Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Star Trek at 50: The Galileo Seven

Season 1
Episode 13: The Galileo Seven
Filmed: September 1966
First Air Date: January 5,1967 (16th episode aired)

Karen: I have mixed feelings on this one. What should be a great showcase for Mr. Spock as he commands a shuttle mission is really quite aggravating, because everyone under Spock's command not only questions his every order but make some fairly derogatory remarks about him. These are highly trained, disciplined Star Fleet officers? 

Karen: However, this was our first chance to see the shuttlecraft up close, in both space and on a planet, and it was a thrill. This episode was only possible because the model kit company AMT wanted to make kits of the Enterprise, and a deal was cut that AMT would actually build the TV series shuttlecraft  as part of the package to get the rights to make the starship kits. Two full-size  shuttlecrafts were built: one for exterior filming and the other for interiors, along with a miniature for special effects shots. 

The full-sized Galileo under construction.
Shuttlecraft interior sketch by Matt Jeffries

Karen: The story, by Oliver Crawford,went through a number of rewrites. The first one was major. The original script had Kirk leading the team, with Spock still on the Enterprise. Roddenberry suggested the switch. Crawford did a complete rewrite of the script, this time with Spock in charge. But the staff was still dissatisfied with the work and brought in Shimon Wincelberg, who wrote "Dagger of the Mind," to try to add some depth to the story. His draft brought in the annoying HIgh Commissioner Ferris, who added some tension on the Enterprise, and he replaced Yeoman Rand with Yeoman Butler (later Mears). At some point too, McCoy and Scotty were added to the shuttlecraft team. However, they still weren't satisfied with the script. 

Karen: So the rewrites continued. Gene Coon came in and did a couple himself. His major contribution appears to have been upping the antagonism between McCoy and Spock, as well as the touch of humor at the end.

Karen: Despite all of the work on the script, Spock and McCoy seem out of character to me. Spock is rigidly logical, to the point of stupidity. McCoy barks at Spock's every action and comment, So does Lt. Boma, played by Don Marshall, whose insubordination seems like it should be enough to get him court martialed. But I guess it doesn't count when a Vulcan is involved.

Karen: Thankfully Scotty is rock-steady in this one. He's the only one who does not question Spock's commands or decisions but instead works with him to get the shuttle off the planet. 

Karen: The giant humanoids who attack the crew on the planet are an interesting story. All played by one actor, Robert "Big Buck" Maffei, a seven foot one inch tall giant of a man, they are never shown clearly. Apparently, the network thought the makeup devised for the creatures was too frightening, so we never get a good look at it, and a publicity still that showed it in all its neanderthal-ish glory was axed. But here's that publicity photo just for you to feast your eyes on. I think it was pretty cool myself!

Karen: Unfortunately, the primitives' attacks were a little less than convincing, with spears sort of haphazardly tossed towards the shuttle, and Spock pinned by what appeared to be the lightest boulder in the universe. Still, this episode did give us proof that it wasn't only the guys in the red shirts that were in jeopardy:

Karen: In the end, Spock's decision to jettison the fuel and set it alight saves the crew, and he is rewarded by having Kirk suggest he panicked and having everyone on the bridge break up laughing...seriously, it must suck being the only Vulcan on the Enterprise.


dbutler16 said...

I like this episode overall, though the crew do give Spock way too much of a hard time, and it's a shame that the censors of the time didn't allow us to see the "scary" faces of the giant humanoids, and some of the action scenes with them weren't well done. Still, I think this episode is a plus, with some good dramatic tension, and my favorite character Spock eventually saving the day.
Plus, I had the photo novel for this episode. Remember those?

Garett said...

I loved this episode! Great to see the shuttlecraft, and spotlight on Spock and the others in the landing party. I remember painting the shuttlecraft in grade 2 with watercolors, when the other kids were painting regular things like houses, sunshine, etc. It wasn't a great painting but fun to do!

The scene with Spock jettisoning the fuel at the end was also exciting. It seems to me the rest of the shuttle crew think he's gone crazy, but his idea saves the day.

Garett said...

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the original special effects of this episode with the digitally enhanced new version. It's interesting, but I wish they'd kept the original effects, especially with the fuel jettison effect at the end.

Garett said...

And here's the link!

Martinex1 said...

I had a bit of an opposite reaction to this one. I found Spock to be a little off. I know he is painfully logical, but from what I have seen so far it is also obvious he has a big heart. I felt some of his logic here was played for plot but rang just slightly off for me. It was almost logical to prove how logical he is, but wasn't how he really is. Does that make sense?

Out of the episodes I've seen, I felt the creatures were very weak here, with their spears falling most of the time listless and unthreatening. For the first time it reminded me of Lost In Space.

I thought the buildup of lowering the weight of the ship and possibly leaving somebody behind was incredibly suspenseful, but it just never paid off. I expected Spock to make a sacrifice to the safety of the crew and its was like the writers forgot that element in the final act. That boulder on Spock's leg was so obviously a light prop; normally I'd let that go, but it was just so noticeable. And I didn't understand the ending where everybody is congratulating Spock on his emotional solution with the use of the fuel, but the explanation was indeed logical - the only way anybody would find them would be to risk the "flare".

Sorry to be a downer. This episode did not click with me, and I really wanted it to because Spock had the spotlight. Must have been in a bad mood when I watched this one.

Humanbelly said...

Oh Scooby-!

Still very much enjoying these trips down Memory-Drive Lane, Karen!

This was kind of a perfect example of an episode that I always liked in spite of some truly cringe-worthy elements. Strangely enough, a bi-product of the defacto committee-writing is that there are so many elements being touched on (connected or otherwise) throughout the story that it definitely adds to the sense of chaos and events never being safely in control. Seat-of-the-pants isn't a bad vibe to have in a marooned-crew story, really.

The BIG GROUP HAVING A LAUGH ending is far and away the worst moment for me. It's a ridiculous, cheesy, vastly over-used, cheap wrap-up cliche' of a "convention" that has been around since the days of classic radio. HATED it as a child when so many cartoons used it as their go-to. . . HATED it on Gilligan's Island (my favorite show!), although they seemed to be able to pull it off more organically than most. . . HATED it on any other "adult" show when they resorted to it. In Star Trek it feels like an utter betrayal-- and one wonders why a savvy guy like Roddenberry stuck it in there at all-- unless it was some kind of subtle poke in the eye at his network bosses? "See how dumb 'regular' television conventions look when you force them into this show?"-- something like that? Just a wild guess. But particularly here, that kind of on-the-Bridge/in the workplace abandonment to hilarity seems wildly out of character on all parts, to say the least.
And anyone here ever have to force a laugh onstage-- on cue? Hoo-boy--- NOT easy to manufacture, believe me.

The other hard-to-buy threat, as mentioned, were them-there big indiginous cave-men. 'Cause, 1) there OBVIOUSLY weren't a whole lot of them!, and 2) if those anemically-tossed spears were the extent of their offensive prowess, then a couple of fit 8th-graders could probably have taken them out of action with a little patience. Heck, clunky old ME could have snatched one in flight and hurled it back with more force. A skilled dodgeball opponent would have been more threatening.

HB-- the Happy Curmudgeon

Pat Henry said...

Good points about the complete lack of respect and discipline shown to a command officer, and it is not like this is the first time Spock has been shown in command and capable of issuing orders and having them followed without sass. IIRC, the first aired episode opens with him in command of the bridge.

What makes this episode especially painful for me is, I have to wonder what Kirk would have done differently? He probably would have taken the same steps, although with more compassionate angst about the loss of men... and he would have offered himself to stay behind, which everyone would have cried and fussed about until it was no longer an issue. Spock probably also would have made that decision to stay behind ("the needs of the many...") but was never allowed that opportunity by the script. The only thing Spock is stupid about is his strategy and tactics with the Neanderthals. And that all seemed contrived to make him look bad.

The only relief is when Scotty, thankfully and mercifully, sticks up for Spock.

The laughter at the end-- a lot of people died, and rather needlessly. Not a moment of levity.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm in the minority, but this is actually one of my favourites; Spock gets to take the spotlight and shows a (somewhat) more human side. The bickering WAS unprofessional (and obviously added to ramp up the tension), but overall, I still like this one.

I actually read the James Blish story of this episode before I ever saw it, and I thought it was one of the better ones.

Mike Wilson

Martinex1 said...

Funny how I got a different read.l on my he Spock characterization. I may have to watch this one again Mike. I did like the shuttle craft and its a space pontoon boat.

Martinex1 said...

Apologize for the babble. My thumbs are too big for a phone. on the Spock characterization.

Edo Bosnar said...

I'm in the "don't like it very much" camp on this one; I just can't forgive the off characterization of Spock and the way he's treated by the crew members.
Garett, thanks for that link. Man, those are some serious, Lucasesque CGI changes! And like the tampering with the original Star Wars movies, I don't really see the need...

Karen said...

I think it's interesting how mixed the reaction is to this episode. Is it one of those 'love it or hate it' types? Although I would have to put myself in the middle. It's just sort of there for me. Maybe I lean a little more towards the negative on this one, simply because of the characterizations, and the terrible foam boulders -which we will see more of shortly, when we get to Arena.

Regarding the remastered episodes: I have been using the blu rays for my reviews, and for the most part, I enjoy the remastered effects. I think they have stayed away from going overboard with redoing things but stayed respectful of the original intent of the effects. I do like to flip between views and compare, and there are times that I prefer the original over the new ones. But they did come up with a truly beautiful CGI Enterprise! And having just watched Arena, I can say I am glad they did not try to replace the Gorn with CGI. I am sure it would have been cost prohibitive, but even if they could have, I still find the original suit charming -and actually pretty cool!

Pat Henry said...

I don't hate it. I actually like it. It just seems like it is trying to fit a size 8 shoe on a size 10 foot, trying to make Ultimate Reason seem unreasonable.

I wonder to what extent this episode suffers from the fact that Spock much later emerged as perhaps the most beloved, most memorable character of the franchise, and we fans resent his abuse here. At the time this episode was crafted, the Creatives had no idea they were handling a breakaway star and what would emerge as a cultural icon.

Pat Henry said...

Follow on: I mean, what soldier would not want to go into battle knowing his commander was preternaturally rational and calculating to the 37th decimal place __AND__ someone who valued life and was reticent against its wanton waste? If Spock considered the Neanderthals non-expendable, why should he consider his own crewmates expendable? Whatever Spock asked his minions to do would have to be considered in this light. I'd follow the guy through the gates of hell, given those parameters.

Pat Henry said...

One last comment: How I wish Kirk was on the away team to lay into the officers who give his beloved XO sass-- the way he did Stiles in "Balance of Terror." Do you think Capt. Kirk would have appreciated Mr. Boma's outbursts? Lord, how I would love to see that scene.

Karen said...

That's a good point about Spock and his popularity -at this point, Kirk was still clearly the star of the show, but viewers were rapidly becoming fans of Spock. About the only person who could heap abuse on him later on was McCoy -and that often felt out of character or just plain harsh when he did so (for example, the scene in Bread and Circuses when McCoy says Spock wouldn't recognize a genuine warm feeling -ouch).

Another odd thing about this episode is how they frame it as Spock's first command mission -surely as the first officer of a starship and a commander he would have led missions before!

Pat, I agree that Spock's logic was misrepresented in this episode. I think the writers wanted to heighten the conflict and so they had him act stupidly, and then had McCoy and Boma behave in an over-emotional, disrespectful way. It just comes across as heavy-handed.

Edo Bosnar said...

I feel compelled to say that I don't hate this episode outright - it's Star Trek after all. I just don't like it as much as I do so many other episodes, for the reasons stated above. And yet another reason Karen just pointed out: the thing about the the first command mission for Spock. A starship first officer who's never had a command mission? Yeah, right...

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