Star Trek's new found tolerance toward alien life forms could not but bold well for the character of Spock. Also, Gene L. Coon had never worked for Chief William H. Parker, as had Roddenberry. The Vulcan wasn't a stand-in for some anal boss for whom he had to come up with P.R. blather. Coon could view Spock with fresh eyes. I suspect the new producer saw that the pointy-eared character had a certain relativity about him. On the bridge on the Enterprise surrounded by humans, Spock seemed alien. But put him on an odd planet with even odder inhabitants, and Spock suddenly had much more in common with those humans. Except he wasn't so much afraid of any of the exotic creatures he'd come across as find them "fascinating."
"The Galileo Seven", which I talked about earlier, was made soon after Coon arrived. Spock was the butt of the joke in that one, but at least comes across as likable. For me, the Vulcan's redemption really comes about in "The Devil in the Dark". Though not generally regarded as a Spock-centric episode, it is his point of view that in the end prevails.
The Enterprise receives a distress call from a mining colony with a fatally high accident rate. The planet's foreman suspects foul play, and asks Kirk and Spock to investigate. The latter, however, seems more interested in a silicone sphere sitting on a table, serving no purpose except perhaps as a conversation piece. But the gruff and impatience foreman is in no mood to converse about the piece, and grumpily explains that it's just a useless ball of stone that gets in the way of the pergium--don't look it up, it exists only on Star Trek--that it's their business to dig out. We soon learn the deaths were caused by a giant monster, one impervious to phasers and that can move through rock as easily as a fish through water. Spock theorizes that it's because the monster is rock, and the phasers need to be adjusted for the creature's stoney flesh. Spock is actually reluctant to make such an adjustment as he'd just as soon study as kill this newly discovered life-form, possibly a one-of-its-kind that might qualify it for an endangered species list. Addressing an Enterprise posse sent down to hunt the beast, which has also knocked out a nuclear reactor, Spock instructs them, if possible, to bring the monster back alive. An annoyed Kirk countermands Spock's order, instead telling the posse to "shoot to kill". The starship captain then pulls the Vulcan aside for a little chat:
KIRK: Mister Spock. I want you to assist Scotty in maintaining that makeshift circulating pump.
SPOCK: I--I beg your pardon, sir?
KIRK: You heard me. It's vital that we keep that reactor in operation. Your scientific knowledge--
SPOCK: Is not needed there, sir. Mister Scott has far more knowledge of nuclear reactors than I do. You're aware of that.
KIRK: Mister Spock, you are second in command. This will be a dangerous hunt. Either one of us by himself is expendable. Both of us are not.
SPOCK: Captain, there are approximately one hundred of us engaged in this search, against one creature. The odds against you and I both being killed are 2,228.7 to 1.
KIRK: (amused in spite of himself) 2,228.7 to 1? Those are pretty good odds, Mister Spock.
SPOCK: And they are of course accurate, Captain.
KIRK: Of course. Well, I hate to use the word, but logically, with those kind of odds, you might as well stay. But please, stay out of trouble, Mister Spock.
SPOCK: That is always my intention, Captain.
wear the IDIC pendant in "Is There in Truth No Beauty?") Spock also became, and I know this sounds odd given his lack of emotion, the most empathetic member of the Enterprise crew. At least he's the one who tries the hardest to understand the other fellow's point-of-view. Logic was no longer a necessary evil, but a force for good, even a form of good in itself, which he never tires of reminding his short-sighted compatriots. In "Errand of Mercy", after Kirk states that they are now in a war that they did not want, Spock replies, "Curious how often you Humans manage to obtain that which you do not want." (He's always a bit hard on humans, but remember, he's outnumbered by them 7 to 1 on the Enterprise, so think of it as a coping device.) Spock never glamorizes war. When in "Space Seed' the crew realizes that none other than the historic warlord (their history, not ours) Singh Khan Noonien is aboard the Enterprise, Kirk, Scott, and another crew member speak admirably of him, until Spock reminds them all he was a dictator who curtailed freedom. It is Spock who is the most reluctant to cause harm. Even in "The Galileo Seven", Spock regrets having hurt the furry brutes on the planet they're marooned on, even if their lives are threatened by them. Though he agreed that Kirk had to destroy a computer that had been running an alien world (and had the Enterprise locked in a tractor beam) in "The Apple", thus freeing the inhabitants to think for themselves, Spock nonetheless compares it to letting Adam and Eve eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Spock is so open-minded he even finds in a backhanded sort of way, a good use for emotions when he suggests igniting some in a couple of Adromedian invaders in "By Any Other Name". After helping Kirk steal a cloaking device, Spock agrees with a female Romulan would-be seductress that military secrets are the most fleeting of all. Spock doesn't necessarily agree with a computer-fought war in "A Taste of Armageddon" but at least acknowledges that there's some logic to it. In "Amok Time" Spock even offers wise advice to a lovestruck fellow Vulcan: "After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.". Spock has a similar view of his human crew mates on the Enterprise. Kirk's unlikely recovery from an alien femme fatale's mind-control tear in "Elaan of Troyius" is explained by Spock thus: "The antidote to a woman of Elas...is a starship. The Enterprise infected the Captain long before the Dohlman did." Only Spock senses that an artificially created female is in danger as Kirk and the woman's long-lived creator fight over her in "Requiem for Methuselah". Though he's the most rigid-acting--notice how he always stands perfectly erect--character on the show, Spock is the only one that gets what the space hippies are all about in "This Way to Eden". When the future flower children asks Spock if he's a "Herbert", meaning a square, he assures them he is not, and they believe him, and we believe him. Spock has a bit of the progressive reformer in him, too, correctly predicting labor strife in "The Cloud Minders". It's no exaggeration to say that Spock eventually becomes the moral conscience of Star Trek, and I mean Star Trek right down to the latest J. J. Abrams reboots. We shouldn't be surprised. A guy whose catchphrase is "Live Long and Prosper" can't be all bad.
Of course it matters that Spock has a very important ally most of the time.
All well and good, but if Kirk and Spock are best buddies, where's the conflict? Good drama needs conflict. Of course, there was a whole universe of potentially antagonistic aliens at this particular drama's disposal, but Coon, at least initially, seems to have been trying avoid that route, and decided instead that the Enterprise's resident alien, Spock, could use a human antagonist.
Is there a doctor in the house?
Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, so irascibly brought to life by DeForest Kelley.
"I'm a doctor, not an bricklayer!"
MCCOY: What's the matter, Spock?
SPOCK: There's something disquieting about these creatures.
MCCOY: Don't tell me you've got a feeling.
SPOCK: Don't be insulting, Doctor. They remind me of lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin. But they seem to eat a great deal. I see no practical use for them.
MCCOY: Does everything have to have a practical use to you? They're nice, soft, and furry, and they make a pleasant sound.
SPOCK: So would an ermine violin, but I see no advantage in having one.
MCCOY: It's a human characteristic to love little animals, especially if they're attractive in some way.
SPOCK: Doctor, I am well aware of human characteristics. I am frequently inundated by them, but I've trained myself to put up with practically everything.
MCCOY: Spock, I don't know too much about these little tribbles yet, but there's one thing I have discovered.
SPOCK: What is that, Doctor?
MCCOY: I like them better than I like you.
SPOCK: They do have one redeeming characteristic.
MCCOY: What's that?
SPOCK: They do not talk too much. If you'll excuse me...
--"The Trouble with Tribbles"
It seems Dr. McCoy was conceived as Captain Kirk's confidant, his sounding board, from the very beginning. Except the confident wasn't called Dr. McCoy any more than the Captain was called Kirk. In the first pilot "The Cage" it's Dr. Philip Boyce who's Captain Pike's confidant. Quite a bit older than Pike, Boyce is perhaps more of a father figure who dispenses such wise advice as: "A man either lives life as it happens to him, meets it head-on, and licks it. Or he turns his back on it and starts to wither away." Nice to know they have Facebook that far into the future. However, it turns out it was Boyce himself who ended up withering away, as Gene Roddenberry decided the actor who portrayed him, John Hoyt, wasn't right for the part. And not only did the Star Trek producer find another actor, he changed the name of the character, as he had done when recasting the Enterprise captain. Dr. Mark Piper, played by an even older actor by the name of Paul Fix, looked so exhausted he could have used a doctor himself. Too much story going on in the second pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before" for Piper to be much of a confidant for the newly-arrived James Kirk. Nor did he have a chance to be one in any other episode as Roddenberry again decided to recast the part, and again change the character's name. In real life DeForest Kelley was born only a decade before William Shatner, so obviously he couldn't play a father figure. An older brother figure, maybe? Or how about that slightly older guy sitting next to you at the bar who complains loudly to everyone around that he can't convince the Army Corps of Engineers to waterproof his fallout shelter? That's McCoy.
MCCOY: Once, just once, I'd like to be able to land someplace and say, 'Behold, I am the Archangel Gabriel!'
SPOCK: I fail to see the humor in that situation, Doctor.
MCCOY: Naturally. You could hardly claim to be an angel with those pointed ears, Mister Spock. But say you landed someplace with a pitchfork...
--"Breads and Circuses"
in an earlier installment, but I know he's fictional, McCoy doesn't; for that matter, he doesn't even know he himself is fictional!)
Now, that doesn't make Star Trek a racist show any more than having a bigot as the main character made All in the Family an endorsement of bigotry. As with Archie Bunker, there's a consider-the-source aspect to McCoy. He's so clownishly wrong about most things most of the time, that his prejudices seems silly, too. And like Archie and his son-in-law Mike (Meathead), McCoy and Spock learn to tolerate one another, even help one another.
order, Captain" the first time McCoy calls, even honors, him by the title. That this is all shown in a credible, believable manner may provide as much hope for the future of race relations as merely letting Uhuru and Sulu been seen on the bridge of the Enterprise where they're all but forgotten.
SPOCK: Captain, I never will understand humans. How could a man as brilliant, a mind as logical as John Gill's, have made such a fatal error?
KIRK: He drew the wrong conclusion from history. The problem with the Nazis wasn't simply that their leaders were evil, psychotic men. They were, but the main problem, I think, was the leader principle.
MCCOY: What he's saying, Spock, is that a man who holds that much power, even with the best intentions, just can't resist the urge to play God.
SPOCK: Thank you, Doctor. I was able to gather the meaning.
MCCOY: It also proves another Earth saying. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Darn clever, these Earthmen, wouldn't you say?
SPOCK: Yes. Earthmen like Ramses, Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, Lee Kuan. Your whole Earth history is made up of men seeking absolute power.
MCCOY: Spock, you obviously don't understand.
SPOCK: Obviously, Doctor, you fail to accept.
KIRK: Gentlemen, gentlemen, we've just been through one civil war. Let's not start another. Mister Chekov, take us out of orbit. Warp factor two, and hurry.
That exchange is as amusing as anything you'll find on Hogan's Heroes, isn't it? Now here's another from the closing moments of "The Apple":
MCCOY: I don't agree with you at all, Mister Spock.
SPOCK: That's not unusual, Doctor.
MCCOY: Jim, I want you to hear this.
SPOCK: Captain, I'm not at all certain we did the correct thing on Gamma Trianguli Six.
MCCOY: We put those people back on a normal course of social evolution. I see nothing wrong in that.
KIRK: Well, that's a good object lesson, Mister Spock. It's an example of what can happen when a machine becomes too efficient, does too much work for you.
SPOCK: Captain, are you aware of the biblical story of Genesis?
KIRK: Yes, of course I'm aware of it. Adam and Eve tasted the apple and as a result were driven out of paradise.
SPOCK: Precisely, Captain, and in a manner of speaking, we have given the people of Vaal the apple, the knowledge of good and evil if you will, as a result of which they, too, have been driven out of paradise.
KIRK: Doctor, do I understand him correctly? Are you casting me in the role of Satan?
SPOCK: Not at all, Captain.
KIRK: Is there anyone on this ship who even remotely looks like Satan?
(Kirk and McCoy circle Spock, and carefully examine his ears)
SPOCK (miffed): I am not aware of anyone who fits that description, Captain!
KIRK: No, Mister Spock, I didn't think you would be.
(Hmm...Captain Kirk seems to be the one making fun of Spock's appearance here, but maybe it's just for McCoy's benefit. Casual racism in a casual conversation.)
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