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Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: The Original Series—Volume #32 (1968)

"The storm's already lasted four hours longer than we've anticipated. Do you suppose our landing party could be in any danger?"
- Sulu (George Takei)

Review By: Jesse Shanks   
Published: May 04, 2002

Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Kathryn Hays, Alan Bergman
Other Stars: James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett
Director: John Erman, Herb Wallerstein

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:40m:23s
Release Date: August 28, 2001
UPC: 097366003240
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+B+A+ C-

DVD Review

To see all Star Trek: The Original Series reviews, click here.

"If my death is to have any meaning... at least tell me what I'm dying for!" - Kirk

The Empath
Stardate: 5121.0
Original Airdate: December 6, 1968
Directed by: John Erman

The Empath is one of those episodes that is reminiscent of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. Ordered to evacuate a research station located on the second planet Minarian star system where Star Fleet is monitoring the nova phase of the star, the landing party of Kirk, Spock and McCoy find the station deserted and in disarray. While viewing a record tape of the station personnel disappearing, a high pitch noise sounds and the three disappear themselves.

They awaken in a darkened, undefined space that Spock's tricorder determines to be beneath the surface and picks up a humanoid reading; they search until they find what appears to be a young woman asleep on a table (Kathryn Hays). When she awakens, Kirk tries to speak to her but she doesn't reply. McCoy determines that she lacks vocal cords and cannot speak. He decides to call her "Gem," telling Spock that "it is better than hey you."

Suddenly two ugly aliens calling themselves Vians appear and preemptorily order the Enterprise officers not to interfere with them. The Vians trap them in a force field and perform some observations about the condition of the woman. As suddenly as they appeared, the Vians disappear. When the girl again awakens, she touches Kirk's forehead where he had received a cut. The cut transfers to her forehead and then is gone. McCoy observes that the wound is completely healed and deduces that she is an empath, stating, "Her nervous system is so sensitive, highly responsive, that she can actually feel our emotional and physical reactions. They become part her."

Spock's tricorder finds what appears to be a laboratory of sorts and the aliens begin to conduct strange experiments on the landing party, as they apparently had done with the members of the research team. Kirk and his men must determine what the mystery of the alien experimentation is about and find a way to save themselves and the woman.

John Erman brings a definite different style to the direction of the epidsode that makes this one of the most stylistically unique in the series. Erman has had a very successful career in television, directing episodes of many of the top series of the 1960s and moving on to television movies and mini-series such as Roots, Green Eyes with Paul Winfield, A Streetcar Named Desire with Ann-Margaret and The Sunshine Boys with Woody Allen and Peter Falk.

Hays is a very expressive actress and brings another unique quality to the episode with her intense, silent performance. The music score is also particularly different for a Star Trek episode.

The Empath gets three Enterprises for its stylish production and unique qualities.

"Captain, we're registering very curious readings from all sensors." - Spock

The Tholian Web
Stardate: 5693.2
Original Air Date: November 15, 1968
Directed by: Herb Wallerstein

Moving along through space, the Enterprise encounters strange power drains and sensor readings. Suddenly, they come across what appears to be a starship floating in space despite the fact the sensors say it is not there. Kirk recognizes the ship as the Defiant. When there is no response to a hail, Kirk takes Spock, Chekhov and McCoy over the strangely derelict-looking ship. This is one of the few episodes where they put on elaborate silver suits when they beam over. Upon arriving on the bridge of the Defiant, they find that the entire crew has killed each other.

When they detect that somehow the ship seems to be dissolving around them, Kirk orders the away team back to the Enterprise. But the strange spatial distortions are wreaking havoc with the transporter and Scotty can only beam back three of the group on the first try. Spock volunteers to stay but Kirk orders him to go (although Chekhov's staying behind would seem to be the prudent choice) and remains behind. The three safely transport back to the Enterprise, but before they can retrieve Kirk... the Defiant disappears!

On the Defian, Chekhov had experienced some dizziness and McCoy finds that the cause of the other crew killing each other was the influence of the spatial disruption. He tells Spock that they must leave soon to avoid the same mass insanity occurring on the Enterprise. Spock, in command, determines that the Defiant has somehow shifted into a different universe and it will be possible to rescue Kirk when they two universes overlap again.

The two are at each other tooth and nail for the whole episode. McCoy does go a bit past believability in his direct lambasting of Spock for every little thing. Just when things can't seem to get any worse, aliens called Tholians show up and order the Enterprise to leave this area of space. Spock bargains for time to save the Captain, but the arrival of the alien ships has disturbed the delicate balance of the fabric of space. When the Tholians open fire on the Enterprise, Spock has no choice but to return fire and disable them.

As they wait for the next interphase of the universes, another Tholian vessel arrives and begins to create a web of energy beams designed to trap the Earth vessel. Many in the crew are losing it and most have given up hope that the Captain is still alive.

Spock must contend with declaring his best friend dead, an increasingly cranky McCoy, a crew going insane and aliens determined to trap and destroy them. Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.

This one is quite good and gets three and a half Enterprises for intense Spock-McCoy confrontation.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The Empath looks beautiful and the crisp transfer shows it off well. The Tholian Web takes place almost entirely on the Enterprise and it is lovely to marvel at the fine detail of the set design.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Empath has an eerie sound design that comes across nicely in the Dolby 5.1 Digital sound. The Tholian Web is another episode in which the enhanced sound brings out the best in the subtle sound desing of this series.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: We get the usual slender information booklet and the original trailers. And... well, there isn't any more.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Two good episodes that would appeal to fans of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. There is good character interaction in both shows and each is stylishly written and directed.


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