>Retro TV Round-Up: Star Trek

>“The Tholian Web”

When I did my countdown of the ten best episodes of Star Trek a few years ago, “The Tholian Web” kicked-off the list in a tie for the tenth spot.

Yes, I like this episode, a lot.

It’s interesting that of the best regarded episodes in classic Trek‘s run, many of them are ship-in-a-bottle episodes. A lot of this comes down to the fact that without a strange new world to explore and create, the scripts had time to build and examine the characters. And no where is that more true than “The Tholian Web,” which is a showcase for the Spock/McCoy conflict in a way few other episodes are.

The two have bickered in the past and we saw them butt heads in “The Paradise Syndrome.” But here with Kirk gone and apparently dead, the conflict reaches a full boil. How much of it can be chalked up to the region of space messing with their heads as it drives much of the rest of the crew into madness or stress is up to interpretation. One particular scene stands out with McCoy grabbing the captain’s chair and spinning Spock to face him in a fit on anger. It’s far more compelling that the debates in “Paradise.”

Even given the budget cuts of the third season, “The Tholian Web” looks good. The new space-suits are among the most effective of any genre show out there and the Tholian’s web is visually stunning, even before they remastered it. Watching the remastered release, I found myself equally happy and displeased with some of the effects showing the Tholian ships creating their famous web. Updating the Tholian ships was nice, but some of the camera angles we got were a bit off-putting. The digital team seems to be far too obsessed with a shot of the Enterprise from behind the nacelles for my liking…it just keeps cropping up and it doesn’t always look that great. It’s trying to replicate the oft-used shot from the original effects, but it never quite looks right.

If you fast forward to about two minutes into this comparison video, you can see what I mean:

The rest of the episode looks good with a new look for the Defiant in all its sparkly green glory. And I’m still not sure why they didn’t up the Tholians a bit since they only appear on the view-screen. We can put in an eyelid for the Gorn so it can blink.

A well done, effective piece of Trek, “The Tholian Web” alone makes the third-season worthwhile. Even if we do have to later suffer through “The Way to Eden.”


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