Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, July 6, 2015

ST:TAS Season One, Episode Five: More Tribbles, More Troubles

"More Tribbles, More Troubles"
Air Order: 5
Star Date: 5392.4
Original Air Date: October 6, 1973



I had a dream the other night that Chris Rock had three arms and three legs. I recall thinking, "Wow, this dream has really good CGI!" The moral of the story is: don't watch animated Star Trek and The Fifth Element before bed unless you want to wake up confused.


As far as I can tell, I should credit this to Masao (?) as it appears to
be from his/her Photobucket.


*******



We start out this week with a really slow, long shot of the Enterprise. Seriously. It drifts across the screen like in real time, and the 15 seconds or so it takes to make it from the middle of the screen to disappear off to the right is the longest 15 seconds ever. "Tra-la-la, waiting for the show to start."

Kirk's Log 5392.4: "We have to take quadrotriticale to Sherman's Planet in these two robot ships. Like, the grain ships are being run from our bridge. Cool, huh? I have no idea what's going to happen, even though the audience already knows. Also, Sherman's Planet is not a stupid name at all."


I don't know about the design on these robot ships, you guys. They look like buildings featured on The Jetsons, which then had warp nacelles attached to the back at the last minute. And they're not terribly aerodynamic-looking. I mean, I know there's no air in space, so they wouldn't need to be aerodynamic, but I sort of liken space travel to underwater travel, and let's face it, submarines are built to move quickly and efficiently through the water, so... whatever dynamic you need for space travel, this doesn't have it.

So anyway, the E is running these two robot ships to Sherman's Falafel Hut and Celestial Body, where they are having major issues with starvation and famine. They have a reason to rush. So why do they take a detour? They see a Klingon ship nearby, chasing a much smaller ship of Federation design. I wanna repeat that: the small ship comes from Federation space, but is not Star Fleet. Kirk dragged two huge robot ships and his own over to this other area, moving further away from the planet they are rescuing, so he can rubberneck a car chase. I get it: the E is like the sheriff of space. We already established that in an earlier episode. But you're tending to an emergency, which could mean the saving of millions or billions of lives. RADIO TO STAR FLEET FOR SOMEONE TO COME CHECK IT OUT, YOU IDIOT.
Kirk gives the excuse to his bridge officers that the Klingons are rumored to have some swanky new weapon, and this is their chance to gather some intelligence on it.
They reach the car chase, and the Klingons have begun firing on the smaller ship, which Spock reports is a little one-person affair. Kirk calls Scotty and tells him to beam the captain of the little ship onto the E.
Scotty replies back that he's plugging in the coordinates, and some shots show him (voiced with the correct accent), but it's interspersed with shots of Kyle, the Red who sometimes runs the transporter. There's budget-conscious, and then there's laziness, Filmation.


What follows is like three versions of the same scene, which makes me think that they're padding for time. Basically, Kirk asks to have the shields go up and communications open. Then he hails the Klingons and asks them to identify themselves. He yells at the Klingon ship to tell him who they are no less than four times. In one version of the scene, Sulu replies that shields are up. In another, Uhura reports that hailing frequencies are open. They're cut with shots of the battle outside; namely, the Klingon vessel firing on the smaller ship. I notice that at no point in time does Kirk try to hail the smaller vessel. He just tells Scotty to beam the lone person onto the E. Won't that other captain be surprised when he's randomly transported to another ship!
So the Klingons succeed in blowing up the little ship, but Scotty is down in the transporter room swearing at the equipment because something having to do with the Klingon ship has shut his shit down.
The Klingons turn and fire some kind of icy death ray or something at the E and Kirk is marveling at it. Spock just starts reporting on the thing, and he still is when it hits. Y'all, he reported it would hit in four seconds. Kirk couldn't have at least tried for evasive maneuvers?


Spock says it's some kind of stasis field, and after some quick checks, they determine that the weapon has knocked out all of the ship's higher functions, including phasers and torpedoes.
Uhura actually sighs and says, "Well, we could always throw rocks."
I burst out laughing. That was pretty awesome.


Kirk calls down to the transporter room, but Scotty says that while he managed to beam the pilot off the little ship, whoever it is is stuck inside the machinery as a pattern. Uhura says she is being hailed and Kirk has her put it on viewscreen. It's the Klingon captain.
"Dude, what the hell?" demands Kirk. "Why are you in space, blowing up Federation ships?"
"Chillax," says the Klingon. "We just want the captain of that ship. He committed ecological sabotage against us."



"Bite me," replies Kirk. "That dude is under our protection. Also, let my ship go."
"Hey," Uhura whispers to Spock while Kirk is arguing with the Klingon. "The robot ships are drifting off. If they get too far away, we'll lose contact with them completely."
Kirk is paying enough attention to have her mute the Klingon and explain the situation.
"Oh, I have a great idea!" says Kirk. "Sulu can navigate those robot ships back to us, and he can use them to ram the Klingons! Then we'll get away!"
"That's a dumbass plan," says Spock. "We'll lose that grain, and people are depending on it to, you know, not die."
"Shut the hell up," says Kirk. "My plan is awesome, and my ship is worth more than all of those starving people."
TL;DR:

So Kirk has Uhura bring the Klingon back up on the viewscreen, and he tells the Klingon (who turns out to be our old friend Koloth from - what else? - "The Trouble with Tribbles") that he isn't going to give up the mysterious ship captain, and that he's going to free his ship from the Klingon death ray beam.
"Yeah, right," says Koloth. He holds up a guitar pick or something, like it's threatening. (Don't worry, friends. We never find out what that thing was that Koloth was holding.) Then he signs off.


Kirk thinks Koloth is bluffing.
Bluffing in what way? About boarding your ship and strumming your musical instruments? Cuz he'll do it, Kirk. He'll not only strum those instruments, he'll gyrate his pelvis and make all the girls in their ass-bearing tunics scream with fangirl joy.
Kirk orders Sulu to bring the robot ships in from two different angles so they can attack easier.
Kirk's plan totally doesn't work. The Klingons, surprisingly, have a way to split the death ray beam into three, so that they halt all three ships at once.
NEVER FUCK WITH KOLOTH AND HIS SCARY-ASS GUITAR PICK!


Only it doesn't work. Apparently, this new weapon needs an extra frickin' huge battery, and the energy required to hold three ships at bay is too much. The stasis field peters out, and Koloth ends up firing at one of the robot ships (probably because he was pissed off, and - let's face it - throwing a tantrum). So all Kirk got for his Bigger Dick Contest was a damaged robot ship. The Klingons limp away, too weak for a fight.

Kirk finally remembers that they have someone lost in the transporter pattern buffer, and he calls down to Scotty to check in. Scotty confirms that he is materializing the captain of the little ship now. Once again, that amazing thing happens where only two seconds pass, but somehow Kirk, Spock and Bones all manage to make it to the other side of the ship in that time.
"Oh hey, we know that guy," says Spock when the new person appears on the transporter pad.
"Oh, fuck me," laments Kirk. "Did I just save Cyrano Jones, Douchebag Extraordinaire, and four big piles of tribbles from the fucking Klingons?"


Fun fact of the Day! Why are the tribbles pink? Because director Hal Sutherland was colorblind, and often mixed up pink and grey. Why the colorblind director was making decisions for the ink and paint crew, I have no idea. You'd think someone would have stepped forward and said, "Hal, did you mean for these to be pink or grey?" This is also why the normally drab tunics on the Klingons are pink. Apparently, this pink/grey problem will come up quite a few more times over the course of TAS.

Kirk's Log, supplemental: "So one of the robot ships was damaged, and now we have Cyrano Jones and a shit-ton of tribbles on board, but that detour was totally worth the lives it probably cost on that famine-stricken planet, because we kind of got a look at the new Klingon weapon, and made a bunch of guesses about it that we can send back to Star Fleet. So good job, Kirk. I should find someone to pat me on the back. I deserve it."

Kirk tells a skinny ensign to seal off the area so no tribbles get out. That ensign is actually David Gerrold, who wrote the script. He wrote himself into "More Tribbles, More Troubles" because he had wanted to be in the original TOS episode, but had been judged to be too skinny.


"WTF, Jones?" demands Kirk. "Tribbles have been deemed dangerous. You're breaking a bunch of laws by transporting them."
"No, it's cool," says Jones. "I bred these to be sterile. They don't reproduce. Also, I have this cool new thing, called a glommer. It eats tribbles."
He pulls this thing from his pocket that looks like drawings of aliens that you made as a kid. It's got four legs and two eye stalks and random fangs even though it appears to lack a mouth. 



He sets the thing on the floor next to a tribble, and he, Kirk and Bones all lean over to watch. We don't get to see it eat the tribble, we just see the men leaning over, and then we check back in with the glommer to see that the tribble is gone.
"Why were the Klingons chasing you?" Kirk asks.
"They're Klingons. Klingons are dicks," Jones brushes him off. When pressed, he replies that he sold tribbles on a Klingon planet, not knowing that it belonged to them.
"You're a dumbass," says Kirk. "And you broke like, 50 laws. Beeteedubs, while you're here, I'm confining you to quarters."

Down in sick bay, Bones is scanning tribbles to check them out. Later, he goes to a senior officer meeting and tells the others it's true that these tribbles do not reproduce, they just get fat. Pacified, Kirk turns the meeting topic back to the Klingon weapon. Scotty says that the death ray beam can immobilize enemy ships, but it drains the Klingon ships' energy. Spock wonders how long it will take the Klingons to recharge, and surmises that they'll come back after the E when they're ready, probably taking out the other robot ship to prevent Kirk from trying that maneuver again. He points out that the Klingons really just want Jones.


Scotty reports that when the robot ship was damaged, all of the barrel of quadrotriticale were transferred over to the E (because of course they were), and that the barrels now line the corridors because there isn't room, and now the extra weight is slowing them down. It now sucks more that Jones is on board with his tribbles.
"It's worth it," says Kirk. "Sherman's Gluten-Free Paleo Planet desperately needs that grain."

I'd like to take this moment to reach through the screen and punch Kirk. Just to put things into perspective, Kirk has caused a grand total of all of this drama. The E was directing two large ships of grain to a famine-stricken planet when he detoured to rubberneck. Instead of reporting the fight and going onward to the planet, he got involved. His hubris got one of the robot ships damaged, so the grain had to be transferred to the E, where there isn't room. He also, without hailing the other little ship and checking to see who was onboard, beamed the captain off, which turned out to be Jones and a bunch of tribbles. If he had actually ascertained what the trouble was before blindly beaming, he would have figured out that the Klingons probably had a legit claim against Jones. If he had passed by the fight and continued to Sherman's Terribly-Named Planet, then some other Federation vessel probably would have intervened, and no one would be late getting to the famine party. But just like every time they need to beam down to another planet, Kirk must be at the center of the action.

Up on the bridge, Spock reports that the Klingons appear to be battle-ready again, and Kirk pushes a tribble out of his chair. It's much larger than the ones Jones brought on board initially, and he mutters, "How fat do these things get?"
You're one to talk, Kirk.
They ready for battle, but the Klingon battleship veers off to the side and takes out the warp nacelles on the remaining robot ship. Koloth specifically targets the propulsion system and leaves the cargo undamaged. This does two things: one, it means that Sulu can't use the robot ship to pull that same ploy that they tried earlier; and two, Koloth doesn't give a damn about the grain. He isn't out for some kind of revenge against Kirk. He just wants Jones. So he probably has a legit claim to the trader. The bridge crew really only makes a note of the first of that, though.
With the robot ship out of commission, the Klingons fire phasers at the E.


The E fires back, and the Klingons move away. Spock surmises that the weapon isn't fully charged yet. So Koloth only waited until they had enough juice to take out the robot ship, then he limped away to continue charging. Smart.
So apparently, the barrels of grain in the corridors got knocked over during battle, and of course they spilled everywhere. And of course it is now being eaten by the tribbles, which have grown to like, three feet.
Kirk tells Sulu that they will have to tractor in the other robot ship. Spock points out that that will slow them down by a lot, and make them less maneuverable, which is probably what the Klingons wanted in the first place.
Kirk asks if he has a plan to combat this.
"We could always throw tribbles at them," he shrugs, playing off of Uhura's earlier remark.
"I didn't think Vulcans had a sense of humor," muses Kirk.
"We don't," replies Spock, which is a complete fallacy to anyone who has watched this show. Vulcans have a dry, sardonic sense of humor and will utilize sarcasm with a dead-pan expression.
Scotty comes in to say that the grain has spilled all over the corridors, and the tribbles are eating it.
We get some shots of grain and tribbles, and this one that shows that the tribbles are now too big for the glommer to eat:


Kirk calls Jones to the bridge while Sulu keeps an eye out for the Klingons. He then yells at Jones about the tribbles eating the grain in the halls. He demands to know if introducing tribbles to a Klingon planet is the ecological sabotage that Koloth was talking about. In the course of this discussion, he pushes a large tribble out of his chair twice. Just freaking sit down, Kirk.
The Klingons return, and Kirk orders Sulu to cut the tractor beam to the robot ship, which they'll pick up later.

Kirk's Log, supplemental: "The Klingons want this guy. I have him. I don't know why they want him, or why I have him. This really could have been resolved if I'd just hailed Jones during the first battle. Then I could have just said, "Oh, it's you, muthafucka," and moved on."

So the Klingons use their weapon again, and while they're frozen, Koloth calls them.
"Dude, give us Jones, or we're gonna take your ship."
"I'd love to give you that a-hole," replies Kirk. "But he's a Federation citizen, so he has to stay with us." 
Kirk cuts the transmission, and we see Koloth on his ship, giving the orders to board the E.


On the bridge, Kirk tells Scotty that they're going with "defense plan B," which is something that Spock suggested.
Next we see Klingons lined u to board the E, but when the doors to the their transporter room open, giant tribbles flood out and into the inner workings of the ship.
Scotty turns off the transporter and reports that defense plan B has been completed.


Kirk hails Koloth and asks if he is ready to release the Enterprise.
"What the hell are you talking about?" demands Koloth. "We're getting ready to board your ship and take over."
There's an animation eff-up here, where instead of setting the Koloth character behind the viewscreen, they set his animation cells on top of the bridge cell, so he briefly appears to be standing on the bridge instead of speaking from his own ship.


Kirk tells Koloth that he has "immobilized your ship worse that you have immobilized mine" which Koloth doesn't get until a huge tribble rolls by behind his chair.
Now, suddenly, everyone is willing to talk. Jones' "eco sabotage" was actually him taking the glommer from one of their planets. The glommer was artificially created by the Klingons to kill off the tribble population, and they had intended to make more, but Jones took the only one. In truth, they're prepared to go to war to get it back, and they don't give a shit about what happens to Jones.
"Oh, okay," replies Kirk, and he calls Scotty to have the glommer beamed over.
See how easy it is when you just fucking talk to one another?
Down in the transporter room, Jones is arguing with Scotty, and trying to claim that he gets space salvage rights to the glommer, but Scotty points out that space salvage rights don't extend to landing on the surface of a planet and outright stealing shit. But if he really wants it that badly, Scotty will beam him over to the Klingon ship. Jones gives him the glommer.
The glommer is beamed over, the Klingons turn their beam off, and everyone goes their separate ways.

Out in the grain-covered corridor, Bones explains that Jones' biological tampering with the tribbles was half-assed. He shut off their fertility, but left their metabolism rates set for sky-high. What's more, each huge tribble is actually just a colony of tribbles.
On the Klingon ship, Koloth takes the glommer to what I guess is the engine room, and tells the glommer to attack the tribbles. Then he opens the door, to reveal one huge tribble. The glommer runs away in a comical fashion.


Realizing that he's in a bit more of a pickle than expected, Koloth lets loose with some swears that are super-squeaky clean for Saturday morning television ("tin-plated"? What does that even mean?) but that you know are substitutes for nastier stuff. Either way, Kirk deserves it. 
Koloth orders another Klingon to shoot the tribble, but it just explodes into a thousand little individuals, burying both Klingons.



Back on the E, Bones explains that he can give the tribbles shots of something that slows down their metabolic rate and keeps them from forming one big tribble. he gives the closest one the shot, and it breaks into little tribbles.
"You missed one," says Kirk, pointing to a huge tribble in an exposed Jeffries tube.
"No, I got that one," says Bones, and it breaks up into tiny tribbles, which then bury Kirk.
"One day, I'll learn," he mutters.
The last few scenes have been scored with this bouncy, "fun" music that lets you know that Star Trek is being goofy on purpose. I can't figure out if it's okay, or just annoying. 
Haha, isn't it funny that Kirk and the Klingons have Too Many Tribbles?



"If you're gonna have tribbles," says Scotty, "it's best to have little ones."
I think that was supposed to be a punchline, but it really isn't that funny. Kirk makes a face like he's devising recipes in which to cook tribbles.



This episode is kind of all over the place. What annoys me is that Kirk The Great is responsible for 100% of the "More Troubles" that they encounter, yet only Spock calls him on it, and even then, it gets brushed off. Beyond that, both the ending solution and a bunch of the gags were lifted directly from the original episode, including beaming the tribbles onto the Klingon ship, the gag with Kirk's chair always being filled with tribbles, and the "being buried in tribbles" gag.
One of the really interesting things about the animated series is that they frequently made use of scripts that had been written for the original series, but had not been shot. This one is one of those. It had not gone into production because TOS producer Fred Frieberger did not like the original tribble episode. One of those things that ended up being cut: the initial idea for the glommers was that they would breed as fast as the tribbles, and then members of the E crew would go missing, implying that the glommers would snack on many kinds of prey. But the powers that be decided that that would be too gruesome for Saturday morning, so they cut it back to one glommer, trying to eat huge tribbles and failing.
Here's the part where science fails me: I don't know much about colonies, but the huge tribble = many tribbles thing doesn't seem to add up very well. So they eat the grain, and rather than reproducing, they get bigger. That makes sense. But then it turns out that they're not getting bigger, they're just...snuggling? More grain = tribbles hanging out together? What?
Star Trek, are you trying to baffle me with bullshit again?

*******

I don't really select new teas to try with any kind of system (unless I'm working my way through a mixed box), so my selection usually involves looking at boxes on the shelf and asking, "What have I not tried as of yet?" If something on the label says "blackberry" I'm grabbing it. Likewise if it says peach.
In this case, I grabbed the Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Blackberry Pomegranate. I always enjoy a good Sleepytime, because who wants to be up at 2 am after making the mistake of drinking java mate before bed? (Also, I like the Sleepytime bear. Sue me.)
Now, the last thing you expect to think when you open a box of green tea spiked with berries is, "Why does my tea smell like mint?" but it does. In fact, the first and third ingredients listed on the box for this tea are chamomile and spearmint. I brewed a cup anyway, and... it tastes like chamomile and spearmint. I honestly couldn't taste the berries at all. Now, I've grown rather accustomed to the taste of chamomile, and it's grown on me a bit, so it's not a bad cup of tea. But there's virtually no berry taste, so if that's what you're after, look elsewhere. If you're down with the chamomile, you may really enjoy this tea.








Quiche also enjoys the Sleepytime tea.



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