November 15, 2006

Star Trek moment #2

Special delivery for Captain Kirk

For those of you playing along at home, here are the current parameters for a moment from Star Trek to be considered a "Star Trek moment":

1. It is any moment that causes the show to transcend itself, the medium of TV, and science fiction genre. This can come about as a result of chemistry between the actors (particularly between Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley), or perhaps the mention of a subtle detail that lends a level of believability to the Star Trek "universe." #1 is the most elusive and difficult to explain. I just know them when they occur.

2. Really, any moment that causes the hair on my arms or the back of my neck to stand up is a "Star Trek moment."

About halfway through "The Conscience of the King" (episode #13, aired on December 8, 1966), just such a moment occurs. It is a Zapp Branigan* scene (hey! a "Star Trek moment" sub-genre?!).

The Enterprise is transporting a Shakespearean acting troupe to its next gig. Kirk, being Kirk, is smitten by Lenore, the daughter of the troupe's leader. They first meet at a swingin', outer space cocktail party. Here's just a bit of that scene, complete with a jazzy, lounge version of the show's theme playing in the background (this is not the moment, though):

Lenore is later beamed aboard the ship, where Kirk gives her a tour...of the ship. They end up on the ship's observation deck (a small detail adding to the overall believability of there actually being a starship Enterprise; see rule #1), where the double entendres ("All this power - surging and throbbing, yet under control. Are you like that, Captain?") fly.

The moment comes precisely during this line of dialogue from Lenore (Barbara Anderson):

"All this...and power too? Caesar of the stars, and the Cleopatra to worship him."
I love that line (see rule #2), and I think it's indicative of the great writing (particularly during season one) that raised the show above the level of Lost in Space (which I like) and its ilk. The very concept of Kirk being a "Caesar of the stars" is very cool. While the romantic nature of the scene would have made me squirm as a child, it no doubt reinforced in my mind the appeal of Captain James T. Kirk, as well as William Shatner. Judge for yourself:

*Zapp Brannigan


Leslie said...

In the words of Spock - "Oh, Bitter Dregs!"

Lisa said...

Darmok. And Jalad. At Tanagra.

Chris said...

Wow, you two are HARD CORE! For what it's worth, I'm impressed.

lisa, I think that episode is frequently listed among the five best for TNG, and "Plato's Stepchildren" is obviously a classic, albeit, full of silliness.