Back to Season Two of Star Trek for these episodes, starting with Obsession. They’ve found a vein of an incredibly hard mineral, when Kirk smells something. It reminds him of something he encountered 11 years ago, and he warns his men to watch out for a gaseous cloud. Pretty soon, they’re dead or dying.
This is a strange episode. The Obsession is Kirk’s, as he remembers the cloud because, on his first mission, it killed half the crew of the ship he was serving on, and he blamed himself for not firing on it quickly enough. To make matters worse, an ensign new to the ship is the son of the captain of Kirk’s old ship. He, too, sees the cloud and is slow to fire his phaser.
In the end it’s up to the two guilt-ridden people to lure the creature and explode an anti-matter bomb.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th November 1985 – 18:00
The next episode is Wolf in the Fold, written by Robert Bloch – writer of Psycho. McCoy, Kirk and Scotty are on the planet Argelius “a totally hedonistic society” which apparently means men being fawned over by belly dancers.
There’s so much to unpack in this first scene. All the sniggering references to ‘the women here’. And then we learn that Scotty is there for therapeutic reasons. An explosion had thrown him against a bulkhead, and the explosion was caused by a woman. McCoy has prescribed sex tourism because, apparently, Scotty had developed “a total resentment towards women.” Then, after they’ve discussed the fine details of Scotty’s treatment, they both decide to visit a local knocking shop.
They don’t get there, though, as they hear a scream, and discover the woman who left with Scotty dead, stabbed two dozen times, and Scotty is cowering by a wall holding a bloody knife.
Kirk can’t believe that Scott could be responsible, so he orders a Psycho-Tricorder to the planet, which can recount the last 24 hours of a person’s memory. But the Lieutenant running the tricorder is also stabbed repeatedly, and Scotty is there too.
Then, a local ritual tries to get to the truth. But the woman running the ritual becomes the third victim.
Back on board the Enterprise, Scotty is questioned, and his answers about whether he killed the women are all judged to be honest. They work out that there’s some kind of evil force, and work out it’s the same force that made Jack the Ripper do all those murders. And it’s now inhabiting the Argelian administrator, Mr Hengist.
But when Kirk smacks him in the face when he tries to run, he drops dead, and the evil presence is transferred into the ship’s computer. The weird thing about this is that, immediately before I watched this tape, we were watching some Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the episode I Robot You Jane in which a demon is transferred into the Sunnydale computers. Because of course.
Because the entity feeds on fear, Kirk gets McCoy to give all the crew heavy tranquilizers, so everyone is too high to be afraid. Then, when the entity goes back into the formerly dead body of Hengist, the dose him up too, then transport him into deep space. Then Kirk contemplates going back to Argelius. “I know a cafe where the women are so…” God this programme had a long way to go.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 21st November 1985 – 18:00
Next, a genuine classic. It’s The Trouble With Tribbles. Somehow, the show really worked well with the more light-hearted episodes. Kirk is angry when Space Station K-7 summons the Enterprise on the highest emergency setting, and it’s simply because they have a consignment of Quadro-Triticale, a high-yield grain that’s bound for a planet that the Federation and the Klingons are competing to develop. The Federation undersecretary Mr Baris wants Kirk to assign guards, but Kirk doesn’t really see the importance.
The administrator of the space station is a familiar genre face, Whit Bissell.
Mr Baris gets even more upset when some Klingons turn up on the ship for Shore Leave. If Koloth looks familiar, it’s probably because actor William Campbell played Trelane in The Squire of Gothos.
Also on the ship is independent trader Cyrano Jones who sells a tribble to Uhura.
The tribbles breed like, well, tribbles.
This is just a delight. There’s a ridiculous barfight, sparked off when a Klingon insulted the Enterprise in front of Scotty. There’s Kirk not being impressed with the Federation bigwig. And the discovery of a Klingon spy due to the way the tribbles react to him.
If you haven’t seen the Deep Space Nine sequel to this episode, Trials and Tribble-ations you should watch it. It’s the most ridiculous piece of fanservice of any TV show anywhere, and, like this episode, it’s a pure delight.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th November 1985 – 18:00
The tape ends right after this episode.