The Naked Times (Star Trek: The Original Series) Review

George Takei in Star Trek

George Takei is the shit.

Editor’s note: This review is part of an ongoing series by guest blogger, Joshua, who will view and review the Star Trek Original Series.  

Episode: The Naked Times — Season 1, Episode 4 (1966)

Director: Marc Daniels

Writer: John D.F. Black

Lt. Joe Tormolen (Stewart Moss) and Spock transport down to the research station on “collapsing” Psi 2000 to discover the local team has suffered an assortment of peculiar deaths. Tormolen removes his protective glove and is immediately infected with Crazy-Acting Space Disease.[1]  Hilarity ensues when he spreads it to the crew and people lose their inhibitions, or at least start howling into the intercom and acting like pirates. Curiously, no space-orgies with the gravity off. Riley (Bruce Hyde) kills the engines while being Irish (?) and sends the Enterprise into a decaying orbit, spiraling toward the unstable planet’s surface.

George Takei loved this episode, and no wonder! For 45 minutes he gallivants around the ship shirtless with a foil in his hand challenging people to duels. For a show that never misses a chance to pull the tunic of William Shatner, I’m here to tell you that oiled-up George Takei is beautiful.

The episode is noteworthy for what becomes of Kirk and Spock when they lose control. Spock sobs uncontrollably, revealing an emotional tension and powerful regret that will animate his character throughout the series. Unfortunately, he’s also the only one who can jump-start the engines, so Kirk has to cure his space disease by punching.[2]  Then Kirk bemoans the solitary life of a Starfleet captain that keeps him from taking vacations and manhandling his yeoman. Only Kirk’s creepy, obsessive love of the Enterprise itself provides him with the emotional leverage to get back in command. Everyone else needs an inoculation.

At the last possible minute, the crew undertakes the experimental cold restart of the engines. The resulting matter/antimatter explosion forces them away from the planet at relativistic speed and they go backward in time 71 hours.

Time out for major party-pooping. Let’s presume that this is possible. Engineer Scott undertakes a “controlled implosion” of the engines and the ship accelerates to within a hair of the speed of light. This wouldn’t take them into the past – it would take them into the future! More accurately, in the Enterprise frame of reference, time would move slowly relative to the universe at large. The crew would experience time at normal speed, while time outside the rapidly moving ship would seem to accelerate drastically. So, yeah, they’ve discovered time travel all right, but it should only go one way: forward. Folks, we call it time dilation.

Kirk sells it like traveling at relativistic speeds is a huge deal, but what’s the advantage? The best thing about warp drive is that you get places in a hurry without slipping into a slower relative time frame and having all your friends back home age into senility in an eyeblink. Blame Einstein. It’s the problem that hardcore science fiction always has to grapple with, and it’s why some kind of space “warping” is the norm rather than just making your spacecraft go really really really fast and running into relativity.

The book to read is Joe Haldeman’s classic The Forever WarIt’s the best story ever written about the consequences of cruising around near light speed for even “short” interstellar distances.

[1] This illustrates two important Star Trek principles: 1) stupidity is punished with death and 2) anyone who steps to Mr. Spock is taking a huge risk, not unlike being the girl who gives it up in a horror movie.

[2] See first season episodes 2 and 3.


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Filed under Childhood Memories, Star Trek Original Series

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