Thursday, July 19, 2007

TOS Rewind #4: "The Naked Time"

Tonight we have one of better shows of the run:  The Naked Time.  I poured myself a single malt Scotch (Macallan 12) for this one which seemed appropriate.  After all, this is pretty much an episode where half the crew gets sloshed and the first episode aired that gives Scotty something real to do.

Most of you probably know this one well so I won't waste much time on the particulars.  The real highlights of this one for me include:

1)  Spock breaking down and having a good cry in the briefing room.  This is really an important episode for the Spock character.  For the first time, we really get in on the nature of his personality and the constant conflict between his human and Vulcan sides.  Nimoy really gets to act out in this one.  Even Shatner's soliloquy where he goes on (and on) about his relationship with the Enterprise doesn't stand up to Nimoy letting it all hang out (well, as much as he can).  This episode sets up a lot of future character development.  I am going to take advantage of revising my post after reading Eric (dirty pool, I know!) and make the comment that I think the intoxication idea is spot on.  To paraphrase the guy who wrote this one, it was drunkenness without the stumbling around.  Spock is in an artificially hyped state and Kirk...well, I'll agree with you on that.  Crap, I just realized I'm arguing in favor of overacting!  Shatner is doing his usual and I'll leave it at that.

2)  Sulu gets to do something fun.  Normally, he sits at the helm and says, "aye sir!"  Well, not this week!  The scenes where he rampages through the ship, sans shirt, with a fencing sword are especially amusing.  You can really tell that George Takei was having a great deal of fun doing those scenes.

3)  The introduction of time travel as a story device.  Even though it's tagged on at the end, the fact that they wrote time travel (not a new concept in science fiction, even then) into the show at that early stage was further evidence that this show, unlike most that had come before, was going to try to handle real sci fi concepts.   

4)  Last, but certainly not least, Lt. Kevin Riley.  Riley does show up unexpectedly in one more show, but I always liked him as a character and wished they'd found a way to use him somehow.  His drunken Irishman routine is hilarious (funny, I just realized that Riley is actually acting alchohol-drunk...appropriate I suppose).  The bit where he shouts, "one...more....time!" and Kirk says, "please not again," is just classic.  "I'm sorry, but there'll be no ice cream for you tonight."

Other than the above, the show moves along with great pacing and real suspense, despite the comic relief sprinkled throughout.  It's a rare episode that manages to do this balancing act so well.  I could go on and one about this, one of my favorites.  And hey, it gave us the line, "I can't change the laws of physics."

Additional note:  One of the things I've really enjoyed on the DVD sets has been the original broadcast teaser trailers.  They're remarkably well edited and lacking the exaggeration and outright distortion of the plot that typically characterize TV show promotional material.  I haven't watched all the bonus material on the set yet, but so far, the trailers are the best of the lot.
And now Eric's section:

So, our next Star Trek episode is “The Naked Time". I’ve always found this episode to be something of a mixed bag. The premise was interesting--it was basically a vehicle for character development, but it served that purpose quite well. We finally get to meet Scotty and see him actually doing something. (He’d been absent since a very brief appearance in the second pilot.) Nurse Christine Chapel also made her first appearance, so with this episode, all of the original cast (except Chekov, who joined the cast and crew in the second season) is in place.

In addition to presenting the entire crew for the first time, this episode gave some nice character moments. Sulu as a revolutionary French swashbuckler was great. And Lt. Riley (in one of his two appearances in the series) provided good comic relief, although I don’t think I want to hear the ballad “Kathleen" ever again. All of the characters, in fact, were in fine form, and it was interesting
seeing some of their hidden insecurities and passions laid bare. For instance, Nurse Chapel’s unrequited love for Spock is introduced (and will be further developed in later episodes). We also see the depth of Kirk’s passion for his ship and Spock’s anguish over being able to feel but not show love. These interludes are revealing, but they’re also where I have problems with this episode. Leonard Nimoy is a fine actor, but I wasn’t impressed by his portrayal of Spock having an emotional breakdown. It just wasn’t convincing. And I found Kirk’s discourse on love to be overdone. IMO, both performances needed to be more subtle and restrained. Then again, according to Dr. McCoy, the effects of the “infection" were supposed to be like those of alcohol intoxication, and I don’t recall ever encountering a drunk who is either subtle or restrained.

So, despite a few annoying flaws, this episode succeeded admirably in providing a great deal of character development very economically, and it also set up some story threads that would be used to good effect in later episodes.

Next time:  “The Enemy Within"