Sunday, January 27, 2013

Star Trek: The Naked Time

The Naked Time was the first real breakout episode of Star Trek. It featured the show's first engineering crisis (and first appearance of the Jefferies Tube), an epidemic that allowed us to learn about our characters, and even a bit of time travel. The episode was popular enough that its premise was used for an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Naked Now. It was even mentioned in another ST:TNG episode, Relics. There, Scotty guest stars and recounts stories of the good old days.

The Naked Time begins as the Enterprise crew visits planet Psi 2000 to pick up a research team before the planet collapses. (Hmmm.... I didn't know planets did that sort of thing. Stars certainly do though.)

Spock and Lt. Joe Tormolen beam down to the research station only to find it everyone dead and frozen. They must has suspected trouble as they wore these nifty suits:
Unfortunately Tormolen takes off his glove and touches stuff before Spock tells him: "Be certain we expose ourselves to nothing." Oh, well. What could go wrong?

After being decontaminated and checked in sick bay, Tormolen heads for the Rec Hall.
3-D Checkers. Way cooler than 3-D Chess.
In the Rec Hall Tormolen, played by Stewart Moss, expresses doubts about the exploration of space and about himself. He briefly threatens Riley (Bruce Hyde) and Sulu (George Takei) before turning the knife on himself.
As we soon learn he's picked up an illness that rapidly spreads to the rest of the crew just as the planet is on the verge of collapse.

The disease brings out otherwise hidden character traits and becomes a wonderful vehicle for learning about our characters. Thankfully, the cast pulls it off wonderfully.

Sulu and Riley become the first affected. "Captain" Riley locks himself in Engineering while Sulu chases crewmen with a rapier. Unfortunately, Riley has also locked out helm control. As the planet starts its collapse the Enterprise is rocked about.
Note the Andromeda Galaxy and the Ring Nebula on the displays.
Things rapidly descend into chaos.
Janice is harassed in the corridors. Again. It seems to be a regular thing on the show, at least this time the disease is to blame. As the illness spreads we learn that Nurse Chapel is in love with Spock.
Too bad Christine doesn't know about Pon Farr.
Meanwhile, not only did Riley lock out helm control, he also turned off the ships engines and the ship is spiraling out of control down into the planet's atmosphere.
Scotty: He can't change the laws of physics.
McCoy finally figures out the problem and after a great scene with Spock and Kirk in the briefing room it is time to try a cold restart of the engines, balancing them into a controlled matter-anti-matter implosion.
No beach to walk on.
The implosion pulls the ship free and catapults them backward in time, bringing the possibility of time travel for future episodes.

Alexander Courage was back to score this episode. His music was another element that helped to knock this episode out of the park. There's over 35 minutes of music written for this episode on the complete collection of Trek music from the original series released by La-La Land Records. The best tracks come from the episode's culmination: Captain's Wig (not a reference to Shatner's hair, really), The Big Go, and Time Reverse/Future Risk and End Title. A sample from Captain's Wig is on the La-La Land site. It is worth a listen.

Speaking of music, some of you might enjoy Five Year Mission, a band that is recording a song for each episode of the original Star Trek series. Some of their songs don't do much for me, but I do like the one they made for this episode, Vulcans Don't Cry. Here's the music video:

The Naked Time is one of the finest episodes of Star Trek. You can watch it online here at

Next up, Charlie X.

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