An Alternative Opinion
BRB | Midwest City, OK USA | 10/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Being an ORIGINAL trekkie (I care not for johnnie-come-lately Trekkors who have no clue what this series meant in '66), I have strong memories of watching Kirk and Spock every week. When the reruns began to be aired locally (some years after the rest of the country, apparently), I got to see stuff I did not remember. The Alternative Factor became my personal favorite because of the struggles: 1. Kirk and Spock not understanding the nature of the situation 2. Lazarus dealing with his opposite self's actions after they swap universes 3. Stopping anihilation successfully.
The state of budgets and special effects somewhat hurt the visual storytelling, but the rest of the show I find heroic in a very classical sense. I was always blown away by the magnitude of the sacrifice of the rational Lasarus, and Kirk's words at the end chill me even today. Maybe having a friend who looked like, and whose intellect was on the order of Spock's, gives me a different perspective toward this tale. I always felt like Kirk to his Spock, but without a ship to command (Boy, did we need one). Hey, If networks today would pay attention to what Gene and the guys were up to, we'd have shows like...like...like...Enterprise today. Hey, we do! Trek Lives! Long Live Treckkiedom!
This is story telling at it's peak, galactic in scope, human at it's heart, and gut wrenching in it's conclusion. They don't come better than this, even with bigger budgets. This is the stuff that inspires kids to be great achievers, and grown-ups to think about why we do what we do. Great stuff, if you pay attention."
From heighths to the depths
David Bonesteel | Fresno, CA United States | 03/30/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This disc roller-coasters from one of Trek's best episodes to one of its worst. "Arena," in which Kirk faces off against a powerful reptilian enemy, has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. The full-body monster suit is really high quality and holds up well even today. The frequent Trek moral about how we can all get along if we take the time to listen to each other gets one of its earliest expressions. Even the frankly ridiculous manner in which Kirk assembles his weapon doesn't detract from the fun of this episode.
"The Alternative Factor," however, is pretty bad. It has a promising opening as cosmological disruptions on a galactic scale lead Starfleet to evacuate a whole area of space and leave the crisis in the hands of Kirk and crew. The payoff, however, is distinctly underwhelming. This episode is a confused mess with some of Trek's worst visual effects."
Where Do Gorns Come From
James A. Altman | Stanley, WI United States | 10/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although Gene Coon was forced to concede his idea for "Arena" may have come from elsewhere, I recently discovered the origins were not Fredric Brown, but Clifford Simak. In the thirteenth through the fifteenth chapters of "Cosmic Engineers," written years before Brown's short story, we find the protagonist's ship stopped dead in space by a mysterious force and our heroes forced to wage hand to hand combat with a couple of erect, sentient reptilians known as "Hellhounds," who are out to destroy the universe by a means not unlike the plot of "Alternative Factor." Who knows when Gene Coon read the Cosmic Engineers, but he was probably innocent of plagarizing Brown. Despite the cheesy effects, these two episodes are pure science fiction in the best of the genre, adapted, not plagarized from one of my all-time favorite SF writers, Clifford D. Simak, not Fredric Brown."