Saturday, 1 November 2014

My Random Journey Through Trek #18

Star Trek

S1 The Alternative Factor

The Enterprise is minding it's own business doing what amounts to a routine scan of an uninhabited planet when an energy wave passes through the ship, Spock reports the sensors indicated the planet they are orbiting for a brief instant did not exist and now a single life form is being detected. The dilithium crystals have been drained and an emergency call from Starfleet indicates that the Enterprise is the only ship tasked with investigating these strange circumstances. The man found on the planet awakes in sickbay and calls himself Lazarus and claims he is in struggle to defeat a "monster" which was responsible for the death of his people but it's the "rip" in space which is keeping them apart. Spock concludes that these two entities are infact the same person but from different universes/realities, their transition between realms is what's causing the drain on the energy systems and disrupting the very fabric of all universes. Lazarus or at least one aspect of him steals the crystals from the ship to power his vessel left on the planet but which one can the crew trust, they both want the other dead but eventually after a mishap Kirk travels into the other universe and has a frank exchange of views with the more reasonable Lazarus and together they plan to trap both versions in the "tunnel" between universes forever to fight with no end in sight.
Lazarus played by Robert Brown
The Alternative Factor does not get a lot of love and on the surface you can understand why, the story while having a lot of merit is so disjointed and full of what amounts to endless amounts of padding and repetitive scenes you are left wondering what the hell was going on. The story behind the episode does explain a lot and we can thank These Are The Voyagers by Marc Cushman and other sources for original series information for the revelations. The studio it seems baulked at the interracial relationship intended for Lt Masters ( Janet MacLachlan ) and Lazarus which in part led to the intended lead actor ( John Drew Barrymore ) to leave the production. Faced with an episode in serious production trouble Shatner help bring Robert Brown into the part on very short notice and the running time filled with perhaps too many shots of Lazarus falling off the rocks and almost psychedelic like effects which seemed to go on forever. 

We blend right in.
To be fair Robert does make the most of a bad job, no disrespect to him at all and who knows if everything had gone to plan this season 1 episode could have been one of the early cornerstones of the modern representation of African Americans and women on network US television. Alas it was not to be and we left with an episode which is derided by many a Star Trek fan and this one has to agree, it's never going to be a voluntary rewatch as there are so many better original series episodes.
Rating 3

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