Lion of the Blogosphere

Star Trek TOS, Season 1: Charlie X

This episode never appears on any list of best Star Trek episodes, nor do I have much memory of it being an episode that I liked, so I was very surprised when I discovered how much I enjoyed re-watching it. In fact, I take back all the insults about Shatner’s acting ability. Shatner played Kirk perfectly here!

This is the fourth episode in a row about psychic powers. In “Man Trap” (previously reviewed ) a woman they think is Nancy Crater is actually a space-monster with psychic powers. In this episode, Charlie, who they think is a normal teenage boy with poor social skills (because he was marooned alone on a deserted planet for 14 years), is really an awkward teenage boy with poor social skills who has super-psychic powers!

In “Where No Man Has Gone Before” (previously reviewed), Gary Mitchell gets super psychic powers and becomes a danger to the whole crew and the entire human race. In this episode, Charlie has super psychic powers and is a danger to the whole crew and the entire human race. The lesson that Star Trek is teaching us is that it’s not safe for one man to have superpowers that put him above all other men. They must be cast out or killed.

Leaving aside the unoriginal science fiction parts of this episode, the good thing about this episode is William Shatner who does such a perfect job of playing the father figure to Charlie. I will also include Yeoman Rand (played by Grace Lee Whitney), the MILF for whom Charlie has a bad case of oneitis, as another highlight of the episode, even though I don’t have anything especially good to say about Whitney’s acting skills. So sad that Yeoman Rand only appeared in eight episodes. Obviously, at the beginning of the series, the intention was that she was going to be a major character.

I also very much enjoyed a scene early in the episode where a bunch of the crew are in a lounge, and Spock is playing some kind of harp, smiling while he’s playing, and Uhura sings an impromptu song:

Oh, on the starship Enterprise
There’s someone who’s in Satan’s guise
Whose devil ears and devil eyes
Could rip your heart from you.

At first, his look could hypnotise
And then his touch would barbarize
His alien love could victimize
And rip your heart from you.

And that’s why female astronauts,
Oh, very female astronauts
Wait terrified and overwrought
To find what he will do.

Oh, girls in space, be wary, be wary, be wary,
Girls in space, be wary.
We know not what he’ll do.

Scenes like this, with crewmembers other than Spock McCoy and Kirk hanging out and doing stuff together, got lost from future episodes of the original series. So sad.

Hey, is it racist for Uhura to liken Spock to the devil because of his appearance which he has no control over? Is that any different than saying a black guy looks like a monkey? Is it racist to portray Uhura as the stereotype of a black woman with greater sexual appetites than white women? This is the second episode in a row where Uhura and Spock have some weird interaction with each other. Were they supposed to be secretly having sex? Why did this good stuff get dropped from the series?

My love for Shatner’s performance begins in the transporter room when Charlie is first beamed over from the Antares. First, Kirk seems to dislike Charlie (and there isn’t anything likeable about him, he’s a weird-looking kid with a whiny voice), but then when Charlie stares with puppy-dog eyes at Yeoman Rand and asks Kirk “Is that a girl?” Kirks whole attitude changes, and with great amusement says “That’s a girl.”

Charlie sees one male crewmember slap another on the butt, so he does the same to Yeoman Rand thinking that will help him bond with her, but Yeoman Rand of course gets mad and then tells him to ask Captain Kirk why it’s wrong to hit a girl on the butt, and Kirk’s response is awesome:

Me. I see. Well, um, er, there are things you can do with a lady, er, Charlie, that you er. There’s no right way to hit a woman. I mean, man to man is one thing, but, er, man and woman, er, it’s, er, it’s, er. Well it’s, er, another thing. Do you understand?

To really appreciate it, you have to watch Shatner stumble through those lines with just the right blend of amusement and bewilderment.

I liked the idea of Charlie trying to impress Rand by doing magic card tricks for her (which was real magic, an ominous portent of what would come later in the episode). Decades later, the PUA known as Mystery would advocate using magic tricks to pick up women. Did he get the idea from this episode of Star Trek?

A great red-pill lesson that’s even more important today than it was fifty years ago is when Kirk sternly lectures Charlie about his crush on Rand:

KIRK: Charlie, there are a million things in this universe you can have and there are a million things you can’t have. It’s no fun facing that, but that’s the way things are.

CHARLIE: Then what am I going to do?

KIRK: Hang on tight and survive. Everybody does.

I think a lot of spoiled kids, and adults, would benefit from someone telling them that there are a million they can’t have, and it’s the way things are.

Another great scene with Kirk and Charlie is in the gym, and shirtless Kirk (the very first Star Trek episode were Kirk is completely shirtless, but there will be more) has to deal with Charlie after Charlie shocks Kirk by making some other guy in the gym disappear because the guy laughed at him, Kirk does the stern fatherly thing and disciplines Charlie with complete alpha-male confidence, even though he knows that Charlie could make him disappear as well. I think there was an important lesson here about the power of the dominant alpha personality over the weak beta personality, even though when it comes to actual power Charlie (with his super psychic abilities) is way more powerful than Kirk.

Charlie has a case of beta-male rage long before the term was invented by one of the commenters on my blog. Mad that Rand rejects him, he uses his psychic powers to hurt a bunch of women on the ship. He turns one woman into an iguana, he makes Rand disappear like he did to the guy at the gym, he makes another woman’s face disappear (very creepy), and yet another young woman he turns into an old crone. He’s like Elliot Rodger or George Sodini, but with super psychic powers instead of guns.

How do they escape from Charlie’s super powers? Well, to give away the ending, the Thasians come to the rescue and take him away. The Thasians explain they gave him the super powers so he could survive on the deserted planet, and that he got away without them realizing it, and now they are taking him back. Sorry about the dead people on the other ship, but we brought back all the people he made disappear on your ship.

This episode is so good because it’s based on human relationships rather than some dumb science fiction suspense that doesn’t make any sense. There aren’t any gaping plot holes like there are in the previous three episodes I reviewed. The only scene that stands out as illogical and stupid is when Spock and Kirk are playing tridimensional chess, and Spock moves a piece and smugly says “check” and Kirk then moves a piece in return and says “checkmate.” Spock says “Your illogical approach to chess does have its advantages on occasion, Captain.” Come on, if you can’t see that your opponent will checkmate you in response to your move, it’s because you’re a crappy chess player and not because the other guy used “illogic” on you.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 3, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Star Trek

23 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. “The lesson that Star Trek is teaching us is that it’s not safe for one man to have superpowers that put him above all other men. They must be cast out or killed.”

    That was Gene Dingleberry’s socialist influence.

    destructure

    August 3, 2018 at EDT pm

  2. The singing scene really struck me, too, because there’s nothing like that in TV shows today. Nichelle Nicols was a singer, too, so probably they were trying to let her show off her singing chops, but for some reason this didn’t become a regular occurrence. It’s also an example of another thing that has struck me when watching through TOS, which is how slow-paced it was compared to TV today. This had changed by the late 80’s, as even TNG was much faster-paced.

    Hermes

    August 3, 2018 at EDT pm

    • A lot of TV shows in that era had musical numbers in every episode, like “Hawaiian Eye” (Connie Stevens) and “Peter Gunn” (Lola Albright), and actors with Tony Bennett aspirations would use their show as a platform to launch themselves — Richard Chamberlain in “Dr. Kildare” being one example. By 1966 the lounge singer trend was definitely dying, though.

      Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner put out a couple of silly LPs during Star Trek’s run which no one would have dreamed of doing 15 years later.

      Richard

      August 3, 2018 at EDT pm

      • The music on Peter Gunn is great.

        Steverino@Steverino.com

        August 4, 2018 at EDT am

    • ” It’s also an example of another thing that has struck me when watching through TOS, which is how slow-paced it was compared to TV today. This had changed by the late 80’s, as even TNG was much faster-paced.”

      That’s one of my observations about watching old Star Trek episodes, and not just Star Trek, but just about any hour long drama made in the 60’s; it’s extremely slow pace.

      Mike Street Station

      August 4, 2018 at EDT am

  3. Lion,

    You’ll never know how it does my heart good to see how you are coming around wrt Wm Shatner’s acting skills. He’s one of my all-time favorite actors, up there with early Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Clint Eastwood up to Dirty Harry.

    gothamette

    August 3, 2018 at EDT pm

    • Shatner was really good in the 1950s Hollywood version of the Brothers Karamazov – he played Alyosha, who was basically a good-hearted version of the commenter Yakov.

      He was better on Twilight Zone than Jack Klugman was in a similar role.

      And I don’t know who Shatner hires to tend his Twitter feed but it is super impressive that a guy who is over 80 years old has the funniest secular Twitter feed out there. I would not be surprised if he does it all himself.

      Of course I have a special fondness for the guy because in one of his TV shows the picture on his desk of a dog (Boston Legal, I think) was the dog of a friend – a golden retriever! My connection to the Dostoyevsky world of the 1950s ….

      howitzer daniel

      August 3, 2018 at EDT pm

      • Thanks for the tips – I’ll check them out. Sir Tyrone Guthrie thought Shatner was the most promising young actor of his generation, and I don’t think it was (only) because Sir Tyrone was a flamer. I really think he thought Shatner was that good.

        I just love Shatner and not only because he embodied Captain Kirk, heart and soul. He’s always struck me as fundamentally a good guy, even if he has been married 12 times and one of his wives ended up floating in a pool.

        I mean, it’s Hollywood, Jake.

        gothamette

        August 4, 2018 at EDT am

      • People remember him from Nightmare at 20,000 feet, but I rather like Shatner in the “Nick of Time” Twilight Zone episode.

        Steverino@Steverino.com

        August 4, 2018 at EDT pm

  4. These ST TOS blog posts are very good. I hope they continue.

    Gozo

    August 3, 2018 at EDT pm

    • Thank you. I don’t think there’s any other source of HBD and red-pill inspired criticism of Trek.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 3, 2018 at EDT pm

      • This has been some of your most inspired writing in months.

        Richard

        August 3, 2018 at EDT pm

  5. Lion, the more you write about it the clearer it becomes:

    Star Trek is RACIST against psychics. The relentless message is ESPers should be kept down, confined, and eliminated.

    This is shocking since the show pimps out tolerance for everyone but ESPers.

    It’s fine if they do a bit of dweeby mind melding or empathy but that’s it for the ESPers.

    While everyone else is encouraged to fulfill their potential in Star Trek, ESPers are not.

    ESP as evolutionary future for humans? Forget about it!

    Why was early Star Trek so into psychic powers and also so condemning?

    Artifact

    August 3, 2018 at EDT pm

    • Star Trek also has no tolerance for people who had genetic engineering done on them. In DS9, they are going to fire Bashear because they find out his parents had genetic engineering done to his fetus.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 3, 2018 at EDT pm

    • “Star Trek is RACIST against psychics. The relentless message is ESPers should be kept down, confined, and eliminated. ”

      Nah. Spock has psychic powers. Several races do in Star Trek. The issue is self-control. With Charlie X it’s a parable of the ills from well-intended parental neglect creating spoiled snowflakes. Very on-point to the first generation with dramatically fewer dads at home from divorce or obsessed /career dads. They’ll look at that several times in the series.

      The other episode is about careerism. The careerist apparently ‘perfect’ officer reveals his tragic flaw when given power as his character is weak.

      BTW, first had avocado on multigrain toast, sprouts and other goodies at the Gilson-de Lemos’ Libertarian salons at the Chastleton in DC back in the 50’s (also there where I met Roddenberry), catered by the international Safeway supermarket folks. They seem to have been continuing their campaign of educating taste, and I’ve had them in Colorado now, not to mention their libertarian campaign to put rights on the agenda in every country. Thanks to them I can get a cup of espresso in this country without people stuttering at me.

      One thing that affected Roddenberry is he was always battling the network censors. That’s where a lot of plot-holes and dumbed-down stuff comes from. Though it IMHO only seems so in retrospect, that show led the way then…

      Great writing Lion.

      Robert

      August 4, 2018 at EDT am

      • Star Trek’s racism is not about self-control. Talosians didn’t lack self-control, nor did Khan and his crew, or Bashir the doctor.

        Star Trek preaches a kind of liberal cant, to fulfill your potential, and then they kill or exclude those who do so.

        Star Trek is clearly racist against ESPers and the genetically engineered. Just like blacks could work the fields as slaves or be a house servant, you will be assumed to be a threat or problem if you rise above your expected station.

        The ESPers have to keep their powers weak, such as with Spock or Troi, or else be eliminated (Mitchell), or put down in some way, e.g. Talosians, Charlie X.

        Star Trek is promoting enforcing a by any means necessary campaign of control against those who are biologically different in two distinct ways.

        Kirk at least respects Khan’s accomplishments so this shows that ESPers are the group Star Trek is the most racist against, followed by the genetically engineered.

        Artifact

        August 4, 2018 at EDT pm

      • “The ESPers have to keep their powers weak, such as with Spock or Troi”

        I was going to say “but Troi,” but you are right, Troi’s powers are limited to “I feel anger” when anyone can see that the person in question is angry. And because she’s alien, which is a victimized group (like Hispanics) compared to the dominant humans. If Bashir had the same powers because of genetic engineering, he’d be put in prison or something like that.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        August 4, 2018 at EDT pm

  6. The final scene where the crew clearly have a “what the fuck just happened?” moment of silence was a nice touch.

    JayMan

    August 3, 2018 at EDT pm

  7. Any other classic series out there people are watching? I’ve started the old Kung Fu, which I really liked as a kid. A few years ago I rewatched Rockford Files. It holds up well. Reaching way back, I’ve also enjoyed Peter Gunn. Cool jazz, atmosphere oddly reminiscent of the Twilight Zone, and even the lowlife thugs wear suits!

    Gotham ette is right, Shatner is great!

    Steverino@Steverino.com

    August 3, 2018 at EDT pm

    • “Any other classic series out there people are watching?”

      Steverino, I upgraded recently and see that a lot of shows not available for decades are now on my cable. Working my way through ‘Route 66’ again. Also ‘Barnaby Jones.’

      Robert

      August 4, 2018 at EDT am

    • “Maverick” is terrific, although I’d recommend a new viewer start with the second season because it took some trial and error for them to figure out the tone they wanted to take.

      Richard

      August 4, 2018 at EDT am

    • I lke Shatner too, ut he can’t match Lee Marvin. Try the old episodes of “M Squad.”

      Mel belli

      August 4, 2018 at EDT pm


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: