Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Tholian Web

From Wikipedia:

"The Tholian Web" was a third season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. It is episode #64, production #64, first broadcast on November 15, 1968 and repeated August 19, 1969. It was written by Judy Burns and Chet Richards and directed by Herb Wallerstein.

It is the episode that introduced the aliens known as the Tholians. Captain Kirk is caught between dimensions while the Enterprise is being drained of energy by an anomalous region of space. The Tholians attempt to trap the Enterprise by spinning an energy web around the ship.


Watch it
here (this is the remastered version, which is the only version I could find; actually, it looks pretty damned good).

Notes and pics:

* Cool, another starship.

* Spock: "Space itself is literally breaking up." WTF? Cool sci-fi shit.

* Scotty has one of my favorite haircuts of all time, the 60s "new short look."

* The Defiant is literally a ghost ship, invisible to sensors.

* can the transporter technician be "locked in on the bridge" if the Defiant doesn't appear on sensors? Okay, I'm a dork.

* Wow, space suits. I think this is the only time they appear in the original series.

* I've filled a page of notes and I'm still on the teaser.

* Nice shot of red shirt's hands around his captain's throat.

* Fab quiet creepy music here. Is this new third season stuff, or have I heard it before?

* The helmet radio sound effect gives the actors a sense of distance. With the music, situation, and dead Star Fleet personnel, this is all very nicely creepy, another good Halloween episode.

* Scotty in command!

* Chekov's horrified facial expressions work well here.

* No-dialogue corpse tableaus. Fucking great. This also invokes that "
Doomsday Machine" sense of this all being the Enterprise gone horribly wrong.

* McCoy and the ghost body are fucking great.

* Sulu in command!

* Nothing like a cranky transporter to complicate the plot.

* Great Chekov screaming. I just love space insanity, and this one goes over the top with it.

* The Tholians, rarely used in the overall history of Trek, are totally great, and their arrival greatly ups the dramatic tension. I mean, it's like what else can go wrong?

* Okay, now the med tech's gone nuts, too. This is so great. EVERYBODY's gone space mad. This might be as cool, in this one respect, as "The Naked Time."

* McCoy's most epic fight...

*...of course, a girl saves him.

* This is literally space madness, caused by space itself. Nice.

* Spock: "The renowned Tholian punctuality." In addition to this being a good, typically dry line for our science officer, I like how the narrative just assumes that the Federation is familiar with the Tholians even though the audience has never heard of them. The lack of exposition on them is cool, too. Makes them mysterious, which works well in this ghost-ship context.

* McCoy totally tears into Spock. The Doctor really is a dick sometimes.

* Nice WTF moment when Uhura directs everybody's attention to the Tholians starting to build their web: "What is that?"

* Great freak out at Kirk's funeral, one of the greatest moments of the entire show.

* Okay, what's going on here?

1. Kirk's dead.
2. Space is literally dissolving.
3. The engines are out.
4. The crew is going insane.
5. The Tholians are snaring the ship in an energy web.
6. McCoy's Spock-hatred has gone into the stratosphere.

That's a lot of balls in the air, and they're pulling it all off extraordinarily well.

* Kirk speaks from the grave. I've always loved this moment.

* Nice to see Uhura at home. And the ghost sighting in the mirror is marvelous.

* The Tholian web is very cool in its weirdness.

* McCoy's bottles and tubes.

* Scotty seeing Kirk's ghost in engineering is creepy/great.

* Kirk's appearance on the bridge, especially Spock's approaching him, is another greatest moment.

* What the fuck is that alter thing in Spock's quarters? At any rate, the physics discussion with Scotty, complete with cool space chart on video monitor, is very old school science fiction, and completely welcome.

* Great exchange:

SCOTT: What is it?
MCCOY: It's a diluted theragen derivative.
SPOCK: Theragen? A nerve gas used by the Klingons.
SCOTT: Aye. And deadly, too. What are you thinking of, Doc? Are you trying to kill us all?
SPOCK: If I remember correctly, it caused fatality only when used in pure form.
MCCOY: That's right, and in this derivative, mixed with alcohol, it merely deadens certain nerve inputs to the brain.
SCOTT: Oh, well, any decent brand of Scotch will do that.
MCCOY: One good slug of this, and you can hit a man with phaser stun, and he'd never feel it or even know it.
SCOTT: Does it make a good mix with Scotch?
MCCOY: It should.
SCOTT: I'll let you know.

And Scotty exits with the entire bottle.

* Triox was only mentioned in "Amok Time." Nice to actually see it used.

* Love the triumphant and epic music at Kirk's return.

* This is so totally five stars. It's amazing how an episode I've known for nearly forty years can still blow me away. Kick ass. One of the best.

We're up to four episodes in this third season great run. That's four five or four star episodes in a row. How can they keep this up? I mean, they're operating on a shoestring budget here in the third season. They're on the verge of cancellation. Nothing like an against-all-odds swan song, if you ask me.