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Split In Two Watching The “Alternative Factor” Preview November 26, 2007

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: TOS-R Preview , trackback

The remastered “The Alternative Factor” airs this weekend, Video Preview courtesy of STARTREK.COM


1. TOS Fan - November 26, 2007

GREAT episode! Can’t wait for it!

2. YUBinit - November 26, 2007

One of my favs. :)

3. Rick - November 26, 2007

Interesting the trailer for this really gives the episode a creepy vibe. Although the actual episode did have some creepy elements to it I suppose. Not a great episode in my book although it did have some interesting story elements to it that I wish had been handled a bit better. The ending if you think about it was a bit haunting for a character in the mix. The new effects looked interesting from what I saw so far.

4. diabolk - November 26, 2007

Lt. Charlene Masters is a honey.

5. Yancy - November 26, 2007

Easily the WORST episode of the series. The crew does absolutely nothing, they do no affect the plot at all… and when the plot (or lack thereof) grinds to a halt it appears the writers said “We’ll just have another Lazerus fight!”

6. Sean4000 - November 26, 2007

Matt or Anthony, did CBS show the “early” fedaeration craft from next week’s episode, Return of the Archons?

This episode seems kinda iffy.

7. max - November 26, 2007

Not a favorite…. they can’t all be be classics

8. Commodore Z - November 26, 2007

Definitely not a classic.

9. Michelle - November 26, 2007

Snore…this is one of the few episodes of the Original Series that I really had to struggle, and mean STRUGGLE to sit through. It wasn’t bad in a fun campy way that Spock’s Brain was bad, this episode was bad in the sense that it was mind-numbingly DULL.. There’s not enough graphic wizardry in the world that can make up for such a mediocre plot.

10. Star Quack - November 26, 2007

I liked this as a kid, but as an adult I see that the plot makes no sense. Its still enticing somehow because of the whole positive/negative universe idea and the tragic ending. I think a good writer could have tightened up the script to create some logic to the plot.

On a continuity note, I always thought the whole “universe blinking out” scale of the phenomenon could be used as an explanation for the alternative Earths appearing in the Trekverse, as if come kind of timeline storm swept several Earths into it. Yes, they existed before this episode, but you could say this episode occurred before the others. Its a stretch, yes, but I hated how the alternate Earths really had no explanation.

11. Batts - November 26, 2007

It was OK! That trailer was a bit morbid! I think Lazarus was funny back then and now! He reminds me of someone on drugs who is hallucinating and falling off cliffs.. He definitely needs to be committed with that KILL! KILL!! KILL!!! Love that.

12. Xplodin' Nacelle - November 26, 2007

What Of Lazarus?……………………….

13. GNDN - November 26, 2007


For the worst…

14. T Negative - November 26, 2007

Cool trailer, bad episode. The scenes with Lazarus swapping universes gets old fast and seems to be a time killer to make up for the lack of story.

Great new shot of the E firing phasers on the planet is the highlight for this one.

15. Tassieboy - November 26, 2007

Not the best episode. It certainly had a depressing end.
But if ever there was one that could benefit from some updated special effects this is it. The fights were extremely annoying to sit through because they looked so bad.

16. CmdrR. - November 26, 2007

OK, this is where Shatner and Nimoy really earned their pay. The dialogue in this one borders on absurd. (Or maybe it leaves that border in its rearview mirror) Total annihilation! And the stars deliver it all with a straight face, while big foreboding music plays. Ha. I like this one, because I like the performances, but it makes zippo sense.

17. 1701 over Gotham City - November 26, 2007

Most boring episode of Trek Classic. Certainly an in-depth Science Fiction idea, but it really just lays there. Feh.

I’d rather watch Spock’s Brain, or Way to Eden… say what you will, they keep your attention ;)

18. 1701 over Gotham City - November 26, 2007

Although, I should mention… freakin’ cool trailer. I didn’t know there were enough interesting tidbits to get something that intimidating out of it.

19. CanuckLou - November 26, 2007

Yeah not one of the series highlights.

20. Pragmaticus - November 26, 2007

The Return of the Archons airs next week? Sweet! That’s my favorite episode!

21. I AM THX-1138 - November 26, 2007

Two words:


22. Imrahil - November 26, 2007

I don’t hate this one like many of you do. I found the “creepy” parts really interesting, and I think it was well played all through. Has a very Twilight Zone feel to it.

Is it just me, or is there a shot in the trailer which shows Kirk on the planet…with a darkened sky behind him? Isn’t the shot in the original in daylight? Did they rotoscope in some “darkness”?

This ep also has my favorite ending:
“The universe is safe.”
“For you and me, maybe. But what of Lazarus? What of Lazarus?”

23. Magic_Al - November 26, 2007

According to memory-alpha.org, this episode had its original Lazarus actor John Drew Barrymore not show up for work AND studio and/or network censorship of interracially suggestive scenes between Lazarus and Lt. Masters. Either problem alone, plus an inflexible deadline, could compromise the production. It’s no wonder this thing has pacing problems and bloopers all over it. It’s a rare episode that might actually be better in its shortened, syndicated cut.

I’m curious to see what, if anything, CBS-D did with this episode’s repetitive and Trifid Nebula “effect”. My idea would be replacing the ground-based telescope image of the nebula with a Hubble image but otherwise leaving the scenes as originally made.

24. reptileboy - November 26, 2007

I love this episode for how much the producers play it from dramatics. From the overblown Lazarus to the crazy special effects and the thumping music, it really trys to make you feel the universe is in the balance. Unfortunately it most fails. But it was a valiant attempt.

Also, love Lazarus’ ship. Has a real retro feel about it. And looks fabulous on the planets surface. If a bit small.

25. CaptainGorn - November 26, 2007

The old “Star Trek Compendium” book claimed this episode was rewritten and reshot at the eleventh hour, to remove any trace of a romantic subplot between Lt. Masters and Lazarus. The “insane” Lazarus abused this relationship to get at the dilithium crystals.
This is supposedly why the finished episode is a bit of a mess…

Still, it makes for a fun drinking game every time Lazarus falls off a cliff! ;)

26. steve623 - November 26, 2007

“Worst episode ever”, with thanks to Comic Book Guy

27. Scott Gammans - November 26, 2007

Wow, that *was* one of the best “remastered” trailers I’ve seen yet! Too bad it was wasted on what was at best a so-so episode.

28. Smitty - November 26, 2007

Low point of season one.

But it did introduce dilithium crystals to the Trek lexicon. Robert Brown did well with the dual role and it was the first episode to deal with parallel universes etc.

But other than that the episode was mish-mash.


29. Harry Ballz - November 26, 2007

#21 I AM THX-1138 “Two words: Bow Wring”

I love THAT! Your two words remind me of this little ditty:

I once knew a girl who was BOW-legged
Morally loose, she was often bedded
She would sing off-key
Like a bleating donkey
Making you WRING her neck ’til beheaded!

Well, as #7 said, “they can’t all be classics”

Woo, woo, woo, woo………………………………

30. OR Coast Trekkie - November 26, 2007

“The Alternative Factor” An hour of mind-numbing, anger enducing idiocy and drivel which, upon watching, you wish you had back.

“The O’Reilly Factor” An hour of mind-numbing, anger enducing idiocy and drivel which, upon watching, you wish you had back.

Coincidence? I think not…

31. Harry Ballz - November 26, 2007

C’mon, let’s face it………some episodes were bad, but this one……THIS ONE…………REALLY STUNK UP THE PLACE!!

Woo-wee!! Peee-youu!!!!! The smell alone from the script could knock a vulture off a dung wagon!!

The trailer they put together is HILARIOUS!!! It shows you NOTHING about the episode……………and who can blame them? I mean how COULD you show any part of it?????

If they burned the original film of this particular episode and said there were only 78 TOS stories, would anybody really care????????

32. Wellshaved Scrotum - November 26, 2007

that trailer rocked… the new film should be so cool. please don’t remake the actual episode though.

uh, mistah gammans…? is there anywhere on the web one could find yer doomsday redo footage? can’t find it anywhere.

harry! that’s my MOM, dude!

33. Wellshaved Scrotum - November 26, 2007

that trailer rocked…
the new film should be so cool. please don’t remake the actual episode though.

uh, mistah gammans? is there anywhere on the web where one find yer doosday redo footage? can’t find it anywhere…

harry! that’s my MOM, dude.

34. Mike - November 26, 2007

is it me, or does Lazerus bear somewhat of a resemblance to Ronald Moore (in the shot right below) ?? O_o

35. The Vulcanista - November 26, 2007

Ah, yes! Robert Brown had my 8-year-old heart going thumpity-thump for a short time when “Here Come the Brides” was airing. Bobby Sherman, feh!

And for more Trek-connection cheesy goodness, Mark Lenard played the “bad” guy!

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

36. JPH - November 26, 2007

Worst. Episode. Ever.

37. toddk - November 26, 2007

I think lazerous is one of the coolest charactors in star trek. he is likeable in both universes and gets along well with others..:) I’m serious!

38. Cranston - November 26, 2007

Certainly not the worst episode, but mediocre at best. I liked the ideas in the episode when I was a kid, but they fall apart completely now.

When I was a kid, I kept thinking that Lazarus was a Klingon, which could’ve been an interesting element (i.e. seeing a Klingon who wasn’t the militaristic stereotype). Turns out he was just a guy with a beard, though.

39. Bryan - November 27, 2007

I have a certain affection for this episode. It’s undeniably a mess, but it gets unfairly lumped together with “The Way to Eden”, “The Omega Glory”, and “Spock’s Brain”, while having an ambition and a conviction that those other episodes lack.

This wasn’t the doldrums of the third or late second season, when spirits were flagging, quality control was lax and the prospects of the show were dim; no, this was the first season, when it took real balls to gamble that people whose quotient of TV drama was usually satisfied by [i]The Big Valley[/i] were going to sit still for nearly an hour of guff about two guys in crepe beards representing different states of matter. In its way, it’s kind of beautiful.

40. Iowagirl - November 27, 2007

George Harrison once said about John Lennon’s and Paul McCartney’s songs: I think their bad songs still are better than the good songs of others.

IMO, this equally holds true for TOS episodes.

41. Tim Handrahan - November 27, 2007

This is by far the most boring episode of the series. At least you can laugh at how bad Spock’s Brain is. This episode has no redeeming value whatsoever.

42. Bryan - November 27, 2007

The only redeeming part is the once used shot of the Enterprise firing phasers at the planet…that’s it! The rest was so incomprehensible that it show it was not ready for production but given the greenlight anyhoo.

43. Bryan - November 27, 2007

Enterprise firing phasers onto the planet was the only bright spot in this one.

44. Andy Patterson - November 27, 2007


Always hated this one. So many contradictory moments. Was hard to tell the good Lazaraus from the bad. And the dumb guy, good or bad, kept falling off of cliffs. How did he build such technology? It never made any sense.

45. Jeyl - November 27, 2007

This episode is horrible. Kirk disses Spock, some guy named Lazarus falls off of too many cliffs, Lazarus’s beard keeps changing and it has the goofiest final confrontation I’ve seen in Star Trek.

Lazarus: “No! No! No, I’m not ready! I’m not ready! No!”
Kirk: /shove

Problem solved.

46. Andy Patterson - November 27, 2007


One of mine too. The one I’ve always said is when it all came together. Everyone had their characters figured out. Landru…such a great creepy character. “I, am Landru” is what greets me every time I turn on my computer.

47. Holo J - November 27, 2007

Here’s a question for anyone who owns the DVDs and has seen this already….Apart from what we see in the preview trailer is there anything else of note changed effects wise?

48. Cervantes - November 27, 2007

Aren’t they ALL ‘classics’ now?… :)

Always found the haunting at the end in my youth.

49. Cervantes - November 27, 2007

Whoops…that should have been – Always found the end haunting in my youth.

50. neal - November 27, 2007

One thing I liked about it was the extensive location shooting. Always nice to see the bright uniforms on an actual “planet” rather than soundstage. And yes indeed, Lazarus falling off the cliff is hystrerical!

51. Lyle - November 27, 2007

I always wondered where Scotty was in this episode…

Not the best episode, but not the worst by a long shot. That honor, for me, shall continue to go to Plato’s Stepchildren…

52. Cervantes - November 27, 2007

By the way, I happened to catch something about ‘parallel worlds’ that was showing late here in the U.K. last night, that had clips from the episode ‘Mirror, Mirror’ in it…showing UN-‘remastered’ footage in WIDESCREEN, and it looked GREAT in that format…

53. John in Canada, eh? - November 27, 2007

As noted by #23 and #25:

‘This episode was rewritten and reshot at the eleventh hour, to remove any trace of a romantic subplot between Lt. Masters and Lazarus. The “insane” Lazarus abused this relationship to get at the dilithium crystals.’

Since the network censors wouldn’t allow the mixed raced subplot, they had to remove all that footage, which led to certain sequences being re-used. I’ve always wondered what a good editor could do to improve this episode, if they had access to all of the original footage (and wasn’t bound by 1967’s censors). Too bad — THAT would be a version that would be worthwhile.

54. Diabolik - November 27, 2007

I always thought Masters was a hottie anyway, so I would have enjoyed seeing her in a bigger role. Darn those censors!

55. Diabolik - November 27, 2007

I found ONE picture of her online, which is here:


56. lou - November 27, 2007

I watched this ep on the new HD-DVD set.

Whooo boy is it a stinker!

So bad even the Continuity patrol couldn’t stand to watch or else they would have noticed the facial hair changes dramatically. I mean from scene to scene , even if it is the “same” Lazarus.

would make a good drinking game, tho

57. GraniteTrek - November 27, 2007

3 – You can cut up just about anything to make it look scary in a trailer – witness this classic:


58. Randall - November 27, 2007

Come on, let’s be fair… this is one of those episodes that COULD have been great, but last minute rewrites (as noted above), budget and time restrictions–and censorship changes, perhaps—ruined.

But the worst episode of the series? Please. When far worse episodes are out there, like “The Omega Glory,” “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”, “The Lights of Zetar,” “Spock’s Brain” and “The Spectre of the Gun”?

Though… at least the 3 or 4 *kind* of have plots you can follow…

“Omega Glory,” though, just has no logic to it and is the most silly, inane piece of crap I think the series ever spit out. The only good thing about that episode was the creepy and truly scary beginning with the dead bodies reduced to crystals.

59. Buckaroohawk - November 27, 2007

This episode gets a lot of flak, too much in my opinion. Yes, it’s lopsided and the continuity within the episode gets shot to hell, but I think that Shatner and Nimoy deliver fine performances. Kirk and Spock aren’t just dealing with a threat to the Enterprise, a single planet, or even the Federation. The fate of the entire universe depends on their actions, and both characters carry the weight of that on their shoulders throughout the episode. I’ve always liked the concept of the story, even though it wasn’t carried off very well.

As for updates and fixes, I wonder if someone fixed the FX glitch when Kirk shoves Lazarus into his ship near the end. In the original, there’s a very long freeze frame of Lazarus before he gets zapped into that extra-dimensional vortex. It’s obviously a gaffe, some kind of editing glitch. All they’d need to do is remove a few frames from the shot so Lazarus dissolves as soon as he crosses the threshhold. I wonder if they bothered to fix it.

60. Tom - November 27, 2007



61. Sean4000 - November 27, 2007

They would never fix anyting that needs to trully be fixed.

62. Sean4000 - November 27, 2007

Let this stinker fade away not linger. :)

63. Robert Bernardo - November 27, 2007

Imrahil wrote:

> I don’t hate this one like many of you do. I found the “creepy” parts really
> interesting, and I think it was well played all through. Has a very Twilight
> Zone feel to it.

I agree. The episode has a darker, almost haunting quality to it.

> Is it just me, or is there a shot in the trailer which shows Kirk on the
> planet…with a darkened sky behind him? Isn’t the shot in the original in
> daylight? Did they rotoscope in some “darkness”?

That was in the original. I surmise it was filmed as the sun started to set, and Bill Shatner was lit up with fill lights.

64. Toonloon - November 27, 2007

The picture quality of this episode in HD is particularly high. I have the new set and some of the shows aren’t that impressive but this one rocks.

There isn’t much in the way of new stuff. I think the only thing I noticed (apart from the orbital shots) was a beefed up phaser blast and disentegration of Lazarus’ ship.

The actual script however…

65. Mr. Atoz - November 27, 2007

Did Scotty lose his job for one episode?
And why was engineering in a different place?
Always wondered that.

66. Xai (blue antennae blowing in the wind...) - November 27, 2007

… but it IS a good trailer.

67. Andy Patterson - November 27, 2007


I’ve always loved Omega Glory. If that’s what you think then it’s a truly misunderstood ep. Captain Ron Tracy greatest villain ever. Ricardo Montalban – great! But Morgan Woodward as Ron Tracy – greatest villain ever! Insane, crazed, driven, powerful stature, and that booming operatic voice. And crazy, cat like, Cloud William. “Freedom. You speak of Freedom?!”…and…Everyone talks about E-pleb-nista….but….. I-EE PLEGLI-IAN TU PEP. LIKE FOR STAND.” There’s some meat to sink your teeth into. I had a friend who finished/filled out this alphabet based on this speech.

This episode also has many great fight scenes and many great examples of KIRK FU.

68. Oceanhopper - November 27, 2007

Captain – look out!

No-one can fall off a rock like Lazarus.

Also eminently quotable is:
“Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! KIIIILLLLL!!!!!”

69. CanuckLou - November 27, 2007

Omega Glory could have been interesting if the Comms were set to win instead of the Yangs.

What would Kirk do then?

70. doubleofive - November 27, 2007

57. That’s nice, but I still like The Shining Recut.


71. TrekMadeMeWonder - November 27, 2007


I think he would have probably supplied flintlocks to the Yangs..

72. Al - November 27, 2007

Is that planet scene at night?

73. Doug L. - November 27, 2007

I don’t particularly remember this episode in detail, but i don’t remember “hating” so vehemently as some posters have suggested… Curious to see it again to see how bad it really is. I promise to respond to the effects with my usual one sided tact.

:) dl

74. Randall - November 27, 2007

#67 Andy:

Thanks, that was my first good laugh of the day.

“Omega” is a truly execrable episode, but yeah.. it has some fine meat in it, that’s for sure.

“Free-DOHM?” (one of our sacred words, you outer space heathen).

75. Xplodin' Nacelle - November 27, 2007

I think that little white “UFO” that Lazarus has is the cheesiest “special effect” ever used in the entire series. It looks like a leftover from some 50’s Sci Fi. It looks very out of place in the Trek universe (pos. or neg.). In addition to the weak story, that excuse for a ship takes me right out of the episode everytime it’s onscreen. I was seriously hoping the CBS-D would’ve made a more believable vessel.

…another lost oppurtunity, due to (original, & remastered) schedule pressures.

76. lou - November 27, 2007

the “night” shot mentioned above is from a scene in the “other” universe. Kirk goes there by accident and that’s where he learns all about the corridor and such from the calm, rational Lazarus. here is where he is told how to trap the “mad” Lazarus

The sky is darker and the space ship is in a different place than in “our” universe. The bubble dome is completely removed and the rocks and other landscaping are different, too.

77. I AM THX-1138 - November 27, 2007

#70-That was really good.

#75-I have thought the same thing for about 40 years. That is ……………………THE WORST SHIP EVER.

Plan 9 had better ships. Planet of the Apes (the original) didn’t even have a complete ship and it was a zillion times (yes, I calculated it) better. Cripes, the spaceships from Gone With the Wind were better. Go figure.

BTW, swell poem, Harry.

78. Andy Patterson - November 27, 2007

Well I disagree with ‘execrable’. But to each his own.

My brothers and I used to practice the fight moves Kirk uses on the “savage” all the time. And Tracy’s crazed moves in that first encounter that subdue Kirk are beautiful to behold. I even used them in a school yard fight once.

79. Closettrekker - November 27, 2007

It was okay, but it was no: “Balance of Terror”, “Amok Time”, “City On The Edge…”, “Arena”, “Friday’s Child”, “Space Seed”, “The Doomsday Machine”, “The Enterprise Incident”, “Bread And Circuses”, well, you get the picture. Then again, it’s not as bad as “The Way To Eden”!

80. Classic trek - November 27, 2007

i think the alternative factor isnt as strong as some other episodes but it does have great moments. love kirks ‘dont threaten me lazarus’ line.
some great bridge scenes and love the planet beam down(is that those rocks again!). also like the ship they discover. its does get a bit lost and repeptative however and seems to loose its way. pity, but id still rather watch this than most tv in Britain today.

81. Classic trek - November 27, 2007

is spectre of the gun really on your poor episode list!! its one of my all time favourites! its classic trek.
less favourite is conscious of the king!

82. T Negative - November 27, 2007

Why wasn’t the real “Engineering room” used in this episode instead of the mock up one used here??

Did the engineering set burn down right before production??

This is just a very disjointed, weird episode. I’ve never liked it.

83. Richard Daystrom - November 27, 2007

Is that the Vasquez rocks behind Kirk in the night scene? Regardless of all your complaints about all the bad episodes, we are still talking ’60’s television. If you really want to complain about bad episodes, check out Lost In Space or Batman. They were my two favorites when I was a kid and to look at them now is hilarious. TOS has held up well considering what else was on at the time!

84. Krik Semaj - November 27, 2007

This was certainly a bad episode. no doubt about it. I also like all the falling Lazarus does in this. Yes the ship is goofy, and his beard changes. Yup lot’s of funny stuff.
However, MY personal choice for worst ever is “The Way To Eden”
Nothing is or will be as unintentionally hilarious as that one.

85. Andy Patterson - November 27, 2007


Well I’ve always loved “The Way To Eden” too. We recorded all the songs performed in this episode and included Bitter Dregs as a bonus track. We reach brother. That’s real NOW.

86. The Vulcanista - November 27, 2007


Oh, honey! Don’t forget “Dark Shadows”! More cheez, pleez!

“Alt. Factor” is a literary masterpiece compared to that, and this from someone who raced home from school every day to catch DS at 4:00 p.m.!

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

87. Dr. Image - November 27, 2007

I always noticed that one Lazarus had a fuller beard than the other.
And I love his little white UFO! When I was a kid, I wanted one- so Lost in Space.
First Season eps. rock.

88. Cranston - November 27, 2007

Aww, c’mon. Lazarus’s ship was awesome. I love the image of this guy buzzing through space in this tiny bubble-domed pod barely bigger than he is. It reminds me of those tiny stackable European cars. I’d buy one for myself if I could.

89. MrRegular - November 27, 2007

#75, 77 Don’t forget the Space Cruiser in Forbidden Planet as an example of a really awesome spaceship. I just watched part of Forbidden Planet the other night, and that film does still pass the test of time…in fact I believe Gene Roddenberry cited it as one his inspirations for Star Trek, if memory serves.
As to “Alternative Factor”…
What. Were. They. Thinking???
I always thought the Omega Glory was better than this one. Even now.
Falling off cliffs, changing beard lengths, and other inconsistencies remind me of Plan 9-but that Ed Wood film is so bad it’s good.

90. Harry Ballz - November 27, 2007

#89 “Forbidden Planet…Gene Roddenberry cited it as one of his inspirations for Star Trek”

Are you kidding me???

Roddenberry STOLE the idea for Star Trek from the movie Forbidden Planet! It’s out now on HD-DVD……I challenge anyone to watch it and not conclude that Roddenberry came up with every aspect of his “Wagon Train To The Stars” from that one particular movie!!!!

91. FredCFO - November 28, 2007

“The Alternative Factor”, not one of my favorites. I kept thinking of “Here Comes the Brides” with Robert Brown playing Lazarus. (Mark Leonard was on that show, too.)

Was the continuity problem because the alternate Lazarus was switching with the Enterprise universe Lazarus?

Some good stuff — at the beginning of the 1st Act, the large landing party beaming down. In the original, the shot behind the Enterprise when it was firing at Lazarus’ ship on the surface. (This shot was only used once in the series.)

Bad stuff — Robert Brown’s scenery chewing performance. Janet MacLachlan’s weak performance (yeah, where was Scotty?) The lame winking out effects. Where did they get Lazarus’ ship? At an amusement park ride auction? The whole episode just seemed to be flat.

As to “Forbidden Planet” (mentioned in the trailer to “The Menagerie”), any movie or TV show about a ship has the same characters — Captain, First Officer, Doctor, Engineer, etc.

92. lou - November 28, 2007

when you think about it, Lazarus’ ship is a dead ringer for Calvin’s “Spaceman Spiff” ship from Calvin and Hobbes.

93. Diabolik - November 28, 2007


Roddenberry was greatly “inspired by” the ideas in FP to make ST… Irwin Allen STOLE the look and gadgets and made Lost in Space.

Here’s how I see it: Both ST and LIS are children of FP. ST is the legal son, intelligent and mature. Took the idea and developed it.

LIS is the illegitimate kid: silly and mentally-challenged. Took the toys and played with them.

94. Diabolik - November 28, 2007

Lazarus’ ship reminds me of the Nibblonians ships in Futurama where human passengers are all cramped up!

95. Diabolik - November 28, 2007

Lazarus’ ship reminds me of the Nibblelonian ship in Futurama, where the human passengers are all cramped up in it!

But I always assumed that his ship traveled by dimensional jumps once out of the atmosphere. Too small for realtime space travel. Hence his discovery of the anti-matter universe!

96. Randall - November 28, 2007


Now now, in “Dark Shadows” defense, that show was done live half the time, and was a daily soap opera with even less of a shoestring budget than the cheapest prime time series.

It shows you how things have changed. Network TV used to allow stuff to go on the air with almost *zero* production values. That was back in the days before they had cable TV as a competitor, of course.

97. Harry Ballz - November 28, 2007

#93 Diabolik

Nice distinction!!

98. Randall - November 28, 2007

“Forbidden Planet” really should be fitted into Star Trek canon somehow… it’s probably impossible, given that they’re product of two different studios and entirely different creative teams… but it would be a nice nod to the importance and influence of FP…

In fact, one of the things I found tremendously disappointing about “Enterprise” was how they (the hated Berman and his cohorts) ignored this outright; it would have been a far more fun show, and more interesting (instead of giant clunker it was) if they’d gone just a shade camp with it, and acknowleded FP by giving the show a little “Forbidden Planet” air to it… instead we got the same dull, uninspiring, weak characters we’d seen since TNG. I would have thought, c’mon, let’s take a little risk, let’s do a show that’s not so heavy and doesn’t try to be “thought provoking”; an old-fashioned adventure series that looks like Star Trek ala Forbidden Planet, only with modern production values of course… and with characters to match, only with smarter dialogue–not the 50s “gee whiz” crap.

I think it could have worked, and it also would have been a small tribute to the influences (not just FP) that helped make the original Star Trek.

But no… as always they just did another “franchise” Trek. What a waste.

99. MrRegular - November 28, 2007

#90 Harry Ballz :
Inspired? Yes. Ripoff? Please read “Inside Star Trek: The Real Story” by Herb Solow and Bob Justman and I doubt you will find any paragraph that suggests Roddeberry ripped off Forbidden Planet.
I rest my case.

100. Derek Evans - November 28, 2007

Let me just say, that I’ve alway detested this episode. It’s just bad. Hard to watch. I wish that they could re-edit it to include the excised footage that one of the previous posters spoke of… ” The interracial subplot “..I don’t know if it could save this mess, but it would be neat to see the new version!

101. MrRegular - November 28, 2007

That’s Roddenberry, of course.. pre-coffee typo.

102. Andy Patterson - November 28, 2007

I don’t know if Rodenberry stole from Forbidden Planet or not but seeing it just recently on TCM made me really note a lot of pre Star Trek stuff. Really good effects for a movie that was almost 15 yrs before Star Trek. Realistic depiction lasers, forcefields, I think mention of hyper drive.

103. Randall - November 28, 2007

Come on, “steal” is a strong word to bandy around, when it comes to the similarities between Star Trek and Forbidden Planet. Roddenberry (and perhaps others connected to ST) were no doubt *inspired* by FP, and one might say they “borrowed heavily” from it in some aspects… but this kind of thing is hardly akin to theft. It happens all the time in creative endeavors. One might say George Lucas “stole” his ideas for Star Wars from Flash Gordon or any other of a number of old pulpy sci-fi stories and serials.

FP has a saucer-shaped spaceship with a quasi-military, navy-inspired crew of disciplined but relatively casual men. Clearly ST parallels this. Then there is a slightly cocky, handsome captain, a ship’s doctor, and a first officer. A beautiful, leggy love interest for the captain, and an exciting adventure. On the face of it, yes, all similar to ST. But the personalities of all the characters are clearly different; Kirk and JJ Adams may share some vague similarities, but McCoy and Doctor Ostrow are hardly the same, nor is the first officer in FP anything like Spock. Closer to Spock is Robby the Robot, in that sense.

No doubt the grid, the overall *background* structure of FP was a clear inspiration for Star Trek, because here the similarities are most marked. There’s nothing wrong with this; Star Trek also borrowed from westerns and other earlier adventure stories—the Horatior Hornblower novels were a definite influence on Roddenberry, for example, and he mentions many times that Kirk is basically Hornblower. But Forbidden Planet, one must remember, is also a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Tempest, and in that respect the characters of the film fill roles (albeit symbolic ones) that reflect the characters of Shakespeare’s play—totally unlike any resemblance to Star Trek. (Morbius=Prospero, The Monster from the Id=Caliban, Robby and Altaira are different aspects of Ariel, and so on).

Roddenberry no more “stole” from Forbidden Planet than Bob Kane “stole” from the legend of Robin Hood when he created Batman, or Arthur Conan Doyle “stole” from Edgar Allan Poe’s August Dupin when he created Sherlock Holmes.

104. Andy Patterson - November 28, 2007

Roddenberry no more “stole” from Forbidden Planet than Bob Kane “stole” from the legend of Robin Hood when he created Batman, or Arthur Conan Doyle “stole” from Edgar Allan Poe’s August Dupin when he created Sherlock Holmes.

Ooh. Now that’s a good analogy.

And Star Trek didn’t have a cook (and obviously a drunk) like Earl Holliman who wanted hundreds of bottles of whiskey manufactured for him.

105. Harry Ballz - November 28, 2007

No, but they had a Chief Engineer who loved his whiskey!!

All I’m saying is….if Forbidden Planet had never been thought of and made……I wonder if the notion of Star Trek would have even crossed Mr. Roddenberry’s mind…………..somehow, I doubt it!

106. Randall - November 28, 2007

#104 Andy:

I don’t quite understand you… are you being critical of what I said, or are you agreeing with it?

If the former, you might want to make yourself more clear when dissing somebody. They ought to at least now what they’re being dissed about.

If the latter, sorry I asked.

107. Randall - November 28, 2007

#105 “Harry” (yeah, cute moniker there, by the way… think that one up all by yourself?)

Actually, I can’t agree with you. Forbidden Planet came out in 1956. The idea for Star Trek doesn’t seem to be formulated by Roddenberry until sometime around 1963 or 64. Again, clearly it *influenced* him… but responsible for his idea entirely? No. If that’s the case, why is there no evidence that Roddenberry had any of these ideas for ST prior to 1963/4? Oh, sure… he may have caught FP on some late late show on TV years after it’s theatrical run… (but remember that was back in the day when there were no VCRs or DVD players, and you only had three network affiliate stations per given city, and old movies would only show up now and again–rarely–on the aforementioned “late late shows”… FP would NOT, I think, have been considered fodder for some major network film presentation) …and it may have sparked his idea *then*…. but again, he makes no mention of it as the genesis of such an idea. You might say “who would mention it if they stole someone else’s idea?” …but there’s another logical fallacy there. FP was produced by MGM—a major studio that *by no means* would have allowed its intellectual material to be plagiarized. Yet in all the intervening years, neither MGM nor any of the other concerned parties who had a hand in creating FP have ever tried to sue Roddenberry, Desilu, Paramount or NBC for plagiarism. Not to my knowledge anyway. Clearly if THEY thought their material had been stolen by Roddenberry, they would have tried to get a piece of him long ago, and would certainly be trying to get a piece of the Star Trek money machine today.

No… Hollywood recognizes that some material influences other material, and if it’s within reason, borrowing happens.

But your statement is incorrect anyway… probably because you weren’t alive back then to realize that Roddenberry’s more direct influence was the plethora of westerns that were on TV in the late 50s and early 60s. “Wagon Train” was a show he was clearly emulating, and thus why he described Star Trek as “Wagon Train to the stars.” The idea of a small group of regulars out on their own on a new frontier, in an enclosed environment (the wagons of the wagon train/the Enterprise) dealing with a new adventure and conflict every week—and a way to both tell adventure stories and occasionally make comment on human nature and the world around us.

Roddenberry was also clearly influenced by the Hornblower novels.

No FP doesn’t equal no ST. It merely would have meant that ST might have had some slightly different looks and feel to it… but not that FP is responsible for the overall idea.

108. The Vulcanista - November 28, 2007

#96, True, all that! Believe me, I’ve wondered how they ever got DS on the air in the first place, given what they were up against.

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

109. Andy Patterson - November 28, 2007


I’m being totally serious. I thought it was a well constructed analogy and I especially liked the Bob Kane reference.

As a teacher I try not to use sarcasm very often to make a point.

110. trektacular - November 28, 2007

Roddenberry does mention the influence of ‘Forbiddden Planet’ in the ‘Making of Star Trek’ book from the ’60’s, so its not to far fetched to say he was inspired or stole from it, doesn’t bother me either way.

111. trektacular - November 28, 2007

Randall great post on why Trek in general was so lame under Berman’s tutelage.

112. Harry Ballz - November 28, 2007


I like the way you don’t allow for the possibility that Roddenberry SAW Forbidden Planet in it’s initial release and then had the opportunity to RUMINATE on the notion until it “burped” to the surface of his consciousness in ’63/64.

What, you’ve never been exposed to information that came back later in your life to affect an idea, concept or notion? Puh-lease!!!!

113. Randall - November 29, 2007

#109 Andy:

That’s funny… I had a lot of teachers and college profs who used sarcasm regularly, to make a point. You must be a new breed. :-)

Glad you liked the analogy.

114. Randall - November 29, 2007

#110/111: trektacular:

Thanks… I never get tired of ruminating on how badly Berman and his buddies screwed up Star Trek.

As to the Forbidden Planet thing… again, remember… “stole” just doesn’t cut it. I don’t give Roddenberry much credit as a writer… if you ask me his talent was limited and it shows in some of the stuff he wrote for ST *besides* The Cage (which was great). But I don’t believe he was a plagiarist. And clearly neither did MGM. And if they didn’t believe it, then we shouldn’t either.

115. Randall - November 29, 2007

#112 Harry:

Okay, come on… he “ruminated” on FORBIDDEN PLANET for *TEN* years? I mean, I love FP, it’s a great movie. But if Roddenberry was “ruminating” on it for TEN years before “burping out” Star Trek, then the man must have been… you know… a little slow in the head.

What’s your problem with this? Why do you feel the need to insist that Roddenberry “stole” his idea for Star Trek from Forbidden Planet? Why can’t it just be that it influenced him?

“What, you’ve never been exposed to information that came back later in your life to affect an idea, concept or notion? Puh-lease!!!!”

YEAH, dude…. that’s *what I was saying.* But you’re calling it “theft.” Why does it have to be “theft?”

As I said, it’s no more theft for Roddenberry to have been influenced by FP than it is for Lucas to have been influenced by the cheesy serials of the 30s and 40s. Why do you feel the need to say Roddenberry “stole” from FP?

Again—if Roddenberry HAD stolen anything from MGM, you can bet your ass they would have been all over him for it. MGM was still a serious, real studio back at that time (in fact, it was one of the last “true” studios, right up to about 1970… by that time the others had all become nothing more than names under larger corporate control, and were no longer making films “in house”… but MGM still was throughout the 60s). Someone like Roddenberry wouldn’t “steal” from MGM and get away with it, in 1964. Trust me. And Desilu/NBC/Paramount wouldn’t have just glossed over it. I’m not saying these companies were above that sort of thing, but they would have had their legal departments “ruminating” on it… and again, there’s no evidence that they felt the need to.

Influence, yes. Theft, no.

And as I said, Roddenberry was every bit as influenced by “Wagon Train” and other westerns and adventure TV series, as he was by FP… same goes for the Horatio Hornblower novels.

I don’t know why this concept is so tough for you…

116. Wellshaved Scrotum - November 29, 2007

“i wrote all of shakespeare’s plays. and my wife and i wrote his sonnets.”
-‘stake your claim’, monty python

in an age of rampant sampling (which i support), and common appropriation in high art (which is a cultural norm), we have to assume that storytelling is ALWAYS based on existing narratives. it’s an oral tradition.

so this supports the ballzian theorum: no, trek would not exist without FP, but FP would not exist with out homer.

there, i’ve run rings round ya, logically.

117. Wellshaved Scrotum - November 29, 2007

of course i mean homer simpson.

118. Randall - November 29, 2007

#116 Wellshaved:

“there, i’ve run rings round ya, logically.”

Hardly, punk.

We’re debating the difference between INFLUENCE as opposed to PLAGIARISM here. Your thoughts on “sampling” and “appropriation in high art” (which, by the way, neither ST nor FP is) are nice, but not relevant.

Nobody ever said there’s no connection between FP and ST. The question is, did Roddenberry STEAL? Your little missive, while cute (barely) fails to answer this.

ST most certainly would exist without FP, as it had other influences.

And FP was based on Shakespeare. Not Homer. The bard or the yellow guy with the big gut.

119. Wellshaved Scrotum - November 29, 2007

ouch. oh-kay, in my punkdom i admit i was a little high-falutin’, but i think we have to see cinema as, if not high art, then the ‘art de la mode’ for our century(s).

just talking about the lineage of creative process, here. par exampla: in a recent novel, william gibson used the word “bladerunnered” to describe a neighborhood in tokyo (we instantly see what he might mean.) this is from the guy who coined the word “cyberspace” about the same time blade runner was being filmed. ‘the matrix’ was inspired by both gibson (conceptually) and ridley scott (visually). gibson was inspired by william s. burroughs. burroughs talks about FB as a retelling of (as you so prudently point out) shakespeare’s “the tempest” that “put despair into space where it belongs”, and ‘the matrix’ was was chock full of shakespearian protaganists. ‘blade runner’s’ title was taken from burroughs, based on a work by phillp k. dick, and NOTHING would happen around here without DICK. et frikking cetera. lots of ideas being tossed about, but no theft.

i’m suggesting that as a culture we assimilate imagery and ideas and recreate them over and over in new forms, adding and subtracting as the artist sees fit. hardly theft. just what artists have been doing forever.
roddenberry appropriated (parts of) another’s work and created something new with it. that said, without FB there may have been oh, something, but not the show we know.

you and i are appropriating the ideas of others to have what i hope is a conversation.

of course i do respect your take on this. i personally think roddenberry was a petty little hack bastard who got real lucky. but that don’t make him no tea-leaf. nor do i love TOS any less because of it.

now isn’t that barely cute?

120. Wellshaved Scrotum - November 29, 2007

note: in the above i use “FB” to referance the great ed wood film, “forbidden blannett” (1957)

121. Andy Patterson - November 29, 2007


I didn’t say I didn’t use it. It can be a very effective way to get to the point. I just don’t feel the need to be snippy when I’m paying a compliment.

122. Randall - November 29, 2007

#119 Well-shaved: (doesn’t that sting?)

Well basically you’re saying we agree, but your original point was to try to say we didn’t. Hence you got clipped by me. Watch it next time. ;-)

Anyway, so we agree—it wasn’t theft. This was what I maintained all along. Influence, yes, inspiration, yes… call it artistic borrowing if you really want to (Rapheal borrowed from Michelangelo as we well know) but theft–no.

I think you’re a little hard on the Roddenberry though. A “petty little hack bastard?”

I’d say Gene Roddenberry was your typical hack writer/producer who, as often happens, nevertheless came up with that one great idea. He reformulated traditional adventure/hero traditions into a new synthesis in a sci-fi mode. I don’t see what was all that petty about him–I’d rather say he was a bit of a dreamer, had some half-baked but certainly well-meaning philosophies—but people often mistake the philosophy for what ST was really about—later on, Roddenberry included. He wasn’t the best judge of his own material and unquestionably was a one-idea guy… but like other middling hacks before him he gave us one really cool, entertaining gift. When he was younger he understood what the proper balance was between adventure and philosophizing—even if later he totally forgot. He was…. an A.A. Milne, a Jules Verne, an Edgar Rice Burroughs… one of a group of creators who were no great thinkers and no great artists, but managed, in their relative mediocrity, to create one very great and charming thing that has delighted the world.

What a book cover blurb I just wrote. I either feel like hacking up lunch just now or patting myself on the back.. can’t decide.

123. Gene L. Coon (was the Better Gene because he) was a U. S. Marine - December 3, 2007

So many comments over such a bad episode. This is the only one where I feel disappointed when it comes on. (Hope Coon didn’t write it, or I’ll look stupid!! too lazy to check…)

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