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“The Savage Curtain” Remastered Review + Screenshots & Video June 30, 2008

by Jeff Bond , Filed under: Review,TOS-R Screenshots/Video , trackback

REVIEW

by Jeff Bond

Time to render another overly harsh verdict on a third season Star Trek stinker, “The Savage Curtain,” an episode which sometimes plays out like a junior high school history pageant. But before ya’ll start yelling out what an elitist snob I am, I’ll readily admit that for all its infamy this episode has its strong points.

“Curtain”’s biggest failings are those of the imagination—like “Whom Gods Destroy,” it seems like a pale copy of better Trek outings, most notably “Arena,” which also has aliens with superior powers pitting Kirk against opponents on a barren planet as a test of humanity; and “Who Mourns for Adonais?” which has Kirk confronting a famous character from Earth history. The other episode raided is “Devil in the Dark” as the Excalbians, the arrogant rock creatures who put humanity on trial this time, bear a passing resemblance to the earlier episode’s Horta.

Without the spectacular location setting of the Vasquez Rocks, “The Savage Curtain” looks depressingly cheap with an abundance of papier mache rocks and foliage. Where the episode entertains is in its choice of guest characters—Lee Bergere’s Abraham Lincoln, who appears practically seated on his own glowing red memorial chair in space on the Enterprise viewscreen, and Barry Atwater’s Surak, a kind of Vulcan Christ who’s crucified all over again near the episode’s end.

I’ve always found classic Trek’s tendency to embrace these kinds of over-the-top figures to be part of its essential charm. Only James Kirk seems at home sharing the stage with the god Apollo, Abraham Lincoln or Genghis Khan—when Kathryn Janeway hobnobs with a holodeck Leonardo Da Vinci later on in the franchise, both characters seem diminished by the meeting. As ridiculous as Lincoln’s entrance is (in another visual riff on “Who Mourns for Adonais?” and its giant hand in space), Kirk’s determination to treat this clearly illusory character with the respect the real man would have deserved and his thoughtful hero worship of the fabled president is interesting—as is Lincoln’s brief interaction with Uhura, a moment that shows the series expressing its always high social and racial ideals. Lincoln’s oft-expressed acknowledgement that he may not be real adds a nicely wry quality to his characterization that jibes with our historical anecdotes of a man with a sense of humor about himself.

Atwater’s Surak, although given frustratingly less screen time than Lincoln, is equally interesting. Atwater was probably best known for playing the Las Vegas vampire in the TV movie (and series pilot) The Night Stalker, but his Surak easily puts across the notion of a Vulcan Messiah, a man self-possessed enough to calmly admonish a skeptical Spock when they first meet. While it may lack some impact now due to the campy circumstances under which it occurs, I remember Surak’s betrayal and murder at the hands of Colonel Green and his minions as being pretty traumatic stuff when I was a teenager, particularly given the character’s strong Christ analogue. Atwater’s performance is another example of the original series’ consistent and inspired casting: he’s different from Nimoy’s Spock, yet clearly in the Vulcan mode of suppressed, controlled emotional expression—something that has almost utterly eluded actors and casting directors of all the later Trek series in their casting of Vulcan characters. Oddly Surak never quite gained the mystique of Nimoy’s Spock or Mark Lenard’s Sarek, perhaps because of Atwater’s death before he could ride the Trek wave of fandom and convention appearances, or perhaps just because “The Savage Curtain” isn’t held in as high regard by fans.

The villains conjured up by the Excalbians to face Kirk and his force of heroes are of a somewhat lesser order than Lincoln and Surak—like Surak, they’re robbed of screen time by the episode’s laborious, Lincon-centric set-up, leaving only Philip Pine’s Colonel Green enough time to register as a character. It’s unfortunate because the roster (apart from the nondescript alien mad scientist Zora) is impressive: Green (dressed  somewhat appropriately in Khan Noonien Singh’s sleeper ship uniform) is a cagey, double-crossing fink and Pine is nicely oily and cruel in the role; Genghis Khan is certainly an Earth history bad guy heavyweight, and Kahless the Unforgettable equals Surak as the founder of the Klingons’ brutal civilization. But they’re all shortchanged by the script—Genghis Khan and Zora don’t rate so much as a line of dialogue, while Kahless turns out to be the Rich Little of the Klingon Empire.

In fact the whole thing is over just as the dramatic stakes seem to reach their height, with Surak and Lincoln dispatched too quickly and the rest of the action settled in a clumsy skirmish. Kahless would receive far better treatment on Star Trek: The Next Generation while Surak and even Colonel Green rated a mention in the fourth season of Enterprise. There’s also an issue that hangs over the episode but is never explored: the idea that Lincoln, Surak and the other historical characters are in fact “played” by modified Excalbians—as Spock scans Lincoln before he beams onboard the Enterprise and describes him exactly as the Excalbian leader we later see on the planet. If these characters are Excalbians are they merely playing their parts, are they being forced into the roles (and into their own deaths) against their will, and what exactly do these role players get out of the experience?

“The Savage Curtain” was conceived by Gene Roddenberry and it’s probably appropriate that this episode showcases the best and worst of the series he masterminded: the outlandish moral ambitions marching right alongside its sometimes kitschy execution. For better or worse, only classic Trek did stories like this.

 

CBS-D provides some of their most striking orbital shots for “The Savage Curtain,” rendering the planet Excalbia as a vivid globe of hot magma and swirling poisonous clouds. The life-sustaining environment created for the humans is shown being wiped into existence on the Enterprise viewing screen, and CBS-D even retouches the stars around Lincoln’s glowing space chair to tie him into the environment better. In addition to the standard orbital shots there are a few additions: the overhead shot of the Enterprise in orbit, relatively small in the frame that’s been used in only a few episodes, and a very nice composite of the starship from the angle first seen in “Space Seed” with the Enterprise towing the Botany Bay—here Excaliba fills the frame behind the starship and with George Duning’s recycled music cue from “Is There In Truth No Beauty” it’s a striking shot. It’s a shame a new matte painting for the surface of Excalbia couldn’t have been done as the claustrophobic planet set environment really needed it and the set’s orange skies actually become quite dazzling in the new transfer.

 

SFX VIDEO

SCREENSHOTS

Remastered vs. Original

 

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 $112.49 (retail is $194.99).


Seasons One and Two of TOS-R ($112.495 and $63.99 respectively)

 

Comments

1. toonloon - June 30, 2008

The new planet looks amazing. I’ve always thought this episode to be one of my favourites. I know its not that popular, but I’ve always had a very soft spot for it.

2. The Underpants Monster - June 30, 2008

“This place is the greatest! Electro-shock therapy whenever you want it, two Lincolns for every Napoleon…”

—-Bender B. Rodriguez

3. m. c. - June 30, 2008

- The return of the space oranges…

4. NexusTrek - June 30, 2008

It’s a shame that these shots have the CW Logo in the lower right hand corner. They would make great desktop wallpaper without it.

5. British Naval Dude - June 30, 2008

Missin’ Scene:

Excalbian: Initially we brought in Arthur, King of the Britains, to represent good. However, he kept ramming steak-knives into and us and then made a big deal about pulling them out.

arrr… I stopped takin’ me shower cuz I am a’feared o’ me savage curtain… bloody thing gone all primordial… eatin’ me soap…

Arrrrr…

6. Andy Patterson - June 30, 2008

“Ahhhhhh”….”Help me Spock”, “Help me Spock”……now do the Captain….”Help me Kirrrrk”

I’ve always loved this episode. Klingon’s being such extraordinary mimics is something I would have loved to see them continue to explore. I mean, that guy was good. The Rich Little of space. I bet he had his own room in Vegas.

The cool little ‘trip you back on your own knife” move that Kirk uses at the end…always one of my favorites. Another cool Star Fleet move. That one’s right up there with William Windom’s Matt Decker shuffle he does with the red shirt.

Another shot/chance to see Star Fleet dress uniforms. Some ret-conned future Earth history.

Love it.

7. Closettrekker - June 30, 2008

Like it or not, this episode is a huge part of the foundation of Treklore.

Surak…
Kahless…
and to a much lesser degree—Colonel Green.

I always liked it. Classic Trek.

8. CmdrR - June 30, 2008

“Kirk, my old friend… My armchair is bigger than yours. Prepare to die!”
Oh wait, that was the evil Lincoln episode.

I do like this episode on the emotional (sorry image of Surak) level. It’s ‘tupid but it still works, unlike some of the other stinkeroos Jeff mentions. Love Excalbian.

Jeff, do you know if Kevlar… KayWye… uh Katmandoo, oh hell, RockBoy is a redress from an Outer Limits episode? I want to say it’s either the one with the space probe that captures the flyers or “Don’t Open Until Doomsday.”

9. Mike S - June 30, 2008

The thing that has always struck me about this episode is that the Excalbians seemed totally unable to distinguish between behavior of “good” and “evil”. There’s some odd comment about the two sides using the same tactics, when clearly they did not. The “good” side was willing to confront “evil” where as “evil” ran away when they suffered a defeat. It seems that the show missed an opportunity to drive this point home in the conclusion of the episode by having Kirk explain that “good” people don’t go around hurting others just for personal gain (or scientific curiosity).

10. Andy Patterson - June 30, 2008

Ah Jeff….just read your Rick Little comment. Thought that was originality on my part. Funny. They should have explored that more.

“Atwater’s performance is another example of the original series’ consistent and inspired casting: he’s different from Nimoy’s Spock, yet clearly in the Vulcan mode of suppressed, controlled emotional expression—something that has almost utterly eluded actors and casting directors of all the later Trek series in their casting of Vulcan characters.”

Couldn’t agree more. I’ve always felt that.

11. garen - June 30, 2008

#4 resolution is still pretty low though…

12. Lord Garth, Formerly of Izar - June 30, 2008

Hey I love the Savage Curtain. This is a far more entertaining episode than The Savage Curtain-eque inspired Skin of Evil that’s supposed to be highbrow dealing with mortality and a menacing demigod but is actually more boring than anything with chubby guy in a black plastic garbage bag dipped in chocolate sauce (LAME) this episode is a lot of fun and Kirk gets to whup Gengis Khan’s ass!!! Scotty in command is also a plus. Bond you best not F with Abraham Lincoln. “Stinker” .,, I think not!!! This episode also spawed a sequel to one of the best Trek comics series in the origianl DC Trek storyline (art sucked but the stories were really engrossing during that initial DC Trek run)
Print looked extra sharp and clean almost to much so in that Kahless and Abe appear to be sharing the same Cordovan shoe polish for makeup. The new planet was about the best planet rendering I have yet seen (Looked like Mustiphar or what ever it’s called from the last Star Wars film) Ship looked gret and they even did a real cool low orbit flyby that reminded me of the Reliant flyby over Ceti Alpha 6(5) As the ship left orbit there was a nice orgish hoe thrown against it from the planet surface as well. Great episode!!!! Very impressive new print and subtle effects. Now how cool would a CG Yarnek have been???? Still cooler than the skin ov evil fatso though!!

13. Closettrekker - June 30, 2008

I think Jeff overuses the term, “stinker”. There are some “stinkers” among the list of 79 TOS episodes, but this isn’t one of them.

14. Izbot - June 30, 2008

As noted there are a few things to like about this episode and even more to dislike. The Excalbian is a memorable alien — much more menacing than TNG’s Armus (whom he always reminded me of) — even if he looks to be pieced together from leftover Horta. Love the lights that synchronize with it’s dialogue and the strange clicking claw gestures.

I’ve always been baffled by the fact that for a good portion of the episode the fantasy characters are the ones in combat (Lincoln and Surak go off to confront the four villians alone) while Kirk and Spock labor over fashioning bows and arrows in relative safety and seclusion. Barry Atwater as Surak is simply perfect and it’s a shame his role is so brief here. He is far more impressive in the part than the old guy they got to play Surak during his appearance in ENT’s season four. That guy had no gravitas and looked and acted like someone’s beloved grandfather, not the savior of Vulcan. Atwater totally nailed the Vulcan thing just as he nailed the vampire thing on “Night Stalker”. I wonder if there’s a connection? There is something slightly predatory about the way Vulcan’s carry themselves — and that air of aristocracy — that’s similar to the best screen portrayals of vampires. Maybe future Trek casting directors should look at actors who’ve played vampires successfully when considering who to cast as Vulcans.

Ghengis Khan and Zhora get seriously short-changed and for two of history’s most notoriously evil individuals are given virtually nothing to do but scuffle with the heroes Gamesters-of-Triskelion-style. Zhora certainly doesn’t look native to Tiburon (like the elephant-eared Dr. Severin whom we met only a couple episodes prior); in fact she looks more like a run-of-the-mill Halloween witch draped in caveman furs (and she’s a scientist?!). Ghengis Khan comes across like the mute Kryptonian idiot Non from Superman II. And why choose the greatest heroes and villians of history if only to have them fight each other with bare hands, sticks and rocks?

CBS-D does it again this time and gives us another surprisingly good effort. The orbital shots and Excalbia itself (just as impressive as the y-class planet from the VOY episode “Demon”) are simply beautiful.

15. diabolik - June 30, 2008

Season three turned around the ratio of good to bad episodes established by the first and second season. There, they were mostly good, some great, and a few bad ones. In Season Three, mostly bad, some good and a few fair ones.

16. FredCFO - June 30, 2008

This ranks among the better 3rd Season eps, but it did have its limitations. The cheezy surface set for one.

CBS-D did a nice job getting rid of the orange ball. The new rendering of the original filmstock was dazzling. I had the opportunity to watch this episode on a 54 inch plasma screen. Lee Bergere’s Lincoln makeup was quite heavy handed. You could see the grey appliances below his eyes and the obviously fake mole. Something was also going on below his lower lip above the beard, too. I guess they never dreamed of digital enhancement and remastering.

17. rdb - June 30, 2008

This episode is NOT a stinker. Yes, like much of the 3rd season, it has extremely clunky, inelegant moments. But the portrayals of Lincoln and Surak are fantastic. As a kid, this was one of first (and best) exposures to Lincoln. And Surak’s choice is inspiring and tragic. Shatner and Nimoy both do a wonderful job playing off their characters’ boyhood heroes. It’s silly and cheesy and fairly moving, as so much of the best of Trek is.

An anecdote amusing to me — I was such a science geek as a kid that early on I recognized Excalbia as being an image of the Sun, and the habitable area a sunspot. I was so taken by this I that I can remember, as youngster, thinking of this episode as the one where Kirk and Spock land on a star.

18. TonyD - June 30, 2008

The Savage Curtain is a little uneven but it is by no means a stinker. There is some good acting to be found here and some pretty solid and even moving performances by the guest cast. It also introduced us to two characters – Surak and Kahless – which the franchise made extensive use of in subsequent shows. In particular, Barry Atwter’s Surak has a lot of presence and stay with you long after the episode is over.

The new effects, especially the shots of the Enterprise against the planet, look very good too.

Not the greatest episode ever, but definitely very watchable and one of the stronger entries from Trek’s third season for my money.

19. British Naval Dude - June 30, 2008

The memorable alien RockBoy is standing off in the distance, his micturition be scarring tha’ wee human-habitable island…

Excalabian: Now then, Captain, I will be with you in a little while. First I am going to find the “orgish hoe” of the planet, per Lord Garth. It is clear though he meant a “y” istead of an “i”.

Kirk: He made a few simple type-os, Rockboy. He’s only human and there’s no need to make it a Freudian slip. Look- I’m making typohs rite now. And arent these… people… really your comrades in disguise? We’re killing them!

Excalabian: Since I have no concept of right or wrong, I do not care if you whack my brother-in-law and I can go after any “orgysh hoe” to my magma heart’s content. I can even unnecessarily embarrass a poster on this site. Now, stand aside before my lava stream micturition lands on your head.

Arrrrr… I kids cuz I loves…

and I agrees this be one o’ the best lookin’ aliens… (hmmm… wonder if thye have a RockGal I could ask fur a dine and dance? Need me burn ointment…) I mean, ain’t they all supposed ta’ be alien, as in farrr different than us bumpy ol’ foreheads?

Arrrrrrrthur…

20. Izbot - June 30, 2008

16. “I guess they never dreamed of digital enhancement and remastering.”

Along those lines but a little off-topic: I’ve recently dusted off my TNG DVDs and was watching the similarly-themed rats-in-a-maze episode “Where Silence is Lease” and thinking about any future attempt at remastering the series as a whole. I seem to remember that TNG was shot on videotape which made adding phaser and transporter effects a lot easier at the time. Does anyone know: was principal photography initially done on actual film and then converted or was it *totally* filmed on videotape? The existing DVD transfers look horrible. If they were originally shot on film like TOS then hopefully all that film still exists somewhere and Remastering can be done from that and not from the inferior videotape elements. Otherwise I can’t imagine what would have to be done to clean them up and make them HD-ready.

21. Craig - June 30, 2008

Hey, its not everyday that you see a floating Abraham Lincoln in space.

22. Horatio - June 30, 2008

Jeff wrote “Atwater’s performance is another example of the original series’ consistent and inspired casting: he’s different from Nimoy’s Spock, yet clearly in the Vulcan mode of suppressed, controlled emotional expression—something that has almost utterly eluded actors and casting directors of all the later Trek series in their casting of Vulcan characters.”

I couldn’t agree more. One thing that just pissed me off about all of the Trek sequel series was that they never ever could get the Vulcan’s right. I seem to remember an episode of Voyager (I think) where Tuvok was flashbacking to his youth and I thought that the actor who portrayed his instructor nailed it. But other than that, Vulcans – even into Enterprise – had diminished into Mo Howard monotone drones.

So even if ‘Savage Curtain’ wasn’t in the top tier of Trek episodes, it still, as noted above by others, made important contributions to Trek lore.

23. starfall42 - June 30, 2008

One memorable “wardrobe malfunction” in this episode: when Kirk is on his back kicking Green away, the structural integrity field on his trousers fails. :-) In other words, he splits his pants.

24. Izbot - June 30, 2008

22. ” I seem to remember an episode of Voyager (I think) where Tuvok was flashbacking to his youth and I thought that the actor who portrayed his instructor nailed it. But other than that, Vulcans – even into Enterprise – had diminished into Mo Howard monotone drones.”

That’s cuz the actor was a TOS alumni, John Ruskin! He played the drill-thrall in Gamesters of Triskelion. And I agree 100% — he was perfect and much better than just about any actor who attempted being Vulcan since — Tuvok included.

25. Andy Patterson - June 30, 2008

22

But other than that, Vulcans – even into Enterprise – had diminished into Mo Howard monotone drones.

Funny.

26. CmdrR - June 30, 2008

http://tos.trekcore.com/gallery/albums/3×22/thesavagecurtain_137.JPG

reelin’ n rippin’.

27. BritishStyleGalactica - June 30, 2008

Along with certain other Trek episodes this gets slated but I actually quite like this one.
A good portion of Trek history begins with characters of Surak and Kahless.
Remastering looks good too.

28. Marvin the Martian - June 30, 2008

#20: TNG was shot on 35 mm film, then it was transferred to videotape, where the SFX were composited. At least in the early years. In later seasons, they may have gone a more traditional route with FX compositing. But I know the series *was* shot on film.

I know it’s OT, but I’d love to see a remaster of TNG. I always thought the opening blue titles looked desperately cheap, and it would be nice to re-do the lettering on all the title sequences, both main and episodic. In addition to a complete remaster of the FX, of course.

29. Horatio - June 30, 2008

24 That’s cuz the actor was a TOS alumni, John Ruskin! He played the drill-thrall in Gamesters of Triskelion.

Thats the missing equation! Yes, the old ones, the ones who made us……. sorry, excuse me as I digress into Trek quote mode.

I thought he looked familiar. I only saw that episode once back when it first aired, but he made such a huge impression. I couldn’t tell you a thing about what that episode was about, but I can tell you that John Ruskin rocked as a Vulcan. Thanks for that memory upload!

30. cpelc - June 30, 2008

#20

here’s some info on the TNG-R

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/archive/index.php/t-905414.html

31. Scott Gammans - June 30, 2008

Another great review, Jeff… especially this gem:

“…the Rich Little of the Klingon Empire.”

ROFL!!! Thank you, Jeff… today’s the last day of the quarter and its a madhouse here where I work… I needed a good laugh!

32. Billy Bobby - June 30, 2008

Recently, I have been trying to rank the Third Season in terms of good episodes. I noticed that in some of Jeff Bond’s reviews, he praises bad episodes and destroys decent ones. Since these episode just came out, I think this is the best time to pose this question. How would you personally rank from best to worst these four episodes: Whom Gods Destroy, The Lights of Zetar, The Cloud Minders, and The Savage Curtain. Thanks.

33. Izbot - June 30, 2008

30. cpelc

Thanks, that was very helpful!

34. Izbot - June 30, 2008

28. Marvin the Martian

And thank you, too!

35. Dr. Image - June 30, 2008

This ep was played so straight that all the crummy sets and absurd concepts fall by the wayside. I’ve always loved this one.
And talk about lines! “Now can you cry like Lincoln?” “Heeellllp meee Kiiirk…” Now that’s entertainment!

The new effects really shine. Love that high-angle shot of the E, and the planet looks like it could be NASA footage.
The stuff looks so much better than the older TNG fx it’s scary.
Funny how back in ’87, they rendered the planets as out-of-focus blobs because that’s how they looked in TOS. Same with the robin’s-egg blue of the E-D.
Now, of course, we have all been suitably enlightened.

36. T Negative - June 30, 2008

This is one of the best new shots of the Enterprise I have seen for TOS-R…

http://img.trekmovie.com/tosrem/savagecurtain/new_tosr077_06.jpg

37. toddk - June 30, 2008

In my mind the savage curtain is a good episode. I didnt know that so many disliked it. oh well. Funny that i remember lincolns speech about war so well (which he had never spoken in real life) and i only know the first lines of the gettysburg address.

“help me spock…”

Help me……spock!

now cry like lincoln…

Help me kirk…

HELP ME KIRK!…..

I laugh everytime i think about those lines. burned forever in my mind.

38. Greg Stamper - June 30, 2008

Spot-on Review by Mr. Bond.
Pretty much says it all

39. tronnei - June 30, 2008

1. The Savage Curtain
4. Whom Gods Destroy, The Lights of Zetar, The Cloud Minders

The last three are all dreadful; I can’t order them.

40. Ali - June 30, 2008

DId they fix the famous pants rip?

41. Thomas Jensen - June 30, 2008

Great review and a great shot of the Enterprise during Scotty’s log entry.

42. Joe Atari - June 30, 2008

Is there a definitive guide somewhere as to the cinematography and opticals of all of the Trek series? Specifically, what changes were made from TNG S1 in 1987 to VOY S7 in 2001 (and DS9 in between)? I understand that live action and effects elements (mainly miniatures) were shot on 35mm and composited in video, but did the compositing ever transition to HD at some point before 2001 (i.e. before ENT) — or as one poster mentioned the editing equipment changed (if so when)? There was a noticable improvement in the quality of the opticals from 1987 to 2001, but I can’t pinpoint when it happened.

I spoke about TOS-R with a rather knowledgable colleague and was amazed how long the myth about the “original camera negatives” being used (that’s what he still thought) has hung on. Whether it was an intentional deception or innocent technical misunderstanding on the part of the CBS marketing department (although the OCN statement was — I think — made by some production people who should know better in EPK video interviews), it is obvious that the OCNs (which have no opticals of course) were NOT used, in the unlikely event they even still exist. What were probably used were internegatives or interpositives (anyone know which?) struck from the cut OCN with all of the old opticals complete. A generation newer than previous releases (from release prints most likely), hence the noticable improvement, but certainly not from the OCN.

So I’ve never seen the prospective TNG-R situation spelled out this way, but if CBS was unwilling or unable to start with the OCNs for TOS-R (which they would HAVE to do for TNG, DS9, and VOY) and recomposite ALL of the opticals (including every single fade, transporter shot, etc.) for HD, how likely are they to do this for hundreds of TNG, DS9, and VOY episodes (or even 179 episodes of TNG)? And as it was the TOS-R effort was reportedly subsidized by Toshiba to boost HD-DVD. By my thinking it is just way too labor intensive to happen, but I hope I’m wrong.

I’m always interested in learning more about this subject so I can better understand the likelihood of future HD releases of not just Trek, but all other film content.

43. Xplodin' Nacelle - June 30, 2008

The planet shots were nice. – well done CBS-D

I’m still trying to figure out why the rockman’s multiple “eyes” still blinked when he talked. Kinda reminded me of the KITT’s voice modulator from Knight Rider.

It’d been cool if the remastered team could’ve done something to make the rockman seem more alive, & real…………..I don’t know what, but something.

44. jr - June 30, 2008

Yarnak was one of the best trek aliens ever!

45. Norm - June 30, 2008

I think you mean Joseph Ruskin.

http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Joseph_Ruskin

46. jkoolpe - June 30, 2008

Yes, I must agree that while this is by no means TOS’s best, it is not a true, blue stinker. It has some good characters, good performances, and a relatively “cool” looking alien (for the special effects capabilities of the time).

I especially like Lincoln’s speeches to Kirk towards the end where he explains that they must fight “brutality with brutality” and match their nemeses evil on every level when contrasted with Surak’s “I will not fight” mentality, and the philosophical arguments that ensue.

Interesting isn’t it that Surak’s approach fails while Lincoln’s brings about victory (even though he himself is killed)? Even though Trek is of course ultimately about peace, in this case when evil is a very defined and unchangeable aspect of the equation (as presented by the Excalbians), it is the “brutal” approach that saves the day.

And then there is Lincoln’s great other speech about war…the one ending with “…There is nothing good in war except its ending.”

Ahh..TV that made you think! Unlike today when it’s filled with crappy reality shows :( :( …

Jon

47. classictrek - June 30, 2008

always one of my fav episodes.

cheers
greg
UK

48. Izbot - June 30, 2008

45. Norm – June 30, 2008
“I think you mean Joseph Ruskin.”

Thanks, of course you’re right.

49. The Vulcanista - June 30, 2008

#14 “Maybe future Trek casting directors should look at actors who’ve played vampires successfully when considering who to cast as Vulcans.”

Then be sure to take a close look at Ben Cross (Sarek) in the new movie. He played Barnabas Collins in the 1990 “Dark Shadows” revival, as well as several other vampires in some rather forgettable movies.

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

50. Kev-1 - June 30, 2008

Yarnek to Kirk:

“Your ship will blow itself to bits within four hours unless you defeat the others by then. Is that cause enough to fight for?”

That is classic Trek.

51. Sean4000 - June 30, 2008

42: Glad to see that someone else noticed that the second generation negatives were used.

I really wish TNG-R would not happen unless a better and more consistent team was working on it. Let’s leave this, as you said, “too intensive to happen.”

Good post, Joe.

52. barrydancer - June 30, 2008

I’m all for a TNG remaster, if for no other reason than to fix some of the scaling issues in the first seasons. Loot at “The Battle.” The Stargazer, which should be dwarfed by the Enterprise-D, looks just as large as the Enterprise in the effects shots.

http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Image:PicardManeuverResolution.jpg

53. eagle219406 - June 30, 2008

I’ve noticed that they were wondering the diffference between good and evil. The only problem with that is, weather somebody is good or evil, depends on one’s point of view. Say the Klingons for example. They weren’t good or evil, they were simply a race of warriors. They were federation enemies in TOS, by TNG they were now allies. ANd personally, I can’t believe that Kahless would have run. He was a Klingon and that to them would be considered dishonor.

54. JeFF - June 30, 2008

Just the site of Zora makes me hysterical…

…and I love that Old Abe calls Uhura a negress. LMAO!

This episode rots along with most of season 3. Rot = stink, hence “stinker!”

55. jkoolpe - June 30, 2008

53 -

While I agree with your comments in many cases, I would also argue that there are certain absolutes. For instance, if one were to encounter a person (or a culture for that matter) who held the belief that cold-blooded murder was a good thing and perfectly acceptable (and for the sake of argument, say that this belief was immutable), I would say that this person or culture is truly evil.

Jon

56. Anthony Pascale - June 30, 2008

now that is one strange new world. well done CBS

and another great review by Jeff

57. Wolf Trek - June 30, 2008

Although this show is low on my list of TOS episodes, I do have to give its script KUDOS for it’s impact on modern society. I can’t tell you how many news stories I have heard on TV and radio that quote Lincoln’s speech in Star Trek and report it as being part of the historic record. Now that’s cool!

58. Redjac - June 30, 2008

#42 — I definitely agree…NOT from the original camera negatives. If that were the case, they would completely re-do things like the Lights of Zetar and phaser beam FX rather than rotoscope over the old ones.

And some of the FX still have the dirt that was present on some of the original shots…for example, take a look at Kara’s materialization in the episode “Spocks Brain”…the exact same dirt that was present in her original beam in is still there and clearly the shot was not recreated.

There are other examples of course.

59. Garovorkin - June 30, 2008

This was another silly season three episode

60. Richard Daystrom - June 30, 2008

Lincoln being introduced to Uhuru: ” My, what a lovely Negress!” You can’t find that kind of dialogue on cable unless you are watching the History Channel. Born in Richmond, Va. this has always been one of my favorites of TOS.

61. Engon - June 30, 2008

Spock says, “SMALL change occurring there, Captain.”
and then, “An area of approximately 1 ,000 square kilometers.”

That’s about 400 sq miles or 20 miles on a side, a bit smaller than the island of Kaui, yet ,in the remastered episode, something nealry the size of a continent appears.

I guess we can conclude that Excalbia is one mighty small planet…with normal gravity, of course.

62. Engon - June 30, 2008

Anyone know why this episode is called “The Savage Curtain?” The titles of TOS episodes are frequently some sort of literary allusion, but the only possible connection I can come up with is that the title is a not terribly effective reference to Winston Churchill’s coinage of “The Iron Curtain.”

“The Iron Curtain” figuratively separated the East and West during the Cold War and might, by extenstion, have been considered a dividing line between “Good” and “Evil.”

It might be that simple. Roddenberry also gave us “The Omega Glory” which had strong East vs. West cold war overtones.

63. 4 8 15 16 23 42 - June 30, 2008

Oh, look, it’s Mustafar….

64. Gary Seven - June 30, 2008

#62- I don’t know, but I would guess that “The Savage Curtain” is a reference to a play. Yarnek describes the situation he created for Kirk & Co. as a “play.” So my guess is the curtain opens, but it is a Savage Curtain.

I really like Mr. Bond’s reviews. However, I do agree with the many comments here that this episode is one of the better third season episodes and has some good characters and ideas (yes, it’s cheesy). I think most ST fans don’t think of this one as a “stinker.” I like “The Savage Curtain.”

65. The Underpants Monster - June 30, 2008

Maybe the curtain is made of raw silk (soie sauvage).

66. Gary Seven - June 30, 2008

Oh, and the new planet was great. Really visually interesting, and well-done. A real sense of scale with the small Enterprise hovering over a closeup of the planet. I think CBS-D is coming on strong at the end. Kind of surprising, I would have expected them to go out fading, what with Toshiba renouncing HDDVD and all. But it is a pleasant surprise.

67. General Order 24 - June 30, 2008

I do have a soft spot for this episode too. Rocky creatures, Klingon Kahless, Surak, Lincoln, and fist fights. Whats not to like.

68. Magic_Al - June 30, 2008

^42. Each TOS episode in the film vault probably is made of the original negatives cut together, except for effects, title, and transition shots which by nature are copies of multiple elements that may not be available. Remember Lincoln Enterprises used to let fans buy little pieces of film from the cutting room floor, so anything that wasn’t in the final cut, who knows where it is.

^20/28. The question is can CBS make enough money from TNG HD to justify reassembling episodes from scratch? It’s not just the effect that are in video, the entire editing process was done in video. All that 35mm camera footage is unassembled. TOS episodes always existed complete in high definition (on film), ready to be scanned when the technology arrived. But TNG HD is a hypothetical construct (literally), as are DS9 and VOY.

69. steve623 - June 30, 2008

Hard to believe the same guy played the serene Vulcan messiah in this episode *and* the savage, silent vampire Janos Skorzeny in “The Night Stalker” a few years later. He definitely gave Carl Kolchak a run for his money.

70. Andy Patterson - June 30, 2008

50

Aye lad. Yer right.

71. steve623 - June 30, 2008

#62 – I always assumed “The Savage Curtain” was a reference to the thin curtain of civilization hiding man’s savage promal core, which the Excalbians attempt to expose by putting the “good” people of the Enterprise in a situation where they have to fight for their lives – how much is savage and how much is civilized man when you pull back the curtain?
Or I could be full or shit. Or perhaps both?

72. jimj - June 30, 2008

That planet absolutely rocks! It is HOT!!! Puns intended! LOL

73. Blimpboy - June 30, 2008

I always remember this episode as the last “family” moment in TOS. The entire meeting before Kirk and Spock beam done is in order for McCoy and Scotty to plea to their friends not to beam down. I have never seen the latter incarnations of Trek equal the genuine feeling of concern these men had for each other. I hope the new film can return to these concepts.

74. Garovorkin - June 30, 2008

#69 The actor that played Lincoln also played the Butler on Dynasty , he died not to long ago. As silly as i think this episode iit was entertaining none the less. I was impressed with actors performance as Lincoln.

75. Adam Cohen - June 30, 2008

I’ve always enjoyed this episode as it is truly unique to Star Trek. Sure, the plot is silly and outlandish, but the earnestness of everyone involved makes it work. Kitcshy does not always mean crappy. I think the regulars and guest stars together worked quite well in establishing emotional connections with one another. This episode shows the chemistry of these characters and how it elevated the material.

No, it’s not Shakespeare, but I have always found this episode to be quite enjoyable.

76. MrRegular - June 30, 2008

Barry Atwater’s range was incredible. In this episode he plays a Christlike Vulcan, the great Surak, very well.
His portrayal of the Las Vegas vampire still spooks me and a lot of other people I know who have seen the first installment of the Night Stalker.

77. S. John Ross - June 30, 2008

Lovely planet.

78. Scott - June 30, 2008

Like a lot of you, I have a fondness for this one. It’s the kind of show that plays like Shakespeare to the 13 year-old boy’s mind. Certain parts of it stick with you long after the good versus evil set-up eventually reveals itself to be as flimsy as the styrofoam sets. Lee Bergere, Barry Atwater and Bart LaRue (that great voice of Yarnek)’s performances are all fantastic, and some of the lines spoken are pretty cool. I don’t think anyone mentioned Uhura’s gracious reaction to Lincoln’s faux pas. I always thought her not taking offense was one of the show’s more enlightened moments.

Scott B. out.

79. Joe Atari - June 30, 2008

#s 51 & 58 – Just for the heck of it I went back to the ubiquitous “Spacelift: Transporting Trek Into The 21st Century” featurette from the HD-DVD set and pulled the following quotes:

From David LaFountaine, Senior Vice-President CBS/Paramount:

“This was our chance to go back in and digitally remaster the prints — clean them up.”

Fair enough, but:

From Ryan D. Adams, Exec. Consultant CBS/Paramount Mastering (with David S. Grant, Director CBS/Paramount TV HD Mastering looking on):

“We went back to the original camera negatives, so we’re going back to ground zero. I mean, what they used to shoot it is what we got our hands on to transfer it.”

And then:

From Don Freeman, Digital Colorist (pointing to a negative image from The Cage / Menagerie on the telecine’s preview monitor):

“So basically what you see there is kind of a raw image from the original camera negative.”

I don’t even think it’s open to interpretation; except for the first quote (itself probably wrong because I don’t think they used prints for TOS-R) the others are flat out wrong — from guys that should know better.

This afternoon I also glanced at a couple of upconverted TNG episodes on Sci-Fi HD. I was amazed at the noticable quality shift between scenes with opticals (not just space scenes but also transporter and replicator shots, viewscreen shots, weapons, etc.) and those without; the image regularly alternates between soft and softer depending on the opticals. And since so many of TNG’s opticals were so subtle (and the episodes I had on were not effects heavy by any means) it further drives the point home that it would be a mammoth undertaking (read: $$$) to reconstruct all of this stuff (like they did for the Ten-Forward scene in ENT “These Are The Voyages”. TPTB probably knew HD was coming (NHK’s analog MUSE system was broadcasting HD in the late ’80s) but just didn’t have the money for anything better than 480i SD compositing, painting the affected shows into an unfortunate corner.

80. spooky - June 30, 2008

You know what… I always thought the cloud forming over the surface of the planet in the original looked cool for its time. It still does in my opinion, not that the new effects look like garbage or anything. It takes a great deal of work, CGI is hard work. I think the planets could stand to look a little more strange over time, I mean it wouldn’t kill them to have some purple coloured planets would it.

:D

81. Jeff Bond - June 30, 2008

Yep–from the beginning I’ve always heard that because of the way TNG was put together, doing this same sort of project would be virtually impossible for the show. I do think the non-optical shots look spectacularly good (for the most part) and it’s one of the most exciting parts about watching these episodes for me–I would love to see how dramatic the jump in quality would be (apart from cleaning up some obvious dirt in some shots) if they really were going back to the original negatives…

And I do find a lot of this episode enjoyable as I think my review indicates. I won’t be reviewing “The Cloud Minders” but that’s another one I enjoy watching, for Jeff Corey’s performance as Plasus, for the idea and rendering of the floating city, and the two hot babes. It is not great Trek but I do prefer it to episodes like “Lights of Zetar” and “Whom Gods Destroy”–I just think those episodes have less to offer in terms of character, plotting and performance. But I will say this–the worst classic Trek episodes still boast a basic entertainment value that the dullest TNG episodes don’t. Maybe it’s because of the camp factor and a ‘so bad it’s good’ quality in the case of some episodes, but whatever it is, it’s just more fun to watch because of the color, design work and performance and directing style than a lot of later Trek–for me at any rate.

82. Anthony Pascale - June 30, 2008

from what I am told one of the biggest obstacles to doing TNG-R is the viewscreen.

look at this shot
http://www.memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Image:Viewscreen_targeting.jpg

on only a couple of instances were there people in front of the viewscreen on TOS, but on TNG there are people there all the time. Rotoscoping them frame by frame would be a nightmare

83. starfall42 - June 30, 2008

How was the viewscreen done in TNG? Was it rear projection or bluescreen? If (a) it was bluescreen and (b) they still have the raw footage, the viewscreen shots could be recomposed without rotoscoping.

84. Sean4000 - June 30, 2008

83, exactly. Simple keying would make that task much easier, provided they have the film elements left.

85. Wesley - June 30, 2008

What a one sided commentary! This guy reminds me of a troll! LOL! where is Anthony when you need him! Savage Curtain is alot better than 15% of TNG, 25% DS9, 80% VOY, 60% ENT!

86. Captain Robert April - June 30, 2008

TNG-R is at least possible from the standpoint that at least they can lay their hands on the original negatives and the film footage, whereas it’s an open question as to just how much of TOS’ raw footage actually exists.

But, yeah, it’d be a ground-up rebuild, and barring a major technical breakthrough, probably not gonna happen any time soon.

87. franbro - June 30, 2008

Exactly. Finding 7 seasons worth of the original uncut footage?!?!? Does anyone think it will all be in good shape? back then after a show’s film footage was transferred to videotape and then edited, very often the film was thrown out or stored VERY haphazardly. Then they’d have to find all the editing logs to know which take of say, scene 36 was used. Would be an absolute MAMMOTH undertaking.

88. Engon - June 30, 2008

Composited effects MIGHT have been cut into the original negative A and B rolls, so their retention does not, in itself, prove that they aren’t using the original camera negatives for the non-effects shots.

However, what makes it clear that they are not dealing with the original negative is the way they deal with dissolves to or from new effects shots. If they were using the original A and B negative rolls, they would not have to shorten the non-effects portion of the dissolve to remove the original special effect.

89. franbro - June 30, 2008

whoops. negatives too. THEN they’d have to redo ALL the FX. The average TNG show often had ALOT more FX shots than the TOS…

90. Engon - July 1, 2008

“You established the methods and the goals!”
“For you to use…as you chose!”

Very bad poetry, Captain.

91. Anthony Pascale - July 1, 2008

they do not have the bluescreen footage that was the point. I have talked to the cbs guys about this…they are the ones that told me about how the viewscreen shots make it a potentially impossible task

92. Joe Atari - July 1, 2008

#88 – “However, what makes it clear that they are not dealing with the original negative is the way they deal with dissolves to or from new effects shots. If they were using the original A and B negative rolls, they would not have to shorten the non-effects portion of the dissolve to remove the original special effect.”

Good point; the other thing is, as I understand it, that the cut negative in any form is almost never used to strike numerous release prints because — even if the producers are not concerned about damage to the OCN as they should be — of durability concerns with all of the splices, etc. The HD-DVD featurette mentions that whatever the TOS-R team had was previously used to strike prints (hence the damage necessitating the digital restoration). So yeah, I’m guessing that what the colorist had on the telecine in the featurette was an internegative struck from the interpositive that was struck from the cut negative. Still pretty far from the OCN though…

“Composited effects MIGHT have been cut into the original negative A and B rolls”

Just out of curiosity, how common was this practice? Was it done with lower budget productions back in the day to save a processing step and $$$?

One other TOS-R question that may veer even further away from “Savage Curtain”: Has anyone mentioned what elements were available to the TOS-R team for “The Cage”? Is it still going to be an ersatz version like the previous all-color transfer with the bulk taken from “Menagerie?” Are they going to restore all of Malachi Throne’s original Keeper dialogue (rerecorded by Vic Perrin for “Menagerie”) or was that all lost? Were any new elements recovered since that last transfer that would improve the quality during the non-”Menagerie” scenes?

93. neonknights - July 1, 2008

The new effects look really bad here. The Enterprise and the planet look like PC-game animations from ca. 2001 and that “Earth spot” is just too big compared to such a huge planet. BTW have you noticed that CBS-D ends each episode with the same shot only with different planet nowadays? They could be much more creative than that.

94. neonknights - July 1, 2008

#92: Vic Perrin’s contribution to “The Menagerie” is one of the oldest trivia errors in connection with TOS. It was actually Throne’s voice (the same as in “The Cage”), but electrically pitch-altered so it couldn’t be recognized as Commodore Mendez’s.

95. Andy Patterson - July 1, 2008

81

“the worst classic Trek episodes still boast a basic entertainment value that the dullest TNG episodes don’t. Maybe it’s because of the camp factor and a ’so bad it’s good’ quality in the case of some episodes, but whatever it is, it’s just more fun to watch because of the color, design work and performance and directing style than a lot of later Trek–for me at any rate.”

I shall second that.

96. FredCFO - July 1, 2008

The original Throne voiceover for the Cage should still available on Roddenberry’s B&W editors copy.

That would be quite a treat to restore The Cage to its original soundtrack. For that matter, they should have put the original footage back into WNMHGB, too.

97. Andy Patterson - July 1, 2008

Off subject a bit….but since we’re talking about original soundtracks….has anyone every heard the jarring and awful soundtrack that evidently was on the original “City on the Edge of Forever”? I discovered it after renting it on video about 20 yrs ago. It severely cripples the emotional impact of the version we all know. I’m glad they changed it but I’d be interested to hear the story behind that.

98. eagle219406 - July 1, 2008

#89 whoops. negatives too. THEN they’d have to redo ALL the FX. The average TNG show often had ALOT more FX shots than the TOS…

That’s why most episodes of TOS took place on a planet instead of staying on the ship. The FX weren’t real enough and on a planet, they could get away with it.

99. FredCFO - July 1, 2008

Andy:

What was the difference between the two soundtracks? How did it get to videotape?

100. Scott - July 1, 2008

Jeff Bond said,

“Maybe it’s because of the camp factor and a ’so bad it’s good’ quality in the case of some episodes, but whatever it is, it’s just more fun to watch because of the color, design work and performance and directing style than a lot of later Trek–for me at any rate.”

I can’t believe you didn’t mention the MUSIC, Jeff! :-)

Scott B. out.

101. Sean4000 - July 1, 2008

Anthony……..no……..no………NOOOOOOOOOOO!

They threw away the negatives?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?

You cannot be serious, are you running a fever as you type? Bumped on the head perhaps? This is an April fools joke a few months late, right?

102. Closettrekker - July 1, 2008

#53—–”… personally, I can’t believe that Kahless would have run. He was a Klingon and that to them would be considered dishonor.”

The Klingon obsession with “honor” was never a part of the albeit limited exploration of their culture in TOS. It was TNG and the other “spinoffs” which added that aspect to the Klingons, and suddenly made it the foundation of their culture. In TOS, the Klingons were simply the primary adversaries of the Federation, and their relationship with the UFP was intended to parallel the Cold War atmosphere of the 1960′s. “Honor” had very little to do with anything.

Not only did Kahless run, but he also deferred to the leadership of Colonel Green throughout the confrontation.

TOS Klingons were quite differently portrayed from their TNG-era counterparts.

Kor (“Errand Of Mercy”) and Kang (“Day Of The Dove”) were calculating and cunning enemies, both worthy of matching wits with Captain Kirk.

Kras (“Friday’s Child”) was a deviant, distrustful, backstabbing manipulator who ultimately betrays his Capellan allies.

Koloth (“The Trouble With Tribbles”) was a sniveling snot-nose, who winds up humiliated by Captain Kirk.

Kahless (“The Savage Curtain”) helps to plan a sneak attack, and ultimately displays his true cowardly colors when it is revealed that he is only brave in superior numbers.

Perhaps 24th Century Klingons have a somewhat distorted view of their history, and really aren’t very honest with themselves at all.

Personally, I think TNG “rebooted” the Klingons, rather than “expanding on their culture”, as the writers claimed.

103. Adam Bomb - July 1, 2008

The producers originally wanted Mark Lenard to play Lincoln. Either he was unavailable or uninterested, so Lee Bergere was cast instead. And, a good move that was. Mr. Bergere stated before his death that he received more fan mail for playing Lincoln in this episode than for any other role he’s ever done.
Lee Bergere, along with “ST-FC”‘s James Cromwell, were in a sitcom version of Lanford Wilson’s play “The Hot L Baltimore.” One of ABC’s forgotten gems of the 1970′s, it ran only 13 episodes.

104. earthclanbootstrap - July 1, 2008

^ 102. in regards to the behavior of Kahless, as well as all the rest of the historical figures, aren’t their personalities based on what the crew of the Enterprise EXPECTS them to be, not necessarily what they were really like? I wouldn’t expect Kirk et al. to have a great opinion of any of the “evil” sides’ personalities.

105. earthclanbootstrap - July 1, 2008

and likewise Lincoln and Surak are both idealized, not neccessarily accurate.

106. Closettrekker - July 1, 2008

#104, #105—I won’t dispute that, but that is beside the point I was trying to make. I was attempting to remind #53 that he is basing his opinion of Kahless’ behavior in “The Savage Curtain” on the TNG-era interpretation of Klingon culture.

That poster asserted that he did not believe Kahless would run because it would not be “honorable”, and (paraphrasing) that’s not what a Klingon would do. TOS introduced the Klingons, and (far beyond their physical appearance) TOS Klingons were depicted quite differently than their TNG-era counterparts. There is nothing in TOS which would lead anyone to believe that Klingon culture would be so obsessed with “honor”. In fact, my view of Klingons in the 24th Century is that they seem to have regressed quite a bit from the level of sophistication in their 23rd Century predecessors. Suddenly, nearly a century later, they prefer blades to disruptors, drool on themselves, spend half their time drunk, eat live food, carry on feudalistic nonsense, and appear more as “cavemen in space” than anything else. TOS Klingons were as intelligent, cunning, and sophisticated as they were brutal. I’ve said it before. TNG ruined the Klingons. But that’s just my opinion.

107. earthclanbootstrap - July 1, 2008

I definitely agree with you that it is a bit silly to hold TOS Klingons to TNG standards; aside from any in-universe explanations, in the real world ret-conning (thankfully) hasn’t reached the point where we are traveling back to the sixties and giving continuity notes to the script writers!

While I will always love the sly and oily Klingons of the 23rd I kind of like the drunken retrograde barbarians of the 24th as well!

108. Andy Patterson - July 1, 2008

99

FredCFO

The two soundtracks are well….. two totally different soundtracks. They don’t use that “Goodnight Sweetheart” standard in the episode in all the forms it was woven in through the episode. It is so sickly unsatisfying. I remember we rented a video tape, like what was coming out about 20 yrs ago of Star Trek, to show a friend our favorite episode. My brother’s and I were aghast at what we heard. Every gut wrenching, emotional scene that we anticipated from years of watching it was like having cold water poured on you every time we’d hear an unfamiliar musical cue. I can even sing it to you to this day what was there. We hypothesized that this videotape must have been made from an original cut before the music we know today was put on. I can’t explain it any more than that only that I remember it and can produce witnesses. It may sound like the Bigfoot Monster but I tell you…I was there. I heard it! There’s a story I’d love to hear about.

109. Izbot - July 1, 2008

102. Closettrekker

Yes, the changes in the Klingons were slightly hinted at in STIII when Kruge destroys the Merchantman vessel and his lover and says something to the effect that she will be remembered with honor. This may have actually been a holdover from early script drafts when Romulans (likewise never explored in depth as a culture) were supposed to be the villains of the movie. A few elements came in part from the marvelous novel “The Final Reflection”. But the real establishing of ‘the Klingon way’ came from the season 1 TNG episode “Heart of Glory”. Everything that came after was built on what was revealed there — and it’s quite a lot.

Also on TOS in “Errand of Mercy” Kirk sneaks up behind a Kor’s second-in-command soldier and grabs him by the neck. The Klingon essentially pleads for his life and quickly gives up information to Kirk to save his skin in the most cowardly way possible. Very unlike the Klingons of the late 80′s reboot.

110. Izbot - July 1, 2008

107. earthclanbootstrap – July 1, 2008
“…in the real world ret-conning (thankfully) hasn’t reached the point where we are traveling back to the sixties and giving continuity notes to the script writers!”

Actually there was some attempt made in dialogue in the ENT 2-parter which explained why TOS Klingons had smooth heads that as a result of the augment virus Klingons wouldn’t just take on a physical similarity to humans but had inherited their weaknesses and fears as well.

I personally think that the Klingons became ridiculous parodies late on in TNG, DS9 and VOY. Everything was always “the [blank] of Kahless” this and “glory” and “honor” that. Even the actors cast to play Klingons were hamming it up so annoyingly, over-emoting every line, playing the Klingons so broadly as to be laughable and not in any way intimidating. I preferred the playing up the cunning and ruthless icy cold of the TOS version of Kor to the opera-singing drunken Vikings of the 90s.

108. Andy Patterson
I don’t think you’re crazy — I have heard this story before and I think it had something to do with paying royalties on the song heard over a shop-window radio after Kirk and Edith go strolling by. But I can’t say that I’ve ever heard (and noticed) this alternate soundtrack.

111. LOUIS G - July 1, 2008

AAAAHHHHH!!!! HELP ME SPOCK!!

112. Mr. Photon Technobabble - July 1, 2008

This episode is just another reminder of how mediocre TOS’s third season was. It brings tears to my eyes… some are tears of laughter, at what nonsense the writers were churning out… the rest are tears of sadness that this is what became of the series that spawned episodes like “City On the Edge of Forever,” “The Doomsday Machine,” “The Trouble With Tribbles,” etc. Thank God for the films…

113. Closettrekker - July 1, 2008

#109—It’s interesting that you brought up STIII and the Klingons ultimately replacing the Romulans as the villains in the story. I never liked seeing the Klingons in a cloaked scoutship which was painted like a giant bird of prey.

The act of painting ships like giant birds of prey was quickly established in TOS, “Balance Of Terror” as a Romulan cultural practice. Even if you accept the most common explanation—that the Klingons and Romulans participated in a mutual exchange of military technology, it still makes little sense that the Klingons would actually paint them like Romulan ships, or that the Romulans would give up their most prized tactical advantage (the cloaking device) as part of such an exchange. Two of the worst things, IMO, that ever came of that script change was that we rarely ever saw the Klingons in any other ship after that, and certainly not in the original movies, and the Klingons ended up massively overdone in that feature film series.

Perhaps even worse than that, we may have missed out on what might have been a better story. Given the Saavik backstory from the TWOK and TSFS novelizations, having the Romulans take her, Spock and David prisoner might have been much more interesting, in addition to being more in keeping with established continuity and reasonable conclusion. Saavik (and her “condition”) should have been, IMO, a much more integral part of future Trek stories, and I would have liked to see her character develop as it did in the TWOK-TSFS-TVH novelizations. Having her come face to face with the Romulans in TSFS could have been very interesting indeed.

114. Closettrekker - July 1, 2008

#110—”I personally think that the Klingons became ridiculous parodies late on in TNG, DS9 and VOY. Everything was always “the [blank] of Kahless” this and “glory” and “honor” that. Even the actors cast to play Klingons were hamming it up so annoyingly, over-emoting every line, playing the Klingons so broadly as to be laughable and not in any way intimidating. I preferred the playing up the cunning and ruthless icy cold of the TOS version of Kor to the opera-singing drunken Vikings of the 90s.”

Absolutely. I agree 100% with your opinion on all counts.

115. Max - July 1, 2008

Favourite laugh-out-loud moment: Kirk’s ill-conceived lunge at the Excalbian. “You find my body heat distressing Captain? You forget the nature of this planet.”

What exactly was Kirk’s plan anyway? “Hmmm… this towering rock-thing can create earth-like environments on a whim, disable communications with my crew, and set my starship to explode with a gesture of it’s claws. Maybe all I need to do is get it in a headlock and give it a few noogies!”

116. 'Beach - July 1, 2008

102
Think of it this way. If Excalbians were truly “protraying” these historical figures, then this individual was ‘Kahless” in appearance only. When they saw they were defeated, the ‘Excalbian’ Kahless ran for his/her/its life, something that a true Klingon wouldn’t do.
And I don’t truly beileve that TNG ‘rebooted’ the Klingons, it’s just that TOS had so little time to devote to anything or anyone other than the Big-E’s crew. Besides, TNG had Worf, a built-in reason (or excuse) to do Klingon-centric eps….
Just my two quatloos’ worth…

117. Jeff Bond - July 1, 2008

97 & 108–regarding City on the Edge of Forever, the video/laserdisc rights to the song “Goodnight Sweetheart” lapsed at some point–I think it may have even had something to do with the song’s use in the Coen Bros. movie Miller’s Crossing. Broadcast rights were unaffected so the episode played in syndication with the music intact, but for video and laserdisc the song was replaced and several cues that Fred Steiner wrote based on “Goodnight Sweetheart”–including the music following Edith Keeler’s death–were rewritten and rerecorded–very badly. Fortunately by the time the episodes went to DVD the rights to the song were retained again.

And I do agree about the Klingons–the retrofitting of the movies and TNG started out interesting but eventually became ridiculous, especially by the time the Klingons started singing…

118. Closettrekker - July 1, 2008

#115—You might sell that as an explanation for Kahless in “The Savage Curtain” as it stands alone, but IMO, that doesn’t account for the overall difference in behavior between TOS Klingons and TNG Klingons. What about the numerous other examples of Klingon depictions in TOS I listed in post#102, or what Izbot added in #109?

They are simply not the same Klingons, IMO. TNG went their own way with the most popular villains in Star Trek.

119. earthclanbootstrap - July 1, 2008

Izbot & Closettrekker- I always felt that ST III would have worked better if they had gone with the original concept of the Romulans instead of the Klingons, and I always loved the Saavik/David angle from the novelizations. Saavik’s “condition” (good one, Closettrekker) is something that would have been fantastic to have revisited in the later movies, ESPECIALLY if Valeris had been Saavik as originally planned!

I think that the treatment of the 24th Klingons was a great concept originally that unfortunately just got taken way too far in the later years, although (and I know there are plenty who will disagree) I kind of like what Enterprise did with them. They seemed to be trying to dial it back a bit and reconcile the two eras.

120. Thomas Jensen - July 1, 2008

I also agree with so many of the comments above. In the original series Klingons were not the aliens with honorable character. The Romulans were the aliens who were clever, perhaps underhanded, but demonstrated aspects of their nature that humans could identify with. The Klingons were somewhat more ‘human’ then they came to be on the spin-off series.

Then they became the drinking, brawling bikers of space. Which was just goofy.

121. Joe Atari - July 1, 2008

#94 – “Vic Perrin’s contribution to “The Menagerie” is one of the oldest trivia errors in connection with TOS. It was actually Throne’s voice (the same as in “The Cage”), but electrically pitch-altered so it couldn’t be recognized as Commodore Mendez’s.”

I have never heard that before, but it makes more sense to do that than to pay another actor to come in and reread the dialogue. And it did give The Keeper’s voice an eerieness that Throne’s unaltered voice might not have provided. Of course, I’ll always associate the high-pitched voice with The Keeper from numerous viewings of The Cage / The Menagerie.

And for those unaware, one line of Throne’s unaltered dialogue was kept in the “restored” video versions of the Cage for one to compare: “She has an illusion and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.” I guess Throne must have rerecorded that one line while filming Menagerie to replace the “she” (for Vina in The Cage) with “he” (for Pike in The Menagerie), but they forgot to correct it for the video release of The Cage. Interesting stuff!

122. 'Beach - July 1, 2008

117
One hundred percent agreement. That’s pretty much all I was trying for. Kahless in that one ep. Klingons in the TNG-era are a MUCH deeper issue…

123. Closettrekker - July 1, 2008

#116—”…the retrofitting of the movies and TNG started out interesting but eventually became ridiculous, especially by the time the Klingons started singing…”

Here, here.

#118—”I think that the treatment of the 24th Klingons was a great concept originally that unfortunately just got taken way too far in the later years, although (and I know there are plenty who will disagree) I kind of like what Enterprise did with them. They seemed to be trying to dial it back a bit and reconcile the two eras.”

I also respect what ENT tried to do there. At least there was no singing!

I’m not sure I would have liked seeing Saavik as a traitor/conspirator, though. I am somewhat relieved that they did not go in that direction. Saavik’s pregnancy was a lost story opprotunity (IMO), however, much like the potential drama of a Saavik confrontation with the Romulans in TSFS.

#119—”The Klingons were somewhat more ‘human’ then they came to be on the spin-off series.
Then they became the drinking, brawling bikers of space. Which was just goofy.”

Yea, Brother!

124. Lord Garth, Formerly of Izar - July 1, 2008

Sinister Ruthless Brown Shoe polish wearing Stalinist-Ottoman Turk Klingons = Good

Next Gen Era Navajo Noble Samurai Rowdy Biker Viking bad teeth prosthetic wearing (That made the actors slur) chubby fan costume wearing at conventions singing tea ceremony having bright green bird of prey flying klingons = Laughably Godawful patheticly lame!!

125. earthclanbootstrap - July 1, 2008

#122 – Y’know, the first time that I ready about Valeris originally being Saavik, it kind of made me go HUH? But, given Nicholas Meyer’s track record writing Trek, I’m willing to bet he just might have been able to make it work. It really might have made the forced mind meld that much creepier and made her part in the conspiracy that much more powerful. Especially if they had ever had time to follow through on her “condition”….

and yes, mercifully no singing from ENT Klingons. Despite what a lot of people say, ENT had some worthwhile aspects. I’m just glad that Berman and Braga never wrote the series finale, like they said they were going to ;-)

126. Andy Patterson - July 1, 2008

117

Jeff,

You get the award for Private Detective of the year. And fast too. I didn’t know that. Yes….it was baaaaadllly recorded. As much as I hated it I can still sing those cues. Again, really good work. Verrrry interesting. I never knew that. Where’d you find this out, by the way? And so fast?

On another note,….I enjoyed your interview with Craig Armstrong over the Hulk soundtrack. I really liked his stuff in the movie. If this is the same Jeff Bond.

I agree with a lot of the posts on what the Klingon’s started out being, were in the first movie and then eventually became.

On one more note……I think Vic Perrin was one of the great voices to be featured on Trek. I’d love to see a feature on him someday and maybe even have part of it discuss his and big Ted Cassidy’s relationship. They seemed to have done many voice over jobs together. Star Trek, the old FF cartoons.

127. starfall42 - July 1, 2008

To add one more bit on the “City” soundtrack, the issue was that there never were any video rights to “Goodnight, Sweetheart”, not that they expired. This is a problem with a lot of old TV shows made before home video existed. Just ask fans of “WKRP in Cincinnati”, which have virtually none of the original music. For old shows where video rights weren’t negotiated up front, they have to go back and try to buy the rights. This has to be done on the video release’s budget (as opposed to the show production budget), and they often decide it’s too expensive.

That’s what happened on the “City” videotape. For the DVD releases, they did apparently cough up the money.

128. Jeff Bond - July 1, 2008

It’s the same Jeff Bond–I cover film music for Film Score Monthly and The Hollywood Reporter. I don’t remember what the paper trail is on the City on the Edge of Forever music but I wrote a book on the subject–”The Music of Star Trek” that you might be able to find on amazon.com, and I still have copies of all the episode cue sheets for the series.

There’s a great interview with Ted Cassidy in an old issue of Starlog, done shortly before he died. It’s sad because he constantly had to struggle with the fact that he was never taken seriously as an actor because of his size. He said he played a scene with James Garner on The Rockford Files and somebody came up to him and said “That was really good–I didn’t know you could do that.” Cassidy thought ‘What the hell do you think I’ve been doing all these years?” The final blow for him was having to play Bigfoot on the Six Million Dollar Man and finally having people confuse him with Richard Kiel, “Jaws” from the James Bond movies. “If they can’t tell the difference between what I do and what that guy does I might as well give it up.” Cassidy had fantastic stage presence but he also really could act–he’s in some terrible movie where he plays a hit man with a partner who’s a little person. You can tell he and the little guy are improvising in some scenes just trying to make things funnier and it actually works. He was a great and sadly underappreciated talent.

129. classictrek - July 1, 2008

KEV 1 post#50

spot on mate, i love that line in this episode
greg
UK

130. Izbot - July 1, 2008

126, 128. RE: Ted Cassidy
I’ve always been a big fan of his, loved his Trek work especially but he was always amusing on The Addams Family which I have a soft spot in my heart for (Caroline Jones was my 3rd cousin by marriage — Aaron Spelling having been her husband — yes, that makes Tori Spelling my 4th cousin). Always annoys me how often I read that Vic Perrin supplied the voice for the Gorn in “Arena” when it was actually Cassidy. I think Alan Asherman even made this mistake in his Star Trek Compendium.

Closettrekker, et al RE: Klingons
I really enjoyed where ENT was taking the Klingons on several levels. I liked the wigs better (no more frizzy Quiet Riot hair), the acting was mostly better, and I appreciate the attempts made at answering the sticky questions about their appearance and behavior discrepencies — especially in season 4. But there were some things that got by that I didn’t agree with, mostly thanks to sloppy writing in the first couple seasons. The whole notion postulated after “Enterprise Incident” & STIII that Klingons and Romulans were exchanging technologies was kind of jettisoned when we started seeing 22nd century Klingon Birds-of-Prey (and even one early dialogue mistake had T’Pol identifying a Klingon ship as a “Klingon Warbird”!). The designs were nicely retro but really they shouldn’t have existed.

By far the sloppiest ENT Klingon episode was “Judgment” which seemed rehashed and cobbled together from many TNG Klingon-centric episodes and Classic Trek films. Almost every Klingon name in the episode was a re-use of a 23rd or 24th century character’s name. Did we really have to make a 22nd century Duras whose father’s name was Toral? Did Duras’ ship really need to be called the Bortas? Did Archer really have to go on trial *and* have his death sentence commuted to life on Rura Penthe? This kind of repetition annoyed me. It’s like the writers just can’t come up with new names. The same goes for Klingon episodes of DS9 and the last year of Voyager (why did there even need to be any Klingon episodes of Voyager?) where things were “the Grail of Kahless” and “the prophesy of Kahless”, “the Sword of Kahless”, etc.

131. Thomas Jensen - July 1, 2008

Jeff, Speaking of Star Trek music cues, is there a possibility that some or all of the remaining music from the show will ever be released? I don’t actually know what that would be, but it seems the phase II series has access to the music. I do have all the original music that has been released to this time, but I’d love to have more. I also own the original sheet music from the composer, Ivan Ditmars, who wrote it for “Requiem for Methuselah”. I have his personal copy and contract from Paramount. He made $100.00 for it! Amazing.

Also, Ted Cassidy was on Genesis II in 1973, produced by Gene Roddenberry. He was excellent in that one as well. A great loss that he died so young.

132. Windsor Bear - July 1, 2008

127 – And not just with TV shows. The same is with the videos of some 70′s movies as well. One that comes to mind is “Love at First Bite.” In the theater version, George Hamilton and Susan Saint James danced to Alicia Bridges’ “I Love The Night Life”. But in the video version, the song was changed to something else, even though the end credits still listed “I Love The Night Life” as the song.

133. Andy Patterson - July 1, 2008

130

“Always annoys me how often I read that Vic Perrin supplied the voice for the Gorn in “Arena” when it was actually Cassidy. I think Alan Asherman even made this mistake in his Star Trek Compendium.”

Man….I’ve been saying that for a long time…isn’t it obvious who was who on that?

130
Ah Caroline Jones from Amarillo Tx. Love her. Love her.

128

Jeff…that stuff on Ted Cassidy…I reach that. I always thought he was great. Did you know that he was a field reporter on the air for WBAP here in Dallas the day JFK was shot? That’s some trivia, huh? I remember when he was Bigfoot. Misuse of the man. Great, great talent.

Also,….I shall have to look up your book on Amazon. I enjoy your work here and I’m going to have to check out the Hulk composer’s work too. I liked his approach to the movie.

134. Jai1138 - July 1, 2008

“Now can you cry out like Lincoln?”

I wonder if Kahless could do Jimmy Stewart, Bogie or John Wayne?

I love Jeff Bond’s writing on TREK music, in all its various incarnations — he should have a regular music feature on this site.

And Colonel Green — interesting character- glad they touched on him in ENTERPRISE. What year was he supposed to be doing his evil deeds and why haven’t we heard about it?

135. Izbot - July 1, 2008

134. Green was supposed to be a key figure during the third world war — the one the world was recovering from when Zefram Cochrane invented warp drive. We should be seeing him in the news any day now, I’d think.

136. Andy Patterson - July 2, 2008

131

” I have his personal copy and contract from Paramount. He made $100.00 for it! Amazing.”

Now that’s cool.

137. captain_neill - July 2, 2008

I personally dont think TNG needs to be remastered as I still think the effects hold up so.

Maybe a few treaks in the first season but I think the effects are great the way they are.

138. bdrcarter - July 2, 2008

Remember, the team members on the good versus evil teams were recreations of the originals…not the actual individuals. Supposedly, the rock creatures used record tapes and possibly mental images from the Enterprise crew to create them. Lincoln and Sarak were very vivid and possibly much more accurate recreations because of how much data was available about them.

The Kahless recreation was probably derived from Starfleet proganda and the crew’s own (and limited) POVs of Klingons in general. In their minds, it wouldn’t be inconceivable for a bullying Klingon to turn tail and run. Had Work been aboard the TOS Enterprise, the Kahless recreation might have behaved very differently.

139. bdrcarter - July 2, 2008

One of the worst examples of music clearances I’ve run across came from an episode of The Greatest American Hero. Ralph and Bill were working to stop a nuclear war from breaking out. The aliens (The Guardians?) that gave Ralph the suit are sending him messages on his car radio. They kept dedicating the song “Eve of Destruction” to him. Suffice to say…that specific song was pivotal to the plot. Apparently they couldn’t clear the rights for the DVD release and had to replace it with a total different song…even though it was still referred to by name in the script! Bet the producers were bummed. Of course in those days, who knew to plan for a video release when negotiating with music publishers?

“Look at what’s happened to me. I can’t believe it myself. Suddenly I’m up on top of the world. It should have been somebody else.”

140. Closettrekker - July 2, 2008

#130—”The whole notion postulated after “Enterprise Incident” & STIII that Klingons and Romulans were exchanging technologies was kind of jettisoned when we started seeing 22nd century Klingon Birds-of-Prey (and even one early dialogue mistake had T’Pol identifying a Klingon ship as a “Klingon Warbird”!)”

That goes right back to my opinion that Klingons should never have had those ships in the first place. I always hated the whole “exchange of technology” bit. What did the Klingons have that was worth (to the xenophobic Romulans no less) giving up their most significant strategic advantage (the cloaking device)? Why did Klingons need scoutships painted like birds of prey which are far too weak to stand up against a Federation starship? What the heck was wrong with the D-7 battlecruiser?

The exchange was just a poorly thought-out fanboy “explanation” for budgetary and logistical problems which interfered with continuity.

I prefer ENT’s ignorance of the imaginary treaty…The only actual canonical evidence of its possible existence was this line in TOS, “The Enterprise Incident”—-

“Intelligence reports Romulans now using Klingon design.”–Spock.

We all know the behind-the-scenes story.

But they could have bought them for all we know. It is only the appearance of a Klingon vessel utilizing a cloaking device (and painted like a Romulan ship) in TSFS which suggests that there was any sort of exchange in the first place.

Again, we know that the villains in TSFS were originally supposed to be Romulans, in which case the ship and its cloaking device would have made much more sense.

I wish ENT had ignored the Klingon BOP altogether (and instead, only depicted earlier battlecruiser designs), but at least they debunked the “exchange” theory I hated all along to some degree…

#138—”The Kahless recreation was probably derived from Starfleet proganda and the crew’s own (and limited) POVs of Klingons in general. In their minds, it wouldn’t be inconceivable for a bullying Klingon to turn tail and run.”

You can buy that explanation (and I’m not sure I wouldn’t either), but the truth is, there is nothing in TOS which suggests that Kahless could not have been a cowardly bully. He would have then been more consistent with Klingons like Kor’s second in command on Organia, Kras on Capella IV, etc. Not every Klingon in TOS was as formidable and disciplined as Kor and Kang. The “honorable Klingon” was simply invented later in the 4 series which were “based upon Star Trek”. TOS Klingons were just good villains…nothing more, nothing less.

141. eagle219406 - July 2, 2008

There is one good vs. evil thing that they seemed to have not done in this episode. I have seen many Good Vs. Evil shows and many of them involved teams. The concept of Teamwork. That is something they didn’t seem to go into in this. On many of the shows I have seen that involved this concept, the good team managed to “work as one.” THey were truly able to work as a team, which was what lead them to victory. The evil team, while they may have started out as one, would eventually end up fighting amongst themselves. They would say one plan is better than another, and if there was a failure, they would pin the blame on every other member of the team. The concept of teamwork, Good could do it, evil could not. That was something that I found a bit confusing is that the evil team actually seemed to work together. Which is rare amongst evil.

142. FredCFO - July 2, 2008

Some interesting Ted Cassidy Credits
•writer, “the Harrad Experiment” (1973)
•Voiceovers for cartoons such as Space Ghost, Herculoids, and the Galaxy Trio
•Voice of Balok’s puppet
•The guy Butch beats up in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
•Played Isaiah in Genesis II, Planet Earth
•Opening credits narrator for the Incredible Hulk
•Born 1932, died 1979

143. OR Coast Trekkie - July 3, 2008

Great planet, enjoyed the wide angle shot of the Enterprise in orbit of the planet.

144. Andy Patterson - July 3, 2008

142

*Also did Galactus on the Fantastic Four cartoons to Vic Perrin’s Silver Surfer.

*and evidently…as I keep reading, played the harpsichord too.

145. eagle219406 - July 3, 2008

#140: The “honorable Klingon” was simply invented later in the 4 series which were “based upon Star Trek”. TOS Klingons were just good villains…nothing more, nothing less.

Actually only 3 were “based on” Star Trek. TNG was in fact created by Gene Roddenberry. By the time DS9 was created, he had already died so they had to put in the “Based on” for copyright purposes.

146. Sean4000 - July 3, 2008

Nice mustafar-like planet. Ship still looks like a plastic toy, sorry. Hate the movement and overall render.

They don’t have the TNG negatives………………..I’m speechless………….I really am.

147. Closettrekker - July 4, 2008

#145—-Noted, but it doesn’t change anything. It is still abundantly clear that the decision to make the Klingons treat “honor” (or at least their interpretation of it) like a religion was not acted upon until TNG (which will always be, in my mind, a “spinoff” of the original Star Trek, regardless of GR’s early involvement).

Kruge’s single line of dialogue with Valkris in STIII, “You will be remembered with honor”, may have inadvertently spawned the reboot of an entire ST alien species. They certainly did not start out that way…

148. Engon - July 5, 2008

130 133

You can go to startrek.com right now and see that James Doohan is still credited as the voice of Trelane’s fathers in “Squire of Gothos,” when clearly it is Bart La Rue (who is also the voice of Yarneck in “Savage Curtain”). Seems like mistakes like this just won’t die.

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