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Star Trek: A Piece of the Action

Spock: "Logic and practical information do not seem to apply here."
McCoy: "You admit that?"
Spock: "To deny the facts would be illogical, Doctor."

I liked this episode a lot when I was a kid. I thought it was hilarious. So it's not great science fiction. It's definitely a lot of fun.

Like Kirk's explanation of the rules of Fizzbin, which was always my favorite part. (After Spock in a fedora carrying a machine gun and saying, "Riiight.") I also enjoyed Kirk taking over and outmobstering the mobsters, the mobsters talking on communicators as they looked up in the air, Spock wrestling with the radio. And Kirk driving a car without ever quite getting the hang of a clutch.

On the con side, the constant hostage-taking got old, as did all the time they spent imprisoned in storerooms. The parodied vocabulary was a bit too much, pally. The universal translator was never mentioned, and there was so much slang. Were the Iotians speaking English? Were they so imitative that they abandoned their own language? Plus, Okmyx had the biggest "territory" in the world, but he had only two personal guards. And his headquarters was right around the corner from Krako's?

And "Let me call my ship to say goodbye"? They fell for that? Come on. A five-year-old wouldn't fall for that.

The history of the Prime Directive and dealing with cultural contamination from a hundred years ago is an interesting idea, and a serious treatment might have been intriguing. Going back in thirty years and seeing what the Iotians did with Federation technology would have been interesting, too. And they considered doing that on Deep Space Nine for the 30th anniversary tribute. Fortunately, they went for "The Trouble with Tribbles" instead.

Ben says...

I love this episode, particularly the Fizzbin game. It's just pure fun, which is good because it certainly doesn't begin to make much sense.

It also got me wondering. Why is it that the cultures imitated in these parallel development/cultural contamination stories are always the most violent and unequal cultures imaginable? We have government by crime, government by Nazis is around the corner, and season three brings us televised Roman gladiators.

Here's a plot for you. A book is left by the crew about Scandinavian social democracy in the seventies. The culture adopts programs which ensure general social equality, improved health outcomes, and social coherence. Spock and Kirk beam down to meet with a friendly collective of bulky sweater-wearing civil servants who televise the proceedings to ensure that this encounter with people from outer space becomes part of general civil discourse. Our heroes walk down the well-lit street with their hosts before enjoying a dinner of fish and forest berries. They explain to the Swede-darians that their society will soon encounter problems with supporting pension payments, falling savings rates, and the capitalization of industry. The people react intelligently and establish a set of programs to encourage investment while maintaining the social safety net. Kirk sleeps with the buxom blond woman who heads the council. The Captain and Spock beam up and fly away, satisfied that no one was killed and the Swede-darians will soon join the Federation.

Oh right... because that's boring, gotcha.

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

— No stardate given. Sigma Iota 2, which was suffering from contamination by the Federation ship Horizon from a hundred years ago, before the Prime Directive. Because of course, there hasn't been any contamination after the Prime Directive. Riiiight.

— The "book" was Chicago Mobs of the Twenties published 1992, which the Iotians had obviously reprinted many times in Biblical format.

— The artwork on all of the office walls were guns. Nice detail.

— Apparently, the "transtator" is the basis of a lot of Federation technology.


McCoy: "Those firearms are not necessary."
Kalo: "You tryin' to make trouble?"
McCoy: "Me?"
Kalo: "Don't give me those baby blue eyes."
McCoy: "What?"

Kirk: "On Beta Antares IV, they play a real game. It's a man's game, but of course, probably a little beyond you. It requires intelligence."

Kirk: "Each player gets six cards. Except for the dealer, ah, the player on the dealer's right, who gets seven."
Kalo: "On the right?"
Kirk: "Yes. The second card is turned up. Except on Tuesdays."
Kalo: "On Tuesday."
Kirk: "Mm-hmm. Oh, look what you got. Two jacks! You got a half Fizzbin already!"
Kalo: "I need another jack."
Kirk: "No, no. If you got another jack, why, you'd have, ah, a sralk."
Kalo: "A sralk?"
Kirk: "Yes. You'd be disqualified. No, what you need now is a king and a deuce. Except at night, of course, when you'd need a queen and a four."
Kalo: "Except at night."
Kirk: "Right. Oh, look at that. You've got another jack! How lucky you are! How wonderful for you. Now, if you didn't get another jack, if you'd gotten a king, why then you'd get another card. Except when it's dark, when you'd have to give it back."
Kalo: "If it were dark on Tuesday."

Kirk: "What you're after is a royal Fizzbin. But the odds in getting a royal Fizzbin are astron... Spock, what are the odds in getting a royal Fizzbin?"
Spock: "I've never computed them, Captain."
Kirk: "Well, they're astronomical, believe me."

Oxmyx: "Hey, you better come back down. Krako's put the bag on your captain."
Spock: "Why would he put a bag on our captain?"
Oxmyx: "Kidnapped him, ya dope. He'll scrag him, too."
Spock: "If I understand you correctly, that would seem to be a problem."

McCoy: "We're trying to help you, Okmyx."
Oxmyx: "Nobody helps nobody but himself."
Spock: "Sir, you are employing a double negative."

Spock: "Captain, you are an excellent starship commander. But as a taxi driver, you leave something to be desired."

Krako: "I thought you guys had laws! No interference!"
Kirk: "Who's interfering? We're taking over."

Kirk: "Are you afraid of cars, Mister Spock?"
Spock: "Not at all, Captain. It's your driving that alarms me."

Three out of four royal Fizzbins,

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


  1. I suppose how boring Swedonia was would depend how much time was given to Kirk sleeping with the blonde... ;)

  2. The entire episode is worth watching just to hear Kirk say "Spocko" :)

  3. The only episode where the looked super sharp the hats the suits

  4. Swedonia! Rhymes with Freedonia from the Marx Brothers' movie, Duck Soup! Which if you haven't seen, I can't recommend enough! But then, I pretty recommend almost all their movies barring Love Happy, which I haven't seen but it's almost universally disliked. Also, love that whole idea of Swedonia, the buxom blonde, and so on!

    Vic Tayback, who played Jojo Krako was of course Mel from Mel's Diner from Alice, where I saw him first. He does play 'heavies' well.

    I loved this as a kid, and still enjoy it immensely. A bit goofy of course, but also fascinating and so many good bits of interaction between members of the main cast, and them with the mobsters. It's a gold mine for some of their best lines. Spock alone makes this one a gem.


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