7 "The Naked Time"

(airdate: September 29, 1966)

Writer: John D.F. Black
Director: Marc Daniels

Nurse Christine Chapel: Majel Barrett

Lt. (j.g.) Joe Tormolen: Stewart Moss

Lt. Kevin Riley: Bruce Hyde

Stardate: 1704.2

Captain's Log: The Enterprise travels to the planet Psi 2000 to observe its disintegration; however, upon arrival, they discover that a science team which had been sent down ahead of the Enterprise is dead of unknown causes. Unbeknownst to the landing party, a red substance makes contact with Lt. Tormolen's hand, infecting him. As the planet breaks up below, the crew of the Enterprise becomes afflicted by a substance that lowers their natural inhibitions, causing them to behave irrationally. Lt. Riley endangers the ship by shutting down the engines, leading to the Enterprise spiraling down to the doomed planet. McCoy manages to discover a way to counteract the substance, while Spock is able to work through his symptoms to successfully restart the engines in a dangerous but ultimately successful procedure - albeit one that sends the Enterprise three days back in time.

Whoops!: The strangled woman in the scientific base is pretty obviously a mannequin. Similarly, the "blood" on Tormolen's shirt after his injury looks like faded paint (and it doesn't look like a very sharp knife to begin with). At about 12-and-a-half minutes in, the image on the viewscreen keeps winking in and out. McCoy tears Kirk's shirt like it's tissue paper (and which is something that's not necessary, as we've seen hypos work through clothing before this point) - and how come Kirk isn't wearing an undershirt like Spock was earlier in the episode?
     How exactly does the red splotch jump to Tormolen's hand? It's not like it's sentient, so what caused it to move like that? Body heat? And wouldn't it make sense for the decontamination feature in the transporter room to be the default, rather than a specific order?
     It's probably because it's early days, but it's a little weird how the third captain's log provides information that the crew doesn't know yet (Kirk literally says "unknown to us"), thus implying these are recorded after the fact, yet is narrated in present tense.

Classic Lines: Riley, after Kirk and Scotty finally break into engineering: "No dance tonight."
     Sulu to Uhura, in swashbuckling mode: "I'll protect you, fair maiden." Uhura, pushing him away: "Sorry, neither."

Technobabble: McCoy tells Chapel to monitor Sulu on circuits K1 and 3.

Don't Wear a Red Shirt: Joey Tormolen dies after falling on a knife, despite the wound not being serious enough to be fatal.

Alien Love: Nurse Chapel is in love with Mr. Spock.

Library Computer: Psi 2000 was from orbit a dirty-looking white-blue planet. Once it was a planet much like Earth, but then its sun "went dark" and the planet became a frozen wasteland. Psi 2000 was on the verge of breaking up (for unknown reasons) when the Enterprise arrived, and as the starship orbited the planet they monitored Psi 2000 as it disintegrated. Unusually rapid changes in Psi 2000's magnetic field were accompanied by changes in its mass as it began to shrink in size at a regular rate.
     Prior to the Enterprise's arrival, a scientific party of six people set up a base on Psi 2000 [to observe the planet's destruction up close] when they succumbed to a previously unknown substance that caused them to kill each other, either directly (such as the woman who was strangled) or indirectly (the deactivation of life support in the base). This substance was a form of water that changed into a complex chain of molecules, leading to an effect of extreme intoxication in those who came into contact with it. [This may be a reference to polywater, which was allegedly a form of water that had undergone polymerization and which had different scientific properties, leading to all sorts of concerns among the general public regarding its effects (since the USSR had it and the US didn't). The only problem with this is that the timing is a bit suspect; the English-speaking world didn't pay attention to polywater until 1966, when Soviet scientist Boris Derjaguin gave a lecture about it in England - in other words, right around the time John D.F. Black would have been writing the script. Except even then the US lagged behind the UK in taking notice, not really becoming interested for a couple more years. It's possible, though, that Black, as Star Trek's story consultant, was keeping abreast of scientific developments and so would have known about it in time to include it in his script. Polywater itself was eventually determined to simply be water with impurities.] In the base, on a surface of thick frost, the substance looked like a red splotch and was (somehow) capable of jumping to Lt. Tormolen's bare hand. This alcohol-like water was undetectable by standard equipment and wasn't affected by the decontamination procedure in the transporter [which apparently is a separate feature, rather than the default]. The substance was passed from person to person via physical contact with perspiration, leading to them feeling something on the affected area (usually the hand), treating it like it's itchy. Dr. McCoy and the Enterprise's lab were able to create a serum that would counteract the effects of the substance.
     This substance caused people to lose their sense of judgment and self-control, causing them to act upon their deep-seated feelings: Sulu, for instance, considered himself something of a swashbuckler and so was chasing people through the corridors with a fencing sword; Lt. Riley took control of the ship and began issuing whatever commands passed through his head at a given moment; Spock lost control of his emotions; and Kirk lamented the fact that he was tied to the captain's chair and command rather than more earthly pleasures. It also caused Lt. Tormolen to wish to kill himself and to give up the will to live, and a member of the science party on Psi 2000 to take a shower fully clothed, while the party's engineer froze to death at his post, seemingly uncaring of his predicament.
     It takes thirty minutes to safely regenerate the engines from cold to fully functional (although Scotty seems to think he can get it down to around 22 minutes). Scotty states that you can't mix matter and antimatter cold; an attempt to do so would lead to a catastrophic explosion. There is a theoretical way to induce a controlled implosion to balance the engines, but Scott says the odds are 10,000 to 1 at finding the correct formula, and only then with several computers working on it for a week. Nevertheless, Spock is aware of the theoretical relationship between time and antimatter and is able to successfully restart the engines using the correct intermix formula - although this does result in sending the Enterprise back in time by 71 hours. [Some accounts suggest that this ending was originally intended to lead into "Tomorrow Is Yesterday". Despite Spock's remark that they've essentially cracked time travel, we never see this method used again. Perhaps the Department of Temporal Investigations (DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations") put a stop to it.]
     Nurse Christine Chapel is a tall blonde woman working in sickbay alongside Dr. McCoy. She's dressed in a sciences blue dress (albeit a slightly different one from the standard - there are several seam-like lines leading up the front to the assignment patch, and the black collar is missing), and her assignment patch has a red cross, rather than the typical "double circle" science emblem. She's in love with Spock.
     Lt. Kevin Thomas Riley is a navigator for the Enterprise, and consequently wears command gold. He fancies himself on some level as descended from Irish kings, and under the influence of the Psi 2000 "disease" likes to sing "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" a lot. He doesn't think women should be too heavily made up, and prefers that they wear their hair loosely around their shoulders. [Intoxicated Riley is kind of a sexist.] He's friends with Sulu and Joe Tormolen. He doesn't understand the appeal of fencing and isn't thrilled by botany.
     Joey Tormolen was a lieutenant junior grade, in sciences blue, and the first Enterprise crewmember to come into contact with the polywater substance on Psi 2000. His capacity for self-doubt was rather high, but he wasn't normally the sort of person who would attempt suicide. Nevertheless, he died after apparently giving up the will to live, related to an accident with a knife. [Tormolen is the only lieutenant junior grade seen on the original series, as evidenced by his rank insignia of a single dashed band on his cuff.]
     Spock, as a Vulcan, keeps his emotions under control (rather than not having them). He seems to succumb to the effects of the "disease" much faster than others. [Compare with, for instance, Sulu and Riley, who appear to take a while to become intoxicated. On the other hand, Kirk seems to be affected pretty quickly as well - but he may have been exposed earlier when he grappled with the shirtless Sulu on the bridge. Of course, Spock may have been exposed at the same time, and the "exposed" rattle on the soundtrack when Chapel touches Spock might be a red herring. This doesn't explain why Uhura wasn't infected, however.] Under the effect of the polywater substance he admitted to regret that he couldn't tell his human mother he loved her, as he respected his father and his Vulcan customs. [This is by airdate the first confirmation that Spock's mother was a human; by production it's the first regular (i.e., non-pilot) episode, "The Corbomite Maneuver", which wouldn't air for another six weeks after this episode.] He was ashamed of his feelings of friendship for Kirk.
     Spock can render someone unconscious by applying pressure with his hand at the base of the neck by the shoulder. [This is the first appearance by airdate of the Vulcan nerve pinch, although in terms of production order the technique was devised for "The Enemy Within".]
     A pulse of 242 and practically non-existent blood pressure is normal for Spock.
     The landing party is seen here wearing bright orange environmental suits, rather like hazmat or radiation suits, that completely cover the wearer. They are not sealed, however, and Tormolen is able to remove a glove while on Psi 2000. There is a silver band on the left wrist with a large red button on the band.
     Spock uses a large handheld sensor device with a red cylinder on the front, looking rather like a radiation detector [one guess as to why...], while down on Psi 2000. He also uses a circular slide rule [an E6B flight computer, technically] while at his station on the bridge.
     The main power panels for the Enterprise are in engineering.
     Starfleet uniforms include a black short-sleeved shirt worn underneath the uniform tunic.
     The recreation room includes, in addition to three-dimensional chess, a 3D version of checkers. [This is actually a real game, called Space Checkers.]
     One of the alerts on the Enterprise is Alert Condition Baker 2. This leads to the sealing off of all main sections.
     Sulu likes fencing.
     There may be a bowling alley aboard. [Riley mentions it during one of his intoxicated shipwide communications.]

Final Analysis: "You mean that Joe was down on the planet surface and you're gonna ask me if it's connected. ... Jim, he was decontaminated. He's been medically checked. We've run every test we know for everything we know." A well-crafted script that chooses to focus on the crew without losing sight of the actual plot, "The Naked Time" gives us an engaging character study while still maintaining a high level of drama and incident - and it certainly doesn't hurt that there's a nice sense of fun to balance out the more serious moments. Definitely an encouraging sign for the future direction of the series.

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Page last updated: June 19, 2019

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