“Elaan of Troyius” Remastered Review + Video & Screenshots

REVIEW
by Jeff Bond

“Elaan of Troyius” manages to recapture a little bit of the fun of second season Trek in the middle of the otherwise grim third season. While it’s clearly modeled on Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew,” the tale of Helen of Troy, and Dorothy Fontana’s “Journey to Babel” (both “Babel” and “Elaan” feature high-conflict diplomatic missions onboard the Enterprise, the starship being stalked by a mysterious enemy vessel and a climactic space battle in which the Enterprise is initially helpless before turning the very appearance of helplessness to its advantage), “Elaan” has enough original elements to keep from appearing as a mere retread.

Casting is a key to the episode’s strengths. First there’s Jay Robinson as green-skinned Troyan ambassador Petri. Robinson is the kind of flamboyant actor classic Trek thrived on—he was well-known for his edge-of-hysteria performance as the mad Roman Emperor Caligula in the biblical epics The Robe and Demetrius and the Gladiators, and was probably better-known to younger viewers as the title character in Sid and Marty Krofft’s Saturday morning TV show Dr. Shrinker. Working in green makeup and a pointy-headed wig, Robinson is elegant, emphatic and funny as Petri and he creates quite a sympathetic character. What’s perhaps more impressive is that the exotic France Nuyen manages to make the monstrous Elaan sympathetic, even after she shockingly stabs Petri in the back and leaves him for dead on the floor of her quarters.

Elaan is an intriguing character—arrogant and insulting, secretly vulnerable, yet even in the throes of a hopeless romance with Kirk she manages to suggest that they join forces to wipe out the Troyans (“What kind of mind could think of a plan like that?” Kirk asks her). Elaan is a product of her warrior culture and just as Robinson brings real wit to his performance as Petri, Nuyen gets off some nice blasé moments of sardonic humor—check out her shrugging response to Kirk’s Roddenberrian plea: “In my experience the differences between people disappear once they get to know each other.”—Elaan: “That’s not my experience.”

There are two unsung heroes in the mix: writer/producer/director John Meredith Lucas is one—this is the only example I can think of of a Trek writer directing his own script, and Lucas shows real potential behind the camera. I like Kirk’s run down the corridor while a security guard trots beside him giving him a report—this redshirt seems like a real guy and a convincing military man. Equally good is the moment when Sulu is THIS CLOSE to pressing a fatal button on his helm board when Kirk, framed right behind him, manages to stop him from executing the command in time. Lucas gets good performances out of his guest stars and Shatner gives one of his most focused third season performances with none of the twitchy hamminess that would mark other third year outings—he clearly relishes his early, fiery scenes with Nuyen and cannily underplays his reactions to her bluster and outrage—his slow burn reaction to Elaan throwing a knife at him and sly rejoinder (“Our next lesson will be in courtesy…”) are great Kirk moments. Lucas also adds nice moments for Scotty (his flash of rage when Elaan refers to engineers as “menials”) and Uhura (who takes umbrage after sacrificing her quarters to Elaan only to have the Dolman find them “unsatisfactory”).

The other hero is composer Fred Steiner, whose score here is his best work for the season, with a haunting melody for Elaan that Steiner ingeniously adapts as martial space battle music—and his scoring of the unveiling of the Klingon ship is spectacular. Alexander Courage may have written the Star Trek theme and scored its pilot episodes but Steiner was really most responsible for the musical style of the series.

I’m not sure why “Elaan of Troyius” hasn’t been more highly anticipated by Trek Remastered watchers—in all of the original series run this is the only sustained battle between the Enterprise and a Klingon battle cruiser. The orignal episode could do little more than deliver shots of the Klingon ship model moving towards and away from the camera and with the high warp tactics at use here the potential for this episode was enormous. Up until now we’ve only gotten fleeting glimpses of CGI Klingon vessels, but especially in “Day of the Dove,” the rendering of the Klingon ship has been underwhelming. For “Elaan,” the CG Klingon ship gets its first real exposure and the results are very mixed.

Most Remastered viewers have disliked the long-distance space battle shots done for the series but especially for this episode, they help open up the action and give an impression of a battle raging over miles of space instead of a few hundred yards. This approach is used in some nice shots in “Elaan” showing the Klingon ship wheeling and rushing in for attacks like a banking falcon correcting its trajectory. It’s the close up shots that often don’t work and there’s a graphic demonstration of the difference in the middle of one shot—as we watch the Klingon ship rush in on its first major feint in a view looking backward between the Enterprise’s warp engines, the ship seems threatening indeed as it rushes toward the Enterprise at break-neck speed. But the second it becomes large in the frame and breaks off its run at the last minute the illusion of mass and speed vanishes—here again the original grainy model shots work better from a simple dramatic standpoint because the ship continues its plunge past the camera. The scale of this shot is also off—if you watch the last few frames with the Klingon ship ostensibly still behind the Enterprise warp nacelles the ship is much too large in the frame to be behind the Enterprise.

The rendering and lighting of the Klingon ship never reaches the level of realism that the Enterprise shots at their best do. The CG model offers obvious advantages over the small physical model used on the original series—the CG model can boast internal lighting and details like impulse engines that were beyond the capacity to engineer into the original model, and in close up shots its clear that the CG model is carefully weathered with some additional levels of panel detail also not seen on the original miniature. Add the virtual camera that can skim the surface of the model from a few scale feet to miles away and you have something that should blow the original miniature out of the water.
Despite this, the illusion of a real three-dimensional object is rarely obtained by the close up shots of the battle cruiser; it frequently boasts a definite Video Toaster look. Even if you don’t like the Romulan Bird of Prey shots in Remastered’s “Balance of Terror,” the specular paneling on that CG model does give the illusion of a solid object. The Klingon ship is clearly the second most important spacecraft seen in the entire Star Trek series, and the CBS-Digital crew didn’t drag their feet and wait to put together a Klingon ship until these final episodes—they took care to insert the ship into first and second season episodes and have had the time necessary to refine this model so that it should be able to match the Enterprise in screen realism. Now with only “The Enterprise Incident” left in terms of full-scale space action, it seems like a missed opportunity. In some respects the CG model is actually less-detailed than the physical model—check out the rectangular shapes that flank the shuttlebay structure at the top rear of the model, which are softer, thinner and lacking the slat detail on the miniature. And close shots of the bridge and other rounded shapes clearly show a kind of fractal structure that gives this CG model the look of something that was designed to be seen from a distance, not in close-up.

Some of the shots are successful—the first image of the Klingon ship tailing the Enterprise clearly represents what the original show’s effects team would have done if they could have: where the original shots simply switch from a shot of the Enterprise flying past the camera to a matching shot of the Klingon ship on the same trajectory, the new shot subtly pans with the starfield in motion after the Enterprise passes to catch the Klingon ship pacing it. At least one late-in-the-game shot has the camera scraping the Klingon ship’s hull as it heads for the Enterprise and some added high-relief shadows make the ship look a bit more convincing than it does overall. And the shot of the Klingon ship finally getting hit by Enterprise torpedoes is a definite improvement on the original—weaponry hits and explosions are well done here and show some improvement over the awkward exploding Klingon ship in “Day of the Dove.” And apart from the space battles there’s an interesting shot of the Enterprise streaking into the orbit of Troyius near the end of the episode.

This still has to rank as a disappointment—you’d think coming up with a perfectly lit and rendered Klingon ship would have been one of the first priorities of this project. Let’s see if “The Enterprise Incident” sends the Klingon ships (if not the Klingons themselves) out on a note of glory.

SFX VIDEO

SCREENSHOTS
by Matt Wright


Elaan, doing her Dohlman thing


“The more he talks, the more annoying he gets”

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest
kp
March 31, 2008 3:16 pm

yay im the first

i enjoyed this episode, but i love all the classics

Harry Ballz
March 31, 2008 3:16 pm

Me like Elaan……she purty!

March 31, 2008 3:20 pm

The hurricane on another part of the planet is a neat touch… shows that not all weather is great everywhere.

Disgruntled Trekster
March 31, 2008 3:20 pm

I agree with much of this review. Some elements of the space battle were very nicely staged, but suffered from too much emphasis on the Klingon Cruiser, which did look a bit too CGI for my liking.
Still, the episode is a favorite if for no other reason than Fred Steiner’s magnificent score. If only it were commercially available.
Darn the luck.

Great review.

SteveinSF
March 31, 2008 3:23 pm

The SFX shots of the klingon ship really were the worst I have seen since the remastered TOS started. It looked so fuzzy and cartoon-ish. Too bad, I really like this episode. This is before they changed the button sound effects to the “modern” sounds.

ety3
March 31, 2008 3:25 pm

I loved the battle scenes in this episode. Sorry I’m not that big on nitpicking the CGI.

CmdrR
March 31, 2008 3:30 pm

Decent ep. Petri needed back-up.
Elaan is a cool character, but a tough date.

Batts
March 31, 2008 3:33 pm

I thought this was SUPERB! I really got a feel for the klingon ship as it followed the Enterprise. The battle was great!! I was wondering why the Enterprise came into orbit around Troyius so fast?? It went around and disappeared quickly!! Did anyone else catch that???

Oh and by the way!! France Nuyen is a doll! I love that arrogance she had, it made her appear quite the vixen or “B-word”! Also Captain Kirk did not take any crap from a woman either. She slapped him and he looked and slapped her back!! She was so turned on by that later, of course after throwing her dagger at him!! LOL!! If memory serves, Kryton was married to Lt. Marla McGivers in real life! and also one of Elaan’s guards who said he would be whipped to death if Kirk came in there was the same guy that played Dell Frye’s creature in the incredible hulk series.

March 31, 2008 3:35 pm

I can’t get the video to load all the way.. frustrating!

SteveinSF
March 31, 2008 3:36 pm

Something is up with the video. Won’t load all the way.

THX-1138
March 31, 2008 3:39 pm

Batts
The guard who said he would be whipped to death always had the wierdest Elvis delivery to his lines in this episode. I always expect him to tell Elaan, “Don’t be cruel.”

Nelson
March 31, 2008 3:40 pm

Great review! I saw this yesterday and have to agree that it was a mixture of disappointment with a few pretty good shots.

The best shot was the lower angle of the Enterprise as the Klingon ship is coming around going for her flank.

The shape of the Manta ray rear section also looks wrong. They’ve faceted the front face where the neck attaches. Seems odd they’d do this.

I was really looking forward to this episode as I saw it, Day of the Dove and Enterprise Incident as ones to watch for in the 3rd season. The Ultimate Computer was actually better then this, and it shows.

Some of the best battle action scenes are in Elaan, so it was a missed opportunity. I do like most of the work that CBS has done with the Remastered project, but this one is a disappointment.

Maybe next week, we’ll see some cool preview images of Enterprise Incident. I hope this one turns out much better! C’mon CBS, don’t let us down now!

Batts
March 31, 2008 3:43 pm

#11 You’re RIGHT!! Lol!

I thought this was interesting how TREK hinted at sex. Elaan needed to be slapped. Kirk did not respond to the page at first and then we find him tired, sitting on the bed and Elaan on her back, then gets up like “we are not done yet” . That must have been one mean and fierce spanking she asked him for?? LOL! Why could’nt that have been me!!

T Negative
March 31, 2008 3:45 pm

This episode was really improved with the new shots. There was a lot more tension and drama than the original. I have not seen this episode in 15 or so years so it was almost new to me. The pan shot of the Klingon ship closing in on the E then firing disruptors on her was a great shot as well as the E firing SIX photon torpedoes on the D-7 (one of my favorite shots yet for the remastered project.) I very much enjoyed this new version and I can’t wait for it to come out on BD.

One gripe I have is the Klingon ship was somewhat underwhelming. I understand they wanted to keep with the original style of the old model but, it wasn’t very convincing, especially the first few shots of it. I did like the blue impulse engines however and the disruptor blasts were almost organic in appearance which I liked.

It also looks like they painted the Transporter room purple for the 3rd season. Has anyone else ever noticed this??

B-

trekofficial
March 31, 2008 3:49 pm

theres no beveling on the front dorsal ridge of the D7 therefore THIS IS NOT CANNON

Dan Lee
March 31, 2008 3:52 pm

The SFX video that works is here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdKGl5Y141A

Trust me. You will be extremely disappointed. The special FX in the 60’s is vastly superior in every way.

CBS-D shame on you for making a cartoony, pathetic effort. This remastering is a ridiculous effort.

kp
March 31, 2008 3:53 pm

um yes it is and chill

Cool Daddy
March 31, 2008 4:03 pm

The BEST shot of the entire episode
was when Elaan first materialized on
the transporter and they showed her
from the bottom on up. What a sweet
money shot and honey pot she had.
Who couldn’t truly love all of that?
Anyone have a clip of that?

Garovorkin
March 31, 2008 4:08 pm

I believe this was the episode that introduced us to the Klingons. Its by far one of the best episodes of the original trek. The re mastering on this looked very spotty, in places, That’s supposed to be a Klingon ship? Looked about as menacing as a granola bar.

maspill
March 31, 2008 4:10 pm

not impressed but its better than nothin .

March 31, 2008 4:12 pm

“”Menacing as a granola bar.””

That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that reference!! :)

LOL.

Just wait until spockboy gets his hands on that episode I am sure He’ll knock it out of the park.

SNL
March 31, 2008 4:16 pm

Where is France Nuyen from? ………………………………………………..
We are …. from France
………..Remember, LOL.

BrF
March 31, 2008 4:19 pm

Well reviewed. A nice angle or two here — esp. looking up at Enterprise as the Klingons circle — but again and again and again these new effects give no sense of mass to the ships. Too often it’s less like watching giants in motion and more like watching balsa wood bob on a pond.

sean
March 31, 2008 4:20 pm

Disruptors – Good!

D7 – Eh, pretty bad really.

The shot where the Klingon ship swerves away looks pretty awful. On a positive note though, comparing the very poor D7 rendering to the CGI Enterprise shows just how much better it is now than in the begining. It tells me that if CBS-D had more money and time, these remasters would really be impressive.

Vulcan927
March 31, 2008 4:21 pm

great job on this episode…one of my favorites

BrF
March 31, 2008 4:21 pm

Maybe that was a little strong but the idea of what might have been has gotten to me.

richr
March 31, 2008 4:26 pm

BUT DID YOU KNOW THIS…She was married to I Spy!

France Nuyen continues to work in film and was slated to appear in the film The American Standards (2007).

From 1963 to 1966, Nuyen was married to Dr. Thomas Gaspar Morell, a psychiatrist, with whom she has a daughter named Fleur (who is happily married and resides in Canada). She met her second husband, Robert Culp, while appearing on his TV show I Spy; they married in 1967 but divorced in 1970.

In 1986, Nuyen earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and began a second career as a psychological counselor for abused women and children, and women in prison. She received a “Woman of the Year” award in 1989 for her psychological work.

Aragorn189
March 31, 2008 4:26 pm

They might not be the best improvement, but hey to me, it brings it closer to an early TNG feel for the special effects. Its not good and its not bad. I still prefer the remastered over the originals.

richr
March 31, 2008 4:29 pm

Also…overall FX/CGI quality aside, since I’ve been screaming for REVERSE ANGLE battle sequences for nearly 2 years….I THINK I CAN DIE HAPPY NOW!!!

Why…oh why…didn’t we get this type of attempt for The Ultimate Computer?

Lord Garth, Formerly of Izar
March 31, 2008 4:30 pm

E shots looked terrific
D-7 shots looked like sh*t

Print looked very vibrant lots of bright colors in this episode!!

Always loved this episode has a little of everything

Mr. AtoZ
March 31, 2008 4:34 pm

#22

Nuyen was born in Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France, Europe as France Nguyen Van-Nga.

US Taxpayer Dude
March 31, 2008 4:38 pm

SNL: France Nuyen nee a Marseille of a father from Viet Nam and mother from France. Starred with THE SHAT as Suzie Wong in a theatrical production that bombed badly, if memory serves. Dig the accent. Dig the duds. Did the ‘tude. S&M before it was fashionable (of course, Marquis de Sade was French…)

Fred Steiner’s score is a treat. I too haven’t seen the ep in decades. I especially dig the staccato 16th note triplets in descending stepwise changes. Then the trombones and tubas kick in with reply. I LOVE WIND BANDS! Steiner was a master.

Frank
March 31, 2008 4:38 pm

Yes, that aft view of the Klingon ship veering off is horrible. As is mentioned, the perspective and scale is all wrong here, not to mention the speed is just too fast for my taste (again). A really disappointing shot and I think the worst one so far from CBS. The original, that reused Klingon flyby shot is much better. Just my take…

Jeff Bond
March 31, 2008 4:39 pm

Incidentally, I got to meet France Nuyen (plus Malachi Throne, Morgan Woodward and a few others) at a convention several years ago–she was a total sweetheart and held forth on working on Trek and St. Elsewhere (another great TV series).

DaveM
March 31, 2008 4:41 pm

I love the SFX reels, but it would be nice if you included ALL THE SFX SHOTS instead of just losing certain ones because they are simply planet orbit shots. The shots of Enterprise entering orbit at the end of the episode are missing.

On a different note, I’m so happy to see the reviews back. Thank you, Anthony.

Magic_Al
March 31, 2008 4:45 pm

Is it really hard to make the Klingon ship look as good as it did in TMP or TUC?

DaveM
March 31, 2008 4:53 pm

Klingons were introduced in the first season in Errand of Mercy. Third season EOT was not the first introduction.

elyoh
March 31, 2008 4:56 pm

This was one of the first TOS episodes I ever watched and I was disappointed with the angles of the effect shots. The star ships are large objects and CBS just seems to make them do some ridiculous twists and turns which are completely unrealistic unless there animating a small fighter craft or something. Even the ray effect is naf.

I think the original effects shots for this episode were awesome and only needed cleaning up to remove grain etc. After several good episodes, they really have destroyed this one in my opinion.

March 31, 2008 4:56 pm

Elaan is in my top 5 Trek Babes. Hot.

OR Coast Trekkie
March 31, 2008 4:57 pm

There was some definite awkwardness to the Klingon ship, and some awkwardness to its weaponsfire. However, the weapons hit at a distance were effective.

Why did they use 2 earth-like planets for this show? This is an instance where you don’t always have to keep with earthlike planets, especially if none of the action takes place on a planet. I do think the hurricane in the first planet was a nice touch, but on the second planet, there are clearly 2 different scales shown, with the speed into orbit shot, and the standard orbit shot. I think that shot of the speeding into orbit seems like a more realistic scale of a planet verses a starship.

Vulcan Soul
March 31, 2008 4:59 pm

WTF? Those Klingon ship shots are seriously screwed up. Compared to the 1960s original shots even.

March 31, 2008 5:09 pm

No special effect is better than that scene at the end of the teaser where Elaan is beamed up and we get a nice long sweeping shot up her lovely body. And she is a wild one. Yay France!

M33
March 31, 2008 5:13 pm

This reviewer really tends to dislike the third season. I tend to enjoy the third season as much as the others. Ah well; can’t agree with everyone.

March 31, 2008 5:18 pm

It is interesting to note that “Elann of Troyious” was the second episode filmed for the third season (right after “Spectre of the Gun”) yet it was the 13th episode of that season to be broadcast (on 12/20/1968). It thus ties for the longest delay between production and airing of any TOS episode with “Bread and Circuses,” which was the 14th episode produced for the second season and the 25th to be broadcast.

The explanation of the delay for “Elaan” no doubt had to do with the numerous special effects shots.

It’s more difficult to say why “Bread and Circuses” was delayed since it does not appear to have been a very complex production. However, by making it the penultimate episode of the second season (March 15th 1968), Star Trek’s most overtly religious episode aired about as close to Easter as it could. The last episode of the 2nd season was “Assignment: Earth,” which was presumably given that spot because of its “spin-off” nature.

JYoung
March 31, 2008 5:21 pm

One thing that bothers me about this episode:

Kryton sabotages the Enterprise’s Warp Drive by attaching a bomb set to go off when the ship goes into Warp.
Then Scotty finds out that the Dilithium Crystals are burned out and he and Spock make emergency repairs using Elaan’s necklace.

The Enterprise then regains Warp Power and pummels the Klingon ship.

So what happened to the bomb?

March 31, 2008 5:22 pm

Horrible new Klingon Cruiser- Enjoyable ep otherwise

March 31, 2008 5:24 pm

So embarrassing. The animators should be ashamed of themselves. The klingon looks like its on a wire half the time, turning awkwardly and definately not on its center of gravity. And the green weapons fire looks like freaking blobs of jello. My god, how did these people get jobs?

steve623
March 31, 2008 5:31 pm

That schtick is getting pretty old #15.

Anthony Thompson
March 31, 2008 5:35 pm

Another spot-on review and another pathetic effort from CBS Digital. That shot of the Klingon ship bearing down on the nacelles in nothing short of laughable. And the shot following the rear of the Enterprise as it disappears behind the planet is almost as bad.

thebiggfrogg
March 31, 2008 5:37 pm

Geez those Klingon ship shots do look bad. I don’t think it would have killed them to add a bit more detail–not overkill, but this is supposed to be HD after all. I can only hope they look better in motion than as screen caps. Seems like CBS-D is slumming it.

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