Charlie X

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"Charlie X"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 2
Directed by Lawrence Dobkin
Teleplay by D.C. Fontana
Story by Gene Roddenberry
Featured music Fred Steiner
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 8
Original air date September 15, 1966 (1966-09-15)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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"The Man Trap"
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"Where No Man Has Gone Before"
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Charlie X" is a first season episode of the science fiction television series Star Trek first broadcast on September 15, 1966. It was repeated by NBC on June 1, 1967. It is episode #2, production #8. It was dramatized for television by Dorothy C. Fontana from a story written by Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Lawrence Dobkin.

The Enterprise picks up an unstable 17-year-old boy with dangerous mental powers who lacks the training to handle them wisely.

The eponymous character Charlie Evans, as an adult, is also featured in the fan created mini-series Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.

Plot[edit]

On stardate 1533.6, the starship USS Enterprise, commanded by Captain James T. Kirk, takes charge of Charlie Evans (Robert Walker Jr.), a teenage boy from a cargo vessel called the Antares. As a three-year-old, he was the sole survivor of a transport ship that crashed on the planet Thasus. For 14 years,Charlie grew up there alone, stranded in the wreckage, and learned how to talk from the ship's computer systems that remained intact.

The boy is to be transported to his nearest relatives on the colony Alpha V, and crew members of the Antares speak praises about Charlie. They seem, however, pleased to see the boy removed from their ship and after the transfer, they bid the Enterprise an unusually hasty goodbye and depart. Charlie undergoes a medical examination by Dr. McCoy and tells the doctor that the crew of the Antares did not like him very much, and that all he wants is for people to like him.

Charlie quickly becomes obnoxious and shows signs that he possesses strange powers. First, he develops an infatuation with Yeoman Janice Rand. He presents her with a bottle of perfume, which turns out to be her favorite scent. Having observed a man in engineering seal an agreement to go to the rec room with a slap on the rear, he does the same to Rand. Charlie meets Rand later in the rec room, where Mr. Spock plays a Vulcan lyrette and Lt. Uhura sings. Charlie is annoyed with being a subject in Uhura's performance as well as with Rand paying more attention to the song than to him, so he causes Uhura to temporarily lose her voice.

When the Antares gets nearly out of sensor range, it transmits a warning message to the Enterprise, but the message gets cut off before it can give the warning. Shortly after, Spock determines that the Antares has blown up. More bizarre events take place aboard the Enterprise. For example, a cook (voiced by Roddenberry[citation needed]) reports that the synthetic meatloaf in the kitchen has been transformed into real turkeys.

In the rec room, Kirk defeats Spock at three-dimensional chess. Charlie is intrigued with the game and tries to duplicate the feat but loses quickly. An angered Charlie causes the white chess pieces to melt.

In an attempt to get Charlie interested in a woman his own age, Rand introduces him to Yeoman Third Class Tina Lawton, but Charlie only has eyes for Rand and brushes Tina off. Later, Kirk tries to teach the young man how to fight. Sam, Kirk's training partner, laughs at one of Charlie's falls, and Charlie makes him vanish before Kirk's eyes. Shocked, Kirk calls for security guards to escort Charlie to his quarters, but Charlie says he will not let them hurt him; he then makes their phasers disappear. Kirk suspects Charlie has been given the powers which legend ascribes to the ancient race of Thasians and confronts Charlie. Charlie admits he used his powers to destroy the Antares, but says the ship would have blown up on its own sooner or later and insists, "They weren't nice to me."

Charlie discovers Kirk's plans to divert from Alpha V, and he takes control of the Enterprise. He forces Spock to recite Earth poetry, turns Tina into a lizard, and chases down Rand. When she resists his advances, he makes her disappear. Charlie goes on a rampage, transforming or vanishing crew members who mock or rebuff him.

Meanwhile, a Thasian ship approaches the Enterprise. The Thasian commander appears on the bridge, saying that his race gave Charlie his powers to help him to survive on their world, but these powers render him too dangerous to live on Earth. The Thasians return Yeoman Rand and repair the damage Charlie has done. They promise to take Charlie to live with them. Charlie begs Kirk for forgiveness and pleads with him to not let the aliens have him. Despite Kirk's statement that Charlie belongs with his own kind, the aliens take him.

Production history[edit]

The premise for this episode formed part of Gene Roddenberry's original March 1964 pitch for Star Trek, under the name "The Day Charlie Became God". When the series entered production, Roddenberry assigned it to Dorothy C. Fontana to dramatize.[1] It is a reworking of the principal theme of Jerome Bixby's award-winning 1953 short story "It's A Good Life" (filmed as an episode of The Twilight Zone in 1961 as well) with the immaturity and emotional conflicts of adolescence substituted for those of the six year old in Bixby's tale. (Bixby wrote four episodes for ST:TOS, but is not credited for "Charlie X".)[citation needed]

For a while during production, the episode was known as "Charlie's Law" — a name which survived in the James Blish adaptation of the episode for Bantam Books. In a scene in the script which did not air, Charlie's Law is stated as "You'd better be nice to Charlie...or else."[2]

Gene Roddenberry made an uncredited audio cameo as the cook (or mess officer) who exclaims that the meatloaf in the ship's kitchen's ovens has turned into real turkeys.

Reception[edit]

Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode a 'B' rating. Handlen marked the episode down for its poor female characters and use of the "god-child" cliché, but praised more "disturbing" elements of the episode such as Charlie's pranks and his eventual fate.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman (1996). Inside Star Trek: The Real Story. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-00974-5. 
  2. ^ Charlie X, final draft by D. C. Fontana, online at Orion Press
  3. ^ Handlen, Zack (January 16, 2009). ""The Man Trap"/"Charlie X"/"The Naked Time"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 10, 2009. 

External links[edit]