Thursday, October 3, 2013

It's possible I've watched too much Star Trek

Not long ago, I was house-sitting at my parent's home. They own one of those new-fangled television machines (I don't--I just watch DVDs or stream movies on my laptop), so I turned it on and selected a classic TV show channel. There was an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series on.

It was "The Doomsday Machine," which originally aired on October 20, 1967. It is easily a Top Ten episode--one of their best.

The premise involves battling a giant robot weapon that eats planets--Kirk theorizes that its a doomsday machine left over from a war fought in another galaxy, still carrying out its mission of essentially destroying everything it finds. This includes having almost destroyed one of the Enterprise's sister ships--the Constellation. Only the Constellation's captain--Commodore William Decker--survives.

What follows is an expertly-told story full of building tension, a lot of action and any number of great character moments. This includes a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Spock, when he forces a mentally-unstable Decker to step down from commanding the Enterprise (Kirk is trapped on the Constellation).  The music, an original score by Sol Kaplan, is superb and arguably the best use of music in the series. Guest star William Windom is excellent as Decker. (Decker, by the way, was written with actor Robert Ryan in mind.)

But when I watched it at my parent's house that night, Spock's Moment of Awesome was missing. He relieves Decker, then a minute or so of confrontation is cut out, jumping to Decker simply getting out of the command chair.

Well, gee whiz, I know syndicated TV shows are often cut for more commercial time. This is annoying in of itself, but this was an awkward and poorly considered edit no matter what. It cut out a character moment that was important to the flow of the story.

I suppose that knowing the scene had been cut was by itself enough to mark me as a life-long geek. But this was confirmed the next day. Back at my own house, I got out my DVD set and watched the entire show again just so I could see it with that scene intact.

Star Trek, along with Adam West's Batman and Saturday morning cartoons, were my biggest geeky influences before moving to Florida when I was ten years old. (Which added Dr. Paul Bearer's Creature Feature and a nearby store that sold comic books to the mix.) But I suppose this might be a sign that I've watched Star Trek a few too many times. Maybe I need to stop. There's not a single episode of the original series that I haven't seen multiple times. Maybe I'm done with it.

On second thought--maybe not. I think I'll watch "Balance of Terror" tonight.


  1. I'd love to watch more Star Trek, but all they have on Netflix is the "updated" versions with useless new effects to "improve" the show. I hate them. Nothing says 60s like velour, styrofoam rocks and CGI.

  2. I'm not bothered by the updated versions and, to be fair, there's some nice looking work there. But I don't think it was a necessary thing and I'm perfectly happy with my old-school episodes DVDs.


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