Lion of the Blogosphere

Star Trek TOS, S02E06 “The Doomsday Machine”

Next episode I will review is “Catspaw” (which I believe will be a very bad episode).

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I think this episode is somewhat overrated. Viewers in the 1960s watching it for the first time probably thought it was a great episode, no doubt a lot better than the campy previous episode (The Apple) where primitive shirtless natives worship an ancient computer while Chekov makes out with a cute Yeoman, but I don’t think it holds up well fifty years later. Nevertheless, there are some Trek fans who think this episode is among the best of TOS.

The updated special effects are very obvious here. I would actually prefer if they showed me the episode how it looked when it originally aired, so I can see what the show originally looked like.

We have this planet-destroying machine that’s going around destroying planets, and it’s headed for “the most densely populated section of our galaxy.” Kirk immediately declares that it’s a “doomsday” machine.

KIRK: It’s 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. That’s what I think this is. A doomsday machine that somebody used in a war uncounted years ago. They don’t exist anymore, but the machine is still destroying.

How could Kirk possibly know all that? He couldn’t, the writers are just putting those words into his mouth because they want to make a point about nuclear war. In a sense, they have so far been proven right, there has never been a major war between nuclear armed powers. Both sides are too afraid to go there. But we need to worry about countries with a martyr complex, like Iran, joining the nuclear club.

It’s a pretty crappy “doomsday” machine if it can easily be destroyed by sending a big bomb into it. Maybe the aliens in another galaxy believed in a God who wanted to reduce the number of planets, so they built a planet eating machine. That makes at least as much sense as it being a “doomsday” machine.

This is also the second episode just this season where there’s a planet-destroying super-machine on the loose. Remember The Changeling?

There’s also a constant theme in Star Trek that whenever someone with a higher rank than Kirk is aboard the Enterprise, this spells disaster. In this case, the “Commodore” of another ship insists that he has the right to take command, and Spock agrees because of Star Fleet regulations (and Kirk is offship and out of communication range). Spock then watches as Commodore Decker goes kamikaze against the indestructible alleged doomsday machine. (Except that it turns out not to be indestructible, they were just using the wrong type of weapon to attack it.)

Unlike in last season’s Galileo Seven where crewmembers were racist against Spock because he’s Vulcan, in this episode it’s implied that the crew is loyal to Spock, and if he ordered Commodore Decker to get lost, he’d have the full support of the crew. Finally, Spock does remove Decker from command, and everyone watching cheers with relief that the moron is no longer in charge.

Star Fleet Command must have a management strategy of promoting the most incompetent Captains to Commodore.

And Star Fleet Command also hires only the most incompetent people as security guards. Here we have yet ANOTHER episode where a single security guard is escorting Decker, and Decker overpowers him and steals a shuttlecraft. Don’t they EVER learn their lesson?

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 22, 2019 at EDT pm

Posted in Star Trek

8 Responses

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  1. Not only is the “Ava Adore” music video a single continuous take, but the directors and performers pull off the feat of varying the film speed (slow-mo, regular, sped-up) while remaining in synch with the music.

    Way more interesting than Star Trek.

    Justice Duvall

    January 22, 2019 at EDT pm

  2. I remember the special effects of this episode being not very good, so you should be thankful for the updated effects.

    As an episode, it’s not very good, and Decker shouldn’t have gone as crazy as he did over the loss of his ship. Lorca destroyed his crew and didn’t miss a wink of sleep…oh yeah….

    Mike Street Station

    January 22, 2019 at EDT pm

    • Decker was almost driven mad from guilt. He blamed himself for mistskenly beaming his crew down to a planet which the doomsday machine promptly destroyed and consumed for fuel. He was also consumed with a desire for revenge against the machine that wrecked his ship and killed his crew. Decker wasn’t an incompetent commanding officer, he was so wracked with guilt and hellbent on revenge that he wasn’t thinking rationally about how to destroy the doomsday machine.

      Oswald Spengler

      January 22, 2019 at EDT pm

  3. “In a sense, they have so far been proven right, there has never been a major war between nuclear armed powers.”

    Mutually Assured Destruction works. That’s why the cold war was fought through proxy wars throughout the 3rd World. The superpowers were trying to flip the balance of power to get an advantage. More recently, I believe they’ve been using economics/trade and immigration to undermine other countries from within. But don’t hold your breath for ST to make an episode about that.

    destructure

    January 22, 2019 at EDT pm

  4. “The updated special effects are very obvious here. I would actually prefer if they showed me the episode how it looked when it originally aired, so I can see what the show originally looked like.”

    If you watch TOS episodes on blu-ray, there’s an option in the menu to watch the episode either with original special effects or the new updated special effects.

    Oswald Spengler

    January 22, 2019 at EDT pm

  5. I had the same thought about that speech from Kirk when I watched this episode. The writers needed to use him as a mouthpiece for exposition, so they decided to have him just be able to intuit the facts.

    There’s also a constant theme in Star Trek that whenever someone with a higher rank than Kirk is aboard the Enterprise, this spells disaster. In this case, the “Commodore” of another ship insists that he has the right to take command, and Spock agrees because of Star Fleet regulations (and Kirk is offship and out of communication range). Spock then watches as Commodore Decker goes kamikaze against the indestructible alleged doomsday machine. (Except that it turns out not to be indestructible, they were just using the wrong type of weapon to attack it.)

    That was nothing. There’s an episode coming up, “The Deadly Years,” in which a “desk job” Commodore, i.e., a guy who outranks Kirk but has no field experience, takes command of the Enterprise, orders the ship straight through the Romulan neutral zone, inexplicably ignoring the crew’s warnings that that will get them killed by the Romulans, and almost gets them killed by the Romulans, but Kirk shows up to take command back in the nick of time and outwit the Romulans.

    And Star Fleet Command also hires only the most incompetent people as security guards. Here we have yet ANOTHER episode where a single security guard is escorting Decker, and Decker overpowers him and steals a shuttlecraft. Don’t they EVER learn their lesson?

    I think this is just lazy writing. They need Kirk to appear to take reasonable precautions, like having a security guard escort a guy who could be dangerous, and they need the dangerous guy to escape for plot purposes, but they can’t think of a more creative way to do it other than to have him simply overpower a security guard.

    Hermes

    January 22, 2019 at EDT pm

  6. Funny, I hardly recall this episode, even though I thought I remembered all of then.

    I do have fond memories of Catspaw though, which probably means you will not like it! Spoiler: it taught me the word “alacrity”.

    S.J., Esquire

    January 22, 2019 at EDT pm

  7. A very strong episode. Nimoy’s acting when he surrenders control of the ship is stage worthy. As far as the technical imperfections of the doomsday machine, we don’t know it was designed as a weapon. Perhaps it was a mining AI that developed singularity. Also there was no making out in the apple. At best it was nuzzling. Does lion even know what making out is?

    toomanymice

    January 23, 2019 at EDT pm


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