“More Tribbles, More Troubles”
Written by David Gerrold
Directed by Hal Sutherland
Animated Season 1, Episode 5
Production episode 22001
Original air date: October 6, 1973
Captain’s log. The Enterprise is escorting two grain-carrying robot ships to Sherman’s Planet, which is suffering a famine. En route, they discover a Klingon ship, the I.K.S. Devisor under the command of Koloth, attacking a one-person scout ship belonging to Cyrano Jones. Kirk orders Scotty to beam the occupant of the scout ship on board.
The Devisor destroys the scout ship, but Scotty is able to rescue Jones, as well as a mess of tribbles. Koloth then fires a stasis field on the Enterprise and demands that Kirk turn Jones over. However, the Enterprise still has control of the robot ships, so Kirk orders Sulu to use them to ram the Devisor. The distraction is enough to get Koloth to release the Enterprise, and the use of the weapon has drained Koloth’s energy reserves, and so the Devisor veers off. Unfortunately, one of the robot ships is damaged beyond repair, and they have to overstuff the other ship and put the grain in Enterprise corridors and cargo bays in order to make the shipment.
Jones explains that he’s genetically engineered his tribbles so they don’t reproduce, and he also has a tribble predator called a glommer, which eats tribbles. That was how he was able to get the tribbles off of Deep Station K-7. He also sold some tribbles on a Klingon world, which is why Koloth was chasing him and accusing him of ecological sabotage.
Kirk also announces that he’s in violation of multiple statutes and confines him until the mission is over.
McCoy examines a tribble, and reports at a meeting with Kirk, Spock, and Scotty that these tribbles just get larger rather than reproduce. Spock reports that the Klingon weapon is effective offensively, but not so much defensively, as it drains a lot of power.
The Devisor re-powers up and sets course for the Enterprise. Kirk tries to distract Koloth by sending the robot ship in another direction, but Koloth is able to disable its propulsion.
The Enterprise and Devisor exchange fire. The grain containers break open and the tribbles start eating the grain. Koloth breaks off the attack, but now the Enterprise has to take the robot ship in tow. That’s a power drain the Enterprise can’t afford in a firefight, and sure enough, Koloth returns for another fight, forcing Kirk to cast the robot ship adrift.
This time Koloth uses the stasis weapon again, and the Enterprise is caught. So Kirk has Scotty beam all the tribbles over to the Devisor, which is a stalemate. Koloth then drops the other shoe: they want Jones because it turns out that he stole the glommer from the Klingons. They engineered it to be a tribble predator.
Kirk is more than happy to turn the glommer over, though Jones is reluctant. McCoy then reveals that the fat tribbles are actually colony creatures made up of tons of smaller tribbles. He gives them an injection that will break them down into their component smaller tribbles and also reduce their metabolic rate so they’ll be as harmless as Jones thought they’d be.
Of course, the Klingons don’t know that, and the tribbles on their ship are too large for the glommer to eat. So Koloth orders Korax to fire on them, at which point they turn into a huge pile of small tribbles, to Koloth’s chagrin.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? The Klingons genetically engineered a tribble predator, which is just like them. They also have developed a weapon that incapacitates the enemy, but leaves you too de-powered to get any enjoyment out of that.
Fascinating. Spock determines that the Klingon stasis weapon isn’t practical because of its power requirements.
I’m a doctor not an escalator. McCoy determines that Jones’s genetic engineering work was slipshod, but figures out a way to fix it with a simple injection. Because he’s just that awesome.
Ahead warp one, aye. Sulu gets to fly the ship and fire phasers during the firefights with Koloth.
Hailing frequencies open. Uhura is the one who hits on the notion of controlling the robot ships to get Koloth off their backs.
I cannot change the laws of physics! Scotty grumbles a lot when trying to beam Jones aboard and he’s really not happy to see tribbles again.
Go put on a red shirt. The security guard in the transporter room whom Kirk asks to secure the room once tribbles show up on board is modeled after writer David Gerrold.
Channel open. “Tribbles are well known for their proclivities in multiplication.”
“And they breed fast, too!”
Spock describing tribbles and Jones failing his saving throw versus linguistic comprehension.
Welcome aboard. Stanley Adams is the second actor (after Mark Lenard in “Yesteryear“) to reprise his role from the live-action series, having previously played Jones in “The Trouble with Tribbles.” Nichelle Nichols and George Takei play Uhura and Sulu, respectively, while James Doohan provides the voices of Scotty and Koloth. It’s unclear who is the voice of Korax—for years, there was a rumor that David Gerrold voiced him, but Gerrold himself has denied this. Doohan is often credited, but it doesn’t really sound like him. It’s probably one of the other Filmation regulars who did various voices for their shows.
Trivial matters: Obviously, this is a sequel to “The Trouble with Tribbles,” also written by David Gerrold. He’d originally pitched this for the third season, but Fred Freiberger hated “Tribbles” and passed on it. D.C. Fontana contacted Gerrold when the animated series was in development and told him to rework his sequel for the half-hour animated format.
One of the cuts from the original sequel pitch was the glommer being a human predator as well as a tribble one, as they didn’t want to show it eating people on a kids show.
The grain being taken to Sherman’s Planet is quintotriticale, because we needed something more awesome than quadrotriticale, I guess?
Koloth’s ship is named the I.K.S. Devisor here. His ship was identified as the I.K.S. Gr’oth in DS9‘s “Trials and Tribble-ations,” but that seeming inconsistency was covered in “A Bad Day for Koloth” by David DeLee in Strange New Worlds 9, in which the Gr’oth had to be scuttled because of the tribble infestation provided by Scotty when he beamed the tribbles over to Koloth’s ship in “The Trouble with Tribbles.”
Hal Sutherland is color blind, which is why a lot of things turned out pink in this series, but the most egregious example are the tribbles, which are all the same bright pink, and the Klingon uniforms, which are a more pale pink.
The glommer is mentioned again in the novels Pawns and Symbols by Majliss Larson and Forged in Fire by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin, the latter establishing that they were created by a Klingon geneticist named Nej.
To boldly go. “That tin-plated overbearing excuse for a starship captain did it again!” This is a fun little sequel, though a few of the beats are a bit too repetitive. I mean, the tribbles get all over the ship, though less entertainingly than they did the first time, they fall all over Kirk, they’re beamed to Koloth’s ship at the end, and there’s a twist that changes the tenor of the story, in this case that Jones stole the glommer.
Filmation’s rather static animation doesn’t do the tribbles any favors, as their movements are a bit more awkward than they were in live action, and you don’t get the same sense that they’re everywhere that you did in the live-action predecessor. Also the episode just isn’t as funny. Gerrold’s dialogue works not because the characters tell jokes, but because of wordplay and dialogue exchanges, and the timing is just off for everyone because it’s damn near impossible to do that type of wordplay properly in animation, especially with actors not used to the medium.
Also, as little as I liked Koloth as played by William Campbell, the actor’s presence is severely missed here, as James Doohan doesn’t convey any of Campbell’s oily charm, reducing him to an overly simplistic antagonist.
Having said that, the plot moves nicely, the stasis weapon is a nifty little concept, and Kirk’s aggravation at being stuck with Jones is surprisingly well conveyed.
Warp factor rating: 6
Next year: “The Survivor”
Keith R.A. DeCandido‘s latest release is the Super City Cops novella Avenging Amethyst, from which you can read an excerpt right here on this site. This is the first of three novellas about police in a city filled with costumed heroes and villains published by Bastei Entertainment. Full information, including the cover, promo copy, ordering links, and another excerpt can be found on Keith’s blog. The next two novellas, Undercover Blues and Secret Identities, will be released in January and February.