Star Trek (1966–1969)
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A Piece of the Action 

The crew of Enterprise struggles to cope with a planet of imitative people who have modeled their society on 1920's gangsters.

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
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Krako (as Victor Tayback)
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John Harmon ...
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Tough Kid
Dyanne Thorne ...
First Girl
Sharyn Hillyer ...
Second Girl
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Hood
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Zabo (as Steve Marlo)
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Storyline

The Enterprise investigates a planet visited 100 years ago by the U.S.S. Horizon. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down and find themselves in a culture similar to Earth gangs of 1920 Chicago. They are quickly taken prisoner by men in the employ of a mob boss named Bela Oxmyx, who wishes them to give him phasers in exchange for "a piece of the action." When they refuse, Oxmyx puts them under guard. Kirk creates a diversion with a card game called "fizzbin," but without their equipment, the trio must find a way to unite the planet and escape to the Enterprise alive. Written by trekkie4christ

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12 January 1968 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

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. See more »

Goofs

One can only assume it was for budgetary reasons that the two thugs who are killed in the opening segment are wearing the exact same suits worn later by two other thugs who are made to give their clothes to Kirk and Spock. See more »

Quotes

Spock: [Gangster accent] I would advise yas to keep dialin', Oxmyx.
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Connections

Referenced in Star Trek: Enterprise: Horizon (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Some are Mafia Camp
7 August 2006 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Star Trek is often very cheesy and/or campy. That's part of what I and many other fans love about it. But it's difficult to say how aware Gene Roddenberry and crew were of just how cheesy/campy it often was, because occasionally, they did a show, like A Piece of the Action, where they're clearly trying to be cheesy/campy, and on top of the strong dose that's ordinarily there, these shows become very over the top--and very fun. A Piece of the Action may not win the award for the campiest show of the lot, but it at least ties--no other episode could trump this one. Well, not unless it's holding three Queens on a Wednesday night in October when the moon is full.

The Enterprise responds to a call from another ship 100 years after the fact, because the call was made from "old fashioned" radio. One hundred years ago, there was no Prime Directive (the Starfleet philosophy of putative non-interference with explored cultures), and the previous ship left a large tome behind--a study of the Mafia in Chicago in the 1920s. Unfortunately, the culture they left to deal with this alien text was highly adaptive and imitative. When the Enterprise crew happens upon them, they're in a near-anarchic state, ruled only by warring gang bosses.

The idea of such a highly imitative culture is an extremely interesting one with a lot of clout philosophically and scientifically, which makes it surprising that it's not been explored more in science fiction. Here, in addition to weightier ideas, it also provides a perfect staging ground for a wacky episode of Star Trek where Kirk and Spock get to don flashy pin-stripe suits, tote around machine guns, and for the coup de grace--speak in ridiculous, affected gangster accents. It's particularly funny to see Spock try to fit the act, although not surprisingly, Leonard Nimoy doesn't ham it up as much as William Shatner does.

The amusement doesn't end there. There's a running-down-the-hallway-in-and-out-of-closed-doors-styled cat and mouse game as Kirk, Spock and McCoy bounce back and forth from the Enterprise to the planet surface, and in and out of custody of two different gang bosses. Kirk, who is always amusing for off-the-cuff scheming, comes up with some doozies here, including a very funny card game. The make-it-up-as-you-go-along aesthetic permeates the episode, all the way to what's probably the most ridiculous jokey closing banter of the series.

Although it has influences and precedents, including Star Trek itself--in the Season 1 episode, City on the Edge of Forever--and it has maybe influenced other, later works--I couldn't stop thinking of the computer game, Mafia, which I just finished playing a couple weeks ago, A Piece of the Action has a very enjoyable, unusual, tongue-in-cheek and slightly crazy approach to this material. Even if you don't watch every episode of the original series, make sure you see this one for a taste of comic relief.


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