Star Trek: The Original Series

"The Doomsday Machine"


Air date: 10/20/1967
Written by Norman Spinrad
Directed by Marc Daniels

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise's sister ship, the USS Constellation, is found severely damaged and adrift in space. The ship's captain, Commodore Matthew Decker (William Windom) is the only person left of his crew, the remainder of which had been beamed down to a nearby planet for safety. Unfortunately, nothing is safe from the unstoppable device roaming the region, which destroys entire planets, consumes the debris, and then moves on to the next planet. The death of Decker's crew has sent him into an insane obsession to destroy the device, even if it means suicide.

"The Doomsday Machine" sets the standard for all-out TOS tactical space action, with flawless pacing, a terrific score by Sol Kaplan, and lots of boldness. With Kirk and Scotty trying to make repairs to the Constellation, we have a great conflict aboard the Enterprise, where Decker takes command of the ship while Spock and McCoy are initially powerless to stop him from launching a suicide mission. Spock's calm but firm action in the face of this adversity is an absolute joy to watch unfold.

Keeping in tune with the series' social commentary is the low-key allegory on nuclear weapons—which is implicitly present, but never threatens to eclipse the story.

Previous episode: The Apple
Next episode: Catspaw

◄ Season Index

6 comments on this review

Sun, Mar 17, 2013, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
Man what a great episode. I grew up in the 90s watching Voyager and always heard uninformed people say how the TOS was full of camp and 1960s era goofiness. They were so wrong.
Thu, May 2, 2013, 6:30am (UTC -5)
If you can, view the remastered version of this episode. The updated graphics adds amazing visual punch.

This is by far Trek at its "man show" best. Guest star William Windom, who has said he knew nothing about Star Trek, turns in a master class performance as the obsessed Ahab-like Commodore Decker out destroy the doomsday device that killed his crew. Windom RULES this episode. He constantly reminds us "I'm in COMMAND here" and he certainly is. The crew's quiet contempt for him reflects exactly how the viewer is urge to see him.

The tension is palpable on both ships with malfunctions and pissing contests and a nicely done Decker-vs-redshirt fight scene that just spills testosterone all over floor. The pacing is perfection without a second of filler.

A lot of Trekkers have to defend Star Trek to their friends and family. This is one those episodes a non-fan could follow and appreciate.
Thu, Apr 3, 2014, 11:47pm (UTC -5)
My personal all time favorite. I cant think anyone from that time playing playing decker like w. Windom. 5 stars.
Tue, Sep 9, 2014, 12:03am (UTC -5)
Absolutely one of TOS' best outings.
Mon, Nov 17, 2014, 9:16am (UTC -5)
Awesome. Never heard of Mr Windom before but a quick google revealed that i had seen him before in other things, as well as 'murder she wrote'. He totally 'out Shatners' Shatner to great effect.
Ben Masters
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 1:43pm (UTC -5)
"If you can, view the remastered version of this episode. The updated graphics adds amazing visual punch."

I've taken that recommendation and then some. I have seen through the remastered "Doomsday Machine" quite a few times, first from the standalone second-season remastered release, and then from the 2015 remastered full-series release, and it never ceases to amaze.

Submit a comment

Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my e-mail on my post

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2016 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. See site policies.