Star Trek meets Invasion of the Bodysnatchers* as members of the Enterprise crew fall under the influence of strange plants whose spores, when inhaled, bring improved health and total peace of mind. On discovering a means of counteracting the effects of the spores, Kirk sets about returning everyone back to their former miserable selves, paradise be damned.
I can't bring myself to like this one very much: those pesky polystyrene plants ensure that everyone is free of illness and disease and are in a perpetual state of bliss, which sounds pretty darn appealing to me. Even Spock finds happiness, falling in love with blonde beauty Leila Kalomi (Jill Ireland). But the captain has to go and spoil things, saying it's not human to be completely content, or some such bull. If know that, if I could, I'd beam down to Omicron Ceti III and snort the nearest bunch of freaky flowers pronto.
*Leonard Nimoy would have another run in with alien spores, albeit less benign ones, in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.
While on a diplomatic mission to Star Cluster NGC321, Kirk and his landing party encounter a civilisation on Eminiar VII that claims to have been at war with neighbouring planet Vendikar for 500 years, although there is no sign of any conflict. It transpires that the two planets have a treaty and that the war is now controlled by computers that simulate attacks and calculate the number of human casualties, the victims of each simulation reporting to disintegration chambers; in doing so, they have made war neat and painless, clinical but also endless.
When it is reported that The Enterprise has been 'destroyed' in one such simulated attack, the Eminiar's hold Kirk and his party captive and try to trick the remaining crew into beaming down to the planet so that they can be disintegrated.
A Taste of Armageddon is a well-written, intriguing and thought-provoking episode that argues that it is the very real horrors of war -- death, pain, destruction, famine, and disease -- that often prevent it from happening. Of course, there is a much more preferable outcome that Kirk attempts to instigate -- peace -- but to do so he must kick some Eminarian ass!
8.5/10, rounded up to 9 for Scotty, who tells arrogant Earth Ambassador Fox where he can stick his diplomatic orders, and for Spock's hilarious line, 'Sir, there's a multi-legged creature crawling on your shoulder.'
Space Seed will forever be a fan favourite episode thanks to the fact that it introduced the character of Khan, the villain who would later feature in the second Star Trek movie, The Wrath of Khan.
Played by Ricardo Montalban, Khan Noonian Singh is one of a group of people found in suspended animation on the SS Botany Bay, an Earth ship from the late 1990s, a violent period when The Eugenics Wars saw an improved breed of human attempting to conquer the planet. Khan is revived and taken on board The Enterprise, where he plots to seize power of the ship, seducing sexy redhead Lt. Marla McGivers (Madlyn Rhue) and bending her to his will. Waking the rest of his people, Khan successfully overpowers Kirk and his crew, who have found out too late the type of person Khan is: a genetically superior wannabe tyrant.
Shatner and the other regulars are their usual reliable selves, and Rhue provides the eye-candy, but Montalban steals the show, putting in a truly memorable performance as the charismatic, violent, arrogant, magnetic Khan, who is stronger and more intelligent than ordinary men and uses these attributes to corrupt and control others. He's such a rat that when the inevitable fist fight with Kirk happens, you'll be cheering on Shatner with every drop kick and karate chop even though the outcome is improbable and, for the most part, it's clearly a stuntman doing all the hard work.
"Of course... it had to be," says Captain Kirk when he discovers that omnipotent being Landru is actually a computer. Indeed it did, James -- it's not the first time in Star Trek that a machine has been revealed to be the leader of a group of humans, and I doubt it'll be the last.
After Sulu is 'brainwashed' into a state of peace and tranquility while investigating planet Beta III, Kirk leads a landing party to discover what happened. What he finds is a society of humans who have been absorbed into a collective called 'the body' by their mysterious leader Landru. After the landing party is captured, and McCoy is absorbed, Kirk and Spock attempt to free everyone, including his own men, from Landru's control.
The Return of the Archons is one hell of a strange episode, one that takes a good while to get a grasp of what is happening and why. Even when the story becomes clearer, there are things that just don't make sense, such as the 6-o'clock craziness that grips the people of Beta III, or the robed guards' electronic sounding voices. It all feels like the product of someone under the influence of class-A drugs (it was the '60s, after all). In a rather trite ending, Kirk uses logic and reasoning to blow Landru's circuits.
The legal drama TV show format, so popular in the 60s (The Defenders, Perry Mason etc.), gets a sci-fi makeover with Court Martial, which sees Kirk charged with culpable negligence after the death of his old friend Lieutenant Commander Benjamin Finney (Richard Webb). The Enterprise's computer shows that Kirk jettisoned Finney's research pod during an ion storm while still only on yellow alert, whereas Kirk insists that he strictly adhered to Starfleet regulations and waited until red alert was sounded before pushing the button.
A courtroom drama, albeit one in space, could have been a real snooze-fest, but Court Martial is far from it thanks to an intriguing script that further explores the popular Trek theme of man vs. Machine, an excellent performance from William Shatner, terrific support from Elisha Cook Jr. As defense lawyer Cogley, and a fun final act that once again sees Kirk in a fist fight, his shirt reduced to rags. There's also romantic interest for Kirk in the form of sexy prosecution attorney Areel Shaw (Joan Marshall), an old flame of the captain's (obviously!). All in all, a well-rounded episode.
A time warp whisks The Enterprise back to 1969 where it is spotted by fighter pilot Major Christopher (Roger Perry). Captain Kirk orders the use of the ship's tractor beam to trap the fighter plane, but when the jet starts to disintegrate, the Major is beamed up, which leaves Captain Kirk with another problem: now that the pilot has witnessed advanced technology from the future, there is a chance that he might alter the course of history if he is returned to Earth.
Time-travel stories are always troublesome if you think too long and hard about them, and Tomorrow Is Yesterday is certainly no exception, especially towards the end when the crew of the Enterprise come up with some far-fetched, scientifically implausible plan to try and put everything back in its proper temporal box. Best to ignore the many problematic paradoxial and scientific issues and just enjoy the episode for what it is: a whole lot of time-twisting fun.
The major's surprise at seeing Spock for the first time; the beaming up of a startled airforce-base police sergeant; Kirk's fight with several airforce men; the Enterprise's female computer: this one is entertaining stuff from start to finish, with a sense of humour that suggests that no-one was taking it all that seriously anyway.
Yeah, yeah... the futility of war, the awkward issue of territorial disputes, the arrogance of so-called superior beings -- all classic Star Trek themes, but let's be honest, what makes this a great episode is the fact that Kirk gets to fight the Gorn, a reptilian alien with great strength but the speed and agility of an arthritic sloth, the action taking place at the iconic Vasquez Rocks.
The Arena begins with a landing party beaming down to the Cestus III Outpost only to find the place obliterated. After fending off an attack by an unseen enemy, Kirk and his crew beam back to The Enterprise, which is also under attack from an unknown vessel. A chase ensues, during which both spaceships are halted mid-flight by a powerful species called The Metrons, who decree that the battle be decided by a fight to the death between the captains of both ships.
The trial by combat that follows is hilarious, the Gorn (a man in a dreadful rubber costume) hurling rocks with ease but throwing punches in slow motion, and Kirk constructing a handy-dandy home-made cannon from objects and minerals that he finds scattered about the area. In the end, Kirk and his cannon win the day, the Enterprise's captain impressing the Metrons by sparing the Gorn's life.
7/10. It's all very daft, especially how Kirk builds his weapon with such ease, but it's also very entertaining.
The Squire of Gothos is another very silly episode of Star Trek. William Campbell plays Trelayne, an alien being with the power to control matter who is obsessed with Earth's history of militarism, abducting several members of The Enterprise crew so that he can study their ways and question them about warfare. Kirk, one of the abductees, isn't best pleased about being whisked away from his ship and demands that he and his crew are released; the captain's anger provokes Trelayne, who becomes increasingly hostile, eventually forcing Kirk to take part in a 'The Most Dangerous Game' style manhunt.
For some, Trelayne's stroppy foppish behaviour will be too daft to take, but Campbell plays it all delightfully tongue-in-cheek, and the final twist - that Trelayne is actually a child - makes sense of all that has gone before: the squire is like a kid teasing a defenceless animal, not yet mature enough to understand the folly of his ways. In this way, The Squire of Gothos is very much like Charlie X (S1, E2), but without all of the irritating teenage angst. Kirk even admits to have tied tin cans to the tail of an animal himself when he was young, which means that he bears no grudge. If anything, it is Trelayne's omnipotent parents, who turn up at the end to drag their child away, who are to blame for giving their offspring too much freedom and not enough discipline.
6.5/10, rounded up to 7 for Venita Wolf as Yeoman Teresa Ross. Are there no ugly female yeomans on The Enterprise? (not that I'm complaining).
The Galileo Seven is both an entertaining episode and a thought-provoking one: it's got giant, savage, spear-throwing troglodytes (and who doesn't like them?) but also poses the interesting conundrum 'What makes for a better leader -- logic or emotion?'.
When Spock and a science team fly the shuttle Galileo into quasar-like formation Murasaki 312, an ion storm forces them to crash land on the Earth-like planet Taurus II, which is inhabited by aggressive giants. While the stranded crew attempt to fix the shuttle and fend off attacks, Kirk launches search parties, but is put under pressure by Commissioner Ferris to abandon the missing crew members and head for Markus III, where the Enterprise's cargo of medicine is needed to cure plague victims.
The 'head vs. Heart' issue is mirrored on and off the planet: Spock applies logic to his newfound command, but discovers that it isn't as effective as he had thought. Meanwhile, on The Enterprise, Kirk struggles to ignore his emotions as Commissioner Ferris's deadline approaches, even though sacrificing seven lives to save many more is the logical approach.
In addition to this interesting theme, The Galileo Seven is notable for the first appearance of an Enterprise shuttle (which would have come in useful in previous episodes) and for sexy Star Trek babe Yeoman Mears, played by Phyllis Douglas, whose first screen appearance (at the age of two) was as baby Bonnie Blue Butler in Gone With The Wind.
In this episode, Captain Kirk and his colleagues go where no crew member has gone before: outside! Instead of an unconvincing studio set, the Star Trek cast actually set foot beyond the sound stage into the surrounding California countryside, which stands in for an uninhabited green planet where the weary space explorers contemplate taking shore leave.
However, Kirk is reluctant to allow the rest of his crew to beam down to the surface after Doc McCoy, one of a small landing party, reports that he has witnessed something strange: a large white rabbit being followed by a little blonde girl in a blue dress!
What follows is definitely one of the more quirky Star Trek episodes, as each crew member has their own surreal experience: Kirk, who beams down to help investigate, dukes it out with Finnegan (Bruce Mars), an old acquaintance from his academy days, and is reunited with an old flame; Sulu is ambushed by a Samurai; sexy Yeoman Barrows is assaulted by Don Juan; McCoy is attacked by a knight; and two crew members are strafed by a fighter plane.
It all makes sense at the end, the planet revealed to be an alien amusement park where a person's thoughts can become reality. Coming directly after the suspenseful, war-based episode Balance of Terror, Shore Leave is a welcome slice of frivolity: even the death of McCoy doesn't detract from the overall fun, the cheeky physician brought back to life by the incredible technology beneath the planet's surface.
6.5/10, rounded up to 7 for gorgeous Emily Banks as Yeoman Barrows, one of the sexiest Enterprise crew members (who becomes romantically involved with lucky McCoy!).
N. B. First appearance in Star Trek for the iconic Vasquez Rocks.
A science-fiction version of the 1957 WWII film The Enemy Below, in which an American destroyer stalked a German U-boat, Balance of Terror pits Captain Kirk and his crew against a Romulan warship (armed with a high energy plasma weapon and a cloaking device) that has launched attacks on several Earth outposts. A tense game of cat and mouse ensues, as Kirk and the Romulan commander (Mark Lenard) take it in turns to try and out-maneuver and out-guess their enemy.
After the quite dreadful The Conscience of the King, Star Trek is back on track with this excellent episode that delivers suspense, excitement, action, and a classic foe in the form of the Romulans, whilst delivering a poignant message about the futility of war and bigotry. Kirk proves himself a great leader and military tactician, intelligent, cunning and calm under pressure, more than a match for the crafty Romulans, but when all is said and done, there is no clear winner in this conflict: the Romulan ship is destroyed, but it is the innocent who have really suffered, several Federation outposts obliterated and the only Enterprise fatality a young man who, in the episode's opening scene, was about to be married.
"To sleep, perchance to dream" -- This one had me dozing off.
An old friend of Kirk's believes that Karidian, leader of an acting troupe, is the man once known as Kodos the Executioner, former governor of Tarsus IV who ordered the deaths of 4000 people when his colony faced starvation. As Kirk attempts to confirm his pal's suspicions, someone goes around bumping off the handful of people who might be able to positively identify Kodos, Kirk himself a target.
The Conscience of The King apparently parallels William Shakespeare's Hamlet (I wouldn't know -- I did Macbeth at school). Sci-fi drawing inspiration from 'the Bard' was not a new thing, Forbidden Planet (1956) having been based on The Tempest, but where that at least had a robot, a flying saucer and an invisible monster to keep things interesting, this episode features very few futuristic sci-fi trappings: it could have been set any place, any time. What we do get is lots of overwrought melodrama as Kirk becomes romantically involved with Karidian's daughter Lenore (Barbara Anderson), who -- surprise, surprise -- turns out to be the killer, trying to protect her father from those trying to bring him to justice.
When the highlight of a whole episode is Uhura singing one of her songs, then we have a problem.
Star Trek two-parter The Menagerie gave the show's creator, Gene Roddenberry, an opportunity to make use of The Cage, his expensive unaired pilot for season one. Having set the scene in part one, with Spock charged with mutiny, part two largely comprises of footage from The Cage, as Kirk's loyal second-in-command uses images broadcast by the inhabitants of Talos IV to explain his uncharacteristic behaviour.
Having recently watched The Cage, I can't say that The Menagerie Pt 2 did much for me, the episode primarily a rehash of events from the pilot. The plot gives no adequate explanation for how Spock came to be in contact the Talosians, whose planet is a no-go zone, or how he was able to orchestrate and carry out his mutinous plan with such precision; in short, there are plot holes big enough to fly The Enterprise thorough. The uplifting ending - in which Pike goes to spend his remaining life in an illusory world created by the Talosians - makes little sense: why do the aliens feel so obliged to help Pike, who is no longer a prime specimen of humanity? Altruism certainly never seemed to be a Talosian trait.
Two-parter The Menagerie starts off promisingly, with an intriguing mystery, as the normally reliable Spock goes rogue after paying a visit to his old captain Christopher Pike, who has been left severely disabled and disfigured after exposure to delta rays. Spock programs The Enterprise to travel to the forbidden planet Talos IV, takes command of the ship, beams Pike on board, and leaves Kirk stranded at Starbase Eleven.
Kirk gives chase in a shuttle, accompanied by starbase commander Commodore Mendez (Malachi Throne). When the pair go beyond the point of no return and run out of power, Spock beams them onto the Enterprise and promptly turns himself in. Court martial proceedings ensue, during which Spock shows recordings to explain his behaviour.
It's at this point that The Menagerie uses scenes from The Cage, the unaired pilot episode of Star Trek. If the Cage is new to you, this won't be a problem: it's an entertaining enough tale in which an alien race, The Talosians, capture Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) and place him in their intergalactic subterranean zoo, using powerful mind tricks to give the illusion of paradise (the Talosians even provide Pike with a sexy mate in the form of Vina, played by Susan Oliver). However, if you're already familiar with the pilot episode, pretty much everything that follows will be underwhelming, with part two comprising mostly of footage from The Cage.
Unless I am mistaken, contrary to what The Firm's 1987 hit Star Trekkin' would have us believe, the crew of The Enterprise ARE capable of finding reverse: while trying to evade a mysterious spinning cube that blocks the ship's path, it appears that The Enterprise is going backwards, before Kirk decides to blast the object with the ship's phasers. This course of action attracts the Fesarius, the massive spheroid flagship of the "First Federation", whose alien commander Balok informs The Enterprise that the object was a space buoy, the destruction of which is seen as an act of hostility. In retaliation, Balok gives Kirk a ten minute countdown, after which he will destroy The Enterprise.
To prevent this from happening, Kirk plays a poker style bluff -- the Corbomite Maneuver -- the captain claiming that his ship has the ability to turn any attack against its aggressor with equal force. Will his deception successfully fool Balok?
Man, this one is hard going. Set almost entirely on the bridge of The Enterprise, it mostly comprises of The Enterprise standing still while Kirk talks to Balok, first trying to convince the alien of his good intentions and then trying to fool it into thinking that an attack would be a grave mistake. All of this is very dull. The supposed exciting highlight sees the Enterprise trying to shake itself loose while being towed by a space-tug piloted by Balok, Kirk's ploy eventually draining the alien's craft of power. The incredibly daft final act has Kirk, Bones, and crewman Bailey (Anthony D. Call) beam aboard Balok's ship to try and help its commander only to find that the alien (played by child actor Clint Howard) has merely been having fun testing them. At the end, Bailey agrees to remain with Balok so that they can learn about each other's culture, despite the man being on the verge of a nervous breakdown less than an hour earlier.
A violent escaped inmate from the Tantalus penal colony hides inside a cargo crate that is beamed aboard the Enterprise; when the criminal is apprehended, he claims that he is Dr. Simon van Gelder (Morgan Woodward), assistant to Dr. Tristan Adams (James Gregory), a renowned pioneer of prison reform. Doc McCoy suspects that something is up and convinces Kirk to investigate.
The captain beams down to Tantalus with sexy psychotherapist Helen Noel (Marianna Hill), and is given a tour of the prison by Adams. When Kirk shows interest in a machine called a neural neutraliser, used to calm violent prisoners, Adams claims that it is still in the experimental phase and isn't effective. Kirk isn't convinced by Adams' story and, sneaking into the room with Helen, uses himself as a guinea pig to test the apparatus. When the machine is activated, Helen is able to plant thoughts into Kirk's mind -- something that the doctor has clearly been doing to his inmates, turning them into obedient slaves (to what end, we never find out).
Dagger Of The Mind is a rather run-of-the-mill episode that is made marginally more memorable for the fact that it features the first instance of Spock's mind-meld technique, which he uses to open the tortured mind of van Gelder, and for the eye-candy in the form of shapely Ms. Hill, who crawls around air ducts in her regulation figure-hugging Starfleet mini-dress, gets in a couple of clinches with the lucky captain (the pair having previously flirted at a Starfleet Xmas party), and is tasked with shutting down the penal colony force field like a sexy Obi-wan Kenobi, a job that requires her to kick some butt (she even sends one of Adams' guards into a high voltage circuit!).
A distress signal draws the crew of the Enterprise into a perilous situation (for a change). This time, the message emanates from a planet that is, for some unknown reason, an exact duplicate of Earth. Beaming down to the planet's surface, Kirk, Spock, Bones, Yeoman Rand, and two red shirts find a world in ruins, the only inhabitants a gang of almost feral children. They eventually discover the reason for the state of the planet: three hundred years earlier, scientists attempted to develop a way to prolong life, an experiment that went horribly wrong, achieving the desired results in the pre-pubescent members of the population, but causing a disease in the adults that resulted in madness and death. Kirk and company soon start to show signs of the sickness, and attempt to rustle up a cure, but their progress is hampered by the children (who are, in reality, several centuries old), who view adults (or 'grups' as they call them) as a threat. Miri (Kim Darby) is the only one to help the crew, the preadolescent girl having fallen for the dashing captain.
Miri is an entertaining episode, but it's a problematic one. The whole doppelganger Earth aspect is totally pointless - no explanation is given for this one-in-a-gazillion occurrence. The crew beaming down to the the exact location where the virus was developed is far-fetched in the extreme. The entire crew leaving their vital communicators unattended is an obvious and irritating plot contrivance. Kirk and friends arriving on the planet just as the kids' food supply is about to run out-what are the chances? Michael J. Pollard in his late twenties as one of the 'children' - give me a break! And as for Kirk's inappropriate flirtatious manner with Miri... it's such uncomfortable viewing that it's little wonder that the ever-cautious BBC played it safe by not airing this episode for a couple of decades.
Captain Kirk beams down to planet Exo-III to meet renowned scientist Dr. Roger Korby (Michael Strong); accompanying Kirk is Nurse Chapel (Majel Barrett), Korby's fiancé, who hasn't seen the scientist for five years. Imagine the nurse's dismay when she discovers that Korby has been keeping himself busy by creating androids, one of which is a beautiful young woman named Andrea (played by drop-dead-gorgeous Sherry Jackson), who is indistinguishable from a real(ly hot) person. Don't tell me that Korby hasn't been tempted to interface with the sexy robot on lonely winter nights.
Korby explains that by using alien technology he has discovered in underground caverns he can not only create a lifelike replica of a real person but also download their personality and memories into the machine. To demonstrate, he creates a perfect copy of Kirk. His plan is to start making android versions of people on Earth colonies, scrapping the originals afterwards, thereby allowing people to 'live' forever (so long as there's an electrician on hand to fix any short circuits). Kirk isn't about to let that happen but he must get past giant alien android Ruk (Ted Cassidy) and not allow himself to get too distracted by sexy Andrea.
With a sinister villain, the hulking threat of Ruk, the allure of Andrea, two 'red shirts' dying almost immediately, not one but two Captain Kirks, and a neat twist at the end (not too hard to guess, but fun regardless), this episode from the pen of Robert Bloch, writer of Psycho, is tremendous fun from start to finish. 8.5/10, rounded up to 9 for Ms. Jackson (who recently caught my eye in The Twilight Zone episode The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank).
A lithium battery in exchange for Susan Denberg: deal!
Scallywag smuggler Harcourt 'Harry' Fenton Mudd (Roger C. Carmel) and his 'cargo' of three women (Karen Steele, Susan Denberg and Maggie Thrett) are beamed aboard the Enterprise moments before their ship is destroyed by an asteroid. In doing so, the Enterprise's lithium crystals are depleted, leaving the ship in desperate need of a replacement power supply. A course is plotted to the mining colony on Rigel 12 where the miners wish to trade new crystals for the three women. Can a settlement be reached before the Enterprise runs out of power and spirals into the planet?
For a while there I was wondering why all of the male crew members on the Enterprise were getting hot under the collar over Mudd's women when virtually every female crew member on the ship is a babe. I'm glad they expained it: that the three women are taking the Venus drug that enhances their womanly attributes, thereby making them more appealing than regular women. What I still don't understand is how such a lame story got the green light. Perhaps the producers felt that the eye-candy was reason enough for this episode to go ahead (Hammer babe Susan Denberg is particularly fetching), but I felt that this was the weakest show thus far, especially with Carmel's grating comical performance and the dreadful ending, in which blonde Eve (Steele) is tricked into taking a placebo and learns that she only needs to believe that she is beautiful in order to be so.
The Strange Case of Captain Kirk and Captain Kirk.
A malfunctioning transporter causes Kirk to split into two captains, one good but weak willed, the other wicked but forceful. While bad boy Kirk causes havoc on board the Enterprise, slugging back Saurian brandy and sexually assaulting Yeoman Janice Rand, good Kirk struggles to make decisions concerning his men trapped on the sub-zero surface of the planet below (the script conveniently ignoring the fact that the Enterprise has a shuttle craft). Eventually, Kirk has no choice but to test the rapidly repaired transporter on himself... both of him.
William Shatner has a blast playing Jekyll and Hyde in this episode, hamming it up a treat as Kirk's evil alter ego: it's a manic tour-de-force of gleefully exaggerated expressions and wild gesticulations that is a pleasure to behold. The plot, by Richard Matheson, is quite preposterous (but would later be recycled for Superman III), although any show that features a dog in a furry, horned costume masquerading as an alien is okay by me.
The Enterprise is in orbit above a dying, frozen planet. Spock and crewman Tormolen (who might as well be wearing a red shirt) beam down to the surface to pick up a science party before the planet disintegrates, but they find the scientists dead. The pair return to their spaceship unaware that Tormolen has been infected with a highly contagious virus that brings hidden personality traits to the fore and amplifies them. Before long, a bare-chested Sulu is bounding around the Enterprise with a sword, Irishman Riley is acting like a drunkard, Nurse Chapel (Majel Barrett) is professing love for the captain, and Spock is crying into his sleeve. Will the crew be able to pull themselves together before the crippled Enterprise enters the planet's atmosphere and burns up?
The idea of the normally stoic and controlled crew of the Enterprise going crazy is a good one, and for the most part provides a thoroughly entertaining time, but it all becomes a bit too chaotic at the end, and the whole thing falls apart quicker than the frozen planet. I'm still unsure about how Spock and Kirk managed to overcome the virus and concoct a plan to escape the planet's gravitational pull and avoid disaster, but they do. They also invent time travel in the process.
6.5/10, rounded down to 6 for the rushed and contrived conclusion.
Teenager Charlie has apparently grown up all by himself, the sole survivor of a transport crash on the planet Thasus when he was just three years old. Rescued by a science vessel, he is beamed aboard the Enterprise so that he can rejoin the human race on Earth Colony 5, but Captain Kirk discovers that the boy is a danger to his ship and crew, possessing the power of transmutation but not having the maturity and experience to use his amazing ability wisely.
As others have pointed out, Charlie X is a lot like the Twilight Zone episode It's a Good Life, in which Billy Mumy abuses his godlike powers to make anything happen, sending those who annoy him 'into the cornfield'. Similarly, when angered, Charlie causes people to vanish, turns them into lizards, makes them become old, or eradicates their facial features. Having not been taught social behaviour or right from wrong, he has become a petulant whiny brat - a boy trying to be an adult - who needs a firm hand to guide him. Kirk does his best to lay down the rules, and risks his life in doing so, but in the end it is the mythical Thasians - those who gave Charlie his powers in the first place - who turn up to make things right, whisking the boy away in the nick of time.
As thoroughly annoying as Charlie is, and as satisfying it is to see him dragged away kicking and screaming by the Thasians at the end, once cannot help but feel a little sorry for the kid: if anyone is to blame for what has happened, it is the Thasians - lousy 'parents' the lot of 'em!
5/10. A fifty minute ship-bound episode, Charlie X feels really drawn out, with pointless padding in the form of a tuneless jam session by Spock and Uhura, and a three dimensional chess game between Kirk and his pointy-eared science officer. Not exactly thrilling stuff!
The Enterprise picks up a distress signal from the SS Valiant, a vessel that has been missing for two centuries. Locating the ship's recorder, the Enterprise crew beam the device on board and discover that the captain of the Valiant gave orders to destroy his own ship. There are also references on the recordings to members of the Valiant's crew who had ESP.
As the Enterprise approaches the edge of the galaxy, it encounters an alien force field that causes psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Dehner (Sally Kellerman) and Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell (Gary Lockwood) to become unconscious. Both recover, but Mitchell develops strange symptoms: freaky deaky eyeballs and increased mental powers that, if they continue to advance exponentially, will quickly give him godlike status, something that worries Mr. Spock. The decision is made to try and maroon Mitchell on a nearby uninhabited planet before he reaches a stage where he views men as insects to be squished - but doing so won't be easy.
Man, this one was creepy. It's those silvery eyes: subtle yet extremely effective at transforming a mere mortal into a malevolent demi-god. Lockwood's unnatural movements add to the feeling of unease, helping to make this a far more memorable and impressive look at how absolute power corrupts than the show's previous episode, Charlie X, which saw a stroppy teenager abusing his psychic abilities.
The Man Trap was the first outing for the Enterprise crew that we all know and love: Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), and Sulu (George Takei). But still no sign of Scotty yet (his first appearance was in the show's second pilot 'Where No Man Has Gone Before', which was broadcast as the third episode in season one).
This one opens as Kirk, Spock and expendable crewman Darnell (not wearing a red shirt but still soon-to-be-dead) are beamed to the surface of planet M-113 to check up on the health of Professor Crater (Alfred Ryder) and his wife Nancy (Jeanne Bal), an old flame of the Doc's. On meeting Nancy, each member of the Enterprise crew sees the woman differently, although they do not realise it. Soon after, Darnell is found dead (what a shocker!), McCoy eventually discovering that the man's body has been depleted of salt.
Kirk recalls that a supply of salt was high on the Craters' list of requirements and begins to become suspicious about the couple. It eventually transpires that Nancy is in fact a salt-sucking shape-shifting alien, the last of its kind, having replaced the real Mrs. Crater, who was killed two years earlier by the creature. The professor is now protecting the beast, which has become a surrogate wife to him.
A lot more fun than the show's overly-cerebral pilot The Cage, The Man Trap is suspenseful and has the major benefit of its more familiar cast, who all interact marvelously. There's also the no-small-matter of Yeoman Janice's magnificent beehive hairdo, Sulu's amazing living plant specimen (that is clearly a man's hand), and the final appearance of the shape-shifter: a hilarious hairy monstrosity with a real ugly mush -- let's hope that the professor didn't allow the creature to replace his wife in all aspects of their relationship.
This pilot for Star Trek is most notable for the fact that the only familiar member of the crew on the Enterprise is Mr. Spock. There's no Sulu, no Uhura, no Bones, no Scotty and no Chekov. The Captain of the ship is Christopher Pike, played by Jeffrey Hunter, for whom shouldering the responsibility of captain is becoming too much. Kirk, where art thou?
Actually, I take all of that back. The most notable thing about The Cage is not the unfamiliarity of the cast: it's drop-dead-gorgeous blonde Susan Oliver as Vina, sole survivor of a space-crash on the planet Talos, which is inhabited by telepathic beings. When Captain Pike is captured by the aliens, placed in a illusory paradise and expected to mate with Vina, no-one would blame the man if he turned his back on his duties as captain and got on with the job at hand. Sure, Vina's beauty is also an illusion created by the aliens, but he doesn't know that.
Pike, however, isn't about to let a load of vein-throbbing brainiac ETs force him to make sweet, sweet love to the hottest piece of skirt this side of Rigel IV. Oh no, he takes orders from no-one and attempts to escape at every opportunity. Even when the aliens provide him with two more women -- the Enterprise's 'number one' (Majel Barrett) and Yeoman Colt (Laurel Goodwin), both of whom have the hots for the captain -- he is determined to break free. Would Kirk have been keen to leave in such a hurry?
I guess The Cage is about being master of one's own destiny, even if that means giving up a good thing, and it kinda reminds me of The Matrix in that respect: take the blue pill and live a lie, or take the red pill and face reality. It's all a bit too highfalutin and cerebral for my liking (and there's no bullet time or kung fu) but that's Gene Roddenberry for you.