Star Trek: The Original Series episode 16 review

The Galileo Seven gets the high-def treatment, as Star Trek's original season moves into its second half...

Star Trek: TOS episode 16

Episode: 16Title: The Galileo SevenStar Date: 2821.5Writer: Oliver Crawford and S. Bar-DavidFirst Shown: 5th January 1967

Gene Roddenberry introduced the concept of the transporter to avoid the high cost of effects for away teams travelling down to planets, but he didn’t entirely give up with the idea of mothership reconnaissance. In The Galileo Seven we see the shuttle craft housed in the Enterprise’s hanger that can deliver teams of star fleet personnel in their own short range spacecraft.

I’ve seen at least three versions of where the story for this adventure came from, and maybe they’re all true to some degree or another. One is that it’s a copy of the classic western Stagecoach (1939), another is that it’s a remake of Five Came Back (1939) which starred the young Lucille Ball, incidentally. And it also bears some similarities to The Flight Of The Phoenix (1965) made a year earlier.

Whatever the true inspiration, I like to think this story was introduced as a way of explaining why Spock isn’t the captain of the Enterprise and Kirk is.

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The Enterprise is about to deliver urgent medical supplies when it encounters Murasaki 312, a deep space quasar. Standing orders are to investigate these phenomena, so Kirk sends shuttlecraft Galileo to investigate. However, the shuttlecraft is knocked off course by the powerful interference that is being emitted by the quasar and crash-lands on the planet Taurus II.

With sensors and communication inoperable, the crew aboard the Galileo will be lucky if they’re ever heard from again.

The shuttlecraft is badly damaged but possibly fixable (as Scotty came along). It could be worse; at least the natives aren’t aggressive. Oh, hang on, they are!

Very shortly after they arrive, one crew member is dead, and the majority of the others are whining about the massively insensitive management style that Spock employs to resolve their problems. Actually, much of the story is about how he gets everyone’s back up, with the possible exception of Scotty. He also annoys Doctor McCoy, but then he’s always grumpy. But the chief complainer is Lt. Boma played by Don Marshall, who takes Spock’s assertion that leaving three of them behind should be enough weight saved for the shuttle to reach orbit very badly. This was good experience for Don Marshall, who a TV season later would be confronting the similar unpopular command decisions in The Land Of The Giants.

Meanwhile, Kirk is searching desperately for them while having the really annoying High Commissioner Ferris point out every five minutes that they’re unlikely to find the shuttle and they have important business elsewhere.

Spock’s tactics get another crew member killed, reducing the weight issue to just 150lbs in the imperial measurement driven federation. What’s great about Spock in this story is that he freely admits he’s made bad, if entirely logical, choices.

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The aggressive locals aren’t really seen in any detail, which, when we do see them, is probably not a bad thing. We’re told they’re ape-like and stand 8, 9 or even 10 feet tall, and they’re furry. They do make plenty of noise, and chuck huge spears, so it’s a relief when Scotty converts the power supplies from all their phasers to enable a take-off.

But they know they can’t even maintain the orbit, and certainly not reach escape velocity. It’s time for less than logical thinking from the person onboard with the least experience in being emotional. Spock jettisons the remaining fuel and ignites it behind the shuttle, leaving a brilliant bright green trail. But six minutes later the fuel is used and they start to burn up on re-entering the atmosphere. Thankfully, the slowly retreating Enterprise sees the green trail and beams the five remaining crew off the shuttle before it is incinerated.

I’ll admit to feeling slightly cheated by the story, because Boma doesn’t thank Spock, and High Commissioner Ferris doesn’t get to eat humble pie either.

But the new Blu-ray version does make up for that by replacing the entire shuttle effects with some really classy looking ones of it leaving the Enterprise and flying above Taurus II. They’ve also created some nice quasar effects that make the region of space look much more interesting than originally presented.

For geeks there is plenty in this story to watch out for, especially in respect of the shuttle. They obviously spent plenty on the mock-up, and it was in four other episodes, though curiously it was still called the Galileo in three of those before being rightly renamed the Galileo II for its last appearance. While the first TV use of the term ‘shuttle’ was in a 1959 Twilight Zone story, the Galileo, along with the Orion shuttle in 2001: A Space Odyssey, did have an impact on the general use of this expression. Star Trek influence even extended to the first shuttle craft being named Enterprise, so the connection can’t be completely ignored.

The story creator was Oliver Crawford, who co-wrote the script with S. Bar-David (Shimon Wincelberg). He’d go on to write two more stories in season 3 of the original series. An accomplished TV script writer, he wrote for just about every major series of the period from Bonanza to The Fugitive.

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Next up the crew run into yet another omnipotent alien in The Squire Of Gothos.