Episode: The Naked Time
Episode number: 4th episode aired, 7th episode produced
Written by: John D.F. Black, who despite his name and his writing credit on Shaft, was white. He also wrote The Next Generation sequel/rip-off, The Naked Now
Directed by: Marc Daniels, who we last saw directing The Man Trap
Captain’s Log: Mr. Spock and a Random Crewman beam down to a science station on a frozen planet that’s about to explode. They do it wearing what, for the life of me, appear to be vinyl shower curtains. While down there they discover that everybody on the station is dead, and at least one person has been turned into a mannequin (which they never address). The dead exhibit signs of being crazy, like taking showers fully clothed. So fucking wacky! I bet they were watching Gallagher tapes and planning a totally nutso trip to TGIFridays before they all froze to death as well!
Random Crewman needs to pick his nose, so he takes his shower curtain glove off just long enough to get infected by a red virus that sounds like this: chachachachacha. He beams up with the disease (and as a side note that may be more fit for Dilithium Bullshit: the transporters takes you apart on a molecular level and then reassembles you elsewhere – how do you not catch and neutralize all diseases with this thing? Imagine how easily you could cure cancer with it. You could beam to a vacation destination and have that tumor removed, all in one shot), which has the effect of essentially making you drunk. It’s more serious than it sounds, though. For instance, it makes Random Crewman so utterly morose that he tries to commit seppuku with a butter knife!
Let me repeat that for the people who only read the openings of paragraphs: he tries to commit seppuku with a butter knife! He does this in the mess hall, where Sulu and the delightful Lieutenant Kevin Riley happen to be eating. The two try to stop Emo Crewman from spreading his innards across toast, but he manages to not only stab himself but also infect the two of them with the space madness.
I totally forgot to mention: the Enterprise is staying in close orbit around the planet because it wants to record the place blowing up. This requires lots of attention and skill on the part of the crew, which you can only imagine is going to become an issue.
Sulu and Riley head to the bridge, and they’re both acting wacky – sweating and having itchy palms. Sulu abandons his post to go to the ‘gym’ (read: troll the baths) while Riley starts acting all drunk and talking in an Irish accent. Spock banishes him to sick bay, where he starts totally macking on Nurse Chapel, infecting her with the illness as he does so.
Now it gets good. A topless, coated in cooking oil Sulu is wandering the hallways of the Enterprise armed with a rapier, believing he’s a swashbuckler (I bet he’s buckled a swash or two in his time, know what I mean?). He comes to the bridge and tries to ‘rescue’ the ‘fair maiden’ Uhura (her response: ‘Sorry, neither,’ is amazing, as she’s saying she’s a dark slut. Love it!) and Spock puts the Vulcan nerve pinch on him. As that happens, the planet below starts shuddering and Kirk calls down to engineering to get more impulse power or whatever. But who should answer but Kevin Riley, who has taken over engineering, and thus the ship.
Everybody panic! The Enterprise is stuck in a decaying orbit while the planet is about to blow up. The Drunk Virus is spreading like chachachacha through the crew, leaving everybody unable to do their jobs. Mr. Scott is trying to get back into engineering by cutting a Texas shaped hole in the wall in order to open the door (I don’t know why he doesn’t blow the door open with a phaser) while everybody else is just trying to keep their shit together as Riley sings Irish songs over the comm and delivers amazing new rules to the crew. Double ice cream at dinner!
Dr. McCoy is trying hard to find a cure for the Drunks. Spock visits sickbay where Drunk Chapel tells him she loves him so much and then inquires after kinky Vulcan practices (“Mr. Spock… the men from Vulcan treat their women strangely. At least, people say that.”), giving Spock the disease. He begs off, confused by the disease (which affects him despite him having DIFFERENT SALTS) and goes off to cry. He really cries! Spock tries to hold it together by doing some stupid math equations, but he gets all upset that he can’t tell his mom that she loves him.
Meanwhile, Scotty gets into engineering but it turns out Riley has shut down the engines. This is bad because it will take 30 minutes to turn the crank on them, and the Enterprise will be crashed on the planet’s exploding surface in like 10. They need to start the engines cold, and they need a formula from Spock to do it. Kirk finds Spock and tries to slap some sense into him, but gets the disease himself and starts whining about how the life of a Starship captain means he can never fuck Janice Rand (a seriously legit concern, if you ask me). Spock snaps out of it, comes up with the formula, McCoy cures the disease (it turns out that it was just mutated water! Huh?) and they cold start the engines.
This makes the Enterprise travel back in time three days. Everybody decides just to forget that they have invented a method of time travel, the end.
Review: The Naked Time is regarded, rightly, as one of the classics of Trek. It’s probably the first ‘great’ episode I’ve reviewed yet. It has the ingredient that I think makes any genre show most successful: the episode’s obstacle is one that sheds light on the characters. By showing us the drunk, out of control sides of Kirk, Spock and Sulu, we suddenly understand who these people are a little bit better. We get a look into Spock’s battle with his human side, we understand who that grinning helmsman is when he gets off his shift, and we see that Captain Kirk really just wants to walk on the beach and fuck, but that his only true love is the Enterprise. It’s also a scenario that allows for humor, something that I think the original Star Trek did better than most other genre shows (until Buffy, which is the high point for mixing serious drama, action and comedy). This episode also does right what Charlie X did wrong – it finds enough incidental action to keep the episode from feeling stretched out.
Kirkin’ Out: The good Captain spends much of this episode hilariously annoyed with Riley. While Shatner certainly believes his best Kirk moment in this episode is when he freaks out about never having love and then tells the ship he’ll never lose her (oh snap, he totally does in the movies), or the end sequence when he longingly reaches for Yeoman Rand, the actual best Kirk moment is when Riley announces over the comm ‘And now crew, I will render Kathleen… one… more… time!’ and Kirk intones ‘Please… not again.’ It kills me every time.
Spockmarks: Weepy Spock takes the cake. Spock tries to regain his emotional composure by reciting his two times table! ‘Two… four… six…’ In this scene he also has a line that’s a runner up for this episode’s quote: ‘Jim, when I feel friendship for you, I’m ashamed.’ It’s silly and kind of touching at the same time. Poor Spock is really torn by his two halves.
Redshirt: That one guy offs himself (despite Dr. McCoy’s best efforts in surgery), but he’s a blue shirt – science division. As of now, we have seen not one single red shirt killed in this show.
Dilithium Bullshit: When Riley shuts down the engines (which nobody notices, by the way. You would think you could feel that), Mr. Scott and Mr. Spock are forced to bring their best psuedo-scientific jabber to bear. They have to mix matter and anti-matter cold and risk an implosion! Nobody’s ever done it before, but Spock figures it out on the fly. Of course doing this (mixed with the exploding planet) flings them back in time, giving us double the Dilithium Bullshit for our money.
The disease that’s making everybody nuts turns out to be… water. ‘Somehow’ McCoy tells us, water became a complex molecule on that planet. It acts like alcohol in the blood stream. It passes by sweat, so you would think anybody who was even near the soaked, shirtless Sulu would be crazy, but that isn’t the case.
Support Staff of the Week: The fact that Kevin Riley did not become a regular part of the cast is, in my estimation, one of the greatest mistakes ever made by Star Trek. Even when he wasn’t drunk I liked him better than almost everybody else on the show. The character feels weirdly anachronistic – so much so that he would be out of place TODAY. He feels like a sitcom character from the 50s or 60s, like his dead mother could be reincarnated in a car, or he could be serving on the wackiest PT boat in the fleet. And once he gets his song on when drunk he becomes easily one of the best characters in franchise history. Riley shows up once more, in Conscience of the King, and then he’s gone.
Continerdity: We learn a whole bunch about Vulcan physiology, including the fact that they’re green blooded and have wacky blood pressure. This is also the first time we see the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, although it was invented in a future episode (which was shot first but aired later). Nurse Chapel, and her thing for Spock, are introduced. When you see Sulu wielding a sword in the new Star Trek movie, its’ because of this episode, which also establishes his attraction to Uhura, which will pay off in Mirror, Mirror. Captain Kirk makes his feelings for Rand known to the viewers this episode, which will pay off tomorrow. This is the first time we see Scotty’s ‘I can’t change the laws of physics!’ schtick, which he later says is his way of making everybody think he’s a miracle worker.
Set Phasers to Quote: “This is Captain Riley, crew: I have some additional orders. In the future, all female personnel are to wear their hair loosely about their shoulders. And use restraint in putting on your makeup, women… women should not look ‘made-up’. Now, crew: I will render Kathleen again…one…more…time!” – Kevin Riley