Star Trek - The Original Series, Vol. 27, Episodes 53 & 54: The Ultimate Computer/ The Omega Glory
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Kirk reluctantly agrees to play along with a Federation test of a new supercomputer, designed by the brilliant Dr. Daystrom (William Marshall, the booming baritone stage actor most famous for Blacula) to run a starship almost single-handedly. It does its job too well, locking the human crew out of ship operations and using deadly force during the Federation war games. Spock and McCoy continue their now-legendary banter about man versus machine while Kirk muses over the obsolescence of his own command. Marshall is excellent as a former-boy-wonder genius banking his reputation on this breakthrough, treating his creation like a son. That's not too far from the truth: designed after his brain pattern, this thinking, reasoning, learning machine carries with it the insecurities and desperation of its creator. The fears of the emerging digital revolution explored in The Ultimate Computer in 1968 remain today: what is the fate of man in the face of technological efficiency? Films from 2001: A Space Odyssey and Colossus: The Forbin Project to Demon Seed and The Matrix have echoed these themes, and this Trek episode--primitive special effects, zero-budget sets, and all--stands up to them quite nicely. --Sean Axmaker
"The Omega Glory"
What is it with Starfleet captains? So many of them become wildly grandiose. Witness "The Omega Glory," in which another starship commander, Ronald Tracey (Morgan Woodward), tramples the Prime Directive by interfering in a long-running conflict between primitive societies, in this case the Yangs and Kohms of planet Omega IV. Siding with the Kohms, Tracey creates an imbalance of power that Kirk works to adjust by arming the Yangs proportionately. The script by series creator Gene Roddenberry is one of his not-so-subtle allegories for the state of the world in the 1960s, specifically our own cold war between nuclear superpowers. So bluntly drawn is Roddenberry's parallel between Omega IV and 20th-century Earth that this is one of the few Star Trek episodes that risks becoming completely absurd after a point. William Shatner (Captain Kirk) takes the biggest risk of all with a passionate, lengthy speech of the sort pranksters like comic actor Kevin Dunn are wont to imitate today. But the fact is that Shatner pulls off such chancy material very well, and certainly does so here. --Tom Keogh
Top Customer Reviews
Over thirty years after it was first aired, The Ultimate Computer remains a thought provoking and relevant episode. The theme of man vs. machine is more with us today than ever before. D. C. Fontata's excellent script is helped by superior television directing from John Meredyth Lucas. The distinguished stage actor William Marshall's performance as Dr. Richard Daystrom is rich in foreshadowing the high-strung scientist's impending breakdown. (Primarily based on the strength of that performance, nearly every Trek incarnation since has referenced Richard Daystrom, and in The Next Generation, there's even a Daystrom Institute.) Barry Russo makes a brief but noteworthy appearance as Commodore Robert Wesley (Wesley was Gene Roddenberry's middle name). Finally, James Doohan outdoes himself by playing THREE roles here: Scotty (of course), the voice of Commodore Enwright, and the voice of the M-5 Computer.
The Omega Glory was one of three scripts written for the second Trek pilot, following NBC's rejection of The Cage (the other two were Mudd's Women and Where No Man Has Gone Before). Though this was the first script written making use of the parallel worlds concept, by the time it was filmed, the idea had been used so many times before (Miri, Bread & Circuses, Patterns of Force) that it was becoming stale. As in Patterns of Force, the parallels are so obviously drawn that they're not convincing.
There are a few clever visual touches here: In The Ultimate Computer, four Constitution Class starships are shown by creating a split screen effect.Read more ›
If your not expecting bells and whistles, as might be expected, you will be disappointed. However, if you just want to collect Trek, you will be pleased.
"The Omega Glory" puts the crew on a "parallel Earth" in which the "Yangs" are servants to the "Comms". It is later revealed that the "Comms" are "Communists' & the "Yangs" are "Yankees". This episode contains many surprises after this....despite how incredible and far fetched they may be.
When the war games begin, not only does the Enterprise react faster than the other ships, but the M-5 has shields and weapons set to maximum. The M-5 has malfunctioned. It's taken complete control of the Enterprise and doesn't see this as a game. The enterprise destroys one starship and heavily damages one or two of the others.
Dr Daystrom, - "lecturing to fools, who don't even begin to understand my systems; lessor minds and competitors, building, on my work" - a mad genius it turns out, whose own 'brain engrams' have been used in the creation of the computer, tries to talk the M-5 into disconnecting itself. The talk almost sounds as if it is a man in conversation with his child or even with himself, "this unit must survive", M-5 insists.
Kirk asks M-5 to scan the starship Excelsior and Hood. The M-5 reports there are no life-signs aboard. 'You have murdered', Kirk proclaims, and both the M-5 and Dr Daystrom have a mini-breakdown giving the crew a chance to disconnect the faulty computer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Star trek great series. Buy the complete set unless you are like me filling in a partial set.Published 7 months ago by Michael D Yust
It's Star Trek, what else needs to be said. It's one of my favorites. There are two shows on each disc.Published on February 8, 2014 by Saturday mechanic
The DVD arrived quickly and was absolutely new. It was still shrink wrapped and it played great on my player despite the fact that
these DVD's were first manufactured back in... Read more
If you are deciding which volumes to keep, this one only just falls under the "nice to have but dispensable" category which is a pity because the first episode, "The Ultimate... Read morePublished on December 16, 2006 by Frederick Baptist
Even though the original "Trek" is showing its age and the effects weren't digital. I think they are still fun to watch. Read morePublished on November 10, 2006 by Tom A. Young
These two episodes share the theme of great genius gone wrong. In "Computer", Kirk struggles to free the Enterprise from the grip of a computer that's become self-aware. Read morePublished on August 12, 2005 by Rottenberg's rotten book review
The Ultimate Computer
Approaching a Starfleet space station, the Enterprise receives orders to test a new computer system. Read more
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