Trek Review: “Shore Leave”

Have you ever wanted a vacation somewhere but never got to do what you truly wanted to do?  While all of my vacations over the years have certainly been satisfying, I can truly understand how some people could possibly have wanted more out of their leisure moments.

Imagine a planet where what you thought becomes reality.  That is the planet at the core of the episode “Shore Leave.”  This is one of the most uniquely crafted stores in the first season of Star Trek.  I love it for its off-beat humor that isn’t absurd whatsoever, but is true and believable.  The situations that our favorite characters encounter on this planet are wide and varied.  Such things as the giant white rabbit, a Samurai warrior, a tiger, and Finnegan, Kirk’s nemesis from his academy days.  I mean, what would you expect from a guy like this:

As Kirk puts hit, “He’s the kind of guy that would put a bowl of cold soup in your bed… or a bucket of water propped on a half-open door.  You never knew where he’d strike next.”  He sounds like the kind of guy that would get on my nerves, that’s for sure.

But what this episode is in the serious Sci-Fi aspect is an examination of just how complex a planet can be, yet be simple all at the same time.  As is said towards the end, “The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.”  I really can’t state it any other way than that.

The one minor complaint with this episode that I have is the all-of-a-sudden love and romance that briefly buds between Yeoman Barrows (played by Emily Banks) and Dr. McCoy.  You’re not expecting it, and then, all of a sudden, it’s there.  Yes, it is necessary to the plot to set up McCoy’s “death” at the end of Act Two, but still, I think McCoy could have been protecting her without necessarily being in love with her.

I think the 1966 TV viewers would have been very pleased with this episode.  Airing during the middle of kids’ holiday break from school could afford the whole family the opportunity to watch it together.  There is lots of mystery, intrigue and a little comedy to delight all eyes.  This is all around a solid, great episode.

I should note that it’s a miracle it turned out as well as it did, given the hell they went through while filming on location to even have a script to shoot. That fact is well documented in many books.

Next week, a crew of seven goes missing, and Kirk has to find them against incredible odds…