|||[Boldly Going]||| Star Trek: The Original Series – Season 1: Ep. 1.1 “The Man Trap” – (original air date 9/08/1966)

TrekManTrap

In this rewatch of TOS, I’ve decided to showcase each of the 79 episodes of the Trek series that started it all. I’m viewing the first season, more or less, in the order the episodes are listed on Netflix, which is by original air date order rather than production order. I won’t be watching the pilot episode, “The Cage,” except as it was used in “The Menagerie, Parts I & II.” And, the second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” will be the third episode viewed.

With his permission, I’m borrowing the format my WordPress.com friend peckapalooza uses in his series of posts entitled Rewatching Buffy (which I wholeheartedly recommend to all Buffy fans). This will be a series of bulletpointed notes that I jot down while I rewatch the episode.

I became a Trekkie when the series went into syndication. I wasn’t quite old enough to understand the series when it was first-run. I’m positive that, over the years, I’ve watched every episode, many of them multiple times. But, even though I’m an admitted fan, I won’t pull any punches as I view these episodes once again for this project.

  • I think the episodes shown on Netflix are the “special edition” episodes with added CGI effects. The opening shot shows the Enterprise in orbit around a realistic planet and there are no visible wires. I don’t mind this change.
  • The episode begins with a Captain Kirk voiceover. Mr. Spock is temporarily in command of the ship as Kirk and ship surgeon McCoy are beaming down to the planet below. I don’t recall that McCoy is referred to as “ship surgeon” going forward.
  • An aside: I used to get mad because Jean-Luc Picard was not a routine member of landing parties on TNG. Now I’m mad because James T. Kirk is. I think I have grown.
  • I don’t know who the third guy with McCoy and Kirk is, which doesn’t bode well for him, even though he’s wearing a blue shirt.
  • It seems that the Enterprise’s mission to this planet is a routine medical exam of archeologist Robert Crater and his wife, Nancy. For that, we send the captain of the ship, the chief medical officer (ship surgeon, whatever), and one human sacrifice.
  • Oh, it seems that Nancy Crater is that “one woman” in Dr. McCoy’s past. That’s what Kirk says, anyway. The way Irene Adler is “the woman” for Sherlock Holmes, I guess. That explains why McCoy is there. I guess Kirk is along as his wingman. And the third guy? Why, he’s there to die in the first act.
  • When no one comes out to greet them, our Enterprise trio goes inside what seems to be some Aztec-looking structure. Soon after we meet Nancy Crater. She and McCoy greet each other warmly. During different POV shots, we see that McCoy sees Nancy as a vibrant young brunette, pretty in a domestic way, but much younger than McCoy, whom she greets as “Leonard.” In Kirk’s POV, Nancy appears as a pleasant-looking older lady with wrinkles and graying hair. Not ugly, by any means, but not as young as McCoy sees her.
  • Okay, there’s something going on here.
  • We find out the third guy’s name. It’s not Mr. Boddy, which was the name of the dead guy in the game Clue. He’s Crewman Darnell, and he sees Nancy as a very young, hot-to-trot blonde. He says that Nancy looks exactly like someone he left behind on Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet.
  • Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet? Like the chewing gum? Or the ball field where the Chicago Cubs play? I consulted Memory Alpha and it seems that Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet is never mentioned again. It sounds a lot like Risa to me.
  • Anyway, while Crewman Darnell is in the middle of telling his version of Nancy Crater that she looks like someone he knocked boots with on a pleasure planet, McCoy shuts him down, angrily. Kirk tells Darnell to step outside and then says he’ll join him.
  • Nancy stops Kirk from going outside, asking him if he plans to let “Plum” examine her all alone.
  • Let’s leave the nickname “Plum” alone for a moment, trusting that Nancy will explain it soon. I have two larger questions troubling me. Why would Dr. Leonard McCoy, a former lover of Nancy Crater (we can safely assume), be the one to do her physical exam, without, obviously, even the presence of a nurse? And, next question: Why would Nancy Crater want James Kirk to stay for the examination? The porn parody virtually writes itself.
  • Back to “Plum.” Or not. It’s a nickname Nancy gave McCoy when they were both very young. That’s not an explanation at all. But, it’s all we’re getting. Seriously, we never find out why Nancy Crater calls Dr. McCoy “Plum.”
  • As Nancy leaves the Aztec ruins to locate her husband, Bob, she passes Crewman Darnell, who once again sees the Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet blonde he left behind. She gives him a definite come-hither look and an extra swish of her tail as she passes him. She also tosses some article of clothing at him. A scarf maybe. Oh, she wants him. She wants him bad. Perhaps even badly.
  • The musical sting here is sultry noir horns that were perfect for the time but seem very out of place five decades or so later.
  • And then we get the opening credits. I love hearing Shatner’s voice introducing the program. I even love the non-politically-correct “to boldly go where no man has gone before.” Maybe we have all grown.
  • The theme music reminds me of all those old television shows I grew up with. My Three Sons, Bewitched, Leave it to Beaver, I Love Lucy and countless others. And still I like it more than I did the opening credit music from Star Trek: Enterprise.
  • I’m starting to dislike Kirk’s voiceover because he’s explaining everything we’ve already seen about him, McCoy and Darnell seeing different versions of Nancy Crater. Unnecessary.
  • And, then Robert “Bob” Crater appears, and he’s pretty rude to his visitors. He says they need additional salt against the heat, but otherwise they would rather Starfleet went back where it came from. Dr. McCoy is adamant that he will examine Professor Crater and his wife. Kirk quotes Starfleet regulations, which state that all research personnel on alien planets are required to have their health certified by a starship surgeon once a year.
  • While completing Professor Crater’s examination, McCoy remarks that Nancy looks exactly as she did when he knew her 12 years ago. Like a 25-year-old woman. Does that mean her graying, wrinkled self is supposed to be at the advanced age of 37? McCoy says Nancy doesn’t have a gray hair in her head. Kirk can’t keep quiet after hearing that. He says she’s got some gray. He also refers to McCoy as “Bones” for the first time. Kirk says that Nancy is a handsome woman, but hardly 25. Professor Crater remarks that McCoy is looking at Nancy with eyes of his past attachment. He doesn’t seem jealous at all, even knowing that McCoy is someone who was important to his wife, and vice versa.
  • McCoy is such a traditionalist that he still uses tongue depressors when examining patients. However, before he can look at Crater’s tonsils, we hear a woman screaming.
  • It’s Nancy of course. And, Crewman Darnell is dead, and covered with red hickeys.
  • Bob Crater suggests that Darnell ate a native plant he hadn’t tested. Nancy says it’s a Borgia plant. You know, like Lucretia Borgia, the notorious poisoner. Kirk says they’ll continue the Craters’ examinations tomorrow. They have to see to their dead crewman first.
  • Nancy seems more concerned about the salt tablets they need than about dead Starfleet crewmen. This could be a clue.
  • Now’s as good a moment as any to mention that Kirk’s voiceover said that all three Enterprise guys were seeing different versions of Nancy Crater, but now Darnell’s dead and Kirk never had a chance to talk to him about which version of Nancy he was seeing. He couldn’t have known. Maybe he assumed. But, you just don’t present assumptions as voiceover facts.
  • We’re on to something more interesting. Uhuru is flirting with Mr. Spock on board the Enterprise. Yes, I know they’re an item in the J.J. Abrams version of Star Trek, but I never thought they flirted with each other in TOS. Okay, Uhuru’s the one doing all the flirting. Still—This scene seems designed to show that Spock is unemotional and logical. In other words, a Vulcan. During their conversation, Spock says that Vulcan has no moon. There were, however, two large moons in the Vulcan sky in the theatrical release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, even though this was corrected in the director’s edition DVD release. I choose to accept the original statement that Vulcan has no moon.
  • After one death is reported to the bridge crew, Uhuru continues to drive home Spock’s lack of emotional response, since Kirk is the closest thing Spock has to a friend, she says. Yeah, we get it, Uhuru, Spock is one cold fish. In other words, a Vulcan.
  • Even though I don’t like the purpose Uhuru serves in this scene, she is sexy in her red miniskirt.  Perhaps that is a sexist comment.  I’m getting caught up in the ’60s vibe here.
  • It is determined that Darnell was not killed by a Borgia plant. During this scene, Spock has something silver sticking out of one ear. It’s distracting.
  • When we get our first shot of Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise, it doesn’t look exactly as I remembered it. The pictures on the upper vidscreens aren’t the same. Also, I don’t see Chekov or Sulu anywhere. Spock still has something sticking out of his ear, too.
  • McCoy and Spock determine that Darnell has no salt in his body at all, which is what killed him. Hey, you think anyone will remember Nancy Crater’s concern as to whether Starfleet was bringing any salt tablets to the planet? Kirk returns to the planet.
  • Crater accuses Kirk of harassing him and his wife. Nancy Crater is somewhere else. Kirk sends Crewman Green to look for her. There’s another crewman as well. Haven’t caught his name yet. Kirk tells Crater that he’s going to have to ask Crater and his wife to stay on board the Enterprise until they can find out what killed their crewman. Crater doesn’t like that and he slips out while Kirk is speaking to Spock back on the ship.
  • The other crewman’s name is Sturgeon. Kirk and McCoy find him dead with hickeys on his face when they go looking for Professor Crater, who was trying to use salt pills to lure his “wife” to him. Green is now deceased as well, though Kirk and McCoy don’t see his body. Nancy has been a busy, hungry girl. By the way, neither of these two crewmen wore red shirts either.
  • The salt-sucking creature we’ve been referring to as Nancy Crater up to this point makes herself look like Crewman Green, then transports back to the Enterprise along with Kirk and McCoy. The transporter is not sophisticated enough at this stage in history to tell that this isn’t actually Crewman Green. Or actually human, even.
  • Back on the Enterprise, Kirk tasks Spock with trying to locate the two people he believes are on the planet. He also orders McCoy to get some sleep.
  • The faux Crewman Green has a bizarre encounter with Yeoman Rand, when he tries to snatch the salt cellar off of her food tray. There is a bit of casual sexism as Janice Rand passes a group of crewmen loitering in a hallway. She’s on her way to the Life Sciences Section-Botany Department. And here we get to meet Mr. Sulu.
  • Rand calls one of the plants inside the botany department Beauregard, which inspires a conversation between Rand and Sulu as to whether the plant is male or female. Sulu thinks it is female. Whatever the case, Beauregard the plant begins having a fit when the weird, incommunicative Crewman Green follows Rand into the room. While the plant is acting up, it looks very much like a hand in a puppet of some sort.
  • Next, the crewman formerly known as Green approaches Uhura, but apparently reads her mind and changes into a form she would most desire, which happens to be a black male who speaks Swahili. This time, he is able to speak, but he’s still acting weird. Kirk saves Uhura by summoning her to the bridge.
  • Spock reports that he’s located only one person on the planet. Probably Professor Crater, who’s circling around as if searching for something. Spock determines that this is the only person within a one hundred mile radius on the planet (he says “one hundred mile circle”). Kirk decides they are returning to the surface to get answers from Professor Crater. He instructs Uhura to keep a tight fix on them.
  • The creature finds McCoy’s quarters and turns back into Nancy. She agrees that the doctor needs to rest and gets him water for the little red pills Kirk ordered him to take to get some sleep. After McCoy is asleep, the creature assumes the doctor’s form for reasons that aren’t exactly clear to me. Why didn’t it kill McCoy? It already killed another crewman in the halls. It was a crewman wearing one of those strange hazmat suits that we never see again. Hazmat crewman was named Barnhart.
  • Darnell, Sturgeon, Green & Barnhart. Sounds like a law firm.
  • When Uhura pages McCoy to come to the bridge, the salt-sucking creature goes instead.
  • Down on the planet, Professor Crater holds off Kirk and Spock for several minutes, threatening to kill them. Spock discovers the real Green’s corpse behind an arch, which leads Kirk to the conclusion that the Green who beamed up with them was the actual killer. He calls for a General quarters, security condition three alert, which Sulu repeats as a GQ security three. I’m not sure we ever hear one of these again.
  • Professor Crater is captured. Nancy Crater was killed by the creature a year, maybe two years, ago. Crater compares the creature to the American buffalo and says that it is the last of its kind. He is protective of the creature, even though it killed his wife.
  • When they return to the Enterprise, Crater still refuses to cooperate in capturing the creature. Spock recommends using truth serum on Crater, and accompanies McCoy and Crater to the infirmary.
  • The creature, still disguised as McCoy, manages to overpower Spock in the infirmary. Then it kills Crater, but only because it couldn’t kill Spock. No compatible salt or somesuch reason.
  • The creature disguises itself as Nancy once again and returns to McCoy’s quarters, trying to get the doctor to save it. Kirk comes in, but McCoy is still protective of the Nancy-thing up to the point it begins to kill Kirk. Spock also comes in at part of the story, acting much more emotional than he’s supposed to. Spock begins to strike Nancy, demonstrating that she is more powerful than she should be. The creature even knocks Spock across the room.
  • McCoy fires his phaser and kills the creature.
  • In the last scene, Sulu is on the bridge where he belongs. Kirk makes some sort of wisecrack about buffalo, and Spock seems to half-smile. The four dead crewmen aren’t mentioned. Roll credits.

This episode earns a score of 3 of 5 stars from me. I still like it, but it doesn’t knock my socks off. Plus, there are a lot of odd details in it that I find distracting, and the actors don’t seem to fully inhabit their roles yet.

This is the first time I really noticed that it is a lot like an episode of The Twilight Zone as well, but that’s not a criticism.

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