In what is potentially the most iconic episode of all of the original series, Kirk and crew must deal with Klingons, Conspirators and Tribbles.   Originally broadcast on December 29, 1967, this is The Trouble With Tribbles. 

The Episode:

Captain’s Log Stardate 4523.3

Enterprise arrives at Deep Space Station K-7 to assist with a planetary dispute.  There they discover the Klingons have laid claim to a nearby planet which is to be granted to the people who can develop it the most. With a large amount of quadrotrinitcale grain at risk, Kirk must help with the negotiations.

On the space station, Uhura is gifted a small furry animal known as a ‘Tribble’ by a man named Cyrano Jones. It is soon discovered that this new pet has begun reproducing causing the ship to slowly become infested by more and more of the purring cuddly furry creatures.  

Several of the crew members go to the space station for shore leave, but get into a fight with the Klingons in the process prompting Kirk to cancel the shore leave and reprimand those involved, even though Scotty was merely ‘defending Enterprises honor’. Meanwhile, the Tribbles have grown into a minor plague aboard the ship as they multiply exponentially.  

Kirk orders the removal of the furry pests from the ship only to discover that they have also began breeding on Station K-7 and have consumed nearly all of the grain. Before long they notice that many of the Tribbles are dead or dying and it is soon discovered that the grain had been poisoned by a Klingon operative by the name of Darvin.  His identity revealed only when a Tribble reacts violently toward him, much like they did when around the other Klingons. 

Cyrano Jones is charged with removing every Tribble from the station in leu of a prison sentence and the Enterprise leaves having prevented the deaths of the colonists and ensuring that the planet in question is not handed over to the Klingons. 

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

Sometimes you just need a fun episode and that is what you get with The Trouble With Tribbles.  While there is a clear ‘threat’ throughout the episode stemming from the antagonism of the Klingons, the episode is very careful to balance the more serious story line with the rather whimsical fun that an infestation of Tribbles on the Enterprise would cause.

Everyone is on their ‘A’ game in this episode.  While I have seen some comments on other reviews suggesting that the cast seem like parodies of themselves, I must disagree.  If anything, this episode shows the characters in their purest forms.  From Kirk’s cavalier attitude, to Scotty violently defending Enterprise’s honor, every character is given significant development that  resonates from this point on even into the latter films.  It is also worth noting the introduction of Cyrano Jones who, although would not show up again until the animated series, would quickly become quite an iconic character in the franchise.  

One aspect I love about this is the inclusion of the Klingon Koloth who would return in both the animated series and on Deep Space Nine.  Played by actor William Campbell, who you may recognize as the actor who also played Trelane in a previous episode, Koloth would be remembered as one of Kirk’s best original series adversaries. 

Again, this is potentially the single most iconic episode of the original series.  With perhaps the exception of Mirror, Mirror, there is no other episode so engrained in popular culture than that of The Trouble with Tribbles.   Just referring to a Tribble, even a non-Trekkie will instantly see the fuzzy ball of fur in their mind and may not even know where that image came from. If there is any episode that could be a perfect introduction to the Star Trek universe, I would absolutely recommend The Trouble With Tribbles, you honestly can’t get much better than this.

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

  • We revisit this episode during Deep Space Nine where Sisko and crew go back in time and blend in perfectly. 
  • This is not the last of the tribbles we see and, more recently, we even get a suggested origin to this version of the Tribble in the Short Trek episode ‘The Trouble with Edward’.
  • This episode establishes both the Tribbles dislike of Klingons and the fact that Klingons would send out spies disguised as humans, something that would be revisited in future series.

Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review,  I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday!  Next Review: Bread and Circuses

For more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.

As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!

Late To The Game 3/7/2022

Spock and McCoy attempt to determine the velocity of an unladen Tribble.

Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available.  Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.

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