“The Mark of Gideon” Remastered Review + Screenshots & Video

by Jeff Bond

An earnest but unexciting parable about overpopulation, “Mark of Gideon” is one of those third season episodes that doesn’t linger in the memory—it’s neither bad enough to match the depths of the third year’s legendary worsts or good enough to rank anywhere near the top of the season’s output.

“Gideon” is built on one of those gimmicks that got a workout during the run of Irwin Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: having everyone on the ship seemingly disappear to leave the series star free to wander the empty sets by himself for an hour. The benefits for the show’s budget are obvious: fewer faces on the screen means hours less makeup and costume work and you can send your extras home without pay. While Star Trek’s limited use of the device was for the most part justified by dramatic purpose, it’s still a gimmick and “Gideon” is the most egregious example of its use.

The plot (one of the scripters was no less than Stanley Adams, Cyrano Jones himself from “Trouble With Tribbles”) is almost an exercise in suspending disbelief. For the first time in the run of the series we see a very big deal made out of stating transporter coordinates (although this is covered by the idea that the planet Gideon is shielded from sensors and thus cannot be scanned for coordinates by the Enterprise, necessitating Gideon officials to feed the Enterprise crew coordinates directly); in spite of, or perhaps because of, this unusual arrangement, Spock is the only one in the transporter room to beam down Kirk when Scotty’s presence, or anyone around to notice the discrepancy in coordinates, would have been helpful. The biggest plot hole of all is the story’s conceit of the inhabitants of Gideon not only having the knowledge but the sheer room necessary to construct a fully functioning recreation of the Enterprise’s internal arrangement—one authentic enough to fool Kirk. The idea butts up against the entire concept of the story, and the logic of its utility never quite registers. There has been no disease or death on Gideon for centuries, and a dormant disease Kirk carries is to be used to infect the planet: but if Kirk and Onada (Sharon Acker of John Boorman’s great movie Point Blank and wearing a rare unflattering costume from Bill Theiss), the planetary leader’s daughter, really need to be isolated together for the disease to catch hold of her, wouldn’t there have been a number of far less elaborate and costly methods to achieve that goal? Another point: true the planet is shielded from sensors, but it is visible after all, and couldn’t visual scanners note the discrepancy between the planet’s reputation as a paradise and the physical evidence of a world clogged with people and running out of resources.

Nevertheless, the episode isn’t entirely without merits, even though they’re of a cheap variety. David Hurst does a highly efficient job of being unctuous, huffy and annoying, driving Spock, McCoy and Scotty crazy on the bridge of the real Enterprise as they try to negotiate an answer to the mystery. And for the first few scenes at least there is an admitted curiousity value to Kirk’s predicament. Acker wrestles with another one of Trek’s fawn-like alien female roles, dispensing information about her planet and dancing around the empty Enterprise corridors in delight. The mystery of the planet also creates some effectively creepy moments of horror that are unusual for the series, like the pulsing sounds of heartbeats of thousands of people pressed up against the false Enterprise’s walls, and the fleeting image of Gideon inhabitants pressed up against a window of the ship (a moment oddly similar to another famous Shatner career highlight, his sighting of a gremlin pressing its face up against the window of an airliner just outside his seat in the Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”).

Ultimately “Gideon” is undone by a denouement that struggles for tragic resonance but can’t make up its mind about the Gideon people—if they worship life to the extent stated in the episode, how can they truly reconcile initiating a plague on the scale that’s discussed here? The idea almost seems more like the rulers of Gideon are looking for a scapegoat for what will surely be a politically risky solution to their problems.


While there’s not a lot for CBS-D to do here, they do provide what could best be described as an “ambivalent” planet Gideon, clouded and grayish and looking neither paradise-like nor uninhabitable. There’s at least one new orbital angle of the Enterprise late in the game as well as the “rear departure angle” of the receding planet that one could argue at this point is becoming rather overused. CBS did update the chronometer which is a standard they set early on with "The Naked Time", but this time they had the added challenge of doing it while the camera panned up. Plus they added some stars moving past Kirk’s head through a window, which was a nice touch.



(higher quality version at YouTube)


Remastered vs. Original


Mr Spock, we are being hailed by the Hair Club for Men

All I ask is a tall blonde and a star to steer her by

excuse me, pardon me, excuse me, hey anyone wonder why we all look like sperm from a Woody Allen movie?

Seasons One and Two discounted at Amazon
The Season Two box set is now available at Amazon for pre-order, discounted to $63.99 (Amazon has a low price guarantee that if they drop the price before ship date of August 5th you will get that lower price). The Season One DVD / HD DVD combo disk is available now for $132.95 (retail is $194.99).

Seasons One and Two of TOS-R ($132.95 and $63.99 respectively)


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June 1, 2008 9:51 pm

Its looking good

June 1, 2008 9:52 pm

I couldn’t find this on channel 5 in LA. Did the series get dropped from its line up?

June 1, 2008 9:54 pm

You know… orange and purple and blue and pink planets made for a colorful galaxy. While maybe not scientifically true, it made for a more entertaining show. All the remastered planets seem to be either dull grey or earthlike blue and green. The galaxy has become a lot more dull; more realistic I guess… but very dull.

June 1, 2008 9:59 pm

Why isn’t Season One drastically discounted? HD DVD is dead, so I would think lots of the premium value is gone. Should just be considered a DVD set now. Paramount needs to take a loss on that one.

June 1, 2008 10:11 pm

This is another example of some of the ‘not-so-good’ Star Trek still being a meaningful at its core. It is still tackling a bigger topic, overpopulation.

June 1, 2008 10:13 pm

I know Jeff Bond has been a little gun shy about criticizing an episode lately for fear that it’s someone’s favorite but surely no one thinks of this one as their favorite. I always thought this was weak. There are so many people on the planet they can’t walk alone….yet they have enough space to build an exact duplicate of the Enterprise. Cost effective plot device or not…..weak.

June 1, 2008 10:16 pm

Looking good, especially liked that orbital shot of the ship kind of on top of the planet. Nice angle!

June 1, 2008 10:37 pm

My GOD who is watching the store at CBS D?
The shot at 00:36 has the blue border digitally added( to make the matte look better I’m assuming) then at 00:38 the digital border is gone.
At 00:15 there’s weird white scrape at the bottom right hand corner of the screen as well. I also hate how they make the back wall where the view screen is pale blue. Clearly it’s gray like the rest of the bridge. Coupled with the already blue border around the screen, it’s completely oBLUEgatory.

The planet looks pretty good and the orbiting shots at 00:09 and 00:57are an interesting angle for a change. The chronometer looked good.


Odonna was hot!


OR Coast Trekkie
June 1, 2008 10:41 pm

No kidding. Whatever happened to “strange new worlds?”

June 1, 2008 10:43 pm

Not half bad, actually. Decent angles.

I’m SHOCKED they actually changed the stardate calculator given that they missed the rotation of the Earth a few episodes back, but this was a nice touch.

The stars above Kirk was also nicely done. Kind of like what they did in “The Menagerie” with Pike’s window.

Ensign Ro- (Short for Roland)
June 1, 2008 10:56 pm

LMAO…sorry, can’t get past the caption on the last photo, “excuse me, pardon me, excuse me, hey anyone wonder why we all look like sperm from a Woody Allen movie?”

Too funny!

7 of 5
June 1, 2008 11:10 pm

6th shot from the top, wasn’t that actually the Moron Pumpernickle Choir?

Just wondering….

June 1, 2008 11:58 pm

Spot on review and I enjoy the humorous comments (the review was more entertaining than this episode). Keep up the good work.

Matt P (Australia)
June 2, 2008 12:57 am

Some of the old shots look crisper than the remastered ones.

June 2, 2008 12:59 am

Really enjoyed this review. While it’s not a great episode it probably goes down as the creepiest TOS episode ever, so at least it’s got something going for it.

James Heaney - Wowbagger
June 2, 2008 1:53 am

I disagree with Mr. Bond about some of the plot holes he sees–several of them, I think, are well-justified–but, really, excellent review all around, even where I don’t entirely agree.

I do, in fact, always forget this episode. I hear “Mark of Gideon” and instantly my brain skips over to the mildly less forgettable “Lights of Zetar.”

Jeffrey S. Nelson
June 2, 2008 1:56 am

Screeen shot of Kirk in the original looks much better in terms of contrast and brightness than the remastered shot. How can the two samples be so different? Huhhhhh? How can the latter be possibly construed as being better? Borgus frat!
Odana’s litte piroutette down the ship’s corrdor is the obvious source of inspiration for Sulu’s daughter doing the same thing in the New Voyages webisode “World Enough and Time.”

June 2, 2008 2:11 am

How comes they changed the time on the chronometer by an hour? Had someone forgot to set the clock to Summer Time?

Anthony Thompson
June 2, 2008 2:16 am


Agreed. Paramount needs to bring the cost of the 1st season down to the price of the 2nd. Or I ain’t buying it.

Those folks wearing the green makeup and black robes must have wondered WTF they were doing! : )

June 2, 2008 3:26 am


Which raises the question: Why are they green at all? There’s no other indication that the people of Gideon are green.

Perhaps Gideon’s technology has not progressed beyond the monochrome green/amber monitors of the 1980’s

I suspect the effect was achieved via color timing. That would have been a lot easier than putting makeup on all those guys.

June 2, 2008 3:59 am

Now it’s all dull, flat grey. Kind of boring.

June 2, 2008 4:24 am

An ok episode but still enjoyable. It always struck me as odd about a planet so over populated had the room to build a replica of the Enterprise. I liked the idea of this story. Cant wait to see the new shots

An excellent review of a so so episode. I agree as we remember Spock’s Brain as it was so terrible.

I liked the theme of over population and the sets were cool, I loved seeing the gideons in the background bumping into each other and unable to move

June 2, 2008 5:05 am

A mediocre episode full of holes (the biggest being the one pointed out by captain_neill: where did they get the room to build a replica of the Enterprise?) this one nevertheless creeped me out when I first saw it as a kid way back in… oh, about 1970 or so, in syndication. Doubtless kids today would yawn at it, but up until the point that the deception is fully revealed, there’s an atmosphere of real weirdness on the deserted Enterprise, between the mysterious Odonna dancing in the corridor, and the sound of the heartbeats, and the faces peering in through the viewport…

One of those seminal (if minor) creepy moments from my television childhood–the 60s were replete with them. (70s TV, unfortunately, was all too lacking in them).

Sadly the episode goes down hill from there. *Could* have been an excellent one (maybe) with more fleshing out and more logic in the plot. Oh well.

June 2, 2008 5:41 am

Yeah Kirk wandering the empty sets and the faces appearing tin the darkness remaina among my earliest memories of Trek, going back to when I was about 4! Maybe not the greatest episode, but I’ll aways remember the imagery!

June 2, 2008 5:52 am

Geez, this is one bad episode. Even when I saw it for the first time waaaay back in the 60’s when I was 11 years old I thought it was terrible. Building a life-sized, mutil-decked replica of the interior of the Enterprise on a planets surface? I know we are suppose to suspend disbelieve here, but this concept was ridiculous from the start. Wasn’t there another way for these folks to infect themselves with Kirks diseases? How about just placing him in an empty room with a woman? Give it 5 minutes – that would work I’m sure.

The Underpants Monster
June 2, 2008 6:06 am

Plotholes aside, this episode created one heck of an Twilight Zone atmosphere. Kirk’s birth control speech seems a bit ironic in retrospect – does this mean David was planned? ;-)

June 2, 2008 6:12 am

16. I agree with you — the plot holes are not nearly as bad as the review indicates. It surprises me that people think that it would be difficult to build a replica of the Enterprise on a seriously over-crowded planet. You would just need to get the people to stand 1/2 and inch closer and that would free up an enormous amount of space. The Big E is not that big, after all.

June 2, 2008 6:27 am

OK — everybody talks about their “worst” episode. This is mine. Even the space hippies were more interesting to watch. The ditzy blonde is soooo dumb it’s off-putting. Plus, there’s a huge sense of cheapness about the premise of dulpicating the Enterprise. The Gideons even know how Kirk decorates his own ship??? Or does Starfleet not only keep records in that detail, but let them be stolen by Gideon spies?

June 2, 2008 6:55 am

This episode always bugged me –mainly the whole Enterprise double thing. Really, Why? They already got his blood, she was infected, why smoosh the people aside while building this duplicate Enterprise–what were they trying to achieve? 45 minutes or so of weak plot I suspect. I did like the exchange between Spock and the Gideon leader, and the crowded people. Someone mentioned the “green people” I think that’s to give the impression that they are
truly outside with the difference in lighting.

Badboy 1230
June 2, 2008 7:00 am

Maybe the duplicate Enterprise is a holographic projection similar to what Riker experienced in “Future Imperfect.”

June 2, 2008 7:36 am

I could never see this episode again…and it would be just fine.

Not as creepy and distributing as ‘And The Children Shall Lead’
Not as idiotic as ‘Whom Gods Destroy’ – at least we have Lord Garth and his rants.
Not as ridiculous as ‘Let That Be Your Last Battlefield’ – at least we have Frank Gorshin and his fantastic lines & delivery
Not as melodramatic and pedestrian as ‘The Deadly Years – at least we have a Romulan attack at the end.
Not as pitiful as ‘The Way To Eden’ – at least we have Spock playing a Jam session.
Certainly in the bottom 6 of the original series, probably # 2. Dull, illogical, pointless – it really has no redeeming qualities at all.

June 2, 2008 7:42 am

Brilliant Idea!!
The shots of the green people still creep me out. Very effective.
The episode otherwise is another artifact from the Freiberger era-but not as bad some of the others.

June 2, 2008 7:43 am

#30 That would be the perfect retcon: if the Remastered team had just put a flicker here and there with a hologrid background, that would have served as an excellent wink.

The other old retcon I recall was this: Gideon is important enough to the Federation to send the Enterprise.. perhaps Gideon is a shipyard, and builds Connies. That explains the structure, but not the exact duplication of Kirk’s knickknacks…

If they just needed his blood though…. call in the Sigma Draconis gang. If they can steal Spock’s Brain… they could steal Kirk’s Blood: which is how I always titled this episode.

June 2, 2008 7:46 am

In “Relics” a shot of the Enterprise’s viewscreen with empty chairs in the foregroup was used from this episode with the original 1960s planet shot. This short stock shot made the original TOS effect canon in later incarnations of Star Trek. CBS-D have to “remaster” that TNG episode too if they want the new effects to be “canon”.

June 2, 2008 7:56 am

The ‘close-up’ angle shot of the Enterprise passing is good to see, but the insistance on giving the ‘viewscreen’ wall shots a blue ‘hue’ coloration is not. I want the bright red railings and panels back!

June 2, 2008 7:57 am

One thing that I don’t understand about the remastered project is the clean up of the prints. In one of the behind-the-scenes segments on the DVDs (and at The Menagerie theater screening), they showed clips of the team literally removing/erasing scratches and other imperfections from individual frames of the film transfers. Why the ding-dong heck didn’t the clean the glaring spots/scratches/smudges from the static scenes of key static images? The on-going culprits are shots of the main viewscreen and the transporter room beam down/ups. I realize there are live action shots going on in the scene but the imperfections are usually around the fringe of the frame…in a fairly static environment. Why not just “photoshop” them out. I’m sure it’s harder than it seems to a layman, but boy, are they irritating distractions. And there seemed to be an abundance in this episode…thanks to all the viewscreen-related dialog.

Oh well, too late now I guess.

June 2, 2008 7:59 am

Why was the planet as seen from the viewscreen not rotating?

Mr. Bob Dobalina
June 2, 2008 8:01 am

This is the fIrst remastered episode I’ve chosen not to watch. A stinker through and through.

June 2, 2008 8:10 am

37 — Too much weigh from all those people.

So, btw, what are all those people eating? I mean, if there are so many, they’d be steppin’ on the turnips before they matured. The drive-thru at Mickey-D’s must take forever.

June 2, 2008 8:27 am

To #34 (in my best Scooby Doo voice): HUH?????

June 2, 2008 8:36 am

37. bob–

I thought the same thing you did, but then Kirk specifically said the Enterprise was in synchronous orbit over Gideon’s capital city. Therefore; the planet should not rotate on the main viewer.

CBS-D, you magnificent bastards ! You read the script !

Tony Whitehead
June 2, 2008 8:39 am

38. I believe there was a line in Kirk or Spock’s log entry about being in synchronous orbit at the time…

Tony Whitehead
June 2, 2008 8:39 am

sorry. I meant 37

June 2, 2008 8:40 am

What are they eating? Nothing that a little “Solent Green” can’t fix..

June 2, 2008 8:41 am

A couple of issues I had deal with cleaning up some scratches and other contamination in the film. There were a few during the Admiral’s scene where they did nothing to fix. There were others as well. It is as though CBS has kind of given up on the latter episodes or something.

On thing I noticed, and maybe it was just me, is the first scene where Kirk looks at the view screen on the bridge and notices the planet is gone. The very first scene of the viewer I seemed to me they star field was the original field and not redone. When they show it again a few seconds later it looks altered, ie remastered. I wonder if it was an accidental oversight. Did anyone else noticed this besides me?

June 2, 2008 9:06 am

HODIN: Do you feel great pain, daughter?

ODONA: Yes, father…in my limbs.

HODIN: What is it like to feel pain?

ODONA: It’s like…like watching this episode of Star Trek, and knowing that there’s no hope of it getting any better. Pain is like that

June 2, 2008 9:18 am

Commender Keen (#45),

I noticed the change in the starfield, too. Looks like CBS-D missed that shot, since the stars in the original FX are very much larger than the remastered FX.

One more “oopsie” to add to the list.

Lord Garth, Formerly of Izar
June 2, 2008 9:39 am

Good episode, Uber Hot chick!!!!! More socially relevant than ever Kirk offers to bring them a shipment of rubbers!!! They actually talk about abortion in this episode. It might be a bit bland with respect to action but with overpopulation out of control, dwindling recources, pro life V. Pro Choice, ect ect this episode speaks to all of it. I’d love to have a pack of Kirk Condoms. Tell Starfleet command to drop me of a batch.

June 2, 2008 9:41 am
…Two points: 1) The missed opportunity for a proper tweak by See-BS-D here was to have rendered Gideon with massive cities peeking out from beneath the clouds. Granted, a standard “Death Star” texture might have sufficed, but the clouds would have given it a more planetary look, and given the audience a visual subtle clue as to the secret of Gideon. 2) The original script was significantly different in how the entire Gideon plot was orchestrated. Orion Press has dug up one of the early drafts, and a synopsis is online now. Those with the old James Blish adaptations will already know some of this, as his adaptation was based on one of these earlier drafts. …Which brings up a side note: Blish has, for over four decades now, been flamed for “taking liberties” with about half of the episodes he adapted for the 12 books he did. What many fans were unaware of then – and even newer ones are unaware of today – is that Blish started the first 3-4 books before those episodes had actually *aired*. He was given draft scripts to work from, and as we all know scripts can change drastically from purchase to final editing. Considering the lead time for a book – even a paperback of this nature – working from an early draft script would have been the only way Blish could have accomplished what he did. Which, when viewed in the proper perspective, means that his adaptations are actually more a… Read more »
June 2, 2008 9:41 am
45. I noticed this as well — it was a jarring change even on my non-HD TV. Didn’t make any sense. I always have to do a lot of rationizing to make this episode work. Oh, maybe Kirk is on a holodeck. But still, why don’t the Gideonites just colonize other planets? Is Odana ‘normally’ that air-headed or is she acting for Kirk’s benefit a la Vina in “The Cage”? Hoping a shared experience will create a bond between them both (she didn’t know Kirk needs no pretext for making the moves on her!)? Hoden spends more time than is usually spent explaining the ways and philosophy of his people. It helps a little at fleshing out the planet’s populace but unfortunatly makes for one of the most boring scenes in the episode. I kinda thought CBS-D would make Gideon appear overpopulated the way the did in “Wolf in the Fold” — make the orbital shot a nighttime shot so you could see the lights of cities dotted accross the continents. Maybe Gideon has more water than land like earth? Populations compressed onto small continents and islands. But I guess what CBS-D went with works anyway. Anyone notice in the ‘window’ scene that at one point Kirk leans up near the window and it is clearly back down in the closed position? The angle is kind of extreme but it is noticable — and odd. How hard could it’ve been to film the shot with the window open instead of… Read more »