Star Trek (TV-Series): “The Man Trap” (Season 1, Episode 1)


Stardate 1513.1. The Enterprise is scheduled to conduct medical exams on archaeologist Robert Crater (Alfred Ryder, True Grit) and his wife Nancy (Jeanne Bal, Company of Killers), who are stationed at planet M-113. Nancy is Dr. McCoy’s (DeForest Kelley, Warlock) ex-girlfriend, and he is eager to meet her. But McCoy notices that Nancy hasn’t aged a day in fifteen years. Meanwhile, a series of unexplained murders appear to be related to the Craters.

Reaction & Thoughts:

The Man Trap, written by George Clayton Johnson, directed by Marc Daniels, was the sixth episode produced, but it was the first one shown on TV. NBC wanted to launch the series with a “monster episode” and it definitely fits the bill — the episode is full of tension and mystery.

It’s also good in establishing the chemistry of the big three (Kirk, Spock and McCoy), which forms the crux of the series. The actors have obvious rapport and their combined strengths tend to smooth out some of the rough edges. The ending is inconsistent with the show’s mantra — there is zero sympathy for the monsterand Spock is too emotionalbut one has to take into consideration that producer Gene Roddenberry was still experimenting with the concept.

The Man Trap is one of the few episodes that deals with the personal life of one of the crew members. Unlike the endless spin-offs, the original series didn’t delve much into the past of the characters. It is nice to see  Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy get a sort of love story. McCoy utters the immortal line, “he’s dead, Jim” for the very first time. We get some bits of information too — Spock mentions that his home planet has no moons.

I liked the fact that Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols, Truck Turner) has more screen time than usual. There are also a few good scenes between Yeoman Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney, Some Like It Hot) and Lieutenant Sulu (George Takei, The Green Berets).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Although far from perfect, The Man Trap is a very nice beginning indeed. It’s not one of the great ones, but I liked it a lot. Color, 50 minutes, Not Rated.

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