** cough cough **
** cough cough **
** cough **
Emergency! Emergency Tribble Bill for Tim. STAT!!
Did somebody say, “TRIBBLE PREDATOR”?
Now you’re getting confused. It’s Tim that isn’t feeling well not @KandorLives
If Ross ever needs cheering up, we’ll watch Predator on a loop.
I guess we’ll can move on. However if anyone feels like posting their thoughts on The Drumhead, be my guest. It all ties into that dark underbelly of the Federation thing went talked about up thread.
I will post some stuff regarding the Tribble Bill shortly.
Unless, and now hear me out here, unless we want to talk about a different episode just to annoy @TMasters
That Darmok is one great episode.
Nagle and Jones at Millarworld.
Masters, when his hopes fled.
As with many things in 2016, what initially seemed like a joke so long ago has now become a reality. Yes, ladies and gentlemen…as we enter 2017, we are going to watch all of the Star Trek episodes with Tribbles in what we have been calling a Tribble Bill - comprising The Trouble with Tribbles, More Tribbles, More Troubles and the DS9 anniversary episode Trials and Tribblations (where Sisko, Dax and Co. are Forrest Gumped into the original story).
Enjoy (@Tmasters and @Bernadette)…and come back and discuss the episodes when you do.
And Happy New Year to everyone.
I’m going to do this as three posts for my own sanity.
The Trouble With Tribbles
This episode was written by David Gerrold, and it was his first professional sale, one of five script outlines he submitted to the producers. (His script was rewritten heavily by Gene Coon however) He also helped develop the story for the TOS episode The Cloud miners and he rewrote the episode I, Mudd, though he received no credit for this. He also proposed two episodes for series 3 that were never produced, but were reworked into the TAS episodes More Tribbles, More Troubles and Bem. The Trouble with Tribbles garnered a Hugo nomination, but it lost out to The City on the Edge of Forever.
Gerrold appeared twice of sorts in TAS: A security officer in More Tribbles, more Troubles was based on his appearance, and he voiced Em/3/Green in the episode “The Jihad”. He would also have cameos in The Motion Picture and Trials and Tribble-ations.
Gerrold was one of the TOS writers asked to return to the TNG writer’s room, and like Dorothy Fontana, he was a script editor, though he was not credited with any scripts during his time on the show. He wrote the novelisation of Encounter with Farpoint, much of the TNG Writer’s bible, and he penned a number of columns about the production of series 1 for Starlog magazine.
He quit TNG about halfway through the production of series 1, partially because he had proposed an episode titled Blood and Fire which would have been an allegory for the AIDS epidemic, and included gay characters on the Enterprise. It was rewritten by Herb Wright as Blood and Ice (with the gay characters removed). But his primary reason for leaving was the interference of Roddenberry’s lawyer Leonard Mazlisch, who forced out Dorothy Fontana (as I noted in my writetup of Yesteryear) as well as all the other TOS staff who had joined the TNG staff. Gerrold and Fontana held their silence on the subject until they were interviewed for William Shatner’s documentary chaos on the Bridge, which once again, I highly recommend, and it’s on Netflix.
He’s also written for a number of behind-the scenes Trek books, and has been involved in the fan film scene, writing and producing for New Voyages/Phase II, and he has a producer credit on Axanar.
Outside of Trek, Gerrold write a number of novels, including the Star Wolf trilogy based on unused Trek ideas, including Blood and Fire (and has been described as Trek done right), and as-yet unfinished The War against the Chtorr series, a story of humanity’s conflict against an alien ecosystem surplanting earth’s. He also wrote for Babylon 5 (again, like Dorothy Fontana), Sliders, Land of the Lost and the Twilight Zone.
There’s some continuity! In the opening scene, Chekov mentions the Organian peace treaty between the Klingons and Federation, which was imposed on the two nations by the eponymous aliens in the episode Day of the Dove.
George Takei doesn’t appear in this episode as he was filming The Green Berets for a sizeable chunk of series 2’s filming schedule. many of his scripted lines were transferred over to Chekov.
James Doohan did most of his own stunts in the bar room brawl sequence, and this episode marks one of the times you can see he’s missing the middle finger on his right hand (he lost it during the battle of Normandy) - it’s when he carries a bundle of tribbles saying they’ve infested engineering.
The bar set was first seen in Court Martial, and it was redressed somewhat here. There’s also a lot of costume reuses in this episode. Eagle-eyed viewers will spot some early Starfleet uniforms, as seen in The Cage and Where no Man has Gone Before, and the miner outfits from Devil in the Dark in the bar.
While Arne Darvin, of course reappeared in Trials and Tribble-ations, Koloth also showed up in DS9, in the episode Blood Oath.
This is also one of the few episodes in which Scotty and Chekov have a conversation.
Some advertising tie-ins. Guy Raymond, who played the bartender was well known in the 60s for playing a long-suffering bartender in ads, who would comment on the weird happenings in his bar; and Ed Riemers, who played Admiral Fitzpatrick was a spokesperson for an insurance company. In an outtake, someone threw a Tribble at him and he caught it, going straight into his ad spiel.
Spock’s estimate of how many Tribbles have bred in three days is 100% correct, but there were only around 500 Tribble props made for the episode. Most of them were just sewn out of carpet rolls, but the ones which could move had motorised toys hidden inside them. The props were very popular and rapidly vanished from the store room.
The miniature of the Enterprise seen from Lunny’s office is actually an AMT model kit of the ship, as was commercially available at the time. Also, according to Michael and Denise Okuda, the production of this episode was the last time new model footage of the Enterprise was shot, although new scenes appeared in 5 episodes that came later in production order - so presumably they were shot earlier and were unused before those episodes.
There were eight takes of the scene where Kirk gets buried in Tribbles, which is an unusually large number. A few stagehands were behind the set, throwing Tribbles into the bin that was above Shatner’s head on-set, to ensure it stayed as full as possible while the contents of said bin were falling out. But they couldn’t see onto the stage from where they were, so they had no idea how many Tribbles were enough, There’s a moment of genuine frustration on Shatner’s face during the shot that makes it into the episode too.
While the episode was a big hit with the fans (and as I noted above, it netted a Hugo nomination), it had a mixed reception with the cast and crew. Shatner loved it, saying the big challenge was keeping a straight face, and director Joseph Penvey said he really enjoyed the change of pace and getting to do comedy with Shatner and Nimoy. In a 1985 interview, Penvey said that you could never do such a story in contemporary Trek, as it had become deathly serious. Of course, Star Trek IV would come out the following year, disproving his assertion somewhat.
Fan accolades include the episode being voted best in the Sci-Fi Channel’s 40th anniversary fan poll, and Empire magazine saying it was the best episode when they did their best TV show countdown (Trek came 43rd overall)
However, Trek staffers including writer Samuel Peeples, Co-Producer Bob Justman, Series 3 Producer Fred Freiberger and Gene Roddenberry himself all disliked it to some degree. Series 2 producer Gene L. Coon wanted to introduce more comedy to the show and he and Roddenberry clashed frequently on the subject, leading Coon to quit the show and Freiberger to take his place. Freiberger would actively reject Gerrold’s proposed sequel script (which became TAS’ More Tribbles, More Troubles) for series 3, saying Trek wasn’t a comedy.
And yeah, my thoughts:
So, this episode is a farce, and it indicates very early that we;re going for broad comedy. The pre-credits scene has Chekov trying on his everything was invented in Russia routine, and even though it finishes with a dramatic shift to red alert, that tension is rapidly deflated. Kirk quickly becomes the butt of the joke when they arrive at Space Station K-7, left on the backfoot in the conversation about the quad… the quadtri,… the grain, constantly asking ‘what, what’, or ‘so what?’, and not being able to pronounce quadrotriticale, or even knowing what it is when Chekov of all people can cite chapter and verse. This of course cumulates in him being buried in Tribbles, and having to deal with various frustrations before he can even be dug out of the pile.
Kirk does get some good lines is as well, usually at Barris’ expense (I’m very fond of "I was unaware that twelve Klingons constutues a swarm), which is fitting as the actual conflict of the episode is Kirk and Barris - he’s the one who causes all the havoc and is the threat to Kirk. The Klingons are a complication here - Koloth has no link to Darvin’s presence as best as I can tell, but the main reason that Darvin even poisoned the grain is so Kirk can uncover him and save the day.
Of course, the plot is in service of the comedy, and outside of Kirk’s travails we’ve got some great wit between Spock and McCoy/Kirk, McCoy and Uhura when he takes a Tribble for examination, and the bar sequence with Scotty and Chekov that winds up in a brawl. And the comedy stands up 49 years later. It’s not sophisticated but that sort of broad comedy is timeless.
I do have to say, the CG for the remastered episode feels more out of place than it did in Balance of Terror, with some panning shots of the Enterprise turning that felt quite clunky, and the insignia on Space Station K-7 really looked out of place for some reason. It looked more like CG fan art, or maybe the Ships of the Line calendar they do each year. and I feel like they missed an opportunity for an in-joke by not CGing any of the DS9 cast into the background. Indeed, they didn’t use any of the CG establishing shots from Trials and Tribble-ations, even though they looked better IMO.
According to a Youtube video I saw with David Gerrold at a Con, he was still at college when he wrote it. He wasn’t considered to be a very promising student by his lecturers, who were a bit dismissive. He was asked to produce a script for an assignment. He gave them a copy of The Trouble with Tribbles, told them it had been filmed the previous week and would be going out on TV in November.
Also, apparently he was in college with Robert Englund…That’s right…Freddie Kruger (or Willy from V if you prefer).
Gerrold wrote a book about the process of writing the episode all the way through production, which was cited quite a bit on Memory Alpha’s page for the episode. I might try and track it down as it seems quite interesting. IIRC Gerrold was quite open with Babylon 5 fans during the production of his episode there as well, to the point that his comments are up on the Lurker’s Guide
That episode was produced as part of the New Voyages/Phase 2 fan series…I have to admit that this is one I haven’t got around to watching yet…but they’ve made some quality stuff, so it is probably worth a punt.
More Tribbles, More Troubles:
As noted above, this episode was also written by David Gerrold, based on his rejected series 3 pitch for a sequel to The Trouble with Tribbles. When he heard that TAS was entering production, he sent a series of notes to Gene Roddenberry and Dorothy Fontana saying he’d be willing to write for the show, and Fontana suggested they do the Tribbles sequel.
During early production on the series, A number of high school children were on a tour of the Filmation studios, and Gerrold happened to be there. and talked to them about TAS. One child suggested they do a sequel to The Trouble With Tribbles, to which Gerrold said one was in production. The child ignored him and continued to talk about what they should do, and Gerrold left after trying to stop the child three times. After the episode aired, Gene Roddenberry told Gerrold that the child had written to NBC complaining that they stole his idea. Gerrold asked Filmation that he never be asked to talk to a tour again, which Lou Schiemer rapidly agreed to and sympathised with Gerrold.
A discarded plot element was that the Tribble predator would get loose and start hunting the Enterprise crew. This was deemed too much for the animated series.
The idea that the ‘sterile’ Tribbles would keep getting larger was Gerrold adhering to the maxim that an easy fix to a problem just generates another problem down the line. As an IT person, this is basically my life and as such I appreciate this concept very much.
Gerrold wrote a script note that the transporter technician ‘looked remarkably like the episode’s writer’, and the designers decided to take him up on this. The cel of the character wound up in Gerrold’s possession after the episode. When Alan Dean Foster adapted the episode for Star Trek Log 4, he named the technician Hacker, which Gerrold took as a slight.
Stanley Adams, who plays Cyrano Jones reprised his role for the episode. He’s only one of three actors outside the regulars to reprise his TOS role in TAS, along with Mark Lenard and Roger C Carmel (who played Harry Mudd),
Conversely, Koloth is played by James Doohan here, while William Campbell plays him in his live action appearances in TOS and DS9.
Doohan also plays Korax, who instigated the bar room brawl in The Trouble with Tribbles and was played by Michel Pataki there (Rumours abounded that Gerrold played Korax, but he’s denied this and it’s pretty clearly Doohan when you watch the episode). These are the only two characters aside from Scotty that he plays in this episode. Lieutenant Arex appears on the bridge but has no lines in the episode.
Similarly, even though Majel Barret was cast as Nurse Chapel and all other female characters, she has no lines in this episode. Uhura is the only woman with any dialogue, and M’Ress doesn’t appear at all in the episode.
This episode was recorded the same day as Yesteryear and Beyond The Farthest Star. As I noted when we were discussing Yesteryear, the full cast was in attendance and it was their first reunion since the final TOS filming session in 1969.
The Tribbles and Klingon uniform tunics in the episode are pink due to a very odd fact - Hal Sutherland, Filmation’s colour designer is actually colour blind, and he saw the light tans in reference photos as pink. (This goes a way to explaining the esoteric colour pallette Filmation used in the 70s and 80s anyway). This was spotted too late by the veteran Trek staffers, and so they remained pink in the episode.
The drone transport ships seen in this episode are the first Federation ship designs to be seen after the Constitution class, and they would later be given a class - the Antares - and be redesigned and have CG models created for use in three episodes of the remastered TOS.
Gerrold has gone back and forth on his opinion of the episode, being critical of the humour and the plot at times, but he would later say he was happy with it overall.
Fan opinion on the episode is mixed, Fanzines at the time called it an unnecessary rehash, but many unofficial episode guides published after TAS finished cited it as an exemplary episode (usually alongside Yesteryear and one more episode that changes depending on the book, usually The Slaver Weapon, Beyond the Farthest Star or Mudd’s Passion). One of these guides was written by Hugo and Nebula-winning author Allen Steele, who’s novels are a personal favourite.
I agree with David Gerrold’s self-criticism that this episode is quite packed. Comparing to Yesteryear, there’s a lot going on - The Enterprise if escorting grain to Sherman’s Planet (the same world from The Trouble with Tribbles), and they have to contend with a new Klingon weapons, but they’ve rescued Cyrano Jones, who has tribbles, and the glommet, and the Klingons also want to arrest him, and then there’s the complications all these plots engender. It’s nowhere near as streamlined as Yesteryear and I think the episode suffers as a result.
Like Yesteryear, the vocal performances are highly variable. Some lines are delivered very well, while others are quite wooden, and this is across the cast rather than any one actor. Though Stanley Adams is pretty bad overall. I feel like he suffers the most from the transition to animation and his fine comedic performance in the TOS episode is totally lost here. Of the regular cast, George Takei probably does the most consistent job though he has very few lines overall.
There’s a lot of good in the episode as well - The Klingon weapon being able to disable the Enterprise but leaving their ship almost unable to act is another example of Gerrold’s fix one problem, cause another one mentality - and fairly consistent with how wonder weapons in Trek tend to work, and the Klingons shooting a giant Tribble causing it to explode into a shower of smaller ones is amusing enough, as is some of the sardonic dialogue, but I agree with the 70s fanzines that it’s largely a retread of the original episode and it fails to establish anything truly original in its half hour.
Trials and Tribble-Ations
This episode was DS9’s entry into Trek’s 30th anniversary, and aired month after Flashback, the Voyager anniversary episode. There was a plan to air the episode the week of Trek’s debut, but that would have placed it at the start of the season, and as such would have broken continuity between Broken Link and Apocalypse Rising.
Before they settled on the episode format, ideas thrown around included a sequel to Charlie X or A Piece of The Action. René Echevarria suggested inserting the DS9 crew into a TOS episode, Forrest Gump Style. Various episodes were considered but The Trouble With Tribbles was a top contender as it was one of the best known TOS episodes and was light hearted. In an amazing coincidence, during the discussion the writing staff went out for pizza and actually ran into Charlie Brill, who played Arne Darvin in the restaurant. Ire Stephen Behr recognised him and while they didn’t commit to anything, Brill said he’d be honoured to return to Trek if everything worked out - which obviously, it did.
The difference between the TV era and Movie/TNG era Klingon makeup is addressed for the first time. Ron Moore wrote Worf’s line with the reasoning that it was the least preposterous thing they could think of. When Enterprise addressed it more seriously, the explanation was a blend of Bashir and O’Brien’s suggestions of genetic engineering and viral mutation.
During pre-production the writers were sceptical that the effects could be successfully reproduced on DS9’s budget. The effects team put their fears to rest by showing them a clip from the original episode, and then pointing out the crewmember they added to the background.
While most of the scenes adding the DS9 characters to specific shots from the original episode were shot against a blue screen, the one where Sisko and Dax work on an open panel while observing Kirk and Spock was shot on a physical set as there’s no open panel in that scene in the original episode.
The other physical sets built for the episode were recreated with painstaking accuracy, even down to the blinking pattern for the lights and the pattern of the overhead graphics. One of the only things they got wrong was the panels across from a ladder in a corridor, and that was only because the company that made the reflective plastic went out of business ten years prior.
New models of the Enterprise and Space Station K-7 were built for the effects shots in the episode. The Enterprise model was based on the original plans and a very close inspection of the original model in the Smithsonian. The model of K-7 had been lost, so the effects team used the original episode as their primary reference.
The scene where Sisko meets Kirk uses footage from Mirror, Mirror rather then The Trouble with Tribbles.
It took a week to film the new footage for the bar room brawl so it would match with the original scene perfectly.
When Sisko and Dax walk through the Enterprise corridor looking awed, the reaction is genuine - it was the first time Avery Brooks and Terry Farrell had been on the set and they were amazed at how accurate it was.
Dulmur and Lucsly’s names are anagrams of Mulder and Scully (or in Dulmur’s case, a phonetic anagram). When Lucsly says the incident happened on a Friday, it’s referring to the fact that TOS aired on Fridays back in the day.
David Gerrold has another cameo here, he appears in a red uniform twice, most notably he walks past Sisko and Dax when the Enterprise goes to Red Alert.
Charlie Brill is the fourth TOS actor to reprise his role for DS9, the others being John Colicos (Kor), Michael Ansara (Kang) and William Campbell (Koloth). The original actors had to be contacted and agree to allow for the use of their likenesses. Walter Koenig joked that he got paid eight times more for Trials and Tribble-Ations than he did for The Trouble with Tribbles. Keonig also visited the set during filming and advised Colm Meany and Alexander Siddig on how to interact with the set and props.
There’s are two in-jokes in the scene where Bashir and O’Brien mistake a man with a Lieutenant’s rank insignia for Kirk - Paul Baxley, the actor playing that character was Shatner’s stunt double, and he was listed as an ensign in his credit for the episode even though his costume had the hight rank stripes.
This is one of my favourite comedy episodes of DS9, and I remember laughing a lot when I first saw it back in college. Not that it has much competition - there’s various Ferengi episodes, and… uh? Lwaxana Troi, I guess.
Not to say that there aren’t other good comedy episodes of DS9, there’s Little Green Men and The Magnificent Ferengi, and yeah, they’re both Ferengi episodes but at least they’re not about Ferenginar’s misogyny.
There’s a lot to love in here, and the biggest thing is the amount of love this episode has for TOS. As I noted above they made a new Enterprise, a new K-7, a ton of new sets and they’re all as close to the original as possible. They go out of their way to integrate a new story into the old one, but to also tell a story that sits beside the original rather than supplants or replaces it - the only times the DS9 crew directly interact with the Enterprise one is in the brawl and it’s aftermath, and when Sisko and Dax are throwing Tribbles out of the grain storage bin. Oh, and when Sisko says hello to Kirk, but wouldn’t you take the opportunity if you were there?
There’s also some good time travel gags. I quite liked Bashir and O’Brien arguing about why he should or shouldn’t seduce that one female crewmember, and Dulmur and Lucsly’s frustration with time travel antics.
I especially appreciate one of my favourite lines - Worf dodging the question of why the TOS Klingons look different, because as Ron Moore noted the other explanations were too ludicrous, but as I noted above Enterprise went and explained it. This episode marks the point where I started to drift away from Trek. Series 5 was the last I’d watch all of as it was airing, though I wouldn’t drop out of DS9 watching altogether until the series 6 finale. I was growing bored of the constant technobabble explanations for everything, and even though DS9 had less of it than Voyager, it still grated. Moments like that are why I stuck DS9 out for so long.
Worf’s summary of the Tribbles is also great:
They do nothing but consume food and breed.
Worf is comedy gold in this episode. He’s really DS9’s stealth weapon for almost every situation.
There’s also O’Brien: Hey, I just lied to Captain Kirk!
Someday I’ll do a montage video of scenes of O’Brien overdubbed with Colm Meany’s dialogue from the Barrytown trilogy. Someday.