A solid but somewhat unremarkable second season thriller, “Obsession” is best remembered by TOS continuity junkies for its contribution to Kirk’s back story, something referenced in James Cawley’s New Voyages and tantalizingly teased in early rumors about JJ Abrams’ Trek movie, although it now looks like we won’t be seeing anything on Kirk’s days on the U.S.S. Farragut in the film.
“Obsession” references a favorite Trek touchstone, Melville’s Moby Dick (look for it in “The Doomsday Machine,” The Wrath of Khan and finally wearing out its welcome in Star Trek First Contact), and in order to do so Art Wallace’s script has to toy with Kirk’s character a bit, making him rather more reckless and intolerant (both of other species and of the human limitations of his crew) than we’re used to seeing. If this were “Errand of Mercy” there’d be a reversal that had Kirk questioning himself and his behavior before the end of the story. But one of the episode’s odd limitations is that here, as in any episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea where there was a monster on the loose, it turns out that Kirk is absolutely right to cast aside every human consideration in favor of hunting the creature down and destroying it, and the humanistic Dr. McCoy is all wet for suggesting otherwise. It’s an approach that works with a soulless machine in “Doomsday Machine” (the episode from which “Obsession” also borrows much of its score), but it seems strangely bloodthirsty when applied to a living creature in Trek.
Like “The Apple,” “Obsession” runs through redshirts like disposable rags—this is the episode that famously dispenses with Eddie Paskey’s Mr. Lesley, who is resurrected a few episodes later without a bit of the fanfare accorded Spock in Star Trek III (Paskey will tell you that he foolishly tried to remind the producers that they’d killed him off in a previous episode but they just wouldn’t listen). In fact the episode’s guest star could be the most celebrated redshirt of all—Stephen Brooks’ Lt. Garrovick is one of the very few “below decks” crewmen in the original series to rate a pivotal character turn, and Brooks isn’t bad in the role. In fact between Kirk seeing himself in the lad (just as he saw himself in the twitchy Mr. Bailey in “Corbomite Maneuver”) and Spock practically risking his life to give the moping security guard a pep talk in his quarters, Garrovick gets more love than any Enterprise red shirt before or since. And he proves himself more than amply Kirk-like in the episode’s strangely interesting conclusion as he and the Captain take turns trying to knock each other out so they can be the one to risk their neck to deliver that floating antimatter bomb into the creature’s maw. And you have to love any Trek episode that ends with this exchange: Spock: “There was no deity involved, Doctor—it was my cross-circuiting to ‘B’ that saved them.” McCoy: Well, then thank pitchforks and pointed ears!”
“Obsession” was never a visual effects highpoint in the series, and while the CBS-D Remastered effort here is a strong one, in some ways it makes you appreciate the artistry the original stone knives and bearskins effects were able to achieve. Two new planets are on display, both nice and orange as if the CBS-D crew had finally had their fill of all the bitching about Earth-like planets. The shots of the cloud creature itself are technically impressive, and there’s a real attempt to make the cloud appear massive and sprawling with a lot of inner activity. There’s a built-in limitation to what could be done here because the practical effects of the cloud, likely done with dry ice on the show’s sets, could not be messed with so the color and texture of the cloud was set in stone. The original visual effects crew created a simple but rather effective look for the creature in space, simply fading between two different shapes—one horizontal, the other more vertical. That gave the cloud creature a slithery, vaguely “creature-like” shape while in space, and also suggested a kind of visual streamlining that made it look like it was somehow moving fast.
The new effects seem to trade those qualities for a sense of vastness and complexity. The overall shape is simple and flat, with tendrils that flow out when the creature prepares to double back and invade the Enterprise, or hollow out to get out of the way of phaser fire. Virtually all of the Enterprise shots look nice and solid—whether it’s firing phasers or wheeling in space, these are some of the better renders done of the CG vessel. And there are some nice bonus shots playing around with the orbital angles—a shot of the saucer sliding beneath the camera while the Enterprise orbits directly above a planet instead of off to one side is particularly nice. The final shot is a killer too as the Enterprise (in a shot that may have been developed originally for “All Our Yesterdays” and its supernova) slides past us to reveal the planet Tycho IV with a massive, blackened crater where Kirk’s antimatter bomb went off on the surface.
by Matt Wright
by Matt Wright
Strange but I always like this one.
“Scratching an itch with a phaser seems dangerous” lol What would have happen if that thing went off?
It had better gas. Thanks CBS digital.
Great parting shot of the planet with the anti-matter crater! Too bad they could not include more of the explosion.
Shiny wax job on the Big E, again.
Nice shots of the Enterprise at the end and none of this ‘lets recreate a plastic model wobble in CGI’ that we seem to see too much of. *Really* can’t get my head around that one.
Ah well, roll on 2014 when it comes out in Bluray…
I adored the cratered-and-airless planet shot that concluded the episode. The in-space cloud was pretty good too.
This episode stuck in my mind when i was a kid – perhaps it was all the blue faced dead redshirts. Perhaps i like Garrovick. Anyway, it’s an old favourite of mine.
This Episode came as close to pure horror as trek episode ever did. I alys remember the scene when Kirk rushes to Where Garovick is and see the men dead on the ground faces a Ghastly blue. When I was kid this scarred me a bit. That cloud creature was just plain Malevolent. What was frightening was how it pass through things, change its size shape texture and fool scanners in to think it was something else and on top of that it could trave lat warp speed, and it throw it self out of phase and be else where when weapons were being used against it. This begg a qiestion, if it could throw itself out of phase then in theory it should have been able to survive even an antiMatter explosion, unless it caught unaware in this case. Also ,if it could throw its body out of phase, then when it was in the cabin with spock, the ventalation system should not have been able to suck it out of the room. Nor would flooding the vents with radio active material that Scotty did should not have been a problem for it.Actually, If it could phase itself though objects it did not need to travel the ventalation shafts ,rather it should ave been able to simply phase through the wall. Does this make any sense to anyone?
nice chase shot good sense of speed and seamless cross shot
Yeah, Kirk’s attitude in this one was pretty lame – as Jeff says. “Voyage To The Bottom of The Sea” indeed.
I like the first pic of the Enterprise. Looks like the real model.
BRING ON THE CAGE!!!
The huge crater was a nice touch. I was hoping we would get to see a huge plume coming off the planet as well. One would think there would be a lot of debris flying into space after a blast like that. Nitpicking, I know, but that would have been sweet.
Still, this was a great effort by CBS Digital. Good work!!!
With all my previous “bitching” this episode was well-done. :)
No barrell-rolling ships.
No-re-inventing and substituting with inferior shots.
Just plain enhancing what was there before. Beautiful closing shot.
I just went with it when I was a kid. I loved it and accepted every premise of the show. Just like I accepted Adam West as earnest and very sincere in his portrayal of Batman. It wasn’t until years later that I heard the “word camp” and even considered it.
I also kind of liked the new effects in this one
Scratching with a phaser set to kill is bad, mmmkay. One wrong move and zap, ex captain.
On a more serious note, it is one of the better episodes of the second season with great acting, even Shatner gets to chew a little scenery. BTW, the phaser scratch was a nice piece of acting. It is called acting. Keeping your hands busy to make a point. That is why it works.
I always admired Spock for actually going to Garrovick’s quarters to talk to him. For a Vulcan who consistently stated his actions were always motivated purely from logic, his character shows compassion and empathy hardly expected from first officer of the ship to an ensign in Security. Spock’s character is always displayed as being appropriately kind toward others under his command, with instances such as this showing his genuine care for the feelings of others, although he would never admit to it.
I was a little annoyed that the local L.A. affiliate ran the episode some seven minutes late. My TiVo caught the tail end of some “cheating spouses on tape” crapfest. As a result, I lost the last seven minutes of the episode. Thanks to Trekmovie.com’s intrepid staff of reviewers, I finally get to see what I missed. Wow! I loved that parting shot of the crater. The other shots of the creature were fantastic as well. I really liked the undulating smoke tendrils. It felt like they were trying to create something that matched up better with the on-set practical smoke effects. Another great job CBS-D!
This was an episode the BBC didn’t show for years because they thought it was so sub par
This still begs the question if it could phase through things then, sucking it out through t ventalation shafts would not have worked nor would flushing radioactive particles into the vents. Hell, if it could phase through things why didn’t it just phase right through the wall? Also if it could phase and not be affected by phaser’s then in theory it should have been able to survive even an antimater blast because it could just thrown itself out of phase and just avpied the explosion. Think about it
Nice review. I remember watching this as a kid and thinking that Kirk was acting strange. So many other episodes had the crew trying to communicate with unusual and dangerous aliens, trying to discover the motives of the creature in question. Not this time.
The new visuals look good, though the old ones weren’t too bad in this episode if memory serves.
Kirk was channelling the inspector from Plan 9 right there.
This is great episode but its got a huge flaw in its concept. If a deflector screen couldn’t stop it then how could a solid wall contain it?
Yep, the Inspector right here:
I liked the effects in this one. I often wondered recently, why would anybody even think that a phaser would be effective against the creature anyway? It was basically a living cloud, it would be like trying to shoot smoke. It wouldn’t work.
Yeah, even though there are flaws in the script, I’ve always had a sneakin’ admiration for this one. There’s something Garrovick that reminds me of Captain Decker from STTMP, but I especially like his delivery of the line, “Thank you, sir!!!” when Kirk lets him return to duty. I also like the fact that he does the old Kirk chop to try to knock out Kirk!!!
“it turns out that Kirk is absolutely right to cast aside every human consideration in favor of hunting the creature down and destroying it, and the humanistic Dr. McCoy is all wet for suggesting otherwise. ”
Sometimes that’s the case. And isn’t it an interesting change from the usual approach anyway?
Enterprise looked tremendous in this episode.
I know a lot of old farts will have a problem with me saying this, but…I wish they would have taken a lot more liberties…spruce up these episodes a little. There’s maybe 5 or 6 TOS episodes that are even watchable.
…and they’re ONLY watchable now b/c of these remastering.
This coming from a Trekie of a “new age” that grew up with the movies and the TNG.
Continuity kills me.
One of my all time favorite TOS episodes. Thrilling story, very well acted and uncommonly serious interaction between the Big Three, and -for once- a convincing guest star, Lt. Garrovik. Did any other crew member ever get so much screen time in an episode?
The space shots are not very salient in this episode, as has been said in the review, but nonetheless: The remastering makes this great episode even better.
yes the episode wherein Shatner proves that the common cold will exist in the future….or maybe that explains his obsession…he’s alergic to that “sickeningly sweet” smell !
The CGI in this one is very good. I also liked that Enterprise flyover of the planet, too. The cloud now matches the live effects as much as can be.
I think Shatner had a cold while filming this, his voice is raspy.
I always thought this was one of the series’ strongest. It depicts Kirk as someone who is imperfect, someone who is capable of being driven almost over the edge of sanity. I love how McCoy and Spock confront Kirk on his attitude and actions, and the looks the crew give him while he’s ordering the pursuit of the cloud at high warp are phenomenally tense. Kirk is out of character because this isn’t a strange new life-form, it’s something he’s encountered before and it’s something he knows is dangerous. He is not exactly rational about it though, and he knows it because there are several points in the episode in which he questions his own actions via the captain’s log (something he doesn’t do much after the 1st season) and that just makes the Kirk character all the more human.
That said, this is rare instance where I do not think all the new fx are an improvement. I thought the original look of the cloud in space was way more convincing than what was done here. CBS-D literally made it look like a…cloud. Gone is the eerie coloring and strange alien-ness of the original effect, I was more worried that that thing would start raining on the Enterprise’s hull than suck blood. Also, I really wish that CBS-D would take the time to fix ALL the phaser beam shots, it’s painfully annoying. That said, the new orbit shots, the E herself, and especially the departure shot showing the blast crater on the planet were great.
I am very much a fan of this remastered effort as a whole, however, why the hell is there a rush to put these episodes out? Why do some hand phaser shots get fixed and some don’t? Why do some planets get new matte shots and others don’t? Why is it that the Okudas are saying “well we would’ve done that but we ran out of time”? I’d understand that if this were a brand new series, however this show is over 40 years old. TAKE YOUR TIME BOYS. I’d rather have them release one episode per month and have EVERYTHING they want to be done, be done. I don’t know whether or not this is because of pressure from paramount for DVD releases or what, but it is a real shame. Hopefully one day they’ll be able to go back and do everything they wanted to do.
#30 “Gone is the eerie coloring and strange alien-ness of the original effect”?
You mean the horrible, barely watchable, old effects?
New effects are far more superior.
I always thought McCoy’s greatest line was “You wanted a trophy to hang on your wall. Well, it’s not on your wall, it’s IN IT!”
Oh yeah, cool crater shot. Just what I was hoping for.
However, I totally agree with your last statement, about being able to go back and do EVERYTHING they wanted to do.
Some do seem rushed and if BSG can have the kind of effects on a weekly basis that they do…Star Trek deserves that kind of care as well.
Hello has anybody read my comments concerning the who phasing thing? any thought on this one, anybody?
Just goes to show, even whe n most people that have posted say they ike what they have seen, some won’t. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just human nature. Even the most popular political figures in human history have someone wanting to “knock them off.”
Great character episode, and strong Triad interaction. We learn how heavily Kirk’s actually depending on his famous intuition, even to the point of getting obsessed. Nevertheless, he’s questioning his own actions in his logs which gives us a deeper insight into his doubts and concerns and at the same time gives us a strong feeling of being involved. We learn about Kirk’s past, his admiration for Capt. Garrovick, and his intense feelings of guilt resulting from the events which took place on the Farragut. The impressive scene when Spock and McCoy inquire Kirk about his recent decision prelude that part of the episode in which we are being shown the Commander who is able to overcome the past, who has learned to channel his strong emotions and to use them as a powerful weapon against a deadly creature.
#34-I’d say when it’s ready to eat, it won’t phase.
#31, I agree in almost every case that the new CBS-D fx are better than the old (although I believe that they could be better in some episodes, but still better than the original…which I guess doesn’t say much). This is why I’m upset that they don’t go back and add MORE new fx. However this is the one exception where I feel the original cloud fx in space was better than the CBS-D version. I just feel it looks like a billowing rain cloud rather than an alien creature, and does not match what it looks like on the planet. That’s just my opinion, good sir.
I always figured the cloud took on a different look in the vacuum of space than under the pressure of an atmosphere, so I’m fine with the look here.
Ya know I guess if they gave it a pinkish hue I’d be happier.
week after week i look at the effects screenshots and think “yeh, they look good this week”
Then i realise i am looking at the originals.
This is one of the richest episodes backstory-wise from which to come up with a story. Just what happened in and just after ”the Farragut years?” I know I have my ideas…
#36- well said Iowagirl. This is a really good character episode and really helps one put Kirk’s “obsession” in TMP into perspective.
There is no doubting Jim Kirk IS awesome and it IS hard for him to hear my words over the loudness of his awesomeness. But episodes like this also show the man beneath the legend. Flaws and all, it’s this type of dimensionality, along with a brilliant portrayal by William Shatner, that makes Kirk so great.
And the new effects this time around were superb. Another fun hour of remastered Trek. Thanks CBS-D!
Solid? Unremarkable? One of my favourite episodes! To each his own.
The new shots look pretty good.
The adventure continues…
Garovorkin, you are undoubtedly absolutely correct. But sometimes you just gotta work harder at the willing suspension of disbelief. When common sense (or, dare I say it, logic) intrudes, beat it back with a stout stick.
But you are right.
Someone said earlier “Bring on The Cage” I agree! I really hope that CBS does it real justice. We alerady seen Mudds Women and I do like the overhead shot of Rigel 12 when Kirk and co. are beaming down, but The Cage deserves some real nice fx shots. They are already ahead of the game with The Menagerie a little but there is still work needing to be done!
The computer systems on the E can be jazzed up a bit. When the Talosians tap the computers, perhaps showing quick glimpses of 9/11, the iraqi war etc would be GREAT!! Slowing down the E approaching Talos 4, in the remastered it seems like they were at Warp Speed and then quickly hit the breaks in orbit! LOL!
Does anyone think that someone central to the remastering project has been fired or something, I still dont sense 100% behind this. All in all with Obsession, GOOD TRY!
Nice work on this one. Jeff, thanks for comparing this ep to Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Mind you, I loved that one too when I was a wee one. Now, though… yikes! In a just universe George Takei would be sentenced to watch a compendium of all the Kowalski scenes from Voyage. Then, bitch all you want, George. Fact is, you got lucky!
#46 The computer systems on the E can be jazzed up a bit. When the Talosians tap the computers, perhaps showing quick glimpses of 9/11, the iraqi war etc would be GREAT!! Slowing down the E approaching Talos 4, in the remastered it seems like they were at Warp Speed and then quickly hit the breaks in orbit! LOL.
Yeah that would be cool. But we have no way of knowing if they will even show that scene of the records when they air it. They may cut it out in syndication.
Looks beautiful; I loved the over-the-top shot of the big E orbiting the planet.
This has got to be the most ill-considered order Kirk ever gave…
“Flush the radioactive waste into the ventilation system. See what effect that has.”