Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Original Series

"Spectre of the Gun"


Air date: 10/25/1968
Written by Lee Cronin
Directed by Vincent McEveety

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Members of the Enterprise crew beam down to investigate a planet, contrary to the warnings of the Melkot, who subsequently place Kirk and his men into a surreal recreation of the American Old West, where they must avoid the showdown with Wyatt Earp (Ron Soble), Doc Holliday (Sam Gilman), and crew at the OK Corral.

More intriguing than it probably has any right to be, "Spectre of the Gun" benefits from its bizarre surrealism, and has a Twilight Zone-esque atmosphere and aesthetic feel. Still, the story is sometimes stiffly executed, with dialog that has a tendency to repeat itself. At times it feels like the episode simply didn't have enough scenes to fill an hour, resulting in inefficient dialog being tacked on. There's dialog where characters make statements that are nothing short of obvious.

The ending revolves around the fact that mental discipline controls the unreality, so Spock mind melds with Kirk, Bones, and Scotty so they'll believe that unreal bullets can't really hurt them. Chekov? He dies. But he comes back to life—always a nice side effect of dying in non-reality.

Previous episode: Is There In Truth No Beauty?
Next episode: Day of the Dove

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5 comments on this review

Lt. Yarko - Tue, May 21, 2013 - 1:36pm (USA Central)
Chekov is an idiot.
NoPoet - Fri, Dec 13, 2013 - 2:10am (USA Central)
Star Trek, the legendary original series, so "progressive" and "important" that each week our crew of scientists and explorers on their fabulous starship journey into recreations of Earth's past where they must engage in fisticuffs to save the day - because that's progress!

Honestly, I love Trek, but the original series writing staff seemed hell bent on doing some kind of historical drama. The message of peace and progress seems to be lost amid all the fighting; it's like Karate Kid, which I once heard described as a series of films which teach you that you don't have to fight, then put their characters in situations where fighting is the only answer.

Quite honestly TOS is my least favourite of the Treks and in my opinion barely qualifies as sci-fi. It's all well and good having phasers and warp drives if you're constantly in Nazi Germany or ancient Greece.
Moonie - Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - 3:50pm (USA Central)
@ NoPoet, I thought the first season had a few episodes that were based on really good ideas, and even the second wasn't all that bad, but the third.....I have a really hard time making it through it. This one is next, and I'm dreading it. I love the Spock/Kirk dynamic/relationship, but as far as the shows go, I'm with you, TOS is my least favorite. I think it has not aged well. Then again I remember even from back when I was a kid in the 70s, that a lot of it seemed pretty ridiculous to me. When I decided to rewatch, I dreaded revisiting all those Earth-like plants because I had vivid memores of those. The only one of those episodes I enjoy, is A Piece of the Action, because it was such great comedy.

Ok, I'll watch this one now. I'm too OCD to skip episodes in my Watch-all-of-Trek-marathon.
Jo Jo Meastro - Sun, Feb 16, 2014 - 10:14am (USA Central)
I really enjoyed this one and the whole feel of the Western town, the crimson sky and eerily sparse buildings where a excellent touch to give a subtle yet distinct impression of warped reality.

Retro John-Wayne-era westerns are a guilty pleasure of mine so I was bound to enjoy this one! Although I do agree that there was some slightly plodding spells in the middle, I found it very entertaining on the whole and I liked the concept of desperately avoiding violence in a desperate surreal situation. 2.5 stars would be my verdict too, possibly edging more towards 3.

I don't mind taking a break from conventional sci-fi settings, especially when the results are this good and one of the things I enjoy most about TOS is its mythical fantasy-esque approach to this final frontier of mankind. I prefer this to the more harder and more drier sci-fi.

TOS just has a certain charm and magic to it even if you could never take it seriously as a viable vision of the future. When its bad it is horrendously bad, but when its good its pretty fantastic.
Adam - Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - 3:22am (USA Central)
The real world reason behind all of the parallel Earth, and historical stories, is for the producers to save money. They can use props , sets, and costumes on the Paramount lot.

I enjoyed this episode. It's nothing deep, but it is good fun. TOS did have a lot of episodes where they were in Earth's past, or a facsimile of Earth's past. We had the Roman planet, the gangster planet, the Nazi planet, the Wild West simulation, the ancient Greek planet (in Plato's Stepchildren), etc

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