Written by Gene Roddenberry and Theodore Sturgeon
Directed by Robert Sparr
Sounds great to me. I would love a place where I could go and sit in Shea Stadium all over again watching Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. I could watch the ball go through Bill Buckner’s legs all over again sitting with a friend who’s no longer on this earth, eating hot dogs and drinking beer. Now that would be paradise!
Dr. McCoy and Sulu (DeForest Kelley and George Takei) are scouting a planet as a possible location for some much-needed rest and relaxation for the crew. It has been previously scanned and is reported to be habitable, but without any animal life. After Dr. McCoy remarks that the planet seems like Alice in Wonderland, Sulu leaves to take some other readings. McCoy then sees a very large talking rabbit, followed by a young blonde girl in a blue and white dress…
Captain Kirk (William Shatner) is finally just about forced to beam down to the planet for some time off for himself. Dr. McCoy calls him over and shows him the rabbit tracks in the sand. While the two are contemplating what this means, they hear gunshots. They race to the source and find Sulu taking target practice with an antique Earth handgun.
Right after Kirk tells the story of an upperclassman at the Academy who tormented him, Finnegan (portrayed by Bruce Mars) makes an appearance. He hasn’t changed at all from the way Kirk remembers him at the Academy, and is also up to the same tricks, laying one on the Captain.
Unable to communicate with the landing party any other way, Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) beams himself down. This is the last act the ship can do as there is no way for them to work the transporter with the energy disruptions. Soon other things are appearing to various crew members including Don Juan, a tiger, a samurai warrior, a WWI era plane on a strafing run, and a knight which slays Dr. McCoy.
Shore Leave is a fun episode, and it doesn’t try to pretend to be something else. The planet is similar in nature to the planet Minos from Arsenal of Freedom during the First Season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. That planet was essentially a way to sell armaments and what controlled the experience grew and learned from the actions of the crew on the surface. There were more than a few episodes during that first season that had roots in episodes of the original Star Trek series, and I would suspect that Arsenal of Freedom had its roots in Shore Leave.
There’s not much character development, and unfortunately what is there is dropped after this episode for the most part. Shore Leave gives McCoy a love interest in Yeoman Barrows (portrayed by Emily Banks), but she’s never seen again. It’s a shame this was never built upon.
The cast does a good job here. They are relaxed and having fun. Fans looking for the moments when Spock seems to break character might be disappointed – nothing ever seems to manifest that is what he has thought of or desired.
The effects are lacking, even by the standards of the day. The instrument that seems to be reading the crew’s thoughts looks like the old television antennas I can remember seeing on top of the sets. When Kirk and Spock encounter the tiger, not only can you see it with a chain around its neck, you can see the chain going to the ground.
There are no social commentaries in Shore Leave. In fact, it is one of the few episodes that just asks viewers to come along for the ride and have fun with the cast as they let loose a bit. All of them seem to have a great deal of fun with what they are doing, even as William Shatner is getting the crap beat out of him. It’s just a fun episode of the original series that is very accessible to all.
Previous episode in the series (link): Star Trek: The Original Series – Balance of Terror
Next episode in the series (link): Star Trek: The Original Series – The Galileo Seven