The Man Trap Reviewed (or Happy Anniversary, Trek)

You know what today is, kids? Today is a very special day. It’s the 45th anniversary of our beloved Star Trek. So to celebrate, you get a review of the first episode to air.

The Man Trap is delightfully cheesy, with its over-the-top Salt Vampire. It also has one of my very favourite scenes of all time (more on that later). Say what you like about it, it marks the beginning of 45 years of Trekked out nerdy awesomeness.

Now, on to the review!

We meet our crew as they orbit planet M-113. Kirk reads out his Captain’s Log and Spock is on the bridge in temporary command. Down on the planet, Kirk, Bones and Ensign Ricky (who has cleverly tried to disguise himself as a Blue Shirt) have just beamed down. It’s time for routine medical examinations of archeologist Robert Crater and his wife Nancy (which is totally a good enough reason for the Captain to leave his ship).

For some reason, Kirk also thinks it’s necessary to include that Nancy Crater is McCoy’s old girlfriend. Sometimes, I swear, Kirk doesn’t really know the difference between a Captain’s Log and a personal diary. “Dear Diary, today I did captainy stuff and Bones got all girly over some broad he used to bang.”

Kirk goes in to “high school jock” mode and tries to tease Bones about bringing his old girlfriend some flowers. “Is that how you get girls to like you, by bribing them?” Uh, Bones, sweetie, it’s not called “bribing” if it’s a space prostitute.

But they don’t have time to screw around all day (unless some hot chick shows up, am I right, Kirk?) and off they go to find the professor. Who is, unfortunately, not home.

Bones takes the opportunity to go over the “lost love/yeah, this is a plot point so pay attention” part of the story again, making sure to mention that it’s been ten years but never really going in to detail about what happened or why in that way that only 60s tv could. Right on cue, Nancy arrives.

She hasn’t aged a day (at least according to Bones, as this is the first time we’ve seen her) and, best of all, she remembers Bones. Huzzah. But wait… When Kirk looks at her, something seems different. (Personally I think this is how Kirk sees life most of the time. Girls are either “hot enough to bang” or “Fugly”.) Maybe they’re trying to hint at something with such camera trickery. Oh those subtle bastards…

No, no! That MUST be it. Ensign Ricky sees something different too. He sees a young, blond chick. Then Ensign Ricky reminds us all why his kind are usually kept quiet. “Ma’am, if I didn’t know better, I would swear you were a hooker I picked up on Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet.” (Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet? Really? Holy ridiculous planet name, Batman.)

Somehow, Bones finds this offensive and puts Ricky in his place. Kirk, who understands running in to chicks he’s screwed, sends Ricky to wait outside. He even goes to follow him (I assume to get any more info about this girl from Ricky that he can) but Nancy tells him to stay.

We wouldn’t want “Plum” to examine her alone.

First, I’m so glad THAT’S not a nickname that stuck and second, this always seems like the most awkward attempt to lure anyone in to a threesome I’ve ever seen.

Bones misses the hint and decides to wait for the professor. Nancy gives up and goes to get him, luckily for Ricky, who’s waiting just outside the door. If Bones isn’t going to take the bait, she’ll just have to take Ricky along for a walk. Apparently Starfleet needs to start show more of the safe sex films to the men.


Back on the planet, we’re treated to a supplemental log which, from the sounds of things, was recorded after all was said and done (and someone took the time to explain it to Kirk). That’s right, they were all seeing a different Nancy. You weren’t just going crazy. It wasn’t the biggest continuity screw up of all time. Good thing we’ve got that all cleared up.

Watch out guys! There’s an angry and horrible beast headed right for you… oh wait… it’s just Professor Crater come to bid you a warm welcome. A welcome which sounds an awful lot like “I hate you. Get the fuck off my planet.” But I’m sure he means it in the nicest way possible. Oh and they need salt. Nothing else. Just salt. Because of the heat. Then they can get back to getting the hell off his planet. (It’s actually a little known fact that space archeologists view Starfleet captains and medical officers with the same distain as elderly male stereotypes view children who play on their lawns.)

Bones is having none of it. He has a job to do and, by God, he’s going to do it. Kirk even steps in to help by quoting regulations (showing that he knows them, he just doesn’t think they apply to himself).

Crater chills out long enough for Bones to take a look and to ask if he’s the McCoy Nancy has talked about. Which is weird because you’d think his wife would have told him who was waiting for him. I guess he just happened to get there before Nancy had a chance to find him and he’s happy she had a chance to visit with company. See he enjoys the solitude but, what with her woman-ness, well, you know… (I know, personally, my womanosity requires I have constant company or my “women’s issues” flair right up.)

Bones figures the solitude hasn’t aged her at all. She’s like a girl of 25. Kirk aims for tact and misses. She’s got some greys and she’s “handsome”. How flattering. Sorry, Crater.

Crater isn’t miffed though. Suddenly he’s Mr. Manners and it’s more of a creepy change than a welcome one. He’s sure the next time they see her, she’ll be closer to a believable age. Yeah, that’s a totally normal thing to say.

One final step in his medical exam, Bones wants to see Crater’s tonsils and then they’re done. Open up, Crater. There’s no need to scream. Especially not like woman. That’s just awkward… oh shit. That’s not Crater. It’s Nancy! Better run to the rescue!

Oh dear… Nancy’s standing over a dead Ricky, screaming (why do people in the movies and on TV always do that? “They’re dead! I’m just going to stand here and scream!”). Kirk runs to Ricky and Bones runs to Nancy (watch this carefully, it’s something you’ll likely NEVER SEE AGAIN). Ricky has something in his mouth and red patches all over his face.

Kirk wants answers. One of his crewmen is dead. Think of all the paperwork.

Nancy couldn’t find Crater and was coming back. She wanted to tell Ricky that it was cool that he said she looked like a hooker. No hard feelings. But, stupid Ricky, he’d grabbed a random plant and was chowing down. Someone really should have mentioned how poisonous the plants are, this is how accidents happen.

But Bones, don’t you believe her totally believable and entirely plausible story?

Oh yeah, sure. It’s something else. He was probably just trying to remember if he left the iron plugged in. Don’t worry, he can finish the exams later.

“Or you could not and just screw off now.” Crater does love to offer helpful solutions.

“Nope. We’ve gotta sort this shit out so I don’t end up getting blamed.” and Kirk has them beamed back up to the ship.

“Don’t forget the salt!”

Back on the ship, Spock is still in charge and ruling with an iron fist (or at least checking everyones work and pointing out errors). Uhura doesn’t seem overly thrilled and just a tad Jan Brady “Frequencies! Frequencies! Frequencies!” but don’t fret, this is just how she flirts. Then moving from subtle to awkward she starts asking him to tell her she’s pretty and ask if she’s ever been in love.

Um… Uhura… he’s your commanding officer. Not one of your woman friends.

“Tell me how your planet Vulcan looks on a lazy evening when the moon is full.” (Am I the only one who wishes he’d look at her and say “Plagued by werewolves, now get back to work.”?)

Spock, being Spock, answers the only way he can. “Vulcan has no moon, Miss Uhura.”

“I’m not surprised, Mr. Spock.” Well I should bloody well hope not. You’re the communications officer on a Starfleet ship and you forgot that one of the most important races in the federation doesn’t have a moon? Really? Isn’t that a pretty basic piece of information?

Whoops… Kirk is back. Someone’s dead.

Uhura changes gears again. Pissy sass talk in 5-4-3-2-1… commence!

“Kirk could be dead and you’re not visibly upset! It’s not like you have any other friends!”

Spock sticks to his guns. It’s almost like he’s some kind of trained officer and… you know… a Vulcan.

Bones and Kirk, meanwhile, have moved to Sickbay with the dead Ricky. Spock checks in to let them know that the plant Ricky had in his mouth was similar to Earth’s own Nightshade. It’s poisonous alright but no one ever mentioned red facial splotches.  Oh and Ricky wasn’t poisoned by anything like that. (Bones should know, he is a doctor after all and not some other profession that has nothing to do with medicine. ::ahem::)

WTF, Nancy? It’s almost like you just made all of that up!

You know, now that we’re talking about it, Ricky shouldn’t even be dead! There’s not a damn thing wrong with him! Maybe he’s just goldbricking! Lazy bastard! And Nancy was hot when I first looked at her! Then she was old! Why am I talking about her again!?

Some days it doesn’t take much to set Kirk off. “That’s right! I’ve lost a man! I have a chance to be dramatic and ranty and, as God as my witness, I’ll never go hungry again… wait… no, uh, something else.”


Kirk goes back to the refuge of his Captain’s Log. It’s time for the reminder that they’re in orbit around M-113 and that a Ricky is dead.

INTERRUPTING UHURA! The Enterprise is, apparently, carrying some cargo that a starship base urgently needs. They’re wondering what the hold up is.

“Tell him to have a siesta and eat a burrito, we’ll get him his chilli peppers when I’m good and ready. Hasta la vista, baby.”

Spock’s hit a dead end with the plant. There’s nothing about it that is consistent with the Ricky’s death. Bones, however, has found something. Something that will cue the DRAMATIC MUSIC!

Down in Sickbay, he shows them. Ricky is completely salt free. Dun-Dun-DAAAAAAAAA!

But how? There isn’t a mark on his body. Except those marks. On his body.

And the Craters did seem to be a little bit too interested in getting some salt.

Well, time to head back to the planet!

Crater says something (once they’ve beamed down) that I’ve been thinking all along. “One would think that you had more important duties than harassing people, Captain.” But we all know that there is nothing more important to Kirk than harassing people and harass he shall! He’ll harass both of you. Once he’s found Nancy, who’s off on her own.

Ricky 2, go find her! And for the love of God, don’t eat anything!

Ricky 3, go beam up that plant so Spock can take a look! You don’t eat anything either!

“Remember when I told you to get the hell of my planet?”

“Yeah, yeah, we’re here to save you. Maybe. Oh and Dead Ricky died from lack of salt while you guys kept asking for salt tablets. Weird, huh?”

“Look, we need salt because it’s hot here. We’re out of salt. It’s not weird. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to sneak away!”

Crater disappears with a handful of salt tablets and finds Nancy kneeling over more dead Rickys. He has salt for her but Kirk and Bones interrupt him before he can get it to her. Good thing she has magic powers so she change shape. Presto-Change-o, instant Ricky!

“Dammit! Another dead Ricky! We have to go back to the ship!” So Kirk, Bones and Nancy/Ricky beam up.

Back on the ship the Ricky Monster spots Yeoman Rand carrying a dinner tray complete with salt. Which she sprinkling on space celery. Too bad Janice is quick. Ricky Monster tries to grab the salt but Janice is there to slap his hand. What’s the matter with you, trying to steal someone else’s food… omnomnom, Sulu’s space celery.

Ricky Monster even tries following her but Sulu’s plants are scary and he takes off running, pausing to try and sucker Uhura by speaking Swahili. Damn you, interrupting intercom!


Can I just take a second to say “God. Damn.” and also to ask why in the hell McCoy wasn’t in that black tee a whole lot more often? Because there is nothing about him in that shirt that doesn’t make me happy… ::coughinmypantscough:: The fact that he’s in bed does not help (or hinder, depending on how you look at it). As much as I could do without the weird call to Kirk (and the creepy coloured something or others he’s eating), I’ll put up with it for the little pill bottle flip.

Okay… back to the show.

On the bridge, Spock can’t find anyone on the planet and Kirk is still eating, what appears to be, children’s building blocks. He’s had enough of this fancy “searching with the ship” nonsense. It’s back down to the planet!

Elsewhere on the ship, after having failed with Rand and Uhura and then nommed another Ricky, Nancy’s found McCoy’s quarters (who’s put his uniform back on… ::sigh::). McCoy’s glad to see she’s safe, but why didn’t anyone tell him? Don’t ask silly questions. Give the lady a hug. The married lady. Right… shit.

“Forget about him. I like your feelings better. Much… stronger…” Yeah, Nance… that’s not creepy at all. “But you’re tired. You need to rest.” Subtle… “Here, let me drug you.”

Out in the hall, Rand and Sulu stumble on the recently nommed Ricky (to her credit, Janice doesn’t scream). CUE DRAMATIC MUSIC!

Captain’s Log time again and, really, some people might have been lost after that last commercial break.

McCoy is in bed and Nancy Monster is still with him, rubbing his face in a sincerely awkward and creepy way. (every time I watch this scene it weirds me out so much that I find it distracting. All I can think is “What the hell is she doing? Who does that!? Stop it, you creepy weirdo!”) Good thing she talked him in to taking those sleeping pills because the INTERRUPTING INTERCOM is up to its old tricks again.

Well we’ve got you this time. He’s asleep! So there!

Okay, now bite your finger so that when we pan away and then back to McCoy Monster, we’ll know it’s still you! Good work. Now, McCoy Monster, off to the bridge!

CAPTAIN’S LOG! Wait… wait… it almost sounds like Kirk is figuring it out. My guess is, Spock explained it on the way down. They need to find Crater to try and sort it all out.

Too bad Crater’s not in the mood for talking. He’s more in the mood for shouting. (you’ll never guess. He wants them to piss off.)

“Okay, but where’s your wife?”

“I have a gun! Get off my lawn!”

INTERRUPTING COMMUNICATOR! More dead Rickys, Sir. This time on the ship.

Spock wanders off and … what fuckery is this? HEY! IT’S THAT RICKY WE BEAMED UP WITH! I BET THAT GUY WAS THE MONSTER! Better tell the ship.

Well, back to Crater. We need to talk to hi… OH SNAP! He wasn’t kidding about the gun. Although shooting at captains won’t get them off the planet. No, no. It will only trigger THE WIGGLE RUN!!!

Back on the ship, it’s all adding up. Creepy Ricky trying to steal the salty space celery, Swahili Ricky in the hall. But wait… that’s not McCoy! It’s McCoy Monster!

Planet side it’s all wiggle run, sneaky sneaking and belly crawling. Kirk gets in a shot on stun and suddenly Crater isn’t quite so uppity. They get his phaser away from him and he starts to explain. Nancy isn’t Nancy. It’s a thing that killed Nancy… two years ago.

Wow… that’s really creepy and gross.

So for two years he knew it was pretending to be his dead wife, that it killed? Yeah. Ew.

Back on the ship the creature hasn’t gone near the salt traps. Mostly because it knows about them. It’s even giving them advice as McCoy.

Crater, on the other hand, is being far less helpful. He wants to keep his creepy fantasy.

Kirk isn’t dicking around. He wants the creature gone.

Spock suggests truth serum and Kirk goes for it. He sends him with McCoy and Crater to Sickbay. You can guess how long it takes McCoy monster to attack them both once they’re alone. Good thing Spock isn’t human.

While everyone rushes to sickbay, Nancy Monster runs back to McCoy. I guess the drugs haven’t completely worn off because Nancy telling him that everyone is trying to kill her sounds perfectly plausible to Bones. Attacking the Captain, also totally something Nancy would do… right?

Spock disagrees and tries to prove his point by REPEATEDLY PUNCHING HER IN THE HEAD but it still certainly looks like Nancy. Even after she tosses Spock across the room.

Oh wait… shit. Nancy wasn’t really in to throwing people. Actually, a lot of this seems a little out of character for her.

Whoops. Nancy, your disguise is slipping a bit.

Finally Bones breaks down and shoots her. But like the thing that wouldn’t die, she turns to plead with him not to kill her. Bones steels himself again and shoots.

Nancy is dead and all that remains is a really ugly monster that makes all of those romantic scenes seem really awkward.

Back on the bridge and Kirk is looking melancholy. Thinking about the buffalo.

And off they go… to more adventure.


Alright guys, that’s it for now. Thanks for celebrating the 45th with me. And thanks to everyone who brought us 45 years to celebrate.

Happy Anniversary, guys!


1 Response to “The Man Trap Reviewed (or Happy Anniversary, Trek)”

  1. September 25, 2011 at 1:48 am

    “Love is metaphysical gravity.” ~ R. Buckminster Fuller

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