“The Way To Eden” Remastered Review + Screenshots & Video

REVIEW
by Jeff Bond

Finally Trek Remastered arrives at one of the biggest targets where classic Trek third season silliness is concerned: Star Trek’s infamous space hippies episode. You know the drill: the Enterprise overtakes the space cruiser Aurora which explodes while attempting to escape the starship; elephant-eared Dr. Sevrin (Skip Homier) and his gang of followers are beamed onboard, Spock-jams ensue. While people who actually watch the show may conjure up “Spock’s Brain” or “And the Children Shall Lead” as representing the worst of Trek, I’d argue a lot more casual viewers—or people who’ve never sat through an entire episode—can recall that there was a terrible Star Trek episode about space hippies.

So we all know the bad—I’d like to try to concentrate on what’s actually good about this episode.

Okay, gimme a minute…

Seriously—if you remove a few key squirm-inducing elements (Charles Napier’s grinning whack-job performance as Adam, the jam sessions and the soapy romance scenes between Chekov and his old flame), “The Way to Eden” is a serviceable episode with a few nice touches. Remember that the American counterculture was a huge force at this time, something both terrifying and compelling to the millions of viewers who would have been watching this show in 1969. Like Kirk himself, the production crew of the original series was made up of quite a few military men, and you have to acknowledge the bravery of the attempt here to reach out to the angry youth culture that was rebelling against the status quo at the time.

“Way to Eden” functions best as a time capsule—its hippy outfits aren’t really much more out there than a lot of what was being worn at the time, and if anything the whole story is just too on-the-nose. Where better Trek episodes clothed their metaphors in more elaborate sci fi trappings, Arthur Heinemann’s teleplay simply puts recognizable hippies in outer space (and the story is radically different from Dorothy Fontana’s original script “Joanna,” a story that would have not only fleshed out McCoy’s character but offered some unusually hard-hitting inter-character drama and conflict for Trek’s third year).

Nevertheless, the decision to have Spock mediate the conflict between authority figure Kirk and the countercultural Edenites was right on the nose. Spock was a figure who conceivably spoke to the counterculture well before this episode was written—he was hugely popular with young people and it’s clear from Leonard Nimoy’s thoughtful performance that he took the responsibility of playing this episode seriously. Shatner’s Kirk too is put in an interesting position, confronted with a group for whom he represents unthinking authoritarianism. Kirk is clearly ill at ease with the Edenites, yet Shatner underplays enough that there’s a sense that he’s rather more crestfallen and a little embarrassed than offended that these people just don’t “get” him. (By the time Shatner has to portray being attacked by sonic waves, however, any remaining subtlety is out the airlock)

Dr. Sevrin himself is a compelling figure and his concealed illness is quite forward-thinking as a concept—if you listen to McCoy and Sevrin describe it, they’re talking about the kind of “super-bug” that’s actually threatening hospitals right now due to the over-prescribing of antibiotics (and for all we know, the use of antibacterial soaps). Having Sevrin totally reject a technological culture that’s made him into a deadly Typhoid Mary, yet having him be in total denial about his situation, makes perfect sense. And blue-haired Tongo Radd is an interesting minor character, well played by Victor Brandt.

As for the rest, well…how do you produce a handful of songs that play as counterculture anthems but sound like they could be played 300 years from now? Charles Napier (who would follow up this role with bits in a number of Russ Meyer soft-core porn films before doing movies like Rambo: First Blood Part 2 and Silence of the Lambs) co-wrote and performed his own songs in the episode, and as goofy is the lantern-jawed actor looks in his half-dome wig and bare chest, he’s got a tough role (and some of the worst lines in the teleplay) as the poetic cheerleader for the Edenites. At least he’s better than Mary-Linda Rapelye as Chekov’s old flame Irini and her dueling Russian accents scenes with Walter Koenig (watching their two-shots in the new hi-def transfers you’re just blown away by all the friggin HAIR sticking out all over those shots). As for the songs, yes, they’re lame—but I’m more amused than embarrassed now by scenes like the Enterprise bridge crew rocking out while Scotty shakes his head disapprovingly. In fact, I’ve developed a weird fondness for Napier’s “Headin’ Out To Eden” song—so one of the big annoyances of the syndication cuts this time is that they eliminate it almost entirely from the episode, which drains the impact of some purely instrumental quotes of the material late in the story.

Speaking of which—the fact that Eden is a.) found so easily, and b.) covered with acidic plants doesn’t really help matters. It’s ironic, but wouldn’t Sevrin’s own disease killing off his followers have been a bit more appropriate? In any case, we can all give thanks for one thing about this episode: it inspired Shatner’s unforgettable Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. And in that one God’s planet was every bit as easy to find as Eden.

 

As CBS-Digital moves into the final handful of episodes on the Remastered project they seem to be pulling out all, or at least some, of the stops, which is ironic in itself since the episodes they’re lavishing some bold new shots on are generally considered to be the worst of the original series. “Way to Eden” gets a brand new Aurora, a nicely-detailed retooling of Harry Mudd’s ship from “Mudd’s Women” (appropriate since the opening chase sequence is almost a blow-by-blow remake of the Mudd pursuit sequence minus the asteroids). CBS-D takes a subtle approach to the Aurora’s overheating, adding a glowing impulse/antimatter mixing deck and gradually glowing engines to replace the overall red glow on the original miniature, as well as a nicely detailed explosion.

Other than library Enterprise shots that’s it until the starship reaches Eden, where CBS-D conjures up what may rank as the most “super-Earthlike” of all their Earth-like planets (so super it’s got two moons). But it’s also enhanced by a ravishing matte painting that really helps to open up the original’s simple planet set. Somebody should produce some posters of these matte shots as they crystallize Star Trek’s idealized Chesley Bonestell aesthetic better than just about anything I’ve seen.

SFX VIDEO

SCREENSHOTS

Remastered vs. Original

Extras


Scotty…totally Herbert


Spock…not Herbert


Dr. Sevrin…pioneer in ear body art



Spooooockkkk make them stop!


Mr. Chekov you are on report for impersonating the Captain

 

BONUS VIDEO: Spock Rock

 

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 $129.95 (retail is $194.99).


Seasons One and Two of TOS-R ($129.95 and $63.99 respectively)

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest
thefinalfrontier
June 15, 2008 9:44 pm

Herbert:
if you don’t know what it is, you probably are one.

Harry Ballz
June 15, 2008 9:45 pm

When people I know mention having seen this episode, I cringe in admitting I’m a fan of the series! What a stinker!

Thomas Jensen
June 15, 2008 9:49 pm

All the cgi came together nicely. I always enjoy seeing some of the original opticals recreated as in the overhead saucer shot. Overall, the use of cgi in the context and sensibility of what they might have done in back in the 60’s, really works with this episode.

And if they seems to pulling out all the stops in these last few episodes, whatever the reason, I’ll take whatever they can give. I was hoping for a little different take for only a few shots in remastered episodes, so I’m very glad they have done this project.

It gives me something to type about.

Dick Fitzwell
June 15, 2008 9:58 pm

Pretty backdrop! Still a silly episode.

June 15, 2008 9:59 pm

star trek*

*illicit substances sold seperately.

shane s
June 15, 2008 10:01 pm

Star Trek truly was a mirror of our species and the time it comes from, not surprising then that a reflection of the 60’s, including hippies and counter culture would be included.

23rd Century Texan
June 15, 2008 10:03 pm

I couldn’t help but think of other social groups that reject technology or modern society like the Amish or the FLDS group from Texas.

Billy Bobby
June 15, 2008 10:33 pm

One of the worst episodes flat out. The episode wouldn’t have been so mad if it hadn’t fallen on its face at the very end. The scene on the planet was ridiculous. It’s like the director just told everybody to do whatever they wanted. How can the grass be acidic but not the tree Dr. Severin climbs up? He should not be able to climb up the tree or eat the fruit. The same goes for Adam. Ouch! This apple is really acidic. I’m gonna eat it!

Thomas
June 15, 2008 10:40 pm

I’m a firm believer that any story (even one that sounds weak) could be well-done, but that it depends on the execution. This could have been a good episode if some things were done differently. I agree with the point that it would be more interesting for Sevrin’s followers to die from his disease than the poisonous plants.

Rabelais
June 15, 2008 10:46 pm

# 8. “How can the grass be acidic but not the tree Dr. Severin climbs up? He should not be able to climb up the tree or eat the fruit. The same goes for Adam. Ouch! This apple is really acidic. I’m gonna eat it!”

You’re being far too literal, dude! Look, it’s about hippies looking for paradise. And when they think they’ve found it, it turns out to be made of deadly… ACID!!!

Get it? ; )

Come on, get with the third season hit you on the head with a frickin’ shovel “half-black, half-white” social “messages”!

MrRegular
June 15, 2008 11:07 pm

The only way a viewer can take “The Way to Eden” seriously is to see it as a parable of how idealistic young kids + an insane, charismatic leader = doom. Otherwise it has none of the inspired elements of the Godshow from STV, to which it is compared. One of the worst episodes of this or any other generation…only made more bearable by the excellent FX and matte work this week. Can someone post a larger, brighter still of the Eden planet matte? That was gorgeous.

capt mike
June 15, 2008 11:10 pm

Im gonna crack my knuckles and junp for joy i got a clean bill of health from dr. mccoy. Yay brother. True about the planet being acid like. How can you walk on the grass and not get burned and also why were they taken off the shuttle and then layed on the ground when there feet were badly burned. Should’t the ground burned them more and climbing the tree should have been a big no no. I liked the ship and the explosion was good to. But everyone listning to music on the bridge and kirk letting them. man im not reaching that. Thats the only time kirk ever relaxed the disipline on the bridge.Even though this was one of the worst trek from the tos it is still good trek.Yay brother. Are you reacing me brother. If not you must be a herbert.

capt mike
June 15, 2008 11:12 pm

herbert! herbert! herbert! herbert! herbert!

Brent
June 15, 2008 11:13 pm

It’s really to bad that the original DC Fontana story wasn’t filmed. The idea of McCoy dealing with his feelings for his daughter and being confronted with seeing Kirk with the eyes of a father instead of a comrade would have made the episode the highlight of the otherwise dismal 3rd season. McCoy would not have simply rolled his eyes at Kirk’s advances or Joanna’s attraction. I can envision him lecturing both of them rather angrily.

trekboi
June 15, 2008 11:29 pm

i actually liked this episode- the space hippies are still not as annoying as neelix or the incomparable jar jar binks…

nice FX- wish they had done a set extension- butt new matts r always welcome.

The Last Maquis
June 15, 2008 11:33 pm

I think there’s only ONE way to really watch this episode, (Cough)

June 15, 2008 11:40 pm

*hides in corner and quietly admits to having liked this episode.*

Does being ashamed of it make me a herbert?

June 15, 2008 11:44 pm

That groovy tune with Spock on harp and the alien hippy chick on bike wheel really reached me, bother! I’ve got it on an mp3 file and I’m gonna make it my ring tone.

Then I’m gonna have all my friends call me every 5 minutes.

Salamander Cakes
June 16, 2008 12:08 am

For kicks, me and my buddy would drive around using his PA system in his car and sing that “steppin into Eden, yay brother!” and annoy the heck out of everybody that was within earshot.

Marvin the Martian
June 16, 2008 12:14 am

Thanks for posting the video, but is it just me or… is the video pixelating wildly to be almost unwatchable in parts? It’s like it “burps” every so often.

Iowagirl
June 16, 2008 12:16 am

Nice review (except for the “sonic over-acting”, of course – I mean, have you ever been attacked by sonic waves…?? Do you know what it feels like..?? Ok, shut up then, will ya…;)

I.do.like.this.episode. (No, I won’t run for cover;) I like the message, I like it when Spock tells them “I have no doubt you will find it… or make it yourselves”, I like the jam session and those crazy silly wonderfully oldfashioned hippy songs, and I like finding out whether I’m “Herbert” or not…

#18
We reach, sister..:)

I am not Herbert
June 16, 2008 12:33 am

Yeah…,
…those guys must have been smokin’ some pretty crappy space weed…
…a least Spock could jam with them ;-)

neonknights
June 16, 2008 12:59 am

Michael Richards is actually a pen-name of D.C. Fontana. She also used it in TNG.

And the original “lake shot” on Eden was just stock footage from “Shore Leave”. I’ve noticed it first when I was ten years old. It was a huge disappointment.

That Guy
June 16, 2008 1:00 am

Herbert….yeah….this video is of pretty poor quality.
Too bad someone talented couldn’t post one that
we could watch without spilling the bong water. I guess
the life of BIG DADDY Herbert must be too overwhelming.
Seriously…its jumps like a space hippie sitting in the
Captains Chair with a ditch (or space weed) in one hand
and a phaser on overload in the other. Just not kewl – cool!

OR Coast Trekkie
June 16, 2008 1:08 am

Moral of this story: Acid is bad (in ALL its forms).

I’m not sure what I think of this explosion. I think the other one looked a bit more real.

GREAT matte shot. It almost looks photo-real. In fact, it makes me wonder if someoe on staff didn’t just contribute this photo they had of a real place, and they just photoshopped in a couple of moons.

Jai1138
June 16, 2008 1:32 am

Another good review by Jeff Bond (all you TREK people need to check out Film Score Monthly — is Mr. Bond still writing there?)

Yes, The Way to Eden is weird and dumb but it’s still, strangely better than Masks or Phantasms (both of which I sort of watched in syndication recently) — not meaning to make this anti-TNG, which I love sort of, but The Way to Eden almost exemplifies how the “worst” of TOS is at least more fully entertaining than the worst of TNG.. Not that that should be the mark of good television.

In some respect, The Way to Eden is a freaky (and foolish) peak and peek into 60s counterculture at least in TOS’s last season, and now it is a way for new fans to look into the America of 1968 that spawned some of TOS, as cartoonish as it may be depicted. Actually, watching the the third season again recently, I’m surprised how many good (and haunting) episodes there are– but thee are also a lot of dogs and dross.

I actually like Star Trek V’s revisionist take on the same basic material; it embraces what is the core theme of TREK: mankind’s rejection of Paradise in order to achieve something higher and more hard-earned on our own terms.

Jai1138
June 16, 2008 1:38 am

Also: “I’m gonna crack my knuckles and jump for joy, I got a clean bill of heatlth from Doctor McCoy!”; I know ot was said elsewhere but what the hell.

June 16, 2008 1:43 am

I love this episode. Wonderful music and some funny scenes. A camp classic.

June 16, 2008 1:58 am

I could swear that Dr. Sevrin says “Rejoice, brothren!”

Unfortunately, “brothren” is not word.

Yeah, brether!

Jeffrey S. Nelson
June 16, 2008 2:08 am

We reach… I like the music.
Damn KPDX Fox Frackin’ 49 in Portland, Oregon instead ran an infomercial on colon cleansing! Bloody hell! Borgus frat!
Yes, I’ll buy the dvds and show these TV programmers who to mess with.

June 16, 2008 3:23 am

I think this episode really exemplifies the whole “Everything I know I learned from Star Trek” idea, for me.

Growing up in Iowa in the 80s, I didn’t know what a hippie was when I was a kid. But I was raised on Star Trek from the moment I could talk. I didn’t know what those weird people were in this episode. Later, when I was maybe 10 or 11, some of my family members were talking about hippies. I said, “Oh they sound like those guys on Star Trek!”

Amazing how many things that happened with . . . Oh how weird it feels to have your first memories of President Lincoln being the “Giant Space Abraham Lincoln” on the Enterprise View Screen. :P

John Gill
June 16, 2008 4:17 am

Unfortunately, Star trek Remastered is not shown anywhere in Central, Southern, or Western Louisiana anymore, the stations that carried it up until last week now air infomercials in their place, money hungry I guess. Good news is it happened when this episode was to be shown, I think I just saw all the good parts on the remastered FX reel.
Although #11 makes a good point, you have to view it in a certain perspective, not as just another sci fi story from outer space.

June 16, 2008 4:17 am

31

I grew up in a house hold where pop music was basically verboden. As sad as it is to some to hear me say this….The Monkees and this episode were my introductions to something other than classical music. I seemed to also see a little deeper into this episode than some give it credit for. I saw a whole culture and language being introduced to the audience in a short amount of time (something I believe Star Trek’s writers did well). Even as a little kid I picked up on that and recognized how well done that was. Just dig that little exchange between Spock and Adam in his quarters. “Give”. (I use that to this day when I’m soloing in a group.)

Something I don’t think anyone’s pointed out….I always thought Sevrin was supposed to represent Timothy Leary and his ideas. Maybe I was wrong.

I still love seeing the crew being knocked out with the hippie pinch behind the ears and letting out a drug induced, orgasmic sounding groan.

Yay, brother.

John Gill
June 16, 2008 4:20 am

#33, I had to add this, how synonymous, as I pointed out in another post, I was flipped out by the songs in this episode when it first aired, and I still like the hippie songs from it, but I also was exposed to this and The Monkees and that was it, other than my Dad’s C&W and Bluegrass records!

June 16, 2008 4:34 am

And speaking of Tongo Rad’s groovy way of knocking people out (did anyone else think he looked like Mind Worm from Spider-Man 139 but me?)…there’s a topic that needs to be addressed some time…not really the physics of Star Trek but “The anatomy” of Star Trek. That maneuver is right up there with that blow right above the tail bone that seems to be part of hand to hand training at Star Fleet. We used to practice all these moves on each other as a kid.

June 16, 2008 4:36 am

34

Yay brother. That’s real now.

I reach that, brother. I really do.

JB
June 16, 2008 4:51 am

That Spock Rock video is real now, brother!

Tom
June 16, 2008 4:57 am

A lot more watchable than all the bad episodes of TNG, though.

It may be hard to find, but there was an LP released in the 70s of Star Trek bloopers. Basically someone found magnetic tapes of the raw, on set audio. One track is listed as “The ol’ Vulcan Harp Bicycle wheel duet”.

It’s on the intrawebs if you google it.

Irishtrekkie
June 16, 2008 5:14 am

Insert lame space hippy joke*

Well the new effects are decent anyway

The_Bear
June 16, 2008 5:20 am

The 1st window on the side of the Aurora looks like a stylized Peace sign.

section9
June 16, 2008 5:21 am

We reach, baby.

This episode is, like, totally 1968. Dr. Sevrin totally deserved to buy the farm. He was a complete a**hole.

The rest of the Space Hippies probably got drafted and sent to Vietnam.

June 16, 2008 5:25 am

I wish the deleted scene with Uhura, McCoy and Spock in the rec deck had survived on film, all we have now are pictures. According to the script it would have been a nice scene.

jfddoc
June 16, 2008 5:27 am

Is it just me, or was there some effort to make Scotty sound old? “Why can’t a young mind be a disciplined mind?’ he asks here. And in “Lights of Zetar”, Kirk refers to “a man of Scotty’s years…”

Dom
June 16, 2008 5:33 am

The only TOS episode that makes me embarrassed to be a Star Trek fan!

Trekker in SoDak
June 16, 2008 5:49 am

Did anyone notice Phyllis Douglas, who played Yeoman Mears in “The Galileo Seven” was in this episode as the dark haired female hippie, listed as Girl #2 in the credits?

star trackie
June 16, 2008 6:10 am

Herberts need to lighten up! This is fun stuff.

I reach brother, I reach!.

Thorny
June 16, 2008 6:59 am

Very nice lipstick on a pig for this one!

June 16, 2008 7:05 am

I actually enjoy this episode. The only part that doesn’t work for me is the Chekov subplot — the rest is fun, and I even like the songs and the made-up slang.

Buckaroohawk
June 16, 2008 7:22 am

Did they fix those two image-reversed shots of Kirk near the end of the episode?

No, they didn’t.

I know that, if they had flipped them, Kirk would then have been looking in the wrong direction when Dr. Severin ran from the shuttlecraft; but that’s the lesser of two evils compared to having the badge on the opposite side of Kirk’s shirt. Twice.

I really thought CBS-D would take a moment to flip those shots over. Ah well.

JARED WYNN
June 16, 2008 8:00 am

good move to cut the songs out, they sucked.

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