***** (5 stars out of 5)
Just slightly too late (or early) for Thanksgiving, here's a great big whopping space-dwelling horn of plenty... plenty of DEATH!
Hunched over, alone on the wreck of his starship, sits a broken man.
"Last man aboard the ship... that's what your s'posed to do isnit?" he cries. "They say there's no devil, Jim, but there is, right out of hell, I saw it!"
William Windom as Commodore Matt Decker is terrifyingly good. If anyone ever had good reason for a mental breakdown, it's poor Decker. He tried to protect his crew by evacuating them from Constellation (his besieged vessel) to the third planet of L-370. He didn't predict, couldn't fathom (who could?) that the third planet was about to be devoured. 400 dying screams with one man to hear and one man to blame himself. Just awful to contemplate, and imagining it hinges on this guy's performance.
The foe is an extragalactic robot with an irresistible cutting beam and an impenetrable hull, which digests planets for fuel. It's on course for the most densely populated area of the Milky Way. First stop: the millions of people in the Rigel System.
I like the soundtrack. It still gets me riled up. (My slovenly and substandard research tells me Sol Kaplan wrote this. They rarely had the cash for a whole new soundtrack and they used pieces of this all year. Like a horrible giant robot slicing up worlds for turkey dinner.)
Decker takes Enterprise command from Spock. "You have the right to do so. But I would advise against it." Decker ignores all logic in a desperate but useless attack on the robot, nearly getting everybody killed... again.
"To blazes with regulations!" McCoy can't relieve Decker without doing an exam? I agree, to blazes! It's a crisis, the man's clearly over the edge, and Spock and McCoy between them can't relieve him on the force of their own judgement? Very hinky, Starfleet.
"Scotty! You just earned your pay for the week." Kirk's traditional faint praise for the engineer's miraculous revival of Constellation's weapons in the nick of time to save Enterprise.
Spock orders security to accompany Decker to sickbay: Matt boxes the poor kid's ears, literally kicks his ass, and steals a shuttlecraft.
"I'm gonna take this thing right down its throat... A commander is responsible for the lives of his crew... and for their deaths. Well, I should have died with mine."
"We're stronger with you than without you!" Jim's last attempt to reach Matt over communicator, who has switched it off and never heard it.
The explosion of the shuttle did a negligible amount of damage- but gives Kirk an idea. The fusion explosion of overloaded starship impulse engines delivers 97.835 megatonnes right to this planet killer's urpy tummy.
Will Misters Kyle and Scott fix the transporter and get Kirk out in time... sparks... smoke... countdown... hella good soudtrack... YES!
And the beast can go to blinking blue blazes!
The work done on the CGI-enhanced version of "The Doomsday Machine" is outstanding. Ten new minutes of effects footage? Yes, please! Seamlessly integrated. Stunning job, basement elves.
Of course, this was a delightful lily to gild. It's already a top-notch story, my second favourite of the season and probably third favourite of the entire series. Writer Norman Spinrad's Space Moby Dick is always gonna be exciting entertainment.