Star Trek: Season 2, Episode 17

A Piece of the Action (12 Jan. 1968)

TV Episode  |   |  Action, Adventure, Mystery
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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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Episode complete credited cast:
Krako (as Victor Tayback)
John Harmon ...
Sheldon Collins ...
Tough Kid
First Girl
Sharyn Hillyer ...
Second Girl
Zabo (as Steve Marlo)


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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

12 January 1968 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Marvel Comics published a sequel story to this episode as part of their Star Trek: Unlimited series. The story, "A Piece of the Reaction" featured the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-E (from Star Trek: First Contact (1996)) returning to the planet to discover that its society had in fact gone on to model itself after 23rd Century Starfleet, thanks to the communicator McCoy left behind. The planet is now led by the tough kid Kirk and Spock met in the street, who wishes to hijack the Enterprise-E and finally gain command of a starship, just like his idol, James T. Kirk. See more »


When Kirk and Spock "borrow" the 1931 Cadillac V-12 Model 370-A Roadster, Spock refers to it as a "flivver"). Kirk wants one, and seems to know what to do with the gearshift and steering wheel. Spock recalls there is a clutch, so it begs the question why he was not the driver. It was surprising that Nimoy, the owner of a 1964 Buick Riviera, would have willingly called that car a "flivver" especially since it was 35 years old and in mint condition, and that the term was American slang of early 20th century for a small, inexpensive, rough riding old car in bad shape. The term started disappearing by the late 1930s or early 1940s, something a well-read individual like Mr. Spock would likely have never said. See more »


Capt. Kirk: The name of the game is called, uh... fizzbin.
Kalo: Fizzbin?
Capt. Kirk: Fizzbin. It's, uh... not too difficult.
Kalo: Mm-hmm.
Capt. Kirk: Each player gets six cards, except for the dealer, er, the player on the dealer's right, who, er, gets seven.
Kalo: On the right?
Capt. Kirk: Yes. The second card is turned up, except on Tuesday.
Kalo: On Tuesday.
Capt. Kirk: Mm-hmm.
Capt. Kirk: [exited] Ooh, look what you got, two jacks. You got a half fizzbin already!
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Referenced in Weird Science: Strangers in Paradise (1996) 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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