Star Trek

Season 2 Episode 15

The Trouble With Tribbles

Aired Unknown Dec 29, 1967 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (10)

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out of 10
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  • Captain Kirk has his hands full with Klingons and tribbles.

    Written by a kid fresh out of college (with an uncredited rewrite by Gene Coon), this comedic ensemble episode is arguably the most popular, memorable, and best TOS episode, appealing to hardcore, casual, and non-fans of Star Trek alike.

    Taking advantage of the cast's natural chemistry, Gerrold's tight script features rich character interplay that develops its humor organically from the situations and relationships in a way that makes us love the characters even more. With such crisp writing as the backbone for scene after scene, "Tribbles" creates the illusion of one cohesive story, though Gerrold cleverly hides an A/B plot structure beneath the surface. On the one hand, we have Kirk navigating a bureaucratic and diplomatic mess, a TOS trope that always works because it's easy to contrast our active, action-oriented captain with pompous, desk-bound, mealy-mouthed paper pushers. (William Schallert, who would pop up on DS9 some 26 years later, fills the latter role quite nicely as Federation Undersecretary Nilz Baris). On the other hand, we have the rascal, Cyrano Jones (a Harry Mudd-like character brilliantly played by Stanley Adams), and his tribbles, the latter being the most brilliant gag a Star Trek writer has ever developed. Their triple advantage is A: they work in the script as a legitimate threat, B: they work on screen as a striking visual that gets funnier and funnier as the episode moves along, and C: They work for free, costing only the price of a roll of carpet.

    With the two plots seamlessly interwoven and a Federation/Klingon bar-room brawl tossed in for good measure, "Tribbles" gives the series a unique sense of fun while remaining true to the characters and ideals that make TOS special. For the Star Trek cast, there would be many difficult times to come, with script and budget problems threatening to crush their spirit; but for this brief moment, you can tell that they're having the time of their lives, with only Leonard Nimoy able to (barely) keep a straight face. Given the chance to lighten up and have some fun, the ensemble gives one of their best performances, showing off an underrated talent for comedy that often gets buried in drama. Like Shakespeare, the actors have an uncanny knack for alternating between fun and seriousness, an asset that comes more into play in the feature films. In the meantime, "Tribbles" takes Kirk and the tribbles and combines humor and heart to give us a story with near universal appeal.

    Captain Koloth, originally meant to be a recurring character, returns in the same episode and also appears in DS9's second season episode, "Blood Oath". But upstaging these and just about everything Star Trek has ever done, "The Trouble With Tribbles" itself comes back in "Trials and Tribulations", a DS9 fifth season episode that features Sisko and company travelling back in time to rub shoulders with Kirk and Spock and includes a cameo by David Gerrold himself


    Remastered Version: With DS9's "Trials and Tribulations" preceding the upgraded version of "Tribbles" and featuring all new shots of the Enterprise and the space station she visits, this is a unique case where CBS Digital arrives late to the party. This means that CBS, to save money, could just lift some shots from DS9's episode. The CBS team, however, decides to create everything from scratch.

    Most of the shots are similar to their original counterparts, which are quite well done for 1967. (It's interesting that TOS would even go to the expense of doing a space station here, because the action could just as easily happen on a planet, with a stock planet sphere and stock matte painting providing the setting for free. Gerrold, of course, was a rookie and wrote the station in without thinking of budget. The real surprise is that the show didn't change it, especially considering every episode after this uses preexisting footage of the Enterprise).

    The space station itself presents the episode with a unique opportunity: a chance to show the Enterprise off in the distance through a window. The original version achieves the effect simply and cheaply by hanging an AMT Enterprise model against the backdrop. The problem? It doesn't move, despite exterior shots showing that it should. The updated version removes the model and adds a realistic Enterprise that can be seen graciously moving from one side of the window to the other.

    Lastly, whereas the original version excludes the talked about Klingon battle cruiser (being one element too many for the compositors), the upgraded version, like "Trials and Tribulations", is sure to include it.

  • so not the best Star Trek episode!!!!!

    This is where sci-fi fandom went off the rails. Voting this the best episode, why? Because it's the "funny" one? Other sci-fi shows have gone the same way. The kick-@$$, meaningful episodes get seconded to the comedy ones. I'm all for comedy but this annoys me no end. To me, this is a very good episode but not of the caliber of "Balance of Terror" or City on the Edge of Forever" or "Devil in the Dark" or "Mirror, It's notable for more screen time for the lesser crew including their free time on the station. We also get more Klingons although this is their fey-est commander. I know many will not agree with me but that's the difference between those who want serious sci-fi and those who just want a goof off afternoon time waster.
  • One little tribble isn't.... harmful? ....

    In this episode, en rout to the space station K-7 The Enterprise receives a priority one distress call from the station and rushes to its supposed recue. When arriving at K-7, Captain Kirk finds out that a Federation big-wig sent out the distress call to simply get a Federation ship in the area to protect a shipment of quadotriticale. This quadotriticale is apparently the only thing that will grow on a planet that both the Federation and the Klingon Empire is positioning for and is therefore of high importance. Naturally put off by the undermining use of the priority one distress call simply to get the Enterprise to babysit some bio-enhanced grain, Kirk is nonetheless forced by Federation officials to keep an eye on the shipment of quadotriticale. But the job ends up being of far more urgency and importance when a Klingon warship shows up.

    "The Trouble With Tribbles" is one of the best episodes of the original Star Trek TV series and is also probably the most well known Star Trek episodes by non-Trekkers. It shows the Enterprise crew in a serious but also lighthearted manner - having fun but also having an important job to do. Also, the cast is at their Star Trek-defining bests with Scotty having an extended role in this episode - something that is not always seen throughout the Star Trek TV series and it is always nice to see more of Scotty! The best aspect of this episode is that most of the storyline centers on diplomatic issues that face the Federation, which is interesting and something that I particularly get into. And, of course, there are the many furry little tribbles that make this episode famous - and fun.
  • The Enterprise must protect a space station on which a Klingon is trying to destroy a valuable shipment of grain; but a supposedly cuddly pet threatens everything when it begins to multiply out of control. One of the most memorable and popular episodes...

    So here is another of the Original Series' most memorable and well known episodes. Although many episodes had elements of humour, "The Trouble with Tribbles" is one of Original 'Star Trek's few stories that is designed pretty much as an out-and-out comedy.

    So, for one of the most recognised episodes, how does it bear up all these years later?...

    The story is a good one, although personally I found it to be a series of gently amusing incidents more than an out-and-out laugh riot.

    The first act is rather dragged out, and it is not until the second act that the story really gets going.

    Cyrano Jones comes across (as another reviewer has also said) as a superior Harry Mudd (from the first season's "Mudd's Women", and "I, Mudd" this season). I'm surprised the character wasn't used again (although he did return in cartoon form, in the Animated Series sequel, "More Tribbles, More Troubles").

    William Campbell makes a strange sort of Klingon; I keep expecting him to break into a comedy routine. Maybe I associate him too much with playing Trelane in the first season episode "The Squire of Gothos".

    There are a couple of amusing moments, such as Scotty refusing to be offended by the Klingons insulting Captain Kirk, but taking offence to insulting the Enterprise itself; and Kirk being covered up to his neck in Tribbles that fall out of a hatch. But as I say, I find it more gently amusing than laugh out loud stuff.

    All-in-all, a good episode, and a nice break from some of the more serious stories. I may be very controversial here – I'm not sure if it would make my personal Top 10 episodes. But that's mostly because there are just so many other good episodes in the series.
  • tribbles

    The crew has to protect the grain that will be planted on a planet from the klingons. so they must go down to the station where they meey cyrano jones who sells tribles. He sells one to the lady and the tribbles begin to reproduce like crazy and soon begin to eat the grain that was suppossed to be protect. some of the tribbles die because of the poisioned grain by the assistant who was really a klingon. they figure this out when the tribbles do not like the tribbles. the tribbles are beemed aboard the klingonshipm at the end of the episode.
  • Scotty gets confined to quarters after getting caught trying to peddle his old technical journals off to unsuspecting midshipmen for a bloated price.

    So everyone loves this episode and knows it well. It has been reviewed extensively. Therefore I will bring up something I either heard at a Trek convention or read somewhere, I forget which. Evidently a woman had a son who I believe got into some kind of accident and he became almost catatonic. In earlier days Mother and son used to watch Star Trek together. One day when the mother was visiting her son in the wing of the hospital he was being taken care of, she talked to him as she always did even though he could not answer or show any expression in his face. She instinctively put on the TV and "The Trouble with Tribbles" was airing. It was always a favorite episode of both the Mother and the son. Seated in between her son and the television set, the mother talked to and cared for her son. Right in the middle of the episode, the son actually leaned his body slightly to one side to see the screen! Although the son never had any type of noteworthy awakening, at least the mother knew that yes, her son was alive and aware of what was going on around him.
  • Most memorable Trek episode.

    I remember this episode. This is definitely my all-time favorite Trek episode with the Tribbles in it. The Enterprise is ordered to guard several tons of "wheat" onboard a space station.

    Anyways, it involves a peculiar individual whom in turn gives Dr. McKoy a furry little critter to keep.

    After several days on the Enterprise, the Tribbles multiply in the thousands and eat up the grain which the crew of the Enterprise must protect.

    Kirk finds out why there are so many Tribbles on his ship later on and quickly investigates the matter.

    In the end, they go back to the guy who had the first Tribble and force him to clean up the dead Tribbles, or be sent off to jail.
  • Tribble trouble!

    One of the best epiosdes of the series involves yet another confornation between the Enterprise and the Kingons. This time it over grain supply. To make is worse, one of the crew members brough on broad a tribble and before long they reproduced like rabbits. Before long, they're all over the place. this is a fun episode inwhich the enterprise is overwhem by these creatures who l.ooked like it came from "The Muppet Show," I didn't give that episode a 10 because I though there were some episode that is wroth my attention. so I gave it a 9.5. One more thing, Tribbles can be very good watchdogs, the next time that the Kingons show up, looking for trouble.
  • Oh yeah, this is one of the classics!

    Well, what can one say about this pivotal episode that has not already been said? Firstly it is amazingly funny with some of the best one-liners not only in Trek but anywhere. “He simply could not believe his ears”. The whole wheat thing, (I’m not going to attempt to spell it!), is hilarious as is Chekov’s know-it-all attitude. The Tribbles themselves are the stars of the show along with Cyrano Jones, (a superior Harry Mudd), and the conversation with the barkeep to try and sell them is a classic. The bar fight is just wonderful western style slapstick and the inquiry on the ship as to who started it leaves me crying with laughter every time. All Trek episodes should be judged against this one.
  • Comedy TREK at its best!

    OK, there's *a lot* of things wrong with this episode. The first is that STTOS was never intended as a comedy show. But here we have a great comedy episode. Secondly, the star of the show should never be made to look silly, but Kirk's dignity is trampled underfoot by this furry, toothless creatures. Even Spock normal stoicism is undermined by the events of the epsiode. But none of that matters. Because "The Trouble with Tribbles" is simply one of the best-written TREKs ever.

    Underlying the comedy stylings of the Enterprise crew and the Klingons is a tautly plotted, clever story. The Tribbles aren't just in there for the laughs, they're integral to the plot and in the final reckoning, the little blighters save the day.

    And that's why the script got past Gene Coon's office and made it into production.

    If you can find it, you should look out David Gerrold's book "The Trouble with Tribbles: The Making of a TV Episode" as it has far more info on how the show got made than I have time or space for here.

    But along with "City on the Edge of Forever" this is, for entirely different reasons, the other best TREK episode of all.