Star Trek: The Naked Time

Spock: "We have three days to live over again."
Kirk: "Not those last three days."

This episode is so beloved by fans that later Star Trek series incarnations deliberately recreated it. And there's a good reason why: you learn a lot about someone when you get drunk with them. In this episode, we got drunk with most of the crew, and had a fabulous time. Well, except for the six deaths on the planet, Joe Tormolen's suicide by butter knife, and nearly crashing the Enterprise into Psi 2000.

What did we learn about the crew? Lots of fun stuff. Sulu sees himself as a nineteenth century swashbuckler, and has a rather amazing chest. Kirk is seriously stressed and pressured by his job, and has a thing for Yeoman Rand. (The attraction escapes me.) Nurse Christine is madly in love with Spock, and knows how little chance she has with him. (That attraction doesn't escape me.)

The highlight is Spock's crying jag in Briefing Room 2. Beneath his ultra cool exterior, Spock is concealing an emotional maelstrom. He's sorry he can't love Christine back, sorry he could never tell his mother he loved her, ashamed that he feels friendship for Kirk. Marvelous performance by Leonard Nimoy. There's a reason that Spock was such a huge sex symbol with the geeks in the sixties and seventies.


This was the first time we saw Spock do his famous neck pinch. We also saw Scotty in the "Jeffries Tube" for the first time, and everyone falling out of their seats when the ship broke free of the planet. Practically everyone in the cast took a turn at the helm or at navigation. To top it off, they accidentally discovered time travel. Quite a nice payoff, and terrific set-up for future episodes.

If you're new to Star Trek and you don't like this episode or the next one ("The Enemy Within"), give it up. You're not going to like the rest of the series, either.

Ben says...

Okay, repeat after me, in a potential biohazard zone we keep our gloves ON!

That said, this is as much fun as you can have with a biohazard. I loved this episode as a kid and I love it now. It really is drunk people will be drunk people. Some are fun (Sulu), some will find trouble no matter what (Riley), some are morose and brooding (Spock) and some get their freak on (Nurse Chapel), but none should be allowed to pilot a star ship drunk. Riley has perhaps the best line of an episode full of great lines with, "No dance tonight" (been there, buddy). It's atypical of Star Trek with its lack of a deep message or theme (which is part of what made Star Trek good science fiction, if not always great TV). However, this is one of the few first season episodes that features serious character development and it establishes character traits that stay with us throughout the series and beyond. Spock completes his transformation from the character in "The Cage" who was distinguished by yelling and pointy ears to one of the most beloved (and lusted after) characters in sci-fi history. But I think the best development may well have been with Uhura. She establishes herself as someone who could hold her own with the male cast in the one scene with Sulu, and ensures that her future on the show is as something other than an African American Yeoman Rand.

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

— Stardate 1704.2. The planet was named Psi 2000.

— Riley (in a lovely performance by guest star Bruce Hyde) serenaded the crew from Engineering. I've always particularly liked how he punched buttons as accompaniment, and blew on doors to open them.

— We learn that the warp engines are powered by a controlled implosion of matter and antimatter.

— The environmental suits that Joe so idiotically circumvented were made from repurposed shower curtains. Unfortunately, they looked like they were made from repurposed shower curtains.


— It was confirmed that Spock's blood is indeed green. (And yet, his lips are pink. They should be chartreuse, shouldn't they?) Spock is also a lot stronger than Kirk; when he hit him, Kirk practically flew across the room. Ouch.

— The guy who replaced Sulu on the bridge may had had the worst reading of lines in the entire series.

— Sulu's remarkable chest deserves a second mention. Spock looked good in a form-fitting tank top, too.


— Christine's hairdo was pretty extreme, especially for a nurse who was on duty. I know they were just trying to be futuristic, but most of the exotic female hairstyles looked like they were about to go trick-or-treating.

— In case you're new to all this, Christine was played by Majel Barrett, who was married to creator and executive producer Gene Roddenberry. Majel Barrett Roddenberry was in nearly every incarnation of Trek, as Number One in "The Cage," Lwaxana Troi in Next Gen, and the voice of the main computer in nearly everything.

Quotes:

Kirk: "In a critical orbit, there's no time for surprise."
Scotty: "Unless you people on the bridge start taking showers with your clothes on, my engines can pull us out of anything."

Sulu: "What do you mean, what do you do with it?"
Riley: "Self-defense? Mayhem? Shish-ka-bob?"

Christine: "He's dead, Doctor."
It's something of a continuing joke that McCoy says, "He's dead, Jim" in every episode. Let's see if it's true. I'll record it if it's said.

Sulu: "I'll protect you, fair maiden."
Uhura: "Sorry, neither."

Kirk: "I'd like you to teach me that, sometime."
Spock: "Take d'Artagnan here to Sick Bay."

Scotty: "I canna change the laws of physics!"
This is another famous line that is supposedly in every episode. Except it's not.

Four out of four Vulcan neck pinches,

Billie
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

8 comments:

Jai said...

Thanks Billie for returning to and reviewing the original series. As a long time fan of TOS there may not be a lot of revelatory ideas here but it sure is fun reading. I'm of the opinion that TOS, for all its flaws, has achieved a kind of classic and classical status that essentially removes it from conventional critiques and it's so much of its time and strangely eternal that one can throw contemporary ideas at it and see what sticks, what bounces.

I'll come up with some particular responses later on (and the first season, finding its footing, was really beautifully produced in terms of look, feel, music, performance, seriousness) but for now I really appreciate the effort, the smarts and the enthusiasm of your feature here.

Mark Greig said...

The guy with the terrible line delivery who replaced Sulu in helm was the infamous Eddie Paskey, one of the show’s regular background actors and William Shatner’s stand-in (he also drove the truck that killed Edith Keller).

Throughout all three season Paskey played the anonymous Lt Leslie, a cult figure amongst Trekkers and the Lazarus of Red Shirts after he was killed on an away mission but was alive again, dutifully standing in background, by the end of the episode.

There used to be a great site that was dedicated entirely to Leslie’s appearances but it’s sadly been took down now. Instead, you should check out Leslie’s bio at Memory Alpha, it’s surprisingly detailed: http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/Leslie

GreenHornet said...

"I'll take you home aGAIN, Kathleeeeeen...

"ONE... MORE... TIME!!"

:-)

Anonymous said...

A quibble, but this is not the first appearance of the Vulcan Neck Pinch™. That would be found in The Enemy Within.

Billie Doux said...

I'm going by air date and DVD. "Naked Time" aired before "The Enemy Within."

Baby M said...

If I remember my Trek lore correctly, this was originally supposed to be a two-parter with "Tomorrow is Yesterday." Once you know that, it's easy to see how the two would have fit together.

Outsider65 said...

Sorry, but I'll never, never, never understand people's love/attraction for Spock. The way he's so stiff and uncomfortable about everything, it just makes me, well, uncomfortable. Plus his constant racism about "inferior" humans, even if (usually) joking, just makes him come off a huge jerk. (Yeah I know he's motivated by self-hatred or whatever, still doesn't change him for me. :P)

Loved the singing Irishman (Riley?) he was hilarious, as was Sulu with his fanatic fencing (plus he wasn't bad shirtless either. Now this is an attraction I can get behind ;) ). I remembered him from this one incident and wasnt happy when a redshirt with the same name got killed off in a later episode (same guy? I'm horrible with faces).

I never understood why their suits had a gap under the veil-thing that they could just arbitrarily reach into- how exactly is that supposed to keep them from being contaminated?

You really get to feel for poor Nurse Chaplin later on, she's a very kind character and her unrequited love is pretty sad.

Billie Doux said...

Hey, Outsider65: I can pretty much guarantee that 95% of Star Trek fans love Spock. He was most fans' favorite character. Which does not invalidate your opinion; it just makes it rare, and there's nothing wrong with that. :)

We don't post spoilers for later episodes of a show, by the way -- we're sort of a time travel review site. But for the record, and I don't think this is a major spoiler, Sulu doesn't die during this series. He's pretty famous for being in the Star Trek movies. We do get to see Riley again, if that is whom you're referring to. He returns in the episode, "The Conscience of the King."

http://www.douxreviews.com/2010/06/star-trek-conscience-of-king.html