Saturday, May 11, 2013

Star Trek, "The Conscience Of The King"

Note: this post is one of a series of STAR TREK episode reviews originally written for the newsgroup. For more information, please read this post.

Episode 13 out of 80
December 8, 1966
Writer: Barry Trivers
Director: Gerd Oswald

The U.S.S. Enterprise transports a Shakespearean repertory company, and Captain Kirk (William Shatner) comes to suspect that its leader, Anton Karidian (Arnold Moss), may well be a notorious thought-dead dictator named Kodos the Executioner, whose past crimes include the slaughter of members of Kirk’s family.

The acting in this episode is among the best of the series. The confrontation between Moss and Shatner is absolutely riveting, and Barbara Anderson, who plays Moss’ psychotic daughter Lenore, is pretty terrific in a difficult role. Anderson moved on to regular roles on IRONSIDE and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. The byplay between DeForest Kelley and Leonard Nimoy is great, and really does a lot to show the friendly yet adversarial relationship between Spock and McCoy. “Conscience” is an old-fashioned tale of revenge and murder, and there isn't much action in it, but the strong performances and clever script by Barry Trivers holds it together.

Again, Shatner shows his strength as a performer by making Kirk fallible and human without sacrificing any of his heroic qualities. It was rare for a '60s TV hero to suffer bouts of vengeance and obsession, yet Kirk often did, while still holding the audience's sympathy. This is a great actor and a great character.

McCoy must have still been drunk while making his medical log entry. Surely he could have figured that Riley would be able to hear his every word. Maybe he should lay off the "hard stuff" for a couple of days.

Director Gerd Oswald said in a FILMFAX interview that Shatner was a bit difficult to work with. I think "pain-in-the-ass" was the term Oswald used to describe Shatner. Not too surprising, considering what his costars have said about him since. Oswald did a ton of OUTER LIMITS episodes, and his feature film AGENT FROM H.A.R.M. was on MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000.

Do phasers have safety features? Just wondering...

Joseph Mullendore's music is pretty good. I especially like the cue he wrote to accompany Kirk and Spock's search for the overloaded phaser. I don't recall if this turned up as a recurring cue, but it should have. Pretty suspenseful.

Kirk makes a direct reference to the "ship's theater" in this episode. I guess it seems likely that the Enterprise would have a theater (it doesn't seem to take up much space), but I wonder how often it gets used. You think the crew members have their own little theater group?

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