by Jeff Bond
In 1969 when Star Trek ended its three-year run, it was rare for a TV series to create an “ending” for the show—most shows simply ended their runs in cancellation, their creators no doubt still hoping for a pickup for the following season. Episodic television wasn’t serialized—only afternoon soap operas in the U.S. did that on a regular basis—so TV shows could be repackaged for syndication and “stripped” to run every five to seven days a week in the afternoon and early evening, usually in a completely random order that was little-noticed by viewers as one stand-alone story led into the next.
So it was with Star Trek and “Turnabout Intruder,” an unspectacular but fitfully entertaining third season story that has a bitter old flame of Kirk’s, Dr. Janice Lester (Sandra Smith), using an ancient alien machine to transfer her life essence into Kirk’s body and vice versa. Lester is a self-loathing woman who’s nursed a grudge against Kirk because Starfleet doesn’t allow females to captain starships, and once in Kirk’s body she takes over command of the Enterprise—but since she’s a moody, jealous and vindictive female her petty and erratic behavior soon starts giving her away.
Yep, it’s not one of the series prouder moments where the portrayal of women is concerned, although as a woman who’s apparently criminally insane, Lester doesn’t quite represent her gender as a whole. The story is by Gene Roddenberry, a man who was always fascinated by sexual politics, and the appeal of the concept is obvious: William Shatner gets to spend the bulk of the episode playing a woman, and Star Trek’s most theatrical performer does not disappoint. Shatner had numerous opportunities to play an “evil” version of Kirk over the run of the series but this one perhaps takes the concept the farthest as we see Kirk turning into Captain Bligh as Lester attempts to eliminate Kirk in her body and eventually anyone else who stands in his/her way.
Shatner makes an effective villain, although his caricature of female behavior runs hot and cold—by the time we see him filing his nails in his quarters during a conversation with McCoy you have to wonder if this was one of those episodes originally planned to be a comedy that Fred Frieberger steamrolled. The episode flirts with a homosexual subtext in Kirk/Lester’s scenes with Lester’s sad-sack old flame and enabler Dr. Coleman (Harry Landers), but most of the effort goes into showing Lester as either smug or hysterical. Of course, the most controversial aspect of the story has always been the idea that Starfleet won’t allow a woman to be a starship captain—that’s refuted directly in Star Trek Enterprise (whether you think that’s canon or not!), which showed a woman as one of the very first starship commanders—but it seems odd that Roddenberry, who had his character Number One from the original Trek pilot rejected by the network for being unacceptable to audiences, would allow the stereotype of women being unqualified for command to be reinforced this late in the series. Fans have argued with some justification that Lester’s line “Your world of starship captains doesn’t admit women.” may have been a symptom of her own paranoid self-delusion, but unless he’s just humoring her Kirk seems to confirm it in his response and there’s no evidence in the episode to believe that she hasn’t stated a fact.
If Shatner has a field day as Lester, Sandra Smith has an equally challenging role playing Captain Kirk in a female body. “Turnabout Intruder” doesn’t rank as one of Trek’s casting triumphs—Smith is arguably better at playing Kirk than Lester, but even in this pivotal performance she doesn’t register very strongly and one wishes that someone with the gravity of a Diana Muldaur had been given the role. Even worse is Landers’ inert Dr. Coleman. Several actors who appeared on the original series have noted that Shatner often insisted on being the focus of any scene, to the point that he preferred the other performers to remain in their positions while he moved around and generated action and interest. That’s amply demonstrated with Landers, who sometimes seems like a stolid mannequin wheeled into his sequences.
“Intruder” puts Kirk not only up against himself in a way, but also in what must be the strongest direct conflict with Spock that he has throughout the series. With Spock convinced of the real Kirk’s story of mind/body transference after he mind-melds with Lester, the Vulcan first officer acts forcefully to protect his captain, disobeying Kirk/Lester’s orders and helping Lester to break out of the brig. That leads to a court martial scene that is memorable for the fireworks that Shatner generates (although the syndication cut eliminates some of his crazier moments and undercuts the drama). Ironically given the focus on Shatner’s performance, this final episode of the series features some of the strongest contributions from Trek’s supporting cast. Nimoy and DeForest Kelley are in fine form as they question and counter Kirk/Lester’s odd behavior, and Nimoy in particular is unusually forceful in opposing the possessed Captain. There’s also a particularly nice scene between Scott and McCoy outside the courtroom, with James Doohan delivering a lovely monologue that indicates his depth of knowledge and loyalty to Captain Kirk in a scene that also shows off the gruff wisdom of these two old space dogs, the most mature and experienced men on the Enterprise.
That makes it all the more disappointing that “Turnabout Intruder” ends so clumsily, with Herb Wallerstein’s awkward and ineffectual staging of Lester finally being forced out of Kirk’s body. It’s a feeble finale for the series but Kirk’s last line (“If only…if only…”) has always had a strange resonance as a reflection of Star Trek’s three-year struggle to remain on NBC.
“Turnabout Intruder” offers little in the way of work for CBS-Digital—it’s an odd episode in that there are very few shots of the Enterprise with most cutbacks from commercial breaks fading into live action instead of the traditional starship establishing shots. There’s an opening shot of the ship in orbit around Camus II, shown as a desolate world with prominent rings, and at least one shot from underneath the ship midway through the story. But in this case the CBS-Digital crew has an advantage the original Trek team never had: they knew this would be the last episode (or at least they thought so until "The Cage" was moved off the schedule). And while the shot they produced to show the final view of the original Enterprise may not be the most spectacular one they’ve produced, it nicely echoes the final shot of TNG’s “All Good Things,” with the camera slightly above the Enterprise saucer hull, tilting to follow the vessel off as it cruises towards what looks like the gorgeous M45 Plieades star cluster augmented with a colorful nebula.
Remastered now fits TOS with the final shots of other Trek series
Remastered vs. Original
FINAL THOUGHTS ON REMASTERED PROJECT
by Jeff Bond
So now we’ve seen it all (other than the revamped “The Cage,” which will be aired sometime in the next year). Whatever you can say about the Remastered project, it’s always been interesting, with effects work that’s run hot and cold. Some episodes have been noticeably improved by the new effects work, and some of the best work has been marvelously subtle—something as simple as eliminating the freeze frames in the final shot of the Guardian in “City on the Edge of Forever.” At their best the new effects added to the drama and impact of the episodes, particularly in the gorgeous, stylistically consistent use of digital matte paintings, and showed us stuff we’d always assumed was there but had to imagine due to the original series’ low budget: the S.S. Antares in “Charlie X,” the Klingon vessels in “Errand of Mercy,” “Friday’s Child,” “A Private Little War” and “The Trouble With Tribbles.” At its worst the project undermined the excitement of the show’s limited but well-chosen original effects with new shots that painfully displayed the limitations of CGI rendering and shot design—“Elaan of Troyius” is an episode I’ve always enjoyed immensely, and it’s the one Remastered episode I can say I would not want to sit through again due to the terrible rendering of the Klingon warship (remarkable given that this is the single most important “adversary ship” in the history of Star Trek) and some very badly designed space combat shots.
Throughout all of the episodes, however, there’s been one consistent reason to watch: the gorgeous, sharp and vibrantly colorful new transfers that have given me the chance to look at the original show in a way I’ve never seen before. Los Angeles channel 5’s broadcast is hi-def (whether what we see on it is a true 1080i hi-def broadcast of Star Trek or not remains debated), and the image clarity on the bulk of the Remastered episodes shown there has been stupendous—far better than the somewhat washed out look of the standard definition second season DVD set. I can only imagine what the Blu-ray discs of the show will look like at true 1080p definition. So I salute this project for providing some really fun moments, giving me some idea of what it must have been like to see this show during its original broadcast on NBC and most of all for giving me a great excuse to rewatch the original series one more time.
Seasons One and Two discounted at Amazon US
The Season Two box set is now available at Amazon for pre-order, discounted to $59.99 (ships August 5th). The Season One DVD / HD DVD combo disk is available now for $114.95 (retail is $194.99).
Seasons One and Two of TOS-R
($114.95 and $59.99 respectively)
“TI” isn’t a real Trek episode; it’s a very poor pretend-satire-in-bad-taste of a lame joke, about a director’s hung-over-puking gut-wrenching bad trip of a hallucination, mixed with indigestion and putrid flatulence, from a sordid, under funded, poorly written, horribly acted, psychological aneurism of a non-existent Trek episode. However, one day I might actually form an opinion about it.
Now, I know someone is going to swear this was their favorite ep. IDIC.
this is my favorite TREK episode of all time!
Desperate Housewife Trek style.
I’ve always liked this episode. Despite the non-PC nature of the story, any chance to see the Shat chew the scenery with this much gusto is great.
Gotta hand it to CBS-D for that final shot, a very nice touch!
The line about Women and Star Trek Captains wasn’t Gene Roddenberry’s fault. He said himself that he regreted that line. But today it can be explained by her insanity. It’s possible that with her condition, Kirk just didn’t have the heart to tell her that it wasn’t because she was a women that she could captain a starship, but because she was mentally unstable. She obviously never heard of Erika Hernandez.
Okay, wrote the above without remembering it was a Roddenberry story. None-the-less, it still sucked, and goes to prove that even my hero, a man whom I met and dearly admired: The Great Bird of the Galaxy, was not perfect. (sigh). I’m done Jeff and Anthony, I promise.
females weren’t allowed captaincy durin TOS times? Is that said explicitly?
I have to admit I never caught that, if they did.
A touching final shot for a less-than-perfect finale.
The woman playing Kirk/Janice Lester’s Body did not quite get James Kirk’s character. The reactions were not that Kirk-like to me in places.
It seems she was trying to play a Man so much, that she didn’t quite play Kirk.
I just realized that the last shot echoes the last one of Star Trek VI, sort of mirrored, but with a nebula instead of the sun.
anecdote: years ago i caught up with a friend who i hadn’t seen in years who much to my surprise wasn’t the girl i’d known growing up. she was a guy, and a very successful one. when i asked what exactly led to this change he said to me: “well, i was janice lester, and wanted to be captain kirk. except i got away with it.”
I still think this is the WORST of the TOS episodes. I cannot watch it. It’s that bad, imho.
– Shatner at his overacting finest. (sigh)
– Horrible script.
– Unbelievable scenario with Kirk’s unprofessional, unbalanced actions that would have had McCoy relieve him of command duty faster than he tried with Commodore Decker in “The Doomsday Machine.”
– Really tired of yet another Kirk ex-lover showing up. (Fatal Attraction time!)
On the flipside, CBS-D did a great job. Thanks, TrekMovie, because I won’t have to suffer through the episode again. Watching the f/x clips above was all I needed.
Great review, Jeff Bond. :) Really enjoyed the summary at the end, too.
interestingly enough, i never thought that Janice didn’t make captain because she was a woman and assumed that that was simply something that she convinced herself to justify (in her mind) her denial for the post, rather than admit she was in some way unfit for the job…
It always kinda bothered me how quick in some episodes Spock or McCoy are to relieve Kirk of command. I mean, isn’t the Captain supposed to be the most trustworthy on the ship?
And so it ends….well, apart from ‘The Cage’ that is.
Nice review Jeff, and a fair summary of CBS – Digital’s CGI work in general. It’s too bad that there was actually an episode so badly done, that you wouldn’t wish to even watch it again, compared to the original. That sums up what a missed opportunity this was overall.
Sure, it’s been great that the actual ‘clean-up’ is terrific….but it seems a shame that the new ‘additions’ were not consistently good. While some things were a big improvement, some things were dreadful….and don’t even get me started on the fact that not every handphaser beam was tweaked for consistency! Am I glad it was done at all….yes….but I wish it had been done better (which was certainly possible), with a slightly better budget, and in a less frantic time-frame. I wasn’t expecting multi-million dollar Movie-quality effects, but I was expecting more than what we got in too many episodes. I’ll re-buy the episodes when the eventual Blu-rays come out….but I’ll yearn for what could have been, when I do…. For those that are content, or delighted with it as is, enjoy the show.
Sean4000 – Nice to hear you are still planning a ‘project’. Good luck with that. Can you tell me if you are registered with OriginalTrilogy.com by any chance, as I wasn’t able to contact you in the past.
Oh my god!
What a fantastic shot! Very very nice CBS-D!
Think of it this way: By the 23rd century, mankind has evolved to the point where people’s differences no longer matter. Race, gender, no human is turned down for any task because of those. They kept saying that those days were behind them, and all of a sudden, women aren’t allowed to be starship captains? Does that make sense to anybody? Even at the time the episode was made, It made no sense canonwise. The fact that she was mentally unstable is a good way of explaining that.
I would have loved to see it. Unfortunately I missed it because I filmed the wrong channel.
I always got the feeling that there wasn’t an official policy against female captains, but that there was a sort of unspoken glass-ceiling boys’ club type thing. Or that there were enough people in the Fleet brass at the time who preferred not to have female captains, and so very few were promoted.
Hmm. That opening shot of the Enterprise in the ringed planetary system is far superior and more photoreal than the similar shots in “I, Mudd.” A shame indeed that the artists at CBS-D didn’t have more time and money to get this remaster pitch-perfect; it’s especially regrettable that outstanding episodes like “Balance of Terror” suffered for their learning curve while sub-par shows like this clearly benefited from it.
Still, I always liked Smith and Landers in their roles (aside from Smith’s scenery-chewing final moments). I thought they brought more dignity to the procedings than they deserved. “Turnabout Intruder” isn’t the worst Trek script ever penned by Gene Roddenberry–that would still be “The Omega Glory” (or the last fifteen minutes of “The Omega Glory”)–but it’s a tedious clunker for the most part. It’s our good fortune that this wonderful saga didn’t end–hasn’t, in fact ended–with such a whimper.
i really like this episode. one of my favs
Wow that’s cool that they’ve created a sort of final shot of the Enterprise going off into the distance with a sense of ending about it.
As the son of a screenwriter, I know that writers occasionally use the characters to vent their spleen at people in the real world (by “occasionally”, I mean on those occasions they sit at a keyboard…)
And so, with that “ear”, I don’t hear the women-and-captaincy dialogue taking place between Kirk and Dr. Lester. Rather, I hear it as between Gene Rodenberry himself and one (or possibly both) of two women who figured prominently in both Trek *and* Roddenberry’s life.
“Your world of Starship Captains doesn’t admit women.”
“Yes, and you never stopped punishing me for it.”
(Probably not the exact words, but you get the idea.)
*HE* knew they were going off the air. He knew it when they got put Friday at 10 PM. And never forget, he tried in the very first pilot to have a woman as second in command, but got shot down by the network brass. So why on Earth (or Vulcan or Tau Ceti or the Benecia Colony) woud he suddenly have a lapse at the end of three years, with a story premise so far at odds from what he had tried to do all along?
No, fellow Trekkies – the only thing he *DIDN’T* have in mind was that 42 years later a nunch of us propeller-heads would be trying to *justify* those lines.
Very nice closing, CBS-D!
well congratulations to cbs digital , for the remasters esp’s , i admit there where some shots i did not like , and things that still annoy me ( james r kirk lol) , but overall they did a really really good job , and kept things true to the orignal show . i will be buying all 3 box sets when they are out ( i will be holding out for blue-ray i am afraid (well will wait another year to see , and if there is none just go for dvd ).
so thanks again . for giving us all a reason to watch tos in all its glory with some lovely new effect.
SANDRA SMITH’S DOPPELGANGER…
For YEARS, I was always stumped as to where I’d thought I’d seen the actress Sandra Smith before, or why she at least reminded me of someone else. A few years ago, it finally struck me…
She reminds me of a young Rue McClanahan, from TV’s “The Golden Girls!”
I really enjoyed that last FX Shot.
Plus Jeff Bond’s review and summary of the Remastered Project is spot on.
This is for the whole project…
I thought the remaster team did a very good job on the episodes. While some shots were effy, all were some sort of improvement on the originals. Plus, I think the low budget and no time worked well on this project. The series was produced (in the 60’s) on the cheap and quickly. It makes sense that the remaster be done under the same parameters. Personally, I think the project was a success and I wish to congratulate the crew for a great job.
two final notes:
A.) I love how the final shot was made to go with the final shots of the other series. Go CBS Digital!
B.) The only lost opportunity I can think of: They should have change the R on Kirk’s tombstone in “Where no Man has Gone” into a T. That is my only dissappointment.
Fair attempt overall.
Let the fan remaster begin!
I’d love to have that group of five shots in a much higher res as part of my screen-saver group. Nice!
That was a beautifull shot of the enterprise at the end. To bad all the shots in the remastered tos could not be the same.But at least we have a lot of inprovement and who knows. maybe one day they will remaster the remastered and make it much better. One can only hope.
This episode was the worst.
Nice shot at the end — there is only 30 seconds of remastering in this episode.
I have enjoyed the remastering project. I have also enjoyed Trekmovie’s coverage of it. There have been many times that the only way I have seen the remastering has been on this sight. The scheduling of TOSR has not been consistent — sporting events, early morning scheduling, me not programming my VCR correctly, etc.
The reviews have been very good — Jeff Bond, Anthony Pascale, Dennis Bailey….
I will miss the weekly forum on this part of TOS now that all the episodes are now complete (save for “The Cage” — and most of that was seen on “The Menagerie” both on cut TV and uncut theater).
It would be nice for the following:
– what did CBS Paramount think of this project — we the ratings good enough, are the sales of the DVD’s acceptable, did it generate the anticipated buzz for Star Trek XI?
– Jeff did a nice “final thoughts”. Will Anthony, Dennis and the other writers weigh in as well?
– are they going to remaster TAS ?
-will they take another crack at some the remastered episodes that didn’t measure up?
Gee, I feel the same way I did back in 1969 when they canceled the show…
all in all..the remastering COULD HAVE been much better. The CBS digital crew must have had a very large workload along with this project because if they didn’t…well..they don’t have much in creative talent.
The idea was a good one…the people they hired…not so good. On utube…they have more talented kids doing star trek then these CBS “professionals”. I mean..why not hire the guys who created the star trek versus star wars…or the star trek versus babylon 5 which is extremely good.
It’s really sad when you pay good money for bad work…substandard…all I know is that CBS in the end did horrible work. Even interns have more talent,
While the episode with lawyer Melvin Belli is Jeff Bond’s worst episode topper (and certainly one of mine) this has always been my most hated episode. This was the number one, after school downer episode for me. I never even watched it fully though as a kid. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was like torture. For one reason more than any….I hated seeing Kirk switching places with a woman when I was a kid. I always thought it was such a weak way to end the show. The whole episode just felt ‘so over with’. It just felt like they were ready to put this one to bed and never check if it had kicked the covers off in the night. I still don’t care for it that much to this day. Nonetheless…I’m going to watch it tonight. 45 more minutes.
doesn’t anyone notice that TI STILL has intense sociopolitical significance? and new poignancy as well these days?
now it mirrors the extremist aspect of feminism, those deluding themselves to believe that insane women have more of a right to positions of power then sane men just becuz theyre women…that somehow a mentally unstable woman is still ten times better than a man in perfect mental fitness
also it alludes to how women aren’t allowed into combat in the military and how women are paid less for the same positions as their male counterparts
in almost 40 years not much has changed! token changes filled with hypocrisy!!
Very well thought out review and a nice parting shot of the ship.
That second shot down on the right of the Enterprise slightly nose-up would have been great remastered as it was in the picture. That angle was used on the second cover of “The Making of Star Trek’ and numerous posters and visual items over the years. I don’t think they ever did a cgi shot of it.
It was great they did so many new views of the Enterprise, but it seems some of the more iconic views we have come to know never made into the project.
Plus, I’m sure they never fixed the screaming soprano singer standing up-front during the second and third season title music, she was subtler in the original recording.
All in all, however, I’m very glad they undertook the project.
I don’t care what any Trekkie says, Turnabout Intruder is a great episode. I think that this was a fitting way to end the series. It seems like only hard-core Trekkies hate this episode. One of my favorite lines from the series is, “If only…if only…..” I also loved that last shot of the Enterprise. It fits in the episode because the Enterprise was on it’s way to study some natural phenomenon. Overall, I am glad that CBS remastered Star Trek, but there is a lot to be desired. Perhaps one day, we will get a true remaster.
You gave an awful lot of criticism, even after you admitted you didn’t know what kind of workload they carried. Maybe you should find out what’s going on before you trash another’s work?
I wish they could ‘remaster’ the sexism out of the episode, because that definitely needs some clean up! If it were only Lester’s line that made the accusation, I could dismiss it. But the fact is all of Kirk’s responses to the allegation just end up reinforcing it. Especially his patronizing final line, “Her life could’ve been as rich as any woman’s”. Ugh.
That aside, it’s a sad end to a great show. They can’t even keep straight which General Order demands the death penalty (clearly established as #7 in The Menagerie, and stated as #4 here). And hell, the very fact that Kirk was threatening the execution of several of his senior officers alone should have ensured his removal from command. Those security officers should have been fired! :)
It’s funny seeing how many girls hate this episode. I don’t think that this episode is sexist at all. On the contrary, it shows the negative effects of not allowing women to be captains. Did anyone ever think of that? I think it would have been great if one of the security guards sexually harassed Kirk/Lester. Then Kirk would not be so inclined to treat women as sex objects. Just think how much of a soul-searching moment it could have been for Kirk. Great episode! And for all those who say its bad, quit your bitching.
I remember hearing that most of the scenes where Shatner is carrying the body of Lester around and he appears to be sweating is because Shatner was fighting the flu at the time!
If anything that gave every scene the “vibe” that Kirk was trying to fight off the possession of his body by another “essence”.
I am bummed that the remastered project has come to an end. I really enjoyed watching these the last two years and I look forward to a an eventual Blu Ray release in the near future.
Thank you CBS digital for doing this project for all of us Star Trek fans out there, and for making TOS more up to date for newer fans of the show to enjoy!!
Great job on the final shot of the Big E heading off into space. Nice touch!!
As much as I think The Enterprise heading toward the nebula was a great idea, they still should have added The Potemkin as well (since they were to rendevous with it in the first place). And this is an episode where for once Nurse Chapel looks hot (she looks much better as a brunette anyway. Look at “The Cage/Menagerie”). As for The general Order number, that would be writer’s error they forgot what number to use). IOW, Oops.
“The series was produced (in the 60’s) on the cheap and quickly.”
Compared to the average budget for an hour long drama on the air in the late 1960s, Star Trek was a very expensive show. $180,000 or $190,000 per show was not chump change in 1966, believe me.
I would like to put in my two cents worth with a nitpick rather than wallow about it being the last episode.
Did anyone else think it was cheesy that Lester/Kirk needed a broken glass to cut the restraints that could obviously be undone by her free hands?
At the very least she could have just slid out from under the “seat belt” that was holding her in!
And why were they using glass on a starship in the first place? This is just the reason why it makes no sense since they didn’t have replicators then. We have been using unbreakable food holders since the first world war!
Finally I would like to make a suggestion to Anthony. Now that the remastered episodes are over how about doing “guest reviews” for the reruns? I would love to see other perspectives on these episodes. Not that the reviews weren’t great but as we’ve seen they always spark debate! After all….we have some more time to fill until the new movie!
“…giving me some idea of what it must have been like to see this show during its original broadcast on NBC…”
Um. No offense but the day this show originally aired there was not a single human being sitting in their recliner seeing this show in crystal clear hi-def.
And my opinion stands… sometimes these segments look really nice. And sometimes the Enterprise looks 100% completely and utterly fake. Fake as in “oh my god, that looks like videogame footage” fake. Come on, be honest with yourself. Does that ship look real at all?
As much as I enjoyed the remastered episodes, I agree with Jeff on “Elaan”. This one was a huge disappointment.
Still, I am kind of bummed out we don’t have more remastered episodes left (aside from The Cage). I looked forward to each episode to see what the team did with them. I guess this is how fans felt when watching the show during it’s original run on NBC — when it was cancelled.
I hope CBS-D gets the opportunity to go back and fix the early episodes and those that obviously fell short of expectations such as “Elaan”.
If not, then I hope some talented fans will go back and do their own versions as mentioned in another post.
The Phase II FX team could do a great job.
Sounds like I missed a good one. (For the most part). I start back to work tomorrow after summer school break so I went to see The Mummy 3.
Ugh. You want to talk about bad scripts. I should have did a turnabout and left the theater. Why oh Why did I not listen to the critics?