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Star Trek TOS - Season 1 - Episode 20

Star Trek TOS - 1x20 - Court Martial

Originally Aired: 1967-2-2

Kirk is recalled for a potential court-martial. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 5

Fan Rating Average - 4.3

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 86 6 10 12 71 26 44 25 30 21 14

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's a decent episode, even though it could have been better.

- Vulcans are inexplicably referred to as "Vulcanians" in this episode.
- Why does the captain's chair aboard the Enterprise have a "Jettison Pod" button right next to the red alert button?

- Captain Kirk's Starfleet serial number is SC937-0176CEC. Kirk's many commendations include: Palm Leaf of Axanar Peace Mission, Grankite Order of Tactics (Class of Excellence), Prentares Ribbon of Commendation (Classes First and Second), Award of Valor, Starfleet Medal of Honor, Starfleet Silver Palm (with cluster), Starfleet Citation for Conspicuous Gallantry, and the Karagite Order of Heroism.
- Kirk previously served aboard the Republic, the registry 1371.
- No starship captain has ever stood trial before this episode, according to the commodore.
- Spock's Starfleet serial number: S-179-276SP. Spock's many commendations include: Vulcanian Scientific Legion of Honor, Award of Valor, and he was twice decorated by Starfleet Command for other unspecified reasons.
- McCoy's rank is established to be that of lieutenant commander in this episode. His many commendations include: Legion of Honor, Award of Valor, and he was once decorated by an organization called the Starfleet Surgeons.

Remarkable Scenes
- The frantic girl accusing Kirk of murdering her father.
- McCoy, to a beautiful woman: "All of my old friends look like doctors. All of Kirk's look like you."
- Kirk's revulsion at the commodore's suggestion that Kirk just take this lying down; just sweep it under the rug.
- Kirk flirting with his old friend while she's trying to give him legal advice only to find out she's going to be the prosecution.
- Samuel T. Cogley's eccentric introduction.
- Kirk to Spock: "Who knows, maybe you'll be able to beat your next captain at Chess."
- The girl apologizing to Kirk for her prior hostility.
- McCoy: "Spock, you're the most cold blooded man I know." Spock: "Why thank you, doctor."
- Spock beating the computer at Chess and discovering the computer had been tampered with.
- McCoy using the amplified sound of heartbeats to prove there is someone hiding on the ship.
- Finney's appearance.

My Review
Say hello to Samuel T. Cogley, an old fashioned man who still uses books in a world where computers are everywhere. Frankly, I found this eccentric luddite of a man far more entertaining than most of the actual plot which while interesting had several weak moments. The worst problem is the character of Finney, whose actions make him come across as a complete psycho and undermine his dramatic appeal. Did he really think he could hide in the ship long enough to get Kirk convicted? What was he planning to do afterwards given that he faked his death? Just go grab his daughter and find some quiet place in the Federation to live for the rest of his life in hiding? For a guy who claims to really love the service he effectively ended his career in the service the moment he pulled this stunt.

Then there's Cogley's questionable lawyering. Between not cross examining the witnesses and worse yet failing to procure a copy of the damning video evidence during discovery (was there even any discovery?) so as to mount a defense against it, Cogley, while amusing, didn't seem terribly competent. Likewise, why does the captain's chair aboard the Enterprise have a "Jettison Pod" button right next to the red alert button? And why are we now referring to the Vulcans as "Vulcanians" all of a sudden? All in all while this episode could easily have been worth an above average amount of points if it had better written guest characters and fewer errors in the plot, it's definitely a nice story as is.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Lenny Sundermeyer on 2006-08-15 at 7:17pm:
    During the fight scene, in the engine room of a 23rd century matter/anti matter powered star ship, of what use is a 20th century 18 inch cresent wrench? The only uses I see are, (A) plot device weapon or (B) for tighting the hydralic steering lines of Scotty's antique Big Foot Truck!
  • From Arianwen on 2010-07-20 at 11:23pm:
    Here's a problem for the books: apparently by installing a booster they can increase the magnitude of the auditory sensor by 1 to the 4th power. That's a biiiiig number...
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2011-12-06 at 9:00pm:
    Every show under the Sun puts their principles on trial at least once. And they all stick. There is one exception however, when Trelane did it. Now that was funny.

    "Until your are Dead, Dead, Dead."
  • From Old Fat Trekkie on 2011-12-07 at 6:37am:
    In my last comment I meant to say. "They all stink"
  • From zerothis on 2012-09-22 at 1:06am:
    Crescent wrenches, screwdrivers, hammers, pliers. Of course they will still be around for millenniums. They're simple, reliable, durable, and overall great tools. Impervious to a wide various of future problems including many time-space disasters, dilithium decrystallization, various greek-prefix radiations, etc...

    But you've missed a much bigger problem. That is, how is it that Kirk walks into a room without a crescent wrench sitting on a stand in the corner but just as Finney drops the phaser they are there. Seems at least one space-time disaster caused a crescent wrench to move from where someone left it.

  • From Scott Hearon on 2014-03-22 at 12:02pm:
    This episode has some clear strengths, but I found a few thing annoying. I enjoy how the early parts of the story reveal the kind of character Kirk is. Thus far in the series, his bravery has been on display, but it was more interesting to hear his make-up described by those who know him best.

    It was actually intriguing to wonder about whether or not a perfectly capable, skilled leader could make a mistake that costs a crew-member his or her life. I almost think it would have been far more interesting if Kirk HAD made such a mistake, and then had to deal with it. Instead, we get a bit of a bail-out to the story by providing a bit of computer sabotage.

    The layout of the panel on the captain's chair was ridiculous. Are we to believe that "Jettison Pod" is really of such importance that the captain has to have it literally at his fingertips? I doubt it.

    I can see how Cogley might be endearing to some people, but I thought his character was poorly written and overplayed. The basic idea is good - a man who has a passion for old-fashioned texts and historically significant legal documents. But some of his rants seemed oddly placed within the context of the story.

    Overall, a decent but not great episode.
  • From Harrison on 2014-08-14 at 7:47pm:
    One rookie writer's mistake in this episode has always irked me. As the court is convened and Kirk is explaining how the computer can monitor audio, he says that it a booster is installed that will amplify sounds by "one to the fourth power". One to the fourth power is, of course, one, so the booster does absolutely nothing.

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