‘Star Trek: The Unique Sequence’ Revisited: “Shore Depart”


“Shore Depart” intentionally takes a trip from the standard Trek system of suspense and science-fiction. Foreshadowing many a Subsequent Technology holodeck episode to come back, the plot is a whimsical fantasy romp. Famend science-fiction author Theodore Sturgeon clearly had a good time throwing tigers, samurai, and big rabbits into his supposedly future tech script. 

In pushing the perimeters of what might be in Trek, although, Sturgeon additionally inadvertently confirmed simply how inflexible and slim a lot of these edges have been. A Star Trek episode about something you’ll be able to think about considerably disappointingly reveals {that a} community present within the 60s may think about little past banal daydreams and rancid style fare. The episode gestures in the direction of Lewis Carroll’s weird rabbit gap however by no means goes down it. 

The Enterprise crew and captain James Kirk (William Shatner) are exhausted and wish a relaxation. Fortunately, they come upon an idyllic Earth-like planet with none inhabitants that appears good for relaxation and leisure. On an preliminary survey of the floor, although, Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) mentions that the planet looks as if a fantasy out of Alice in Wonderland —after which sees an enormous rabbit with a pocket-watch pursued by a blonde little lady.

Comply with the White Rabbit

The odd phenomenon rapidly escalates. Lt. Sulu (George Takei), a collector of vintage weapons, finds an previous firearm he’s lengthy wished below a rock. Kirk is accosted by Finnegan (Bruce Mars), an upperclassman who tormented him whereas he was at Starfleet academy. Yeoman Tonia Barrows (Emily Banks) finds a medieval princess’ outfit and is then attacked by a knight, who kills Dr. McCoy as he tries to defend her. In the meantime, the crew’s communicators and phasers stop working. The logical Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) beams down to assist and to attempt to clarify why all the pieces is higgledy-piggledy. 

Ultimately, Kirk and Spock work out that the planet is creating no matter his crew thinks of. Duh. A Caretaker (Oliver McGowan) helpfully materializes out of nowhere to elucidate that the planet was a trip vacation spot for a sophisticated race and is designed to make daydreams come true. Dr. McCoy is miraculously resurrected and as an alternative of investigating this probably galaxy-transforming alien tech, the crew simply decides to beam all the way down to the planet, pursue their completely satisfied fantasies, and take care not to consider tigers or monsters.  

What’s gratifying about “Shore Depart” is the sense that something can occur; it’s a tv present launched from the sober guidelines of logic. DeForest Kelley is the actor who finest channels the enjoyment of nonsense; he reacts with a crotchety, paralyzed marvel when the rabbit reveals up, turns away however not too distant as Yeoman Barrows modifications into her robe, and returns from the lifeless with two cabaret singers and an enormous happy smile. In most episodes, McCoy is caught in sickbay monitor screens and saying individuals sick or lifeless. He relishes the possibility to stretch his legs and stride into romance, chivalry, and silliness.

What May Have Been

Sturgeon reportedly wished much more fantasy parts (together with a stay elephant!) However the studio balked on the extra of preposterousness, afraid that viewers wouldn’t droop disbelief. Gene Roddenberry ended up having to do last-minute script rewrites throughout taking pictures.

Whether or not that undermined Sturgeon’s imaginative and prescient it’s tough to say. The episode does, for higher and worse, have an improvisational really feel, because the touchdown social gathering races across the lush panorama from strafing World Battle II fighter airplane to samurai. A part of the enjoyment of shore depart is being launched from the regimentation of ship-board schedules, or plots. 

Some strictures stay although. The Japanese warrior is predictably introduced each time he seems on display screen with a Chinese language gong impact as a result of Orientalism takes no holidays. Finnegan for his half will get a piping Irish jig music theme and leaps round like a manic Leprechaun. Boisterous irresponsibility and belligerence are signaled via the drained ethnic stereotypes.  

As with race, so with gender—the fantasies on provide comply with anticipated, slim channels. The lads conjure up keen previous flames (in Kirk’s case) or keen intercourse staff (in McCoy’s.) Yeoman Barrows, in the meantime, conjures up Don Juan—who makes an attempt to sexually assault her. And naturally, she capabilities as a type of sexual fantasy herself for the considerably older McCoy, as she summons up flirty garments after which disrobes the place he can see her. Males are the aggressors, and ladies are the sexual objects, uniformly, within the imaginations of all males and all ladies.

Drained Tropes

Westworld, Ex Machina, and a slew of different science-fiction tales about fantasy robots launched because the 60s have explored the commodification of racial and sexual creativeness. There have been even some precedents earlier than 1967. The narrative that launched robots to the world, Karel Capek’s R.U.R., was revealed in 1921, however explores gender roles, racial revolution, and disordered replica with much more ingenuity than “Shore Depart: manages. Sturgeon himself wrote a novel in 1960 a couple of gender-neutral tradition. 

“Shore Depart,” although, isn’t meant to be adventurous. It’s a trip; it’s leisure. The familiarity is a characteristic, not a bug. Folks (for a slim vary of the time period “individuals”) like Orientalist fantasies; they like horny fantasies about compliant ladies being assaulted by Don Juan or chivalrously defended from Don Juan. The irresponsible irritating laughing man is Irish as a result of it’s straightforward to make him Irish, and other people need straightforward after they’re on trip. Weapons and warplanes and tigers; that’s all of the stuff of style motion, and everybody likes style motion, proper? 

It isn’t precisely proper. Folks like all types of issues, and even in a touchdown social gathering of 5 or 6 you’re more likely to have somebody who’s all for considering up one thing rather less standard than tame het romance and a revenge fantasy that simply entails punching an Irishman.  

The issue with mass leisure isn’t that it’s boring (although usually it’s.) It’s that it insists that its viewers are boring. We all know for a surety, given Kirk/Spock slash, that followers of the present had extra in thoughts than damsels in misery. “Shore Depart” is supposedly concerning the wonders of the creativeness, however it has to faux that these wonders are restricted to probably the most pedestrian want achievement. Like many an amusement park, “Shore Depart” guarantees enjoyable and pleasure, however it will possibly’t stay as much as its personal hype. 

This text was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Star Trek: The Unique Sequence (“Shore Depart”)


“Shore Depart,” although, isn’t meant to be adventurous. It’s a trip; it’s leisure. The familiarity is a characteristic, not a bug.


Noah Berlatsky is a contract author based mostly in Chicago. His e book, Surprise Girl: Bondage and Feminism within the Marston/Peter Comics was revealed by Rutgers College Press. He thinks the Adam West Batman is the most effective Batman, darn it.

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