Star Trek: Season 2, Episode 24

The Ultimate Computer (8 Mar. 1968)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
8.0
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Reviews: 13 user | 3 critic

Kirk and a sub-skeleton crew are ordered to test out an advanced artificially intelligent control system that could potentially render them all redundant.

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Title: The Ultimate Computer (08 Mar 1968)

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Scott / M-5 / Starbase Officer
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Sean Morgan ...
Barry Russo ...
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Storyline

Kirk is none too impressed when he's told that the Enterprise is to compete in simulated war games but under the control of a new computer. The M-5 computer is the latest invention of the brilliant Dr. Richard Daystrom, who is confidant that his unit can not only take control of the starship but do a better job than humans can. In its first simulated encounter, the Enterprise under M-5's control easily defeats two other starships. Soon, however, it begins to act independently of its human masters, tapping directly into the warp engines for its power and erecting a force field to protect itself. Daystrom has little interest in disconnecting the M-5 and treats it more like an errant child than a machine. For Kirk and the few crew members still aboard, it becomes a matter of life and death when Starfleet Command orders the Enterprise destroyed. Written by garykmcd

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8 March 1968 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

In his 1999 essay "Welcome Aboard the Enterprise," science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer writes, "...the ship's computers, as seen in "The Ultimate Computer," were designed by a Nobel-prize-winning black cyberneticist, played with equal dignity by William Marshall. During the era of Martin Luther King and the Watts Riots, it was a powerful, important statement to have the white captain of the Enterprise deferring to black people; as Marshall observed thirty years later, the single most significant thing about his guest-starring role was that he, an African-American, was referred to as "Sir" throughout the episode." See more »

Goofs

As Kirk, Spock and McCoy ride the turbolift to engineering, Spock observes that it is unfortunate no computer can replace a starship surgeon. As they exit the turbolift, McCoy replies "Very funny" but his mouth is not moving. See more »

Quotes

Captain James T. Kirk: Am I afraid of losing command to a computer? Daystrom was right. I can do a lot of other things. Am I afraid of losing the prestige and the power that goes with being a starship captain? Is that why I'm fighting it? Am I that petty?
Dr. McCoy: Jim, if you have the awareness to ask yourself that question, you don't need me to answer it for you. Why don't you ask James T. Kirk? He's a pretty honest guy.
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Connections

Referenced in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Field Mice (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

Finally, a counterpart for William Shatner
31 March 2006 | by (Goleta, CA) – See all my reviews

William Marshall (Daystrom) overacts with as much vigor as Shatner in this episode. Long impassioned monologues that leave me rolling on the floor laughing.

As usual, the writers didn't miss out on the chance for relevant social commentary. Back then, computers were so expensive, only corporations owned them. And it wasn't just the misinformed who gave computers more respect than they were due. Artificial Intelligence researchers believed that they would soon be matching human reasoning. Such power in the hands of a few was of course a frightening prospect.

Daystrom's best moments are at 29 and 42 minutes on the DVD.


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