REVIEW: “By Any Other Name” (Star Trek: Remastered edition)

Star Trek (Remastered): “By Any Other Name”
Remastered Episode #60 (3/8/2008)
Original Episode #50 (2/23/1968)

Planetscape“By Any Other Name” is the episode that started it all. For me, anyway. In the late 1970s, when I was two or three years old, I watched Star Trek in reruns all the time with my older brother. Though I’m sure there were others before it, this is the first specific episode that I can remember watching.

Of course, the Star Trek: Remastered version of “By Any Other Name” isn’t exactly the same as the one I watched as a kid. CBS Digital has revamped all of the visual effects with CGI, added a new matte painting of an alien landscape, and thoroughly improved the overall picture quality. A member of the Star Trek: Remastered team sent me a couple of screenshots on Thursday. Since I did not have a preview article in the works, I decided to save them for this review. Click on each picture to see larger versions.

The Enterprise responds to a distress signal that turns out to be bait. The technologically advanced Kelvans of the Andromeda galaxy want to use the ship to get back to their own galaxy to report that ours is ready to be conquered. Andromeda will be rendered uninhabitable over the next couple of thousand years and the Kelvan scout ship was damaged beyond repair breaking the barrier that surrounds the galaxy (the one the Enterprise managed to traverse in “Where No Man Has Gone Before”). Though the journey to Andromeda would take the Enterprise over a thousand years in normal circumstances, the Kelvans plan to modify her to allow her to arrive in only three hundred.

To assist them in the use of the Enterprise, the Kelvans – who normally are large beings with a hundred independent tentacles – have assumed human form. In fact, they appear to be “perfect human lifeforms” that exhibit textbook responses. Dating all the way back to “The Cage,” this is always an indication of trouble to follow on Star Trek.

The new matte painting (above), which is beautiful yet not too distracting from the overall 1968 feel of the scene, appears only for a few seconds early on. It features a large moon reflected in a beautiful lake. It would have been a nice enhancement to show the Enterprise pass this moon from space while leaving orbit of the planet. CGI renderings of the Enterprise are extremely realistic throughout this episode, though, so I can easily forgive them. Perhaps the moon was on the other side of the planet from where they broke orbit.

Unless you are a Vulcan, hijacking the Enterprise is normally a difficult undertaking. It helps when, like the Kelvans, you have power belts that can temporarily paralyze humans or turn them into small, tetrahedral blocks. Yeoman Leslie Thompson (Julie Cobb) is one of the first turned into a block. A human can be restored from this state as long as the block remains intact. Fortunately, the Kelvans spare us any further bad acting from Cobb by crushing her block into dust. The transformation and crushing of the block is actually the reason I so vividly recall this episode from back then, as it truly scared the two-year old version of me.

Since it did not happen often due to the episodic nature of the series, I always love when one Star Trek episode specifically references another. When the Kelvans tell Kirk about the barrier surrounding the galaxy, he remarks dryly, “Yes, I know. We’ve been there.” The Kelvans apparently reinforce the Enterprise in some way, though, as the destructive and ESP enhancement properties of the barrier do not come into play this time. Kirk later references an escape ploy used by Spock on Eminiar VII in “A Taste of Armageddon” and Spock tries it again.

AndromedaAs the Enterprise embarks on the three hundred year journey, the Kelvans reduce all of the crew to blocks except Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scott, all considered essential personnel. The supposedly mentally superior Kelvans make the mistake of hijacking Kirk’s ship but still allowing him free roam of it.

All-in-all, “By Any Other Name” is one of those average but enjoyable episodes of Star Trek. The remastered version looks incredible and is definitely worth checking out.

Dramatic Content: 5 (out of 10)
Effects Upgrades: 9
Overall Experience: 5

Images are copyright, © 1968, 2008 by CBS Studios and Paramount Pictures. Star Trek is a registered trademark of CBS Studios Inc. All rights reserved.