Director: Marvin Chomsky
Writer: Edward J. Lakso
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Craig Hundley, James Wellman, Melvin Belli, James Doohan, Majel Barrett, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Pamelyn Ferdin, Caesar Belli, Mark Robert Brown, Brian Tochi, and Lou Elias
Composer: George Duning
Air Date: 10/11/1968
Production #: 60043-60
Responding to a distress signal from the Starnes Expedition, Captain Kirk travels with Spock and McCoy to the Federation outpost on Triacus. Once there, the landing party discovers that all adults have been killed—ostensibly the result of a mass suicide—while the children remain strangely unaffected by their parents’ deaths. After being rescued, the children succeed in commandeering the Enterprise while under the influence of a malevolent entity known as Gorgan (Melvin Belli).
Arguably the worst Star Trek episode ever made, “And the Children Shall Lead” will interest only the most dedicated of fans. In addition to its bizarre amalgamation of ill-behaved youngsters and science fiction elements, this episode contains many sequences that will surely irritate audiences with a low tolerance for the antics of disobedient children.
When resisting the children’s psychological manipulation, Kirk and Spock (as well as Scotty to a lesser extent) exhibit a fierce resistance that will no doubt appeal to those who admire the strong willpower of these characters.
Though similar in many ways to “Miri” from season one, “And the Children Shall Lead” fails to embody the innocent charm that would allow viewers to excuse any juvenile aspects stemming from a child-centered narrative. Also absent is a solid chemistry between Kirk and his young guests, which likewise became a defining aspect of the aforementioned “Miri” episode.
Perhaps most puzzling of all, real-life attorney Melvin Belli was selected for the role of Gorgan despite his obvious lack of formal acting experience. Whether Belli’s presence in this episode was intended as somewhat of a joke isn’t altogether clear (Gorgan’s line, “If you need me, call and I will appear” does, however, give off a subtle tongue-in-cheek vibe); nevertheless, the fact remains that without a trained actor to fill the role, Gorgan struggles to generate and maintain an ominous atmosphere during his supposedly intimidating encounters with the Enterprise crew.
A tedious effort, “And the Children Shall Lead” is perhaps the most forgettable episode included in the original series’ lineup of entries. Though several inspiring moments focusing on Kirk’s ability to overcome crippling anxiety are present, Star Trek enthusiasts are advised to avoid this lackluster installment for reasons stated earlier.
Overall Quality: 3/10
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