Episode 15 – TOS 1×15: “Shore Leave”

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Okay, so, I’m not an astronaut. Also, you know, no human astronaut has ever explored another planet to the point of setting foot on it sans environmental suit, let alone interacting with an alien ecosystem on a one-on-one basis, so there’s not a real sturdy framework for comparison here.

But even I can tell you for free that cruising up to a totally unexplored random planet, spending fifteen minutes looking around to see if there are any, you know, really big dangerous animals, and then sending your crew down there on shore leave, without even space suits to protect their delicate, fleshy bodies, is a really bad idea.

But that’s exactly what happens in this episode. The random planet in question just happens to be convenient – I mean, they do some checks in the interests of basic safety and discover there are no insects and no animals, so it’s probably cool, right? There’s definitely nothing else in a landscape that can maim or kill you, right? Certainly not earthquakes or unpredictable extreme weather or, you know, poisonous man-eating alien flowers? Did this occur to anyone? Sulu? You’re a botanist, care to chime in?

Apparently the crew of the Enterprise really, really needs some downtime. I’m not arguing this – it’s 100% accurate. Especially Kirk, who has to be tricked/coerced into taking some leave time by basically his entire command staff.

I’m just saying, maybe go the extra mile and take that leave on a Starbase. Or basically any planet that has been proven, long-term, not to be actively harmful to humans or other humanoids and is not apparently infested with giant white rabbits, little girls in Victorian dress, hallucinations of possibly-dead ex-girlfriends, and the stereotypically Irish spectres of your childhood nemeses.

None of the above contribute to a relaxing environment. I’m sure there’s a 23rd-century equivalent of Yelp – maybe look up a spa. Plot a course for Risa or Space-Vegas. You will have a better time.

(Note for your edification that will make much more sense after you’ve watched/listened and heard me enthuse about the cellular casting/yam people thing: real-life scientists have recently invented a thing that basically does this. SO COOL.)

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