Star Trek: Season 2, Episode 19

A Private Little War (2 Feb. 1968)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 760 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 4 critic

Peaceful, primitive peoples get caught up in the struggle between superpowers, with Kirk unhappily trying to restore the balance of power disrupted by the Klingons.



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Title: A Private Little War (02 Feb 1968)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Michael Witney ...
Ned Romero ...
Arthur Bernard ...
Janos Prohaska ...
The Mugato
Paul Baxley ...
Patrol Leader
Gary Pillar ...


Kirk returns to the planet where he spent time 13 years before. A friend from his previous visit is now leader of his people. While trying to uphold the Federation's prime directive, the Klingons are providing more advanced technology to their enemies. Written by laird-3

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

2 February 1968 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Neural was the name in the script for Tyree's planet (never heard in the final edit). See more »


After Spock is shot and they rendezvous with McCoy and beam out, there is an error in the 'optical.' Not all of the equipment 'sparkles' with the beam out - one piece just dissolves, clearly missed by the technicians in post-production. See more »


Capt. Kirk: Tomorrow... in the palm of her hands.
Dr. McCoy: Well, you got what you wanted.
Capt. Kirk: Not what I wanted, Bones. What had to be.
See more »


Referenced in Futurama: The Tip of the Zoidberg (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

War isn't a Good Life, but it's Life (and a Mugato)
20 November 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is the serious attempt to present the impact and ramifications of interfering with the natural progression of a culture (the comedic take was "A Piece of the Action" a couple of episodes earlier). In this case, the culprits are (surprise!) Klingons: on a peaceful planet, the Klingons supply one side, Villagers, with flintlocks/rifles, while the Hill People, led by an old friend (Tyree) of Kirk's, continue to use bows & arrows. The balance of power has been upset, not to mention that Kirk's memories of a 'Garden of Eden' world have been corrupted. This is actually an interesting glimpse into Klingon strategy: they build up one side of a civilization as a puppet kingdom, to be a part of their growing empire. See also "Friday's Child" for the previous Klingon-Federation conflict over a planet. What this episode was soon known as by Trekkers is as the 'Vietnam' parable of the series.

This allusion to Vietnam doesn't stay subtle - Kirk even makes reference to the 20th century 'brush wars' on the Asian continent to spell things out to the audience. There's a sometimes preachy tone and flowery references to serpents (the rifles) which overlooks the awful true impact of war, that being widespread bloody death. McCoy addresses this as best he can, but Kirk merely waves away such dire consequences with a trite comment about what war is. Despite a rather simplistic 'kill or be killed' theme for such a politically charged episode, it does drive home the point well that once something like flintlocks are introduced into such a civilization, you can't just take them back. Pandora's Box, such as it is, has been opened and it's too late to close it. And there are no easy solutions. McCoy represents the liberal side here with his protests and he offers no other solution. Kirk is the conservative view - Klingons started this and it's out of his hands now. As such, they have one of their more intense arguments in this episode and neither wins.

Then we have the Mugato. It's a white apelike animal with a lizard-like spine and tail. The monster suit was probably effective in the sixties; now it looks like some goon escaped a Halloween parade to chase Shatner and Kelley around the wilderness (OK, it did scare me a bit when I was eight years old). Add to this the whole witch-woman routine by Tyree's wife and we're in unintentional amusement territory. However, quite intentionally, this episode also presents a 'B' storyline up on the Enterprise, where Spock is recovering from a gunshot wound. My favorite scene is Nurse Chapel slapping the bedridden Spock as Scotty runs in, quite alarmed. This all explains another facet of the Vulcan mystique and physiology. Rather inspired.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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