|||[Boldly Going]||| Star Trek: The Original Series—Season One: Ep. 1.4 “The Naked Time” – (original air date Thursday, September 29, 1966)

 

TrekNakedTime

 

Welcome to my rewatching of the original 79 episodes of the series that launched the franchise. Below are the bulletpointed notes I jotted down while watching “The Naked Time”

  • The Enterprise orbits the planet PSI 2000 (which is more than fifty times higher than you should inflate your car tires) to observe the planet’s disintegration (probably from the high pressure).
  • Spock and a crewman named Tormolen beam down to a surface lab. They are wearing the worst environmental suits ever designed, made of reddish-orange material that looks like plastic shower curtains, with no seals at the cuffs or at the neck of the bag-like mask.
  • All of the station’s personnel are dead. And everything in the lab is frozen, although it looks like the effect was achieved by spraying everything with that stuff we used to like to put on our ceilings. Popcorn ceiling. Stucco ceiling. Cottage cheese ceiling. Whatever you like to call it.
  • Tormolen, who was asleep the day they covered hazmat procedures at the Academy, removes a glove to scratch his nose under a mask so cheap that Ben Cooper wouldn’t reproduce it. Oh, he also gets infected by the mysterious red goo that he comes in contact with.
  • One of the dead scientists is in the shower with his clothes on, frozen to death. Wait, that sounds familiar. I should have Data search the historical records of all ships named Enterprise for a similar occurrence.
  • Of course, that happens in the future, on the Enterprise-D. The first-season TNG episode “The Naked Now” was inspired by this episode, if we’re using the word “inspired” to mean that our writers have run out of original ideas.
  • Spock can’t explain what happened to the scientists. The dead personnel seemed to be acting irrationally, as if under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It’s like nothing they’ve ever dealt with before, except when they’ve been drinking alcohol or abusing drugs.
  • End of teaser. Opening credits, which I still love. Shatner!
  • Spock and Tormolen have to undergo decontamination on the teleportation pad as soon as they’re beamed aboard. I’m not sure if this is something we see again, but it makes sense.
  • McCoy says both men check out OK. He takes the time to add a few racist remarks about Vulcans and green blood. Sometimes I miss the casual racism of my childhood.
  • Tormolen seems a little shaken by what he just witnessed on the planet surface. I mean, who wouldn’t? Right? Kirk dismisses this as normal behavior and tells Tormolen to get some rest.
  • The infection makes a rattlesnake sound that no one else seems to hear.
  • Kirk gets together with his senior officers to discuss what the landing party just witnessed on the surface of PSI 2000. They go to the instant replay monitors to look at the dailies.
  • The concern seems to be that the crew needs to be working at peak efficiency during the planet’s disintegration because it will be tricky to maintain orbit. Whatever happened to the scientists on the surface must not affect our crew during this critical time.
  • What do you think is going to happen?
  • Scotty is arrogantly confident in his engines. He says they’ll keep them safe as long as the bridge crew stays sane.
  • Seriously. What do you think is going to happen? This stuff writes itself.
  • Tormolen goes to the rec room, where there are crewmembers playing three-dimensional checkers. His palm seems to be itchy, and he’s sweaty. He gets some food from the Automat. Lt. Sulu and Lt. Kevin Riley come in, laughing and talking. Sulu is trying to get Riley interested in fencing (call this Chekhov’s Rapier, because it will pay off later), after trying to get him interested in botany at some earlier time.
  • I’m still uncertain as to what Sulu’s specialty is. We’ve seen him playing with plants that look like hand puppets and he was the department head of Astrosciences, but I remember him as a helmsman. We’ll see how this shakes out.
  • By the way, when I said “Chekhov’s Rapier” I was referring to Anton Chekhov, the writer, not Pavel Chekov, who doesn’t join the series until Season 2. It was a literary allusion to “Chekhov’s Gun” that I realize now may have been confusing because of the brash Russian ensign who resembled the Monkees’ Davy Jones. Carry on.
  • Didn’t Anton Chekhov have existentialist leanings? Let’s say he did. In any case, Tormolen seems to be having an existentialist crisis in the rec room. He rants about the hopelessness of life in space while brandishing a butter knife. Then he turns suicidal. Sulu and Riley struggle to get the knife away from Tormolen while no one else in the room lifts a finger to help them. Tormolen falls on his own butter knife, injuring himself. Riley’s hands are sweaty as he calls for medical assistance. This is how we know Riley’s been infected. Keep him away from the butter knives.
  • Dr. McCoy and Lwaxana Troi fail to keep Tormolen alive after his minor butter knife injury.
  • Okay, it’s Nurse Christine Chapel, not Lwaxana Troi. You may understand my confusion.
  • In McCoy’s experienced medical opinion, Tormolen simply lost the will to live. I hope Bones’ malpractice insurance is paid up.
  • Sulu and Riley had been summoned back to the bridge because the planet was beginning to fall apart. We join them there now. Sulu is at the helm (See? I told you) and Riley is at the navigation console. They are slow to compensate for the planet breaking up because both are now drunk, or infected, whatever you’d like to call it.
  • This is the bridge set that I remember. The show is beginning to look more like Star Trek. The uniforms are correct, as well. No more weird sweaters or Bob Fosse ice dancing outfits for Kirk.
  • Uh-oh. Sulu is sweaty and rattling. He abandons his post to go to the gym to “take the edge off.” Riley was infected first, I thought, but apparently has a higher tolerance for some reason. Riley remains behind even though Sulu invited him.
  • Someone named Rand takes Sulu’s place at helm. It’s not Yeoman Rand, though. Hey, where is Janice? I miss her complicated beehive hairdo.
  • Now it’s Riley’s turn to go off the rails. He begins speaking in an exaggerated Irish brogue, and he’s weaving around like he’s drunk. More casual racism. He’s Irish. I get it. That’s why his tolerance was higher than Sulu’s.
  • If we’re just going to be casual about racism, this would be the part where someone would comment about an Asian driving the ship. You know, since the racist stereotype is that Asian’s are bad dr—-Ah, just forget it.
  • Riley is ordered to go to sickbay, and, oddly, he follows his orders. He begins sexually harassing Lwaxana Troi—excuse me, Nurse Chapel (if it were Lwaxana, she’d be the one doing the harassing)—and infects her when he touches her face like a creep.
  • We cut to a shirtless Sulu with a rapier. I told you that the conversation about fencing would have repercussions. Shirtless Sulu. Shirtless Kirk in “Charlie X.” There is an overt attempt to add some sex appeal to the show. It’s not just with the male actors either. The miniskirts are so short that I have to believe the outtakes are full of unintentional panty shots.
  • An aside: Uhura has great gams.
  • Another aside: Uhura puts the silver thing in her ear in the same scene that Sulu swashbuckles his way onto the bridge. It looks at-home there, not weird like it did in Spock’s ear in that other episode.
  • I did a quick Google check to see when Bruce Lee had his huge breakout successes. This predates the early-’70s kung fu craze. But, the shirtless Sulu in the hallways and on the bridge made me think of Bruce. George Takei is always at the forefront of pop culture.
  • Sulu grabs Uhura, in full swashbuckler mode, and says, “I’ll protect you, fair maiden.” To which she responds: “Sorry. Neither.”
  • Was this a joke? Unless I’m misinterpreting this, Uhura just said that she’s neither “fair,” nor a “maiden.” Meaning, she’s black and not a virgin (or, she’s married, which isn’t canon, I don’t think). This seems like risqué humor for 1966.
  • Is it also casual racism? Maybe not since Uhura said it. But, she didn’t write the line, did she? I’m going with casual racism, just to be consistent.
  • Spock uses the famous Vulcan Nerve Pinch to incapacitate Sulu. This is its first on-air appearance, but Leonard Nimoy came up with this Vulcan “talent” during the filming of “The Enemy Within,” which was produced prior to “The Naked Time,” even though it aired the following week. Nimoy, a peace and nonviolence type in “real” life, thought that Vulcans would prefer a nonviolent method of offense as well.  It was the correct choice.
  • Kevin Riley kicks Scotty and his crew out of engineering and takes over the ship. He begins singing, badly and repeatedly, “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen,” a 19th century Irish ballad written in America.
  • Riley, who promotes himself to “Captain,” also interrupts power to helm controls and, as PSI 2000 goes through its death throes, the Enterprise is only 20 minutes from being destroyed herself.
  • Meanwhile, the infection continues to spread. No one has showered with their clothes on yet.
  • Also meanwhile, Scotty and his crew try to break into engineering to regain control of the ship from “Captain Riley,” who has announced a formal dance that night in the ship’s bowling alley (bowling alley? Since when?) and has issued orders for all female crewmembers to wear their hair loose around their shoulders and minimal makeup.
  • I’ll have a side order of casual sexism with my casual racism.
  • Scotty spends some time in an uncomfortable-looking Jefferies Tube (even if I haven’t heard them called that yet) and then uses his phaser to cut through a bulkhead. He wearing a very pirate-looking weapons belt, a kind of sash.
  • Nurse Chapel professes her love for Mr. Spock, infecting him when she touches his face. Spock has zero tolerance and is almost immediately affected, struggling to keep control of his emotions. I’m not even sure if we’ve heard her called Nurse Chapel yet, but Spock does call her “Christine.”
  • As Spock staggers around the corridor, he sees where someone painted “Love Mankind” in angry red paint on one of the bulkheads. Probably not talking about the WWE wrestler.
  • Scotty and team manage to regain control of engineering. But, more complications of the type would expect in the middle of a story: Riley turned off the engines completely. A normal cold restart takes thirty minutes, but they have only eight minutes before they burn up in what’s left of the planet’s atmosphere.
  • And this leads us into the final stretch. Kirk needs Spock’s help with the cold restart, where they will again do something that’s never been done before. Meanwhile, Dr. McCoy has discovered the cure to the PSI 2000 plague and has begun administering it to the crew, starting with Sulu.
  • Kirk finds Spock crying and moaning over his inability to express love to his human mother. (Now it’s canon: Before, Spock just said that he had a human ancestor; now, it’s confirmed that it is his mother.) Kirk and Spock spend some time trying to slap some sense into each other. Kirk has been infected, too, and he’s trying to convince Spock he’s better off not being able to express love. It seems that Kirk’s main object of affection is the Enterprise herself, although he also confesses some feelings for Yeoman Rand that, as captain, he’s unable to express.
  • Spock was, indeed, slapped back into his right mind. He’s able to provide the proper calculations for Scotty to execute the experimental cold restart.
  • Kirk returns to the bridge, where he moons over Janice Rand for a moment, maybe fantasizing about taking her and her beehive to the Honeycomb Hideout. Dr. McCoy comes onto the bridge, needlessly rips Kirk’s uniform tunic to dose him with the cure from the hypospray.
  • The cold restart implosion is a qualified success. Qualified, because it also has the unintended effect of sending the Enterprise into a time warp. Sending them all back in time three days.
  • Do you remember doing the Time Warp? Let’s do the Time Warp again!
  • That was a Rocky Horror Picture Show reference, if it sailed over your head. Google it, kids.
  • The ship is once again out of danger and the crew is cured.
  • I have questions that go unanswered, though. Since they are three days in the past now, does this mean Tormolen is alive again? No one says. Does this also mean they’re going to avoid planet PSI 2000 this time around? 
  • This time travel recipe seems like something that might get used a lot. I remember other time travel episodes, but can’t recall if the cold restart implosion method was used.
  • By the way, after consulting the Memory Alpha website, I found out I was correct about the environmental suits worn by Spock and Tormolen on the planet. Shower curtains.

This, the fourth episode of TOS that aired in 1966, is the first one that feels like the Star Trek I remember. I know this is the remastered edition with added CGI, but the effects are understated and don’t call a lot of attention to themselves. In other words, good changes. Perhaps we’ve all learned from George Lucas’s mistakes.

I like this episode a lot, and it’s made my list of All-Time-Best Trek episodes with a solid 4 of 5 stars.

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