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Lunch » Tags » Tv Shows » Reviews » Star Trek - The Original Series, Episode 74: The Cloud Minders » User review

Spock flirts while Kirk battles for his life, so absurd

  • Jul 22, 2004
  • by
The primary premise of this episode is as old as humanity and one that will probably always be part of the human condition, no matter how far we move out into the cosmos. There is a biological plague on a Federation planet, which threatens to wipe out all of the planetary flora in a matter of hours. An antidote to the plague, called zienite, is available, but is only manufactured on Ardana, so the Enterprise is ordered to Ardana to receive and transport the zienite to the plague planet. When it arrives at Ardana, they find a society segmented into the Troglytes, who live underground and mine the zienite and the planet?s rulers, who live in a luxurious city in the clouds.
The Troglytes are in the midst of a rebellion, demanding their share of the wealth of the planet. They withhold the zienite and attack Kirk and Spock when they beam down. The leader of the Troglytes later attempts to capture Kirk to use him as a hostage. The Troglytes believe that the Enterprise is there to intimidate them into ending their rebellion, so they don?t trust Kirk. The Troglyte leader is captured and tortured. Kirk attempts to intervene, but is reminded that he cannot interfere with the actions of a planetary government.
Kirk and Spock beam back to the Enterprise and McCoy informs Kirk that there is a gas in the zienite ore that retards mental development and leads to increased negative emotions such as anger. However, there is a mask that will filter out the gas and the effects are reversible. Kirk then violates the law and beams back to the surface to make contact with the Troglyte leader and seek her cooperation by offering a supply of the masks. He then goes to the mine and has the planetary leader beamed down to make the point. Both men are affected by the gas and begin to fight. They are beamed to the Enterprise where they settle the issue. The zienite is delivered and the planetary social structure is altered to include the Troglytes.
Throughout the episode the daughter of the planetary leader is taken by Spock and there is some heavy flirtation between them. Spock even explains to her that as a Vulcan, he mates only once every seven years, something that Vulcans are not supposed to mention to outworlders. This is an absurd feature of this episode. When billions of lives are at stake, no Starfleet officer would be engaged in a heavy sexual flirtation that could jeopardize the mission.
This is another one of those episodes in the last year of the original series where there are features that seem to be included just to fill the time. There is no real reason for the romance between Spock and the daughter of the planetary leader, given the circumstances, it simply would not have happened. The most absurd feature of this romance occurs when Kirk and Spock are resting. Spock hears the daughter preparing refreshments and moves out of the room to talk to her. He comments on the sensitivity of his ears and engages her in conversation. At this time, Kirk is engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the Troglyte leader. Spock is oblivious to this, moving back into the room only when Kirk yells his name. It is rare when a single scene severely damages an episode, but this is one of those times.
This episode had some legitimate premises, but the romance of Spock and the scene just mentioned reduce it to the point where I rank it in the bottom third of the episodes in the original series.

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Charles Ashbacher ()
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Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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All the signs thatStar Trekwas creatively strained late in its third season (following the departures of key creative personnel and the absence of Gene Roddenberry's full attention) can be seen in "The Cloud Minders." David Gerrold, author of the hugely popular "The Trouble with Tribbles," conceived an almost Dickensian story about the exploitation of miners, called Troglytes, on the planet Ardana, and the way Troglyte labor enriches the lives of an aristocracy that literally lives in the sky, above the fray. Third-season producer Fred Freiberger wanted fewer ideas and more action, and he had another writer deeply revise Gerrold's notion that Captain Kirk (William Shatner) should broker positive change on behalf of the have-nots. The finished production finds Kirk more irritated than anything that a domestic problem is slowing his mission to retrieve zienite, a medicinal mineral. Meanwhile, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) uncharacteristically sniffs around an Ardanian cutie who flirts with him, and a ridiculous torture-the-space-babe scene belongs in a midnight movie from the 1950s. "The Cloud Minders" is like a junk-food snack: chunky in its organization and cheesy in its production values.--Tom Keogh
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Studio: CBS Paramount International Television

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