Friday, February 19, 2010

The Original Series, Season 1: The Squire of Gothos

The Original Series, Season One
"The Squire of Gothos"
Airdate: January 12, 1967
19 of 80 produced
17 of 80 aired
Click here to watch on


On their way to deliver supplies to a colony, the Enterprise is accosted by a powerful being with desires for entertainment. Will Kirk be able to outwit his captor and free the Enterprise?
Tally Ho!


Matthew: A very strong Sci-Fi premise, as we are introduced to a powerful but not omnipotent being with a fascination for Earth history. Trelane has an impression of Earth history based upon a 900 light year displacement between the present and his observations, which are limited by light speed. I was very pleased by the treatment of the concepts here. Trelane's experimentation is quite fun and in keeping with the "twist" ending. The 900 year thing is interesting, as it indicates that the time frame of the series was not quite set in stone yet (mentions of Hamilton and Napoleon would place Trek in about the 27th century), or it means that the writers are really bad at math.

Kevin: I agree this episode is a great concept, one they flesh out beautifully with Q in TNG. In fact, in one of my favorite novels, Q-Squared, Trelane is in fact an immature member of the continuum who warps not just our, but two parallel universes for fun. At first blush, I found the lack of correcting for the distance light would travel to be a little silly, but I actually think it perfectly fits the character. I'll discuss this more in the acting section, but the writers really managed to balance petulance and power in creating Trelane and it helped make his childishness credible and not annoying.

Matthew: We get the "take me instead of my ship" trope, though it is not entirely inappropriate here. Kirk does use his wiles in suggesting a "most dangerous game" chase instead of a hanging for his punishment, though.


Matthew: You can't talk about this episode without first mentioning William Campbell as Trelane. Campbell is so charming, funny, interesting, and entertaining, that he elevates this episode. There wouldn't be an antagonist this entertaining in Trek until the very similar Q in TNG. And his portrayal fits perfectly with the surprise ending, as well. It really was an inspired casting choice and it's too bad Trelane wasn't a recurring villain.

Kevin: I agree. William Campbell also plays Koloth in Trouble with Tribbles and Blood Oath in DS9, and he really made the part. Just like child actors, child-like characters can veer very easily into some really bad territory. His whining to his parents at the end is just perfect.

Matthew: Yeoman Ross and Uhura are quite the fetching feminine pair in this episode. I wish we had seen more of Yeoman Ross - lots more. Uhura is quite charming as well, playing the harpsichord.

Kevin: One of my favorite moments in this episode is when Trelane calls Uhura a "Nubian goddess" and assumes Kirk captured her. The look on Nichelle Nichols face was priceless. Without being able to actually say the words "Is this fucker for real?" she conveyed it nonetheless. I wonder if she retained the ability to play the harpsichord.

Matthew: Shatner does his usual fine job, conveying an appropriate mix of annoyance, amusement, and heroism.

Kevin: I don't know if the credit should go to the director or to DeForest Kelley, but when he sees the M-113 creature from "The Man Trap" and does a double take, that was perfect, and a great example of the way Star Trek seamlessly works in elements of canon.

Production Values

Matthew: There aren't a whole lot of effects in this episode. I liked the set designs quite a bit. Trelane's drawing room was quite visually interesting, as was the castle exterior. The sound effects when Kirk destroys the mirror are rather silly.

Kevin: The design of Trelane's drawing room was fantastic. I will say for all the optical effects of disappearances and appearances, they were well achieved insofar as they did not distract me from the action, so well done there.


Matthew: There's not much to fault in this show. It could have gone further, but what we have is very good. I hate to give it a 4, since Campbell's Trelane is so much fun, but the fact remains that for as good as this is, there are quite a few better episodes in TOS. I would say it lacks a little ambition sci-fi-wise, despite its obvious charms. So it's a 4 from me.

Kevin: This gets a 4 from me as well. Minus William Campbell, it would be a solid 3 for me. His performance was fantastic. Like so many other episodes, performances and characters like these make or break episodes. That makes a total of 8 from the two of us.

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