Another good episode this one and it introduces a number of elements that would later become synonymous with the show; The Kirk/Bones/Spock triumvirate, the 'Red shirt = grisly demise' factor and the polystyrene boulder-laden alien landscape to name but three.
If you were being ultra-picky I guess you could fault this episode for failing to address the change in certain personnel between WNMHGB and this installment, but frankly, I was too busy taking in Bones McCoy's first appearance. I don't think it was necessarily the case that the previous Doctor (in the aforementioned previous episode) was badly acted, simply that he was 1) given too little to do, and 2) lacked anykind of charisma, certainly when contrasted with the likes of Kirk and Spock. With MCoy, suddenly we have someone who can quite easily hold his own against either of them. The triumvirate became an integral element of the show, an element that helped make it the success it was. Crucial to that fact was there being no weak links between them. With Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley, that clearly wasn't going to be the case. Trek for me has always excelled when they've got the character dynamics right; TNG had great dynamics going for it, with the inter-personal relationships of the seven principal castmembers criss-crossing every which way you looked. D$9 likewise had an absolute myriad of dynamics; whether it be Sisko/Dax, Odo/Kira, Odo/Quark, Jake/Nog, Dax/Worf, Bashir/Dax, Bashir/O'Brien, Garak/Bashir. More than you could shake a stick at, but beyond that there was also the peripheral cast worked into the mix. D$9 could really be described as the natural conclusion to those Treks that had gone before it, the group dynamic was something that had been honed over the previous incarnations, going all the way back to and being started by the Kirk/Spock/McCoy triumvirate in TOS. It works and works marvellously well.
The episode itself, is one that's been done many times since, but few if any better than this original. What better way of introducing a new character than by giving him such a large part to play. Kirk's at his daring best, and when he's running and rolling up and down, down there on the planet's surface you get the impression that the corset's not yet in place, and it's this version of Kirk that people would choose if they had to remember him at his best. I guess the story itself, by today's standards could be described as a little simplistic, but it's still effective. Even though the outcome is never really in doubt, the journey between A and B is still interesting, introducing some of the supporting characters such as Sulu and Rand.
concept-wise it's not as good as WNMHGB, but it's still a decent enough story, and together with the aforementioned episode, they provide a solid platform for the series to move forward from.
One thing that leaps out at me with this series is the 48/49 minute running time. I've become so used to the pared down 42/43 minutes that we are granted nowadays that the extra few minutes seem to make the episodes stretch for an eternity :lol:
Whilst this was never one of my favourite episodes I think it does have a number of interesting aspects. Firstly, totally agree with you James about Bones and his introduction. It's funny that you mention the lack of transition in characters between WNMHGB to The Man Trap because I don't even recall The Corbomite Maneuver (their spelling, not mine!), which was really the next episode, doing anything in that regard, either. And, because this was the 6th episode produced, the Kirk/Spock/McCoy relationship has already had three episodes worth of development invested in it, which helps out greatly here but means that those episodes that were shot prior to this can appear a little strange.
The other striking aspect of this episode is how obviously the attitudes of Roddenberry and the writers changed as the series progressed. I always remember GR criticising Harve Bennett and Nick Meyer for allowing Kirk to shoot the Ceti Alpha eel that wriggled out of Chekov's ear in TWOK. He was quite adamant that Kirk would not do such a thing. Yet the attitude of the crew here is to shoot the salt vampire first and ask questions later. Crater is at pains to point out that it is the last of its kind, like the buffalo he alludes to, yet at no point do Kirk and co consider that the creature may be intelligent. In fact it is only the creature itself, posing as McCoy, that suggests they should feed it salt willingly - to which Crater adds that it is only a danger when it is hungry. After that, it is not until the final scene, where Kirk ponders on the fate of the buffalo, that anything of the sort is mentioned again.
In a lot of ways this episode is more character development than action-fest, and is therefore quite slow and deliberate. Luckily this gives the main crewmembers, including the oft overlooked Uhura and Sulu, a fair share of screen time. And it is easy to forget Janice Rand, seeing as she was hurriedly moved on after only a dozen or so episodes once the producers decided that Kirk should have the run of the women and not be tied to just one. It also gives Kirk and McCoy the chance to have their first disagreement, and for them to show the bond between them by apologising and moving on, all of which is very well played. Shatner is excellent again, and Kelley and Nimoy give him able support.
And I have to say they have done an excellent job with the image: it's crisp, colour saturation is first rate and the level of detail on show is quite amazing for a show that is nearly 40 years old. The sound has been well treated too, even if the new Dolby Digital mix only amounts to the occasional whoosh as the Enterprise flies by (which I actually find quite disconcerting seeing as I'm used to the damn thing being in mono :lol: ).
So a decent episode - not great but by no means bad. Finally, LOL at Kirk's evasive run from polystyrene boulder to polystyrene boulder - I wonder where they got the idea for that scene in Galaxy Quest from... :unsure: :lol:
Had to laugh when I was watching this last night, when Kirk and McCoy go looking for the other two crew members, shouting out Green's name. Use your communicators you fools :rolleyes: :lol:
Another absolutely blinding job on the remastering for the HD-DVD, so much so that I really enjoyed the episode, which was never one of my favourites :thumbsup: