Star Trek TAS: Season 1, Episode Nine “Once Upon a Planet”

Stardate: 5591.2 (2269)
Original Air Date: November 3, 1973
Writer: Chuck Menville and Len Janson
Director: Hal Sutherland       

“What happened to the Keeper?”
“He was old. He ceased to function.”

Rating: 2 out of 5.

In a sequel to “Shore Leave,” the crew of the Enterprise is ready for some well-deserved rest and recreation on the famous shore leave planet in the Omicron Delta region. It is an uninhabited planet created by a highly advanced alien race in order to instill fun and amusement to passers-by. In fact, Sulu notes this is the same planet from “Shore Leave” –however, things go awry when characters from Alice in Wonderland start to attack the crew and Uhura is captured and imprisoned underground by a recalcitrant “thought duplicator” master computer. Rather than fulfill the wishes and dreams of planetary visitors, the master computer plans to “turn off” the crewmen.   

Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Sulu form a rescue party where they search for the “Keeper” (or caretaker) of this planet whom they previously met in “Shore Leave.” However, they soon find a grave-marker for what is presumably the Keeper. They are led on a wild cartoon adventure through caves, with a two-headed fire-breathing dragon, and eventually they locate Uhura and the Master Computer, which they easily persuade to relinquish control over them.  

My Thoughts on “Once Upon a Planet”

This is another case of a super computer run amok, attempting to take-over the Enterprise, capturing a crewman, and in the end, the conclusion relies upon Kirk et al persuading said computer of its own folly. It’s a nice bit of fan-service to connect some of these TAS episodes to their far superior TOS originals, however episodes like “Once Upon a Planet” just seem to reek of excessive frivolity.  


Chuck Menville (1940-1992) and Len Janson were longtime collaborators working together for a variety of television shows under Filmation and Hanna-Barbara. This was the first of two TAS episodes written by them (the other was “The Practical Joker”).  

Star Trek Trivia:

  • In this episode, Spock claims his mother was a particular fan of Lewis Carroll’s work.
  • Another sequel to “Shore Leave” was proposed for TOS but it remained undeveloped. The animation allowed for many of Theodore Sturgeon’s initial ideas to come to life.
  • There are a number of recycled cuts and scenes in this episode.
  • Nichelle Nichols and James Doohan voice Alice and the White Rabbit in this episode, while Major Barrett voices the Queen of Hearts and Doohan voices the Master Computer, as well.  
  • The grave-marker of the Keeper/caretaker claims he died the last of his race, however Spock notes this grave-marker might be untrustworthy.
  • As in the original episode, the “Shore Leave” planet remains unnamed in this episode.
  • Director Hal Sutherland (1929-2014) directed all episodes of the first season of TAS. He gained early career recognition working on large Disney animation movies before switching to Filmation where he worked on TAS, as well as Flash Gordon, Batman, and Superman animated shows. Notably, pink is a recurring color in TAS. This is because Sutherland was colorblind and thought he was actually selecting the color grey.

Click here to return to my survey of the Star Trek series.

1 thought on “Star Trek TAS: Season 1, Episode Nine “Once Upon a Planet”

  1. Personally I don’t think Shore Leave qualifies as good sequel material for Star Trek. It was a good episode for the classic Trek. But I never saw the story benefits in revisiting it. Thank you for your review and trivia.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s