Charlie X

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"Charlie X"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 2
Directed byLawrence Dobkin
Teleplay byD.C. Fontana
Story byGene Roddenberry
Featured musicFred Steiner
Cinematography byJerry Finnerman
Production code8
Original air dateSeptember 15, 1966 (1966-09-15)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Man Trap"
Next →
"Where No Man Has Gone Before"
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes
 
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"Charlie X"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 2
Directed byLawrence Dobkin
Teleplay byD.C. Fontana
Story byGene Roddenberry
Featured musicFred Steiner
Cinematography byJerry Finnerman
Production code8
Original air dateSeptember 15, 1966 (1966-09-15)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Man Trap"
Next →
"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.

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 small cargo vessel called the Antares. As a three-year-old child, 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 only learned how to talk from the ship's computer systems that somehow remained intact.

The boy is to be transported to his nearest living relatives on the colony Alpha V, and the crew of the Antares speak nothing but praises about Charlie. They seem, however, more than pleased to see the boy removed from their ship as soon as possible and after the transfer (during which Charlie gives an ominous glare), they bid the Enterprise an unusually hasty goodbye and depart. Charlie undergoes a cursory medical examination by Dr. McCoy and Charlie 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, who is evidently the first human female he has ever seen. He presents her with a bottle of perfume, which turns out to be her favorite scent, even though there is none of it in the ship's stores. Having observed a man in engineering seal an agreement to go to the rec room with a friendly slap on the rear, he does the same to Rand, to which she of course objects. Charlie meets Rand later in the rec room, where Mr. Spock (whom Charlie later calls "Mr. Ears") plays a Vulcan lyrette, and Lt. Uhura sings. Charlie is annoyed with being a subject in Uhura's performance as well as Rand paying more attention to the song than to him, so he causes Uhura to abruptly (but 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 such warning. Charlie makes the curious and sinister comment, "It wasn't very well constructed." But shortly after, Spock determines that the Antares has blown up. Progressively more bizarre events begin to 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.

Back in the rec room, Kirk defeats Spock at three-dimensional chess, beating Spock's logic with his own quirky move. Charlie is intrigued with the game and tries to duplicate the same feat but loses quickly. Kirk and Spock leave the room, but an angered Charlie stays behind and causes the white chess pieces to melt, revealing he has both a bad temper and powerful telekinetic abilities.

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, angering Rand. Later, Kirk tries his best to instill Charlie with some manly qualities, and attempts to teach the young man how to fight. Sam, Kirk's training partner, laughs at one of Charlie's falls, and Charlie makes him "go away"; Sam vanishes before Kirk's eyes. Shocked by what he has witnessed, Kirk calls for security guards to escort young 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 about it. 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 regardless, he insists, "They weren't nice to me."

Charlie discovers Kirk's plans to divert from Alpha V, and he takes control of the Enterprise and members of the crew. He forces Spock to recite Earth poetry, turns Tina into a lizard, and chases down Rand. When she resists his advances he gets angry and makes her disappear, saying, "She wasn't nice at all." Charlie tells everyone that he can make them all go away, anytime he wants to. Kirk and Spock attempt to confine him in a detention cell, but to no avail. Charlie goes on a rampage, transforming or vanishing crew members who mock him 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 powerful and therefore dangerous to live on Earth. The Thasians are sorrowful over the loss of the Antares (which they could not save), but return Yeoman Rand and repair the damage Charlie has done. They apologize to Kirk and promise to take Charlie to live with them. Charlie begs Kirk for forgiveness and pleads frantically with him to not let the aliens take him away. Despite Kirk's statement that "the boy 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]