Star Trek: The Original Series (1968) – For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky and The Tholian Web

Captain’s log: stardate 5476.3

I’ve always loved the title of this episode and the imagery it conjures in my head. Written by Hendrik Vollaerts under a pseudonym this ends up being a solid, if slightly flawed episode, that aired on 8 November, 1968.

Things get underway when Dr. McCoy (DeFrorest Kelley) is diagnosed with a year to live, after the Enterprise is attacked by a missile from a seemingly uninhabited hollow asteroid.

The tumbling space body is on a collision course (in one year) with the planet, Darren 5. Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and McCoy beam to the interior of the asteroid, and soon discover it is a generation ship, its population living within the hollow the shell of the crafted asteroid.

The inhabitants, the Fabrini, have long forgotten they are on a ship, and their high priestess, Natira (Katherine Woodville) asks McCoy to stay and be her mate.

The computer running the ship keeps strict control of the population via implants, and there may be technology contained within it or in the Book of the People that could save McCoy’s life.

I love that McCoy gets the love story in this one. If it had been Kirk, it may not have resonated as strongly, because we all know the captain will have another romance next week. Onscreen romances for McCoy are few and far between.

Kirk and Spock try to figure out what is going on with tbe ship, and perhaps get the Fabrini to a world of their own. 

The tale ends with McCoy, now healed, returning to his position on the Enterprise, leaving Natira behind.

Poor Bones.

Captain’s log: stardate 5693.2

The Tholian Web is next up, and having just read about it recently in The Fifty Year Mission: Volume One, I was iinterested in revisiting it. Written by Judy Burns and Chet Richards it first aired on 15 November, 1968.

The way it was originally pitched almost made it sound like a ghost story, with Kirk vanishing in and out of existince, while trapped aboard the Defiant (No, not that one, and no not that one either).

In the original idea he wore a force field belt instead of a suit, but for technical reasons they put Kirk in a suit. I find that amusing, because for animation reasons, they went with the belt in The Animated Series.

Kirk and the Defiant are trapped in an interphasing spatial anomaly.

The Enterprise must maintain her position near the anomaly in order to rescue Kirk. But while Spock and the crew try to figure a way to save their captain, an increasingly violent hysteria begins to sweep the crew, as they too begin to be coccooned by the Tholian ships, trapped by the web the tiny craft weave.

Spock believes the captain may be lost, and holds a memorial for him. McCoy is angry with Spock but it may have as much to do with the spatial anomaly as much as it is over the loss of Kirk.

Happily, the two find a way to save their Captain, and by episode’s end have rescued him, denied watching Kirk’s final mesage to them, and find a resolution with the Tholians before continuing on their way.

This was one of the first episodes I ever saw as a child, and I can remember sprawling on my tummy on the family couch, empty cereal bowl at its feet, chin propped on a pillow of the couch’s arm, and delighting in the episode mysteriously unfolding before me.

The thought that truly frightened me at such a  young age was that the crew of the Defiant were all dead, having, apparently ​murdered one another. The entire crew, dead, a ship that coukd hold over 430 crew, a ghost ship. Spooky.

Next week the Human Adventure continues and includes a television first…

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