28 August 2016

Orange is the New Red (Review: Star Trek 1.25, "The Devil in the Dark")

When I wanted my pizza zapped... I didn't mean it like this

I had hoped to get the entirety of the original series watched by 9 September - the show's 50th anniversary - but I'll just have to make do with Season 1 instead. So, after a long break, we go back to the 23rd century...


The Enterprise crew answer a distress call from a mining facility that has had a large number of men killed by a mysterious creature that burns them to a crisp... as they investigate, they also have to find a missing element of the reactor to prevent the colony's destruction.


I'm going to start by commenting that this is a particularly good episode for red shirt deaths - and also orange shirt deaths - most of the miners wear orange and the first to die in the pre-credits teaser, which is of a variety you frequently find in modern day Doctor Who, is indeed wearing orange.

Kirk has a strong episode; for a start he doesn't get distracted by any scantily-clad women in this one. I'm sure I've said before that Kirk is far more than just a Zap Branigan; he is a thoughtful and authoritative commander, who feels genuine sadness at the death of yet another redshirt. Shatner's father died during the production of this episode; he insisted on continuing filming until the episode wrapped before departing.

Spock also does well, but gets a bit inconsistent with this views towards the creature in question - going from hoping to capture it to telling Kirk to kill it when he encounters it a tad too quickly for my liking.

This is a great McCoy episode as well; he's wonderfully grumpy but improvises brilliantly at the end; we even get an 'I'm a doctor, not a X..." line from him.

The miners (all men - there is no female character with a speaking part in this episode with Uhura absent along with Sulu - the sole case of this in the entirety of TOS) are your standard sort, none of whom are particularly memorable in any way.

For an episode entitled "The Devil in the Dark" this is rather over-lit and clearly done in a studio - the floor is too flat for one thing. Having just watched an episode of Killjoys with a similar setting, I can safely say things have improved in that department.

Lastly, onto the creature itself... I laughed when I first saw, because it resembles a giant overcooked pizza. It turns out that the creature itself is very intelligent and has a good reason for acting this way; the story is a well worn trope and pretty obvious to modern viewers, but it still holds up well. I also realised I've seen it elsewhere - in the Trexels mobile game in fact!


While not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, this is an enjoyable slice (no pun intended) of Star Trek.


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