#7 Prop: “Task Monitors”

Periodically, we see a small portable device about the size of a telephone answering machine that is seen sitting on a tabletop or is sometimes being carried around by crewmembers.  This device is so non-descript, it’s never been given a name – not even in non-dialog script commentary.  Star Trek prop aficionados have been calling these things “Task Monitors” which seems an innocuous enough term.

Edit: Actually, although folks have been calling these things “Task Monitors,” it’s not correct that these things have had no mention in Star Trek scripts.  In this contraption’s first apperaance in “Mudd’s Women,” the script has the following comment:

INT. CONFERENCE ROOM – ANGLE ON RECORDER

The recorder light on, a hand adjusting it as we hear:

     KIRK’S VOICE

…on star date thirteen twenty-
nine point two… on board the
U.S.S. Enterprise in compliance
with Article Nine, the Uniform
Code of Interplanetary Justice.
Mister Spock–

So this device, at least in “Mudd’s Women” was a “Recorder” meant to record the official procedings against Harcourt Fenton Mudd (alias Leo Walsh). 
 
The first time we see one of these Task Monitors is in “Mudd’s Women.”  It’s on the table in front of Mr. Scott during a meeting with Harry Mudd and his “cargo” of women.  Since it sits there relatively inertly, perhaps it is monitoring or recording the meeting somehow—which is, I suppose, how the name for this prop developed. [See above.]  Here’s a shot from “Mudd’s Women:”

The next time we see the Task Monitor is in “The Man Trap.”  It sits in front of Captain Kirk during a meeting with his senior staff and Professor Crater.  It seems to be performing the same function as in “Mudd’s Women:” monitoring or recording the meeting—but who knows for sure, of course.

At any rate, here’s my Task Monitor prop replica:

It’s not much to look at, really: just a black box, red edging, silver wheel controls, yellowish buttons, and a light.  This is elegant 23rd Century technology at its finest.

Actually, in order to try to add to the Star Trek universe a bit, I’m speculating that maybe these things come in different colors (although we never actually saw anything other than the red-edged Task Monitor).  So I had a Task Monitor made that might be used by folks in the green-gold Command Division:

I also had a Task Monitor made that might be used by folks in the blue Sciences Division:

The Task Monitor prop was actually revised a little bit towards the end of the First Season: a small sheet of stainless steel was added to the top of the device.  This would permit the user to carry around the small magnetic “jumper” blocks.  You can see this revised Recorder/Task Monitor in “Taste of Armageddon:”

…and in “This Side of Paradise:”
   

…and in “Errand of Mercy:”

It was revised again at the beginning of the Second Season.  I’ll get more into the revised version (maybe we should call the newer ones the “Mark II Task Monitors”) in another post to the forum at a later date.  In the meantime, here are all three of my “Mark I Task Monitors” together:

Like always, you can see a little slide show that rotates through these images at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/10901121@N06/sets/72157602963183842/show/

 

And discussion is ongoing in our forums here:
http://forums.startreknewvoyages.com/index.php?topic=3499.0

 

Greg Schnitzer
Gaithersburg, Maryland

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About Gregory L. Schnitzer

Gregory L. Schnitzer is Co-Executive Producer on the fan-based Internet series Star Trek Phase II (formerly known as Star Trek New Voyages). Greg is a Registered Nurse and is generally in charge of Emergency Medical Services at the Star Trek Phase II shoots. He also generally serves as the production's Property Master and on-again, off-again Set Decorator. Born and raised in the beautiful but smoggy San Fernando Valley (which he still calls "home"), in real life, Greg is a Registered Nurse and Certified Six Sigma Black Belt, and currently works in the field of Health Information Management at various facilities and in various capacities in the Washington, D.C., greater metropolitan region.