Watch Star Trek TOS “The Doomsday Machine” With The Shuttle Pod Crew In Their Latest Audio Commentary

This week we bring you another audio commentary, wherein you, the listener, are invited to watch an episode of Star Trek along with the Shuttle Pod crew, who just won’t shut up and talk over the whole thing. It’s a fun time and an opportunity to listen to the opinionated chit chat of some internet strangers while you watch Star Trek.

This time, Brian, Matt, and Kayla get together to talk about that second season TOS episode where Matt Decker looses his marbles, among other things.

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One of the best hours of television was watching The Doomsday Machine for the first time. Soooo good. Ironically it was one of the last episodes I watched, snuck up at midnight to catch it when nine and it was just fantastic.

I admit I never been a huge fan of this episode and I watched it many times growing up. Liked it, but never in my top TOS episodes, more in the middle somewhere.

But I will say on my grand rewatch of the franchise I recently rewatched it again a few months ago after how many years and I enjoyed it more. And it was the first time I watched the remastered version so maybe that had something to do with it too.

What other TOS episodes did you find yourself changing your opinions of on your rewatch of the series? Were there some you liked better than you had previously, and some that did not hold up as well as you remembered them?

Wow that’s a really deep question! I have to be honest and really think about it to give any real in-depth answers but the shorter version is I can’t think of any episodes I loved in the past I love less today. Rewatching the whole thing, the ones I always loved (and it’s usually the usual suspects for us fans minus a few ones like this episode) I still do. At least nothing that is coming off the top of my head. Maybe a few feel more outdated today but generally still like them.

But the other question, were there some I liked better and I have to say YES! But these are episodes A. I haven’t watched in YEARS B. What I remembered of them were very low in general and C. most were from the third season, which I have avoided almost all of those episodes minus maybe 5 or 6 I do really like. It is easily an awful season but I really wanted to focus on too since I remember so little about those episodes. Some I literally forgot all about. But rewatching a few of them the experience was much better than I remembered. Again NOTHING amazing but I can say I generally enjoyed them more than when I used to watch them from long ago. The ones I can say that mostly about are The Cloud Miners, Spectre of the Gun, The Lights of Zetar, For the World is Hollow and The Empath (but I remember REALLY dreading that one in the past). There are probably a few more too. Again none of these are great lol, just a little better than I remembered. And as said many I just plain forgot in general.

But I will also say TWO of them I completely forgot about, Miri and The Apple just dreadful!!! I completely forgot about Miri but it was SO bad it took me a few days to watch more episodes after that. I’ve seen that episode on some people’s best episodes list and I can not for the life of me wonder how??????????? It’s now my worst TOS episode of all time now. Just sooooooo nonsensical on every level, like Threshold bad for me, but I digress. ;)

I never held this grand nostalgia view of TOS like others do here but I still love the show of course and really happy I rewatched it all…but probably not again for another 20 years. And never again for Miri. ;)

Last edited 1 month ago by Tiger2

Interestingly for me I recently enjoyed Threshold much more after a rewatch, but I completely agree with you on Miri. For me that and Charlie X are probably the most difficult episodes to watch from TOS.

Huge TOS guy here and yes… There are dog episodes out there for sure. For me the ones that are really hard to watch are The Empath (which has a good overall theme, it’s just not put together well), And the Children Shall Lead, The Way to Eden and yes, Charlie X. And there are a few others. Very little is perfect. The positive takeaway for me is that while there were terrible episodes, there were actually more good ones than bad. And The Doomsday Machine is a top 5 episode for me. I REALLY like it a ton.

“It looks very much like Commodore Decker’s planet killer. And it is pursuing us.”

And the line that I love…. “Blast regulations! Mr. Spock, I order you to take command on my personal authority as Captain of the Enterprise!”

…the theme song when they’re trying to beam Kirk aboard at the end, along with the pacing of that scene…somehow still gets my pulse racing to this day. Definitely in my Top 5 as well. And I don’t know how you feel about the re-masters, ML (I think they’re great), but Doomsday turned out beautifully, imo.

I do like the remasters. They did a pretty damn good job cleaning the negatives and the show looks great. I like the new effects and the new mattes, as well, but as they said in the podcast they new space shots have not aged too well. They still look good but it’s just a victim of time. Like in 1968, they did what they could with the tech they had at their disposal at the time.

I’ve only seen Threshold maybe 2 or 3 times tops and that hasn’t been in years either. So I’m actually looking forward to it and see if anything changes. I will say most of the ‘bad’ episodes across the board in all the shows haven’t been AS bad as I remembered. Yes still stinkers for sure but its been so long since I seen so many of them, they been more interesting to watch minus the TRULY awful ones of course.

And yeah definitely include Miri lol. Man I swear I watched it in the past but I guess when I was a LOT younger because it was at the level where I just wanted to turn it off. And yeah Charlie X is another one I NEVER liked either. In fact ALL the kid episodes in TOS are just awful. The kids just come out so creepy and bad. I hated all of them, Miri definitely at the top of the list.

I agree with you about episodes with characters under 18. (I say characters because the actor playing Charlie, as often happens in film, looked to me like he was 28 or so. Turns out he was 26) Not the best. That trend continued into TNG as well. Fortunately DS9 ended it with how they handled Jake Sisko.

I can’t remember where I saw it, I saw a video that pointed out how the theme music in this episode is really close to Jaws’ theme.

Not just this episode… I believe that cue was used from time to time throughout the run of the show.

The originator is Dvorak’s opening bars of the last movement of his Symphony(9) “From the New World”.

Probably the best episode to be expanded into a theatrical movie

I aways thought that Balance of Terror could be a movie.

“Balance of Terror” as a film woulda been incredible! WOW!

Check out ‘The Enemy Below,’ a 50’s era WW2 film about a submarine battle with Robert Mitchum. It’s what ‘Balance of Terror’ was based on. Very enjoyable movie.

I was going to say that it kinda WAS a movie already, and then reference The Enemy Below. In that, however, the enemy commander survived.

Thanks for the spoilers :P

What’s the shelf life on spoliers, I wonder? Is it more than 60 years?

I’ve heard this a lot over the years. Personally, I just don’t see it. It’s been done already — and I just don’t think the story’s that interesting.

Hmm, funny, I figured the latest ep. would take a granular look at stools.

My brain went immediately to stool samples.

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Last edited 1 month ago by Matt Wright

Hi Matt. I posted a comment to your excellent podcast earlier today (over 12 hours ago) but it went into “withheld for review” purgatory and has still not appeared. Don’t know why this sometimes happens.

“The Doomsday Machine” has the strongest display of acting excellence, courtesy of guest William Windom (Commodore Decker), of any TOS episode.

It remains my all-time favorite since watching it during the 1960s original run.

The original series has many, many brilliant scripts; tremendously gifted actors who left indelible imprints on viewers; and such creativity to inspire entire generations. Say what you may about a windsock dipped in concrete by Gene Roddenberry–or that writer Norman Spinrad borrowed too heavily from Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab. “The Doomsday Machine” shows that Starfleet — that human nature — is fallible. The mighty Constitution-class reduced to a battered, near-lifeless metal husk. An entire crew decimated. A decorated starship leader pushed to mental collapse. And our neighborhood in the Milky Way Galaxy faced with a merciless, seemingly unstoppable killing machine.

High drama. Riveting dialogue. Captivating story. Very much one of Trek’s finest hours.

Last edited 1 month ago by NCC-1017

check out TNG novel ‘vendetta’.
the DM was created to fight the borg and a relative of guinan takes control of it.

“There was, but not any more!”

I came to have a much higher appreciation of just how good “The Doomsday Machine” is about week ago. That’s when, for the first time in a long time, I watched the episode “Obsession”, which is a far, far, far inferior retread of the same “Moby Dick” story.

True but I found it interesting in that it featured our hero with a flaw. Something that really didn’t happen in the 60’s. Nor did it happen on TNG, either.

Out of all the 79 episodes of TOS, this episode for me always seemed to be the most cinematic episode of Trek. In fact I’d have chosen to do a sequel to this on the big screen rather than Space Seed. Although maybe the concept seemed too close to Star Wars Death Star hence why they didn’t chose to make a movie out of this episode.

always wished The Motion Picture had confirmed Willard Decker to be Matts son.

It’s in the novelization. That makes me feel better about it.

I go back to this one all the time. Epic, iconic.

Interestingly, this is the only ‘Trek episode of all time that my youngest willfully admits is “okay”… at least it used to be before I stopped watching broadcast TV. He was 8 at the time, now ten and still hates everything I like. <shoulder shrug/>.

I highly recommend a lot of Norman Spinrad’s writing. If you read the Void Captain’s Tale, you will see some ideas that were later used in the BSG reboot.

Can’t wait to listen to the TrekMovie A-Team’s thoughts on this episode.

“City on the Edge of Forever” might be #1 in all of Trek, next to “Inner Light” and “The Visitor” but “The Doomsday Machine” ranks high and among them. In a lot of ways, it succeeds because it takes what we know and expect from life aboard the NCC-1701 and it turns it on its head. What would happen if Captain Kirk did everything he could to save his crew and fight a non-reasoning foe and fail miserably? The Constellation is the devastated Enterprise and Decker is a devastated Kirk. And yet. Because of the resourcefulness of Kirk’s crew, and his heroic leadership (no doubt exactly what Decker would have done and in fact, did out of survivor’s guilt), our crew overcomes the same challenge the Constellation did not.

What I especially loved about this episode was watching the lifeless hulk of a ship slowly return to service — and in some parallel way, so does the broken Decker. He realizes he’d be more useful as Planet Smasher Fodder, just as the Constellation ultimately serves in much the same way. Decker is the Constellation as much as Kirk is the Enterprise.

The music, the acting, the dialog. One of my favorite hours of Star Trek across all the fabulous series.

Last edited 1 month ago by Captain Dunsel

This might be my favorite TOS episode because of William Windom’s performance as Decker. My child brain wasn’t ready to really perceive the depth of his grief, and it was eye-opening. I’m looking forward to watching this alongside the podcast tonight! Also, something I think I’m realizing for the first time is that TMP is a thematic follow-up to this episode in more than just the unofficial father/son connection between the Deckers:

TMP is a thematic follow-up to The Doomsday Machine in that Commodore Decker collides with a threatening cylindrical object to destroy it in an act of grief/revenge/self-sacrifice, whereas his son Captain Decker in TMP merges with a threatening cylindrical object to evolve it in an act of compassion/love/self-actualization. There’s an interesting sort of heritage there regarding the fate of father and son, but with very different outcomes. One tragic, one inspiring as a sort of reply to the original tragedy, like a call and response in orchestral music.

Last edited 1 month ago by Scott

Wow. Talk about roads not taken. THAT would be a pretty interesting Kelvin take. In this case, Kirk is to younger Decker as Pike was to Kirk.

Whoah, that’s a really interesting idea. That could certainly be a way to develop the Kelvin leg of the franchise if they need to move on to a new Enterprise crew. Having Kelvin Kirk take on a Pike roll to a Kelvin Matt Decker could be really really interesting. It’d make a hell of a fan audio drama or something.

On the Inglorious Treksperts podcast, Ashley Miller revealed that he was briefly hired to write the third Kelvin movie and that it was going to be about the Enterprise encountering the Doomsday Machine.

My usual feeling is that I want an original story and not an adaptation, but that in particular would be something I’d LOVE to see.

Have you seen ‘In Harm’s Way’? The New Voyages episode with William Windom? It’s pretty fun.

I haven’t!! I’ve been meaning to jump into that series, and I appreciate the reminder. I’ll try to check that out some time this week. I had no idea Windom had returned for an episode! That’s so cool. I hope the fan film community is able to recover after the Axanar folks messed it up for everyone.

Last edited 1 month ago by Scott

One of my absolute favourite episodes over the years. And it’s probably the main reason I resolutely prefer the classic ‘unenhanced’ versions of the show….as I much prefer the original design and color-scheme of the Doomsday Machine itself, compared to the ‘remastered’ version.

That, and the fact that I found the ‘updated’ effects work on the ‘remasters’ to be distractingly uneven throughout the show overall, while also doing away with some of my favourite ship shots along the way.

So I’ll stick with the old school look of the TOS episodes….especially as I like to look on it as just another ‘alternative’ universe show to ours nowadays, to allow for all it’s now wondrously ‘retro futuristic’ trappings! :)

OK, I’m typing this as I’m listening and watching the original version of “The Doomsday Machine.” This episode has been my favorite since I was like 13 years old. I also love the blu-ray version of the episode (remastered) which has better sound effects when the planet killer is shown in space. At any rate, I loved that you guys talked about the 16mm films that are “out there.” When I was about 17 years old, I belonged to a Star Trek club near Baltimore MD. On one occasion, we had isolated that a fan near us had a 16mm copy of “The Doomsday Machine,” and that turned into a “friday night out” trip to watch this episode. It was awesome – before the days of remaster, large screens, etc., this was one of the best “trek” moments ever! My fav episode on the big screen in 1976!! I did buy a couple of 16mm reels (Court Martial, The Apple) which I still have. While cool, it’s really better in our era to watch the remastered (or original versions) on Blu-Ray. They’re awesome now on the big TV’s where the viewing is “almost” as good as it was back then….

John Kirk.
Yes, that’s my real name!
Thank You!