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Star Trek: Shore Leave

Spock: "The term is 'amusement park'."
Caretaker: "Of course."

Again with the theme of the perfect fantasy being dangerous. Except in the end, it wasn't.

This was the first outright comic episode of Star Trek, and it's a fan favorite. It has some flaws and hasn't aged well, but for the most part, it's still a lot of fun to watch. Okay, the fist fight went on way too long, and everyone kept running from place to place. And it wasn't fair that Kirk got two fantasies. Couldn't we have had at least one of Spock's?

There were several sinister notes that gave a bit of depth to the story. Finnegan sounded creepy, talking about Kirk sleeping forever. There were samurais attacking with swords, knights on chargers, a tiger on the loose, and airplanes doing strafing runs. McCoy died, and so did Angela. (But somehow, no one except Yeoman Barrows seemed all that upset about it.) How could the planet "fix" McCoy and Angela? Did the caretaker's people have the power of life and death? And what exactly were those things that looked like Finnegan, Don Juan, and Ruth? Androids? Animated plants? Kirk stayed on afterward and spent time with "Ruth," and the subtext was that he had a whole lot of sex with her. I find that a bit creepy these days, although I don't think it occurred to me when I was a kid.

This episode was written by sci-fi writer Theodore Sturgeon... except that much of it wasn't. I've heard a few times that the original script was almost unusable and Gene Roddenberry re-wrote much of this episode as they were filming it. That must have been un-fun.

Ben says...

How to make this episode better: Make the bully that Kirk needed to defeat Cindy the eight year old girl who beat him up in kindergarten. Same fight of the same length but with a little girl whooping Kirk's butt. Even better, keep her Irish and have her in a Catholic school outfit. You know they could easily do this given the current technology, maybe on the next upgraded version.

Okay, let's review: Kirk's heart's desire is to beat up a college bully (again, really, a college bully?) and then get laid. Sulu, man, you have some disturbingly violent tendencies: guns, swords, and attacking airplanes. Yeoman (place random name here) likes big aggressive men. You see a theme, it's women like manly men and we are, in fact, manly. But what's going on in McCoy's head? It's all Alice in Wonderland and Knights and Showgirls. Actually come to think of it, I totally get McCoy. I might not have at one time, but I do now.

Finally, I am stealing Billie's idea and selling a t-shirt at Etsy:

Front: "On my planet, to rest is to rest... To me, it is quite illogical to run up and down on green grass, using energy instead of saving it."

Back: "Vacation like a Vulcan" plus a picture of Spock in a hammock with a drink in a coconut.

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

— Stardate 3025, ah, point 3. The planet was in the Omicron Delta region.

— The shore leave planet was (again) much like the Holodeck in Next Gen.

— The lack of animals and insects should have raised major red flags with the scientists on the Enterprise. How could there be an Earth-like ecosystem without them?

— Why would Spock rub Kirk's back? Maybe the more accurate question should be, why would Kirk expect Spock to rub his back?

— We learned a bit about Kirk in his younger days at the Academy. Apparently, he was so focused and studious that he was "absolutely grim," and was picked on by upper classmen.

— Suddenly, there was Yeoman Barrows and no Yeoman Rand. Actually, we never see Yeoman Rand and her amazing hair again, and no one missed her. Sorry about that, Grace Lee Whitney.

— Angela (Barbara Baldavin) was the same crew member who nearly married Tomlinson in "Balance of Terror." It seemed weird that she was all over Rodriguez. Must have gotten over losing her fiance pretty quickly.

— Finnegan's Academy uniform was shiny silver. For what it's worth.

— The southern California foliage was unsuccessfully disguised by adding multi-colored plumes and spray paint on the tree trunks.

— The pink and yellow bunny sluts at the end were supposedly from a cabaret on Rigel 2. Rigel has been mentioned twice before: Rigel 7 and Rigel 12. How many habitable planets are there in the Rigel system?

My favorite convention was named after this episode. I went to Shore Leave for years, and always had a great time. At one of them, we saw this episode, "Shore Leave," MSTy'd by three Star Trek novelists, one of whom was Peter David.


Spock: "On my planet, to rest is to rest. To cease using energy. To me, it is quite illogical to run up and down on green grass, using energy instead of saving it."
Hey, I vacation like a Vulcan.

Kirk: "This is turning out to be one very unusual shore leave."
McCoy: "It could have been worse."
Kirk: "How?"
McCoy: "You could have seen the rabbit."

McCoy: "My dear girl, I'm a doctor. When I peek, it's in the line of duty."

Three out of four white rabbits,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. Billie,

    Has the show used its infamous fight music by now? (You know the one: duh-duh DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH duh DAH-DAH duh-duh-duh... oops, sorry for going all musically technical on you, there.) Probably so -- was it there from the first episode? Or when do we get our first taste?

    When I was a lad, we sibs and friends would play-fight as we either recreated a television scene or mashed them all together into something archetypal or archiecomic (cuz it can't ALL be about the fighting; sometimes its about friends forming a band to sing Bang Shang-A-Lang). And many times we would naturally provide our own theme music behind the action. Bellowing at the top of our lungs the Batman NA-NA song (see Homer Simpson do the same in the classic episode about The Leader), not to mention the BAM! POW! sound effects. Or maybe the deedle-deedle-deedle-deedle (see apology above) Bumblebee Flight of Al Hirt's crackpipe trumpet from Green Hornet (ahhhhhh, there's the source of your unsanity, GH!), slowed down of course since hey, I was just a kid and anyway was pretty busy at the time trying to throw shadow punches while my brother karate-chopped the air villains with wild abandon. Orrrrrr... yup, we'd initiate a battle-to-the-death with monsters or stuffed animals in a pinch, all accompanied and timed to the FIGHT MUSIC FROM STAR TREK. Man, that was exciting stuff! Do kids still do all that? Or are there cell-phone apps that do it instead?

    Anyway: cynicism away, for now. Let's just say I fervently side with Bernie Casey's John Slade in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, when he says with a smile: "Every good hero should have his own theme music"!!

  2. Hey, Green Hornet:

    I honestly don't remember when the infamous fight music started, but if I had to guess, I bet it was "Amok Time." Maybe Memory Alpha knows. :)

  3. Billie's right, the famous ‘Fight Music’ by Gerald Fried (not Alexander Courage as I always thought) made its debut in ‘Amok Time’.

  4. Apparently, my subconscious knows its stuff.

  5. Amok Time -- ahh, how fitting. Thanks, everyone!

    (BILLIE DOUX: Unleashing the Subconscious Of Her Power!)

  6. I TOTALLY want that "On my planet, to rest is to rest. To cease using energy. To me, it is quite illogical to run up and down on green grass, using energy instead of saving it" on a T-Shirt!


  7. Did anyone notice when Kirk is almost licked by Finnigan (and he lying upside down on a rock) that his shirt is intact in long shot and completely ripped open on close-up? Definitely not a favourite episode, this one. I too wish we had seen Spock's memories come to life.

  8. I'm glad someone mentioned that classic fight music in the comments! I still remember it to this day; it's fitting and quite catchy in its own way, so I'm glad people still talk about it.

    This one was a very weird as a kid, but it makes more sense today. Lots of shows did the imagination come to life thing, but they're usually not on shows like ST where it's focused on adult audiences, so some of this didn't make a lot of sense to very young me, but did watching it again later in life.

    It is an interesting and fun episode, but of course, not as good as the one we just discussed (Balance of Terror), but that's a hard act to follow, and sometimes you just need a little levity and a bit of background about the main cast. I agree to wishing we would have seen Spock's fantasies as well though.


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