Star Trek: The Original Series (1968) – The Gamesters of Triskelion and A Piece of the Action

Captain’s log: stardate 3211.7

The Gamesters of Triskelion was a bit of a fun episode when I was a kid, Kirk (William Shatner) got to kick lots of butt after he, Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and Chekov (Walter Koenig) are kidnapped across the lightyears to find themselves fighting in gladiatorial combat on the planet Triskelion.

It was written by Margaret Armen, and originally aired on 7 January 1968. The viewer, and the captured party from the Enterprise learn that it’s all done for the entertainment of the inhabitants of the race, who have been reduced to little more than brains in containers. Kirk and company are trained, beaten, and subjected to all manner of indignity. There is a hint that something more dire happens to Uhura.

Kirk, of course, will not be contained, and soon turns the game against the players even as he is forced to fight to the death. He works on seducing his drill thrall, Shahna (Angelique Pettyjohn), and does his best to educate her in the ideas of freedom, though the obedience collars, and training sessions interfere with his plans on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, Spock (Leonard Nimoy), McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and Scotty (James Doohan) are doing their best, and running down all options to figure out what has happened to their comrades.

I always liked this one, because it got to see Bones, Spock and Scotty working together on the Enterprise, while Kirk, Uhura and Chekov have fight sequences. There was lots of entertaining moments for me when I was a kid, watching these things play out. Back then, it was all about the fights, and the exploration of space with the Enterprise.

Watching it now, I get more out of it, in terms of themes, and ideas, but still love the character beats.

Spock proves, handily, that he’s suitable to the command chair as he does all he can to deduce the location of Kirk and the others. He also shows that he can handle the crew, almost as well as Kirk.

Shatner is a little over the top, but that is to be expected considering the kind of dialogue he’s forced to spout, and it just makes the episode that much more fun.

The final fight sees Kirk taking on three attackers in a final combat that the Enterprise crew is forced to watch, and the Triskelions are wagering on.

An enjoyable episode, but I wish Chekov and Uhura had been given as much to do in the episode as those that had remained on the Enterprise.

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Captain’s log: stardate unknown

A Piece of the Action is a little bit of a goofy episode. It premiered on the 12 January, 1968, and was penned by Gene L. Coon and David P. Harmon.

The Enterprise is investigating a planet, Sigma Iotia II, visited by the U.S.S. Horizon 100 years ago. Kirk is warned that they are an imitative people, but he, Spock and McCoy are shocked to learn what has occurred on the planet since the departure of the Horizon.

It seems a book was inadvertently left behind on the planet, a history of gangsters. The planet has been made over to resemble the early 20th century as tommy guns, sharp suits, gangsters and molls stupefy the landing party.

The trio find themselves stuck between two gang lords, Bela (Anthony Caruso) and Krako (Vic Tayback) and Kirk realises that to outwit the two of them, they may have to take on the roles of gangsters working for an outfit known as The Federation.

I love the language, as phasers are known as heaters, and Kirk creates a game known as fizzbin to confuse and outwit the gangsters who end up holding them hostage.

As Kirk and company adapt the mannerisms and dialogue of the time, things get played for comedy, and Shatner and Nimoy look to be having a great time.

The story continues to unfurl as Kirk sets up things so that the Federation appears to be in charge, and taking a cut of the planet’s wealth, and ends with a very funny note of McCoy leaving behind his communicator…

My strongest memory of this episode comes from my teen years when Trek was broadcast on Saturday nights on ZBM in Bermuda. I remember watching it with my family, and my friend Sean and we laughed and rather enjoyed this episode.

I think that is one of the reasons I like it so much, it is inextricably tied to a treasured friend, time, and place from my youth.

Next week, the Human Adventure continues…

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