Star Trek: The Original Series

"The Naked Time"

3 stars

Air date: 9/29/1966
Written by John F.D. Black
Directed by Marc Daniels

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

After beaming down to investigate a research post whose team had apparently gone mad and killed themselves, members of the landing party bring back a virus that has intoxicating side effects. As the virus spreads through the ship and crew members start acting strangely, Kirk finds himself with a crisis on hand when Lt. Riley (Bruce Hyde) locks himself in the engine room and shuts down the engines ... causing the Enterprise to spiral down out of planetary orbit.

A lot of the sophomoric silliness involving the ship's officers in "drunk mode" is goofy and didn't do much for me. But the real core of "The Naked Time" emerges in its analysis of Spock; when he becomes affected we see just how torn he is between his human emotions and his Vulcan sense of reason and control. Leonard Nimoy's rendition of the role is exceptional. Also of interest is Nurse Chapel's confession of buried feelings for Spock, as well as Kirk's discussion about being essentially married to the ship.

The ending, involving a sci-fi tech procedure that results in time moving backwards, is a non sequitur that's tough to swallow. But at least it shows the writers were trying something imaginative.

Previous episode: Where No Man Has Gone Before
Next episode: The Enemy Within

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18 comments on this review

Wed, May 28, 2008, 9:49pm (UTC -5)
The reason for the time travel non sequitur at the end of Naked Time was that the episodes Naked Time and Tomorrow is Yesterday were originally written as a two part episode. The decision was made to make them two seperate episodes, so NT got the non sequitur and TiY got the Enterprise hitting a black star.

It looks extremly cheesy and fake now, but I remember as a kid being freaked out at the scene in Charley X in which Charley removes the face of the laughing crewwoman.
Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 8:15am (UTC -5)
I'm all about Spock, but I've seen better performances from Nimoy. I just don't see Spock as a weepy drunk. Maybe LN was working with what he was given, and I was pleased at the idea, at least, that Spock's emotions run silent, run deep, but Spock's emotionalism is usually the more powerful for the restraint he expresses--people with strong self-control usually have something strong TO control. That's the essence of Spock for me, so I don't think it was the best move for the writers to bash us over the head with Spock's emotions.

I think though that at this time, they didn't quite know what the show was really about. Maybe in a later episode, they'd have played it differently.
Wed, Jun 27, 2012, 9:07am (UTC -5)
Actually, I want to revise my opinion above a little bit. Watching it again, I can still do without the weeping, but I'm not sure there was another way to convey Spock expressing emotion so uncharacteristically. But his intensity during the scene with Chapel and the one with Kirk, and his ability to overcome his own intoxiation in the face of Jim's pain, are both extremely powerful.
Sun, Sep 15, 2013, 6:07am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this episode a lot, especially the scenes with Spock and Kirk. Great acting from both in my opinion. I just loved seeing them both so, well, emotional :)
Wed, Oct 16, 2013, 8:44am (UTC -5)
Other than the non-sequitur which also serves the astonishing purpose of opening up time as an arena for exploration for the series as well as the vastness of space, I really enjoyed this episode.

Spock's inability to cope, not just with his emotions, but with his inability to cope with his emotions, is well thought out and played. Kirk's essential loneliness and concomitant relationship with his ship goes some way to explaining his regular dalliances that allow him some closeness, however fleeting, to the numerous available females that cross his path.

Watching these early episodes serves to remind me how much of a caricature Kirk became in the popular imagination and how that then impacted on the character's personna to such a degree that he is a rogue in the rebooted movies who is almost entirely driven by and dependent on his passion.

It is much clearer to me that Kirk and Spock's relationship is firmly bound in their willingness to make enormous personal sacrifice in order to serve their ideals.
Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 8:23am (UTC -5)
Character story lines jerky, acting bad, oreillys singing, spock crying? Awful. Nurse chapels part only thing brings up to 1.5 for me.
Sun, Oct 12, 2014, 5:39am (UTC -5)
What is up with the Hazmat suits at the beginning that allow you to scratch your nose and touch the skin on your face? If those things had a zipper this tragedy may have been averted lol
Fri, Feb 26, 2016, 7:44am (UTC -5)
The dialogue in this episode is excellent.
Kirk's reactions to Leslie are pretty great.
Sulu is fantastic. Wish he was in TOS more.

The beginning is ridiculous.
The ending is a non sequitur.

Those "isolation" suits. So dumb.

Overall: A great middle sandwiched between two not-so-great scenes. Three stars of four.
Fri, Feb 26, 2016, 7:45am (UTC -5)
*Riley, not Leslie
Sun, May 29, 2016, 11:44am (UTC -5)
I liked Uhura's response to Sulu's "I'll save you, fair maiden": "Sorry, neither!" -- stating that she was neither "fair" (as in fair-skinned) nor a "maiden" (i.e., a virgin). Pretty racy for '60s TV.
Wed, Jun 22, 2016, 9:34pm (UTC -5)
Hah, after rewatching this, it's amazing just how much Naked Now ripped off this episode. I don't just mean the basic concept, I mean every little tiny plot detail. Annoying youngster taking over engineering and blocking everyone else. Cure is obtained, but they are still stuck in place and with the natural disaster of the week rapidly approaching. The ship's supergenius must completely rewrite engineering principles of the ship in their head in order to save the day. It's one thing to be an homage or a sequel, it's quite another to be a blatant ripoff.

But as for this episode, it's still a weak one. I think part of the problem is that it wasted a lot of time on stuff we shouldn't really care about. Was the goal to see the ship in peril? Was it to see a bunch of goofy idiots running around? Was it to see the inner feelings of the main crew when their inhibitions were down? Most people claim it's the third one, but other than Spock we don't learn much. OK, so Kirk talks about his love for his ship. Or maybe his love for Rand, it's an awkward conversation... Scotty was fine. Uhura snapped at Kirk once, but other than that was fine. Bones was fine. Sulu just pranced around like an idiot. So if the idea was to see what the crew was like, it didn't work.

Again, other than Spock. Obviously at this point we have almost no information on what Vulcans are like, so seeing some real solid emotion from him was useful. It shows that the emotions are there, but buried. And just as importantly, that he wants to keep them buried. It shows the conflict inherent to the Vulcans, or perhaps in Spock's case to his human/Vulcan duality. As others have said, the scene where he tries to keep his composure around Nurse Chapel was excellent. It really emphasized how much he was trying to keep control, even when he was failing to. Some of the crying in the corridor worked, but it just went too long. I didn't feel his conversation with Kirk worked very well either.

Meanwhile, if it was just about the ship in peril, well, it mostly just worked to show how unprofessional the Enterprise crew is. So you beam down to a planet in a hazmat suit, but then take off your glove and scratch your face? So someone can take over Engineering that easily? If you can beam down to planets, why is it so difficult to beam to various parts of the ship? So people can leave their station on the bridge and nobody notices? Is that really the image that the producers wanted to create for Starfleet and for the Enterprise? That deep space will be explored by people as intelligent as teenagers? And people complained about the security on the Ent-D and Voyager. It looks like Starfleet has a long history of being incompetent...

So no, this concept didn't really work for me. If it wasn't for the Spock/Chapel scene, I'd consider it a pretty bad one. As it is, it's just there.
Fri, Jan 13, 2017, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
Really enjoyed this episode - just so happens I've seen it 2-3 times in the last 3 months.
Kirk and Spock's acting is excellent and Chapel/Sulu being affected by the disease also gives us a bit more background on their true personalities. McCoy's acting is good too as he shows bewilderment at Tormolen's death and the frustration of dealing with intoxicated assistants.
Of course with almost all Trek episodes, there are its miraculous solutions (non-sequitur of time warp to save ship from burning up in the atmosphere) and as @Skeptical rightly points out the unprofessionalism of crew members. But it's a good story, well-acted and doesn't suffer from any slow/dull periods.
For me, "The Naked Time" is the best of the first four episodes to kick off Season 1. I'd rate it 3.5/4.
Mon, Mar 27, 2017, 7:08pm (UTC -5)
Bloomin' awful, much like the TNG remake. Maybe I'm being uncharitable because I watched it after a few drinks, which normally helps this sort of thing! Perhaps a revisit sometime...
Daniel B
Sun, Jul 9, 2017, 2:18am (UTC -5)
It was ok, but it needed to be later in the season. It's too early for an "everyone acts out of character" episode since at this point we barely know the character.
Trek fan
Sat, Sep 16, 2017, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
Darn good episode. I disagree that it's "too early" for an episode where everyone gets intoxicated and shares his/her true self -- this is PRECISELY the moment, early in the show, to start building up the characters' personalities and backstories. Some very essential things about Kirk, Spock, Sulu, Chapel, and others emerge here. And the pacing/acting is excellent as the humor gradually becomes menacing.

The space virus plot is mostly an excuse to provide a hook for character development, and it resolves with the usual Star Trek medical cure, but it's not a bad plot hook as hooks go. The threat actually begins to feel real, which is more than I can say for most TNG and Voyager threats with miraculous tech resolutions. Much of that is down to Nimoy's brilliant performance, as we buy his struggle and sense that the ship's fate hangs on him recovering somehow. The fact Spock conquers the virus by force of will not only tells us a lot about his character, including many new details about his shame over being half-human on his mother's side, but hangs the plot resolution on more than just a miraculous sickbay cure. Good stuff in his "I'm in control of my emotions" scene.

As for the drunk shenanigans, I find them more amusing than laugh-inducing, but who doesn't love Sulu unleashing his inner swashbuckler to charge through the ship with a sword? Or Uhura's sassy "sorry neither" retort to him? "Oooooh my" indeed. For my money, George Takei is right to pick this one as his favorite episode, as it really stands out as one of the best TOS episodes overall -- easily worth 3 1/2 or 4 stars for the well-acted character dilemmas which emerge unexpectedly and powerfully from what initially appears to be a routine or even lightweight plot. The rattlesnake sound the disease makes as it infects each new person is also a particularly inspired and iconic bit of Trek storytelling gimmickry.

The regulars all get something to do here, too, including Scotty's "I can't change the laws of physics" line and improvised resolution to the gravity problem that nevertheless requires Spock's sober cooperation. McCoy gets some nice irascible moments throughout the story, including early barbs with Spock. And Chapel's unrequited love for Spock emerges. But I would also say Shatner's scene where his repressed anxiety about losing his ship deserves particular praise and may easily be overlooked due to the more drawn-out Spock dilemma; this is one of Shatner's nicer moments in the series and establishes a key part of his character (obsession with the ship) early on. Overall, while it's easy to miminize the script as routine, a particular strength of this episode is the execution as we watch the crew struggle individually and work together in responding to the peril.
Fri, Oct 6, 2017, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
I never was clear--Spock apparently never got the cure, so how did he become magically rational again? Did seeing Kirk lose it make him pull himself together? Random other thoughts: Sulu is buff! My favorite line: "Take D'Artagnan here to sick bay." (Spock's mildly disgusted orders for security regarding an unconscious Sulu.) Second favorite is Uhura's, "Sorry, neither." At the end when Kirk, Uhura, McCoy and Rand are flinching and grabbing their ears at the noise from the planetary escape and the camera shot moves to the overhead POV, Sulu and the helmsman are just sitting there unaffected.
Peter Swinkels
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 4:21pm (UTC -5)
Slow but okay. Clearly a predecessor of The Naked Now.
Sun, Dec 17, 2017, 5:33am (UTC -5)
How could Kirk make a log entry saying, “what we don’t
know is that a disease has invaded the ship”?

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