Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Star Trek: Charlie X

Episode: "Charlie X"
Series: Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 1, Episode 2
Original Air Date: September 15, 1966
Image via Tumblr

In "Charlie X," the crew takes on Charlie Evans as a passenger.  Charlie has been stranded, apparently alone, on the planet Thasus since the age of three.  Now a teenager, Charlie has developed telekinetic abilities which ultimately present great danger to the Enterprise.  It is a storyline which the franchise has mined frequently over the decades - a powerful entity gains control of the ship. The original idea for this particular episode came from the short story "It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby, which also served as the basis for a Twilight Zone installment in 1961.

A few points of Trek-culture interest in "Charlie X":
Photo via Memory Alpha
  • In an early scene, Spock sits in the briefing lounge strumming a Vulcan lute, a 12-stringed instrument tuned to a diatonic scale.  The lute has been featured in later series as well, most recently in the Voyager episode "Riddles."
Photo via Dreamwidth
  • Three-dimensional chess is a pastime frequently seen in Star Trek series, the first-aired appearance in "Charlie X."  3D chess concepts predate Trek by at least a century, though the board used in the show was designed especially for the series.  While game parameters were never defined within the show, Andrew Bartmess published standard rules for the Trek board in 1976.
One could easily argue that Spock, more than any of the Enterprise captains, is the iconic character of the Star Trek franchise.  Leonard Nimoy, the actor who portrayed the pointy-eared half-Vulcan from the first failed pilot onward, was born in Boston on March 26, 1931, just four days after William Shatner's birth in Montreal.  His screen credits extend all the way back to 1951, his first film lead coming in 1952's Kid Monk Baroni.  Among numerous guest roles on television, he first worked with Shatner in a 1964 episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

There are far too many great pictures of the young Nimoy to limit ourselves to just one.  The following is My Wife's favorite:
Photo via The Trek BBS

This one's mine:
Photo via

A few more gems for good measure:
Photo via deviantART
Photo via Trek Core
Photo via Bonanza Boomers


  1. I knew he was in UNCLE with Shatner, but I haven't really thought of him pre-Trek besides that.

    1. He looks so young in the third one up! He's such a stoic figure that I have a hard time envisioning Nimoy as anything other than a grown man.

  2. That's why it was so awesome for Spock to finally get the big fight at the end in the new movie, as further acknowledgment that he's at least as important to the franchise as Kirk. But then, there were also the second and third original movies, which were also kind of Spock-centric...

    Nimoy remains awesome. His William Bell in Fringe was a key figure, even if he appeared only a handful of times.

    1. I think Spock is part of what keeps the series from being just another scifi saga. Maybe it was the strength of the character or the strength of the actor, who knows? But Trek was never all about Kirk. The wingman was way too interesting for that to happen.

      I think the evolution of the Star Wars story is also interesting, though the ultimate path is different. In SW, the most dynamic character turns out to be the villain.

  3. In Nimoy's autobiography, he wrote about he had balked coming back to the franchise to do Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, until Nick Meyer called him up and offered a really awesome death scene.

    Can you imagine? It was Spock's death, rebirth... the 'I have been, and always shall be, your friend'...all the way to ST:TNG's Unification that made Spock's legend grow and grow. It horrifies me to think of it never happening past the first movie.

    (sigh) Star Trek makes me happy. You are my favorite person in the world right now for doing a Star Trek post, LOL... :)

    1. No doubt Spock was the double-edged sword for Nimoy. Surefire immortality vs. being perhaps the all-time victim of typecasting.

      Welcome to the party, my friend!

  4. I never got the (bleedingly obvious!) connection between Charlie X and that Twilight Zone episode... Billy Mumy and the cornfield! I always thought of Charlie as being kind of a sci-fi twist on James Dean's rebellious angst... "You're teaaaring me apaaart..."

    1. I will admit upfront that I don't know The Twilight Zone well at all. I do, however, find the literary connection very interesting.

      Good call on James Dean!

  5. That photo of Nimoy in a cowboy hat just blew my miiiiiiiiind!

    1. Ain't that a beauty? I wanted to say that was from Bonanza but looking at other stills from his appearance, I don't think that's right. It's hard to appreciate when he's got the ears and the severe haircut but let's be honest, that's a good-looking man!

  6. Spock made Star Trek what it became. Gotta love him.