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“Spectre of the Gun” Remastered Review + Screenshots + Video [UPDATED] July 21, 2008

by Mark A. Altman , Filed under: TOS-R Screenshots/Video , trackback

by Mark A. Altman

Back in the 1970s when I was enjoying Star Trek for the first time, there were a series of books called “The Best of Trek” from New American Library (being unlicensed from Paramount, they always were marked by covers with a series of spaceships that looked like nothing ever depicted in the Trek universe, actually presaging Battlestar Galactica with their boxy, metallic shapes). They allegedly culled articles from a short-lived magazine called “Trek,” but the seemingly endless volumes of this book series long outlived the actual magazine. And to my perpetual amazement, the episode that always seemed to top their “Worst Of Trek” lists were “Spectere of the Gun” (along with the equally goofy, if not even more enjoyable, “Savage Curtain.”) I continued to be baffled by that to this day. Not only are their far worse episodes of the original series (e.g. “The Alternative Factor,” “Turnabout Intruder,” regrettably, the list goes on), but I actually quite enjoy “Spectre of the Gun.” In fact, in the third season, which is filled with innumerable examples of Trek’s good, the bad and the extremely ugly, “Spectre of the Gun” is a standout. Like “Spock’s Brain,” the episode is stamped with Gene Coon’s pseudonym, Lee Cronin, a moniker he slapped on all his show’s after leaving the series in the second year, when they were re-written.  Ironically, “Spock’s Brain,” had always been intended as a comedy a la “I, Mudd” and “Tribbles” only to be transformed by hackneyed writing into, well, an unintentional comedy. Yet with “Spectre of the Gun” there remains a very Coon-ian conceit at the heart of the show: man’s ability to refuse to kill even when provoked to vengeance and retribution. Although this theme was more effective in previous episodes, like Coon’s first script, “Arena,” it still works with “Spectre.” Coon, of course, is the unsung hero of Star Trek and one needs only look at how the series degenerated after he left the show to see how invaluable his contribution was to creating the mythology of Star Trek, something I have written about at length elsewhere.

"Spectre of the Gun" is an episode Coon could have left his name on

What could have easily been just a silly Trek attempt at doing a western works for all the reasons it shouldn’t: the notable production limitations. The unformed and uncompleted sets give the episode a surreal and minimalist look, and there’s a certain irresistible lure to Kirk & Company strapping on their six-guns. “Spectre of the Gun” is one of the episodes in which every element of the production is so perfectly realized that it helps elevate the episode as whole from a stunning western themed tinged score by the great Jerry Fielding (who appropriately scored “The Wild Bunch” for the great Sam Peckinpah) to surreal production design, albeit a money saving gambit which is actually supported by the plot mechanics, and wildly inventive directing from Vincent McEveety. Realizing he couldn’t deliver a western with the scope of John Ford or Howard Hawks or even Gunsmoke, McEveety instead uses zooms, dutched cameras, imaginative make-up design for the Melkotians, a series of tight close ups and clever lighting to create an unsettling milieu for the entire episode, culminating in the final battle at the O.K. Corral which does in three minutes what it took “Wyatt Earp” three hours to do.

The low-cost stylized West works in "Spectre of the Gun"

I think “Spectre” sometimes gets a bad rap because it’s lumped in with the perception of the original series by some that it was literally the allegory of the week following on the heels of “Nazi Planet” (Patterns of Force), “Roman Planet” (Bread & Circuses), etc. But interestingly, virtually every subsequent Trek series has done a western-themed episode, none of which are as good as “Spectre,” but certainly rate among the best of their respective canon, including TNG’s “A Fistful of Datas” and Enterprise’s “North Star.”  It’s easy to forget that at the time “Spectere” was broadcast, westerns were still the rage on television and the show was coming off the success of such series as Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Maverick and, of course, the masterful Have Gun, Will Travel, one of Gene Roddenberry’s earliest writing gigs. That said, most (other than Have Gun) glorified the gunplay which “Spectre” rebukes in the most harshest of terms. There’s also some enjoyable character interplay between the big three who are joined by Scotty and Chekhov, who provides what little humor there is in this episode. There’s a great scene where McCoy inadvertently requires Doc Holiday’s help to procure some pharmaceuticals and the episode creates a genuine sense of impending doom as the clock counts down in true “High Noon” fashion to the 5 o’clock shootout, that despite their best efforts, our crew can’t avoid.

The TOS crew, in a classic shot from "Spectre of the Gun"

As for the remaster, there’s not much to say. As we lurch into the final episodes of the series, CBS Digital has finally seemed to get the Enterprise flybys close to right, but then inexplicably throws in a shot in which the camera is so close to the Enterprise that we have to pull back to actually see the ship and it exposes the lack of detail and metallic steel finish of the curves of the beautiful Matt Jeffries’ design. It’s just as jarring as the extreme close up’s in previous episodes of the nacelles going by. As for the Melkotian warning buoy, it looks like a rejected design from “Tron” rather than something out of Star Trek. It’s continues to be frustrating that those behind the remasters won’t make obvious changes like adding other classes of starships to episode’s like “The Ultimate Computer” in which the original visual effects artists truly were limited by the constraints of the time and technology, but completely redesign simple, but effective designs like the Melkotian warning buoy. To give them credit, I think they continue to be victimized by too little time and too little money to truly give Trek the remastering it deserves, but imagination doesn’t cost anything – and, in this case, it’s sorely lacking. Fortunately, the exquisite color timing and remastering of the negative, as always, looks stunning – and this episode in particular, greatly benefits from the clean-up.

As we head into the homestretch, I have found that many of my highest hopes have not been met for the project (e.g. “Ultimate Computer” and “Doomsday Machine”), but it has also boasted a wealth of pleasant surprises as the consistently fine matte work that has continually impressed me throughout as well as the unexpected delights in such episodes as “The Immunity Syndrome,” “Amok Time” and “Court Martial.” I was less impressed with what I hoped would be a standout, “The Cloud Minders,” an episode which is far better than I remember it – particularly in its prescient denunciation of torture. Although the filter masks, as the great Jeff Bond pointed out, are ludicrous.

That said, regardless of whether you prefer your “Star Trek,” original recipe or extra crispy, I can only hope that the show will continue to live long and prosper in whatever form you choose to watch it, particularly as new fans discover it in the wake of next year’s release of Star Trek 0, or whatever you’re calling it this week. May your way prove as pleasant…


MARK A. ALTMAN is writer/producer of such films as Free Enterprise. He moderates a panel “It’s Not Dead, Jim: The Life, Death & Life of Star Trek” this Thursday at 6 PM at the San Diego ComicCon.



[new features: Vid is now higher res + click the above to go to full screen]


by Nelson (thanks)

Remastered v Original





Editors note: Thanks to all the community members who offered to help out after we ran into tech issues with our own source video, especial Nelson, Steve, Eugenio. We will try and load a higher res video later.


Seasons One and Two discounted at Amazon US
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 $105.99 (retail is $194.99). (SALE NOTE:
The first season combo set is on sale at Amazon.ca for CDN$54.95)

Amazon.com (USA)
Seasons One and Two of TOS-R
($105.99 and $63.99 respectively)




1. THX-1138 The Fandom Menace - July 21, 2008

Star Trek and harmonicas are a perfect match.

2. dayxday - July 21, 2008

Aren’t they called “Melkotians”?

3. Spock's Brain - July 21, 2008

I love the actor who plays the young steely-eyed gunslinger. To me, he always epitomized the cool/cold lethal assassin gunfighter.

4. T2 - July 21, 2008

My personal favorite TOS episode. Really enjoy the Old West….especially the incomplete recreation of the town…I love it.

5. DW - July 21, 2008

This is a rather tedious labor to rationalize one of the bottom-dwellers of the Trek universe. “Spectre of the Gun” oozes as a story with the “Star Trek” credits at the beginning, a hammy finish, but elements of a western cobbled in the middle. Notwithstanding the huge plot hole that unravels the episode’s premise (more on that in a moment), this was an episode of a series dying from its own lack of resources.

“Gun” ratifies itself on the premise that Spock can “meld” everyone into believing that the western scenario they’re in isn’t real – as if the facade-only sets weren’t compelling enough. “Gee, didn’t they have buildings with four walls in the old west, Captain?” The problem is that their preliminary solution – a gas grenade – doesn’t work when Kirk insists it be “tested” first. Surprise – it doesn’t work on Scotty. Therein lies the problem – if Spock convinced everyone that the bullets weren’t real, therefore they couldn’t kill you, why wouldn’t the “unreal” gas grenade knock you out if you believed it were real? And if you were, finally, convinced nothing was real, why is Kirk getting even the slightest hint of enjoying his “revenge” against the Earp clan for having “killed” Chekov?

I could go on, but the point’s been made. Trek had many wonderful moments over the years, but “Spectre of the Gun” was not among them.

6. British Naval Dude - July 21, 2008

SPOCK: This show is not real. Those sets are not real. Your hair…

KIRK: Spock, don’t push it.

McCOY: Have you guys seen the outside of the ship lately? Damn it, Jim, I feel like I’m not real compared to its realistic look.

SCOTTY: Awwwk! I know what ye’ mean, Doctor. I wuz cleanin’ out tha’ warp core and look at all these shiny, crytsal clear thingees I found…

CHECKOV: Those are nuclear pixels!

SCOTTY: Aye… and thar’s quite a bit o’ ’em.

WYATT EARP: Take this! (fires his gun at everyone)

SPOCK: Oh, crap! The bullets! Guys- the bullets are not real! Guys?

KIRK: Ohhhh… Spock… remember….. remember… how my chest looked…


7. Rayna - July 21, 2008

I liked this episode, not one of my absolute favorites, but it’s pretty good.

“Gee, didn’t they have buildings with four walls in the old west, Captain?”


8. Lord Garth, Formerly of Izar - July 21, 2008

Another 3rd season winner. I love Spectre of the gun!!! Print never looked better!!! Remastered effects as usual quite mediocre!!!! Nuff Said!!!!

9. DJ Koloth - July 21, 2008

Good to see that other people like this episode too. I agree with Mark: this one looks great now that it’s cleaned up.

The biggest problem with the remastered project has been in the form of fan expectation vs. the project budget. I’m sure Okuda and Co. would have loved to add a ton of little details to all the episodes, but it just couldn’t happen. Also, there’s an issue of asthetics…many fans wanted super detailed renderings of the Enterprise but that wouldn’t work with the production values of the live action scenes…so instead we have a pretty good rendering of a 13 ft. model that looks like a 13 ft. model on screen, not a life-sized starship.

Overall, I’d give the remastered project a B+. A lot of their work has been outstanding (video remastering, mattes, The Cage fly-in shot of the E) and I’m glad that they had the opprotunity to do this project.

10. D. McCoy - July 21, 2008

# 5

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the episode I must confess, but I seem to remember that the meld was necessary to remove “all” doubt that the were an illusion. If there was the slightest belief it was real, you would be killed. I don’t think Kirk, McCoy, or Scotty would be capable of removing all doubt without the meld.

I always enjoyed this episode.

11. CmdrR - July 21, 2008

I’m not 100% sure there’s a Trek anywhere that can’t be discombobulated by applying the requirement that it make complete sense. Hell, we haven’t even decided yet whether Trek is right and Einstein wrong about that whole speed of light thingiemuhbob. I like this episode, and I’ll tell you why because you didn’t ask: It hits me in the gut. I don’t realize that parts don’t make sense until after the closing credits. In my entertainment universe, if you like it until the credits, score one for the show.
I like the “steely eyed” gunslinger, a whole lot better than I like the other Trek he was in… ahem, as Sybok’s Sandpeople sidekick in ‘Shat’s Surprise V.’ I like Chekov getting the girl, then getting the bullet. (Ha! Exactly where in the series did it develop that Chekov always gets abused? I don’t know, but I love it.)
This ep also comes the closest to a good ep of TZone, which I also like. And yes, I can see the Coon impact, and love that, too.
So, New American Library be damned, I’m with you on this one, Mark.

12. DJT - July 21, 2008

Regular or extra crispy. Ha.

13. Ran - July 21, 2008

I love this episode. One of the best mind melds ever. the “There is no gun” scene came forty years before “there is no spoon”. Love it!

14. Tony Dayoub - July 21, 2008

As prescient as anything else Trek has been given credit for, “Spectre of the Gun” is notably one of the earliest revisionist westerns to appear on TV or cinema.

As Altman states in his article, the western was popular at the time of “Spectre’s” airing, but its glory days were behind it. As the seventies approached movies were starting to shift in their perspective toward western heroes. Filmmakers, like Leone and Peckinpah, were replacing the traditional white-hat cowboy with antiheroes like Eastwood’s Man with No Name or William Holden’s Pike.

So it is interesting to note, that though Doc Holliday and the Earps had thus far been treated as heroes in films like “My Darling Clementine” (1946), and “Gunfight at the OK Corral” (1957), this would be among the first times, if not the first, when they would be portrayed as trigger-happy thugs. Subsequently, this antiheroic portrayal of them has been seen more often, in film [“Wyatt Earp” (1994)], and TV [“Deadwood” (2006)].

15. Christopher L. Bennett - July 21, 2008

Actually this isn’t an episode Coon could’ve kept his name on, because he used a pseudonym for contractual reasons. According to INSIDE STAR TREK (p. 402), after the second season Coon left Paramount to accept an exclusive deal with Universal, but he promised to complete the ST writing assignments he had already in the works at the time of his departure. Since Gene L. Coon was contractually forbidden from writing for a non-Universal show, he had to sneak the assignments in by using the “Lee Cronin” pseudonym.

16. ety3 - July 21, 2008

I thoroughly enjoyed the new buoy. It looked like the original one, but it was 3D, moving and mysterious. I loved it.

17. Joe Atari - July 21, 2008

Did anyone find the transfer a little dark compared to previous TOS-R efforts? The bridge scenes in particular seemed a bit dark and washed out, but maybe it was just KTLA’s (via DirecTV) SD broadcast.

18. Anthony Pascale - July 21, 2008

well for full disclosure I write the captions, but I think Mark’s point is that this is a 3rd season episode he could be proud of

19. SNAKE - July 21, 2008


T2 – This is my Fave episode of TOS too

it may not be the best but i like it for its eerie Twilight Zone feel..

the half sets, the music, the Earps, the general feel are so eerie and weird…its more like Twilight Zone or Outer Limits with Kirk and Co…

20. bill hiro - July 21, 2008

A pleasure to see another review by Mark Altman, who is the Trekmovie.com equivilent to the dose of common sense that Dr. McCoy said he preferred in Star Trek 4: The One with the Whales.

21. Ensign Ruiter - July 21, 2008

Did anyone else get a god-like echo in Spock’s line “fascinating, mankind, ready to kill” during the broadcast. I damned near jumped out of my chair when he gave the line because I knew to by heart, and then, *wham* Spock comes off with this huge echo effect. Wondering if it was set, the broadcast, or a change by CBS digital?

BTW love this episode. #5 DW you make an excellent point about the inherent fallcy/non-consistency of the gas paradox, but I don’t beleive it relegates “Spectre” to being anything but classic, classic Trek. Perhaps they knew the gas was real, but not with the “absolute certainty” that Spock provided them with regarding the bullets at the OK. Bones and Spock were convinced by the scientific reality of the gas, yet Scotty (and Kirk) less so. Perhaps this lack of absolute certainty made the gas “unreal” for Scotty. Clearly, the gas was merely a plot device, as Chekov’s ‘death’, that reality was a variable in the Melkotian game. If anything, I would introduce non-trekkers to this episode first as a good primer for TOS.

22. star trackie - July 21, 2008

Great episode. From the appropriately menacing actors portraying the Earps and Doc Holiday to our heros remaining un-scathed, despite the bullets ripping apart the fence behind them, this episode is full of great direction, art design, lighting (especially during the mind meld) and music.

With the new remastered effects looking great as ever this episode continues to be one of my favs.

23. classictrek - July 21, 2008

spectre of the gun is one of my all time favourite TOS episodes. i actually think the the half finsihed sets etc added to the mystery of the story. the only draw back is that there is no beam down sequence probably due to the cut backs.

scotty in the gas grenade scene is excellent.and really funny. i love it when they discover in the saloon that things dont have to happen as they did at the ok coral. the attempts to leave town and a good old fistycuffs make this a classic.

love it.
ps spocks brain post no3 – i think that bloke your referring to is the same guy who plays the first character we see on nimbus 3 in star trek 5 the final frontier.

24. demon barber of starfleet - July 21, 2008

I was at The Dark Knight and missed it. ;O

25. Veridian - July 21, 2008

Chekhov was a Russian author. Chekov was a Davey Jones clone.

26. General Order 24 - July 21, 2008

Its funny. De Kelley was probably right at home on this set with all the westerns he had done before this. Plus the fact he played Morgan Earp in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) with Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster.

27. General Order 24 - July 21, 2008

21. Ensign Ruiter , “Did anyone else get a god-like echo in Spock’s line “fascinating, mankind, ready to kill” during the broadcast. I damned near jumped out of my chair when he gave the line because I knew to by heart, and then, *wham* Spock comes off with this huge echo effect. Wondering if it was set, the broadcast, or a change by CBS digital?”

You heard that too? It was freaky but probably a signal distortion or something.

28. Dennis Bailey - July 21, 2008

Terrible show. Rent the John Ford movie.

29. paustin - July 21, 2008

wow no screenshots on clips…lol…no love for ‘spectre’? Well I’ll throw in my 2 cents…the buoy looked great I thought, staying true to the original design but making it crystal like and pulsating with colors. I thought maybe they’d tweak the Melkotian but they didnt and thats fine. I thought the planet was one of the best looking planets of TOS-R…and I’m still looking forward to a nice screen shot of it (I might have to wait untill the dvd)

30. paustin - July 21, 2008

#21 yes I too had the echo….very sloppy to let that get out, it freaked me out at 2am

31. ety3 - July 21, 2008


You’re not alone. I heard the split-stereo reverb and attributed to some sort of audio mastering error.

32. Commodore Z - July 21, 2008

I thought the new Melkot buoy was good. It preserved the original design, but made it a little more mysterious and alien. The flashing colors even matched the Melkotian puppet. CBS-D was definitely paying attention on this one.

33. William - July 21, 2008

i saw this the other day
pretty good

34. SNAKE - July 21, 2008

The gas grenade scene:

Scotty *about to down whisky* – its to kill the pain

Spock – but this is painless…

Scotty – *downing whisky* – well you shoulda warned me eariler Mr Spock Fire away…

LOL – its a great ep…plus wasnt GRs original tag line/pitch for trek ‘Wagon Train to the stars’?

Good to have a western in there…esp one with such an eerie Twilight Zone/Outer Limits feel

Its a great ep to watch late at night…all the lights off

35. COMMANDER KEEN - July 21, 2008


Yes. Same here. I’m surprise nobody in CBS-D asked, “Is there an echo around here?”. It might have been a Satellite feed issue. Not sure.

I liked the new Buoy with the cool colors. I noticed they left the Melkotian (sp?) the same, even on the new viewscreen shot. Actually, not a bad idea. I liked the way he looked. A snakey-spooky look.

I agree with the review. It was not the greatest episode nor was it the worst. The one question I always had with this episode is how they got back to the ship. Was the whole beamdown an illusion or did they beam up and was not mentioned?

36. Beam Me Up - July 21, 2008

Loved this episode. The ending scene where Kirk and his crew just strand there while the bullets fly is classic. This episode also has some great use of Star Trek sound effects, like the wind effect they always use when they’re on some planet. The Old West setting has a really creepy feel.

37. Scott Moore - July 21, 2008

For years I’ve read about how “Spectre” was done on the cheap. The fact is that the episode was filmed before NBC pulled the plug on the show and that it was intended to be the premiere for the third season.

The surrealistic set design was clearly an artistic choice and not necessarily a cost cutting measure. “Spectre” was filmed before the arboretum was constructed for “Elaan” or the pricey location shooting seen in “Paradise Syndrome.”

Just as John Ford (thanks, Dennis Bailey) chose to shoot “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” on a sound stage versus the sprawling location work on “The Searchers,” so too did the production staff decided to lens an illusory Western with sets that only suggested the locale.

The whole conceit of the episode: death by illusion is paralelled by a production design that exposed filmed Westerns as mere shadow and sawdust. Jerry Finnerman and Vincent McEveety were far too professional to allow shadows to appear on the cyclorama, but the Earps shadows are seen on the sky in this episode as the characters change position in each successive cut. The wall-less wall clock, the Clanton gang dressed in space suits, and an episode where Chekov (!) gets the girl –all smoke and Panaflex.

Production design tells the story in concert with the lines and the acting. It has been noted elsewhere that Ford chose to keep “Liberty Valance” on a soundstage because it was a fairy tale with no more connection to the real Old West than “Wild Wild West.” So too with this episode, which was as far away from reality as “Arena” was intimately connected to Chavez Ravine.

This was a classic Coon episode that was only enhanced by the design.

38. Andy Patterson - July 21, 2008

“There’s also some enjoyable character interplay between the big three who are joined by Scotty and Chekhov, who provides what little humor there is in this episode”

I’ve always said this.

And I still say this episode is the best example of Kirk pounding in someone’s spine. I used to get chills waiting for that scene as a kid. This of course is a Star Fleet maneuver, no doubt, taught at the Academy. Because we see it other times in the show (as in Matt Decker). I’m waiting for the book that outlines Star Fleet hand to hand manuevers and the genesis of the fighting style. That’s the one thing I’ve never heard the research behind.

Wish I could be at Mark’s panel this year.

“Get yer hands off her…Mr. Earp”.

39. Nelson - July 21, 2008

re: post 38; Do you think we’ll ever see Chris Pine do a flying kick? : )

I think the remastering of this episode’s special effects was quite good. At first, I wasn’t sure I liked the bouy, but I liked it! The new Enterprise fly-by of the bouy was really nice.

The last shot of the Melkot on the view screen was new. At first I thought it was a CGI Melkot, but I think they did it simply by using the original image and softening it and altering it enough to remove the smoke and then place it in a new star field.

40. Garovorkin - July 21, 2008

I actually liked the minimalist style of this episode, yeah it could well have been a Gene Coon episode.

41. Andy Patterson - July 21, 2008

Also like the avante garde bar room piano music this episode.

“Kill ’em any way you can!!”

42. Harry Ballz - July 21, 2008

Watching this episode is like taking an acid trip minus the acid! Oh, wow, man!!

43. 1701 over Gotham City - July 21, 2008

This might be my favorite episode… it has a genuinely creepy feel, and the partial sets work to the advantage.
Some great visuals, and wonderful character moments.

44. Beam Me Up - July 21, 2008

Chekov in this was great. He has some very funny lines. Everyone in this episode has a nice moment. I liked it when Kirk and the Bartender get into the argument about what’s real and not.

45. scifib5st - July 21, 2008

Mark Altman and Trekmovie.com, hmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Better than donuts!

46. Anthony Pascale - July 21, 2008

Some screenies added. Video will be in a few hours

47. Beam Me Up - July 21, 2008

I hate it when the cable channel logo fills half the screen. I love DVDs.

48. Anthony Pascale - July 21, 2008

And thanks to all those in the community to offered to help, it means a lot

49. Frank - July 21, 2008

I’ve often wondered (even back in the 60’s when i saw it for the first time), why couldn’t the producers use the numerous exterior western sets that where so prevalent back in those days. I understand cost was a factor, but westerns shows where EVERYWHERE on TV at the time. Would it have cost that much more to just use existing sets? Sets that where probably right on the Paramount lot. Still, it’s an enjoyable this episode…

50. Andy Patterson - July 21, 2008


Scotty *about to down whisky* – its to kill the pain

Spock – but this is painless…

Scotty – *downing whisky* – well you shoulda warned me eariler Mr Spock Fire away…

Yeah I like that one too.

51. Smitty - July 21, 2008

Awesome, another reader of the Best of Trek books.

Oh I had quite a few volumes in my collection.

The number of times I read and reread the articles, the spine was worn out you couldn’t even make out what it said.

But alas I lost them all when my home burned down. :(



52. Smitty - July 21, 2008

Additionally, the reason Gene L. Coon used a pseudonym was because he was under contract to Universal at the time.

So his contributions in season three were as Lee Cronin.


53. SNAKE - July 21, 2008

the whole mind over matter in an unreal environment..bullets passing through…an early version of The Matrix? esp at the end with the showdown…

Spock became like a vulcan version of Morpheous in this ep…

54. Redjac - July 21, 2008

Hey, I may be in the minority, but I really liked the new Melkotian buoy…

Much more dynamic than the original…and I liked the crystalline texturing they used on it…nice job for an episode with very few opportunities for new visuals.

55. richr - July 21, 2008

Having last watched this episode closely at least 10 years ago…I never appreciated the dialogue between Kirk and the spineless sheriff…where he essentially told Kirk to do an “Uncle Fester on the Erps and “Shoot ’em in the back!!!” No questions would be asked…classic anti-Old West lack of civalry.

Also, regarding Doc Holliday…I never really gave any thought that he might actually have a medical background…I’m assuming that’s accurate?!?

56. SNAKE - July 21, 2008

50 – yeah Scottys purpose in this ep seems to be to finish off that bottle of Bourbon!

its cool seeing Kirk and co with six shooters in the wild west environment…referencing that original pioneer intention of TOS..

57. Viking - July 21, 2008

It really sucks that the CBS-D team didn’t have the time/money/creativity/initiative/insert-your-peeve-here to really do something interesting with the Melkot – I always thought there was a lot to work with there, like Enterprise did with the Tholians. But he still looks like a over-ripe harvest gourd with root rot.

58. steve623 - July 21, 2008

The new probe looks fine to me.

59. richr - July 21, 2008

More on Doc Holliday from Wikipedia…actually quite a highly educated Renaissance man. He died at the age of 36, likely from complications from TB contracted from his mother while a teenager.

“Doc” Holliday was born in Griffin, Georgia, to Henry Burroughs Holliday and Alice Jane Holliday (née McKey).[1] His father served in both the Mexican-American War and the Civil War.[2]

Holliday’s mother died of tuberculosis on September 16, 1866, when he was 15 years old.[1] Three months later his father married Rachel Martin. Shortly after the marriage, the family moved to Valdosta, Georgia, where Holliday attended the Valdosta Institute. There he received a strong classical secondary education in rhetoric, grammar, mathematics, history, and languages — principally Latin, but also French and some ancient Greek.[3]

In 1870, 19 year-old Holliday left home to begin dental school in Philadelphia. On March 1, 1872, he received the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery.[1] Later that year he opened a dental office with Arthur C. Ford in Atlanta.[3]

60. Sean4000 - July 21, 2008

Decent episode. Bleh on the FX.

Why couldn’t they use some of this cool orange crystal CG to make a better Tholian for “The Tholian Web”……oh well.

61. SNAKE - July 21, 2008

gotta love the way kirk brought down Earp at the end..drop kick..then pounding away with fists..

the actor must have felt the full force of the shat on that one

think one of them went on to appear in Trek V..as the guy at the start who meets sybok..

62. Jeffrey S. Nelson - July 21, 2008


The reverb on Spock is cool… but it doesn’t fit the scene. Must have been a boo-boo. Somebody was snorting dilythium crystals instead of minding the helm.
Anthony, any clue?

63. Kev-1 - July 21, 2008

Like the ep. Have to say the Melkot buoy, with the weird non-synchronized (upper and lower) movement, was an improvement. I agree about “Alternative Factor”– had a fantastic setup but fizzled. I read an article which said the script for it went through changes before/as it was filmed, though.

64. Andy Patterson - July 21, 2008


Yeah, I liked it too. And this is coming from me.

65. Scott - July 21, 2008

Re: #49 – I agree with #37’s answer to that. I think it was a conscious choice to do the minimalist “fake” Western sets. Existing, realistic Western sets would have drained this episode of much of its creepiness.

Does anyone here remember reading in Phil Farrand’s “Nitpicker’s Guide for Classic Trekkers” how he thought this episode’s score was not only the best OS score, but the ONLY good score! Or words to that effect. Sheesh. Some people…. :-)

Scott B. out.

66. Anthony Pascale - July 21, 2008

OK I have added some video. If I get time I will update it again later, but again I want to thank everyone who helped us with our vid problems

67. Jeff Bond - July 21, 2008

Great review by Mark, and I’m glad some people pointed out the debt The Matrix owes to this one (although I’m sure it didn’t invent the concept).

The Melkotian was built by Mike Minor and while it’s obvious what it is, it’s an interesting piece of artwork–I believe Minor also created the buoy effects just as he did on Tholian Web and his work needs very little improvement.

It’s true western locations were easily available which definitely makes “Spectre”‘s sets look like an artistic choice and I love the atmosphere they create. But Trek was not the first to do this–Lost in Space did at least one Western take-off with minimal sets and actors riding something like hobby horses! And if you watch the very good third season LIS episode “The Anti-Matter Man” you’ll see an alternate world created that looks very much like the distorted on-set reality of “Spectre,” right down to lightning that casts the shadows of bare tree branches onto the fake sky cyclorama around the set.

As for the story’s logic problems, the only thing that stands out to me is Kirk and Spock’s logical leap that they can survive the ordeal because Chekov’s “character” dies when the historical character his is based on lived. They’re not reliving history here, they’re simply being put through the Melkotian’s pageant of some historical memories pulled out of Kirk’s head, and since the announced intention is their execution, doesn’t it follow that the entire “landing party” SHOULD die? Having everything rigged in favor of their ultimate demise should be expected. I always found the idea of erasing ALL doubt (since the slightest flicker of doubt could result in death) convincing in this context–and I believe that idea’s put forth in The Matrix too…

68. Joe Ames - July 21, 2008

Yuck this episode just doesn’t cut it in the “re-al-i-tee” department. It’s just like those other obviously fake, “You don’t expect me to believe this stuff do you?!”, “plays” I had to endure in high school.

You know, like “Macbeth” (who wasn’t even real) with “witches” that were obviously just women in makeup with false noses and rubber hand thingees… that “damned spot” that no one in the audience could see, I mean, get real! Or those totally unbelievable “ghosts” that shows up out of nowhere in that guy’s other hour-of-absurdity, “Hamlet”. I mean really, it’s OBVIOUSLY an actor with the gel-cel lights shining on him. And THOSE SETS – nothing more than bits of painted cloth.


Lol. Some people just can’t appreciate anything that came before them, mainly out of ignorance I guess. Spectre of the Gun is one of the most memorable morality plays I’ve seen. The idea that a man’s test will be against his own memories of lessons long forgotten (sort of like “Savage Curtain”) and the Melkosians didn’t care if Spock of Checkov came from cowboy stock, “Suck it up! It is what it is!”

Yeah, the whole setting of this play works for me and always has. The facades, the minimalist music, the bizarre choice of the OK Corral incident of Good vs Evil.

As good as one of the Bards? Maybe: it got me thinking about those things long before I could understand enough life to appreciate shakespeare. You might say, at the very least, Trek was a means of making Shakespearean issues accessible to a young boy’s mind.

So it comes as no surprise I see many parallels between Trek and the Bard’s corpus.

69. ster j - July 21, 2008

I just realized–The Melkotian looked like a Pez dispenser!

Oh, and DeForest Kelly was in *2* OK Corral pictures, then. I hadn’t realized that he played Morgan Earp in one, but I knew he was one of the baddies in the other.

70. =A= - July 21, 2008

this is very very boring “Spectre of the Gun” oh my!!!! i didn’t like it…

71. Thomas Jensen - July 21, 2008

Mr. Altman that was a brilliant review. The Best of Trek…only a fan would remember those books. Your comment, “I think “Spectre of the Gun” sometimes gets a bad rap because it’s lumped in with the perception of the original series by some that it was literally the allegory of the week.” Wonderful.

And can you believe that you give us a little detail about Gene Coon. That man’s contribution to the show was quite more then we know.

I think that this is a great episode for all the elements that went into it by all the production staff. You mention Mr. Fielding scored “The Wild Bunch” I watched that recently, what a great movie. And the comments about how Vincent McEveety handled the director’s duties was right on, man! Also, I saw that set live. Well ok, no, we were just the outside of the soundstage actually, but “Spectre” was filming then. Oh, but I did see the standing sets. You know, ship int. sets that kind of stuff.

I don’t see though, your comment about a remastered view where “a shot in which the camera is so close to the Enterprise that we have to pull back to actually see the ship and it exposes the lack of detail and metallic steel finish….”

Well, ok, I’m certainly not claiming to know more then you about the actual physical model from the series, (I know something about it) but as far as I’ve absorbed about this particular subject, there weren’t any areas of the external hull of the Enterprise that were painted to represent a metallic steel finish. I’m visualizing that a metallic steel finish would be as we would see it in objects today.

At any rate, I agree with your sentiment, “It’s continues to be frustrating that those behind the remasters won’t make obvious changes like adding other classes of starships to episode’s like “The Ultimate Computer”

And sure, I think it would have been nice to see the Enterprise at the end of “The Ultimate Computer” tow slowly, one of the crippled ships to a space dock, a rescue ship, whatever.

It would have been great to have seen the exterior views of the Enterprise with different lighting schemes. Sure, light some up that weren’t lit in the series but vary it from episode to episode. I waited to see the traditional lighting scheme from the original 11’2″ model. It seems the first cgi rendering of the Enterprise was more faithful to the physical model in this manner with regards to surface details.

So why couldn’t we see how the original model was presented this in the remastered project? You certainly mentioned it, “too little time and too little money”.

Great review with very interesting insights. You and I are of a kind; in a different reality I could have called you friend.

72. Triviality? - July 21, 2008

Perhaps, but it mattered to me: When I first heard news of the remaster project, with it’s gushing promise of reworked skies, I dreamt of seeing this episode transformed into a feast for the eyes. Just wanted to go on record with that. [shakes head sadly, drifts back into the realm of Lurkerhood].

73. Beam Me Up - July 21, 2008

It would have been cool to have seen an entire CG western town, but I bet purists would have had heart attacks.

74. TidalWave - July 21, 2008

Yeah I know and “The Ultimate Computer” should have been retitled “The Ultimate Letdown”

This project had so much promise and it just seemed, to me, to fizzle out.

Should have gone to another company.

75. Engon - July 21, 2008

This episode features one of Spock’s funniest deadpan deliveries…

“The day is still young, Ensign.”

On another matter, considering how much knowledge they seem to possess on the gunfight at the OK Coral, it is strange that no one mentions the fact that Ike Clanton (Kirk) survived the gunfight and lived another six years.

The “Lost in Space” episode with the partial western sets was “West of Mars.” Oddly enough, the sets did not represent any particualr surreal reality but were more of a reflection that LIS had just become surreal as a matter of course by that time. That episode aired two years before “Spectre of the Gun.”

76. Beam Me Up - July 21, 2008

Lucas would have done a zoom through CG town with people and horse carriages running about.

77. NoRez - July 21, 2008

I always liked the way the honky-tonk piano music was off, like the Melkotians could reproduce it only as well as they could the actual town itself. It’s very creepy, almost sinister.

Not a favorite of mine, but good to see it looking better. And we got the weird Spock reverb up here in Boston as well.

78. Beam Me Up - July 21, 2008

Well, the Melkotians took the information from Kirk’s mind, which was a hard place the Old West was. It was Kirk’s impression of the Old West, not what was taken from an actual history text.

79. Xplodin' Nacelle - July 21, 2008

I love the new Melkotian Buoy – well done CBS-D!!!

I’ve always wondered if the original buoy was an extreme closeup of one of Uhura’s earpieces. Anybody know?

80. The Last Maquis - July 21, 2008

Always think of This one When I watch Tombstone.

81. Robert Bernardo - July 21, 2008

One of my favorite episodes, though for years I thought they should have used the Western backlot at the studio. However, if it was due to budgetary restrictions, then I’ve grown to accept it and appreciate the stylized nature of the show.

I always liked the force field effects at the edge of town and around the corral. And that shoot-out… the heroes stand there but the fence board gets blown away… very effective!

82. Billy Bobby - July 21, 2008

Great episode! I love the Third Season so much. I like it more than the Second Season. I loved it when Kirk put his gun in Wyatt’s face and then threw it down. I wish ALL people were like that today. I think that this was a cool First Contact.

83. Michael DeSanto - July 22, 2008

Great idea behind the episode and it has a unique atmosphere, but I wish they would have edited it even more for syndication. There is so much repeated dialogue in this episode, it’s ridiculous. Gene Coon was a great writer but this was like half a script stretched out to fill the 50-minute time slot.

84. neonknights - July 22, 2008

The opening shot was terrible. The originial Enterprise fly-by was totally in synch with the rythm of the music. At the final “tum-tu-ru-tum-tum” it suddenly fastenes up and passes by the screen. I hope you know what I mean.

85. Iowagirl - July 22, 2008

Always loved that surreal atmosphere defining this episode. And the combination of that classic Western incident and ST fascinated me as a kid, and it still does. Add that goosebumps mindmeld scene, and that impressive Kirk moment Billy Bobby (#82) already mentioned, and you have a great episode.

86. jimj - July 22, 2008

#21 (and others): The weird reverb happened here when the Omaha station showed it as well. I also noticed some times when the picture went kinda whacky (not exactly sure how to describe what happened). I sure hope all of THAT is fixed by season 3 dvd time! Otherwise, I had no complaints!

87. Holger - July 22, 2008

I like the buoy plot (‘though this subplot is borrowed from ‘The Corbomite Maneuver”) and the Melkotians. Original aliens, for a change. But yet another visit to some historical earth scenario? No thanks! Already had enough of Space Romans, Space Mobsters, Space Lincoln, Space Greek God, Space Nazis, Space James Bond (=Gary Seven), Space Native Americans, Space U.S. Constitution, Space Platonists. One more late series stinker!

88. star trackie - July 22, 2008

#88 “No thanks! Already had enough of Space Romans, Space Mobsters, Space Lincoln, Space Greek God, Space Nazis, Space James Bond (=Gary Seven), Space Native Americans, Space U.S. Constitution, Space Platonists. ”

Are you kidding? I love all that stuff. That’s all part of the legend that has made TOS a classic over the last 4 decades. Star Trek just wouldn’t be StarTrek without it.

89. richr - July 22, 2008


And don’t forget “Space Caine Mutiny”…The Enemy Within!


90. DaveM - July 22, 2008

#21 – I too got that echo when I was watching the episode. Every speaker in the room kicked in for about 30 seconds as Spock delivered those lines in the one scene.

As a side note… and perhaps a small bit of trivia… has anyone taken a really close look at the “Sheriff” sign that appears on one of the buildings in this episode? It may be due to the angle of the shot… OR it may be intentional, but the first “F” in sheriff is the title FONT for the series. The little “Arm” for lack of a better word, sweeps up at an angle like the letters in the text in the opening titles.

91. FredCFO - July 22, 2008

Scotty: “It’s to kill the pain.” (Takes shot of corn whiskey and winces.)

Spock: “This painless.”

Scotty: “Well, ya shoulda warned me sooner, Mr. Spock. Fire away.”

Totally classic.

92. FredCFO - July 22, 2008

Scotty: “It’s to kill the pain.” (Takes shot of corn whiskey and winces.)

Spock: “But this is painless.”

Scotty: “Well, ya shoulda warned me sooner, Mr. Spock. Fire away.”

Totally classic (now that I got it right.)

93. Balock - July 22, 2008

better episode than most people give credit… like the new effects, the closing shot of the E moving into orbit looked real good.

94. diabolik - July 22, 2008

I for one loved the super-close shot of the hull as the ship passed by. As a Trekker from the early 70’s onward, such a thing thrills me. I think some of the newbies, young’uns too jaded by all their effects movies from the past 20 years, are the ones unimpressed. I think shots like that are awesome.

95. RAMA - July 22, 2008

I have to say, in one fell swoop the new bouy has become one of the coolest space objects in ST history!

96. Holger - July 22, 2008

On close inspection of the stills above I have to say that I liked the old onscreen Melkotian better. But the buoy is outstanding.

97. JL - July 22, 2008

Nice review, Mark. Thanks

98. Stanky McFibberich - July 22, 2008

I have always liked this episode and its background music.

99. Wes - July 22, 2008

Anyone know where I can watch TOS-R in L.A? They keep jumping it around stations and times. Anthony help me out!

100. Bill - July 22, 2008


Actually it came 30 years before “There is no spoon”.

Can you believe “The Matrix” is almost 10 years old?

101. Jeff Bond - July 22, 2008

TOS-R is on channel 5 in L.A. Saturdays at midnight.

102. Wes - July 22, 2008

At midnight! Oh! It used to be on at 11! Dang, I missed it!

103. James Heaney - Wowbagger - July 22, 2008

I… What? A review by Mark Altman that didn’t make me run screaming from my computer screen?

That was actually pretty good, and, although I disagree on nearly all the salient points, they were well-argued.


104. EHH - July 22, 2008

Spock’s ears look real up-close. What if they are? ;)

105. EHH - July 22, 2008

In the classic shot I mean.

106. PhoenixSon - July 22, 2008

I’ve always liked this episode since I was a kid. A good lesson, fragmented scenery based on Kirk’s fragmented knowlege of old western towns, and plenty of of the big three & Scotty too! FYI-Coon had to use Cronin 3rd season for legal reasons because he was “moonlighting” while working for another company. Also, one of the actors who played a gunfighter in this episode also played Jon in ST V: The Final Frontier.

107. Engon - July 23, 2008

This episode is a bit reminiscent of the second season “Twilight Zone” outing “Shadow Play,” starring Dennis Weaver

Just as in “Spectre of the Gun,” you have a man sentenced to die at an appointed hour. He is desperately trying to avoid his execution even though he knows it is all an illusion (it’s his own dream). Everyone in his dream believes they are real even though he insists they are not. His “reality” is somewhat distorted because he doesn’t have enough information to dream it more accurately. Also, as in “Spectre of the Gun” (not to mention “High Noon”), the motif of a ticking clock is used to increase tension as the “execution” draws near.

108. Dr. Cheis - July 23, 2008

I liked the new buoy.

Regarding the frustrating refusal to add other classes of starships, I think it’s best that way. Trying to put a TOS-era look on just about any ship other than a Constitution class usually tends to appear out-of-place and made-up. Plus it would be a fairly radical shift in our perception of (Trek) history. That’s just my opinion though. I really get off on all that Starfleet ship-design stuff.

109. Kirk's Revenge - July 23, 2008


Another good western TZ episode is “Showdown with Rance McGraw.” I think that’s the title. Anyway, it’s about a pompous western movie star who ends up in a showdown with the real Jesse James. It’s mostly played for laughs but has a few nice surreal touches like in “Spectre of the Gun.”

110. Ethan Shuster - July 23, 2008

One problem with this episode is Kirk’s attempt to explain he’s not Clanton. He had to know it wouldn’t work. He really thought he could convince him. Very, well… illogical.

111. Billy Bobby - July 23, 2008

Spectre of the Gun is just one of the many gems of Season Three.

Good Episodes
Spectre of the Gun
Elaan of Troyius
The Paradise Syndrome
The Enterprise Incident
And The Children Shall Lead (I bet everyone agrees with me on that one)
Is There In Truth No Beauty
The Empath (best episode from the season)
The Tholian Web
Day of the Dove
Let That Be Your Last Battlefield
The Mark of Gideon (I bet everyone agrees with me on that one)
Requiem for Methuselah

Average Episodes
For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched The Sky
Plato’s Stepchildren
All Our Yesterdays
Turnabout Intruder

Bad Episodes
Wink of an Eye
The Lights of Zetar
The Cloud Minders
The Savage Curtain

So Bad They’re Good Episodes
Spock’s Brain
Whom Gods Destroy

God Awful Episodes
That Which Survives
The Way to Eden

So besides a couple of stinkers, I find Season Three very enjoyable. I don’t know why so many fans call it the Turd Season. Maybe it’s just so popular to make fun of the Third Season.

112. Commodore Z - July 23, 2008

“Plato’s Stepchildren” and “Turnabout Intruder” would be at or near the very bottom of my list.

113. Engon - July 23, 2008

I can hardly sit through “The Empath” and yet would rank “Plato’s Stepchildren” very highly indeed. Go figure.

114. smarty pants - July 23, 2008

Star trek remastered could have been done so much better. It doesn’t matter that the stories weren’t that great. Nothing done before the 90’s done in film and television was good except “i love Lucy” and probably the Munsters, Get Smart and adams family…(i haven’t seen it since I was a kid though) but I do recall it was pretty good most of the time.

Everything else especially dramas, mystery, science fiction was pretty horrible including star trek plots but…if the producers could have just remastered it todays standards and also re-edited it…it would have been a lot better. But the producers and artists are probably straight out of college with little or no experience so if that is the case…I guess they did the best they could. We can’t expect much. We should be glad they even did the little bit they did. Thanks anyway.

115. Sean4000 - July 23, 2008

Smarty Pants,

I have to agree. CBS-D has been around since approximately 1994 but I cannot gauge longevity with talent. I saw their reel and effects work on other programs and I cannot put them on the level of Digital Domain and especially EdenFX; the company that should have gotten this project. Thanks for the re master, but no thanks on the inconsistency that has plagued this project.

I can, and will, do better myself. TOS-R 2.0 on the way.

116. TomBot2008 - July 23, 2008

Missed this episode mostly, caught the very end… Regarding the issue of Western Sets being available readily during the production of this episode, I’m only guessing, but I believe Desilu was still the producing company, and I doubt they had the resources to supply even “renting” existing sets. Still, the sets as they are served the story well enough. It’s never been a favorite of mine, but in no way a stinker either!!!

117. Billy Bobby - July 24, 2008


One thing that redeems Plato’s Stepchildren is the scene where Alexander rides on Captain Kirk like a horse. I about died when I saw that scene. A couple of laughs and a few good messages kept that episode from being a dud. Turnabout Intruder had some great acting and a unique storyline. Of course, these are just my opinions.


You have to look for other things than babes and explosions. The Empath has soul and you have to watch it very carefully in order not to miss anything. One of my favorite moments in Star Trek is when Gem touches Spock, proving with one look the extent to which Spock’s claim to have no emotions is a lie. And what about this great line, “Your will to survive, your love of life, your passion to know, they are recorded in her being…each of you was willing to give his life for the others.” Awesome! No one writes like that today. I rank this episode 4/79.

118. Billy Bobby - July 24, 2008

But I can tell I’m the only Trekkie who likes The Empath and the Third Season because CBS-D is finally getting around to the Third Season and The Empath has not been aired yet.

119. David - July 24, 2008

I have noticed the new visual effects people are trying to create a uniform lighting scheme for the bridge. Has anyone else noticed this? Especially on display (to a fault) here with “Spectre of the Gun” – the original lighting was a bit high, several floods and a couple of key lights, but with the new effects, they’ve almost eliminated the flood lighting, and reassessed the bridge in contrast and shadows while adding to the principal players with dialogue. There are a few original episodes where the bridge lighting is not consistent. “Is There In Truth No Beauty”, “Tomorrow Is Yesterday”, etc butthe changes are not so jarring as they are in this episode.

120. David - July 24, 2008

I’m hoping they take some liberties with “The Empath” – do something interesting with the “lab”, instead of enhancing the black background sheets they put up to cut costs.

That’s been one of my complaints about the remastered shows – they haven’t done enough. I was disappointed with the cloud city; they should have pulled a Lucas and really got in there (flying ships, moving clouds); it didn’t look like a functioning city.

121. Izbot - July 24, 2008

Still don’t know what the reasoning was behind putting those random numbers on the E’s hull that were never there before.

Nimoy’s Spock is just awesome in this episode. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

This is one of my all time favorite hours of television, let alone Trek. This episode and “The Tholian Web” are, to me, the clear stand-outs in season three. We get the four strongest castmembers, some brilliant cinematography, an errie Twilight Zone premise, really great guest actors, a creepy alien, memorable set design, and rock solid writing. What’s not to love?

116. TomBot2008
With regard to reusing previously-existing set pieces from other period shows: Everything on the Melkot planet set was specifically made for this episode and nothing (aside from furniture and props) was rented from other shows as a way to save money. Matt Jeffries made detailed sketches of all the sets for this episode (some can be seen in the Star Trek Sketchbook by Herbert F. Solow and Yvonne Fern). It was pure creativity and wasn’t for the sake of saving money.

90. DaveM
RE: The font used on the ‘Sheriff’ sign
I always noticed and thought the same thing! Inside joke?

122. Engon - July 24, 2008

Also, Desilu (formerly RKO) owned the “Forty Acre Lot” in Culver City and Star Trek could easily have used its Western street if they wanted to. The look of this episode was by design.


123. Adam Bomb 1701 - July 25, 2008

#118 – No, you’re not the only one who likes “The Empath.” It’s one of my favorites, as it shows the Kirk-Spock-McCoy relationship especially well. I never understood why this episode is so reviled; I only learned that over the internet. Joyce Muskat, who never wrote a script before (or since) really nailed it. Also, “The Empath” probably has the best music score for any episode in the series. Looking forward to the re-mastered version this weekend.

124. eagle219406 - July 25, 2008

I am Probably alone in this, but I actually liked the third season. I can’t see what all the fuss is about. A lot of the stuff could sound stupid from todays standards, but what about in the sixties.

I liked the end scene where they showed the enterprise aproaching the planet. I wished they had done a scene like that in “Space Seed” with Ceti Alpha V.

One part is confusing. You see them fly around the buoy, orbit the planet, and the crew goes onto the planet. But after the senario is over, they are back on the ship, behind the buoy like they never left it, and they approach the planet again.

125. eagle219406 - July 25, 2008

One thing that also confused me was that the Clantons were a gang and the Earps were the law enforcers. Yet the people in the town seemed to love the Clantons instead of actually fearing them. And the Law enforcers looked more like the bad guys.

126. Engon - July 25, 2008

124. This has always been a bit confusing to me, too. I assume that the buoy is actually some sort of defense mechanism and somehow the buoy creates the entire “dream” immediately after warning the Enterprise. Everything from that point forward, including orbiting the planet and transporting down is a “dream” which, I guess, takes no time to happen. The buoy explodes, perhaps because it’s no longer needed, or perhaps because Kirk and Co. have “overloaded” it by refusing to accept its illusions.

I guess if Kirk and the rest had not been mind-melded by Spock, everyone except Spock would have just crumpled over dead on the bridge the moment after Kirk gave the order to head for the planet.

Perhaps it is explained more thoroughly in the novelization.

127. Billy Bobby - July 25, 2008


I agree with you. Everything that happened after the Enterprise went around the buoy was just an illusion. It was an illusion created by the Melkotians to test the Federation.


You are not alone my friend. The Third Season, except the couple of stinkers I mentioned above, is great. I myself think it is better than the Second Season. Keep on loving the Third Season my friend. It has just become a fad to bash the Third, and unfortunately, final season of Star Trek.

128. Commodore Wesley - July 26, 2008

#121: The numbers were always there on the studio’s large E model (I don’t know about the smaller one), based on pictures I have seen from the filming of the series. Like so many other details, though (most notably the big yellow dot on the bottom), they weren’t visible on the low-resolution T.V. screens of the late 60s and 70s. Of course, I didn’t really start watching Trek until it went into syndication in 1969; perhaps the markings were visible when it was on the air, but not when the local stations were showing the syndication reels umpteen million times for years afterwards, and wearing them out.

129. bigmike - July 27, 2008

111. To each it’s own but the Empath was the worst episode of the third season and of the whole series in my opinion. Spectre of the Gun ranks in my bottom three as well along with Turnabout Intruder. Trek remastered put all of my worst episodes toghether back to back

130. Billy Bobby - July 28, 2008

Viva la The Empath! I can’t wait until that episode is posted today. When it came on, I promised myself only to watch the first 5 minutes. I ended up watching the whole thing. That is one amazing episode.


I’m sorry you do not see how amazing The Empath is. But everybody is different and that’s cool.

131. Orvo - July 28, 2008

This review’s screenshots needs one of the Melkot planet as Enterprise approaches. It is in the video clip but (incredibly) not the screenshot gallery

132. Redjac - July 28, 2008

No episode is as horrible as And The Children Shall Lead…

…well, maybe The Way to Eden.

133. Engon - July 29, 2008


But what of Lazarus? What of Lazarus?

134. Billy Bobby - July 29, 2008


That is the worst episode. Nothing is worse than The Alternative Factor.

135. Billy Bobby - July 29, 2008

It makes The Way to Eden look like a damn masterpiece.

136. Billy Bobby - July 29, 2008

I am so mad that The Empath has not been posted yet.

137. Daoud - July 29, 2008

Well, they’re all better than Space:1999’s worst episodes.

138. Bara Khuda - July 29, 2008

Turnabout Intruder does have brilliant dialog at the court martial and Jim’s at his most entertaining. I’m sure the best of it will be excised to pay for the remastering. Must…try… to watch…last half. “ITS MUTINY! The sentence: death. Plot…coordinates…for…orbit.” Also watch when Kirk/J delivered the neck chop to Janice/K & Bones’ reaction. There needs to be an extra “episode” containing only all the scenes deleted for syndication.

139. Redjac - July 29, 2008

Where the FREAK are the images and video for The Empath?
Do you guys think no one cares to see these?

I wish Anthony would make this a priority rather than rehashed Simon Pegg quotes and cheesy Trek product announcements…

Goooood grief!

140. Redjac - July 29, 2008

#137 — There was a bad Space:1999?

Say it ain’t so! Speaking of which…check out these “remastered” 1999 (or Space:2099 as the person renamed it) episodes. This was done by one individual, but I think he did a very good job overall…and made some interesting revisions.

Check it out:


Oh and PS: Turnabout Intruder is a HILARIOUS episode for the reasons Bara Khuda mentions above…priceless! LOL

141. Redjac - July 29, 2008

Here’s a better link:


142. Engon - July 29, 2008


Just an extra “episode?” Think again.

Each of the 79 original 51 minute episodes has been cut down by about 7 minutes each to achieve a running time of around 44 minutes.

That’s 9 HOURS and 13 minutes of material cut from the series for syndication.

143. stephen - August 14, 2008

My favorite nit from this episode is that they used the same matte painting for the planet Melkot and the planet Vulcan from “Amok Time!” Did the Preservers design the continents for both planets?? And why?? And why didn’t Spock mention it?? I wish somebody would write up an explanation!

Of course, many episodes used the same matte paintings for those planets as well.
Those need to be explained too.

144. Kris Nelson - November 22, 2008

is this THE Mark Altman of “Free Enterprise” fame?

145. Kris Nelson - November 22, 2008

Ah – according to the credits on the article it IS Mark Altman…I see…I see….Mark, when are you going to let me be in Free Enterprise 2: The Wrath of Con?

146. Charybdis - December 26, 2009

As the late Ron Soble(Wyatt Earp)once said in an interview with the Sci-Fi Channel during the 35th Anniversary of Star Trek….

“At first it(Spectre Of The Gun)seemed like a dud, but in a strange way it turned out to be one of the classic Star Trek episodes.”

He was right. Despite its western fantasy and spectral surrealism, let alone Twilight Zone-esque feel, it is still one of the classics.

Better than And The Children Shall Lead, Plato’s Stepchildren, and Turnabout Intruder.

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