Star Trek: Season 1, Episode 27

The Alternative Factor (30 Mar. 1967)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
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While investigating and scanning an uncharted planet, the Enterprise and its quadrant of space are subjected to a violent force that seems to cause a 'blinking out' of everything near them.... See full summary »



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Title: The Alternative Factor (30 Mar 1967)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Janet MacLachlan ...
Charlene Masters
Richard Derr ...
Commodore Barstow
Arch Whiting ...
Assistant Engineer
Christian Patrick ...
Transporter Chief
Eddie Paskey ...


While investigating and scanning an uncharted planet, the Enterprise and its quadrant of space are subjected to a violent force that seems to cause a 'blinking out' of everything near them. When the scanners resume, where once there was no life on the planet, now there is one life sign. Kirk, Spock and a security force beam down to investigate and find a man named Lazarus who collapses and is brought aboard the Enterprise for treatment. To complicate things further, the initial phenomenon almost totally drained their dilithium crystals. Starfleet and Kirk suspect this phenomenon could be a prelude to invasion. While interrogating Lazarus he tells Kirk that he's locked in a struggle with another being who is 'anti life' and is behind the phenomenon. The disruptions continue to occur and the ship's situation grows worse. Written by tomtrekp

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

30 March 1967 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Lazarus manipulates several components in a "high voltage" access tray in order to create an overload, and eventually steal several dilithium crystals. These objects are simply dual banana plugs often used by electronics technicians. See more »


In the second sickbay scene, when Lazarus is on the bed, the amount and shape of the blood around Lazarus' mouth changes in each shot, alternately getting larger, then smaller, then larger, then smaller again, all within the space of less than two minutes. See more »


Lazarus: He'll kill us all if you don't kill him first! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!
See more »


Referenced in Weird Science: Magnifico Dad (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

A bit of a klunker.
15 June 2009 | by (The San Francisco Bay Area) – See all my reviews

According to "Star Trek; the Inside Story" by Solow and Justman (the two original producers of the Star Trek series) there were some contractual issues with the actor who was supposed to play the guest lead, and thus this caused some scheduling issues which cascaded into other areas of production.

Result; this episode.

Well, what can a guy say about an installment that was supposed to be the crown jewel of Trek, but wound up being a bucket of swill? An "A" for effort... err... maybe.

Things that I spotted; there's an exterior shot showing Kirk and Spock leading a search team, but the actors are their stunt doubles, and not Shatner and Nimoy. The lead character seems prone to injury, and the science fiction in this episode is more fiction than science.

I'll say this, the reason I tend to prefer classic 1960's Trek to the TNG+ era, is because the first season of TOS Trek is psychological; the second season is sociological, while the third season is more interpersonal (with all its flaws). This episode really strove to be a true science-fiction story, and not some encoded amalgam conveying a comment on contemporary society.

No, this episode really wanted to post the question of sacrifice to save two realms of existence. As stated earlier, director Gerd Oswald wanted the son of a famous actor who had star power (the name escapes me). Said actor was drunk and didn't show up for the shoot. SAG threw the book at the actor for breaking his contract, and torpedoing what could've been an interesting, and a true first pure sci-fi masterpiece for this very memorable series.

But, blaming the guest star for all the foibles isn't fair. Truth is the writing was a little weak in this episode. Without a psychological formula to rely on this episode was truly trying to break new ground. But, because the author(s) did not know enough about the science they were dealing with, and only the philosophical dilemma of what they wanted to pose for the audience, the story falls flat.

Even so, it's still fun to see our favorites run around on the screen to save the Federation (and everyone else in this case) from a fate worse than death.

Not a sterling installment. Watch only in passing... if at all.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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