Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 1

The Man Trap

Aired Unknown Sep 08, 1966 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (17)

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out of 10
293 votes
  • Dr. McCoy's got the hots for an old acquaintance who might not be who he thinks.

    Kicking off Star Trek with a horror episode, "The Man Trap" (which is really a misnomer since it also proves to be a woman trap) is more boring than frightening with its languid pacing and emphasis of guest stars over the regulars. By all accounts, writer George Johnson really wanted Star Trek to succeed and worked hard on the script, and he does deserve credit for developing one of the franchise's key plots: the crew beams down to a planet, discovers a threat and tries to deal with it. We even get our first televised "extra" deaths on the planet, though they don't know yet they're supposed to be wearing red shirts! But the construction of the plot is clunky, with Johnson seemingly unable to make up his mind as to exactly what kind of creature this is. Early scenes emphasize its ability to appear differently to different people, with Kirk even including the notion in his log. (How he knows this is a mystery, especially since Kirk and McCoy see essentially the same woman and the other crewman involved has no chance to describe his vision). Later, the creature continues to shape-shift, but its appearance seems be consistent to everyone. It's not technically an inconsistency; there's nothing to say the creature can't assume the same shape in everyone's eyes. But why spend so much time early in the go showing an ability that will be dropped and not factor into the plot?

    Guest stars Alfred Ryder and Jeanne Bal do the script no favors. If ever an episode needed a sexy actress to help us through the dreariness and lack of action, this one is it; as is, Ryder and Bal and capable but nothing special.

    All in all, this is Star Trek still trying to figure out what it is and stumbling a bit. You certainly won't see this one in a marathon of best episodes, but it also won't be laughed about as one of the show's worst episodes. It's a bit of an odd choice to be the first piece of Star Trek to make the air.

    Remastered Edition: Since the original version of "The Man Trap" includes only basic special effects, and, with few bridge scenes, doesn't even include anything of interest on the view screen, the remastered edition's only notable changes are the Enterprise flybys coming out of commercial break. Appropriately, the new version keeps the same (standard) angles and (like the original) doesn't let the flybys call attention to themselves - with the exception of one artistic shot from above the ship late in the episode.

  • okforlatenight

    Not good first impression
  • This exciting "monster" episode has some real problems in the credulity department, perhaps the result of too many people fiddling with the story.

    A salt-hungry "vampyre" stalks the Enterprise, able to change shape and assume alternate identities.

    There are things that are fun in this episode, shape-shifters lend a lot of possiblities. My favorite part is that there could be a recreational "Ripley's Pleasure Planet" in the 23rd century - I like those rugged human details in a 1960s TV series. Kirk really ribs McCoy, I kind of enjoy the interaction there.

    What bugs me a LOT, and other people seem to forget, is that the alien is impossibly characterized. I have read that some people say that this is an episode that shows the inhumanity of the "Star Trek" universe - killing a being that is the "last of its kind". That would have some weight if the alien here was an "innocent" life form. But it doesn't come out in the wash. First of all, there is no hope for a creature that has no breeding partners. But most importantly, this is a being able to assume any identity, and that also can mimic any human's thought patterns to carry out its deceptions. Does this highly intelligent and capable life form just explain the situation and ask for salt to live on? No, it decides to stalk and kill the very people it needs to ultimately survive. Unlikely, incredibly unlikely. The only real conclusion is that the alien is insane, full of ability and thought - but stupidly homicidal.

    I tend to believe that there was a good science fiction story underlying this episode, but that there was some pressure to make a "horrifying monster" - and so the story suffered as a result of that.
  • Unbeknown to anyone, an old flame of Dr. McCoy's has been taken over by a form-shifting creature that feeds on salt, sucking it out of its victims. A reasonable start to a classic series...

    As is well known, although this was the first 'Star Trek' episode to air in the U.S., it was actually the sixth episode to be filmed (not including original pilot 'The Cage'). Various theories have been presented over the years as to why this episode was picked to air first; personally I think that original second pilot 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' would have made a better premiere episode. That said, I still really like 'The Man Trap'; it is a mostly exciting story with an interesting creature. Some fans don't like this episode, and while there are a couple of flaws, I for one really enjoy it.

    The 'salt vampire', as it is sometimes dubbed, is an interesting creature; I like the twist of how it appears different to every person, and it has a good costume for its true appearance. As some other reviewers have commented, its treatment is many a bit suspect compared with the handling of other unknown creatures in various other episodes, but I can't say it overly bothered me.

    The episode also gives some good character development, most notably for Bones, but also with botanist Sulu, and a nice scene with Uhura trying to make conversation with Spock. (The character emphasis of the episode is one of the various suggested reasons that the episode was picked to air first).

    There are a few things that let the episode down very slightly (in particular, Sulu's plant, which is quite clearly just a hand puppet), but all-in-all there is enough going on in this episode to make it a very fair entry. There would be much better episodes later on, but for the selected first outing, it's not too bad at all.
  • Between "Bones" and "Plum" Dr. McCoy could use some more virile nicknames.

    Die hard fans ripped this one apart, and I heard somewhere that Leonard Nimoy decried it as the first of the "monster episodes" and how that wasn't what they'd wanted for Star Trek to be. However, this episode has too much fun stuff in it for me to give it a poor rating. Most notably, in our household this was one of the most "quoted" episodes as far as cheesy-fantastic lines. There's ditzy Janice Rand's glib take on Green to Sulu, "Do you think he's space happy?" and Kirk's smirking and scoffing McCoy's reaction to his old flame, right in front of the apparent husband, "No offense...she's a handsome woman...but hardly twenty-five." Then there's Spock, belting the incarnate Nancy back and forth across the face, "If she were Nancy, could she take this?!" and McCoy watching in mild puzzlement. It really seems like he's about to say, "Well, Spock, Nancy always was a tough ol' broad..."

    Other highlights include Kirk screaming like a girl when the creature closes in on him, and the deliciously hideous monster itself, when in its true form.

    All in all, it's full of goofs and question marks, but I rate it a "good" for pure entertainment value.
  • Mccoy, Spock, Kirk, an ex-lover of Mccoy's, and a alien that can change forms and needs salt are a deadly combination find out why in this episode.

    I really liked this episode. When Bones, Spock, and Kirk beam down to a planet to talk with the scientist. They find him and his wife Nancy. Nancy is seen by everyone as something different. Nancy was seen as a old women to Kirk. The same to Bones as the last time he had seen her. She was seen as a young women to the crew member. We find out when they beam to ship that the creature posing as Nancy can take the form of anything, from a crewman to a horrible monster. We find out in all truth that Nancy in reality is not alive. The monster attacks the Captain and Spock and McCoy is forced to kill it. We find out it has to have salt to survive. This was a very good episode and a very sad episode.
  • The first episode aired with the original Star Trek crew as we know them....

    The first Star Trek episode to be aired with the original crew as we know them (Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc.), "The Man Trap" is also one of the best episodes of the original Star Trek TV series.

    A very character oriented plot, "The Man Trap" opens with Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, and another member of the landing party beaming down to a planet where they are to deliver supplies to a scientific post. There is a catch however; the wife of the scientist was once seriously involved in a romantic relationship with Dr. McCoy. But when Enterprise crew members begin to die with unusual markings on their faces and having no salt left in their bodies, the mission ends up being a "whodunit" rather than a simple delivery.

    "The Man Trap" is a very intriguing episode that features some striking acting from William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and especially DeForest Kelley. All three actors give a particularly human treatment of their characters, an action that is especially praiseworthy considering "The Man Trap" was an early episode of the series (the first to be aired but not made) and it would have made sense that neither actor would be 100% comfortable in their roles at this point in the series. But Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley all give fantastic performances in "The Man Trap," proof that they were born to play Kirk, Spock, and McCoy respectively.
  • Routine checkup on a planet. Men missing, found dead with salt depletion, mystery thickens ... mysterious girl ... husband hiding something. Shapeshifting monster!?!?

    I found this to be a fairly good episode. Excellent backdrop and scenery to represent the unihabited planet. The mysterious girl and her husband so alone there. I liked how the whole episode was a mystery and how the power of a woman made Dr.McCoy almost turn on everybody. The creature in the episode actually looks quite creepy and definately isnt something that I would want lurking around my house. One part of the episode at the beginning when the men from the Enterprise are alone in the room with Nancy makes no sense how they can all see a different girl without seeing what the others are seeing. All in all ... not the best but not the worst either.
  • When Kirk and his lnding party beam down to the Planet M113.They encounter what seems to be a alien that can illude into diffrent woman.

    The Enterprise arrives at planet M-113 to provide supplies and routine medical exams to Doctor Robert Crater and his wife, Nancy, whom Dr. Leonard McCoy was once romantically involved with. M-113 has been home to the Craters for five years, during which time they have conducted an archeological survey of the planet's ruins. They are the only known inhabitants of the planet. Kirk, McCoy, and crewman Darnell beam down to the planet and meet Dr. Crater and, apparently, Nancy Crater, but each of the landing party sees a different woman. McCoy, who says he is amazed at how little Nancy has changed since he last saw her, sees Nancy as he knew her 12 years ago. Darnell sees a completely different, younger blonde woman who looks exactly like someone he met before. Kirk sees a woman similar to the woman McCoy sees, but more appropriately aged. At the end of the first scene, crewman Darnell is lured away by the seductive version of Nancy Crater that he sees. Dr. Crater then arrives. Crater tells Kirk that the only thing they need are salt tablets. Otherwise, they want to be left alone. Kirk debates this, insisting they must need other supplies and must at least allow McCoy to give them physicals. During the physical, a woman's scream is heard from outside. When Kirk goes to investigate, he finds Darnell dead, with Nancy standing over him. His body scarred with suction-cup-shaped marks. Nancy claims she saw him put a poisonous plant in his mouth. Kirk and McCoy and the dead crewman beam back up. When the transporter room reports that one of the party is dead, Spock, who is in command, merely responds, "Acknowledged," causing Uhura to express wonder that Spock did not even ask who among the party had died. Aboard the Enterprise, McCoy and Spock determine that Darnell was not poisoned, and in fact nothing is wrong with him at all. Later, McCoy discovers that Darnell's body has been drained of salt. Kirk, McCoy and two crewmen beam back down to the planet to investigate further, and Kirk insists that Dr. Crater and his wife beam up to the Enterprise until the investigation is complete. Abruptly Dr. Crater runs off to find Nancy. Sturgeon, one of the crewmen who beamed down with Kirk and McCoy, is found dead. The other, Green, is also killed by Nancy and then we see Nancy transform into Green. Kirk and McCoy question Nancy/Green, and then the three beam up to the Enterprise. The woman Kirk and McCoy saw as Nancy Crater, and later Green, is a shape-shifting creature, the last survivor of M-113, and can literally appear as a different being to each person "she" meets. By reaching into their minds and drawing on their memories, the creature can lull her potential victims into a false sense of security, and apparently hypnotize them, before killing them. The problem facing the M-113 creature is the need for sodium chloride -- salt. Its home planet is running out of salt, and without it, the creature will die. But it just so happens that the Enterprise crew has a supply of it: Themselves. The rest of its race died due to this shortage, and this final survivor formed a symbiotic relationship with Professor Crater. Crater provided the M-113 creature with the needed salt and, in turn, the creature gave the professor companionship... something Crater craved since the creature murdered his wife, the real Nancy Crater, for her salt. Enterprise, the M-113 creature begins killing members of the crew, first by posing as someone they know and trust, and then draining their bodies of salt. Finally, the creature kills Crater and changes into Nancy Crater, nearly killing McCoy. Kirk and Spock, who have figured out the creature's secret, rush to the doctor's quarters and convince him that this is not the real Nancy. In an emotionally painful move, McCoy kills the creature, saving himself and the U.S.S. Enterprise crew.The episode was the first to air...this episode was pretty good so i have to give this a 8.6 thanks for reading my review!
  • It seems McCoy's old flame has a nasty salt addiction

    I'm terribly sorry to bring the rating down on this episode, but I thought it was rather weak. And I'm even more surprised that NBC chose this episode to air first. Rumor has it was because their was an creepy looking alien involved which made it simpler for an uninformed audience to identify with. I did not buy how long it took McCoy to figure out the salt vampire was not his Nancy. That really could have been done a lot better. In fact, just about any other scenario would have worked. The salt vampire did look successfully creepy, though.
  • Kirk takes no guff from anyone

    The Enterprise goes to a planet to do a routine annual medical check-up on a husband and wife team. After crewmen start to die, the husband and wife become suspects.

    After autopsies are performed, it's learned the men died of sudden salt depletion. In each case, the men have small red circles on their faces. The husband tries to write it off as the results of ingesting a poisonous plant. Kirk is hardly convinced.

    It turns out the "wife" is actually a chameleon-like creature that needs salt to survive. It killed the actual wife a couple years prior. The creature as limited telepathic abilites and can assume forms it knows pleases its victims. Spock as some awesome fighting swings, though futile. Kirk puts McCoy in his place a few times. And, true to the series format, SEVERAL new crewmen die.
  • Great episode.

    I really liked this episode. It was an episode that showed how different a person can look to other people. Nancy was seen as a old women to Kirk. The same to Bones. She was seen as a young women to the crew member. It built the characters. It was even good with the mistakes. It was very said that the crew men died. They should have known something was wrong when the plant hated it. I didn't quite understand why it needed salt. I did like the scene where the doctor is giving his medical report (while Bones is actually asleep in qurters).
  • McCoy runs into an old love on a strange planet.

    This is a personal favorite and a must see for McCoy fans. He runs into a woman who he loved many years ago, but she turns out to not be who he really knows. It is a very interesting story that I love to watch. The monster itself is really cool because it literally sucks the salt out of people's bodies and can also transform into any person it wants to. A well acted episode that probably falls into my top ten favorites. It may not be as famous as Mirror, Mirror but it is still worth a watch. Recommended!!
  • The Enterprise must first discover the true identity of the chameleon enemy and then destroy "the last of its kind."

    Things are not always as they seem, especially in the Star Trek universe. This episode is a "classic" in the sense that it explores the familiar themes of hidden identity and a desperate struggle for existence. The material, however, does not adequate justice to the theme in this case which brings this episode to a little below average. Is McCoy so blinded by what appears to be his former flame that he ignores Captain Kirk's order to destroy the shape-shifting creature, and then hesitates to kill the creature after having Spock tell him to do so and having seen the real identity of the creature? This action seems highly unlikely. It also seems logical to have at least some mention of this after the fact (McCoy's subordination), but the episode ends with all smiles on the bridge.
  • Star Trek's first "monster of the week"

    Probably chosen by NBC as the first episode to air because it supplied a "monster of the week", just as ABC had dictated for "The Outer Limits". Many of the earliest episodes broadcast can be seen to fall into this formula.

    Apparently, the Salt Vampire doesn't actually change physical form, as it is sometimes seen differently by different people at the same time. Rather, it projects a "mental screen" that changes what others THINK they see, and can project different illusions simultaneously.

    It's a surprisingly cold Uhura who dismisses the "crewman"'s advances with a sarcastic, "So naturally when I think of someone, I think of YOU!" Quite understandable that this line is often cut for syndication.

    The main problem, though, is that no one in the story stops to consider that the 'Salt Vampire' is a fully sentient being. Granted, it (or "she", as it does display distinctly feminine features when finally revealed in its true form) has been ruthlessly killing people, but it is alien to humanoid morality, after all. She is capable of more civilized, fully human behavior, as she did live for years as wife to Dr. Crater; but she is ultimately treated as nothing more than a "monster", to be simply KILLED without so much as a legal trial.

    Apart from this, pretty good.
  • The beginning of something beautiful... and a fairly good episode too.

    The Enterprise is sent on a routine medical check-up on Planet M-113 for the only 2 inhabitants of the ruined planet, Robert and Nancy Crater. All is not what it seems however, Nancy Crater (an old partner of Dr. McCoy) turns out to be a salt-dependant creature that can take the form of anything it desires in order to gain trust from other creatures before extracting all the salt form their body if necessary. As it’s only natural, Nancy kills a crewman and assumes his form to gain access to the Enterprise, sparking an investigation onboard when several other crew members are found dead.

    The Man Trap is a decent story that lies in a typical sci-fi frame set that at times, does hinder the episode as we don’t really know much of the characters yet to care that much for them. The episode is for the most part, slowly paced and shows near to nothing in terms of character development. Now this isn’t always a bad thing, sometimes it works, but not for a series opener. There just isn’t enough for the viewer to work with yet. Luckily enough however, performances by the cast are terrific and we even get to see Kirk perform a very futuristic form of running that should get laughs no matter what the audience. Most notable is the performance by DeForest Kelly whom plays Dr. McCoy: When watching this episode I did in fact feel like this was Nancy Crater in a McCoy suit rather than McCoy playing Nancy, even if it did rely a little too heavily on ‘biting the finger to show that it’s the salt monster’. Yes, we’re not that dumb.

    The salt monster costume itself is actually pretty well designed and although obviously looks pretty fake in 2006, 40 years ago must have looked amazing. The final action scene I felt could have been directed a little better as it was awfully slow and contradictory to the actual events that were happening. The ending scene itself where McCoy must choose between his captain and his former lover was however, performed fairy well and gave a little more depth to the three characters of Kirk, McCoy and Spock.

    Overall, The Man trap is en episode that serves well on its own but certainly not as a series opener. With great acting, decent effects and a fairly good plot that keeps you watching until the end, TMT certainly paves the way for future adventures of the Starship Enterprise and its crew.

  • The first one audiences saw, strictly campy fun!

    I think as a 7 year old kid growing up in the 70s these was "da bomb". Looking back on it's just plain campy fun. I think it makes sense that NBC used this one first. It doesn't have a huge moral issues or controversial subject matter. It's just a monster that can change shape and sucks salt out of people. Spock has to stop it from killing the Captain. Great Shatner under attack acting!!! What fun!!!
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