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"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
Star Trek had grown remarkably flaccid during its third season, the result of the production crew realizing that their diminished budget and weak new time slot had already all but... Read morePublished on August 1, 2002 by Bruce Rux