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Lunch » Tags » Tv Shows » Reviews » Star Trek - The Original Series, Episode 49: A Piece of the Action » User review

The funniest of the original series

  • Sep 1, 2003
  • by
Rating:
+5
This is without question the funniest episode of the original Star Trek series. There is no funnier deadpan scene anywhere in television than the one where Kirk is "explaining" the fizzbin card game and asks Spock what the odds are against getting a royal fizzbin. His deadpan, yet truthful answer is, "I have never computed them." I laughed out loud the first time I saw that and still smile when I see it, even though I have seen it over fifty times.
The main premise is that a Federation vessel visited a planet before the Prime Directive was imposed and members of the crew interacted with the planet's inhabitants and contaminated them. Therefore, the primary task of the Enterprise is to repair the damage. The earlier Federation vessel left a book that described the Chicago gangs of the prohibition era and the inhabitants have modeled their entire culture after the book. Their clothing, buildings, speech and social structure are all modeled from the gangster movie cliches.
After many trials and errors, including Kirk trying to drive a car, there is a climactic scene where Kirk takes charge and unifies the government under one of the gang bosses. His pacing on a pool table while brandishing a machine gun and speaking one gangland cliché after another is one of the best scenes in the entire original series. His solution, where the Federation is described as an interplanetary gang, is funny and original. I have always wondered what the reaction of Star Fleet command was to his report of how he solved the contamination problem.
Funny, and essentially a spoof of a movie genre, this is one of the best Star Trek episodes ever, original series and beyond.

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About the reviewer
Charles Ashbacher ()
Ranked #73
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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Wiki

This smart, funny episode finds theEnterprisevisiting the planet Iotia, where the starshipHorizonaccidentally left behind Earth materials a century before. During that time, as Captain Kirk (William Shatner) discovers, the Iotians have made much of one of those items, a book calledChicago Mobs of the Twenties. The planet's population has divided into rival gangs who dress, speak, and do violence like the spiritual descendants of Al Capone, plunging Kirk, Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and McCoy (DeForest Kelley) into a facsimile of Earth's colorful and dangerous past.

The episode is played for comedy: Kirk and Spock keep getting kidnapped by the warring hoods, each of whom wants the Federation team to use their technology to defeat the other side. The big payoff, however, is a summit meeting of bosses, where Kirk employs plenty of gangster-movie jargon to get matters settled. --Tom Keogh

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Details

Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: CBS Paramount International Television

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