Star Trek (1966–1969)
6.8/10
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The Savage Curtain 

Kirk, Spock, Abraham Lincoln and Vulcan legend Surak are pitted in battle against notorious villains from history for the purpose of helping a conscious rock creature's understanding of a concept he does not understand, "good vs. evil".

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Episode complete credited cast:
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Barry Atwater ...
Phillip Pine ...
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Arell Blanton ...
Chief Security Guard
Carol Daniels ...
Zora (as Carol Daniels DeMent)
Bob Herron ...
Kahless (as Robert Herron)
Nathan Jung ...
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Storyline

The Enterprise's sensor readings indicate a planet unsuitable for any carbon-based life at the level of a developed civilization. Suddenly they get an apparition in space from someone who looks like and claims to be Abraham Lincoln. He insists on them checking him out and coming over to a small part on the planet surface (which has suddenly developed a perfect atmosphere for humans). He is received with full presidential honors and Kirk and Spock agree to beam down with him, but as they do, phasers and tricorders fail to dematerialize with them, and communicators won't work. There they meet Surak, the greatest Vulcan of all time, equally convincing. The quartet is greeted by a creature consisting of molten rock who presents them to notorious historical villains Ghengis Khan, Colonel Green, Zora and the Klingon Kahless the Unforgettable. They're told the teams represent good versus evil and must battle to the death against each other to teach the creature their concept. When Kirk ... Written by KGF Vissers

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7 March 1969 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is one of four productions in which Genghis Khan and Abraham Lincoln appear together as characters, in spite of the fact that Lincoln was born 582 years after the Khan's death. The others are Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), Clone High (2002) and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) See more »

Goofs

In the credits, Genghis Khan is misspelled "Ghengis Khan". See more »

Quotes

Dr. McCoy: Just what was that you locked onto before you beamed him aboard?
Scott: Ya heard Mr. Spock yourself - "mineral" he called it, like living rock.
Dr. McCoy: And that became Lincoln?
Scott: I couldn't tell. May have been another figure down there standing by. What do you make if it?
Dr. McCoy: I'm not quite sure.
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Connections

Referenced in Trekkies 2 (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

The Surreal Life In Space
4 February 2006 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

In theme and approach, this one is so quintessentially "Star Trek". Mind you, it's a bit too close to an old "Outer Limits" episode called "Fun & Games", but Trek's version is, arguably, the better of the two.

While searching for signs of life on an unexplored planet, the Enterprise is visited by Abraham Lincoln. Yes, that's President Abraham Lincoln, but it doesn't come off as silly as it sounds. In this story, a mysterious alien race creates a living breathing Honest Abe (a boyhood hero to Kirk) who issues an invitation to Kirk and Spock to beam down with him to the planet surface. Upon their arrival they encounter other historical figures: Genghis Khan; Kayless, the ruthless Klingon warlord; genocidal war criminal, Colonel Green; Zora, a sort of alien Dr. Mengela; and for Spock's titillation, Surak, the intellectual father of the Vulcan race.

Next enters one of "Star Trek's" wildest creations, a hulking alien made of volcanic rock. With it's multiple eyes flashing in rhythm with it's strange, tremulous voice, the creature informs Kirk and Spock that they are to be part of an experiment. An observed conflict in which they will oppose Col. Green and his associates to prove whether good or evil is the stronger philosophy. When Kirk informs their host that he and Spock refuse to participate, the alien coolly assures him, "you will decide otherwise." Suddenly the Enterprise's engines begin to overload, and Kirk is given a cause to fight for: defeat "Team Evil" or his ship and crew will be destroyed.

"Star Trek" may be an ancient, low budget sci-fi series, but the show's attention to character development really wins out over it's age and dated effects. Lee Bergere's performance in particular is one the most effective portrayals of Abraham Lincoln ever put on film. Noble and wise with a gentle wit, his Lincoln works beautifully as a character in this story of men who are forced into a conflict they want no part of. Credit is due the writers for striving to capture the kind of inner turmoil Lincoln must have experienced as president during the civil war and drawing on that to enhance the story. Example: he tells Kirk in one scene, "There is no gentle way to kill. No honourable way to destroy. There is nothing good in war except it's ending, and you're fighting for the lives of your crew." Excellently written, and believably delivered by Bergere.

Barry Atwater, who plays the Vulcan pacifist, Surak, deserves a nod as well. Not all actors wearing those pointed ears have been able to perform to the same standard that Leonard Nimoy set for playing a Vulcan, but Atwater is one actor who rose to the challenge admirably. His character's own moral conflict over the question of whether or not to fight also adds emotional depth to the story, as well as to this interesting, memorable character.

A few gripes about "Savage Curtain", (besides the fact that two of the "Team evil" characters don't have a single line of dialog):

-The occasional low rent aspects of the fight sequences. For example, the throwing around of rubbery looking rocks hurts the realism of the battle scenes. Also, the sound of their spears in flight would have been much more effective had the audio department added some better sound effects.

-Herschel Daughterty proves he's no master action director with a protracted, embarrassingly clumsy-looking shot of Mr. Spock grappling with a woman.

-When one character is taken prisoner, the director settled for the most half-hearted cries of distress ever heard. In fact, as kids, to crack ourselves up we would imitate these sad cries around the house. If you see my brother just say in a flat, disinterested tone, "help me, Spock". He'll know what you're referring to.

But those flaws aside, "Savage Curtain" is really a triumph thanks in large part to the richness of the characters as well as the quality of the performances. There are some genuinely compelling dramatic moments here, and this is what "Star Trek" did so well that other sci-fi shows of the day generally couldn't match. Sure, it wanted to be exciting and entertaining, but it also strove to be thoughtful and moving as well.


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