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Star Trek Re-Watch: “The Alternative Factor”

“The Alternative Factor”
Written by Don Ingalls
Directed by Gerd Oswald

Season 1, Episode 27
Production episode: 1×20
Original air date: March 30, 1967
Star date: 3087.6

Mission summary
The Enterprise is orbiting an “iron-silica” planet: uncharted, lifeless, arid. Just as they are about to complete their survey they get a case of the wooglies—cue shaky-cam and a film overlay of a nebula. Once things return to normal Spock explains that the universe just “blinked” briefly out of existence. But before he can explain (or maybe just because he can’t), he finds that a human is on the surface of the planet, where moments ago there was no one.

Kirk, Spock, and four redshirts beam down to the surface. They come across a tiny little spaceship pod, complete with bulbous dome-shaped cockpit.* But no one’s inside. Suddenly, a crazy man with an even crazier beard appears on top of a cliff face and shouts at them: “You came! Thank the heavens. There’s still time. It’s not too late. We can still stop him. But I, but I, need, need your help.” He then stumbles and falls down the rocky cliff face.

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12

Star Trek Re-Watch: “Errand of Mercy”

“Errand of Mercy”
Written by Gene L. Coon
Directed by John Newland

Season 1, Episode 26
Production episode: 1x 27
Original air date: March 23, 1967
Star date: 3198.4

Mission summary
Peace talks between the Federation and the Klingon Empire are breaking down, so the Enterprise is ordered to Organia, which isn’t a sex resort like it sounds, but a planet of “peaceful, friendly people living on a primitive level.” Actually, that still sounds like a sex resort, doesn’t it? Organia’s only value is its strategic military location; Kirk compares it to Armenia and Belgium in Earth’s history, “the weak innocents who always seem to be located on the natural invasion routes.” They must reach the planet before the Klingons and prevent them from establishing a base there. Starfleet Command’s communique also mentions the possibility of a surprise Klingon attack. Not long after decoding this message, the Enterprise is indeed attacked, but they quickly destroy the enemy ship. The debris hasn’t even cleared before they receive a code one alert from Starfleet. “Well, there it is,” Kirk says. “War. We didn’t want it, but we’ve got it.” And without a store receipt, they can’t even exchange it for something they do want. Committed to their duty, they set course for Organia at warp seven.

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1

Star Trek Re-Watch: “The Devil in the Dark”

“The Devil in the Dark”
Written by Gene L. Coon
Directed by Joseph Pevney

Season 1, Episode 25
Production episode: 1×26
Original air date: March 9, 1967
Star date: 3196.1

Mission summary
We don’t begin on the Enterprise but rather in the deep mines of Moria Janus VI, where an unknown “monster” has been taking out guards left and right. A deeply nervous guard, Schmitter, tells us that phaser fire is useless against it—but that the Enterprise is on its way.

“You’ll be all right,” his superior tells him, sealing the man’s fate.

Sure enough, as soon as the other men are out of sight, a huge plasticine creature-thing attacks. By the time the men run back it’s too late.

“Like the rest of them. Burnt to a crisp.”

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0

Star Trek Re-Watch: “This Side of Paradise”

“This Side of Paradise”
Written by D.C. Fontana (story by Nathan Butler and D.C. Fontana)
Directed by Ralph Senensky

Season 1, Episode 24
Production episode: 1×25
Original air date: March 2, 1967
Star date: 3417.3

Mission summary
The Enterprise is tasked with a rescue mission to an Earth colony on planet Omicron Ceti III, which is being bombarded with lethal Berthold rays that disintegrate animal tissue under prolonged exposure. They don’t expect to find any survivors, and on first glance it seems that all 150 colonists are in fact dead, as there is no response to their hails. Brief exposure to the radiation should be safe, so Kirk beams down with a landing party consisting of Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Lt. Sulu, Mr. DeSalle, and Mr. Kelowitz. They wander through the empty streets of a small town farming community, which oddly resembles a Hollywood backlot. Kirk laments the apparent loss of life in the colony, “another dream that failed,” but then a man appears and welcomes them to the planet. He identifies himself as Elias Sandoval, the leader of the group that left Earth four years before.

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16

Star Trek Re-Watch: “A Taste of Armageddon”

“A Taste of Armageddon”
Teleplay by Robert Hamner and Gene L. Coon
Story by Robert Hamner
Directed by Joseph Pevney

Season 1, Episode 23
Production episode: 1×23
Original air date: February 23, 1967
Star date: 3192.1

Mission summary
The Enterprise is en route to NGC 321, a star cluster hosting a number of inhabited worlds. The Federation (first named here in full as the United Federation of Planets) wants desperately to stop the bloodshed of the past and establish peaceful, diplomatic relations. In pursuit of that goal they’ve sent along Ambassador Robert Fox to make contact with Eminiar VII, the star cluster’s principal planet.

With hailing frequencies open (thanks, Uhura), they finally receive a response from the planet: Code 710. That code means that under no circumstances should the Enterprise approach the planet.

“Disregard that,” says Ambassador Asshat (AA).

Kirk warns him that disregarding that signal could result in interplanetary war, but AA responds that he’s “willing to take that risk.”

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2

Star Trek Re-Watch: “Space Seed”

“Space Seed”
Written by Gene L. Coon and Carey Wilber
Story by Carey Wilber
Directed by Marc Daniels

Season 1, Episode 22
Production episode: 1×24
Original air date: February 16, 1967
Star date: 3141.9

Mission summary
The Enterprise stumbles across an unknown vessel, as it often does, but this one is transmitting a repeating signal in Morse Code: CQ. Kirk doesn’t even need Uhura to translate this old message, “calling any station,” leaving her with nothing to do. When they get in visual range, Spock identifies it as a DY-100, an Earth ship built in the 1990s. It has no business being out there, and they determine it must be a derelict or is being used by aliens. McCoy’s bioscanners do pick up faint non-human heartbeats, averaging “only four beats per minute,” and sensors detect functioning equipment on the other ship, though there’s no other activity.

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4

Star Trek Re-Watch: “The Return of the Archons”

“The Return of the Archons”
Teleplay by Boris Sobelman
Story By Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Joseph Pevney

Season 1, Episode 21
Production episode: 1×22
Original air date: February 9, 1967
Star date: 3156.2

Mission summary
We begin with Lt. Sulu and Lt. O’Neil, dressed for the spring production of 1776, fleeing for their lives from ominous hooded figures (it was a modern production). Sulu calls the Enterprise for an emergency beam-out but it’s taking too long, so O’Neil abandons Sulu and runs off on his own. Don’t worry, he’s a professional. The hooded figures have some form of boomstick and one points it at Sulu just as the helmsman beams away. In the transporter room Sulu’s suddenly switched gears entirely, and while he’s dressed for 1776 he’s acting like he’s in Hair. Euphoric and calm, he praises “Landru,” and describes the planet they were just on as “paradise.”

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0

Star Trek Re-Watch: “Court Martial”

“Court Martial”
Written by Don M.Mankiewicz and Steven W. Carabatsos (story by Don M. Mankiewicz)
Directed by Marc Daniels

Season 1, Episode 20
Production episode: 1×14
Original air date: February 2, 1967
Star date: 2947.3

Mission summary
After the Enterprise encounters another dangerous ion storm, it puts in at Starbase 11 for repairs. Unfortunately, the damage to the ship is the least of their problems; the records officer, Lieutenant Commander Benjamin Finney, was killed when Captain Kirk was forced to jettison an ion pod with him still inside. You wouldn’t believe the amount of paperwork this creates! Kirk even has to wear a fancy shirt to deliver his sworn deposition to the grim-faced Commodore Stone, who is probably the longest-surviving red shirt in Starfleet. Spock beams down with an extract from the ship’s computer logs to supplement Kirk’s report, and a moment later a girl cosplaying as Sailor Mercury bursts into the room. This is Jame (pronounced “Jamie”) Finney, and she accuses Kirk of murdering her dad. After Spock escorts the sobbing girl out of the office, Commodore Stone accuses Kirk of perjury, since the computer records indicate that the captain jettisoned the pod before calling for a Red Alert. He’s confined to the starbase while they decide whether he’ll face court martial.

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3

Star Trek Re-Watch: “Tomorrow is Yesterday”

“Tomorrow is Yesterday”
Written by D. C. Fontana
Directed by Michael O’Herlihy

Season 1, Episode 19
Production episode: 1×21
Original air date: January 26, 1967
Star date: 3113.2

Mission Summary
In the radar room of a U.S. Air Base circa the late 1960s, someone notices a blip: some kind of ship has entered the atmosphere “like it fell out of the sky or something.” It beeps on the radar. A UFO sighting! The captain orders someone to go up and take a closer look. As the camera cuts to the pilots getting ready to intercept and investigate, we see the tiny figure of the Enterprise, in orbit around an ancient Earth.Through a captain’s log we learn that en route to Starbase 9, the Enterprise got sucked into a “black star,” and in order to escape the strong gravitational pull they had to reverse engines at full warp power. The result? A mumblemumble gravitational slingshot effect that sent them tumbling through space-time, “to stop here, wherever we are.”

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19

Star Trek Re-Watch: “Arena”

“Arena”
Written by Gene L. Coon (from a story by Fredric Brown)
Directed by Joseph Pevney

Season 1, Episode 18
Production episode: 1×19
Original air date: January 19, 1967
Star date: 3045.6

Mission summary

Captain Kirk and some of his crew prepare for a fancy dinner on Cestus III, an Earth observation outpost in a largely unexplored area of space. Their host, Commodore Travers, is well known for his hospitality and they’re all looking forward to a good meal and entertainment. Instead, when they beam down they discover that Cestus III has been destroyed—and its literally cold-blooded alien attackers are still there. Since the massacre must have occurred several days before, it seems the invitation from Travers was faked to lure the Enterprise to the planet.

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