Star Trek Saturdays #5

It’s time for Star Trek Saturdays #5!

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This week’s episode is “The Man Trap” and actually, this is the first episode that aired on NBC on Sep. 8, 1966. And this leads me to another point: some of you are probably confused as to why these posts have been the episodes they are. Well, I’m going off of Memory Alpha’s list of episodes, which lists them in production order. I like this order because it makes things interesting.  Having seen a few episodes before this one, I feel that now I understand the relationship between the characters and their personalities a bit more.

If I had to judge the world of the show based on this episode alone, I would feel as if I came off knowing very little, especially if I was someone in 1966 who had never heard of this show before.

All that aside, “The Man Trap” is still a good episode, but it has its problems. Like I said, not too much happens character-wise, other than some wonderful insights into the pasts of McCoy and Uhura. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

“The Man Trap” opens with Kirk, McCoy and a crewman beaming down to planet M-113 to perform a required medical examination on archeologists Robert Crater (Albert Ryder) & his wife Nancy (Jeanne Bal). This is a bit of an odd situation for McCoy as Nancy was his girlfriend over a decade ago. The landing party meets Nancy in the couple’s house, but each sees a different woman.

McCoy sees Nancy like this…

while Kirk sees her like this

and the crewman sees this woman.

Obviously, something’s not right. And that, plus Robert Crater’s insistence that they don’t need anything except salt tablets sets up some suspicions. But when the crewman turns up dead with strange marks on his face, that’s when the crew realizes something is afoot. And what is it turns out to be weirder than they could have ever expected…

Besides the many glimpses we get of the past between McCoy and Nancy, we also get an unexpected look into Uhura’s past.

The shape-shifter who’s the main villain of the episode, of course, gets aboard the ship and impersonates various crew members by reading their minds and turning into someone they trust. It finds Uhura walking down a corridor. The creature then turns into a man and comes up to Uhura, with both of them speaking tenderly to each other in Swahili. It’s a nice little scene, but unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any pictures of it. Darn shame, but take my word for it, this is a powerful scene.

I can’t say the same for the rest of this episode, though. Maybe it’s because I’ve been kind of sick this week, maybe it’s because I’m still blown away by the greatness of last week’s episode, but I just couldn’t get into it. The Memory Alpha page for this episode lists an anecdote about the cast & crew saying this was their least favorite episode of what they had already shot, and I kinda see that.

The guest stars are fine, particularly Ryder, but the tension & suspense that should accompany a story like this just isn’t there unfortunately. Other than that, though, the fact that we learn a bit more about two key crew members is fascinating. Oh, and Spock says at one point that Planet Vulcan has no moon. So, there’s that.

One final note: I had to watch this episode on cbs.com rather than on Amazon Instant. For some reason, I couldn’t find this episode on there, so I had to go to the official Star Trek page by CBS to watch it. Hence, I watched the original version with the model Enterprise and all; kinda neat, that. But CBS still has the worst online video player out there, unfortunately, which may have impacted my view of this episode.

Thanks to Memory Alpha, the official Star Trek wiki for the pics and episode information, as well as CBS.com for hosting the show. We’ll see you next Saturday and until then, live long and prosper.

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3 comments on “Star Trek Saturdays #5

  1. Thomas Evans says:

    I had also never cared much for this episode, but had thought that was due to being frightened by the monster when I was a child. Now you point it out however, there was a lack of tension, and a general lack of chemistry between McCoy and Nancy. No steamy passion. Was that due to scripting or acting? No idea on this end.

    • tomspeelman says:

      I’d put it down to the scripting. The actors are game; Kelley has some truly wonderful moments as McCoy goes through torment over this woman he may never have gotten over. Especially when you compare it to Matheson’s brilliant script in “The Enemy Within,” the writing here is rather weak.

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