Star Trek TAS: Season 2, Episode Four “Albatross”

Stardate: 5275.6 (2270)
Original Air Date: September 28, 1974
Writer: Dario Finelli
Director: Bill Reed    

“The wanton slaughter of hundreds of people is not a joke, captain.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

After successful delivery of medical supplies to the planet Dramia in the remote Dramian star system, Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy are preparing to beam back aboard the Enterprise when the Dramian High Prefect (James Doohan) and his associate, Commander Demos (Lou Scheimer), arrest Dr. McCoy under the accusation of unleashing a plague which had killed hundreds 19 years earlier on Dramia II.

While Dr. McCoy is imprisoned, the Enterprise travels to Dramia II to investigate the situation. Meanwhile, Demos attempts to sneak aboard the Enterprise but he is easily captured and his ship is impounded (Kirk deliberately orders the gateway for ships opened in order to lure Demos’s ship aboard the Enterprise). The crew then encounters an aurora and on Dramia II they follow a Dramian creature as it runs into an underground cave where the crewmen meet an elder survivor of the plague, Kol-Tai (James Doohan), who claims he was actually saved –rather than harmed– by Dr. McCoy. They bring Kol-Tai aboard the Enterprise but he quickly begins turning blue, along with the rest of the crew amidst an outbreak of the plague. Only Spock remains immune.

Spock rescues Dr. McCoy from confinement and, together, they discover that the aurora has been the true catalyst for the virus. Dr. McCoy uses his existing antibodies to cure everyone, and in the end, he is honored by the Dramians.

My Thoughts on “Albatross”

The idea that an ominous (albeit convenient) aurora is causing a brutal plague among the Dramians bears striking resemblance to the computer disruption caused by the energy field featured in the prior episode, “The Practical Joker.” Why did no one else suggest that the unusual glowing aurora is causing the plague? And why would no one think to use antibodies to cure the plague, in the same way Kol-Tai was previously cured of Saurian virus? Unfortunately, many of these episodes seem to be simply recycling narrative themes we have seen many times over as we rapidly approach the conclusion of the Animated Series.


This episode was the only Star Trek written by Dario Finelli. As far as I can tell, his only other work was the 1970 film Scorpio ’70.

Star Trek Trivia:

  • Filmation co-founder Lou Scheimer supplied the voice of a Dramian guard and Demos.
  • James Doohan voiced the Dramian Supreme Prefect as well as plague survivor Kol-Tai.
  • The aliens in this episode are referred to as Dramian, Draman, and Dramen.

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Star Trek TAS: Season 2, Episode Three “The Practical Joker”

Stardate: 3183.3 (2270)
Original Air Date: September 21, 1974
Writers: Chuck Menville, Len Janson
Director: Bill Reed    

“Kirk is a Jerk!”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Enterprise has been conducting a routine survey of Type IV asteroids. At the end of the uneventful survey mission, the Enterprise is approaching the final asteroid to complete its course 72 hours ahead of schedule when the ship is suddenly struck by a Romulan ambush of three battlecruisers. The Romulans accuse the Enterprise of crossing into their territory. The Enterprise escapes into a nearby gaseous energy field where the crew begins encountering a string of odd amateur practical jokes –Scotty is pied in the face by a malfunctioning food replicator (or “food synthesizer”), Spock’s eyes are encircled in dirt by a microscope on his station, Kirk is caught wearing a shirt that says “Kirk is a Jerk,” among other pranks. Needless to say, chaos ensues.  

As it turns out, the Enterprise central computer has “declared war” on the crew. Why? Spock suggests that sub-atomic particles from the gaseous energy field have latched onto the ship’s computer like a disease, causing it to behave irrationally. However, the Enterprise computer decides to play its next practical joke as revenge on the Romulans by sending out a balloon (inflatable dummy Enterprise) as a ruse. As the Enterprise flees from the pursuing Romulans, Kirk tricks the computer and they travel back through the energy field, curing the computer of its disease, but causing havoc for the Romulan battlecruisers.  

My Thoughts on “The Practical Joker”

This is a pretty amusing little misadventure wherein the Enterprise computer turns against its crew! We have seen malfunctions within the transporter in numerous other episodes, but rarely within the ship’s central computer. Also, we have seen a variety of other situations wherein the outbreak of a disease threatens the lives of the crewmen, but now a disease afflicts the necessary technology which governs the Enterprise –an interesting reversal of pandemic inspired hysteria in episodes like “The Naked Time.” However, the best comparison for this episode is likely “Bem,” the prior TAS episode which also features a practical jokester.

While on paper this episode was likely smirk-inducing, but in execution it’s a bit of an oddball situation filled with forced laughter. I’d also add this to another episode wherein Kirk outsmarts a computer run amok –how exactly does traveling through a random gaseous energy field create a disease? And then traveling back through the field somehow cures the computer? I had some fun with this goofy episode.  


Chuck Menville and Len Janson also wrote the first season TAS episode “Once Upon A Planet.” were longtime collaborators working together for a variety of television shows under Filmation and Hanna-Barbara.

Star Trek Trivia:

  • This episode features one of the early iterations of the holodeck, an idea which was intended to be introduced in TOS but it was eliminated due to budget constraints.
  • Filmation co-founders Lou Scheimer and Norm Prescott guest starred as the voices of the two Romulans.
  • DC Fontana had left TAS for this second season, and many have cited this as a reason for the show’s continued decline.
  • Majel Barrett voices the ship’s computer in this episode.
  • Apparently, the idea of a balloon resembling the Enterprise reappears in John M. Ford’s novel How Much For Just The Planet? (1987).

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Star Trek TAS: Season 2, Episode Two “Bem”

Stardate: 7403.6 (2270)
Original Air Date: September 14, 1974
Writer: David Gerrold
Director: Bill Reed    

“There are times, Mr. Spock, when I think I should have been a librarian.”

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Enterprise is on a series of exploratory contact missions. A member of a recently contacted alien species is aboard the ship, the Honorary Commander Ari Bn Bem (James Doohan, who else?), from the planet Pandro in the Garo VII System. He is expected to serve as a casual observer while aboard the Enterprise, however Bem soon starts demanding to participate in the Enterprise’s activities where he is revealed to be something of a practical joker. Currently, the Enterprise is in orbit around Delta Theta III, a newly discovered Class-M planet. Records from a previous scouting mission have reported possible aboriginal life forms on Delta Theta III and the Enterprise has been sent to investigate and report back.

A landing party beams down to Delta Theta III, unfortunately joined by Bem who insists on participating against Kirk’s wishes, and they soon encounter a strange phenomenon –a sensory anomaly which turns out to be native reptilian creatures who appear to run off with Bem for food. Then, Spock discovers that the crew’s phasers and communicators have been replaced with forgeries, but before it can be resolved the crewmen are quickly captured and imprisoned by the native species where they re-encounter Bem. However, while in prison, Bem reveals that he can actually split his body in two as he helps the two crewmen escape, but he Bem then runs away.

Next, Kirk and Spock encounter planet’s god, an intelligent being who accuses Kirk and Spock of interfering with the natives whom she refers to as her “children.” She allows the crew to peacefully leave under the condition that they depart immediately, however Kirk decides he cannot abandon Bem who has fled onto the planet. In the end, they locate Bem and the godlike being persuades Bem from destroying himself. As they depart aboard the Enterprise, Kirk asks that this planet be quarantined, never again to be revisited by the Federation (Bem also claims the same for his home planet of Pandro).

My Thoughts on “Bem”

I found “Bem” to be an eminently silly, ridiculous episode. The character of Bem seems to be an entirely annoying guest aboard the Enterprise who is very much undeserving of the crew’s trust from the outset. And it seems clear by the end that Bem will likely face no consequences for risking the lives of hundreds of Federation crewmen and forcing the Enterprise to violate the Prime Directive. The whole plot of this episode hinges on Bem’s clumsy incompetence, which causes lots of unnecessary problems and leaves nothing resolved. How exactly is Bem able to rework the transporter? How is he able to confiscate the crew’s communicators and phasers and replace them with forgeries? Are we to believe all of this was actually a test orchestrated by Bem to learn if the Enterprise crew would rescue him? Why? To what purpose? With all that being said, elements of the Pandronian species are interesting, namely their ability to detach parts of their bodies. Perhaps they will be revisited again one day.


David Gerrold (1944-present) was an early fan of the Star Trek, who was encouraged by Gene Roddenberry to submit scripts for the show (he ultimately submitted a total of five scripts). The first script he submitted was entitled “Tomorrow Was Yesterday,” a sixty-page script about the Enterprise discovering a ship launched from Earth centuries earlier (it was never made into an episode). He later wrote several Star Trek books –both novels and memoirs. He also wrote for a variety of classic science fiction shows such as Land of the Lost, Babylon 5, Sliders, and The Twilight Zone (the reboot). Gerrold wrote the Hugo and Nebula-award winning novelette “The Martian Child.” His other celebrated science fiction novels include The Man Who Folded Himself (1973), and the Hugo and Nebula-nominated When HARLIE Was One (1972). Gerrold remained friends with DC Fontana hence why he was invited to participate in the Animated Series, as well. He wrote two episodes of TAS: “More Tribbles, More Troubles” and “Bem.”  

Star Trek Trivia:

  • “Bem” is the show with the latest animated stardate.
  • When Bem refers to himself in the first person he uses the phrase “this one…”
  • Bem is an old science fiction term, an acronym for “Bug Eyed Monster.”
  • This episode marks the first time that Captain James T. Kirk’s full name is given, revealing that the middle initial stood for Tiberius, after the Roman emperor.
  • “Bem” began as a script for Star Trek: The Original Series’ third season, but it was condensed for The Animated Series’ first season, and was finally produced during the show’s second season. The original story for this episode was considerably different, it was changed as Gene Roddenberry requested that a godlike alien be included.
  • In addition to voicing Uhura, Nichelle Nichols also voiced the godlike alien being. James Doohan voiced Bem.
  • DC Fontana identified this episode as one of her favorites from TAS.
  • In his audio commentary, David Gerrold noted that this episode had a similar conclusion to “Errand of Mercy.”
  • Apparently, the Pandronians appear again in Star Trek in Lower Decks.

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Star Trek TAS: Season 2, Episode One “The Pirates of Orion”

Stardate: 6334.1 (2270)
Original Air Date: September 7, 1974
Writer: Howard Weinstein
Director: Bill Reed    

“What’s the use of being a doctor, anyway? We’re only as good as our drugs and technology make us. Underneath all the tricks I might as well be practicing in the Middle Ages.”   

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There has been an outbreak of choreocytosis aboard the Enterprise, but it now seems to be under control (Dr. McCoy notes it is no longer even as serious as pneumonia). With that in mind, the Enterprise is headed to Deneb V where the crew will represent the Federation for the dedication of a new Academy of Science. However, before they can arrive, Spock collapses due to choreocytosis, which Bones notes is fatal for Vulcans (owing to their copper-based blood). The only cure is a naturally occurring drug called Strobolin but it only exists on a few planets. Per the ship’s computer, Beta Canopus is the nearest planet with Strobolin present on its surface. However, it is four days away when traveling at maximum warp, therefore Kirk requests a rendezvous for another ship to deliver the vital drug in order to save Spock’s life.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise continues heading for Deneb V, however the S.S. Huron which is carrying the Strobolin is overtaken by Orion pirates which steals the Huron’s sizable shipment of dilithium crystals. The Enterprise locates the derelict Huron in space and recovers its injured crew, but they are desperately in need of the missing Strobolin. The Enterprise then trails the Orion pirate ship and Kirk offers a deal with the Orions in exchange for the Strobolin which will preserve their planet’s disputed neutrality, and they agree on a face-to-face exchange on a nearby asteroid. With time running out and Spock’s life on the line, the Orions attempt a suicidal mission that will destroy both the Orion ship and the Enterprise. In the end, thanks to Scotty’s maneuvering, Kirk and the Orion are beamed aboard and the crisis is averted while Spock’s life is saved with mere minutes to spare.   

My Thoughts on “The Pirates of Orion”

Once again, disease proves itself to be one of the greatest threats facing the Enterprise. Unfortunately, choreocytosis uniquely affects Vulcans and it nearly kills Spock, the ship’s bulwark of logic and reason. This offers a rare moment wherein the crew must save Spock, rather than the other way around. With that being said, the actions of the Orion captain don’t exactly make much sense to me. For example, why would the Orion captain show the Strobolin drug to Captain Kirk rather than simply immediately killing him? Why wouldn’t the Orion quickly start the self-destruct sequence to destroy the Enterprise? At any rate, I still thought this was a tight script, and a great way to start the second season of TAS (or at least as good as it gets for TAS).


Howard Weinstein (1954-Present) is one of the youngest writers of any Star Trek episode when he sold this script for TAS at the age of 19. In high school, Weinstein was a fan of space exploration and he wrote Star Trek fan fiction for science fiction magazines like his annual high school sci-fi zine, Probe. When “The Pirates of Orion” aired, Weinstein was a freshman living in the dorms at the University of Connecticut. He organized a viewing party for the episode and from there he became a legend in the Star Trek fandom, having then written several Star Trek books beginning with Covenant of the Crown for Pocket Books, attending Trekkie conventions, and even introducing Leonard Nimoy to the idea of using whales as a major thematic element in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Star Trek Trivia:

  • This was the first episode of Star Trek to feature male Orions, which would not appear again until Enterprise.
  • Orion is pronounced “O-ree-ahn” in this episode.
  • In addition to voicing Sulu, George Takei also voices the Huron ship’s command division lieutenant, while Majel Barrett voices the Huron’s operations division lieutenant.
  • Kirk wears a life support belt again in this episode. Once again, James Doohan voices a panoply of characters including Scotty, Arex, O’Shea, the Orion captain, an Orion ensign, and an unnamed Enterprise security guard.
  • Norm Prescott, co-founder of Filmation, voiced an Orion lieutenant in this episode. Prescott also secretly composed the music for TAS under the name Jeff Michael (the first names of his two sons).
  • Kirk notes that Orion’s neutrality as a planet has been in dispute ever since an affair pertaining to the Coridan planets and the Babel conference of 3850.3.

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