Review: Star Trek — The Naked Time

StarTrekBadgeby N. A. Halkides   4/11/14
When I got my first VHS recorder in 1985, one of the things I did with it was start a project to record all the episodes from the first season of Star Trek and examine them critically.  I remembered the first season was when the series had been at its height artistically, and although the episodes had been in continual syndication since the show’s cancellation in 1969, I hadn’t seen them recently and was only then beginning to give serious consideration to the problems of the dramatic craft.  It was, to use a favorite adjective of Mr. Spock, “fascinating” after almost twenty years to revisit episodes such as This Side of Paradise, which dealt with the need of human beings for continual striving, The Return of the Archons, creator/producer Gene Roddenberry’s rather obscure attack on Christianity, and the subject of this review, John D. F. Black’s The Naked Time which was the series’ seventh episode, first airing on September 29, 1966.

In any work of literature, plot consists of people in trouble, and the more serious the trouble, the greater the potential for artistic achievement.  Science fiction, as a sub-category of fantasy, is distinguished by having some fact of reality or natural law suspended for the duration.  Putting these two ideas together, we can see that in the best science fiction, this suspension must tie directly into a significant human problem.  (Obviously I am condensing matters here since this is a review and not a critical essay, but the essentials are exactly as I have stated them).  Many times writers forget these facts, or perhaps never fully grasped them, as in the weaker episodes of The Twilight Zone where some fact of reality was suspended and then the writer simply laid back as if to say “Well, my job is done” when no great human problem was presented, or in much science fiction where, say, an alien race with some sort of peculiarity takes center stage, but again nothing really human is in play or at stake (this was a persistent failing of Star Trek: The Next Generation, for instance).

Fortunately, Black in The Naked Time seems to have understood this, despite not having begun his career specifically as a science-fiction writer.  The “fact of reality” being suspended is the existence of an altered molecule of water, which when introduced into the human body causes hidden desires and personality traits to come to the surface.  The human problem is the need to keep certain inner desires hidden from our fellow human beings even if that secrecy results in those desires being unmet.  This was significant enough, and Black’s handling of it deft enough, to produce one of the best Star Trek episodes (say in the top five) and, since Star Trek was one of the best series the medium produced, one of the best hours of episodic television.

Sent to monitor the impending break-up of a planet, the Enterprise crew investigates a research station located there only to find all the scientists dead, having shut down their own life support systems while doing crazy things like showering with their clothes on.  The altered water molecules, which are of course not yet known to be the cause, are absorbed through the skin of crewman Joe Tormolen (Stewart Moss) when he momentarily removes his protective glove.  After he and the rest of the landing party return from the station, the water is passed by casual contact from man to man through the perspiration film on their skin until a large part of the crew is affected, jeopardizing the ship.

While everyone keeps some desires to himself, those of three of the Enterprise crew are unusually interesting:  Captain Kirk (William Shatner) is attracted to his blonde Yeoman, Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney), but cannot express this to her because of his devotion to duty as the ship’s commander, Nurse Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett) is actually in love with Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) but out of feminine shyness or perhaps a sense of hopelessness has left that love unexpressed, and Mr. Spock himself has an entire human half to keep hidden lest he express emotion and disgrace himself by Vulcan standards.  (The revelation of Turmolen’s capacity for self-doubt is less interesting, and serves mainly to help us understand the effects of the altered water).  It is the secret desires of these three characters plus two more that propel the story, as Turmolen passes the chemical to Lt. Sulu, who starts running around with a fencing foil like a character out of The Three Musketeers, and Lt. Riley (Bruce Hyde), who takes Nurse Chapel’s hand in sick bay, thus passing the “disease” on to her.

She begins to speak in a softer, more feminine tone but Dr. McCoy barely notices as he’s got bigger problems on his hands:  the “disease” (as they call it) has now been discovered and he can’t get any sensible answers from the biopsy lab whose personnel are affected, while Riley, fancying himself the descendent of Irish spock_and_christine_3royalty, has taken over the engineering section and thus control of the ship, putting them all in danger since they can’t compensate for the planet’s shrinking radius.  The physics are a little questionable at this point, since a decrease in the planet’s radius would affect its surface gravity but shouldn’t cause any trouble to a starship orbiting at a sufficient distance from the planet’s center.  Still, Black’s dramatic construction is good since the physical danger is a direct result of the incapacitation of the crew by the uncontrolled liberation of their inner selves.

Then Spock arrives in sick bay searching for McCoy.  Christine confesses her love to him in the episode’s most poignant scene:

CHRISTINE: I’m in love with you.  You, the human Mr. Spock, the Vulcan Mr. Spock.

SPOCK: Nurse, you shouldn’t –

CHRISTINE: Christine, please.  I see things – how honest you are.  I know how you feel.  You hide it, but you do have feelings.   Oh, how we must hurt you, torture you…

SPOCK: I’m in control of my emotions.

CHRISTINE: The others believe that – I don’t.  I love you – I don’t know why, but I love you. Just as you are.

SPOCK: I’m sorry.  I am sorry.

CHRISTINE: Christine.

SPOCK: Christine.

To show how much just having Spock use her first name means to Christine took far greater sensitivity than you would ever see on television drama (or what passes for it) today – more’s the pity.  Anyway, now Spock is infected too, and at a critical time:  he’s needed on the bridge, for Kirk has gone down to Engineering to see how Cmd. Scott (James Doohan) is doing cutting through the wall to reach Riley.  When they finally get through the wall, Scott examines the controls, realizes that Riley has shut the engines down and that it will take a half hour to restart them – more time than they have before hitting the planet’s atmosphere.  Scott then delivers one of Trek’s classic lines:  “I can’t change the laws of physics!  I’ve got to have thirty minutes!”

Kirk decides to pay no attention to the laws of physics, hatching a wild plan to do a cold restart of the ship’s engines, but he needs Spock to do some calculations.  When he finds him in the deserted briefing room, he’s an emotional wreck, sobbing as the human half he has buried so long emerges all at once in an unusual (for television) soliloquy.  This again is something you wouldn’t see today, well-acted by Nimoy.  As for Shatner, he’s about to get his chance to chew the scenery as for some reason Kirk doesn’t seem to recognize that Spock has been “infected” and gets into a brief scuffle with him, thus becoming infected himself.  He then delivers his own monologue:

KIRK: Love!  You’re better off without it and I’m better off without mine.  This vessel – I give, she takes.  She won’t permit me my life – I’ve got to live hers.  I’ve a beautiful yeoman – have you noticed her, Mr. Spock?  The captain’s not permitted…

The monologue continues as Spock comes to his senses enough to start thinking about the matter/anti-matter intermix formula they’re going to need.  This again is very unusual writing for television, where most of the dialogue is, frankly, incredibly dull (think The Next Generation).  And although it’s become safe and fashionable to make fun of Shatner for overacting, he had a very considerable talent and was able to bring off his role extremely well, even when his acting choices were a little on the large side.  That is certainly the case here, and he movingly conveys the loneliness of the commanding officer although Christine’s hopeless love for Mr. Spock, who can never feel as she does, remains more poignant.

Everything finally comes together as Spock does his calculations, Scotty prepares to fire the engines, McCoy finds the antidote, and Kirk clears his head long enough to haul his backside back to the Bridge, which has been without a commanding officer for about the past half hour!  I don’t think I need to issue a spoiler alert before revealing that they do manage to save the ship, but in doing so the unnecessary element of a time warp was introduced which weakens the episode’s closing scene and its overall unity.  I can only think that someone (maybe Roddenberry) wanted the crew to have the ability to travel through time if needed, and I remember this device was actually used twice in later episodes (Tomorrow is Yesterday and Assignment: Earth).  But despite this distraction, the character studies of Kirk, Spock, and Christine come through plainly, and they are the chief interest here since there is no strong theme.  At the risk of belaboring the point, what makes this episode so good as science-fiction is that the fantasy element facilitated the achievement of one of literature’s central aims, namely effective characterization, as we get fairly deeply into what makes these three people tick.

Note should be made of the music (no pun intended).  Music can add a great deal to drama, as was recognized even in the days of ancient Greek theatre.  I don’t remember there being much music during the Golden Age of live television, probably because it would have been very hard to coordinate with the action.  When pre-recorded episodic television began, it became possible to fully score each show the way you would a film, although more often rather generic themes were employed, cut in to fit by the music editor and re-used in many episodes – I have even heard the same music used in different series!

Star Trek generally took the more difficult but more satisfying route of full scoring.  A number of composers were brought in; for this episode it was Alexander Courage (who also did the opening theme).  The score lent good support to the drama, especially the aforementioned scene between Spock and Christine.  There are only a handful of shows, such as I, Spy, that can compete with Trek in this regard.

Trek’s cinematography under Jerry Finnerman was also excellent.  That was characteristic of the Paramount-produced shows of this period, although the expense soon earned the ire of Paramount executives and was probably wasted on Mannix, but Star Trek deserved the extra care and these old shows are a pleasure to look at even today with their exceptionally sharp, clean look and vivid colors.

Marc Daniels directed the episode with his usual simple effectiveness.  He seemed able to get good performances from his actors, as noted.  I don’t mean to understate his contribution here, but the preposterous auteur theory of the French is even less supportable in television than it is in cinema, for time constraints are such (each episode must be filmed in six days) that it is the writer, not the director, who describes each camera shot, although directors can and do depart from this plan.  The primary author of any dramatic work is the writer, not the director, and that brings us back to John D. F. Black.

Black disliked Gene Roddenberry, and for good reason:  Roddenberry had the habit of rewriting Trek’s scripts, even those by writers as good as Richard Matheson and Harlan Ellison, men whose stature and ability far exceeded his own.  Black had too much respect for these men and their craft not to object to their being rewritten.  And when Roddenberry rewrote parts of The Naked Time without even telling Black, he soured on the show and soon left the series entirely (in addition to writing this episode he had served as Executive Story Consultant and Associate Producer).

Black never wrote another episode of Trek, although writer’s guild rules required that he be given a story credit for The Next Generation’s The Naked Now, in which Roddenberry basically stole Black’s script and reused it to make a “bottle” episode (one that could use mainly standing sets to cut costs).  This was only the third episode from TNG’s first season so it did not exactly augur well for the show that Roddenberry was already swiping from the original, but TNG’s many problems are a different subject altogether.

The Naked Time represents Star Trek at its best, along with a handful of other episodes, perhaps This Side of Paradise, Space Seed, Matheson’s The Enemy Within, and of course Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever.  It is well worth watching for anyone interested in science-fiction or television drama during its early, better days. • (4469 views)

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18 Responses to Review: Star Trek — The Naked Time

  1. Glenn Fairman says:

    What an interesting and thought provoking review. I catch the early Star Trek on Me-TV every Saturday night. The TNG scripts seemed better once Roddenberry beamed away on his light fantastic. I always liked Majel Barrett, who also played the computer voice as well as Deana Troi’s Space yenta Betazoid Mama. And if we go back even further, she Was Lumpy Rutherford’s mom in Leave it to Beaver……..

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    My taste in episodes doesn’t exactly match yours, but I do remember this episode well. There are some interesting aspects. For example, Yeoman Rand is never seen to be infected, and remains effective (though unable to impose her will on a drunken crewman who accosts her). She similarly shows her competence in “The Corbomite Maneuver”, bringing hot coffee to the bridge (when the power is out) by using a phaser. Another interesting incident comes when Kirk wonders if someone can at least shut off Riley’s repeated singing of “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen”, and Uhuru angrily replies, “Don’t you think I’d shut him off if I could?”

    Incidentally, David Gerrold mentioned in one of his books on the series that George Takei really did see himself as a swashbuckling type, and thus behaved much as Sulu does in the episode. I will also note that you might be interesting in taking a look at the Nitpicker’s Guides to the various series. There’s some very interesting material in them, including a reasonable (and objective) definition of terrorism.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    That was a very interesting read, Nik. I learned several things including the term “bottle episode.” I wonder if that includes those budget-saving episodes that are little more than a compendium of scenes from previous episodes. It seems to me that The Next Generation did that early-on. Speaking of which, it would be interesting to read your evaluation of what went wrong with TNG.

    Along with Timothy, I hadn’t rated The Naked Time as one of my favorites. But that’s what’s great about art appreciation. It’s not about talking yourself into liking something that you didn’t. It’s about seeing the things that you might have missed.

    It is interesting that a bunch of conservatives share a love and fascination for what was clearly a left-of-center utopian program. But then I’ve never thought that conservatives had any problem imagining fascinating things. But it’s their penchant for separating fantasy from reality in the real world that makes them conservatives. But they (we) are no less lovers of fiction, however improbably it may be.

    We enjoy our fantasies in literature, movies, and episodic TV where it may entertain us and possibly even inspire us. On the other hand, the Left actually tries to live it out. These are the kinds of people who need those labels sown on the inside of Superman costumes: Warning: Suit does not allow wearer to fly. If you think about it, the whole healthcare restructuring is like Obama locking himself inside the White House, turning off the power to one-sixth of the American economy, and reveling us with yet one more rendition of I’ll take you home again, Kathleen. I’m not sure that the next president can do a cold-restart of the economy. What’s the intermix formula for that?

    In fact, before reading your review, it never really occurred to me before the difference between the Original Series and The Next Generation. In the Original Series, there is that utopian undercurrent. But even so, man doesn’t forget who he is. In The Naked Time the writers play with the fact that to have an ordered and civilized society, many must repress certain urges, at least some of the time. Roddenberry and others may have had lofty visions for the future, but they didn’t leave man behind.

    But in The Next Generation, utopia is just assumed as a workable proposition and is rarely a subject that is explored. On board Picard’s Enterprise they all remind me of “Progressive” robots who act always for the good, all of the time, because…well…that’s just how utopia works. Mankind’s nature is denied, replaced by a plastic ever-present “niceness” that just somehow magically happens.

    On another subject, Roddenberry himself wrote some terrible episodes, including “The Omega Glory” which is still fun to watch but that makes not a hell of a lot of sense. Even so, I’m not sympathetic to the whining of Harlan Ellison and others. From what I’ve read, he (and possibly D.C. Fontana — I forget who worked on the script) quite arguably made it better. Roddenberry knew his characters better than Ellison did and understood better the requirements of episodic TV. Ellison, in my opinion, was a bit full of himself.

    But I understand that writers do not like having their stuff changed. I ran into one instance of that here a long time ago (none of you know this person) where a friend submitted something that was, at best, a disorganized mess. Well, I organized it into a coherent article. And bad feelings ensued from this even though I much improved it.

    Back to The Naked Time. I don’t know why the heck The Next Generation, so early in its life, felt it had to redo this and couldn’t come up with their own material. But the original episode is a good one, and one that could not be written today because people have lost the ability for that kind of introspection. Instead, we’ve swallowed down the tripe, the idea that we can create a Utopian society where everyone can do whatever is their heart’s desire. This is, more than anything, the vibe behind homosexual marriage. The idea that anything needs to be restrained (other than cigarette smoking) is a foreign concept.

    Today’s screenwriters could not write The Naked Time. Instead, they would do the opposite, which is what much of The Next Generation was — the playing out of fantasies, whether on the holodeck or via some other gimmick. The idea of mankind taking all his primal urges with him and throwing a monkey wrench into Utopia was mostly missing.

    • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

      Absolutely, Brad, that dopey utopian drivel that appeared throughout both Treks was Gene Roddenberry’s doing. You referred to Ellison – I assume you mean his episode The City on the Edge of Forever – and I’ll go with you part way. (I’ve read the original treatment and the original script which won the WGA award, and of course I know the finished version well). What happened with Ellison’s script is a long story, and Roddenberry did indeed do the final rewrite, but it’s worth going into in more detail so please bear with me.

      Ellison turned in a good script (in fact he did several rewrites himself), but because he had only seen one or two episodes of the then-new series before writing it, did not use Dr. McCoy at all (because he didn’t know who McCoy was), and he included two new characters unfamiliar to the viewers, LeBecque and Beckwith. Steven Carabatsos, then the series Story Consultant (he replaced John D.F. Black, mentioned in the review), took a whack at rewriting it but his contributions are unknown, at least to me.

      I believe Gene Coon was next in line. He replaced LeBecque and Beckwith with Dr. McCoy, which made sense, and added Kirk’s half-assed explanation of Spock’s ears to the beat cop (“He got his head caught in a mechanical rice-picker”), which people either love or hate (Ellison hated it but blamed it on Carabatsos).

      #3 in the parade was D. C. Fontana, who I always thought was more gifted as an editor than a writer. She introduced the drug Cortrazine to bring on McCoy’s temporary madness, and rewrote the scene with Kirk and Spock in the basement so that instead of being discovered by the janitor, it’s Edith Keeler who finds them and offers them work. Both these changes were good in my estimation, especially the second one because it allowed the Kirk/Edith romance to build more over time.

      Finally Roddenberry decided to rewrite it himself. No one seems to have recorded his exact changes, but the final shooting script was his. That scene in the mission where Edith gives that dopey talk about how in the future everything will be perfect is obviously Roddenberry’s work. And perhaps the biggest change, where Kirk finally acts to restrain McCoy from saving Edith instead of Spock having to do it, was probably Roddenberry’s too. I hate to admit it, because my opinion is that generally Roddenberry made every script he touched worse, and because he wasn’t 1/10 the writer Ellison was, but I think the change made that scene even more powerful.

      My evaluation of what went wrong with TNG as a future essay? Well, maybe. I don’t know those episodes nearly as well as I pretty much hated the show from the beginning, but it’s possible. The fact that the producers had the incredible smugness to make San Francisco(!) the Federation’s capital city, or home base, or whatever it was, speaks volumes. But we’ll see.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        The thing is, there are many people who believe this utopian stuff. Amazing but true. The only true utopia is the one you create with your attitude.

        I watched most of “The Next Generation.” I got incremented into that because I remember watching several episodes on Netflix late last year – after probably havinig gone 10 years since seeing an episode – and not being that impressed. So I guess I just crap-settled, I lowered my standards in order to have something to watch on TV.

        Art is a great thing when all the elements come together as it did so often in the Original Series. Many of those episodes tackled very interesting sci-fi and human subjects.

        They say that the original Star Trek was sold as “Wagon Train in space.” And there’s some truth in that characterization. But if so, then The Next Generation was often Gilligan’s Island in space. They spent far too many episodes on goofy stuff. You could tell that the actors and/or writers were bored with it all because we kept getting these “dress up” episodes. You hardly need a 24th century starship as a backdrop for that, including Picard’s “Dixon Hill” impersonations in the holodeck.

        Still, they did hit a few high points such as “The Measure of a Man” where Data is put on trial to determine whether he is property or a person. But there was just too much mushy political correctness in that show.

        And speaking of the Star Trek original series movies, I pretty much hated them all…yes, even the one with the whale. The problem was that none of the main characters, except for one, was taking his or her role seriously.

        It’s too bad that Shatner got such a bad wrap for his acting because he really did some fine work, including this bit. But in the movies Shatner was clearly embarrassed about his old Kirk. He wouldn’t play him straight. He simply did a kind of walking apology of the character.

        The one guy who stayed in character was Sulu. Bones was okay much of the time, as was Scotty. But the big two – Spock and Kirk – were an embarrassment to the franchise. Nimoy apparently insisted on escaping Spock and turning him into some kind of Zen character. And Shatner played Kirk more as T.J. Hooker than the grand and great old James T.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      David Gerrold, in discussing “The City on the Edge of Forever” (which was the superb episode — the slow-motion climax was brilliantly staged — that led to the Ellison-Roddenberry dispute), seemed to take the stance that the original was the better story, but the modified version fit the series better. As you say, they knew the characters better than Ellison (who has a tendency to prefer the distinctly anti-heroic, as I can recall from the very first story of his I ever read).

  4. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    From the description of this episode, I would say the research station, post water molecule infection, sounds like a libertarian paradise. Everyone does their own thing and quickly end up dead. The same would have happened on the Enterprise, but for McCoy who brought back order and normalcy.

    It reminds me of Theodore Dalrymple’s thought experiment to see how long peace and order would last if we could all read each other’s minds.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Everyone does their own thing and quickly end up dead.

      One of the more interesting Next Generation episodes was Family. It immediately follows the two-part Borg episode, “The Best of Both Worlds.”

      In “Family,” Picard is down on earth recovering from his close (very close) contact with the Borg. He’s at his brother’s vineyard in La Barre, France. Earth, having long ago been on “the right side of history” by abolishing money, and even the need for work, has become a Nancy Peloso paradise where one can just be an artist forever and get on the Federation health care program, which is presumably transportable — all the way to Gamma quadrant.

      None of the aspects of this earth-federation utopia are examined or explained in this episode or in the entire series. It’s just taken for granted that a general “enlightenment” breaks out and which puts an end for the need for anyone to actually work. It’s all about exploration or personal fulfillment. Presumably they don’t need police officers either. Any kind of menial task is somehow no longer necessary.

      The libtards who created and fueled “The Next Generation” generally were not very introspective. It’s amusing to me that The Borg are actually a more viable (and honest) collective because they rely on force. No kind of force within the utopian Federation is commonly, if ever, shown. Remember, they’re mainly battling alien beings who just don’t know yet that Picard and the Federation are enlightened nice-guys and mean them no harm (although at least Picard never wore a “Reset” button in his negotiations with the Klingons).

      The truth is, the utopia as seen in The Next Generation is completely impossible without a Borg-like authoritarianism and the extinguishing of the individual. None of these topics, from what I can remember, are taken up in “The Next Generation.”

      This is why, although I watched it and enjoyed it for what it was, “The Next Generation” had no balls. And in this kind of emotional wasteland, it then made sense to have a guidance counselor as the right-hand man (woman) on the bridge who could remind the captain during a severe emergency that the crew was feeling tense. (Well, duh!)

      All this was a kind of mental masturbation. What’s ironic is that you had a central character — Data — trying to be more human but the show itself was generally a poor examination of what it meant to be human. But nearly every episode of the Original Series had that element as a backdrop.

      Outwardly the show was much more realistic. The Enterprise D was armed with powerful phasers and photon torpedoes. In the 24th century, despite utopia somehow having arisen at home, the purpose of the Starships themselves hadn’t taken on the mission statement of making Muslims (or the Romulans) feel better about themselves, which is now the stated goal of NASA. Outwardly the universe was still a wild place and there wasn’t a chronic naiveté as there is among utopian liberals today.

      Ostensibly, it was less wild than in Kirk’s time, for Picard’s Enterprise D was outfitted with entire families, so some of the “softened edge” could perhaps make some sense. And, yes, the idea of families had not yet apparently been extinguished in this utopian world of the 24th century. But why shouldn’t they have been? Replicators can produce the food you need. Why haven’t they done away with the need for families?

      So you really don’t have much of a ballsy sci-fi element as you did with the original series that asked a lot of “What if?” questions and specialized in introspection rather than libtard navel gazing. Ultimately, The Next Generation, although frequently entertaining, wasn’t an internally consistent sci-fi paradigm. I do believe everyone would have quickly wound up dead….as they almost did because of the Borg invasion.

      • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

        I don’t think you need me to take on TNG after that, Brad – you covered at least the essentials. (I could dissect the scripting a little further, and castigate them for having no interior music (did anyone else notice that, I wonder?). We could also go into Roddenberry’s more pornographic memos, detailed by Melinda Snodgrass, that reveal his puerile views on women and sex, but not on a full stomach.

    • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

      “From the description of this episode, I would say the research station, post water molecule infection, sounds like a libertarian paradise. Everyone does their own thing and quickly end up dead.”

      That’s very funny, KFZ, not least because it’s true! I don’t think that Black had the intention of skewering Libertarianism, but any honest treatment of it would probably produce similar results.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One of the best Star Trek episodes is “Wolf in the Fold.” I watched that last night on the free over-the-air “Heroes” channel. John Fiedler as Mr. Hengist is a brilliant bit of acting and casting.

    However, it just occurred to me what an odd ending it has. Everyone is relieved that Scotty is not guilty. But after three horrible deaths — including the wife of the head politician of the planet — at the very end of the episode Kirk wants to beam back down and go whoring on the same planet. This seemed like exceptionally bad taste.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Naturally, that one was written by Robert Bloch. A nice episode, with as good an explanation as any for many serial killers, not just Saucy Jack.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        A lot of people at IMDB are critical of “Wolf in the Fold” as in:

        Who knew that the Captain and the Doctor would take Scotty out to an exotic night club, complete with dancers, to toss back a few, and meet some women, all to help poor Scotty get over a head injury? What a surprise when several dead women seem to end up at Scotty’s feet and he doesn’t remember a thing about it!

        Well, that’s not really fair. It sounds as if Scotty had some kind of incident with a broad in engineering wherein her incompetence led to him being slightly injured, but nothing severe. The trip was just a little R&R to get away from it all. But I have to admit, it’s funny when that reviewer summed it up like that. But I see the problem when he wrote:

        Pretty bad episode and lacks the air of scientific and personal integrity that we associate with Star Trek.

        This reviewer dismisses Sybo’s psychic powers as stemming from “a 1960’s fad.” But Star Trek had already accepted the similar phenomenon of the Vulcan mind meld. Warp speed isn’t particularly scientific as well. But the point is that sci-fi doesn’t have to live by the strict rules of known science. It is free to posit possibilities as long as it stays consistent within those possibilities. What I smell here is sort of a fetishizing adherence to “reason,” which is one of the more prominent yute cults.

        This is actually a pretty racy episode. It starts with a close-up of some scantily-clad woman doing some kind of belly dance. We learn that this is a hedonistic planet where jealousy is their “n-word.” The obvious implication is that the brothel that Kirk, Bones, and Scotty are visiting is what you find on just about any street corner. It’s normal. Nothing special.

        You can bet when Captain Kirk asks the crew where they want to take shore leave, it’s a toss-up between Argeluis II and the Shore Leave Planet in the Omicron Delta region.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Good choices. They certainly wouldn’t want to pick the Eden that the space hippies found, and they wouldn’t want to pick any of the dystopian families even if Kirk theoretically had them all broken up. Mudd’s planet would be nice if you felt sure you’d be able to return from it. If Trelane ever matures, Gothos might be an interesting possibility, but again it might be too risky

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