10 Dumbest Things in Star Trek The Original Series

7. The God Things

Star Trek Green Hand

Star Trek had a problem of falling back on the same story gimmicks again and again. This was commented on both by NBC and within the show’s offices. 

Example? One pet peeve of NBC’s was the number of times doppelgangers appeared in season one. These were “The Man Trap,” “The Enemy Within,” “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” and the two Lazaruses of the incomprehensible “The Alternative Factor.” The network put the show on notice that they would not approve any more scripts that year featuring duplicates.

But the show’s most tired go-to gimmick was beings with godlike abilities. In the first season alone we got absolute power absolutely-corrupted Gary Mitchell, raging super teen Charlie Evans, very bad boy Trelane, the Metrons, the hyper-evolved non-corporeal Organians, and the Talosians, who create convincing illusions at many light years distance. In season two we get a literal Greek god in Apollo/Adonais, and the Quatloo-betting Providers of “The Gamesters of Triskelion” who pluck Kirk, Uhura, and Chekov off the ship at a distance of over 11 light years, and later immobilize the starship with no effort. Season three gives us the hate-eating pinwheel of “Day of the Dove” which can do whatever the plot requires.

The trouble with the God Thing trope is that it’s fresh maybe once (i.e. “ It’s A Good Life” on The Twilight Zone), but is dulled by repetition. And it’s a narrative cheat, often requiring deus ex machina solutions to resolve the story; as with Charlie’s Thasian truant officers and Trelane’s negligent parents, or the Organians showing their hand at the last second to stop a war.

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Maurice is one of the founders of FACT TREK (www.facttrek.com), a project dedicated to untangling 50+ years of mythology about the original Star Trek and its place in TV history. He's also a screenwriter, writer, and videogame industry vet with scars to show for it. In that latter capacity he game designer/writer on the Sega Genesis/SNES "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine — Crossroads of Time" game, as well as Dreamcast "Ecco the Dolphin, Defender of the Future" where Tom Baker performed words he wrote.