(written from a Production point of view)
|"A Piece of the Action"|
|TOS, Episode 2x20|
Production number: 60349
First aired: 12 January 1968
Remastered version aired: 28 April 2007
|←||50th of 80 produced in TOS||→|
|←||46th of 80 released in TOS||→|
|←||28th of 80 released in TOS Remastered||→|
|←||46th of 728 released in all||→|
| Teleplay By|
David P. Harmon and Gene L. Coon
David P. Harmon
Returning to a planet last visited by an Earth ship 100 years ago, the Enterprise finds a planet that has based its culture on the gangsters of Earth's 1920s.
The USS Enterprise arrives at Sigma Iotia II. This remote planet had been visited by the Horizon in 2168, before the establishment of the non-interference directive. The Horizon was lost shortly after leaving Sigma Iotia II and Starfleet only managed to receive her radio reports nearly a century later, as the Horizon was only equipped with conventional radio.
After planetfall, Uhura informs Kirk that she is in contact with an Iotian named Bela Okmyx who describes himself as "Boss". Okmyx invites Kirk to come down to the planet's surface saying that a "reception committee" will be waiting for him upon arrival. Since the Horizon's visit was before the Federation's Prime Directive against non-interference, Kirk, Spock and McCoy are concerned about what effects the Horizon's crew may have had on the Iotian culture which was just beginning industrialization at the time. The three beam down to find a culture resembling that of Chicago in the 1920s. They are greeted by two men dressed as gangsters who threaten them with Tommy guns.
The landing party surrenders its standard phasers and communicators and are asking questions of the gunmen when a drive-by shooting occurs. One of the gunmen is killed; the other refers to the "hit" being committed by someone named Krako. Kirk, Spock and McCoy are taken to Okmyx's office, where they learn that Okmyx is one of a dozen or so "Bosses" and that he has the largest territory in the world. The office contains a book (referred to as "The Book) published in 1992 titled Chicago Mobs of the Twenties. Okmyx informs them that "The Book" was left by the Horizon, and the landing party correctly deduces that the entire Iotian culture has been formed by "This Book". Okmyx refers to the landing party as "Feds" and tells them he wants the Enterprise to furnish him with "heaters" so he can wipe out the other Bosses and take over the planet. Kirk refuses and Okmyx gives him just eight hours to provide the weapons or die.
Okmyx has the landing party taken to a warehouse under guard. He then takes one of the confiscated communicators and contacts the Enterprise. He threatens to kill the landing party unless the ship provides him with one hundred phasers (which he calls "heaters") and troops to show him how to use them.
In the warehouse the gunmen are playing cards while the landing party speculates about the future of the Iotian society. Spock insists that the society must become united or it will break down completely. Kirk feels that since a Federation vessel contaminated the culture, it's the Enterprise's responsibility to put things right. He distracts the gunmen with a nonsensical and nonexistent card game called "Fizzbin" which he makes up on the spot, enabling the landing party to overpower the gunmen and escape. Kirk instructs Spock and McCoy to find the local radio station, contact the ship and have themselves beamed aboard.
Kirk goes off by himself planning on abducting Okmyx and bringing him back to the Enterprise. He is promptly greeted by a new gunman and is forced to take a ride. Kirk is taken to the office of Jojo Krako, another boss who wants to be in control of the planet. Kirk again refuses to "come across with the heaters" and is confined to a small room.
Spock and McCoy find the radio station where they manage to contact Lt. Uhura and return to the ship. Shortly after, Okmyx contacts the ship and informs Spock that Krako has kidnapped Kirk. He offers to assist in getting Kirk back if Spock and McCoy will return to his office.
Using wire from a radio, Kirk rigs a trip line across the doorway and then calls for help. He knocks out two gunmen and escapes with a machine gun.
Spock instructs Scott to set one of the ship's phaser banks to a strong stun setting. He and McCoy then beam down to Okmyx's office where they are again met by armed hoods.
- "Ship's log, Mr. Spock reporting. Incredible as it seems, Dr. McCoy and I are once again prisoners of the chief criminal boss of a society patterned after old Earth gangsters."
Okmyx again takes them prisoner, but Kirk arrives and turns the tables. Kirk and Spock dress in the clothes of two of Okmyx's henchmen, commandeer a car and set out to "put the bag" on Krako. They are assisted by a small boy who demands "a piece of the action" in exchange for creating a diversion. They break into Krako's headquarters and appear to be in control until Krako's men gain the upper hand.
Kirk tells Krako that the Federation is taking over and arranges to have Krako beamed up to the Enterprise to show him what he's up against. They overpower Krako's men and head back to Okmyx's office where Kirk has Scott locate and transport the other Bosses including Krako. Krako's men try a hit on Okmyx's territory and a gunfight ensues in the street below. Kirk has the ship fire phasers on stun in the surrounding area to demonstrate the power of the "Feds". The mobsters are convinced and agree to Federation control with Okmyx as the top boss and Krako as his lieutenant.
Back aboard ship, Spock has concerns about Kirk's solution of having the Federation take a 40% cut of the planet's annual "action". Kirk explains that the money will go back into the planetary treasury to help the Federation guide the Iotians into a more ethical society.
McCoy is concerned because he seems to have left his communicator somewhere in Okmyx's office. Kirk and Spock speculate that with that kind of technology in the hands of the Iotians and with their gift for imitation, the Iotians may one day want a piece of the Federation's action.
"Okay, you three, let's see you petrify."
"Sir, would you mind explaining that statement, please?"
"I want to see you turn to stone. Put your hands over your head, or you ain't going to have no head to put your hands over."
- - Kalo and Spock, as Kirk, Spock and McCoy arrive on Sigma Iotia II
"I got the biggest in the world. You know, there's one thing wrong with having the biggest. There's always some punk trying to cut you out."
- - Okmyx, explaining to Kirk that he runs the biggest territory on Sigma Iotia II
"No, I don't think you're stupid, Mister Krako. I just think your behavior is arrested."
"I haven't been arrested in my whole life!"
- - Kirk and Krako, as Kirk convinces him to join Okmyx
"Nobody helps nobody but himself."
"Sir, you are employing a double negative."
- - Okmyx and Spock, as Okmyx takes Spock and McCoy as his prisoners again
"The most co-operative man in this world is a dead man. And if you don't keep your mouth shut, you're going to be co-operating."
- - Okmyx, threatening Spock
"Logic and practical information do not seem to apply here."
"You admit that?"
"To deny the facts would be illogical, Doctor."
- - Spock and McCoy, after Kirk asks if the computer provided any solutions on uniting the Iotians
"You mind your place, mister, or you'll be wearing concrete galoshes."
"You mean cement overshoes?"
- - Scott and Krako, after Krako is beamed aboard the Enterprise
"Are you afraid of cars?"
"Not at all, Captain. It's your driving that alarms me."
- - Kirk and Spock, as they run to the car
- - Tepo, after being beamed into Okmyx's office
"I would advise yas to keep dialin', Okmyx."
- - Spock, talking like a gangster and pointing a gun at Okmyx
- Series proposal, "Star Trek is...": 11 March 1964 - Mentions story idea "President Capone"
- Story outline by David P. Harmon, 8 August 1967
- Teleplay by David P. Harmon, 16 August 1967
- Second draft teleplay by David P. Harmon, 5 September 1967
- First draft script, "Mission Into Chaos" 28 September 1967 involved the Romulans
- Final draft teleplay by David P. Harmon and Gene L. Coon, 30 October 1967
- Filmed: 2 November 1967 – 9 November 1967
- Original airdate, 12 January 1968
- Rerun airdate, 30 August 1968
- First UK airdate 7 September 1970
Story and production
- Gene Roddenberry jotted down the idea for this episode – a one-sentence synopsis titled "President Capone" – on the very first page of his very first Star Trek series proposal in 1964.
- Early in the first season, George Clayton Johnson wrote an outline based on this premise, called "The Syndicate". Roddenberry liked it, and hired Johnson to develop it further. Johnson wrote a treatment entitled "Chicago II". However, as he got occupied with developing and writing "The Man Trap", this concept was forgotten. During the second season, then-producer Gene L. Coon discovered the treatment, and decided to use it, as he felt that, after the success of "The Trouble with Tribbles", the series needed more comedy-themed episodes.
- David P. Harmon and Coon's first draft script, entitled "Mission into Chaos" featured the Romulans trying to exploit the borderline planet Dana Iotia II, which the Federation wants to industrialize. Much to the crew's surprise, the planet is ruled by gangster bosses, based on the book Chicago Mobs of the Twenties. Kirk has to negotiate with Bela Okmyx and the other crime bosses, outsmarting the two Romulan agents, Rorek and Ramo, who try to lure Bela with sending him weapons and troops. At the end, the Iotians agreed to make a treaty, and send an ambassador to the Federation. But since every boss had a vote, they all "naturally" voted for themselves, and hence, they are all beamed aboard the Enterprise to be escorted to the diplomatic talks.
- No stardate is actually logged in the episode. A stardate of 4598.0 appeared in Bjo Trimble's Star Trek Concordance, apparently using an earlier script version, and the fotonovel provides a closing stardate 4598.7.
- The scene when Kirk puts his feet up on Krako's table and declares that now the Federation is "taking over the whole ball of wax" is reminiscent of a similar scene in Mervyn LeRoy's classic gangster film, Little Caesar.
- This is the only episode of TOS to end in a freeze-frame.
- The Star Trek Encyclopedia refers to the Horizon as the Daedalus-class USS Horizon, which was later seen as a model in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- This is the only episode that Kirk calls McCoy by his full nickname: "Sawbones."
- This is also the only episode in which the ship's phasers are set to stun. In "The Ultimate Computer", Kirk has them set at 1/100th power.
- In a homage to this episode, a hard-bound copy of a book beginning with the title Chicago Gangs can be briefly glimpsed on a bookshelf in Travis Mayweather's quarters on board the ECS Horizon in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Horizon".
- This is the first episode in which a site-to-site transport is performed - although due to the events of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, it is not the first time from a historical perspective.
- George Takei (Sulu) does not appear in this episode.
- This episode contains Walter Koenig's smallest speaking part in TOS, with only one line of dialog, "Approaching Sigma Iotia II, Captain."
- William Blackburn's character, Hadley, is given his name in this episode. It is also the only episode in which Hadley is referred to by name.
Props and settings
- The street seen throughout this episode is on the Paramount lot and can be seen in many television series. The steps leading up to Okmyx's headquarters were used in the Judd Hirsch series Dear John.
- The car that Kirk drove to "put the bag on Krako" had a V-12 engine, as a V-12 emblem is seen on the radiator. It was a Cadillac, probably a 1931 model.  Note the winged radiator cap, which Cadillacs of that vintage had. It is a nod to Chicago crime boss, Al "Scarface" Capone, who had a 1928 V-12 Cadillac. Incidentally, this represents the only time that a member of the crew ever operated any kind of land vehicle during the course of the original series.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series Sketchbook (pg 133), a book on the costumes and art direction of the original series, Herb Solow shows a yellow costume for "Marlys" that he says no one can identify. It is, in fact, the costume Marlys Burdette wore in this episode.
- Bantam Books published a series of novelizations called Star Trek Fotonovels which took photographic stills from actual episodes and arranged word balloons and text over them, to create a comic book formatted story. The eighth installment was an adaptation of this episode which contained a foreword written by Anthony Caruso in the character of Bela Okmyx. He mentions that he was elected president of the planet in a landslide and that he made Jojo Krako his vice president. The arrangement worked out well, he said, as he hadn't heard from Krako since.
- Before it was decided they would focus on the events of "The Trouble with Tribbles", the Deep Space Nine writing staff toyed with the idea of the DS9 crew visiting Sigma Iotia II and finding they had all imitated the Enterprise crew and wore TOS-style uniforms. This was to be both a comedy and a social commentary on the Trekkie phenomenon; however, it was agreed that revisiting the famous "The Trouble with Tribbles" would be more memorable. The original idea was followed up in the final issue of the Star Trek Unlimited comic book series, "A Piece of Reaction", instead.
- According to the production report for the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "The Communicator", that episode explored a premise hinted at in this episode when Dr. McCoy confessed to leaving behind his communicator on Sigma Iotia II. "The Communicator" picked up on this idea, with a far more serious tone, after Lt. Reed loses his communicator on a pre-warp planet, but he and Archer go back to retrieve it, but things do not go well. wbm
The remastered version of "A Piece of the Action" aired in many North American markets during the weekend of 28 April 2007. While the episode required very few new effects, the planet Sigma Iotia II was given a CGI-makeover, now a more Earth-like planet. Aside from orbital establishing shots, new phaser effects were created depicting the block-wide stun implemented from the Enterprise, replacing the more "cartoonish" aspects of the original.
- The next remastered episode to air was "Tomorrow is Yesterday".
Video and DVD releases
- Original US Betamax release: 1986.
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 26, catalogue number VHR 2361, 4 June 1990.
- US VHS release: 15 April 1994.
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 2.7, 23 June 1997.
- Original US DVD release (single-disc): Volume 25, 19 June 2001.
- As part of the TOS Season 2 DVD collection.
- As part of the TOS-R Season 2 DVD collection.
Links and references
- Vic Tayback as Krako
- Lee Delano as Kalo
- James Doohan as Scott
- Nichelle Nichols as Uhura
- Walter Koenig as Chekov
- John Harmon as Tepo
- Sheldon Collins as the tough kid
- Dyanne Thorne as the first girl
- Sharyn Hillyer as the second girl
- Buddy Garion as Hood
- William Blackburn as Hadley
- Marlys Burdette as Krako's gun moll
- Frank da Vinci as Brent
- James Doohan as the radio announcer
- Roger Holloway as Roger Lemli
- Jay Jones as Mirt
- Jeannie Malone as Yeoman
- Eddie Paskey as Leslie
- Unknown performers as:
1992; advisor; anarchy; amplitude modulation; Beta Antares IV; Bang Bang; Bible; billiards; boss; businessman; cement; Chamey's Auto Repair; Chicago; Chicago Mobs of the Twenties; chopper; Cirl the Knife; clutch; communicator; concrete; contract; conventional radio; cue; distill; Earth; Economy Bus Lines; Federation of Planets; firearm; fireplug; fizzbin; flivver; flop; foot; gear; galoshes; government; hearse; heater; Horizon; ice cream; ignition; industrialization; Iotians; Jailbreakers, The; kronk; laundry; lieutenant; logic; Milky Way Galaxy; moral inversion; neutronium; non-interference directive; odds; overshoe; patty-cake; peanut; percentage; penny; percentages; petrify; phaser; phaser bank; piecework factory; planetary treasury; playing card; postage; punk; radio set; radio station; Request Time; right of petition; sawbones; shralk; Sigma Iotia II; Sigma Iotia system; sociological computers; Southside Territory; Starfleet Command; starter; stone; streetlight; subspace radio; syndicate; taxi; taxi driver; telephone; territory; textbook; transporter; transtator; Tuesday; Vulcan neck pinch; wax
- A Piece of the Action (Star Trek: The Original Series) at Wikipedia
- View online at the CBS website (available in the US only)
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