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The Alternative Factor - episode #20

 
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Bogmeister
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2019 2:30 pm    Post subject: The Alternative Factor - episode #20 Reply with quote

____________
_______ Classic Star Trek: The Alternative Factor


__________


OK, in my view this is the worst episode of the first season. And the strange thing is, it really begins promisingly — the threat which Kirk and the Federation face here is nothing less than the complete annihilation of our entire universe — surely the gravest cosmic problem encountered in Trek's history. It's one of those wild cosmic concepts which became more prevalent on the TNG series, a danger not restricted to a quadrant or even just our galaxy, but to everything — the universe.

However, the execution of this story and the faulty pace of this episode is rather deplorable. The Trekmakers do have an excuse this time, which I relate in the Extra Trek Trivia portion below.



In the plot, Kirk, Spock and the others encounter a weird guy named Lazarus (Robert Brown) on a barren planet following a 'winking out' of all existence. Lazarus rants on about his nemesis, an enemy which looks humanoid but is a monster.

By the 2nd act, we (the audience) realize that this Lazarus is insane, but Kirk and especially McCoy aren't so quick on the uptake, while Spock just calls Lazarus a liar. After a few very spacey phrases by this Lazarus, I would think the crew should realize the guy's not all there, especially when Lazarus yells "Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!" at one point.

Yet, as in a few other weak episodes, an obvious nutcase like this one is given free reign within the Enterprise and this causes problems later (I think Kirk did assign security at some point, but they lost Lazarus a minute later).




However, those discrepancies above are not the most serious problem. There's way too much repetition throughout this episode: Kirk and some of the crew beam down to the planet's surface, they go back up to the Enterprise, then back down to the planet — over & over, it seems, with no results. Lazarus keeps falling off cliffs — this is what many recall about this episode. Lazarus falls off a cliff a 2nd time . . . then a 3rd.

Much of the attempted efforts to explain the dangerous cosmic effect comes off as gobbledygook — is it the side-effect a doorway in space? A hole between two universes? A corridor with explosions at both ends? Say what?

There's also confusion as to whether Kirk is dealing with a time traveler here or hopping to parallel dimensions (far better realized in Mirror, Mirror early in the 2nd season). I finally gathered in the end that the threat revolved around matter and anti-matter of two duplicate objects coming together. But boy, what a headache to get there.



But that's not the worst sample of repetition in this tale. Yes, it gets worse!

We get that 'cosmic effect' and negative images in slow motion for the 4th or 5th time, all meant to convey a struggle between — wait for it — two Lazarus dudes! By the stars, there are two of them! And as we all know, two into one won't go!

This episode was a precursor to all those really bad, boring ones in the third season. I do give this one a bit more credit than some of those due to a genuinely chilling denouement at the conclusion. But, even here, it lapses into parody, as Kirk mutters "What of Lazarus? What of Lazarus?" — they had to overdo it. What of . . . my brain? — having to endure all this?



ABOVE: This is the sane Lazarus (or is it?) This is the crazy Lazarus (with more hair in his beard?)



Extra Trek Trivia:

~ Actor John Drew Barrymore was originally cast as Lazarus, but failed to show up for shooting and had to be replaced by Robert Brown, causing the episode to go two days over schedule. Star Trek's producers subsequently filed and won a grievance with the Screen Actors Guild, which suspended Barrymore's SAG membership for 6 months. This may explain a rushed quality to the episode.

~ Code Factor 1 is a Starfleet signal of invasion.



BoG's Score: 5 out of 10



BoG
Galaxy Overlord Galactus
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johnnybear
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never minded this episode although the producers were never that consistent with their Lazaruses! Or should I say Lazari?
JB
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Pow
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fun Facts about "The Alternative Factor"} John Drew Barrymore was in wardrobe for his final costume fitting when he walked off the show.

The script was written with a romance between Lazarus & space chemist Lt.Charlene Masters(Janet MacLachlan),a space chemist.

The production staff received phone calls suggesting that either the Masters character be replaced by a white actress or the script changed to eliminate the romantic angle.

When the character of Lt. Masters was changed from chemist to engineer, her uniform color should have gone from blue to red. It remained blue for the episode.

One of the ST:TOS episodes that had outdoors location shooting. Vasquez Rocks was the site.

Yeah, we can all pretty much agree that this was a poor episode. That was also the feeling with the cast & crew when they made it.

Intriguing concepts, but the whole thing falls apart into a mess.

Always thought that the ship that Lazarus traveled in was one of the weaker looking props.

All of Bogmeister's criticisms for this lame-o episode are certainly valid.


Last edited by Pow on Sat Jul 13, 2019 10:58 am; edited 1 time in total
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Krel
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2019 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pow wrote:
Fun Facts about "The Alternative Factor" }

Always thought that the ship that Lazarus traveled in was one of the weaker looking props.

With that curved hull, it would have been an expensive prop to construct. I wonder if it was made from a found object, or was a reused prop.

David.
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Pow
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2019 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I neglected to mention also just how disappointing the special effect for the corridor between the matter/anti~matter universes was.

Came off more like something on a Saturday morning kid show, or a dream sequence for My Favorite Martian.
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johnnybear
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never found this episode to be that bad to be honest! The only problem i had with it was why was Lt. Masters in charge of engineering when we all knew it was Scotty and why was she dressed in a blue uniform? Well we know why production wise these days but not story wise! Has she applied for the science department and found her calling to be in engineering?
JB
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