A landing party from the Enterprise is exposed to strange form of radiation which rapidly ages them.



(created by),

Watch Now

$0.00 with Prime Video






Episode complete credited cast:
Charles Drake ...
Sarah Marshall ...
Felix Locher ...
Carolyn Nelson ...
Yeoman Atkins
Laura Wood ...


Rapid aging afflicts all six colonists on Gamma Hydra IV and five members of Kirk's six-man landing party - all but Chekov. With the Neutral Zone so close, suspicion falls on the Romulans testing a new weapon, but is it? With time running out, answers are elusive. As Kirk's memory progressively deteriorates, regulations necessitate a competency hearing no one wants - the outcome of which may eventually lead the Enterprise to its destruction with all aboard. Written by statmanjeff

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

8 December 1967 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In The World of Star Trek, William Shatner relates that he endured an excruciating make-up session for this episode - all for nothing, because the shooting day was just about to end. The producers caught his exasperation in an infamous blooper, wherein he declares, "Robert H. Justman, I'm going home now, after spending three hours putting this [expletive deleted] make-up back on - and it's your fault!" See more »


After Johnson dies Dr. McCoy says, "Last one, Robert Johnson. Cause of death: old age." Medically speaking, old age is not considered an underlying cause of death; it's not even considered a disease. The morbid condition that resulted in or caused death is this case would most likely be cardiovascular disease. See more »


McCoy: I don't know what's causing it. Virus, bacteria or evil spirits, but I'm trying to find out.
See more »


Edited from Star Trek: Errand of Mercy (1967) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Senility Strikes Kirk and his Officers
9 October 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

You're not sure whether you should be sad or laughing during the course of this episode - but usually you'll laugh; it's hard not to these days. Of course, if you've ever had a parent or other close relative going through something like dementia, for example, it may give you pause. But then again, this is escapist fare - you're not supposed to take it too seriously. The Enterprise crew encounter the latest unknown space disease, a form of aging. The cause turns out to be radiation left over from a passing comet. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty and a female junior officer all start to age very rapidly, on the order of 30 years per day. But people age differently and the female is the first to bite the dust, this episode's expendable crew member (as opposed to the usual red-shirt). Chekov was not affected at the site of the exposure for some reason and is the key to finding a solution. There's a commodore aboard, as it happens, and he quickly makes a nuisance of himself, forcing a competency hearing against Kirk (should they really have time for this with such a deadline fast approaching?).

The episode manages to touch upon the fears and drawbacks of getting older, mostly from Kirk's perspective. It shows that the best one can expect as one becomes elderly is probably pity - from those who used to respect you. The affected party ages mentally even swifter than they do physically, so there are numerous scenes of Kirk being forgetful; these begin quite early, in subtle hints that all is not right with the landing party. When Kirk starts dozing in his command chair, his loyal crew looking on bewildered and embarrassed, the time for subtlety is past and the audience may stifle an uncomfortable laugh, unless they enjoy a kind of payback for all of Kirk's virile past gallivanting. The physical make-up, however, leaves something to be desired; Kirk & Spock aren't too bad, but Scotty acquires an odd mummified look, while someone placed a mop-like strange hairpiece on McCoy's head. Again, the viewer probably shouldn't laugh too much looking at these heroes deteriorate, but it's taken out of our hands due to the presentation. The central competency hearing, conducted by Spock, repeats much of what had occurred up until this point and winds up being tedious.

But Shatner is great in every scene he's in: his outrage, at the hearing and, later, at Spock; his annoyance with commodore Stocker; his wandering mind, no longer fine tuned; his denial, obviously from plain fear. Kelley also turns in a great interpretation of a doddering old country doctor. Nimoy merely plays a Vulcan who seems tired all the time. Towards the climax, I found it difficult to understand how even a 'deskbound paper-pusher' like commodore Stocker would commit as grievous a blunder as he does here in regards to the Romulan Neutral Zone, but some crisis was needed to test the rejuvenated Kirk in full rescue mode. These scenes also consisted of stock footage of a Romulan ship firing its weapon from the "Balance of Terror" episode and lasted so long that the Enterprise should have been obliterated well before Kirk rushed up to the bridge to pull his fast one with corbomite again (see "The Corbomite Maneuver" from way back).

20 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I know that this is a TOS message board but I have a question tyroth67
Balance of Terror (1966) FrankNW
Edith Keller/The Oracle! timmytony80
Pick a Cast shermandemetrius
Elaan of Troyus timmytony80
Third Season writetopcat
Discuss The Deadly Years (1967) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: