A clunker. The writing sucks. Everything is pinned to nothing—the story is all gimme. The idea is that every human everywhere is bound to go mad at the sight of the alien because that’s how ugly the alien is, and the dope who comes along with Diana Muldaur is bound to flip out and go homicidal with jealousy because that’s how much he loves her. And then he sees the alien and flips out extra and sends the Enterprise into someplace beyond the universe (what?) because he designed the Enterprise so this means he knows how to find the coordinates for, uh, for that place there

“He’s dead, Jim.” So far this is the only episode where I’m sure I heard the line spoken as precisely those three words, the classic formulation. McCoy says them right after the dope falls frothing to the ground. Maybe there’s a correlation between moments of extreme stupidity and the appearance of belovedly dopey lines of dialogue in their best-known forms. Maybe not.

Nimoy gets written up in a big way. He has a scene where he gets to grin and act hail-fellow-well-met, to laugh with a rich appreciation of life’s variety, because Spock has mindmelded with the alien (the alien has a great personality). Then Nimoy gets a mad scene because Spock de-mindmelds with the alien and forgets to bring along his protective visors that hold back the alien’s full ugliness. He left them on Sulu’s desk, the helm. Sulu sees them, gasps, snatches them up—“Mr. Spock …!” Too late. 

Dumb lights. The alien’s ugliness is represented by a light show: light pours out of the metal box where the alien is held, and then the screen gets trippy with the strobodelic light sequences old Trek falls into. Well, of course you’re not going to see the alien itself. But why a light show?

My theory: The light shows is like the big sparks that superhero artists draw around a guy’s fist when he’s knocking down a wall or punching the Hulk—impact balloons, or whatever they’re called. The strobodelics and the light pouring from the box aren’t themselves ugly, but they represent the impact of the alien’s ugliness. Which is a hamhanded device, sort of like going for all caps and rows of asterisks to indicate how awful the monster is. Then the show takes the mistake further, starts to live inside the mistake. The show treats the ugliness as if it were composed of light, so that putting on visors can protect against the ugliness. The visors reduce the amount of ugliness that gets thru, the way sunglasses hold back a percentage of UV rays. I guess if an alien was overwhelmingly generous or winsome, that would be a light show too and people would be wearing visors so they didn’t get dazzled.

The trippy light shows of old Star Trek … do those ever show up in the movies or Next Gen or the other successor series? Fan love has preserved so much from old Trek, but I get the feeling the strobodelics have been left buried back in the ’60s.

Plug for IDIC.  Roddenberry insisted on writing in the IDIC, an alien Vulcan brooch, because he was selling them thru his mail-order company. In order to justify the fuss made over the IDIC the script has to give Diana Muldaur an especially acute attack of nervous bitchiness.

About the mindmeld … Spock has to tell Kirk what it is. “Explain,” Kirk says, like it was a new idea.

 

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Diana Muldaur. I like her, I think she does a better job than most of the show’s guest actresses. Her other episode was “Return to Tomorrow,” and she was a reg for Next Gen’s second season.

She was b. 1938, NYC, started her career in 1964 with an ep of Du Pont Show of Week, in 1965 became a reg on The Secret Storm, a soap opera, then five eps of Dr. Kildare, which was primetime and big. A reg on a new series in 1969, but it got canceled after 15 episodes. After that she was a reg on McCloud, the Dennis Weaver vehicle where he was a big-city cowboy who solved crimes. A lot of other roles, including ’70s movies and tv guest shots. In her fifties she really hit it big on L.A. Law, and after that she said the hell with it.

A neat quote: “I find so much tv depressing, even the sitcoms.” But I think she meant acting on the shows, not watching them, and had in mind co-worker relations on set.

 


Brown sash.  Okay, here’s the dope, b. 1926 in Kent, England. I like the costume Theiss did for him, the way it fronts a jumpsuit with a stylized sash and pocket, and the way light brown predominates, so the thing is businesslike but somehow festive.

Wiki says, “He appeared in guest roles on American television from the late 1950s through the 1970s. His career peaked in the 1960s with frequent roles on such popular series as The F.B.I., Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Star Trek and The Outer Limits. He played Sergent Tibbs the cat in One Hundred and One Dalmatians.” He was not good in his Trek episode. In fact he shows that Shatner’s hamminess was not so unusual by tv standards of the day, except for the energy and commitment that Shatner gave his hamminess. IMDB lists 45 screen acting jobs, first is “Leftenant” in show Navy Log (1957), last is “Man” in film Ant (2002). Around time of “No Beauty” he was doing eps of Beverly Hilbillies, 12 O’Clock High (3 eps, different roles), The F.B.I. (eventually 5 eps, different characters).




Paskey’s last show.  Eddie Paskey’s last appearance (56 eps as redshirt Mr. Leslie). His back got injured in the fight with Spock, which is hard to believe. As shot, the fight involved a minimum of physical contact, just a lot of camera spinning and fisheye lens. The immediate prelude to the fight is a fisheye-lensed Shatner with hands held out, telling the crazy Spock that he’s safe—it’s quite a vision. Anyway, Paskey said the hell with it and found better things to do.

Talked about him here, and his IMDB list is here. He did some Mission: Impossible in 1966. Wiki says he was born in a Delaware farm town in 1939, moved to Santa Monica at age 12 or 13, worked in his dad’s garage.

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