- User Rating: Excellent
Pros:Fun episode with great background props and character interaction
Cons:Special effects were a bit lame, but at least you couldn't see the strings
The Bottom Line: Great story telling devices were used for this one, making it a must have for any video library.
Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
While the Enterprise is traveling to Colony Beta Six, the crew takes a shortcut through a "star desert" that was known to contain no planets. Still, contrary to all the facts about this well charted region, a single red planet is encountered. Suddenly, Kirk and Sulu are whisked away from the bridge and a message of greeting appears on Uhura's view screen from the planet below. A planet that has a turbulent and poisonous atmosphere that could not possibly support life!
A second look at the planet reveals a small spot that is able to support human life, so Spock formed a landing party and sent them to see what became of the captain and Sulu. What they find is quite strange; a castle in the middle of nowhere built along the lines of early 15th century designs. When they enter the strange place, they meet an even stranger being who does not show up as a form of life at all, according to the tricorders.
As it turns out, General Trelane is nothing more than a child of his race who had been watching the people of Earth for some time. When he detected the crew of humans within his grasp, he created the entire planet and a place where he could "entertain" his guests from his observations. He made one tiny mistake in doing such, however. He failed to take into account that he was 900 light years away from Earth, thus he was actually seeing into the past!
After too much time had passed, Spock decided to transport every life form his sensors could detect back to the ship. The trick worked only briefly, because Trelane met the returning landing party back on the bridge and immediately teleported everyone back to his retreat. Kirk is at last able to incite Trelane into a duel and shoots the device that seems to be giving the strange being the power he needs to do all his little tricks.
A quick flight from the planet and all looks well until the planet appears in front of them again shortly after. No method of evasion works and at last Kirk is taken by Trelane and put on trial for his rudeness. Trelane sentences Kirk to a death by hanging, but Kirk uses his ability to fast talk his way out of certain death and into a hunt with himself as the prey.
This was one of the better episodes of the series, with much more imagination being used than some of the earlier shows. Of course, Roddenberry still had the budget problems that had been plaguing the series, so the set designers simply raided the Paramount prop department to build and furnish the set. If you watch closely, you will even see the costume of the M-113 creature from The Man Trap stuffed and placed just inside the front door to startle McCoy as he enters. Roddenberry was also a master as reusing his cast members for several roles during the series. Listen closely to the voices of Trelane's parents at the end and you may discover that the voice of the Father is none other than James Doohan (Mr. Scott) while the voice of the mother is Barbara Babcock. Babcock had many roles throughout the series to include two personal appearances: One as Mea 3 in A Taste of Armageddon and a second time as Philana in Plato's Stepchildren.
Even though there was such a wonderful well of creativity showed in this episode, the final effects were quite weak. One would think that with all the standard light effects that were used on a regular basis during the series that the producers could have come up with a better effect than what they wound up using. Still, complain as much as you like, at least you couldn't see the strings as you could at the end of Cat's Paw.
I know that there have been several times throughout the series of novels that Trelane returned to pester the crews of Star Trek, but I have to admit that I have always looked forward to seeing him show up again in either one of the series or a movie. Sad to say, neither has ever happened and with the current Star Trek series taking place a mere 153 years from today or about 100 years prior to the first series, it doesn’t look as if we can expect anything along those lines anytime soon. Maybe in another five years or so a new "Next Generation" series will get started and allow for more story development from the five current series.
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Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up Ages 8
Special Effects: Well at least you can't see the strings