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Star Trek – The Doomsday Machine (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

The Doomsday Machine is another Star Trek classic.

Much like Amok Time directly before it, The Doomsday Machine is a piece of Star Trek that works both as powerful drama and clever allegory. It is an episode that has had a tremendous influence on the franchise. The “planet killer” has become a staple of Star Trek tie-in fiction, and even the franchise itself has kept the episode’s legacy alive, with the son of Commodore Decker originally planned as a regular in Star Trek: Phase II and eventually appearing in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

All hands on Decker...

All hands on Decker…

The Doomsday Machine is at once a beautifully tragic character study and a potent cautionary tale for the atomic age. The episode the first example of “Star Trek does Moby Dick”, a story template that would become popular enough to sustain another episode in the same season, quite a few later Star Trek episodes across the franchise and no fewer than two of the franchise’s trips to the big screen. In many ways, The Doomsday Machine sets the template for Star Trek engaging with classic literature, building off The Conscience of a King.

It’s also beautifully produced, right down to the creature that Spinrad himself described as “a windsock dipped in cement.”

A commandeering presence...

A commandeering presence…

What is fascinating about The Doomsday Machine is that it was actually conceived and produced as a “budget” episode. To be fair, once that’s pointed out, it makes perfect sense. Although it features the eponymous planet-devouring space monster, The Doomsday Machine takes place mostly on standing sets – the bridge, a shuttle, the damaged corridors of the Enterprise’s sister ship. In many ways, The Doomsday Machine could be classified as a “bottle show”, at least in practical and production terms.

It’s worth noting that the process of getting The Doomsday Machine to screen seems to have been considerably smoother than the process involved in getting scripts by other established science-fiction writers before the camera. There were re-writes and polishes to Spinrad’s work, but the production process seems to gone much easier than Richard Matheson’s The Enemy Within or Theodore Sturgeon’s Shore Leave, to say nothing of trauma endured during the production The City on the Edge of Forever.

It's feeding time...

It’s feeding time…

The eponymous machine itself notwithstanding, Spinrad seems to have written with a reasonably strong understanding of what can be produced on a television budget. That awareness of the limitations of the medium represents very rare talent, and one with which many of Spinrad’s contemporaries struggled. The fact that Spinrad hit all the requirements set by the production team and still produce a classic hour of television is no small accomplishment.

Spinrad and the production team hit on a rather clever idea here. The Doomsday Machine is the first time that the Enterprise stumbles across a damaged Constitution-class starship, a plot element that would recur in The Tholian Web during the third season. This plot device allows the episode to use standing sets, thus limiting the need to build new sets and design new surroundings. This is to say nothing of episodes set on duplicates of the Enterprise itself, like Mirror, Mirror or The Mark of Gideon.

When the data chips are down...

When the data chips are down…

As Marc Cushman notes in These Are the Voyages: Season Two, The Doomsday Machine represents the first time that Star Trek came in under the new reduced production budget that had been assigned for the second season:

Even with the numerous photographic effects needed, The Doomsday Machine, with a total cost of $176,336, came in $8,664 under budget – the first episode of the second season to not exceed the money allocated by the studio. In 2013’s dollars, the cost of this episode equates to just over $1.2 million, which was a bargain, especially considering that in 2013 a one-hour sci-fi drama is budgeted for more than double this amount.

In contrast the sweeping grandeur of Vulcan on Amok Time, The Doomsday Machine is an episodes the manages to do more with less. A little moody lighting, a few broken cables and use of the engineering section rather than the bridge are enough to help distinguish the Constellation from the Enterprise.

This "older and scruffier" reboot isn't working out for them...

This “older and scruffier” reboot isn’t working out for them…

Director Marc Daniels deserves particular credit for his work here. Not only does Daniels manage to make the Constellation feel likes its own location rather than simply a cost-saving use of standing sets, he also managed to film the whole episode in five days instead of six. It’s no surprise that Daniels was one of the most prolific directors to work on Star Trek, stepping behind the camera for some of the best-loved episodes of the show’s first two seasons.

Much of The Doomsday Machine could be read as an allegorical commentary on the Cold War, one of Star Trek’s favourite topics. Given the episode’s rather cynical outlook about weapons of mass destruction and militarism, it’s no surprise that These Are the Voyages suggests that Gene L. Coon himself was the production team member who polishing Spinrad’s script for broadcast. The Doomsday Machine hits upon many of Coon’s favourite themes, from episodes like A Taste of Armageddon and Errand of Mercy, presenting the Cold War as a negative-sum game.

Operating off the grid...

Operating off the grid…

(This was in notable contrast to Roddenberry’s view of the Cold War, which he seemed to view as a necessary struggled between the forces of liberal democracy and totalitarian oppression. After all, compare Coon’s cynical “everybody sucks” handling of Federation-Klingon relations in Errand of Mercy to the Roddenberry-influenced “the Federation are the good guys and the Klingons are the bad guys” approach of episodes like Friday’s Child or A Private Little War. It’s also worth comparing Coon’s A Taste of Armageddon to Roddenberry’s The Omega Glory.)

Just in case the viewers don’t get the political subtext, Kirk explicitly spells it out. Kirk defines the eponymous “doomsday machine” in abstract terms as “a weapon built primarily as a bluff. It’s never meant to be used. So strong, it could destroy both sides in a war. Something like the old H-Bomb was supposed to be.” While the fear of nuclear armageddon had arguably decreased since the heady days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was still a concern into the late sixties.

He's sleeping this one off...

He’s sleeping this one off…

June 1967 seems something of a flashpoint. It is suspected that nuclear anxiety played a significant role in the Six-Day War of June 1967 between Israel and several of its neighbours. Even today, it is speculated that the conflict could easily have escalated to nuclear war. However, Israel wasn’t the only source of nuclear anxiety. Four days before The Doomsday Machine went in front of the cameras, China became the world’s fourth official atomic power.

In January 1968, the Doomsday Clock was moved forward to seven minutes to midnight, jumping five minutes closer than it had been on the last move back in 1963. “There is little reason to feel sanguine about the future of our society on the world scale,” the Bulletin advised. This unease continued to echo through popular culture, finding expression in films like Planet of the Apes. It is very hard to appreciate this anxiety outside of its original context, but the tension was palpable.

"Do you really think it's too subtle?"

“Do you really think it’s too subtle?”

Herman Kahn is credited with first proposing the idea of a “doomsday machine.” A rather colourful character, Kahn has been frequently linked to the eponymous character in Stanley Kubrick’s Doctor Strangelove. The planet killer in The Doomsday Machine is very much just Kahn’s thought experiment given monstrous metaphorical form, as Jacob Darwin Hamblin argues in Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism:

Kahn’s doomsday machine became an instant iconic image of the fateful course onto which the United States and the Soviet Union had put the entire earth. In a 1967 Star Trek episode, to use but one example, the doomsday machine was quite explicitly a planet killer, a giant worm-like robot that carved up entire worlds in order to feed off of them. As imagined by television writers, the machine was simply a relic that continued to operate, an unintended consequence of warlike actions ‘uncounted years ago.’ Whoever built it did not even exist anymore, yet the machine continued to consume worlds. The television program became an opportunity to comment on the insanity of hydrogen bombs and the precarious nature of the Cold War. But the idea of Doomsday, or a doomsday machine, was not merely a matter of science fiction in the 1960s. It was an integral part of war planning and a powerful image for the vulnerability of the earth.

There was something undeniably horrifying about all this. Apparently unsatisfied with the destructive capacity of atomic bombs, the United States had begun developing more powerful hydrogen bombs in the fifties. In 1950, Leo Szilard had proposed the construction of a cobalt bomb that would be enough to kill everybody on the planet. In the eighties, the Soviet Union would develop its infamous “dead hand” system to ensure that any nuclear attack on its soil would take the rest of the planet with it.

Scotty's in a bit of fix...

Scotty’s in a bit of fix…

All of which is a way of illustrating the context of the “planet eater” presented here. The creature or machine is all that destruction and annihilation given form. It is no wonder that the thing looks like an insatiable monster with a gaping maw, the fire burning at its heart visible even from a distance. It is a beast that just keeps feeding and consuming, even after those who gave life to it had faded into history.

“Its apparent function is to smash planets to rubble and then digest the debris for fuel,” Spock explains to Kirk. “It is, therefore, self-sustaining as long as there are planetary bodies for it to feed on.” In a way, this makes it seem like a more tangible counterpart to the ethereal entities like Redjac from Wolf in the Fold or the “hate-monger” from Day of the Dove, metaphorical representations of mankind’s worst aspects that “feed” to help them outgrow their “hosts.”

I have to admit, if I ever had to sit in the command chair, I'd probably sit like that...

I have to admit, if I ever had to sit in the command chair, I’d probably sit like that…

Star Trek had a tendency deal with the important issues of the day by externalising them, by allowing abstract concepts to take a physical form so that Kirk and his crew might wrestle with them. Although perhaps more material than either of those two examples, the planet killer is just as much a terrible idea given form. Perhaps The Doomsday Machine is the most iconic example, which isn’t surprising. The Doomsday Machine is very much a collection of familiar Star Trek tropes and clichés, which is remarkable for an episode this early in the second season.

Then again, The Doomsday Machine was undeniably a significant influence on the development of Star Trek. It seems quite likely that so many of the tropes employed here became Star Trek standards because they worked so well. Interestingly, despite its influence, The Doomsday Machine is somewhat polarising. D.C. Fontana has described it as her least favourite episode of Star Trek. In contrast, James Doohan cited it as a personal favourite.

Shaking things up...

Shaking things up…

Still, many classic Star Trek plot points are solidified here. Commodore Decker became part of the back story for the character of William Decker, the character planned for Star Trek: Phase II and eventually incorporated in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The “damaged Federation vessel reveals bigger threat” would become a stock story element for episodes like The Tholian Web and Where Silence Has Lease. The giant space-faring threat paves the way for episodes like The Immunity Syndrome or Tin Man or Galaxy’s Child.

Perhaps the most influential aspect of The Doomsday Machine is Decker himself. Although Kirk had faced obstructive bureaucrats in shows like A Taste of Armageddon and even Court Martial or Metamorphosis, Decker really cements the “insane authority figure” trope Star Trek would come to love so dearly. Decker paves the way for Commodore Stocker, Admiral Satie, Admiral Doherty and quite a few others.

"Scotty, will you get that spotlight out of my eyes? I'm trying to work here!"

“Scotty, will you get that spotlight out of my eyes? I’m trying to work here!”

In a way, Decker just cements Gene L. Coon’s somewhat skeptical approach to authority in the world of Star Trek. It is interesting that Spinrad’s original version of the teleplay had Decker surviving to the end of the story to see the error of his ways. The broadcast version of The Doomsday Machine has Decker sacrificing himself in a doomed final run at the creature, demonstrating that the character had gone well past the point of recovery. He is a truly tragic figure.

The Doomsday Machine emphasises that Decker is very much an idealised Starfleet captain. Kirk’s early dialogue firmly establishes that Decker is a paragon of virtue – he has trouble fathoming what could have gotten the better of Commodore Matt Decker. Even after everything that has happened, Kirk speaks fondly of him. “Poor Matt,” he reflects. “He gave his life in an attempt to save others. Not the worst way to go.”

"Tell my son... we'll never explicitly acknowledge our connection on-screen..."

“Tell my son… we’ll never explicitly acknowledge our connection on-screen…”

Decker is portrayed as a man who has dedicated himself to his role as a commanding officer. “I stayed behind, the last man,” he confesses to Kirk. “The captain, the last man aboard the ship. That’s what you’re supposed to do, isn’t it?” Decker adhered to the rules and procedures, and they failed him. Following protocol in a situation that protocol was never designed to handle led to the death of his crew and his own survival – the exact opposite of what Decker would have expected.

Even after the loss of his crew, even after his ship is torn to pieces, Decker still refuses to abandon his post. “Oh, no, I stay here,” he insists. “I’m not leaving my ship!” Kirk pragmatically replies, “There’s no ship to leave. It’s a dead hulk!” Then again, Decker is not a man who seems to deal in pragmatic realities. He insists on following orders and directives, even when they aren’t the most logical decisions to make. Even after the destruction of his own ship, he tries to repeat his failed assault on the creature with the Enterprise.

"Boy, they sure to pack a lot of things that can explode into these corridors, don't they?"

“Boy, they sure to pack a lot of things that can explode into these corridors, don’t they?”

Spock makes the very reasonable argument that the Enterprise would be best served by warning the Federation about the incoming threat, particularly given the fact that it cannot fight the planet killer alone. “Logically, our primary duty is to survive in order to warn Starfleet Command,” Spock observes, matter-of-factly. He is reacting to changing circumstances. Decker is unable to do that, to see past his own immediate duty. “Our primary duty is to maintain life and safety of Federation planets.”

Of course the episode suggests that Decker’s devotion to duty is simply covering up his own vendetta against the creature. The planet killer murdered Decker’s crew, the people under his command. Decker understandably wants revenge. However, The Doomsday Machine continues to stress the way that regulations and duties confine people, trapping them within a framework that undermines their ability to solve the problem at hand.

We'd love for Decker to make a recovery, but it's just not on the data cards...

We’d love for Decker to make a recovery, but it’s just not on the data cards…

Spock is replaced by Decker as commander of the Enterprise. However, despite Decker’s obvious instability, Spock is powerless to stop him. “If you can certify Commodore Decker medically or psychologically unfit for command, I can relieve him under Section C,” he informs McCoy. McCoy is perfectly willing to make that certification, but there are regulations that block that course of action. “You’ll also be asked to produce your medical records to prove it,” Spock adds.

“Now,” McCoy responds, “you know I haven’t had time to run an examination on him.” Then the requirements are not met. Spock informs McCoy, “Then your statement would not be considered valid.” Apparently placing the lives of the crew of the Enterprise in needless danger is not enough to satisfy the regulations. Paperwork would seem to be needed. The regulations provide justification for Decker, but they also provide protection.

"Dammit, Decker! If you void my warranty...!"

“Dammit, Decker! If you void my warranty…!”

As the situation escalates, even Kirk tries to force Decker to give up command of the Enterprise. “You can’t relieve me and you know it,” Decker insists. “According to regulations…” Kirk doesn’t even bother to let him finish the reference or citation. “Blast regulations!” Kirk replies over the communications line. Rather tellingly, Decker dies as a commander of a small shuttlecraft, preserving his own sense of duty. Kirk survives by sacrificing the Constellation herself – explicitly rejecting the idea that no ship should go down without a captain.

The Doomsday Machine seems to be the culmination of the skepticism toward authority that had been building since Gene L. Coon took over. It is an episode that feels highly critical of the Starfleet mindset, the mindset that could not wait for war against the Klingons in Errand of Mercy, aggressively sought to expand its military sphere of influence in A Taste of Armageddon and planned to use the Enterprise as a show of gunboat diplomacy for the Klingons in Amok Time.

Uhura isn't the only one who can pull that off...

Uhura isn’t the only one who can pull that off…

The Doomsday Machine also marks the first time that Star Trek would offers its own version of Moby Dick. Given that Melville’s novel is an undisputed classic of American literature, it’s no surprise that Star Trek practically turned “Moby Dick in space!” into a viable subgenre. The first season of the show had been rather overt in its nods to Shakespeare. Dagger of the Mind tooks its title from Macbeth, while The Conscience of a King featured a troupe of Shakespearean actors. Catspaw featured a cameo from the witches in Macbeth.

Doing a whole life of a plot like Moby Dick was the next logical step. It would pave the way for all manner “adaptations by way of Star Trek.” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would be particularly fond of this style of reinvention and reference, doing Yentl as Rules of Acquisition, Casablanca as Profit and Loss, Brigadoon as MeridianA Midsummer Night’s Dream as Fascination and Cyrano de Bergerac as Looking for Par’Mach in All the Wrong Places.

Careful, Scotty, don't flood it...

Careful, Scotty, don’t flood it…

Star Trek‘s nods towards classic literature can be somewhat divisive. It is – for example – easy to dismiss these references as pretentious, or to suggest that Star Trek is desperately straining for literary credibility by proving how well-read it is. As Larry Kreitzer notes in The Cultural Veneer of Star Trek:

In any event, they give Star Trek a veneer of cultural sophistication, helping to create the impression that its world is a well-read one. They also provide a level of respectability which might not otherwise be forthcoming to a science fiction series.

Then again, people like Patrick Stewart have stressed that the skills developed performing Shakespeare aren’t too different from the skills needed to work in science-fiction – an observation supported by the evidence. So there is arguably some basis of comparison between classic literature (and theatre) and pulp science-fiction.

"I have been informed that Moby Dick has been added to the Starfleet Academy reading list..."

“I have just been informed that Moby Dick has been added to the Starfleet Academy reading list…”

Star Trek remixed contemporary concerns through the lens of science-fiction, offering metaphorical explorations of the issues of that day. Working in themes and elements from classical literature into this already heightened environment makes just as much sense. With Who Mourns For Adonais?, Star Trek had already declared its ambitions of becoming a pop cultural mythology of its own, so the appropriation of these elements feels organic. At the very least, it provides an interesting window in pop cultural appropriation of classic texts.

It can also provide a space to analyse and toy with the source material. The franchise’s other incredibly successful Moby Dick appropriation, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, rather cleverly inverts Melville’s Moby Dick by suggesting that the narrative’s central character is the one standing in for whale itself rather than the character playing the role of Ahab. Even leaving that cheeky inversion aside, there’s something deliciously fun about the way that Nicholas Meyers plays with these literary ingredients in his Star Trek films.

Back-seat captaining...

Back-seat captaining…

This is to say nothing of having a popular and well-liked science-fiction franchise (which still airs in syndication around the world) that presents an accessible gateway to classic literature for the viewers (particularly the young viewers) watching at home. Star Trek has generally taken a great deal of pride in being a franchise that the whole family can enjoy together. Having these classic references provides an effective entry point to these classic works.

Whether pretentious or not, framing The Doomsday Machine as “Moby Dick in space!” works wonders. It gives the episode an incredible momentum. The Doomsday Machine moves with incredible speed, and yet also with no small sense of tragedy. Given how well this structure worked, it’s no wonder that this basic story framework became a staple of the franchise. (The fact that it worked well again in Wrath of Khan also helped.)

"In my professional opinion, it's broke."

“In my professional opinion, it’s broke.”

It’s interesting to note that – on an episode about the fickleness of the chain of command – tensions were flaring behind the scenes. Recalling his time on the set during the filming of the episode, Spinrad couldn’t help but notice the competition between Shatner and Nimoy:

Sure, but the funniest thing is there’s a sequence in there, dialogue, that goes Spock, Kirk, Spock, Kirk. While I’m on the set I see that William Shatner, in between takes, is sitting somewhere. He’s got the script and penciling out Spock lines, because he had something in contract saying that he had to have the most lines, that Nimoy couldn’t have more lines than he did. So, Marc Daniels, who was the director, starts to shoot this. Five blown takes. I’m there. It’s really an unusual honor. You’re not really supposed to stick your nose into this. But I can’t stand it finally. I know what’s wrong. There’s a reaction line from Spock that’s missing. It just can’t work (without it). So I call Marc Daniels over into the corner. I said, “Listen, Marc, the reason you’re having trouble with this is because of the missing Spock line that Shatner took out. I know the whole reason why that is. We can’t put it back in, but maybe you just tell Leonard to grunt. Can you get away with a grunt?” And that’s the way they shot it.

This clash of egos was all but inevitable. Shatner earned a reputation for being notoriously aggressive when it came to reappropriating lines from other cast members, particularly Nichelle Nichols or George Takei. Shatner denies this in the most jerkish way possible, insisting there was “nothing to nick” from Nichols or Takei.

Shaken by the experience...

Shaken by the experience…

However, Shatner’s principle rival on-set was Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy’s character had caught on with the masses during the first season. Nimoy had managed to leverage a more lucrative deal going into the second season oft he show, including creative input on the scripts. Nimoy picked up an Emmy nomination for his work on the first season. The first episodes broadcast from both the second and third seasons were Spock-centric, perhaps demonstrating that the production team knew where the public’s interest lay.

As such, it’s quite easy to see why Shatner may have felt threatened by his co-star, and why rumours of on-set feuding were so common. Gene Roddenberry would seek advice on how best to placate Shatner, and how to keep Kirk as the star of the show – nominally at least. It seems quite possible that Shatner’s decision to amp up his scenery chewing in the second season – as already evidenced in Who Mourns for Adonais? and to reach critical mass in The Omega Glory – may have been influenced by these factors.

"Eh... you're still easier to work with than Shatner..."

“Eh… you’re still easier to work with than Shatner…”

Interestingly, one of the approaches attempted by the production team to keep the focus on Kirk was to make him the focal point of a later second season story covering much of the same ground. Obsession is a story that feels highly derivative of The Doomsday Machine, just substituting Kirk in for Decker. That said, the episode seems to set the tone for the second season, with the amoeba from The Immunity Syndrome feeling like it owes a debt to The Doomsday Machine.

The Doomsday Machine is a genuine classic and a highlight of the show’s second season. A timeless tale of revenge and a parable about mutually-assured destruction, it serves as a reminder of just how effective Star Trek can be, even with external limitations imposed upon it.

You might be interested in our other reviews from the second season of the classic Star Trek:

12 Responses

  1. Another good review. I forgot how many classics there are here.

    I’m probably biased because I’m a great fan of the latter day funny Shatner and because I’m probably the only Trek fan ever who found Kirk more interesting than Spock, but I tend to take reports of the Shatnerian ego monster with a grain of salt.

    I’ve no doubt Shatner has a strong ego and he himself has admitted in his autobiographies how he clashed with Nimoy but I thought he made a good point in ‘ Up Till Now’ that he, Nimoy and Dee Kelly were on set day in day out while the others were playing supporting roles even if it suited some of them to pretend they weren’t. Of course we know with the benefit of hindsight how iconic these supporting characters became, but at the time…

    Again I think Shatner probably wasn’t fun to work with, but I wouldn’t view the story as completely one sided.

    • I can see that, and it’s hard not to be sympathetic to Shatner when you know that the seventies are looming. It’s also perhaps a bit much to expect him to take all of Nichols and Takei’s sniping with a smile and a grin, or to apologise for work that took a lot out of his physically. On the other hand, I think that some measure of sympathy might be in order for two actors who were always going to be at a disadvantage due to racial issues.

      I suspect Nichelle Nichols knew that playing Uhura would probably be the biggest thing that she ever did, while Shatner would get to go on to TJ Hooker and so on, while Nimoy would by on Mission: Impossible and direct Three Men and a Baby and so forth. So I can see her being upset at losing her few lines. I think a little empathy goes a long way.

      (It doesn’t help that Leonard Nimoy and Deforrest Kelley seem to come across as more gracious leads; or that Stewart, Brooks and Bakula tend to be described in glowing terms by their co-stars.)

      • That’s very true and Shatner, as he himself admits, could have composed himself better.

        I suppose in fairness Shatner was just coming off an acclaimed flop (‘For the People’) so there was probably an element of “this is my last chance” going on for him.

      • Yep. I think Shatner is woefully underrated as a performer and an actor. There are certain episodes where the only redeeming feature is Shatner giving it socks. I think the second season is the one where Shatner really hones in on what would become his distinctive style. There were traces of it in episodes like The Enemy Within, but you really see it becoming more common and more frequent this year. And I love it dearly.

        (See also: Avery Brooks, who manages to blend Shatner and Stewart’s styles to create something completely distinctive. I know people who cannot watch DS9 because of Brooks’ style, but I love it to death.)

      • I think another thing to consider is that the original Star Trek comes from a time when most television series were plot-driven, instead of character-driven. Watching it in 2014, you realize that Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov are given barely anything to do other than serve to deliver exposition. They really do not receive any character development.

        This is in major contrast to The Next Generation, which after the first two shaky seasons not only started to have good stories but to develop the characters, and Deep Space Nine, which was havily about developing the chcracters and their relationships with one another. Honestly, I think that Scotty was given more delevopment, and James Doohan more material to work with, during his single guest appearance on the Next Generation than he ever got during his entire three years on the original series.

        So, yeah, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takai and Walter Koenig were already being given very little material to work with back in the late 1960s. This was definitely not an era when actors had the sort of influence where they could talk to the showrunners and request more development or screen time. So when William Shatner started approriating some of the few lines they had, it is understandable that they would complain about this. Unfrotunately he was propably the only person they could criticize without jeopardizing their jobs. If they’d even tried to argue with Gene Roddenberry about their paucity of material I suspect they would have very quickly found themselves unemployed.

      • I’ve always maintained that the original Star Trek cast never really became an ensemble until Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, when the supporting cast had to step up to fill the gap left by Spock’s absence. As you said, it really wasn’t the style of television at the time. (Indeed, one of the many problems with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was the way that Shatner tried to roll back on the ensemble nature of the films, which felt clumsy at best and mean-spirited at worst.)

  2. Richard Matheson wrote “The Enemy With” not Ray Bradbury as you have written in your review.

  3. That the reviewer makes not a single reference to William Windom and his terrific performance, leaves the review grossly incomplete. Windom’s performance (complete with wonderful homage to Bogart’s, ‘Queeg’), was on the level of Marshall’s ‘Daystrom’ and Campbell’s ‘Trelane’, et el. WW and his performance deserve much better here.

    C 2018

  4. Spinrad’s memory is faulty. Decker’s death was a part of the story from the beginning. It’s right there on page 10 of Spinrad’s March 6, 1967 outline “The Planet Eater”. See: http://www.missionlogpodcast.com/the-doomsday-machine-2

  5. Decker always died, right from Spinrad’s first outline “The Planet Eater” from March 6, 1967. It was James Blish who invented the idea of Decker dying in his Star Trek Logs adaptation. Because Blish often worked from earlier drafts of the scripts, people often assume his deviations came from those. That’s not always the case.

  6. Sorry for the near duplicate comments. The UI here did not show my replies at first.

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