Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Shakespeare in Star Trek 2: The Tempest and The Shrew

The Original Series really went berserk with Shakespearean titles and plots. Out of 76 episodes there are 12 overt references to Shakespeare. Even though there are more Shakespearean bits in The Next Generation, with this many references, The Original Series tied Shakespeare to Star Trek forever.

Is There No Truth In Beauty may have had its title lifted from a George Herbert poem but the episode features Shakespearean overtones, a marooned ship, and lines pulled from The Tempest. Miranda (see, right there Miranda) Jones has accompanied an ambassador, Kollos, aboard the ship. He's emotionally beautiful but so hideous in appearance that just looking at him can drive a man mad. When the Enterprise is thrown across the galaxy, Spock must meld with Kollos to save the crew. Kollos, viewing the world through humanoid eyes for the first time utters the line, "Oh brave new world that has such creatures in it." To which Miranda replies, "Tis new to thee."

I write about this episode in particular because it's one of my favorites. It stands out as being somewhat different. It's strange, personal, more poetry and fantasy than science, but it still works remarkably well as a Star Trek. It was a unsolicited script from a librarian at UCLA. And the episode, which could have been a direct blow-by-blow reboot of a Shakespearean play, is more subtle.

The next one is less so. Elaan of Troyius fits within a group of Star Trek episodes that I call, "Royal Brat Stories" wherein one of the members of the crew (in this case Kirk) is forced to take an ill-mannered princess (in this case played by super gorgeous France Nuyen) aboard the ship and try to get her to be less feisty so she'll play nice whenever they get where they're going. (More on this Royal Brat thing later) Kirk plays a good Petruchio to Elaan's Katherine. There's even a scene wherein they eat dinner together and Elaan eats like a barbarian while Kirk tut-tuts her about her table manners and says he'll teach her proper etiquette. She throws knives and Kirk threatens to spank her. In the end, Elaan turns herself around.
Elaan of Troyus isn't one of my favorite episodes and (aside from some nice word play) The Taming of the Shrew isn't one of my favorite plays. But, I still think it's worth writing about and watching just to hear Kirk talk about his actual true love--the Enterprise.

For more Shakespearean references in The Original Series check out:

Dagger of the Mind--Macbeth (title only)
Conscience of the King--Macbeth, Hamlet
By Any Other Name--Romeo & Juliet
Plato's Stepchildren--Sonnet 57
Wink of an Eye--A Winter's Tale (title only)
Whom Gods Destroy-- Sonnet 18
Requiem For Methuselah-- Flint owns a first folio
All Our Yesterdays--Macbeth (title only)
Bread and Circuses--Ok, this is super obscure and I only noticed it when I was reading about this episode but Claudius Marcus' coat of arms is actually the Shakespeare coat of arms.


  1. Episodes like these of Star Trek taught me a lot about the classics when I was a kid. Star Trek, and Wishbone, made me seem smarter and more well-read than I actually was in my pre-teen years.

  2. Each visit here brings more great memories to mind


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