Archive for the ‘Tribbles’ Tag

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine–Trials and Tribble-ations (1996)   3 comments

Commander Dax and Captain Sisko, Back in 2268



1996 was the thirtieth anniversary of the debut of the original series.  It was a big year for Star Trek.  First Contact did well at the box office.  Who can forget Worf’s terse declaration, “Assimilate this!” followed by weapon fire?  That Fall Deep Space Nine entered its fifth season and Voyager its third.  Each series had a special thirtieth-anniversary episode.  Flashback, the Voyager episode with Captain Sulu, was lackluster, to state the case generously.  The fault for this lay entirely with the concept and the script.  But Trials and Tribble-ations was a fun and triumphant romp through The Trouble with Tribbles.

Starfleet Temporal Investigations Agents Dulmer and Lucsly

The episode opens with Starfleet Temporal Investigations agents Dulmer and Lucsly (their names based of Mulder and Scully) arriving on Deep Space Nine to question Captain Benjamin Sisko.  These agents have no sense humor.  They claim to hate jokes, and they give every impression of telling the truth about that.  They even dislike Commander Jadzia Dax’s quip that they are always on time.

Dulmer and Lucsly ask Sisko why he took the Defiant back in time two weeks previous.  Sisko explains that he did not.  The story goes like this:

Barry Waddle, a.k.a. Arne Darvin

Sisko took the Defiant to Cardassia Prime, for the Cardassian government wanted to return a Bajoran orb–in this case, the Orb of Time.  While there, Sisko took on a guest, one Barry Waddle, a merchant trapped on the planet during the Klingon invasion at the beginning of the fourth season.  Waddle says he is glad to be around humans again.  He even insults Klingons, saying that they smell foul.  Commander Worf finds this annoying, but Dr. Julian Bashir and Chief Miles O’Brien tell Worf that he smells very pleasant–even like lilac.

Waddle used the Orb of Time to take the Defiant through time–105 years, one month, and twelve days, to be precise–and space to Space Station K-7, where Captain Kirk is 18 hours away from exposing Waddle’s younger self, then known as Arne Darvin, as a Klingon spy.  Waddle/Darvin plots to assassinate Kirk with an exploding tribble.

The Starship Enterprise, Constitution Class, NCC-1701

These facts become clear during the episode.  First, however, Sisko and crew see Kirk’s Enterprise on their screen.

Sisko, Bashir, and O’Brien

Having begun to discover Waddle/Darvin’s plot, our heroes travel incognito in teams to the Enterprise and Space Station K-7.  They change clothing, Worf wears a hat that conceals his brow ridges, and they seek to locate Waddle/Darvin and to foil his sinister plot.

Our Heroes

So they begin to pass through the background of the familiar events of The Trouble with Tribbles.  Here the real fun begins.  Dax, O’Brien, and Bashir get 1960s hairstyles.  Bashir gets to say, “I’m a doctor, not a historian.”  O’Brien and Bashir become caught up in the bar fight, and O’Brien gets to lie to Captain Kirk.  He is thrilled, and wishes that his wife could have seen that.  Dax gushes nostalgically about “classic twenty-third century design” and notices that Spock is more attractive in person than in pictures.  And, in the K-7 bar, Odo, O’Brien, and Bashir quiz Worf about why Klingons of 2268 look different than those of 2373.  “We do not talk about it with outsiders,” Worf replies.

Odo, Uhura, and Chekov

Kirk and Spock with Sisko and Dax in the Background

The technical wizardry of Trials and Tribble-ations is evident in the integration of 1996 cast members into 196os footage.  Examine the two images above for evidence of this.

Tribbles on the Enterprise

And examine the image above carefully.  The man wearing a red shirt and playing with a tribble is David Gerrold, author of The Trouble with Tribbles.

Sisko and Dax

Odo and Worf return Waddle/Darvin to the Defiant, where he reveals his exploding tribble plot.  Sisko and Dax decide that staying close to Kirk is the best way to find said tribble.  This is an effective strategy, for they realize that the tribble bomb is probably in the grain storage bin at K-7.

Kirk is Safe

They find the tribble bomb, which Major Kira, aboard the cloaked Defiant, beams into outer space.

Kirk and Sisko

Before using the Orb of Time to return to 2373, Captain Sisko indulges himself.  As Lieutenant Sisko in 2268, he presents Captain Kirk with the next day’s duty roster and says what an honor it has been to serve with Kirk on special assignment.

(The original footage for this scene comes from Mirror, Mirror, another wonderful and legendary episode.)

Dulmer and Lucsly, satisfied, give Sisko and crew a pass.

Tribbles on Deep Space Nine

But they do not know that tribbles now infest Deep Space Nine.

Trials and Tribble-ations is an episode best enjoyed by viewing it, not reading a summary of it.  So, if I inspire you seek it out (in a way consistent with U.S. copyright laws, of course), I have accomplished my goal.



All images are screen captures I took via the Power DVD program.  Star Trek is property of CBS and Paramount Pictures.

Posted March 12, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999)

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Star Trek–More Tribbles, More Troubles (1973)   2 comments



The original Star Trek series ran for three years (1966-1969) on NBC.  The network cancelled the series the first time at the end of the second season, but a letter-writing campaign led to the third season.  Then NBC cancelled the series and never brought it back in live action.  The producer during the final season was Fred Freiberger, not Gene Roddenberry.  Freiberger, by the way, went on to kill Space: 1999 and The Six Million Dollar Man in the 1970s.  Roddenberry had planned to have a tribble episode in the third season, but Freiberger forbade such a comedy concept on his watch.  This is odd, given that he permitted Spock’s Brain, arguably the worst episode of the original series.

The Enterprise, Animated

Then the original series entered syndication and found new audiences after the 1969 Moon landing.  Demand for more programming grew, and NBC decided that a Saturday morning cartoon was in order.  So the animated Star Trek series ran from 1973 to 1975.  The first episode produced and fifth aired was More Tribbles, More Troubles, based on an episode planned for the third season of the original series.

Robot Ships Containing Grain for Sherman’s Planet

The Enterprise is escorting two robot ships full of containers of grain–quintotritocale, to be precise–to Sherman’s Planet, where there is a severe famine.  Quadrotriticale used to be the only Earth grain capable of growing on Sherman’s Planet (The Trouble with Tribbles), but that fact seems to have changed.

Klingons Fire on a Scout Vessel

The Enterprise breaks away from its escort duties to investigate a Klingon battle cruiser’s pursuit of a small scout vessel.  Kirk orders Scotty, who is manning the main Transporter Room, to beam the small vessel’s pilot aboard.  This is a good plan, for the Klingons destroy the scout vessel.  The Klingons also fire their new, mysterious weapon, a disruptor, at the Enterprise, interfering with the transporter, the engines, and all weapons temporarily.

Captain Koloth

Captain Koloth, last seen in The Trouble with Tribbles, demands that Kirk hand over the scout ship’s pilot, whom he claims is guilty of “ecological sabotage.”  Kirk refuses.  Besides, we the viewers know the pilot has not materialized yet.

A Damaged Robot Ship

Kirk, his weapons disabled momentarily, decides to use the robot ships to ram the Klingon battle cruiser from different sides.  The battle cruiser uses its new weapon until the ship’s power proves insufficient, so the Klingons fire conventional weapons at one robot ship, disabling it.  Then the battle cruiser veers off for a few hours, until its power builds up again.

Cyrano Jones and Tribbles

Scotty is finally able to materialize the pilot, who turns out to be Cyrano Jones.  And Jones has tribbles with him.  These tribbles, as McCoy confirms later, do not reproduce.  Jones has genetically engineered them so that they merely become fat when they eat too much.

Unfortunately, these tribbles are also pink.  Many items were pink in the animated series.  This fact made for unintentional comedy.  In a subsequent episode, for example, there were fierce alien warriors–in pink uniforms, flying around in a pink ship.  There is a simple explanation for these mishaps; the person in charge of assigning colors was colorblind.

The Glommer

Cyrano Jones was able to rid Space Station K-7 of its tribbles in far less than 17.9 years because he used the glommer, a predator.  (The glommer did its predation offscreen, for this was a Saturday morning cartoon.)  But Jones was still in violation of multiple Federation laws, so Kirk confined him to quarters until the end of the mission, at which point Kirk promised to turn Jones over to the appropriate authorities.

Containers of Quintotriticale in the Corridors

With one robot ship disabled, its cargo is now aboard the Enterprise.  There is so much grain involved that there are containers in corridors.  This is bad news when tribbles are on board.

Tribbles in the Quintotriticale

The Klingons attack again, disabling the other robot ship before targeting the Enterprise and knocking over containers of grain.  So tribbles begin feasting–and growing.

That is a Very Large Tribble.

The Klingons plan to board the Enterprise, but Kirk thwarts them.

That is Still a Very Large Tribble.

Tribbles in the Klingon Engine Room

Kirk orders Scotty to beam tribbles into the Klingon engine room, thereby filling it up.

Koloth contacts Kirk and reveals that the glommer is a genetically engineered tribble predator, the only one of its kind.  The Klingons want the glommer back; Jones is unimportant.  So Kirk orders Scotty to beam the glommer over to the Klingon battle cruiser.

The Glommer, Fleeing a Giant Tribble

But the glommer flees upon the sight of a giant tribble.

McCoy has learned that these new, sterile tribbles are actually colonies of tribbles.  He can inject a giant tribble with a chemical and reduce the colony to its component parts, truly harmless tribbles.  But the Klingons do not know this.  So Koloth fires at a giant tribble and…

…this results.

And, back on the Enterprise, a tribble colony buries Kirk.  But, as Scotty says, it is good if all your tribbles are little ones.

More Tribbles, More Troubles is a fun episode, one of the best of the twenty-two installments of the animated series.  Tribbles are always entertaining, as are the puns of the word “tribble.”  Yet some of the dialogue rehashes The Trouble with Tribbles awkwardly.  Why are Kirk and Jones repeating what both of them know, except to fill in young viewers who had not seen the live action episode?

The greater sequel to The Trouble with Tribbles is the subject of the last installment of this series of posts.  Trials and Tribble-ations (1996), from Deep Space Nine, is a note-perfect visit to the events of the original episode, as well as a technological wonder.  And its writers did not have work within the confines of a seven-year-old’s mentality.



The images are screen captures.  Star Trek is property of Paramount Pictures and CBS.  The animated series is available in its entirety via DVD and other means consistent with U.S. copyright laws.

Posted March 10, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Star Trek (1973-1975)

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Star Trek–The Trouble with Tribbles (1967)   2 comments

The Tribbles are Everywhere



Let your geek flag fly high and proudly!  You know who you are, fellow classic Star Trek fan.  You can recite this episode line-by-line, can you not?  So can I.  Consequently, this post will contain fewer details than any given Starhunter summary and review, for example.  The Trouble with Tribbles occupies an iconic place in science fiction television, and I choose to focus more on impressions than content this time.  The Tribbles did reappear in an episode of the 1973-1975 animated series and one episode of Deep Space Nine.  I will devote substantial content to the plot summaries of those episodes when I come to them, in subsequent posts.

Here is the short version of the plot, with pictures:

Captain Kirk, after receiving a high priority, emergency-only distress signal from space station K-7, takes the Enterprise to the space station, located near the Federation-Klingon border.  K-7 is near Sherman’s Planet, ownership of which is under dispute between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets.  The Organian Peace Treaty dictates that the side capable of developing the planet more efficiently will win.

Nilz Barris

Kirk and company arrive, only to find no emergency.  Nilz Barris, Undersecretary of Agricultural Affairs, ordered the emergency signal.  Quadrotriticale, a wheat-rye hybrid, is the only Earth grain capable of growing on Sherman’s Planet, and K-7 has much of the grain on board.  Barris wants Kirk to place guards around the storage bins.

One very funny recurring joke in the episode is that Kirk is the only person who seems never to have heard of Quadrotriticale.  He keeps calling it “wheat.”

Arne Darvin

Barris is obnoxious.  He spends the episode threatening Kirk, who insults him repeatedly  in return.  But even more annoying than Barris is his aide, Arne Darvin.

Cyrano Jones Shows Lt. Uhura a Tribble

In a bar aboard K-7, traveling merchant Cyrano Jones gives a tribble to Lt. Uhura.  A tribble, of course, is a furball that coos for everyone except a Klingon.  Remember that fact.

Captain Koloth

Captain Koloth and his Klingon crew visit K-7 for shore leave.  They have this right under the Organian Peace Treaty.  (That is what you get when non-corporeal beings impose a treaty on the Federation and the Empire.)

Prelude to a Bar Fight

Enterprise and Klingon officers enjoy shore leave on K-7.  What could possibly go wrong?  Kirk orders Scotty to keep the peace.  So, when Korax, the Klingon ship’s Executive Officer, insults Kirk to Scotty’s face, the Chief Engineer refuses to start a bar fight.  But Korax’s comment that the Enterprise should be hauled away as garbage is too much.  Scotty throws the first punch.  As he tells Captain Kirk, later, it was a matter of pride.

Tribbles are Everywhere

About this time Kirk and crew discover how prolific tribbles are.  They reproduce ten-fold upon the act of eating more than the smallest morsel of food.  So tribbles overwhelm the Enterprise and its systems.

Kirk, Buried in Tribbles

And they have consumed the Quadrotriticale at K-7.

But the K-7 tribbles are mostly either dead or dying.  Someone has poisoned the grain.

Spock, a Tribble, and Kirk

Tribbles like Vulcans.  Spock says that tribbles must be perceptive animals.

Barris, a Tribble, and Kirk

Tribbles even like Nilz Barris.  Kirk concludes that there must be no accounting for taste.

But a tribble reacts to Arne Darvin as if he were a Klingon.  He is a Klingon altered surgically to appear Human.  But really, given the appearance of Klingons in the original series, that is not saying much.  A two-part episode of Star Trek: Enterprise offers an explanation for changing Klingon appearances over time, but that is beside the point here and now.

Oh, Darvin poisoned the grain.  But never fear, the Federation has other supplies of it.

Kirk and Spock force the smarmy Cyrano Jones, the man responsible for bringing tribbles to K-7 (and hence to the Enterprise) to agree to pick up every tribble aboard the space station.  Spock says this will take 17.9 years.  Kirk calls this “job security.”

The Happy Ending

Back on the Enterprise, Kirk realizes that there are no tribbles aboard the ship.  McCoy, Spock, and Scotty reveal that they collaborated to beam all of them into the Klingons’ engine room, where “they’ll be no tribble at all.”  Gotta love the pun.

That is not the only excellent pun in the episode.  In one scene, Spock says, “He heard you; he simply could not believe his ears.”

The best way to enjoy this, David Gerrold’s debut as a Star Trek writer, is to watch it.  Glances become important, as does tone of voice.  And, of course, timing is crucial in comedy.  The actors mastered comic timing.

This is light-hearted fun of the highest order.  It deserves its status as an extremely popular episode.  (It is my favorite.)  And it inspired two follow-ups–one animated and the other live action.  So, if it will not tribble you, I will write summaries and reviews of those, too.



The pictures are screen captures.  Star Trek is property of CBS and Paramount Pictures.

Posted March 6, 2011 by neatnik2009 in Star Trek (1966-1969)

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