Star Trek – The Alternative Factor

★★1/2 March 30, 1967 Season 1 Episode 27

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog. 

This show was written by Don Ingalls and Gene Roddenberry

Only two more episodes after this and we are done with the first season! I’ll write up a Season 1 review for next weekend and we will tackle the 2nd season after that.

Ok…this is one of the unpopular episodes of Star Trek. It’s not one of the better ones but I find it interesting…but saying that…it’s hard to get a handle on exactly what is going on. This is the first episode where even Spock has more questions in his answers than answers. The funny thing is…the next episode coming up is maybe the best in the entire series. 

Star Trek – The Alternative Factor | Archive Television Musings

Robert Brown does a good job of performing the rather maniacal Lazarus…an interesting biblical allusion, but a bit difficult to interpret the meaning given the character. The cinematography and the script impose limitations that inhibit dramatic development.

The known universe is, apparently, about to be destroyed by a malevolent humanoid from a parallel universe of antimatter. If antimatter meets matter…the results will be catastrophic. Lazarus has been chasing this being for years to exact revenge for the destruction of his world. The Enterprise crew is stymied and confused (as well as us the viewers), until the identity of the would-be destroyer is revealed.

In closing… this is some hard-core science fiction with a wonderful mystery setup. The script hints at the possibility of an invasion from the antimatter universe and/or the destruction of all existence due to the collision of both. The execution, however, leaves much to be desired. It could have been so much better…maybe in a movie format or with a much better script. 

In other words…you will do better seeing this episode than reading about it. That doesn’t mean everything will make sense…at the end of the episode I saw what was going on but it’s like describing a train wreck getting to that point. 


This is the first time that live two-way communication with Starfleet Command is depicted. In previous episodes, communication with Starfleet Command was through delayed radio messages.

John Drew Barrymore (Drew’s dad) was originally cast as Lazarus, but failed to show up for shooting and had to be replaced by Robert Brown, causing the episode to go two days over schedule. Star Trek’s producers subsequently filed and won a grievance with the Screen Actors Guild, which suspended Barrymore’s SAG membership for 6 months.

Along with Star Trek: Friday’s Child (1967), this is one of the only two episodes where outdoor planet scenes were filmed both on Desilu Stage 10 and on location (both times at Vasquez Rocks). Originally, all planet-side scenes were scheduled to be filmed on location, but due to the turmoil during production, director Gerd Oswald couldn’t finish shooting at Vasquez. Matt Jefferies and the art department prepared a spot on Stage 10 which could accomodate the missing “alternate universe” sequence.


At the 50th anniversary “Star Trek” convention in Las Vegas in August 2016, fans voted this the ninth worst episode of the “Star Trek” franchise.

Depending on which version of this episode you watch, the closing stills change. The original syndicated version and the VHS version show the still as the Enterprise leaving the Earth-like planet from Star Trek: Miri (1966). However, the Sci-fi Channel and DVD version show the still as just a blue planet, possibly Rigel 12 from Star Trek: Mudd’s Women (1966) or Starbase 11 from Star Trek: Court Martial (1967).


Actor Eddie Paskey appeared in 59 episodes of the original Star Trek series, 50 of them playing Lt. Leslie – a character name that came from William Shatner himself inserting the first name of his eldest daughter Leslie Carol Shatner into the show – but only in ‘The Alternative Factor’ does Eddie’s role as Lt. Leslie ever appear in closing credits, and when it does – in contrast to the spelling by which it has become widely known and accepted – it is spelled ‘Lesley’. Also, this was the second episode in which Leslie was seen in the command chair.


James Doohan and George Takei do not appear in this episode. For unknown reasons, Scotty and Sulu were substituted in the roles of engineer and helmsman by Charlene Masters and Mr. Leslie, respectively.


The visual of the iron-silica planet from orbit is reused footage previously representing Alfa 177 in Star Trek: The Enemy Within (1966) and M-113 in Star Trek: The Man Trap (1966). This planet effect was reused again as Argus X in Star Trek: Obsession (1967) and Ardana in Star Trek: The Cloud Minders (1969).


When Lazarus sabotages the Engineering Panel to create an overload, and eventually steal several dilithium crystals, the electrical plugs he switches around are actually Dual Binding Post Plugs (banana plugs), very common when this show was made in the 1960s and still in use in 2021.


A still image in the closing credits of Star Trek: The Squire of Gothos (1967) shows the corridor between universes set unaltered by the effects and double exposure. Titled at a 45 degree angle, William Shatner stands ankle deep in smoke in a near pose of the crucifixion, falling back into a purple corridor, where an orange line draws the horizon to a vanishing point.


Although this episode isn’t the best of the series, it does serve as the springboard for other plot lines concerning parallel or alternative universes as well as time travel. These subjects would be expanded upon through the original series seasons as well as in sequel television and film productions.



While mapping the uninhabited planet below, the Enterprise – indeed the entire galaxy – is affected by a powerful force after which a single human, Lazarus, is found on the planet. He claims to be after an evil creature who destroyed his entire civilization, but Spock can identify no other creature on the planet. Lazarus is in fact a time traveler who has been battling an alternate version of himself from an alternate universe. When Lazarus’ opponent steals the ship’s dilithium crystals, solving the mystery becomes a matter of life and death for Kirk and the crew.


William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
Robert Brown … Lazarus
DeForest Kelley … Doctor Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
Janet MacLachlan … Lt. Charlene Masters
Nichelle Nichols … Lieutenant Nyota Uhura
Richard Derr … Barstow
Arch Whiting … Assistant Engineer
Christian Patrick … Transporter Chief
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie
Bill Blackburn … Lieutenant Hadley (uncredited)
Vince Cadiente … Security Guard (uncredited)
Bill Catching … Anti-Matter Lazarus Being #2 (uncredited)
Frank da Vinci … Crewman (uncredited)
Carey Foster … Enterprise crewmember (uncredited)
Tom Lupo … Security Guard (uncredited)
Ron Veto … Security Guard (uncredited)
Al Wyatt Sr. … Anti-Matter Lazarus Being #1 (uncredited)


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

22 thoughts on “Star Trek – The Alternative Factor”

      1. LOL…it’s going to be a different kind of season…that is for sure. This year my team (both) will have to scratch and claw for runs.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The idea was great…it was the limited time to explain…it needed to be a movie or a two parter to set it up more…the ending was fine…it was getting there that I had a problem with. But…I do still like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Interesting about Barrymore. I don’t know much more about him than his name and one of his descendents is Drew. I liked Robert Brown in Here Comes the Bride and recognized him right away from it. He’s got a great voice. I liked the premise of the episode but do think there were problems with how they depicted the other dimension.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John Barrymore… he dad was called the greatest actor…not to mention his brother Lionel..
      I loved the plot of this and I like the episode but the script wasn’t to the point enough for me. Tomorrow completely different story!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No that was Frank Morgan…the reason I know this? Remember Life On Mars? At the end the detective that knew Sam…his name was Frank Morgan…they used that on purpose.


  2. I believe this may be the first Star Trek episode that only received a two-and-half-star rating from you, Max? I guess it comes with the territory of reviewing entire seasons.

    On a more upbeat note, I would say the occasional not-so-stellar episode helps make us realize how great many of the other episodes are! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it is…and it’s a damn shame because…the idea is GREAT! Great science fiction…they just didn’t have a good enough script to pull it off

      Liked by 1 person

  3. If every episode receives a Stellar Five Star (bad wordplay/pun- sorry!) then someone ain’t being critical. There have to be the occasional clunker or two, but even so it is ahead of its time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yea I agree…this one was frustrating because I loved the story…they just didn’t execute it well…but I still watch it. On this one…the second viewing is better for me because I knew what was going on

      Liked by 1 person

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