The Man Trap - episode #6

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The Man Trap - episode #6

Post  BoG on Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:20 pm


THE MAN TRAP (1st season; episode #6)
Directed by Marc Daniels / writer: George Clayton Johnson

This was the very first episode of the original Star Trek series to air, though it was the 6th one filmed. Depending on who tells the tale, the execs wanted either to start things with a 'monster-of-the-week' mentality or to air an episode which best showcased several of the main characters. In any case, though the creature in this one is responsible for a number of crew deaths, it's more to be pitied than reviled by the end of the episode. It possesses startling chameleon powers, coupled with hypnotism & telepathic ability, enabling it to fool most of the characters during the story as it imitates several of them. Unfortunately, it craves salt, which it needs to survive, and human bodies fill the need very well.
This is an example of sheer incompatibility between two races, which an angry Captain Kirk instinctively realizes in the 3rd act - he knows it's either his crew or the creature - there can be no half measures. During the first season, more than in the other two, Kirk demonstrated a more ruthless, even cruel side to his personality at times - theoretically a requirement of being an effective leader. Witness his statement to Professor Crater, after he finds out Crater has been helping this "last of its kind" creature: "You bleed too much, Crater. You're too pure and noble. Are you saving the last of its kind or has this become Crater's private heaven..?" Kirk's tone is best described as filled with contempt. We learn how intensely Kirk feels when he loses a crewman - check out the first killing here - and he has to go through it a few more times in this episode.

The Enterprise is on a routine check-up of 2 archaeologists on a planet with the ruins of an extinct civilization - but not all the inhabitants are extinct, as it turns out; there's one left. The storyline contains mystery and a chilling revelation. But, much of this episode emphasizes the routine: we never find out anything more about the dead civilization - it's probably one of many the Federation finds and explores; ship's and crew's routines are viewed during the creature's stalking, notably Yeoman Rand and Sulu; there's a casual banter between Kirk & McCoy which we all came to appreciate and look forward to in the next 3 years.
Overall, this episode shows that future life, while with obvious differences in technology, will be largely the same for us humans. If there's a theme in this episode, it has to do with the inevitable extinction of a species, such as the American Buffalo, as if it's a rule of the universe. We can express sorrow for such a loss as part of the human equation, but, in the end, there's nothing we can do about it.


However, the reason this episode probably gained some loyal followers of the Trek franchise right off the bat was probably not the monster. No, it must have been that easy interplay among the crew, especially the central trio - yes, including Spock, who right away starts insisting in this episode how he's immune to emotion but obviously enjoys a friendship with Kirk (Uhura even spells this out). Uhura gets a couple of very good scenes in this episode (including her near-rebuke of Spock) an occurrence which became more rare as the season wore on, prompting her to consider leaving the show. Alfred Ryder plays Prof. Crater, while Jeanne Bal is 'Nancy.'
And more of the human equation in outer space is delineated in McCoy's personal story in this one: he's reunited with his old girlfriend, so he's charmingly nervous as all hell, but in quick order, he finds out she's been dead and her imitator must be killed, even though she's the last of her kind. Not only is this a personal tragedy for him, but he's also responsible for sealing the coffin on an entire species. The anguished look on his face towards the end is what makes this a memorable entry in the Trek series and actor Kelley shows once again that he had serious talent. Other than that, we get to see Kirk scream! BoG's Score: 7 out of 10

Extra Trek Trivia: originally titled "The Unreal McCoy," which was how it was titled for the short story adaptation by James Blish; the planet in this episode was known only as M-113 and the creature came to be known as 'The Salt Vampire' among fans, though a more accurate name would be 'Salt-Sucking Vampire.' An unofficial remake of this episode materialized in Turkey, in 1973, known in USA circles as Turkish Star Trek, a comedic take on the adventure.
Remastered trailer:  


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Man Trap full episode

Post  BoG on Sun Mar 28, 2010 5:37 pm

CLASSIC TREK QUOTES:
McCoy: "Granted, at the moment, I may have been looking at her through a romantic haze.."

Kirk: "How your lost love affects your vision, doctor, doesn't interest me! I've lost a man! And I want to know what killed him."



Examining the flora on the Starship Enterprise...


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behind The Man-Trap

Post  BoG on Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:09 pm

Here's some neat trivia on this episode in an old magazine (from the August,2002, Star Trek mag)...  The Man Trap episode was written by George Clayton Johnson, who is probably familiar to most members (Logan's Run, for one thing). George related strongly to the character of Scotty at the time and viewed the engineer (not Spock) as the natural confidant for Kirk. In a way, between these two men/chiefs, they actually ran the Enterprise. So George wrote their relationship that way in his script, originally titled "Damsel With a Dulcimer," then "The Unreal McCoy."
Gene Roddenberry gave the episode the name The Man Trap. Further, Roddenberry re-wrote the script (a common practice at the time; Gene Coon also rewrote many scripts in the 2nd season so the stories would better conform to the show's parameters). In the rewrite, all of Scotty's lines - those that illuminated his relationship with Kirk - were either cut or transferred to Spock. The actor, James Doohan, was aware of this by all accounts, which may explain his bad moods regarding the show and Shatner throughout the years. We can all wonder now, if George's original script had stayed as it was, if Scotty would now have Spock's place in popular culture. Something like this:
STAR TREK starring
WILLIAM SHATNER * JAMES DOOHAN * and LEONARD NIMOY


Perhaps, in some alternate universe, eh?
In addition, George's original conception of the creature was as more pathetic, a 'last-of-its-kind' waif in tatters, like a ragged war victim. The monster suit created by Wah Chang was a doozie, however, and between that and Jeanne Bal's performance as Nancy Crater, George was satisfied with the adjustment.

And, yet more in addition, here's a rare still from The Man Trap, behind the scenes with director Marc Daniels, William Shatner and guest actress Jeanne Bal. They're rehearsing for the scene near the climax, when Nancy Crater transforms into her true self and attacks Captain Kirk:
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