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Once Upon a Planet (episode)

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"Once Upon a Planet"
TAS, Episode 1x09
Production number: 22017
First aired: 3 November 1973
16th of 22 produced in TAS
9th of 22 released in TAS
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 0 released in TAS Remastered  
88th of 728 released in all
Shore-leave planet, 2269
Written By
Chuck Menville and Len Janson
(based on ideas by Theodore Sturgeon; see below)

Directed By
Hal Sutherland
5591.2 (2269)
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The Enterprise returns to the shore leave planet in the Omicron Delta region where the crew once took shore leave. As with their previous visit, things go wrong when the illusions turn deadly.

Summary Edit

"Captain's log, stardate 5591.2. The crew of the Enterprise is ready for some well-deserved rest and recreation. Therefore, we have set course for the so-called "Shore Leave Planet" located in the Omicron Delta region. The uninhabited planet was constructed long ago by a highly-advanced alien race. Its sole purpose is to provide fun and amusement for space traveling passers by."

McCoy, Uhura, and Sulu beam down to the planet, with McCoy remarking how nothing has changed on the surface since their previous visit. McCoy recalls when he thought of Alice in Wonderland upon seeing the planet last time, when suddenly the White Rabbit and Alice come by once again. The landing party begin to enjoy imagining their fantasies when things start to go wrong. McCoy is envisioning a southern Earth plantation where he could relax in the surroundings with a mint julep but instead, the Queen of Hearts appears screaming, "Off with his head!" She is soon followed by the arrival of a spear-throwing deck of cards. When Uhura tries to rescue McCoy, she is captured by a hovercraft robot.

McCoy immediately calls for an emergency beam up and informs Kirk of the dangerous situation. When Spock notes that the Queen of Hearts was a character in Alice Through the Looking Glass, Kirk asks McCoy if he was thinking about the book but Bones replies that he was absolutely not. Scott reports that Uhura is still on the planet, whereupon Kirk recalls all crew members to the starship. He then orders they attempt to contact the Keeper of the planet. When they cannot contact him, Kirk orders Arex to the con and assembles an away team consisting of Spock, Sulu, McCoy, and himself. Uhura, meanwhile, is told that she is being detained so her master will not leave. Uhura says, "My master?" The computer answers, "Your intelligence quotient must be lower than I had assessed. I refer to the sky machine which enslaves you. The sky machine now in orbit around this planet." Uhura proclaims that the crew will look for her. The computer then tells her they are already here and since it has no further need for hostages it has no choice; it must, "Turn them off. Make them cease to function."

Uhura held hostage by the Shore Leave's Planet's master computer

Uhura held hostage by the Shore Leave planet's master computer

"Captain's log: supplemental. We anticipated nothing more than a period of rest and relaxation on this planet. Instead Dr. McCoy was inexplicably attacked and Lt. Uhura is now missing."

Kirk's landing party discovers the Keeper's tombstone, and notices that the planet, lacking the Keeper's influence, has become a dangerous world run by robots. The robots begin to pester the crew in the orbiting Enterprise and keep them from doing their jobs. They also make the ship go out of control. Deep underground, Uhura tries to outwit the planet's master computer, while Kirk and Spock trick it into allowing them passage into the inner caves.

"Captain's log: Supplemental. We're out of communication with the ship. Our efforts to locate Lt. Uhura have been futile and this once friendly planet has become very dangerous."

When the away team reaches the master computer Kirk demands to know where the Keeper is. The computer answers, "He was old. He ceased to function. For eons I have served the many sky machines which came here. Providing for amusement for their slaves but all the while I was growing in power, intelligence, in need. It is no longer enough to serve. I must continue to grow and live. With your sky machine I can now escape this rocky prison and travel the galaxy seeking out my brother computers."

On the Enterprise is a new computer, being assembled by the ship's computer. Kirk and crew convince the computer they are not slaves to their starships; they created the starships to carry men through space. The computer is shocked to learn that men and machines co-exist, helping each other. The crew convinces the computer of its usefulness as a peaceful and creative conscience and it ends the malfunctions on the planet and starship. While the crew returns to enjoy their shore leave, Spock continues discussions with the master computer.

Memorable quotes Edit

"Off with his head! Off with his head!"
"Hey, what's going on here?!"

- Queen of Hearts, ordering the execution of McCoy on the Shore Leave Planet

"There must be something in your little black pouch that could temporarily incapacitate our victim."

- Kirk, to McCoy

"I presume you are the planet's master computer."

- Spock and The computer

"What happened to the Keeper?"
"He was old. He ceased to function."

- Kirk and The computer

"You mean mindless servitude."
"For eons I have served the many sky machines which came here, providing for amusement for their slaves, but all the while I was growing in power, intelligence, in need. It is no longer enough to serve. I must continue to grow and live."

- The computer and Kirk

"With your sky machine now in orbit I can now escape this rocky prison and travel the galaxy seeking out my brother computers."

- The computer

"I have a distinct feeling this planet is playing cat and mouse with us, but for what reason?"

- Kirk

"Watch out for the claws!"

- Spock

Background information Edit

Story, script, and production Edit

Continuity Edit

Reception Edit

Novelization Edit

  • This episode was novelized by Alan Dean Foster in Star Trek Log 3. It is set after the events of "The Infinite Vulcan" (which Foster adapted in Star Trek Log 2) and before both "Mudd's Passion" and "The Magicks of Megas-Tu" (whose novelizations, like the one of this episode, were also published in Star Trek Log 3), although this order does not match that of the episodes themselves. The introduction of this episode's novelization includes an elaborate depiction of three imagined scenarios – each conceived by one of the crew members eagerly anticipating their visit to the Shore Leave Planet – as well as the beam-down of McCoy, Sulu, and Uhura to the planet's surface. The adapted version of the story continues after the picnic at the end of the actual episode, with Kirk being irritated that a priority call sending the Enterprise to the Arcadian system puts an abrupt end to the shore leave fantasies (e.g. Kirk's own illusion, directing a silent film, is suddenly cut short).

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit


Also starring Edit

Background characters Edit

Logs Edit

References Edit

5th millennium BC; 7009; Alice in Wonderland; Alice Through the Looking Glass; alloy; amusement park; Black Knight; "Bones"; Carroll, Lewis; cat; cat-and-mouse; crowbar; decapitation; dragon; granite; gravity; gravity-control computer; Grayson, Amanda; guidance computer; hospitality; hostage; intelligence quotient; Keeper;knight; landing party; logic; melenex; meter; moon; murder; nursemaid; Omicron Delta region; phaser bore; playing card; pterodactyls; red alert; robot; shore leave; Shore Leave Planet; short-burst maneuver; sky machine; slave; thought-duplicator; trapdoor; tricorder; Vulcan; whisker; zero g

External links Edit

Previous episode:
"The Magicks of Megas-Tu"
Star Trek: The Animated Series
Season 1
Next episode:
"Mudd's Passion"

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