★★★ January 5, 1968 Season 2 Episode 16
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 Gene Roddenberry and Margaret Armen
My favorite line out of this one? You’re Out of your Vulcan Mind, Spock! It was said by McCoy and you could imagine “Vulcan” was in place of something they could not say.
Angelique Pettyjohn played Shahna in this episode. Pettyjohn later became an adult film actress which is rare for that time because not many made the jump from movies/tv shows to adult films. Is it just me or does she favor Lady GaGa?
This episode was not one of the great ones, to say the least. It’s not a terrible episode though…because it is fun. When the episode begins, Kirk, Uhura, and Chekov are being beamed by the Enterprise’s transporter.
However, instead of “sparkling” from the transporter, they disappear and are transported by a fantastic force well across the galaxy. The Enterprise looks for them but doesn’t realize that the seemingly impossible has occurred and only later does Spock play a hunch and begin searching well beyond the transporter’s range…to other star systems.
They have no idea where they are but the planet’s three suns mean they are many light years from where they intended to be. They soon learn that they are to be trained as Thralls on the planet Triskelion. Thralls are gladiators trained to fight for whichever of the unseen Providers buys them.
In this episode, we see Kirk again being a Cassanova and trying to win their freedom.
The look of the character Galt was modeled after Ming the Merciless, the archenemy from the Flash Gordon comic strip.
During an interview, Angelique Pettyjohn said that when she first auditioned for the role of Shahna, she admitted to the producers that she didn’t think she fit the character. When they asked why, she said the script describes her as an Amazon, but at 5’6″, Pettyjohn said she’s hardly an Amazon. The producers all laughed and said “Look, honey, next to Shatner, you’ll look like an Amazon.”
A triskelion is an ancient symbol used in Greek, Roman and Celtic cultures. It was originally three spiral but evolved into three legs, as seen in the flag of the Isle of Man. The symbol shown on the planet is a geometric version of this design.
When Joseph Ruskin saw that his costume consisted of a long black floor-length robe, he came up with the idea of walking in an extremely fluid way (known as “glide stepping” by marching bands). He thought that combined with the robe, it might make the viewer wonder if he was even a biped humanoid, or perhaps had some other means of movement.
In the remastered version, one piece of new footage was added to this episode. The establishing shot of the planet Triskelion, shown during the opening credits, now included the system’s trinary suns.
The producers interrupted filming of this episode to tell the cast and crew that the show had been cancelled. Everyone was depressed throughout the rest of production. But then fans started protesting and writing letters until NBC decided to keep it on for another season.
Joseph Ruskin (Galt) also played Tumek in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The House of Quark (1994) & Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Looking for Par’Mach in All the Wrong Places (1996), Cardassian Informant in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Improbable Cause (1995), a Son’a officer in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), a Vulcan master in Star Trek: Voyager: Gravity (1999) and a Suliban doctor in Star Trek: Enterprise: Broken Bow, Part 1 (2001). He has thus appeared in every Star Trek television series except Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987), although Insurrection features the TNG crew. With the exception of Majel Barrett, who has appeared in every Star Trek series, he was the only actor to appear in all four of the series in question. Furthermore, given that Barrett only provided the computer voice in Voyager and Enterprise, Ruskin was the only actor to appear on screen in all four series mentioned above. Along with Barrett, Clint Howard, Jack Donner, and Vince Deadrick, Ruskin was one of only five actors to appear in both Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: Enterprise. He, Barrett and Howard also appeared in Deep Space Nine. Ruskin also worked on two Star Trek video games, lending his voice to Master Si’tann in Star Trek: Hidden Evil (1999) and to Admiral Nolotai and Vulcan Master N’Kal in Star Trek: Away Team (2001).
Angelique Pettyjohn (Shahna), real name Dorothy Lee Perrins, found that her movie career never really took off. By the early 1980s, she had developed a substance abuse and alcohol addiction. These resulted in her descent into softcore, then hard core pornographic films and striptease. Fortunately she was able to clean herself up to a degree and distance herself from porn thanks to the growing Star Trek and Sci Fi convention industry. She realized that she could make a living appearing at sci-fi conventions after the popularity of the Star Trek franchise grew, due to the release of the films. As part of her appearances, she posed for and sold two versions of a poster as her Shahna character (one in her silver costume and one where she was totally nude) as well as signing autographs and photos. However, the years of alcoholism and drug addiction finally caught up with her and probably contributed to her early death at the age of 48 (from cancer) in 1992.
The top of Lazarus’ ship from Star Trek: The Alternative Factor (1967) was recycled as the glass bubble that encases the Providers.
The original script featured Sulu. However, George Takei was unavailable due to his commitment to the movie The Green Berets (1968). The script was rewritten with Chekov taking the place of Sulu.
The original version of the script featured Kirk, Sulu, and Uhura being taken captive while traveling in a shuttlecraft. However, the production staff thought it was too similar to the Teaser of Star Trek: Metamorphosis (1967), and changed it to feature them being detained while transporting down instead.
The story of “The Gamesters of Triskelion”, relates to the Roman Empire. In ancient Rome, slaves and other captive were trained as gladiators (strictly, meaning sword-fighters but the word is used for all fighters in the arenas). They fought each other to the death in spectacles of violence and death, for the amusement and entertainment of the Roman citizens. In this episode, Kirk, Uhura, Chekov, and other alien lifeforms from across the galaxy, have been abducted and brought to Triskelion, are enslaved and trained as gladiators, and were forced to fight each other for the amusement of the Providers.
The ruins that Kirk and Shahna encounter while jogging were recycled from the planet surface in Star Trek: The Man Trap (1966).
The red stand-up collar of Galt’s costume appears to be constructed from a popular 1960s table placemat, made of tiny plastic discs embedded in a plastic sheet.
Although the unaired first pilot had shown Number One at the helm, Ensign Haines is the first woman seen at that position during Kirk’s command.
The backdrop for the Gamesters’ underground lair is a reused matte painting previously appearing in Star Trek: The Devil in the Dark (1967).
The knives are reused from Star Trek: Mirror, Mirror (1967).
The original title of this episode was “The Gamesters of Pentathalon”.
Parodied in The Simpsons: Deep Space Homer (1994).
A rare television appearance for Angelique Pettyjohn, a burlesque and hardcore adult film performer.
The “collars of obedience” are very similar to the control device placed around Dr. Zachary Smith’s neck in Lost in Space: Invaders from the Fifth Dimension (1965), aired 3 November 1965.
Scriptwriter Margaret Amen came up with the idea after having seen a re-release of Spartacus (1960) a few weeks before and used the gladiator training school scenes as inspiration.
Aside from the standard CGI replacement footage of the Enterprise, the remastered version most notably featured new effects shots of the planets Gamma II and Triskelion.
A persistent rumor is that Bea Arthur guest-starred here, using the name Jane Ross, but Arthur tried to end the confusion in 2001 when she told Television Academy Interviews that she has never guest-starred on “Star Trek” or used the name Jane Ross. But the rumor still persists, because of the physical similarities between Arthur and Ross.
This takes place in 2268.
Kirk’s conversation with Shahna is parodied in South Park: Hooked on Monkey Fonics (1999) when Kyle explains love to Rebecca in her father’s garden.
The thrall with blue makeup is identical to one of the prisoners in the season #3, “Whom Gods Destroy”.
Bob Johnson: Johnson, voice of one of the Providers, was one of America’s most famous voices for a few years: he was the tape recorded voice that gave the Impossible Missions Force its assignments at the beginning of most episodes of Mission: Impossible (1966). Mission was filmed next door to the Star Trek set, and actors from the series would often wander over to see what was happening on the Enterprise. Johnson previously did voice work on the first Star Trek pilot, Star Trek: The Cage (1966).
Dick Crockett: stunt coordinator appears as the Andorian thrall.
Kirk, Uhura and Chekov find themselves suddenly transported light years across the galaxy to the planet Triskelion. There, they are trained as thralls, slaves who engage in gladiatorial combat for the pleasure of the Providers, three faceless beings who amuse themselves by wagering on the outcomes. Outfitted with collars that inflict pain for disobedience, the thralls are submissive and pliant. Kirk eventually challenges the Providers to a wager that will either result in freedom for all or a lifetime of slavery.
William Shatner…James T. Kirk
Leonard Nimoy…Mr. Spock
DeForest Kelley…Dr. McCoy
Victoria George…Ensign Jana Haines
Dick Crockett…Andorian thrall
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