Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
Star Trek: Season II, Episode XV (44): The Trouble With Tribbles (1967) Directed by Joseph Pevney, Written David Gerrold, Created by Gene Roddenberry
Scott: When are you gonna get off that milk diet, lad?
Chekov: This is vodka.
Scott: Where I come from, that's soda pop.
Scott: [raising his glass] Now this is a drink for a man.
Chekov: It was invented by a little old lady from Leningrad.
When the Enterprise is diverted to Space Station K7 on a priority one distress signal, it’s all hands to battle stations; priority one is for things like super novae and Borg invasions. Heck, Romulan incursions across the Neutral Zone aren’t Priority One Distress. So when Captain Kirk (William Shatner) discovers that he has been summoned to protect a few tons of wheat, he is furious. When he discovers that the person who summoned him is an officious little toad (continuing the long standing tradition of Federation dignitaries with difficult personalities, such as Ambassador Robert Fox, Commissioner Ferris, Commissioner Nancy Hedford, and Commodore Stocker) named Nilz Baris (William Schallert). As the man in charge of colonizing Sherman’s Planet (the key to gaining control of the sector, according to the Organian Peace Treaty) he has that power, and the wheat, Quatro-triticale, is the only earth grain that will grow on the planet. So, it is important.
But there are three other factors that are going to spin the situation out of control; Cyrano Jones (Stanley Adams), a small time trader and scoundrel in the Harry Mudd vein, his merchandise, a small furry bundle of cuteness called a “tribble”, and a ship load of Klingons, looking for shore leave and trouble!
Can Kirk keep it together, see that the grain is protected, the Sherman’s Planet project is completed and the Klingons cause no problems? Sure. That’s his job. But can he keep ahead of Cyrano Jones’ incompetence, and the tribbles reproductive urges? Now, here’s where the trouble starts.
This episode is a fan favorite, usually coming in right behind City on the Edge of Forever, and Mirror Mirror. It is definitely the funniest episode in the series. It also has really meaty performances for three of the second stringers; Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) gets some quality air time as the first recipient of a tribble. Mr. Chekov (Walter Koenig) gets to flex his russo-centric proclivities, and Scotty (James Doohan) gives a really memorable performance, as well as a peek into what goes on inside that thick Scottish skull. (This episode follows directly on the heels of Wolf in the Fold, another of the Scottish engineer’s finest). The spreading of the action to the supporting characters is another factor that makes this a fan favorite.
And then there are the tribbles. McCoy really gets all the best lines here…“Well, the nearest thing I can figure out is that they're born pregnant - which seems to be quite a time saver!” “They’re bisexual, reproducing at will; and boy, do they have a lot of will!”
The klingons are more fun than we usually expect. Part of that is of course because the Klingon Captain, Koloth, is the delightfully over the top William Campbell, who played Trelaine, the Squire of Gothos. His second, Korax (Michael Pataki), gave us a look at Klingons having fun. (Odd, the similarities between the Scots and the Klingons there.)
But it is Kirk who really sells the humor, in a hundred different ways, and rarely does he look happy. Nor does he seem to get a straight answer from anyone, not even Spock, the entire episode. It is Kirk’s pique that really sells the humor, and puts it over the top;
Nilz Baris: Captain Kirk, I consider your security measures a disgrace! In my opinion, you have taken this entire, very important project far too lightly!
Capt. Kirk: On the contrary, sir. I think of this project as very important. It is YOU I take lightly.
In the end of course the forces of goodness and fuzziness win out in the end, and Captain and crew are left to hope all their trials and tribble-lations will be small ones.
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up Ages 8