- The Original Series (TOS)
- The Animated Series
- The Movies
- The Next Generation (TNG)
- Deep Space Nine (DS9)
THE ORIGINAL SERIES:
- Season One
- Season Two
- Season Three
- "Season Four"
-56: "Spectre of the Gun"
-57: "Elaan of Troyius"
-58: "The Paradise Syndrome"
-63: "The Empath"
-65: "For the World is Hollow
& I Have Touched the Sky"
-78: "All Our Yesterdays"
-Season 3 Rankings
- Doctor Who
- The Matrix
- Main Index
- Site Map
Season 3 (1968-1969)
Spectre of the Gun
(Star Trek story #56 in production order)
written by Gene Coon under the name "Lee Cronin"
As anyone who knows
"Spectre of the Gun" will tell you, this story has
nothing in actual fact to do with time travel.
But what is most bizarre is that Mr. Spock and the others
often discuss the events they anticipate as though
it were a time travel story, with all the old hang-ups
they usually have about how things can't be changed.
Technically, Mr. Spock is right. History can't be "changed".
That means that the computer records aboard the Enterprise
won't magically alter themselves to say that something different
happened in Arizona 400 years ago. Alternate histories can
be chosen though. If the crew were in Arizona in 1881, making
choices and taking action, any outcome is possible, no matter
how different from the unchangeable history book they have in
their memories. And if they were
they could visit an alternate Enterprise with computer records
of an alternate history. In fact, trying to travel through time
without sliding may require more concentration than most people
can muster, since the decision making process that branches
out into parallel universes is something we engage in all the time
and take for granted.
But there isn't even any time travel to speak of in the first
place, making many of Spock and Kirk's overly-lengthy discussions
of the issue seem out of place. The great holes everywhere due to
missing scenery should be enough indication that things are already
different, and talking about how different they can persuade
the Melkotians to make it is a better focus. The crew eventually
figure all this out; I just can't figure out why they spend as
much time as they do being hung up on their old time travel
While this is not an official Hallowe'en episode as
"Catspaw" (production #30) was, it seems to fit the bill perfectly,
what with a specific date of October 26th being referred to
and since it was held back for an original broadcast date of
October 25th, and since it had a make-believe old west theme with
a blood-red sky for background, yet made the landscape look
decidedly like autumn. And so for the second time
in a row, original Star Trek's first production for a season
becomes less suitable for a true broadcast season opener,
and more suitable for special timing later on. Weird.
Writer Gene Coon (under his pseudo-name Lee Cronin)
remains obsessed with the notion that humanity is basically
violent, and exercising energy to overcome the tendency.
If anything, this is a tired and overused theme in Star Trek.
I prefer to think that humanity is basically noble, loving, and
peaceful, particularly when less energy is fed to the ego.
We need more episodes with that presumption at their heart.
Jerry Fielding provides this story with a lovely score,
sadly less well known than his only other contribution to
the series for "The Trouble with Tribbles", partly because
of that episode's über-popularity, partly because
season three didn't reuse its new original music as effectively
or as often as that of previous seasons.
I bought the re-recording of the score pictured at right
mostly for the rendition of the classic score for
"The Enemy Within", but I find myself drawn to listen to
"Spectre of the Gun" more often. It's got a very unique
and appropriate main theme played interestingly on both
"Old West" instrumentation and classic European orchestral
instruments, plus some very good syncopated
"busted piano" segments that instantly conjure up
images of a saloon in a "something's not right about this"
type of nightmare. The best bit has to be a hauntingly
beautiful, quiet section in the middle of the suite,
which I often find playing over and over pleasantly in
my head for days after a listen. It's so quiet during
the episode, one may easily miss it completely, but
the CD version does it REALLY nicely. Even there though,
I do find myself adjusting the volume a lot, as the best bits
are mastered at a bafflingly low level while the less interesting
variations on Courage's "Enterprise flyby" Star Trek anthem
to open and close the episode are among the only few bits
at a half-decent volume level. It's worth it though;
this is some of the best Star Trek music ever.
This tale does turn out to have at least two good thematic points
to it, and it is a good episode for Chekov (reportedly actor
Walter Koenig's favourite amongst the ones he participated in).
It's a bit too slow and stiff in places to be great all-round,
but remains satisfying nonetheless. A solid contribution to
Read the next Star Trek review:
"Elaan of Troyius"
These Season Three time travel stories
are 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 Three "Purist" Standard DVD Box Set:
Watch the legend mature to the end of its original run.
Set contains all 24 episodes from the third season
in their original wacky broadcast order,
plus new bonus features including a specially restored version
of the original pilot "The Cage".
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....
Standard DVD Extras include:
- To Boldly Go... Season Three featurette (22 min.)
- Life Beyond Trek: Walter Koenig (11 min.)
- Chief Engineer's Log (6 min.)
- Memoir from Mr. Sulu (9 min.)
- Star Trek's Impact (9 min.)
- Original Prop recreation featurette (7 min.)
- Text Commentaries on
"The Savage Curtain" and
- "Red Shirt Logs" Easter Eggs (19 min. total)
- Production Art (still menus)
- Original Trailers for every season 3 episode (1 min. each)
- "The Cage" (all colour, 63 min.)
- "The Cage" (BW/colour mix + Gene's intro, 71 min.)
The Original Series Remastered Sets
The re-mastered Star Trek set for season three,
like that of season two, seems destined to be obsolete
in very short order. Its content is easily surpassed
by the more respectful presentation on Blu-ray, and unlike
the "purist" DVD release listed above, appears to have none
of its own exclusive content. Add to that the very gimmicky,
awkward packaging that is prone to damage both during shipping and
with light usage, and I'd have to recommend that all devoted Trekkers
should consider other options for their ideal TOS season three product.
Season Three - Blu Ray
24 episodes @ 51 minutes, plus pilot episodes...
Star Trek sets are now available on Blu Ray.
Picture and sound quality restoration has gone up yet
another notch since the remastered version, as have the
liberties taken with "upgrading" the episodes.
Once again, even newer 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 features include:
- option to watch original or new CGI effects.
- "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (unaired version, HD)
- Captain's Log: Bob Justman (HD, 10 min.)
- Behind-the-scenes 8mm home movies part 3 (HD, 11 min.) from
Billy Blackburn (Lt. Hadley / DeForest Kelley stand-in)
- David Gerrold hosts "2009 Convention Coverage" (HD, 20 min.)
- "The Anthropology of Star Trek" ComiCon Panel 2009 (HD, 4 min.)
- "The World of Rod Roddenberry" ComiCon 2009 (HD, 7 min.)
- BD Live Portal
- main featurettes from previous releases
- "The Cage" pilot versions from previous releases
Review written by Martin Izsak.
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