STAR TREK — 45th Anniversary
The episode was The Man Trap —which if memory serves, was about the fifth episode (counting the pilots) to be shot. The executives at NBC thought it was one of the stronger and more conventional shows of those ready to be broadcast.
Not at first glance a truly representive example of the new “adult” science fiction series Gene Roddenberry touted it to be, on one level The Man Trap is basically a sci-fi monster movie on a space ship.
Yet this offering, written by George Clayton Johnson and directed by Marc Daniels, also displays a number of strengths that would illustrate STAR TREK’s finer points. There is some sympathy for the Salt Vampire, the last of it’s kind. There’s a suggestion that perhaps it is lonely and poses as the loved ones and wish fulfillment fantasy figures of others as much for companionship as it does as predatorydevice.
The crew of the Enterprise kills the creature, but regrets the necessity.
The episode is also a great introduction to the main focus of the show: Captain Kirk (William Shater), Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and Doctor McCoy (DeForrest Kelley). We see the beginings of this relationship dynamic, that Spock and Bones serve to illustrate the Kirk’s inner battle, the balance of logic against compassion, pragmatisim versus morality, in an often hostile universe.
The Man Trap also displays its then-novel multi-ethnic crew, showcasing Mr. Sulu (George Takei) and Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). Forty-five years later this seems only natural, in 1966 it was something of a gamble for a science fiction TV program.
So even with the network playing it safe, viewers still got a taste of a ground-breaking show that is not only remembered fondly, it still remains strong and able to generate new productions and discussion today.