Star Trek

Season 3 Episode 6

Spectre of the Gun

7
Aired Unknown Oct 25, 1968 on NBC
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7.6
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  • Kirk and company find themselves set up to die in a gunfight.

    8.0
    Featuring a guest cast of Western actors, this take on the "gunfight at the O,K. Corral" is sort of like first season's "Arena" in different clothing. A rare example of budget cuts working for a show rather than against it, the producers take a Gene Coon script meant for a Western backlot and improve upon it by using a sparse studio set instead to create a more surreal, Twilight Zone-like quality. (It's probably the greatest use of the planet stage set in the series). The result? A Star Trek Western that feels simultaneously Star Trekish and Western at a time when Westerns were still riding high.



    Helmed by veteran Star Trek director Vincent McEveety, the episode employs tight shots, rapid zooms, and Dutch tilts in lieu of the standard photography as the story runs in circles, making the episode more about the style than the substance. (Heck, the script doesn't even make sense. After something the crew thinks should work doesn't work, Spock deduces that things only work if they think they should work, which, as a certain robot would say, seems like a non sequitur). For Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelly, as well as Koenig and Doohan in their supporting roles, it must feel like an experimental theatre where inspiration and imagination take the place of structure and form. Yet each scene is a joy nonetheless, with the minimalist sets shifting the emphasis onto the actors (including guest stars Rex Holman and Sam Gilman who give chilling performances as Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday) and a literal ticking clock counting down to the episode's climax.



    Jerry Fielding, who composed the music for "The Trouble With Tribbles", gives Star Trek another unique score, most notably including a demented, barroom piano rendition of "Buffalo Gals", an old minstrel song from the 19th Century.



    In the end, it all adds up to one of Star Trek's weirdest episodes, and that's saying a lot!



    TNG does its own Western in its sixth season called "A Fistful of Datas", but the series actually comes closer to the atmosphere of "Spectre" in its second season episode "The Royale".



    Remastered Version: The changes here are as vanilla as they come with redone shots of the Enterprise and the planet of the week (originally just a reuse of material from "Amok Time"). There's also a space buoy that's redone, though CBS Digital uses the same design as the original.

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