★★★★★ December 29, 1966 Season 1 Episode 15
If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog.
This show was written by Theodore Sturgeon and Gene Roddenberry
The crew of the Enterprise is worn out. They all need to take some leave and this episode covers that. Several well-known future movies like Westworld, Ghostbusters, IT, and TV show Fantasy Island took their cue from the premise of this episode. Here, we get to really see them relax, converse and work together to figure out this planet’s puzzle…the strong narrative is a mystery again, of sorts, and the audience is along for the ride as the crew seeks to unravel a very bizarre series of events which some have a decidedly amusing flavor to them.
This one is a bit of a light/funny episode though at the same time a bit of a fantasy suspense thriller which is part of what makes the episode fun. The light/funny is not a negative at all. There are a bunch of things just appearing out of nowhere, Like McCoy was seeing a giant White Rabbit and Alice, and then more strange things happen.
Kirk was stressed out from the missions they had been on and wasn’t going to beam down to the planet to relax but Spock tricked him into it. He did beam down reluctantly and strange things started to happen to him.
One thing that did disappoint me about this episode. Emily Banks who plays Yeoman Tonia Barrows was terrific in this role but this is the only episode she was in. The part was written for Yeoman Janice Rand but she had been written out of the series. I will talk about that in the Season 1 review. Fans loved her and wanted her back for the movies.
It’s a playful, fun episode. It’s not a good episode to introduce someone who is new to Star Trek… but great once you know what the original series is all about. If I say too much more I will spoil it for someone if I haven’t already.
The episode was being rewritten as it was being shot. Cast members recalled Gene Roddenberry sitting under a tree, frantically reworking the script to keep it both under budget and within the realms of believability. As a result the filming went over schedule and took seven days instead of the usual six.
William Blackburn (a professional ice skater in real life), who played the White Rabbit, got the costume from Ice Capades for free. The claustrophobic Blackburn had a really painful time wearing it, especially as costume designer William Ware Theiss had originally sewn the Rabbit head to the suit. After nearly suffocating, Blackburn tore off the head, for which Theiss became very mad at him. Finally, they negotiated and Theiss put the head back with Velcro. Afterwards, Blackburn had no problem with the costume. He also commented that wearing the Gorn head in Star Trek: Arena (1967) was “even worse.”
A chained tiger is brought in to appear in the episode, and never directly interacts with any of the performers. William Shatner had originally hoped to wrestle it, but was persuaded that it would not be a wise decision.
This is the only episode in which the U.S.S. Enterprise is seen orbiting a planet from right to left. The shot was deliberately reversed in post-production because the shape of the Eastern United States and the Caribbean sea could clearly be seen on the globe used as a model for the planet.
The script called for an elephant to appear in the episode. An elephant was indeed “hired” by the production staff and brought to the set, but, due to running over time and other difficulties during shooting, the animal never made it before the cameras, which made associate producer Robert H. Justman (who was not on the set at the time and couldn’t oversee production) truly angry. Later, production staff members often jokingly asked assistant director Gregg Peters, “Say – when do you get to use your elephant?”
The original script featured Yeoman Rand as part of the landing party, but, as the character was written out of the series, she was changed to Yeoman Tonia Barrows. Also, in Theodore Sturgeon’s original script, the Yeoman had a share of close scenes with Kirk. In the rewrites, Gene L. Coon and Gene Roddenberry changed these to feature Doctor McCoy instead and introduced Kirk’s old Academy flame Ruth to the story. (In the Oct 3, 1966 draft, one incidence of “Yeoman Rand” is still present on page 58.)
When Rodriguez and Angela see a WWII air battle, the first plane seen is an American Vought F4U Corsair. It is then attacked by a Japanese Mitsubishi A6M “Zero.” The only time the two planes are seen together is a brief shot following the line “Come on!”
Gene Roddenberry deemed that Theodore Sturgeon’s original script contained too much fantasy and lacked credibility. Gene L. Coon was assigned to re-write it. However,, Coon misinterpreted the task and his draft turned out to be even more of a pure fantasy. Roddenberry then began to heavily re-write the script, but, since the production team had run out of time, Roddenberry had to do so while the episode was being filmed.
The preview of this episode shows Yeoman Barrows being accosted by Don Juan while she was wearing her princess costume. This scene was not used in the final cut.
Actress Emily Banks, who played Yeoman Tonia Barrows in her only appearance on the series, was interviewed by Entertainment Weekly for an all-Star Trek issue in 1994. Banks said that her most vivid memory of the appearance was that she seemed to be running all the time – or as she described it, she told the producers, “You don’t want actors – you want Olympic athletes!” Unused to that much sprinting, Banks said that her legs were stiff and sore for several days after the shooting wrapped.
The past three months have left the crew of the Enterprise exhausted and in desperate need of a break, but does this explain McCoy’s encounter with a human-sized white rabbit or Kirk crossing paths with the prankster who plagued his days at Starfleet Academy?
William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
Emily Banks … Yeoman Tonia Barrows
Oliver McGowan … Caretaker
Perry Lopez … Rodriguez
DeForest Kelley … Doctor Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
George Takei … Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu
Bruce Mars … Finnegan
Barbara Baldavin … Angela
Nichelle Nichols … Lieutenant Nyota Uhura
Marcia Brown … Alice
Sebastian Tom … Warrior
Shirley Bonne … Ruth
Paul Baxley … Black Knight (uncredited)
Bill Blackburn … White Rabbit (uncredited)
John Carr … Guard (uncredited)
Frank da Vinci … Lt. Brent (uncredited)
Jim Gruzalski … Don Juan (uncredited)
Jeannie Malone … Yeoman (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie (uncredited)
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