What I've got is the new releases with the enhanced special effects - I'll comment on these as best I can, shame I haven't got the originals to compare and contrast, but such is life. I put up the "spoiler" just on the off chance that there's someone here that hasn't seen all these a million times - you never know, I suppose.

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 they weren't quite sure exactly how far in the future STAR TREK was going to take place


It occurs to me that there are occasional things that make the whole "Twenty-Third Century" thing seem a little off to me. Scotty's reference to the "ancient Gestapo" in "Mirror, Mirror" or Spock's reference to "the ancient lasers" in "Patterns of Force". Maybe it's me, but I don't think of things from only three hundred years ago as "ancient".  I suppose you could argue that the usage of the word "ancient" changes between now and the show's time.

On the other hand, apart from things like warp drive or the transporter, alot of the show's technology doesn't seem all that advanced - we already have alot of that stuff now! That would be one advantage to setting a show a thousand years in the future - you could argue  that human civilzation had its ups and downs, explaining why its technology isn't always as advanced as you might think it would be.

I think LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES (the real version, heh) did that at some point, saying there were a few hundred years in between our century and theirs when things got real bad.

In Star Trek's "bible", there was mention that the crew would encounter several worlds that would nearly duplicate Earth at different time periods, to take advantage of existing sets and props. This led to the "Class M" designation for planets that were Earth-like in their enviroment and there were a LOT of those! ;-)

I wonder if that part of the "Bible" was there more as a CON to help sell the series, and less of an actual intent on Roddenberry's part.

It's interesting that the first such script was shelved, and the next one used (MIRI) only at a point where apparently they were beginning to run behind schedule.  (This was the same reason given for THE MENAGERIE, oddly enough.)

Although RETURN OF THE ARCHONS does appear very Earth-like, not a big deal was made about it, as the focus in that story was more on mind-control and computers gone bad.  Still, the Prime Directive was mentioned in there.

The real flood of "Parallel Earths" (4 in all, really) didn't come until just before Gene Coon left the show, halfway thru the 2nd season.  Maybe it's a shame THE OMEGA GLORY wasn't done first of these kind of stories, it might have gone over better that way.  As it is, someone at the IMDB poionted out how the story seems to be over-loaded with "too many" ideas, none of them followed thru on as good as they might, and most of them reused in other stories, ironically, BEFORE the original script wound up finally getting filmed!  (Crazy, isn't it?  ...like Ron Tracey, heh.)

I stil love the description by one IMDB reviewer of Ron Tracey as looking just like "Kirk's bigger, older, EVIL brother."

I also find it interesting that Tracey's motivation for going bad (apart from his entire crew being killed) was reused in the film STAR TREK: INSURRECTION.  That film also borrowed plot elements from THE WAY TO EDEN.  It was like someone saw these "bad" stories and realized you could get a "good" story out of them, if they were just done better.

This is the one REALLY bad episode that, after all lthese years, I find is actually immensely watchable, in spite of itself. It's like a horrible train-wreck, in slow motion, that's mezmerizing, and you just can't take your eyes off it.

The Ultimate Computer:

Teleplay by D.C. Fontana/Story by Laurence N. Wolfe

Directed by John Meredyth Lucas


Synopsis: The ship is chosen to test a new super-computer.



1)Isn't Kirk a little out of line demanding answers from a  commodore?


2)"Its purpose is to correlate all computer activity aboard a starship." Wouldn't their main computer already do that?


3)"All you have to do is sit back and let the machine do the work." Sounds good to me!


4)William Marshall does a good job as Doctor Daystrom, yet another Federation expert who turns out to be nuts. I'm starting to wonder about Federation society - its experts regularly turn out to be nuts, its diplomats tend to be imperious jerks, its greatest starship captain is a serial womanizer who's unable to maintain an actual relationship with a woman, there's Scotty the drunken engineer, McCoy the bigoted physician (who's also pretty fond of his booze), and so on.


5)"Computers make excellent and efficient servants, but I have no wish to serve under them."  Makes you wonder how people feel having to answer to Data, who is effectively an ambulatory computer.


6)"Our compliments to the M-5 Unit and regards to Captain Dunsel."  This provokes three thoughts:

  1. Attempts at creating artificial "slang" are, to my mind, typically quite awkward-sounding and unconvincing.
  2. Watching it last night, my first thought was how unprofessional it was for Wesley to put a dig like that into a message for public consumption. That's the sort of thing that could get a person called on the carpet where I work.
  3. McCoy doesn't recognize Academy slang - perhaps he didn't go to the Academy?


7)Kirk quotes Sea Fever, by John Masefield.


8)"I'm going to show you. I'm going to show all of you!" Yeah, he's healthy.


9)"You can't simply say 'Today I will be brilliant'."  Really? No wonder that's never worked for me.


10)"You are great. I am great."  Another line read that it's fun to imitate.


11)"Murder is contrary to the laws of man and God."  M-5's got religion?



Another pretty good episode.  Shatner does some good acting in this.

I’m finally caught up reading this thread and I have a few comments to offer regarding some of the episodes already discussed (if anyone’s interested). After that, I have a few comments on the discussion so far that aren’t episode-specific.

SPACE SEED: Implicit in my earlier statement that there are other episodes I would rather have seen follow-up in the movies is that it has never been one of my favorites. It was one of perhaps five episodes I had never seen by the time The Wrath of Khan was in theaters. I remember re-reading James Blish’s adaptation just before going to see the movie. (I don’t think I’ve read a Blish story since.) After the release of the movie, you couldn’t not see “Space Seed” on TV. A fan favorite, but not one of the best (AFAIAC).

The “Eugenics War” has been explained away a time or two in books and on TV. One version has it that the “wars” took place mainly behind the scenes, but that doesn’t account for lines such as Spock’s reference to the “war weary populace.”

MIRROR, MIRROR: If “Space Seed” and “City One the Edge of Forever” do not deserve to be on the list of Star Trek’s “best,” this one, I think, does. If I hadn’t been so busy, I would have recommended you pay particular attention to the final scene (for “Trials and Tribblations”), but you caught it anyway.

THE APPLE: I like to pretend this story took place on Skaro.

THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE: A favorite of mine, one that really benefits from the enhanced special effects. I find that I most like the episodes which take place primarily in space, especially concerning encounters with the unknown. I don’t mind planet-based encounters so long as the races are truly alien. The ones I like least are the ones that are based on Earth-like societies.

CATSPAW: No one mentioned this, but when Kirk awakens in the dungeon and attempts to wake Dr. McCoy, he starts to say “Bones” but stops short when he sees the skeleton and changes it to “Doc.” He calls him Doc throughout the rest of the episodes. This one is too obviously Hallowe’en-themed for my tastes.

METAMORPHOSIS: You caught the contradiction (from “First Contact”) that Zephram Cochran was originally from Alpha Centauri.

JOURNEY TO BABEL: A favorite of mine, one that truly deserves to be numbered among Star Trek’s “best.”

THE DEADLY YEARS: “The Deadly Years” is an episode that seemed to have been shown ad infinitum in syndication in my local market when I was growing up (in contrast to “Space Seed” which wasn’t shown until after the second movie). I finally got so sick of it I stopped watching it and haven’t seen it in at least 30 years. I watched it recently and still remember every bit of it. It’s a good solid episode; I’ve just seen it too often.

WOLF IN THE FOLD: Not a favorite of mine.

THE TROUBLE WITH TRIBBLES: Ditto (although it is a fan favorite). What makes the episode for me is comparing it to the DS9 episode “Trials and Tribbilations.”

A PIECE OF THE ACTION: This is an example of one of those “Earth-based” episodes I don’t really care for. It has it’s moments, but not a favorite of mine.

THE IMMUNITY SYNDROME: …and this is an example of one of those “space-based” episodes I do like. Also known as a “bottle show,” episodes like this could be made on the cheap because they took place entirely on the Enterprise and didn’t require the additional costs of building sets or filming on location.

A PRIVATE LITTLE WAR: This is where I am currently in my viewing. Here are a few comments on already-discussed episodes I haven’t seen in a while. (I reserve the right to make further comments once I have re-watched them.)

RETURN TO TOMORROW: Bob, you mentioned this episode as laying the groundwork for why there are so many “Class-M” planets in Gene Roddenberry’s universe. (This idea will be touched upon again, notable in “The Paradise Syndrome” IIRC.) You also mentioned that this idea would be dealt with more explicitly in ST:TNG. The episode you’re thinking of bears the same name as a William Hartnell Doctor Who serial: “The Chase.”

Doc Photo mentioned how memorable the titles of TOS are. I agree completely. ST:TNG, OTOH, has very few memorable episode titles. I find it very difficult to discuss that show by episode title.

PATTERNS OF FORCE: Another one of those “Earth-based” episodes I don’t really care for, and one I haven’t re-watched yet. One of your comments struck me, though: “Eneg is one of us.” When script editor David Gerrold offered Walter Koenig the chance to write an episode of Land of the Lost, Koenig originally wanted to name his Sleestak character “Eneg” after (“Gene” spelled backwards) after Gene Roddenberry. The spelling was eventually tweaked a little bit, I think, but I wonder if “Eneg” isn’t a sideways reference to Roddenberry?

PROBE: A side-bar discussion further back on this thread mentioned the Probe from Star Trek IV. Not to get ahead of the discussion, but there is a novel (titled “Probe” appropriately enough) dealing with the Probe’s origins. Dealing, as it does, with the crew’s first mission aboard the Enterprise-A, it is contradicted somewhat by the events of the fifth movie.

Finally, to the Commander, I have seen the two versions of Kirk’s “wraparound” shirt referred to as an “off duty” tunic. I checked the Star Trek Technical Manual (which provides patterns for early Trekkies who might with to sew their own uniforms), but although the term “duty uniform” is used for the most common design, the off duty shirt is not featured. I know I’ve seen it called such somewhere, though, quite possibly in one of the James Blish adaptations. If so, he may have been extrapolating from the duty uniforms depicted in the technical manual.

but I wonder if “Eneg” isn’t a sideways reference to Roddenberry?


It seems likely.


Side note: Somewhere on some blooper reel, I've seen a bit with Roddenberry descending a staircase while the chants of "Hail to the Fuhrer" from "Patterns of Force" are played in the background.

Yep, it's a quick clip and it's on the original Star Trek Blooper Reel that had been assembled for the annual Christmas party.

Isn't Kirk a little out of line demanding answers from a commodore?

The Commander would know better, but it seems to me that a "frank discussion" between two officers only one level different in rank is not out of line. Also, Kirk is the captain of the ship. Just anybody with a higher pay grade who shows up doesn't automatically take over.

Attempts at creating artificial "slang" are, to my mind, typically quite awkward-sounding and unconvincing

This doesn't bother me too much, as I think other slang would have developed in 200-plus years. I do agree that referring to Kirk in a disparaging manner in official communication is wrong. But just because it's wrong doesn't mean it wouldn't happen.

I took it that his superior also wasn't behind this effort at automation, but it was his duty to conduct the trials.  And as a result, he slipped in the disparaging comment not only to sympathize with Kirk but to also communicate his own disgust.

(But I don't recall the entire exchange.)

Regarding Zephram Cockrum coming from Alpha Centari...  I don't recall in the Metamorphosis episode that they said he was born and a native of Alpha Centari.

Why could he not have migrated there after he developed Warp Drive? Why not retired there?

"Isn't Kirk a little out of line demanding answers from a commodore?"

Since Mr. Willis invoked my name, I felt I should add something to this.  Unfortunately, I'm handicapped by the fact that I don't recall precisely what Captain Kirk said to Commodore Wesley in that exchange, or the tone in which Kirk said it.


And, of course, there is the ever-present caveat when discussing Star Trek that I can only speak to the contemporary culture of the U.S. Navy.  In the time of Starfleet, things could be entirely different.


Generally speaking, in the officer ranks, there is a certain amount of latitude between officers separated by only one paygrade.  (It depends on the personalities involved, naturally, and on the branch of service.  The Marine Corps generally tends to be more formal about such things.  And in every service, there are going to be starched shirts who expect all juniors, even if only by one paygrade, to address him by rank or "sir".  It's his right, but it's stuffy.)


It's, more or less, one of the unspoken customs that seem to develop by osmosis.  Usually, once officers have worked together for a reasonable amount of time (long enough for everyone to get a handle on everyone else's personalities), it usually works out that the rank distinctions relax a bit between officers one paygrade apart.  For example, when I was assigned to the N4 division on the staff of Commander, SEVENTH Fleet, my boss was a captain (by rank, not by position of C.O.---that's a different animal, which I'll discuss in a moment).  I was a commander---one paygrade beneath a captain.  And the other officer in the  division was a lieutenant commander---one paygrade below me, two paygrades below the captain.


Once we all got used to working together, there was no problem with me calling the captain "Jack", but for the lieutenant commander, it was always "Captain".  By the same token, there was no problem with the lieutenant commander calling me "Adam".  (And of course, seniors can always properly address juniors by their first names.)  This was never spelt out between us, nor is there any written guidence on it anywhere.  It's a commonly seen unspoken custom which naturally evolves.


But there are some clear and obvious exceptions.


One is the case of the commanding officer of the ship or station.  He is always "Captain" to everyone else assigned to that ship or station.  The executive officer will be one paygrade below the captain, but it's still "Captain", because it's the C.O. he's talking to.  (Now, in private moments, behind closed doors, it might be "Harry" and "Bill", but an X.O., no matter how familiar he is with the C.O., will ever address him out among the crew as anything but "Captain".)


The other exception is when an officer advances to flag (Navy/Coast Guard) or general (Army/Marines/Air Force) rank---the fellows who wear stars.  That's a big hurdle he has just crossed and even the informal rules change.


Remember that captain I worked for at N4.  His boss on the staff was the Chief of Staff---Captain Jay Donnelly.  Then, approximately two months before the end of his tour as COS, CAPT Donnelly was promoted to rear admiral---flag rank.  There was a private promotion ceremony for him, attended only by the assistant chiefs of staff, one of which was my boss.


When Jack got back and told us a little about how things went, it reminded me of some administrative details of service that might be affected by becoming an admiral.  I asked Jack if there was going to be any impact on the COS now that he was a rear admiral.


Jack replied, "I don't know.  All I know is I can't call him 'Jay', anymore."


Now, in "The Ultimate Computer", you have the character of Robert Wesley, a commodore.  Please don't make me get into the history of commodore in the U.S. Navy---it's tortuous and painful and more difficult to explain than the difference between captain (the rank) and captain (the position).  Just take my word for it that as a commodore, Wesley was a flag officer, equivalent to a one-star now.  The way his character was regarded in the episode supports that premise.


As I recall, CAPT Kirk never addressed him directly as "Bob", only as "Commodore", despite the fact that they were old friends.  So that is in keeping with the real-world Navy.  Later in the episode, Kirk refers to the commodore in the third person, saying something like "Bob Wesley and I are old friends . . . ."  That's not a breach of protocol.  Sometimes a junior officer would speak of a senior that way almost unconsciously, because they are old friends.  But, yes, sometimes an officer will do that to namedrop.  ("Yeah, I knew Chet Nimitz when I was a middie and he was my instructor at the academy.")


The fact that Kirk and Wesley had a long-standing friendship also goes to the matter of impertinence in "demanding answers from the commodore".  Since, presumably, there are no issues of respect between them as old friends, Kirk had a somewhat greater latitude to be blunt with Commodore Wesley.  (The line is drawn between "courage of conviction" and "being contentious"; just where that line falls depends on a number of factors---the personalities involved and how they know each other.)

In short, Mr. Willis' comments on the subject were pretty much on target.


And while we're on the subject . . . .


" . . .my first thought was how unprofessional it was for Wesley to put a dig like that ['my regards to Captain Dunsel'] into a message for public consumption. That's the sort of thing that could get a person called on the carpet where I work."


But not in the military.  Something like that, the subject of the comment would just have to take it.  The fact that Wesley said it isn't beyond likelihood.  It's the way he said (or, more accurately, the way actor Barry Russo delivered the line) that mystified me.  There was no inflexion in Wesley's voice to indicate it was a shot at Kirk, playful or sarcastic.  No wink of the eye or body language to show that Wesley was just busting Kirk's chops a little.


That lack of emotion behind it is what made the comment seem unnatural to me.  (I suspect that because Russo's scene there was an insert, he was unaware that the script had a connotation behind "Captain Dunsel".  Russo probably read the line supposing that Captain Dunsel was another character in the episode.  That would account for the flatness in his delivery.)


Lastly, as long as I'm on the line . . . .


"McCoy doesn't recognize Academy slang---perhaps he didn't go to the Academy?"


He probably didn't, not if Starfleet works anything like the U.S. military.  Very few of the military's medical professionals go through the service adademies or a reserve officer training program.  Those are primarily for line officers.  When doctors join the service, they are made officers (their rank determined by their years and experience in private practise and other variables) and send to Officers' Indoctrination School.  OIS is essentially a knife-and-fork school which teaches them the details and customs of Navy life.  How to wear the uniform, who to salute, the chain of command---that sort of thing.


If Doctor McCoy went through a similar pipeline, it's plausible, even likely, that he would never have encountered the term "dunsel", which would primarily be a line-officer sort of thing.






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