Written by: John D.F. Black
Direct by: Marc Daniels
While filmed as the sixth episode in The Original Series, “The Naked Time” aired fourth, after “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and before “Enemy Within”. This episode is one of the more famous ones, especially with the Polywater Intoxication arc noted by Memory Alpha. For those who don’t know, this episode has a bit of a sequel during the first season of The Next Generation in an episode entitled “The Naked Now”. In fact, it was only the second episode made and aired for the series, providing a very early connection to the classic show in the franchise.
The episode primarily focuses on the main cast with the addition of two minor characters, one of which dies in the episode. Bruce Hyde (Riley) is a fun character who comes in out of nowhere and really steals the show, along with Sulu. Both characters are fun, exciting takes on the side effects of the polywater. Stewart Moss’ Tormolen is a tragic character, being the whole casualty for the Enterprise crew. With Bones, Scotty, and Uhura never getting infected, despite Bones working on Tormolen and with Nurse Chapel, those characters are the only ones grounded and without them, the ship would be doomed.
I’ll say it right now, I do not like how Spock and Chapel are handled in this episode. With Majel Barrett no longer Number One (as she was in “The Cage”), she finally gets some screen time in her new role and is reduced to a school girl running after her crush. It’s awkward and just doesn’t work for me. Additionally, Spock goes over the edge far too fast. I know people in the episode are affected after different amounts of time but you’d think the half-Vulcan could control himself better.
Overall, it’s a fun episode that allows some of the main characters to act very differently which can be fun for the actors. The whole premise for the episode only happens because Tormolen, a veteran office (since Kirk specifically notes he “keeps signing on”), takes off his hazard glove to scratch his face. It’s a silly reason to doom the crew. I will also say that the time warp the ship enters at the end of the episode feels tacked on and doesn’t seem to actually do anything to move the story along. So they go back 72 hours, what does that do? Tormolen is still dead, right? The people on the planet are still dead. The only saving grace is that this time warp is based on a formula and seems to heavily resemble the concept used in Star Trek IV: The Voyager Home.
In the end, this is an iconic episode due to scenes like Sulu fencing with no shirt and it’s connection to The Next Generation episode “The Naked Time”. If not for those two things, it would be a fairly forgettable episode.