When I first saw this episode, it scared the living heck out of me. There wasn’t necessarily anything scary on the screen, it was the story and the possibilities that were being discussed that scared me. How very astute of a 12-year-old boy to think that such high concepts would scare him.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just watch the preview of this episode and you’ll see what I mean.
In just that one minute preview, you realize the terror that a machine like the Neural Neutralizer can cause.
For my money, Morgan Woodward’s guest performance as Dr. Simon Van Gelder is arguably one of the best in the entire first season. To just think of the depths of one’s talent you have to go to to play a tortured scientist who has been forced against his will to hide pertinent information, lest be subjected to great pain. For someone to have to act that out is very, very tough for any actor. I have read that Woodward had to take four days off after the filming of this episode because he probably was very drained from this. Those were well deserved days off!
I, the 1966 TV viewer, would have been very mesmerized and impressed by what I would have seen. This episode is a classic, at least as far as my standards are. Top notch television.
One other thing: during the script development for this story, Dr. Helen Noel wasn’t the one going to the planet, but one Yeoman Janice Rand was. Even your more modest fans could see that that was a bad idea. As has been noted by others, why in the world would you have a Yeoman go down to a rehabilitative colony? The production staff wisely changed it to a specialist instead. It made more sense for the overall plot.
That’s all for this week, next week, we go back to the very first episode filmed after the pilots: