Star Trek

Season 2 Episode 19

A Private Little War

Aired Unknown Feb 02, 1968 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

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out of 10
145 votes
  • Kirk visits a planet that the Klingons are interfering with and is wounded by a deadly creature.

    This planet-based Vietnam War allegory by Don Ingalls (an old friend of Gene Roddenberry's credited under a pseudonym) is a simplified version of how some Americans viewed the Vietnam conflict in the late 1960s. (In a way, it's interesting to see what the writer comes up with considering he doesn't know how the real war - which is even referenced in the dialogue - will end. That said, with what we know now, the episode's story is not a very good representation of what was really going on).

    With the the war, an old friend of Kirk's, the Klingons, a mysterious woman, a wild animal, and a B story with Spock on the ship, the episode probably has too many elements; it's like a redo of "Friday's Child" with more complexity. The interesting (and most unique) about the Spock story is that it's really a brief comedy runner that clears the deck for the main thrust of the episode to be a straight up Kirk/McCoy story. As great as Nimoy is, Kelley is his equal, and the episode benefits from leaning on his talent and exploring the always interesting Kirk/McCoy relationship. That said, even Kelley has difficulty carrying the episode when the writer uses this opportunity to employ parallel scenes where Kirk and Spock (on the planet and aboard the ship) struggle to regain consciousness. It's something that probably looked cute on paper, but it basically turns one quarter of the episode over to Kelley and the guest stars, and only one of those actors is decent. (I'll leave it to you to guess which). The most notable guest appearance is that of Nancy Kovak, who plays Nona, a shaman of sorts and the focal point of the story. It doesn't take long before the episode establishes two notable aspects to the character: A, she knows her husband's a tool, B, she gets really annoying really quickly.

    A planet-based episode that mixes location shooting with stage sets, the setting is actually quite well done, and somewhere in the concept is an interesting story. (The step by step progression of Nona's husband losing his innocence would be a more interesting focal point). Unfortunately, the pieces don't come together, and the result is a bit of a mess. (First season's "Errand of Mercy" does a similar concept better).

    Remastered Version: "Private Little War" gets a basic upgrade with new shots of the Enterprise and a more realistic, Earth-like planet replacing the original's reuse of the "Friday's Child" globe.

  • On a supposedly peaceful, un-advanced planet, Kirk and McCoy become involved in an arms race when a Klingon equips a band of natives with basic weaponry which they have not yet discovered themselves. A hard one to rate...

    I don't really know how to sum up this episode. It has some good bits, and some not so good bits.

    With Mr. Spock being badly wounded in the teaser, it is nice to have a Kirk-McCoy combination for the bulk of the episode. I like Spock, but it makes a change from his logic-driven manner driving the story for once.

    Some don't like the Mugato. Indeed, it is quite obviously a man dressed in a giant white suit with horns on, but at the same time, I personally quite like it when the series goes for such alien beings. I think it was just a result of the limitations and budget of the era that prevented it from looking any better.

    The Klingon of the episode is very good, and probably one of the best Klingons seen in the Original Series; He comes across as very cunning and sly.

    The first half of the episode is by far the better, with a decent story. Later, after Kirk is healed and indebted to Nona, things start to lose their way slightly.

    Kirk's decision to arm both sides equally is very questionable, but at the same time believable, as there seems to be little logical answer to the situation.
    The ending of the episode is very good, with Kirk not sure he has made the right decision.

    As I say, I'm really undecided how to sum this one up; it has some good bits and some weaker bits. In the end they even out and end up as a mostly average instalment.
  • Black wigs vs. blond wigs, which is sillier?

    I have always held a special admiration for this one because it was my late father's favorite episode. I think the script is quite strong and the scene where Kirk is explaining to McCoy about the balance of power is really powerful. I must say Krell was probably the most sublime Klingon characters I've ever seen. He wasn't very nasty, was he? A Klingon putting his arm around someone and saying "A way to shoot farther and straiter."? I admire the way they left you feeling at the end of the show. That desolate music along with Kirk's words. "We're very tired Mr. Spock. Beam us up home."
  • Some plusses and some minuses

    This an episode with some fascinating aspects and some genuine liabilities. On the negative side there's the really terrible white ape creature with the ridiculous rhinocerous horn on its head. There's no reason for this creature to have been included (it really belongs in an episode of LOST IN SPACE) when the producers could easily have found some other way for Kirk to have been stricken down - severe allergic reaction, food poisoning, alien insect bite.

    The second liability is Kirk's solution - arming the peaceful tribe so that the balance of power is re-established. Surely, a security team could have beamed down in the middle of the night, removed the weapons and destroyed the forge. But of course then there would have been no story. So, sloppy, sloppy storytelling.

    On the plus side, that same liability is also one of the episode's strengths. Kirk's answer to the problem. Clearly Kirk is not happy with the solution, but has the strength of character to push his solution onto the situation, despite the protests of Dr McCoy, and the conscience to feel bad about it.

    The final plus is the incredibly sexy and ambitious Nora (played by Nancy Kovack). Kovack had been around tv and low budget films for years yet was just 31 when she made this. She certainly made her mark here as one of the great STAR TREK babes.

    Well worth a look ...
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