An odd but entertaining late-second season entry, “By Any Other Name” suffers from an extreme clash of styles. It begins as a grim hostage drama, and with its static planet set and stiff face-offs between Kirk and alien leader Rojan (Warren Stevens of the sci fi classic Forbidden Planet), the episode plays out like one of those morose third season episodes with Kirk suffering more anguish from losing crewmembers and waxing poetic about the loss of personal freedom.
Jerome Bixby’s and D.C. Fontana’s script posits the Kelvans as multi-limbed, monstrous beings from the Andromeda Galaxy disguised in human form. That leads to a typically humanistic gambit for the Enterprise crew (goading the aliens into experiencing human emotions and sensations that will overwhelm their alien logic), and that in turn causes the story to take a rather welcome left turn into comedy. Between an epic Scotty drunk scene and Kirk and Spock’s continual baiting of Rojan as he grows jealous of the Captain’s dalliances with his cohort Kelinda (Barbara Bouchet in a spectacularly simple Bill Theiss costume surely ranks as one of the most sizzling alien sirens Kirk ever seduced), “By Any Other Name” hits the finish line as a full-fledged farce and it’s pretty funny. “It would appear you have little control over her,” Spock says to Rojan of Kelinda. “Or perhaps Captain Kirk has more.” There’s a number of other nice lines (Scotty’s “It’s, uh…it’s green.” And Kirk’s “I’m…stimulating him!”), the effect of the Kelvans reducing Enterprise crewmen to crumbly dodecahedrons with their belts is classic Trek gimmickry, and before the comedy takes over there are a couple of crackling suspense sequences, particularly when Scotty rigs the Enterprise to explode upon contact with the galactic energy barrier. Less effective are the early scenes in captivity, especially when Spock has to replay his mind meld lure scene from “A Taste of Armegeddon,” with Kirk helpfully referencing the episode for continuity porn purposes (this does allow Spock to get a mental glimpse of the hideous creatures the Kelvans actually are, however). “By Any Other Name” isn’t a TOS classic but enjoyed on its own merits it’s still a lot of fun.
By late second season photography of the large Enterprise miniature had been finessed to the point that the horrific blue spill, heavy grain and obvious matte line had been largely eliminated, so new effects shot for the episode of the Enterprise streaking toward Andromeda and eventually wheeling away from the distant galaxy to head back for home looked pretty decent. Other effects, such as the return to the energy field at the edge of the galaxy, were recycled from the “Where No Man Has Gone Before” pilot. CBS-D goes the extra mile on this one but in doing so they call some of the oft-stated precepts of the project in question. As in “Spock’s Brain” we get a gorgeous introductory matte painting enhancing the landing party beam-down that goes a long way toward erasing the problem of the claustrophobic, bland original planet set. The team reuses the hyper-warp effects from “Day of the Dove” and replaces the pilot-style Enterprise model with the “production” version for shots of the starship moving towards, through and away from the galactic energy barrier. The sensation of speed was always very well put across by the original episode, particularly in cutting around Chekov’s line “We…made it…” with the ship shown streaking away from the barrier and immediately after rocketing toward the Andromeda Galaxy. The new effects team has always done a great job painting astronomical objects and Andromeda here is rendered larger and with far greater detail and color than the original—the effect is particularly impressive in a rapid whip-pan showing the Enterprise streaking toward and then away from the camera as Andromeda is slid into the frame. The final shot of the Enterprise banking away from Andromeda was nicely enhanced by a terrific music cue and the new shot answers some of the critics who’ve been carping about all the ultra-fast motion shots of the ship—it’s a majestic banking shot displaying an unusual top angle of the ship before it turns to advance on the camera to leave Andromeda behind.
Great stuff, but the one continuing fly in the ointment is the nicely done but redundant imagery of wholly Earth-like planet “globe” shots. The standard line here is that we now know what Earth looks like from space and so, apparently, ANY planet with a breathable atmosphere not covered by desert must look essentially just like Earth. That’s fine but why, then, is artistic license still the going concern on the spaceship shots and matte paintings? The opening matte shot is done in the classic Trek style with looming moons and a lighting scheme that one has to suspect is far from realistic. And while even the original series probably cheated by making Andromeda a visible disc in the distance as the Enterprise leaves the galaxy, CBS-D cheats even more by making the other galaxy a massive disc filling the frame. Add the standard space lighting scheme that keeps the Enterprise brightly lit no matter where in space it travels and you hardly have a strict, scientifically accurate view of the universe here. So why allow all the pulpy, colorful artistry that makes Trek so fun in these other areas and refuse to allow for any real variety in the planet exteriors?
The other continuing question is the inconsistency in effects application where it’s clear some episodes have few resources thrown at them while others get the royal treatment. This speaks to hard choices made by the new effects team and it’s clear that the overall budget and schedule is to blame here. The irony is that the basis for the schedule was arguably the DVD release schedule, but since Paramount chose to hitch its star to HD-DVD that’s now thrown out the window and we likely won’t see season two until the end of the year. Given that this work probably could have been done on a far more leisurely schedule and truly been done for posterity instead of as an alternate syndication package where quality fluctuates from week to week. It’s still frustrating to see shots that totally fulfill the project’s goal alongside imagery that’s just not photoreal enough to satisfy tech-savvy 10-year olds who are used to much more sophisticated effects.
by Matt Wright
Remastered & Original
couldn’t get to the reel on time, but Xindi1985 did one so thanks and here you go