The Trouble with Tribbles is one of those memorable and legendary episodes of which it’s fairly easy to write, given the influence they had and the countless references that made me know it well before getting halfway (and beyond!) of this second season of the original Star Trek series. Suffice it to say that while normally each Bluray of the box I possess contains four or five episodes, the one of The Trouble with Tribbles only contains that episode plus a lot of special content, including its sequel from Star Trek: The Animated Series, and above all also the amazing Trials and Tribble-ations of the fifth season of Deep Space Nine. The latter is the second special episode written and produced for Star Trek’s 30th anniversary, together with the stunning Flashback of the third season of Star Trek: Voyager. But the influence of the original tribbles episode is so great that, among other things, a family of proteins has been named in their honor!
So let’s talk about this episode. Like in Journey to Babel, it’s a story full of characters and filmed almost entirely in new sets, in this case those of the Deep Space K-7 starbase. The USS Enterprise arrives there to help in a dispute over planet Sherman’s on which both the Federation and the Klingons claim some rights. The Federation, in order to get the planet, focuses on a particularly productive grain of which large stocks are stored in the starbase, while the Klingons… are the usual arrogant and aggressive schemers that we have come to know in Errand of Mercy and Friday’s Child. But the conflict between Kirk and Koloth (William Campbell, later returned as the same character in Blood Oath, in Deep Space Nine) is, so to speak, disturbed by Cyrano Jones (Stanley Adams), a sort of Harry Mudd (see Mudd’s Women and I, Mudd) who sells tribbles, hairy little adorable creatures which manage to conquer even Spock’s Vulcan heart! Nobody knows, though, that the tribbles hate the Klingons!
What can I say… The Trouble with Tribbles doesn’t take itself too seriously and this is its strength. The story is pretty ridiculous: there are tribbles everywhere and everyone loves them; the Klingons exchange punches with Scott and his mates (Scott doesn’t get angry unless you speak badly of his Enterprise); Kirk argues with the base administrator Nilz Baris (William Schallert) and his aide Arne Darvin (Charlie Brill); Cyrano Jones drives the bartender mad… in short, lots of laughs! And in the meanwhile there’s also a credible story with the Klingons playing dirty and sabotaging the Federation’s plans! But the sabotage fails because of the tribbles, and we know from Worf that the Klingons then organized an expedition to eliminate all tribbles from the Universe! Then, since I had already seen the DS9 episode that merged with that of the original series, I enjoyed the episode even more because I remembered Worf refusing to explain what had happened to the Klingons (so different physically from those of a few decades before) and what was the exact reason for so much hatred towards the adorable tribbles.
In short, this is a legendary piece of television and science fiction, and we must give credit to David Gerrold for writing the story and script of one of the most famous Star Trek episodes (Gerrold would work in the world of Star Trek until the end of first season of The Next Generation, when he would leave due to a clash with Gene Roddenberry’s intrusive lawyer, apparently). After 50 years, The Trouble with Tribbles is still a fantastic, highly entertaining episode, 100% enjoyable. Ciao!
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