Star Trek: The Savage Curtain   Rewatch 
January 23, 2016 10:24 AM - Season 3, Episode 22 - Subscribe

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".

"The Savage Curtain" was first broadcast on March 7, 1969, and repeated July 1, 1969. It is episode #77, production #77, written by Gene Roddenberry and Arthur Heinemann, based on an original story by Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Herschel Daugherty.

Memory Alpha Link

AVClub Review

TrekToday Review

The episode can be viewed on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
posted by Benway (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Help me, Spock.
Help me, Spock!

Now do Lincoln . . .

One thing I liked about this one was the handling of "Yarnek" the Excalbian. He has no identifiable face, but he communicates quite a lot with body language. I particularly like the little two handed (or clawed) gesture at the line "Your existence is ended."*

A bit of poking around reveals that Yarnek was played by stuntman János Prohászka, who specialized in playing animals and 'creatures' -- often created by himself. He also played the Mugato in "A Private Little War" and "The eponymous Horta". He had roles in The Outer Limits, Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Gilligan's Island . . .

Memory Alpha excerpts a nice little story from Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, about how Prohászka came to play the horta:
"We made a "spec" deal with Janos. If he came up with a really great creature for a script Gene Coon was writing, we'd rent it and hire him to play the part. Janos was back within a week's time with his custom-designed creature. It was a large pancake-shaped glob of gook with a thickened raised center and fringe around its circumference. It sure didn't look like much. As Janos took the glob out of sight to put it on, Gene Coon raised an objection "Bob, why are wasting time with this?" Suddenly, the blob skittered around the corner, making straight for us. Then it stopped, curiously, backed away, and rotated in place. The blob gathered itself up, quivered, made a whimsical up-and-down movement, grunted, and skittered away again -- leaving behind a large, round white "egg". Coon was dumbfounded. He watched the creature giving birth. And when the creature suddenly turned and scurried back to nuzzle its "child", Gene was sold. "Great!" he exclaimed, "It's perfect! Just what we need." Then he excitedly hastened back to his office to finish writing the script. Gene Coon's "The Devil in the Dark" became one of Star Trek's most famous episodes. And Janos Prohaska played his own creation, one of Star Trek's most famous creatures, the highly imaginative and custom-designed mother Horta."
Unfortunately, Prohászka died in plane crash in 1974 along with his son, actor Robert Prohászka.

Kahless is played by stuntman Robert Herron who also played Sam, the gym rat Charlie X sends "away" for laughing at him. Funny that "the unforgettable" Klingon, who "set the pattern for his planet's tyrannies", takes orders here from a mere colonel who led (an apparently failed) genocidal war.

Barry Atwater (Surak) isn't able to do the Vulcan salute without preparation. He does a bit of business with his right hand in his robe to 'set' it before raising it again in the correct position.

* Prohaska was born in Hungary and spoke English with a thick accent. Voices for his roles were usually provided by someone else. Here it's old reliable Bart LaRue (Provider 1, The Guardian of Forever, and Trelayne's father), speaking his lines apparently through an SSB radio with the BFO slightly detuned -- for the standard rock creature accent.
posted by Herodios at 8:37 PM on January 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Though not a standout episode, this one had some fun moments. Lincoln on the Enterprise is worth the price of admission.
posted by wittgenstein at 4:57 AM on January 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've always liked this one a lot. It's Roddenberry-esque in the best ways. The rock alien is really impressive too. Even now, you see it and you're like, "What the hell IS that thing?" It almost looks like one of Wayne Barlowe's rock monsters.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:22 PM on January 30, 2016

The conclusion of this episode is kind of a mess.

Rock monster: Good and Evil are the same.
Kirk: This wasn't a very good test.
Rock monster: Whatever, go away so we can keep making visitors perform stupid and lethal tests.
Kirk: ok.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:37 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

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