Arena – Episode 19

This week, Rachel and Chris watch Kirk battle for his life, and the life of his crew against a LIZARD MAN in the Arena!

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Special thanks to Chad Fifer for our theme tune,  Greig Johnson for his vocal stylings and Kevin Macleod for his song ‘Jaunty Gumption“!

Next episode: Tomorrow is Yesterday!

10 thoughts on “Arena – Episode 19”

  1. Ya can’t trust everything Starfleet claims. Why does an “observation outpost” have a stockpile of those nuclear blue balls? I suspect the instalation was an intentional incursion into non Federation space. They have probably been testing Gorn defences for some time before triggering a retaliation.

    Although the gunpowder plot element is contrived and technically inaccurate, I bet it inspired some kids to learn more about chemistry.

    You’ll see the tricorder screen up close in “The Guardian of Forever”.

    The Metrons have a Ropes Course planet!
    Team building excercise number one: build a space cannon.

  2. Not much to say that you didn’t…I always liked this episode and I still do. Not surprised they got tinnitus…those explosions were really close! (Had they been real warheads, Kirk would have been shredded, but that’s not unique to ST…most movies and TV shows vastly underestimate weapon effects on fragile humans.)

    I had forgotten how ridiculously slow the Gorn was…in the sun, any reptile should have been faster!

    As to the unlikliness of finding and mixing the gunpowder ingredients, the planet was said to have “all the ingredients for weapons”q, so I assume the Metrons left properly concentrated minerals easily found. It wasn’t a natural setting, it was a prepared arena.

    And in answer to the question about how you poop sitting next to someone…that’s what basic training is for. No privacy and high pressure to get things done and learn new things breaks down your usual inhibitions. You don’t have time to be embarrassed, you realize that everyone else is in the same fix…and well…. you have to poop! It becomes something everyone just studiously ignores. Lots of talk about other things (sports, especially) keeps your minds off the fact that there are a dozen people pooping in the same room. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been in the military. (It’s interesting to realize that most of the actors had been in. Nimoy, Doohan(look up his war history!), Kelley, Leonard (you have not met Sarek yet, Rachel) and Gene Roddenberry were all veterans. Sometimes it shows, sometimes it doesn’t!)

  3. James Blish serialized the Star Trek series for Bantam Books. In this episode, he did list the ingredients for gunpowder, and I wrote them down and shared them with a neighbor friend who in turn had his parents get them from the drug store (early 1970s). We must have been about 10 or 11 when we (unsupervised)mixed them together. It’s crude, but it does work. Since gunpowder requires pressure to utilize the percussive force of expanding gasses, we didn’t do too much harm. What we got was a dark olive drab powder that when lit made crazy flash fizzles, and wild smoke, and was quite serviceable for burning our initials into many surfaces… including concrete.

  4. There are a few people we’ve come across before returning in this episode:

    Navigator Lieutenant DePaul is played by Sean Kenney, last seen beeping away as Christopher Pike in ‘The Menagerie’

    The voice of the Metron is Vic Perrin, best known as the Control Voice from The Outer Limits (“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission.”)

    And finally the fabulous chuckling Gorn is voiced by Ted Cassidy, aka Lurch from the Addams Family, Ruk from ‘What are Little Girls Made Of?’ and the voice of Balok.

    Personally, I’m quite impressed that the Metrons didn’t smite Kirk for his inability to pronounce ‘Metron’. I’m pretty sure he’d be launching photon torpedoes if someone kept calling him Captain Kork.

  5. After listening to this episode, I became convinced that the results of this show, rather than just Rachel getting into Star Trek, was going to be complete turn-around. Rachel gets into Star Trek and becomes obsessed with Spirk fan fiction, and Chris realizes that he actually doesn’t like the show, which isn’t nearly as good as he remembers it.

    Seriously, I guess I am just a bit more obsessive than Chris and some of the other listeners. Many seem to be experiencing the “it wasn’t as good as I remembered it” thing, but I’ve seen the show so many times over so many years that my feelings about each episode are pretty set.

    I watched it over and over in syndication as a kid and teen, then much later bought some of my favorite episodes on VHS. When the three restored DVD season box sets came out, I got them all and watched every episode again. Then about 6 years back when I was getting my youngest daughter into Star Trek (as you do, if you are a good nerd father), I watched 60% of them again.

    Only 60% because the second I showed her the DVD of the first Star Trek reboot film she was never interested in watching another TOS episode. The combination of modern visuals and Chris Pine was just too powerful, I guess.

  6. This another of my favorite episodes so I don’t have that much critical to say about it. Effects and sets fall a bit short, but were actually pretty cool for the time period and budget. I’ve always loved the Gorn costume, lifeless as it may seem today.

    Although I agree that Kirk’s production of gunpowder isn’t very realistic, I also feel that Theron is right that since this arena has been prepared, Hunger Games style, by a third party with the specific aim of giving Kirk a chance against the much more physically powerful Gorn, we can excuse the too convenient availability and suitability of the materials Kirk uses to create his make-shift bazooka.

    And you can’t help but enjoy any episode that has such great Kirk athletics in it. I particularly love the one where something blows up near him (probably giving him tinnitus right at that moment) and he sort of comes up short and hangs in mid-stride for a moment, then flops sideways to the ground and scrambles to cover.

    I found it interesting that Chris criticized the editing of the show, because it was a contrast to the way that it has always struck me. TV shows and movies across the board generally had a slower pacing in the 60’s than one would expect today, so I can see that from a modern perspective one might want to tighten things up. However, to me, this has always been one of those TV episodes that come along every now and then that seems larger than just a TV show episode.

    It starts with a exciting battle on the planet, then presents a tense space chase sequence, next comes the showdown between Kirk and the Gorn captain and finally a face to face between Kirk and a higher being. Epic.

    Or maybe I just like bad pacing…

  7. Around 25 years ago, I attended a panel of Next Generation writers at ComicCon. One of them told us that he’d pitched a story about the Gorn coming back, in force, looking for revenge against the Federation. According to his story, Paramount agreed, but with a few small changes:

    1) There couldn’t be a war, and conflict would be averted when the Enterprise crew realized the problem was caused by a simple misunderstanding, probably due to a mistranslation.

    2) They couldn’t use the Gorn.

    And that killed the story.

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