Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ten Reasons Why You Should Watch "The Savage Curtain"

I'm ALMOST finished with Star Trek: The Original Series. I only have TWO episodes left. I plan on writing up a whole post about my TOS experience, or maybe even doing a video blog about it. If you have any questions you'd like answered about why I'm doing this, or if you'd like to know something specific about TOS, just let me know! I'd love to get to those unanswered questions before we leave TOS behind.

Anyway, this morning, I watched "The Savage Curtain." It really is a fantastic TOS episode and, since I haven't done this in a while, here are a few reasons why I love it:

1- Abraham Lincoln comes floating toward the Enterprise view-screen on his chair from THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL.

2- Scotty is wearing his dress uniform which I LOVE.

3- The following exchange happens:
Abe: (to Uhura) Oh my, what a charming negress. 
(Kirk is taken aback and Abe apologizes)
Uhura: But why should I object to that term, sir? In our century, we've learned not to fear words. 

4- At one point Scotty points through space, toward Earth, and Spock corrects him saying, "Actually, it's that way."

5- Epic line-up of bad guys: Genghis Khan, Colonel Green (a genocidal maniac of the 21st century), Zora (mad scientist), and Kahless (the messianic figure of the Klingon empire)

6- KAHLESS! This is his first appearance and I can't imagine that, at the time, the writers had any idea what kind of legs this character would have.

7- The guy who plays Sarek is perfect.

8- This exchange:
Kirk: Your Sarek is a brave man.
Spock: Men of peace usually are, Captain. 

9- Spock and Sarek exchange the Vulcan salute and it is awesome. The memory of TOS is that Spock is flashing that sign every episode but it's actually pretty rare. So, when he and Sarek exchange salutes, it's kind of epic.

10- I very clearly remember seeing this episode when I was a little girl. And, maybe because it contained so many elements of Trek lore, it lived in my memory for years. I loved the idealistic portrayal of Abraham Lincoln, the optimistic undertones in his exchange with Uhura, the principles which Sarek espoused. I loved the physical confrontation of good vs evil and how, when they're wrapped up in a war, it's hard to actually tell them apart.

All of these elements make "The Savage Curtain" a prime example of what TOS was doing. Even though it was often heavy-handed or overly-sentimental, it's was still inspiring. It made (and still makes) little kids and adults dream of a future where we no longer fear words and where men of peace are brave. Maybe Roddenberry and his original crew were optimistic but, really, how can we expect to build a great future without optimism, idealism, and even sentimentality.

And, in the end, if none of my previously mentioned, heartfelt reasons convince you to watch "The Savage Curtain" maybe this will: Abraham Lincoln totally gets into a fistfight with the founder of the Klingon Empire.


  1. Great write-up! I want to watch it! I also love the idea of a video blog about this project!

  2. I have a question. In TNG, Scotty confesses he's something of a fraud to Geordi. Any sign of that in the original series? Has that episode tainted your perception of him? How do you read it? -Larry

  3. That exchange between Scotty and Geordi took my focus out of the story and onto the writers/producers willing to deface Scotty's character and continuity for a bit of interest and humor.

  4. While I agree that TNG did not serve Scotty especially well, that exchange was based upon a scene from "Star Trek III: The Search For Spock" in which Kirk calls down to engineering to ask the ship's status and asks when they'll be able to take her out again. Scotty says eight weeks, but since Kirk doesn't have eight weeks, he can have ready is two. Kirk playfully asks Scotty if he's always multiplied his repair estimates by a factor of four. Scotty laughs and asks how else he could keep his reputation as a miracle worker. Kirk assures Scotty his reputation is secure and closes the channel.
    That bit isn't my favorite involving Scotty either, as it paints him as having been less than honest in the past, but it's not as egregious as him encouraging others to fudge their estimates in times of crisis for purposes of showmanship and self-aggrandizement. This "borrowing" from Trek III also underscores that the TNG producers viewed their series mainly as a sequel to the movies and not the "candy-colored" TV show. The characterization of Scotty is that of the film era, not the television one, as is the case later with Spock. Ron Moore, the writer of "Relics" had to fight like mad to get the scene on the holodeck to take place on the television version of the bridge rather than any of the film ones. Existing models of the TV bridge chair and helm console were readily available from fans. Also, there was no frame of film with an empty film-era bridge. These were likely the reasons why the producers yielded on this issue and gave faithful TOS fans one of their few moments of TNG happiness... :-)

  5. Great article! I like this episode too. Except it's Surak, not Sarek, who is Spock's father. But great article!


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