Roddenberry throws just about everything but the kitchen sink into this story, bogging the episode down with stray details and losing the main point in the process. It's a prime directive story, a fountain of youth story, a civil war story, and an American story all rolled into one. (And if that's not enough, the episode even throws in some faulty science, with McCoy claiming that humans are 96% water. While a popular legend, the truth is the percentage fluctuates between 50% to
A planet based story anchored by backlot location shooting, "Omega" is an oddball offering. With Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, it features the right characters. It has a nice guest star performance from Morgan Woodward as another Starfleet captain. There's even some excitement in the first few acts as Kirk fights... well, just about everyone but Spock and Bones. Yet, the story just feels off, like the story writer had one idea and the teleplay writer took it somewhere else. (And that's all the more odd for the whole thing being written solely by the show's creator). It seems like the story is about a lost colony with roots in America that still worships the Constitution but doesn't understand what it means... a nice allegory for the modern day phenomenon of celebrating the Founding Fathers and their documents but not heeding their words or understanding that their rights apply to everyone. But the colony doesn't have roots in America... or Earth, and so not only does it make no sense that they would have American artifacts, but it makes no sense for the colony to worship them. If a culture doesn't understand a document to begin with, why would it mean anything? For an episode overloaded with too many elements, it's baffling that it would leave out the most important bit. It's as if the episode is working it's way up to a Planet of the Apes or "Twilight Zone"-like twist to allow everything to fall into place, but then it runs out of time.
Interestingly, NBC had been trying to bury this story since Roddenberry first proposed it as a pilot for the series; yet Gene not only eventually pushed it through, he personally submitted his finished script for consideration for an Emmy. (It was rejected).
Unfortunately, the poor script is just the start of the problems... former Canadian football player Roy Jensen and rookie actress Irene Kelly are wooden and uninspiring as the "American" prisoners and drag the material down further. (It doesn't help that Roddenberry gives Kelly little to do but stand around and look pretty. The character's inclusion is puzzling until the last act, when you realize Roddenberry has her in this for just one If that's not enough, director Vincent McEveety, gives most of the scenes a lethargic pace to ensure insomniacs watching Star Trek at three in the morning finally get the rest they need.
Star Trek would return to the "fountain of youth" idea in TNG's second feature film, Insurrection. Meanwhile, "The Omega Glory" is never mentioned or referenced in Star Trek ever again. (In fact, the redshirt who dies near the beginning returns in "Turnabout Intruder", so maybe this one is all just a bad dream).
Remastered: Replacing the original's recycled footage from "Mirror, Mirror", the upgraded version gives us a more Earth-like planet and more fluid, dynamic shots of the ships. Unfortunately, CBS Digital doesn't touch up a phaser shot next to Spock that Nimoy treats like an explosion, though the piece of equipment it hits simply vaporizes. A few added sparks to explain how it injures Spock would have been nice.