"The Lights of Zetar," Ep. 73 - Strange-colored light entities take possession of Lt. Mira Romaine, Scotty's new love. If Kirk can't exorcise these Zetarians, they'll kill Romaine and the U.S.S. Enterprise crew. " The Cloud Minders," Ep. 74 - Suspicious Troglytes, subservient miners on the planet Ardana, refuse to give zenite to Kirk and his crew. Without this antidote, billions will die on a Federation planet.
"The Lights of Zetar"
A planetoid called Alpha Memory is chosen to become the Federation's official library, and Lieutenant Mira Romaine (Jan Shutan), charged with transferring records to the site's computers, is en route to that destination aboard the Enterprise
. Along the way, she acquires a new beau in the adoring Scotty (James Doohan), and big trouble when the collective consciousness of the Zetars, a lost and disembodied race, attack the Alpha Memory project and take possession of her and her voice. Not surprisingly, the story was written by someone who knew a lot about projecting personalities and voices into hapless third parties: puppeteer Shari Lewis and her husband Jeremy Torcher, both big fans of Star Trek
. Typical of the original series' troubles with ever-shrinking budgets, the Zetar entities are represented as mere colored lights, an adequate effect improved immensely by the scary-dramatic context in which they appear and by a good vocal performance by Barbara Babcock (lately of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
) as the merged creatures. Shutan is just fine as the comely librarian, and Doohan is great in his impassioned-Scotty mode.
"The Cloud Minders"
All the signs that Star Trek was creatively strained late in its third season (following the departures of key creative personnel and the absence of Gene Roddenberry's full attention) can be seen in "The Cloud Minders." David Gerrold, author of the hugely popular "The Trouble with Tribbles," conceived an almost Dickensian story about the exploitation of miners, called Troglytes, on the planet Ardana, and the way Troglyte labor enriches the lives of an aristocracy that literally lives in the sky, above the fray. Third-season producer Fred Freiberger wanted fewer ideas and more action, and he had another writer deeply revise Gerrold's notion that Captain Kirk (William Shatner) should broker positive change on behalf of the have-nots. The finished production finds Kirk more irritated than anything that a domestic problem is slowing his mission to retrieve zienite, a medicinal mineral. Meanwhile, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) uncharacteristically sniffs around an Ardanian cutie who flirts with him, and a ridiculous torture-the-space-babe scene belongs in a midnight movie from the 1950s. "The Cloud Minders" is like a junk-food snack: chunky in its organization and cheesy in its production values. --Tom Keogh