“The Doomsday Machine” (October 20th 1967) was the sixth episode of season two of “Star Trek” (1966-1969). It features a huge planet-eating machine that is headed straight towards the heart of Federation space.
Our story: It is Stardate 4202.1 (AD 2267). Answering a distress call, the Enterprise finds the Constellation, a sister ship, in the L-374 system. Two planets are missing. The Constellation is badly damaged with only the captain, Commodore Matt Decker, on board:
Kirk: Matt, where’s your crew?
Decker: On the third planet.
Kirk: There is no third planet.
Decker: Don’t you think I know that? There was, but not anymore!
Decker informs them:
They say there’s no devil, Jim, but there is. Right out of hell, I saw it!
They soon see too: a giant windsock dipped in concrete. The money for special effects was running low, so Spock makes up for it by informing us that it is made of solid neutronium, that inside is an unknown mechanism. With two planets gone and seven more missing from nearby L-370, it is clearly dangerous.
Spock says that given its course it came from another galaxy. Kirk thinks it is a doomsday machine: a weapon so powerful that it is never meant to be used. But this one was, in a war uncounted years ago and now is on the loose.
Spock wants to get out of there to warn Star Fleet. Decker wants to turn and do battle. Kirk and Scotty want to get the Constellation working.
Kirk leaves Spock in command of the Enterprise. Decker pulls rank on Spock to take command and fights the planet killer. When Kirk finds out he puts Spock back in command. Decker is sent to sick bay under armed guard. Down the hall Decker fights off the guard and takes a shuttlecraft. He heads straight for the planet killer, overcome by guilt at the death of his 400 crewmen.
Decker does not die in vain: it shows the planet killer’s hidden weakness, something that all evil machines have. If they set the Constellation’s engines to blow up inside, it might destroy it.
Of course this requires Kirk to remain on the Constellation till the last possible minute: the auto-destruct button is given a delay of only 30 seconds. Just then their crappy transporters start acting up too.
The Constellation destroys the unknown mechanism inside the planet killer. Kirk makes it back to the ship alive to draw the parallels with the H-bombs of 20th century Earth.
The show was shot in five days in June 1967. It was written by the then-unknown science fiction writer Norman Spinrad. He wanted to apply the Moby Dick story to “Star Trek”.
This is one of the few episodes that had music made for it – which was later used for other episodes. It sounds like the music later used in “Jaws” (1975).
In this episode Spock informs us that, “Vulcans never bluff.”
McCoy tells us, “I’m a doctor, not a mechanic.”
Uhura was off duty.