8.19.2013

Captain's Blog pt. 57: The Squire of Gothos

Airing for the first time on January 12, 1967, the same night Dragnet aired its hilariously bad "The LSD Story" episode:

Title: 2 out of 3 pts. Nothing allusional or theme-refracting here but neither is it generic or imprecise. Plus it foreshadows the hierarchy reveal at episode's end.

Guest: 3.5 out of  3 pts. Let's start with the Squire himself:


I suppose one could argue his more memorable Trek role is that of Koloth, the Klingon captain from "The Trouble with Tribbles" and later reprised for DS9. But I prefer him as Trelane. An energetic performance that truly captures both the childlike spirit and the martial-Old-Europe-fop that the part calls for.


It's been suggested that Trelane is actually a Q. Personally, I prefer to think he's a separate entity, but it's certainly plausible enough. Obviously, no one had Q in mind when this originally aired, but if it was retconned that way, I don't think anyone could reasonably cry foul. There is a pretty good Marvel comic that has Q and Trelane playing chess and pitting Kirk and Picard against one another for their own amusement. 


Campbell was a longtime friend of Roddenberry's and Jimmy Doohan's and very active and popular at conventions, in addition to contributing many anecdotes and impressions to the original cast's memoirs. I always assumed he was the father of Billy Campbell, who came a stone's throw away from being cast as Riker in TNG. But apparently he wasn't.

The other guest star of note:
Venita Wolf as Yeoman Ross

She's neither terrific nor terrible, but she's certainly fine for a somewhat boilerplate role. She never shows up again. 


There's this one somewhat odd interaction with the Captain when they escape Trelane for the second time:

Odd mainly for the Captain's reaction.

Visual Design: 2.5 of 3 pts. Trelane's castle and drawing room are great.


It features some interesting objects, one of which I'll save for the next category. But two of note:

Nice callback to "The Man Trap." We can presume Trelane "peeked in" on Planet M-113 at some point and not that he buys his statuary from the TOS Surplus Mega-Store. (McCoy's double take as they pass it is a nice touch.)
This (screencapped a split-second before Trelane obliterates it with DeSalle's phaser) would appear to be some variation of the bird-like creature we can see briefly in the original version of "The Cage."
They enjoyed re-using props - and why not? It's cost-effective - even from whole other shows:
That text reads: "'The Humanoid Bird' from "The Cage" consisted of the long beak and facial appliances of the Megasoid from The Outer Limits episode "The Duplicate Man," and the feathered head-wig thing from the Empyrian from The Outer Limits episode "Second Chance." Image from TrekBBS.

And as always lighting is used to excellent effect during key scenes.

This image in particular has stayed with me over the years.
Incidentally, I love the way flames look in TOS.

Kirk and the Gang: 20 of 10. Everyone does good work here. Not much to say, really.


Shatner lets loose a little bit in his courtroom scene with Trelane:

His hands moved too fast for me to screencap them effectively, unfortunately,
But there's some fine gesticulation'.

Internal Logistics: 1.5 of 3 pts. For the most part, I'm happy to roll with the whole set-up. Only two things worth mentioning: 1) Trelane's mistaken ideas re: how Earthmen behave is due to the distance between Gothos and Earth. (900 light years.) Yet, he references both Napoleon and Alexander Hamilton, which would be 1800-ish.


They probably hadn't nailed down TOS in the 23rd century just yet, so maybe they were toying with the idea of the show taking place in 2700.

Just worth mentioning. Maybe.

2) I kind of like the peripheral characters who pop up from time to time, like DeSalle, but someone really needs to talk to him about how to sneak up on someone.

I find it hard to believe he doesn't know how mirrors work.

Script and Story: 7.5 / 7 (of 10/10) pts. The first draft had more of an anti-war feel to it. Paul Schneider says he got the idea watching children play war. It's still there, somewhat, but certainly not the focus of the episode. Nor does it have to be. It's a cool little story, and I've enjoyed the ending twist with the parents showing up ever since I was a kid.

The script is full of great lines. I still use "You have one saving grace; you're ill-mannered" (and Spock's comment that precipitates that, as well) on a fairly regular basis.

Let's all have some coffee.
 
"But I haven't finished studying my predators yet..."

Memorability: 3.5 of 5 pts. I'd say this one's pretty well known and referenced among Trekkies and Trekkers, but I'm amazed at how many civilians have referenced this bit to me over the years:

"And I believe it's pronounced... Tallyho."

I have no explanation. I mean, it's always been exactly what I think of when I hear either "Felicitations" or "Tallyho," but I figured that was just me.

Total Points Awarded: 47.5

6 comments:

  1. I always liked this episode. Probbaly not in my top 10 but it's a fun little romp. I think William Campbell was a wonderful addition to Trek in both roles.

    Usually I despise retcons but I have no problem with Trelane being a Q. It makes sense, especially if he's a child and lived "only" a few millennia at this point.

    A good episode all around.


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  2. A decent episode, and Campbell gives a good, likable performance. His "you're ill-mannered" line to Spock is one of my favorites, too.

    I've never liked Q very much, mostly because of his general lack of boundaries and supercilious attitude...his handful of comeuppances notwithstanding. I don't mind retconning the Squire as a Q, though, since it's a bit more palatable to have just one "continuum" of omnipotent jackasses screwing with starship captains.

    This episode and Who Mourns for Adonais? are the ones that made me wonder at an early age about how dangerous the Trek-verse is, and why humanity wasn't wiped out ages ago. The cumulative effect of these episodes, along with all the other less-powerful, but even more hostile, aliens running around the galactic neighborhood in Trek, made it seem like it was just pure dumb luck that Earth hadn't been destroyed before we ever got a chance to take to space. Plus, why didn't the Klingons seem as bedeviled by all these superpowered and inimical beings? Or the Vulcans? I suppose that Q messing with Picard was Q's way of acknowledging Picard's - and humanity's - "special purpose" or "destiny," though it seems like an odd way of going about it. But besides that, you'd think that all the hugely powerful, capriciously malignant beings running around the galaxy in the same basic region of space-time would have resulted in some or all of them coming to loggerheads and duking it out in cosmic fashion, with humanity simply powerless bystanders at best, and collateral casualties at worst.

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    1. That's a fun point. As a fictional show generated from Earth, earth-centrism can't help but manifest itself in unanticipated ways. (Hell, it's written into their grid of the Federation, with Earth occuping point zero-zero and "Deep Space Nine" and "Farpoint Station," etc. Though I suppose these could just be Starfleet terms and each member of the Federation colloquially uses its own terminology.)

      I wouldn't mind seeing a History of the Federation / super-powered beings from the Klingon p.o.v. (Or Romulan.)

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  3. William Campbell as Trelane is one of the best guest appearances on Star Trek TOS. There's so much to like about his over-the-top performance as the lonely Squire of Gothos.

    While it does not rank in the pantheon of Star Trek TOS, it is an enjoyable episode and one I've always enjoyed.

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    1. I imagine Shatner seeing how far over the top Campbell was going, and just seething to himself at how much of the spotlight was getting stolen. But Campbell isn't just going over the top; he's doing so in a very satisfactory and, in a way, compelling manner. It's SUBTLE over-the-top, if that makes any sense.

      I love this episode. It's goofy in all the best ways. I love that "...and, I believe it's pronounced...tally-ho" business. But then I also always find it a little moving at the end, when Trelane's parents come and scoop him up and take him back home. He's every miserable little kid who got denied staying up past his bedtime; hard not to feel a little sympathy for him. And also a little bit of wonder at a universe that could hold such a being.

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    2. Love the ending, definitely. (And very amused by its recall in the TOS Futurama episode. "He's not a child! He's thirty-four!")

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