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Season One:
-1: "The Cage"
-2: "Where No Man Has Gone Before"
-3: "The Corbomite Maneuver"
-4: "Mudd's Women"
-5: "The Enemy Within"
-6: "The Man Trap"
-7: "The Naked Time"
-8: "Charlie X"
-9: "Balance of Terror"
-13: "The Conscience of the King"
-16: "The Menagerie"
-20: "The Alternative Factor"
----: _Time Travel Season 1
-21: "Tomorrow is Yesterday"
----: _Prime Directive Origins
-22: "The Return of the Archons"

-23: "A Taste of Armageddon"
-27: "Errand of Mercy"
-28: "The City On the Edge of Forever"
-29: "Operation -- Annihilate!"
-Season 1 Rankings

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The Naked Time

(Star Trek story #7 in production order)
  • written by John D.F. Black
  • directed by Marc Daniels
  • music by Alexander Courage

The Naked Time

This story often just leaves me scratching my head, unsure exactly what to make of it. There's a bit of fun to be had watching the crew interact in this episode, while half of them slowly go a bit bonkers. But it often fails to feel like it is about anything of significant interest. It sort of just says, "Well, here are our regulars. Let's see what trouble they can get into today...."

It seems there are those who feel that the regular characters are getting better defined via this story, as a form of drunkenness peels back the surface layer of each onion to reveal a deeper layer. Okay, that's not inherently a bad idea. The real trouble here is that Star Trek is pulling the trigger on this idea way too soon by doing this episode so early in its run. There's so much still to be explored concerning the surface level of the characters, and the subtle interpersonal tensions that could be hinting at further depths. By attempting to go this deep so soon, most of the revelations we get fall flat and appear meaningless. Do we really care if Riley is an Irish chauvinist at heart? We've never even seen this guy before. Sulu likes to fence and pretend to be one of the three (four) musketeers. Okay. So what? The episode seems desperate to answer all those niggling character questions that the series has not yet had time to think of, let alone ask.

As if producing this as the 7th episode wasn't already too early, it then got pushed up to air 4th, and even that was a consolation prize for those considering that it should air first. Ay caramba, no! But yes, this concept can only get less satisfying the earlier it is done, as well evidenced by Star Trek: The Next Generation and its roster of brand new characters when they produced a nearly carbon-copy sequel as their second show and aired it right after the debut of their pilot.

What is additionally interesting is the fact that a different perception bubbled up as original Star Trek was shown in syndication, all episodes re-run over and over again in a loop. People lost sight of how incredibly early this story was attempted, and began to assume it belonged to a later point, when the time for revelation was more ripe. Even the writer's wife, a production secretary at the time, says in her DVD interviews that Nurse Christine Chapel had been completely job-focused in previous episodes. But of course, we all know that Nurse Chapel did not exist in previous episodes - this is her debut! Oops.

I've become convinced that Nurse Chapel began life as a one-off guest character in the script for episode 10. When Majel Barrett saw the role, and whispered in Gene Roddenberry's ear that she wanted it, he decided the character should become a regular, and commanded writer John D.F. Black to retroactively insert her character into episode 7 here. But it's not like she was job-focused in episode 10 either; she spends all of her time in that episode mooning over the eccentric guest star, so her revelation of mooning over Spock here is more of an absent-minded fresh splash rather than an intriguing twist. Hmmph. In retrospect, both of her crushes diminish in strength and importance because she flips so totally between them in such a short space of time. It makes one less likely to take her feelings seriously in either case.

So... the lasting character bits we get here don't really amount to much other than seeing which characters have romantic inclinations towards each other.... I'd say that goes equally well for the version on "The Next Generation" as it does on this one.

If there's anything else clamouring for attention, trying to pass itself off as great character material here, it's probably the episode's attempt to see what's in the heart of Mr. Spock. This suffers mixed fortunes as well. First off, I'd be hard pressed to say that we actually learn anything NEW here - it seems instead that everything we already know about Spock from the previous 6 episodes is being reiterated and reinforced in the space of a couple of not-so-great scenes. Now, if you're an adult, you may be able to empathize with Spock during his response to Nurse Chapel. Seeing this as a child, it was just baffling and uninteresting. But even worse was the scene of Spock ducking into the conference room and bawling his eyes out. Children can be quite disturbed to see a strong and respected adult figure break down and burst into tears like this, and worse yet if there seems to be no good reason for it. Everytime this episode came back in re-runs, it would get to the point where I'd recognize it and think, "Oh no, not the one where Spock cries... again!" Yes, I can understand it much better now, but I still don't really like it. It's very hard to pull off from an acting standpoint, and the camera angles and movements really put unnecessary extra pressure on Nimoy to deliver all the goods in long takes. He probably could have used a few extra attempts and/or some angles that allowed intercutting of the best bits, but I'm sure time was against him and the rest of the crew here. What we end up with remains one of my least favourite moments of Spock ever.

But perhaps this is the best time to look at the overall arc of episodes dealing with the tensions between Kirk and Yeoman Rand. Rand is quite unique amongst all of Kirk's potential love interests, because she's the only one of the entire extensive lot who manages to appear in more than one story - and as such she's about the only one I'd be prepared to emotionally invest in and root for as an audience member. We get pretty much the best Kirk-Rand romantic moment of the entire franchise here, as Kirk gives her a wistful look on the bridge, regretfully muttering "No beach to walk on..." Enigmatic enough that she doesn't clue in to its meaning, but we the audience have heard the full rant from Kirk earlier and know exactly what it means. A nice moment, and pretty much the best that these two ever get.

And this story does have a lot of nice, memorable scenes in it which I enjoy. No one will ever forget swashbuckling Sulu once they've seen this one. And commendations are probably in order for both Dr. McCoy and Engineer Scott, as they stay on the ball the whole time, deliver excellently in all their scenes, and have crucial roles to play in saving the ship. Good show guys.

And for a primarily ship-board show, it is good that we open in a frozen base on an ice-planet, getting some design contrast right up front in the story. Too bad our improved modern picture resolution makes the mannequin-as-dead-body so obvious, but otherwise the scene still works excellently. Design also comes up trumps in another important way, as the Jefferies Tube makes its debut and adds itself to the standing sets of the Enterprise. And thanks to crewmember Riley, this show features some singing - usually a cause for a minus point from me, but it's delivered charismatically and in proper character, and works well enough when buried in a distant echo.

The main score for this episode also deserves mention. The varied emotions of the characters and tones of the individual scenes may have prevented the story itself from gelling as a focused narrative, but it sure did give Alexander Courage a wide range of ideas to try to convey musically, resulting in one of the richer and more heavily re-used scores of the first season. From Irish jigs, to playful swordsmanship, forlorn longing, tense action, mystery, and a final falling into a temporal abyss, this score really ran the gamut. Although I think "The Cage" remains Courage's best for first season, "The Naked Time" is definitely his next in line for great honours.

music by Alexander Courage

The story's drama does manage to build successfully, despite its subject matter being quite all-over-the-place. And then, post-climax in the coda, we get a bit of an unrelated surprise. In actual fact, the episode has merely hit a simple reset button for its characters, arbitrarily getting them back to their starting positions so that the episode can be shuffled into any random order the networks desire, although the collection of unique events we have had are all definite and solid, with the characters taking them along in their memories along with everything they may have learned about themselves and each other. Yet they begin to fantasize that the reset-button was something more than that. No, it wasn't. But we'll get to the full ramifications of this unnecessary tacked on coda in full when we get to our big Star Trek Time Travel article closer to episodes 21 and 28.

When all is said and done, I'd classify "The Naked Time" as having a fairly neutral ending, neither particularly upbeat nor downbeat.

"The Naked Time" is a decent episode, with a lot of really great scenes in it alongside a few cringe-worthy stinkers. Ultimately this is not a bad episode at all, but it does feel a bit de-focused and devoid of any really significantly interesting main point. Not great, but not bad for a seventh episode.

Read the next Star Trek review: "Charlie X"

This story is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the desired disc format and location nearest you for pricing and availability:

Star Trek Season One "Purist" Standard DVD Box Set:

Watch the legend develop from its infancy. Set contains 29 episodes from the first season in their original wacky broadcast order, including "The Menagerie Parts 1 & 2" which used footage from the original unaired pilot "The Cage". However, "The Cage" itself is only included with the Season Three Box Set.

As someone interested in researching how the episodes actually looked and sounded originally, and when and exactly how certain musical cues first debuted, this was the DVD set for me, and it remains the most untampered-with full-season collection of Star Trek out there. Unique extras include pure text commentaries on select episodes. Sadly, these sets are starting to become rare, and prices are now rising as these become collectors' items....


DVD Canada


Standard DVD Extras include:

  • original restored broadcast versions of the 29 episodes.
  • "The Birth of a Timeless Legacy" documentary (24 min.)
  • Text only commentary by Denise & Michael Okuda on "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "The Menagerie Parts 1 & 2", and "The Conscience of the King".
  • "To Boldly Go" featurette (19 min.) discussing
    "The Naked Time", "City on the Edge of Forever",
    "The Devil in the Dark", and "The Squire of Gothos".
  • "Reflections on Spock" featurette (12 min.)
  • "Sci-Fi Visionaries" writing featurette (17 min.)
  • "Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner" featurette (10 min.)
  • "Red Shirt Logs" Easter Eggs (7 min. total)
  • Photo Log (still menus)
  • Original Trailers for every episode (1 min. each)

Season One - Blu Ray

  29 episodes @ 51 minutes
Star Trek sets are now available on Blu Ray. Picture and sound quality restoration has gone up yet another notch, and new CGI effects and optical shots have replaced many space scenes, matte paintings, and phaser effects.... but this time the upgrades have the same respect and user-functionality applied to select Doctor Who DVD releases since 2002, as the CGI effects can now be turned off to see the original effects. Good show. It seems that the music has still been tampered with too much for my liking though.

Blu-ray U.S.

Blu-ray Canada

Blu-ray U.K.

Blu-ray features add:

  • option to watch episodes with original or new CGI effects.
  • Spacelift: Transporting Trek into the 21st Century featurette (HD, 20 min.) covering the restoration, CGI effects, and music upgrades.
  • Starfleet Access - Okuda interactive trivia plus picture-in-picture interviews on 6 episodes:
    • Where No Man Has Gone Before
    • The Menagerie Part 1
    • The Menagerie Part 2
    • Balance of Terror
    • Space Seed
    • Errand of Mercy
  • Behind-the-scenes 8mm home movies (HD, 13 min.) from Billy Blackburn (Lt. Hadley / Gorn)
  • Kiss 'N tell: Romance in the 23rd Century (8 min.)
  • Interactive Enterprise Inspection (HD)
  • plus all documentaries, featurettes, and episode promos from the "purist" standard DVD set listed far above.

Article written by Martin Izsak. Comments are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

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Read the next Star Trek review: "Charlie X"

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