Written by Oliver Crawford, Shimon Wincelberg, and Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Robert Gist
There are Star Trek episodes that are great. Then there are Star Trek episodes that should have been great, but missed something somewhere along the line. Later on down the line, a lot of this could be attributed to William Shatner’s ego having to have Captain Kirk at the center of everything and as the savior to all. With The Galileo Seven, the plot starts out good and has a good angle to play, but fails to deliver in a few crucial areas.
The Enterprise is on its way to deliver supplies to a plague-ridden planet, Makus III, when it encounters a quasar-like star group near Murasaki 312. Under orders to conduct scientific study of all quasars, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) takes the time to launch the shuttle Galileo to investigate.
On board are seven-member of the Enterprise crew, including Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and Scotty (Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan). Without warning, the shuttlecraft is pulled off course and the Enterprise loses track of it. Spock manages to safely crash-land the shuttle on the planet Taurus II. All have survived the crash-landing, but the planet has giant fur-covered inhabitants who are not in the least bit friendly.
The problem is that repairs cannot be made which will carry all of them to orbit. Spock estimates that three of the crew will have to remain behind at the mercy of the hostile inhabitants of the planet. When one of the crew is killed by the creatures, this cuts down the number who would have to stay behind. However, Spock is still at odds with Lt. Boma (portrayed by Don Marshall), who does not see eye-to-eye with Spock’s very logical approach to his command.
Meanwhile, on the Enterprise Commissioner Ferris (portrayed by John Crawford) is getting antsy about getting the supplies to Makus III. He demands Kirk abandon his crew to make the delivery. However, Kirk manages to continue the search as the Enterprise plunges into the ion storm surrounding the space phenomenon and see if the crew has managed to survive on the only planet inside which could support life, Taurus II.
The writing of The Galileo Seven is weak in many ways. The character of Boma is poorly written and not developed well enough for the audience to care about him. I can’t imagine Lt. Boma’s insubordination would be tolerated for long in Starfleet, either.
Then there’s the idea that there’s a planet out there that’s being ravaged by a plague, and it’s more important to stop and hang out studying a quasar. Could you imagine a ship with supplies for, say, tsunami relief all of a sudden stopping to study a pod of whales?
The main premise is showing how Spock commands logically and makes decisions that are completely logical. He is completely at a loss when those logical decisions don’t pan out the way he assumes they will, logically. He is applying his sense of logic to a highly illogical universe and has difficulty reconciling the two. I can’t see how a science officer could have gotten as far as he has without coming across this paradox long before now.
The one thing I have come to appreciate in these earlier episodes is that William Shatner made a much better Captain before it all went to his head. He does fine here with the material he is given, showing why he was given the Command as he stands up to Commissioner Ferris. That I think it’s a pretty poor idea to let millions suffer for the sake of seven crew members, but that’s another example of poor writing. Shatner does what he can and displays the strength a Captain would be expected to display when another authority is attempting to push him around.
Mr. Spock is the one left in a lurch. He comes off dumbfounded and at a total loss. At times, he is stunned into indecision, almost not believing why what he did ended in the result. I can’t see someone being given the authority and position he has and appearing so weak when things don’t go as expected. In a sense, it could be considered an awakening for Spock in that he can’t always rely on logic to work. However, it’s usually made out to be that his human side shows through, rather than a growth of character.
The effects are sixties effects and aren’t bad for what they are. The fur creature on Taurus II are not the least bit convincing. Watching what looks like giant pencils flying awkwardly through the air aren’t the least bit convincing as weapons.
A good premise of the crew being in peril, away from the Enterprise without communication and the clock ticking down on their rescue with the possibility of some hard decisions to be made really goes for naught. That’s a shame because the potential was there but the writing falls terribly short.
Previous episode in the series (link): Star Trek: The Original Series – Shore Leave
Next episode in the series (link): Star Trek: The Original Series – The Squire of Gothos