Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, May 26, 2014

Season 2, Episode 42 "The Trouble With Tribbles"

"The Trouble With Tribbles"
Production Number: 42
Air Order: 44
Stardate: 4523.3
Original Air Date: December 29, 1967


Happy Memorial Day to all of the servicemen and women, whose sacrifice and service have oddly allowed me to write this ridiculous blog. Thank you.


*******


As I sit here typing this on Towel Day, I am reflecting on the fact that the production number on this episode is 42. Sweeeet.



This week we begin with a briefing between Kirk, Spock, and Chekov. They're discussing the circumstances of a space station nearby, K-7. It seems that the planet nearby is in dispute, being claimed by both the Klingons and the Federation. Chekov makes a little joke about being close enough to the Klingons to smell them, and Spock dickishly points out that scent does not transfer through space. Dude, we know. It's a joke. Build a bridge. I feel like Spock has lived among humans long enough to be used to their dumb little amusements, and should have already been just internalizing his annoyance at it.
The other part of this scene which bugs me is that the planet in question is called "Sherman's Planet", which is just awful. If you're going to name a location after someone, just use their name, and drop the possessive. "Sherman's Planet" sounds like a food cart with the food part missing: "Sherman's Falafel Planet".
 "Sherman's Kombucha Planet".
"Sherman's Gluten-Free Paleo Planet."
Just call the planet Sherman, okay?
Anyway, Uhura calls the briefing room to inform Kirk that K-7 has made a priority one distress call to them, and the E goes to Red Alert.

Kirk's Log 4523.3:  "Priority one is an emergency call. It pretty much means that your ship or station is FUBAR, so we're rushing over there."

When they get to the station, it's fine. Also, check it out - the production guys went to the trouble to build a space station. That's pretty awesome, even if it does look like an ugly late-60's Christmas ornament.




Kirk calls the station. "Hey, K-7. WTH? Why did you yell "fire!"? There's nothing wrong with you."
The manager, Mr Lurry, apologizes in a way that makes him sound as though he accidentally butt-dialed 911, and is hoping that he won't get fined. He asks Kirk to beam over so he can explain.
So Kirk and Spock beam over, and Kirk starts yelling at Lurry for issuing a scary alert when some little bureaucrat asshole steps forward and says he made the call.  This guy is Nilz Baris and apparently we all better recognize, because don't you know who he is? He's the Federation Undersecretary in charge of Agricultural Affairs in the quadrant, according to the snivelly little PA at Baris' elbow.



You know, I'm sure most PAs are nice people, and are just trying to do their jobs. So why are they always portrayed as weasels, kind of on the small side, heads up their boss' ass, and nasty to people they consider beneath them?
Kirk asks why Baris called them, and dude replies that he wants a contingent of Reds to hop over to the station to guard this super-awesome grain called quadrotriticale. When Kirk asks what that is, Baris snidely remarks that he wouldn't expect Kirk to know, but Spock heads him off by giving a thorough history of it. It seems that this hybrid grain is the only thing that will grow on Sherman's Pleasure Planet, which is important, because in order to secure their claim on the planet over the Klingons, they have to show that they can make the space more productive than the other race.
Pissed off that they were called in by some inflated douchebag to watch over some wheat, Kirk starts to go off on Baris and his underling. Spock points out that there are Klingons nearby, and the Sherman's Pizza Planet thing is important to the Federation, so Kirk resignedly calls Uhura and orders a pair of Reds to beam down and report to Lurry, then gives the command to give the rest of the off-duty crew shore leave.
"The fuck?" yells Baris. "This is important! MOAR REDS!"
"Bite me," says Kirk. "I already have half a mind to report your ass for abusing Priority One."

Check that out: it's the E out the window, orbiting the station.
I don't know who thought to add that detail, but good on ya,
buddy.
Kirk and Spock go to the station bar -- what in gay hell is that? The waitresses are wearing short plastic backless romper things...with wings. This leaves me to imagine all of the situations that might have lead to this outcome, including:
- the costumers found wings at the Dollar Store, and thought, "Boy, I'm sure I can put these to good use!"
- somebody on the crew was in charge of making their kids' costumes for the school play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. They then donated these items to the low-budget television show they worked on.
- someone in the costume department is on drugs.
everyone in the costume department is on drugs.



So Kirk and Spock are drinking in the drug lounge on the space station, and Kirk is bitching about Baris. As they leave, they meet Uhura and Chekov coming in, and they have a brief exchange about the quadrotriticale. Chekov takes the bottle of it from Kirk before he leaves. As Uhura and Chekov approach the bar, the bartender tells a guy wearing a coat with too many pockets that he's not buying any more of his crap. Too Many Pockets displays a few things on the bar, then pulls out a ball of lint.
"Hey, that's cute!" says Uhura. "Can I hold it?"
The lint ball purrs in her hand. The bartender and Pockets argue about how much the bartender will pay for the lintball, which Pockets refers to as a tribble. At one point, Uhura puts the tribble down, and it eats some of the quadrotriticale that Chekov spilled on the bar. Pockets gives Uhura the tribble, figuring it'll make good advertising for people to see a cute girl with a ball of living lint.

Lookin' creepy there, Pavel.

Kirk and Spock are back in the briefing room on the E when Uhura calls from her station (wow, that was some short shore leave). Starfleet admiral Fitzpatrick tells Kirk the same thing that Spock said before, about how the grain and Sherman's Freaking Planet are important, and he is to make himself Baris' bitch for a while. Kirk is annoyed as hell, but has to do it because it's orders. OR, he could just do like he always does, and ignore orders.
Okay, I have to interject here: if this situation is so damn important, why was Baris not simply given a bunch of Reds of his own from the get-go? Why the hell is he harvesting them from the E at the last minute? That makes no sense.
Uhura calls again to tell Kirk that there are Klingon ships in the vicinity, and they go to red alert again. When Kirk and Spock arrive on the bridge, they call Lurry.
"They won't attack," says Lurry. "Their captain is sitting here with me."
We zoom out and see it's true. Dramatic music!

The E is still visible outside the window. E-ception!

Kirk's Log 4524.2: "Oh, fuck me. First I have to deal with that prick Baris, now I've got Klingons on my ass. Calgon, take me away."

Kirk and Spock beam down, and Kirk greets the Klingon captain, Koloth, by name. Koloth greets him back, and my inner Grumpy Cat says NO. Koloth is played by William Campbell, the guy who played Trelane, the Squire of Gothos. Campbell was perfect as Trelane. He was selfish, impetuous, and had a child-like enthusiasm for everything, as well as a shit-eating grin that he employed often. My brain immediately rejects him as a Klingon. He's too smiley, too fun, too dorky. He is not gritty enough to be a Klingon.


"We're here for shore leave," Koloth says brightly.
"That's up to Lurry," says Kirk.
Lurry pulls Kirk aside to tell him that he doesn't want Klingons on his station, but that he isn't really allowed to say no. Kirk turns back to Koloth, and replies that his men may have shore leave here, but that only 12 can come on board at a time, and that he's posting one Red on board for each of Koloth's men.
"That's cool. We're totes peaceful," says Koloth. The one or two lines that his companion has had in this scene mark the lesser-ranked Klingon as the better example of the race. Kirk and Koloth exchange some bullshit diplomacy that neither actually means, and the Klingons depart.

Back in the E breakroom, Kirk and Spock find Scotty relaxing with technical manuals. The way Scotty talks about those manuals makes it sound like they have a diagram of the E's engines as a centerfold. Ooh, baby. Check out the couplings on her!
Uhura has a table full of tribbles. Apparently, it had babies overnight. Spock picks one up and observes that the purring of the tribble has a calming effect on the human nervous system, and notes that he is lucky because it does not affect him. They all turn to find him snuggling the tribble.


Uhura gives one to Bones to study back in sick bay, and then gives the others away to crew members. You guys are going to spay and neuter those, right? RIGHT?

Out in the corridor, Baris calls Kirk to bitch about the Klingons.
"All of my Reds are either guarding grain or the Klingons," replies Kirk. "What the hell else do you want?"
He signs off and goes to sick bay to get headache meds.
Bones now has 11 tribbles. "Their metabolism is 50% reproduction," he tells Kirk. "Know what you get when you feed a tribble too much?"
"A fat tribble?" guesses Kirk.
"Nope," says Bones. "Lots of little hungry tribbles."
Kirk then heads down to the transporter room to see off some crew members. Scotty doesn't want to take shore leave, but Kirk pulls rank, and Scotty resignedly gets on the pad.
Oh, vot dammit. This episode offers pop-up trivia balloons, which are clearly not working right, as I'm 19 minutes in, and this is the first pop-up we've had. It appears to be the second of a two-parter, and it gives a reason for Kirk to sometimes wear that Casual Friday wrap-around blouse, only it doesn't give the whole thing, so I'm stuck with the world's most uninteresting mystery.


Scotty, Chekov, and some random Gold enter the station bar, followed shortly by Too Many Pockets. He offers to sell them a tribble, but they politely refuse, so he turns to a table of Klingons. Koloth's companion bristles at the sight of it, and barks at Pockets to get it the hell away from him. The tribble sort of growls or something. Pockets then tries to sell another tribble to the bartender, who pulls a good dozen tribbles from behind the bar.
At the table, Scotty and Chekov make fun of each other's choice of drinks. The Klingon makes his way to the bar and loudly starts some shit about "Earthers". (Seriously? Earthers? I guess it's supposed to be a slur or something.) Chekov's hackles go up. He wants to beat the crap out of the Klingon, but Scotty stops him, recognizing that the Klingon would snap Chekov like a dry twig. Scotty keeps his cool... until the Klingon starts talking smack about his woman, the Enterprise. Then he starts a knock-down drag-out brawl with the whole fucking bar. Scotterprise: he ships it.



With the bartender gone, Pockets helps himself to free drinks behind the bar. There's some physical comedy that's just kind of okay as he makes his way through the brawl to the door while trying not to spill his drink. It was really not necessary to add that, though I suppose it meant not having to watch a boring-ass fight scene, so I'll call that a draw.


Kirk's Log 4525.6: "A big-ass fight went down on the station, so I canceled shore leave. I can't believe I missed the fight. That super-sucks."

Kirk lines up the shore-leavers in the briefing room to drill them about the fight, but everyone is like "I dunno, it wasn't me!" Everyone is grounded, and he keeps Scotty back in the hopes that he'll rat out one of his fellow crewmen.
"Dude, I started it," admits Scotty. He has the worst black eye make-up ever. It looks like he's turning into a pink dalmatian. "Chekov wanted to come out swinging when they started talking shit about you, but I told him to sit his ass down. But then they started in on our girl E, so I had to put the smack-down on them."
Kirk seems put-out. Maybe he's upset because Scotty picked the E over him. Or maybe he realizes that they're both in love with the same woman. Either way, Scotty is now grounded too. He seems ecstatic, as this will allow him to stay locked in his quarters with his engine porn.



There's kind of a throw-away scene next where Bones and Spock use the tribbles to insult one another, and the only way that the story is forwarded at all by this scene is that it shows them utilizing sick bay equipment to study the tribbles.
Entering the bridge, Kirk fails to notice that nearly every surface is covered in tribbles, until he sits on one. Bones comes in and reports that the tribbles appear to be bisexual, and seem to be born pregnant.
"Saves time!" he says cheerfully.
"They're eating the supplies, and giving nothing in return, the freeloaders," remarks Spock.
"No way," protests Uhura. "They give love!"
"Dude, get these lintballs off my bridge," Kirk tells Uhura. "Then call Lurry and have him hold Pockets." He, Bones and Spock leave in the lift.


Okay, so it wasn't until the previous scene that we actually learn Pockets' name, and it turns out to be even more ridiculous than Too Many Pockets: it's Cyrano Jones. However, I kind of like "Pockets", so we'll stick with that.
Kirk, Spock, and Lurry interrogate Pockets in Lurry's office. Spock, in typical Vulcan-speak, tells Pockets that, by removing the tribbles from their natural habitat and predators, that he has brought about an overpopulation on the station. Pockets actually looks at him and says "Huh?"
Baris and the weasley PA enter just as Pockets exists. Baris accuses Pockets of being a Klingon agent. Kirk laughs in his face.
"We checked him out," insists the brown-nose PA. "He was there for the barfight, and he has been in Klingon space within the last four months."
"Yeah, I checked him out, too," says Spock. "Dude is just a peddler of crap."
"You're a peddler of crap, too," Kirk tells Baris, and he and Spock leave.

"You tell 'em, boss! You tell 'em!"

Kirk and Spock enter the breakroom, which is covered in tribbles, and they go to the food replicators. They pull out trays of tribbles for lunch. Scotty comes in with an armload.
"They're in the machinery, and probably traveling through the air vents," he says.
"Fuck!" says Kirk, making a realization.
"Fuck indeed," replies Spock, knowing what he means. They call the station, and ask for a meeting with Baris and Lurry.


Beaming down, Spock and Kirk rush to the storage compartments with Baris and Lurry. Kirk opens an overhead compartment and it rains tribbles (as opposed to men). Kirk is now wearing a lovely hoop skirt of furry purries.

The WTF Faces here on Baris and Lurry are the best. 

"Kirk, you bitch! This is your fault! They ate my grain," huffs Baris.
"Baris, shut the fuck up," says Kirk.
Bones comes running in, all excited. "They stop reproducing if you don't feed them!"
Wow, really? So if feeding them too much produces little tribbles, then not feeding them produces none? You're a genius, Bones. Tell us now what happens when you get them wet. Will the babies be evil if you feed them after midnight?
"So... most of these tribbles are dead," says Spock. "I think there's something wrong with the grain."
Bones takes some dead tribbles and some grain samples back to the E to study them.

Everybody heads back to Lurry's office to interrogate Pockets again. The Klingons come rushing in, and Koloth demands that Kirk apologize to his men for treating them like crap.
"Don't do it!" says Baris. "They'll use that as leverage to get Sherman's Gluten-Free Paleo Planet!"
You know, they really should give the planet to the Klingons. They'd probably give it a better fucking name.
"We'll talk to you civilly if you get those tribbles out of here," Koloth tells Kirk.
The Reds carry the tribbles past the Klingons, and the furries make that squeaky-growl again. The door opens, and it's the slimy PA. When the Reds try to carry the tribbles past him, they freak out again. Bones comes in with his results, but before he can give them, Kirk runs a test. He holds the tribbles up to Spock, and they purr. He holds the tribbles up to Baris, and they purr. He holds them up to the PA, and they squeak-growl. 
Bones scans the PA. "Dude is a Klingon."
Because in TOS, all you have to do to be human is shave off your fu man chu.



"So the grain is poisoned," Bones continues.
The PA confesses in the same voice as an unmasked old man in costume. "I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids."
The PA is arrested, and Baris follows them out.
Kirk turns to Koloth. "So that apology... go fuck yourself, dude."
The Klingons rush out.



Kirk and Spock take Pockets back to the bar, where the bartender is buried in tribbles.
"Guess what?" says Kirk. "We won't turn you in for shady business practices if you pick up all of these tribbles."
"Um, there are more than one million tribbles on this station," says Pockets. "That will take years!"
"Yeah, 17," replies Spock.
(Really? Seventeen? That seems iffy to me, Star Trek. By that math, he only has to pick up about 160 tribbles a day to reach his goal within 17 years. He could really pick up more than that and be done much sooner. Plus, you're not taking into account the fact that some of those tribbles will reproduce in the meantime. Also, where is he going to store them? In the poisoned grain lockers? I think you choose an arbitrary number of years. Knock it off.)

Back on the E bridge, Kirk checks his chair before sitting down. He asks where the tribbles went. Bones passes the buck to Scotty, who passes it to Spock, who bounces it back to Scotty again.
"Um..." says Scotty. "Beamed 'em off."
"Into space?" demands Kirk. "You asshole!"
"No... I beamed them onto the Klingon ship," admits Scotty.
And the idea of the Klingons warping away with all of those screaming tribbles on board makes them all laugh, despite the fact that the Klingons probably will end up beaming them out into the depths of space to get rid of them.




The back and forth of this episode kind of annoys me. In one scene, Kirk is on the Enterprise. In the next scene, he's on the station. Then he's on the E again. In the course of six hours, Kirk and Spock beam back and forth 8 times. That's one beam each, every 45 minutes or so. Seems like a giant waste of energy to me. Like, how much energy does it take to run the transporter? Probably quite a bit - it has to disassemble someone in one place, and reassemble them elsewhere. And you can't tell me that shit doesn't give some people motion sickness. I'd have barfed on the transporter pad by beam four. Clearly, Kirk and Spock have heartier constitutions than I.

Death Toll:
Red deaths this episode: 0
Red deaths this season: 12
Gold deaths this episode: 0
Gold deaths this season: 6
Blue deaths this episode: 0
Blue deaths this season: 1
Total crew deaths this season: 19
Total crew deaths thus far: 35

*******

This week's tea is Blackberry Sage by The Republic of Tea. It's good and fruity, with a snap of sage. The black leaf base gives it a slightly bitter aftertaste, but not in a bad way. I think I underestimated how sweet this tea would be on it's own, because it seemed a bit too sweet for me after I added my regular amount of rock sugar. I bought the loose leaf tea, but it also comes in bags and bottles (though those bottles are a whopping 5 bucks for one - ouch!).






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