Star Trek: The Animated Series: One of Our Planets Is Missing   Rewatch 
April 28, 2020 10:24 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

The Enterprise crew learns that a massive, planet-destroying cloud has entered Federation space.

Last week, I was a little overzealous with copying and pasting but, going forward, I'll point you at Memory Alpha's page for the episode and pull a couple of highlights.

Background information
Story and production
  • This episode was written by Marc Daniels, who directed many episodes of Star Trek's original series. Gene Roddenberry encouraged him to develop the idea for this episode. "I have to admit," commented Daniels, "that it was different but fun to do some writing rather than just directing." (Starlog, issue #114, p. 44) This episode was influenced by Daniels having enormous fondness for the premise of one of the episodes he directed, "The Doomsday Machine"; he liked it so much that he transferred many elements in this episode's script from that earlier plot. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Two, "The Doomsday Machine")
  • Some of the shots of Earth, shown to Spock on a computer screen as he is melding with the cloud intelligence, were taken from stock footage of the animated series Lassie's Rescue Rangers, another 1973 Filmation TV show. The scenes that came from the show feature children running with Lassie.
Poster's Log:

Foster's adaption of this episode (in Log One) adds depth in a number of places, including an emotionally distraught Wesley snapping at Kirk's empathetic "I know" when they're discussing the progress of the evacuation.

In the first three episodes of the series, we've had three returning guest characters (Sarek, Amanda, and Commodore Wesley), only one of whom is voiced by the original actor.

Lt. Arex gets his first speaking part here, after premiering silently in "Beyond the Farthest Star".

As a kid, "The Doomsday Machine" was one of my favorite episodes (and still is today, actually). You can see Daniels' love of the episode he directed in this homage, which hits most of the same dramatic points as the original while adding the sentience element. The concept of a sentient interstellar cloud threatening inhabited planets would emerge again as the basis for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

There's a real chance to learn some biology watching this. Spock and McCoy compare the cloud's mist to digestive enzymes, and I'm sure most kids watching this didn't know what villi were before viewing.

The question of killing one organism to save many comes up many times in Star Trek, most famously in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. While it's often been pointed at non-sentient things (the Doomsday robot machine or the space amoeba from "The Immunity Syndrome"), having Spock discover and demonstrate the sentience of the cloud creature added a philosophical element that wasn't often seen in children's TV.
posted by hanov3r (7 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Commodore Wesley, yeesh, Gene.

hanov3r, good work! “The Doomsday Machine” is a TOS favorite of mine as well, and I did not know about the Daniels connection. I very much appreciate your Poster’s Log here. It’s always of interest to hear someone else’s take. Well done, and thank you.
posted by mwhybark at 2:11 AM on April 29, 2020

I just knew that was Lassie.

Watched this last night for the very first time and enjoyed it quite a bit. I too always loved "Doomsday Machine" (that shit holds up, by the way), and just as there's some of it here, there's some of "OoOPIM" in VOY: "Bliss" (previously on FanFare), which is also a well-above-average episode of its series.

Some clear care was taken with the science here. The antimatter stuff was like, "yeah, that's pretty much how that would work." It's only been three episodes, but one almost wonders why this show wasn't considered canon—until one remembers that it gets pretty balls-out goofy later.

Mantilles is SUCH a Star Wars name.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:03 AM on April 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

one almost wonders why this show wasn't considered canon

It was only treated this way because one of Roddenberry's lawyers got to trying to 'fix' canon in the 80s.
posted by StarkRoads at 8:25 AM on April 29, 2020

There's a real chance to learn some biology watching this. Spock and McCoy compare the cloud's mist to digestive enzymes, and I'm sure most kids watching this didn't know what villi were before viewing.

I was one of those kids, and that's the big detail that I remember from this episode; it was cool that the creature not only used antimatter to digest what it ate but that the crew used that to help power the ship. And I find the similarity to TMP interesting as well; The Motion Picture likewise had a connection to "The Doomsday Machine" in that Matt Decker is supposedly Will Decker's father (although this is apparently not canon).
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:39 AM on April 29, 2020

As a kid I couldn't stand the Doomsday Machine, probably because I didn't like the snack Bugles. This is of course reminded me of that episode and no surprise it was the inspiration for it though a surprise there was such a direct connection.

This wasn't bad. It had me thinking of the Crystalline Entity in TNG's Silicon Avatar, where, despite the dangerous nature of the Entity, Picard and crew want to try to communicate with it but Dr. Marr kills it.
posted by juiceCake at 8:20 PM on April 30, 2020

compare the cloud's mist to digestive enzymes, and I'm sure most kids watching this didn't know what villi were before viewing.

As a side note, I learned about villi in health class in fourth grade or something, but spent years puzzled as to why a very upscale women’s clothing store nearby was named for them. It turned out to be Milli, with a very stylized negative-space first letter. Possibly the logo was created by a graphics designer who did not know about villi.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:16 AM on May 8, 2020

This was a fun episode but "One of Our Planets Is Missing" would not have passed muster as an episode title in TOS
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:24 PM on September 5, 2020

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