’t recognize her.


#889

My favorite Star Trek line of dialog: “No kill I.”


#890

I loved this episode as a youth, and I think it holds up pretty well, cheap-looking sets aside.

For me, this episode embodied Star Trek for years to come: An adventure with heart where people do the right thing, even when it’s hard. I loved the whole concept of a hideous, murdering monster that was in fact just a mother desperately trying to save her kids.

Watching it just now, the sets and the shooting angles really stood out to me. The very first scene with the doom, whiny guard pretty much set the tone: polished floors with random pieces of Styrofoam “rocks” strewn about in easy-to-trip-over places so that you know that this is a mine rather than… I dunno what. Later scenes added a bunch of rusted weight-lifting equipment, presumably pulled from the Desilu lounge or something. Crappy.

But on the positive side, some of the shots were pretty well-done. A couple of Kirk and Spock shot from the interior of the small tunnels at them looking in seem pretty innovative for the time. I guess.

Re-watching it taught me something new: For years I wondered about the two different types of phasers shown in TOS – the little ones that kind of sometimes doubled as communicators, and the bigger, more iconic, pistol-types. My faulty memory told me that the little ones were used in the first season while the bigger ones were added in later shows. But no - the little ones are “phaser one” weapons (apparently carried by random civilian miners) and the more-powerful “phaser two” weapons are available to starship crews. Cool.

This whole episode is a massive sausage-fest. There are two women in the thing – one is a nameless crew-member on the bridge in the final scene (no speaking part) and the second is the Horta… played by a guy.

William Shatner got the news that his father died while filming this episode. According to lore, he wanted to finish shooting for the day, even after the crew volunteered to shut everything down. The first scene he shot after getting the phone call was the one where he kneels down to mourn the dead Enterprise red-shirt.


#891

That was great-- the revelation that the creature had learned from Spock as he had learned from the creature; that it had fine control of its rock chiseling, and the ambiguity of the slightly garbled message.

There weren’t many alien creatures that were neither barely disguised humanoids nor just shimmering lights, but they show up in my favorite episodes: the horta, the Gorn, the Gamesters of Triskellion, the extra-galactic aliens of Catspaw, the OK Corral one, and the one with Lincoln and Genghis Khan.


#892

And the Organians.


#893

I classify the Organians as “shimmering lights”, and so not interesting (not that it wasn’t a great episode).


#894

You’ll pardon me for getting slightly ahead of the game, but the teleplay of what is considered to be one of the best Star Trek episodes is on sale on Amazon today for $1.99:

I have never read this, but as a big fan of Trek and Ellison I’ll probably have to pick this up.


#895

I’m curious about this but my understanding is that the original teleplay by Ellison is somewhat different than the broadcast version, rewritten by DC Fontana. The DC Fontana version is the one we all know and love; I’m curious how the Ellison version stacks up.

Edit: I just double checked imdb and noticed that, 50 years later, DC Fontana is still not getting the credit for that final rewrite. Another reason I am not an unalloyed Rodenberry worshiper. I love TOS, but Rodenberry IMO was not perfect.


#896

Yeah, it’s different because I know Ellison held a grudge for decades (imagine that) against Roddenberry for “butchering” his script. I don’t really know the details, guess I’ll have to read it and see.

And hey, that gives me an idea! City on the Edge of Forever is coming up in a few weeks on the rotation, maybe I can read this and compare them in the thread!


#897

You should do that; I’d be curious to see what exactly the alleged “butchery” of Ellison’s script amounts to. I have a feeling that the original script might be excellent from a literary standpoint but have some rough edges from a broadcast standpoint.


#898

Without veering into spolier-land for our (there are a few) thread participants who are doing a first watch-through, from what I’ve read (and observed, in examining and comparing them), the “butchery” is DC and Rod being script editors and ensuring that characters acted as previously established, series continuity was maintained, etc. So typical Ellison curmudgeonly behavior. Notice he didn’t “Cordwainer Bird” this one, at the end of the day.


#899

Yeah, the legend is that basically Ellison wrote a good screenplay based on a good story idea, but the actual execution ignored the established nature of the characters and had them doing things that did not fit with that established nature.


#900

I think technically the story was that the phaser one weapon had limited power, and it would clip onto the top of the phaser two handle-unit, which provided extra power presumably from a bigger battery.

At least I seem to recall that from the Star Fleet Tech Manual. Whether they actually did it in the show, I don’t recall.


#901

It was in the Tech manual. Memory Alpha agrees. As well, it very obviously looks that way when you see the Phaser Two up close.

image


#902

I’ll be damned. Never noticed that.


#903

Are we doing Errand of Mercy yet? Because I have a real fucking problem with the passive aggressive Organians. The way they keep hinting at things. How they keep Kirk and the Klingon commander in battle until the very end. How they just… never mind. Maybe later.