Sunday, April 13, 2014

Unseen Trek: "The V.I.Ps" by Gene Lesser & Malachi Throne

Malachi Throne in "The Menagerie, Part II" (1966)
Story Outline by Gene Lesser & Malachi Throne (undated)
Review and analysis by David Eversole
Originally Posted at Orion Press 


The civilization of an unexplored galaxy – existing unseen... and unknown... in the black end of the light spectrum – almost incinerates the Enterprise and its crew when it arrests the ship’s course to capture it.


Soon Tares (of the planet Thades, a member of the Thedusian System) communicates his desire to study the ship and its inhabitants. The Thedusians live on a different "light wave length" and they and their planetary system cannot be seen by those living on different light wave lengths. Kirk agrees to host the visitors, despite the manner in which his attention was gained. 

Three "AMORPHIC LIGHT-HAZE" Thedusian V.I.P.s (Tares, himself, among them) arrive on the ship and are given a tour. Despite their outward kindness and pleasant voices, their presence makes the humans aboard fill distinctly ill at ease. The feeling grows to near hysteria. Even Kirk and Bones feel uneasy, but manage to control it. Only Spock is unaffected. The VIPS leave because of the fear they are inducing.

Tares still wishes to know more and insists the Enterprise visit his world. Kirk reluctantly agrees and the ship is put through a "light wave warp affect [sic]" and Kirk  sees for the first time the six Thedusian planets which have been moved into a spherical shell nearer to their sun to maximize its beneficial effects.

Tares informs Kirk that his people once visited Earth thousands of years ago, and even attempted to help the humans. However their advances were repelled and they left. He was surprised to discover an Earth ship passing through their system, and stopped it out of curiosity to see if humans had made any progress. He admits that they have advanced "some."

Tares goes on to tell of how his people planted colonies in those long ago days in the "Earth Galaxy" and his people have been curious as to how they evolved. Imagine his surprise when they detected a descendant of one of those seeded worlds onboard the Enterprise… Mr. Spock. They hope his development can provide an answer to one of their most pressing problems.

Furthermore, since they fear their existence would become known and invite invaders, the Enterprise cannot be allowed to leave the Thedusian system.

Kirk attempts to assure Tares that the people of the Earth Galaxy are no longer war-like, but he will not listen. Tares reminds Kirk of how everybody on the Enterprise reacted in fear and uneasiness when he and his two fellow light creatures came aboard. Plus, they have a great secret that must not be known. And Tares, the gentle being of light, begins to change… into a leathery-skinned, cloven-hoofed creature. A DEVIL. (Dave intrudes -- Hey, these CAPS are not my own, okay?)

A separate city simulating Earth conditions will be built for the crew of the Enterprise. All will live out their lives in peace and harmony.

Tares wants to know exactly which planet in the Earth Galaxy (I love typing that) Spock hails from. Once known, the Thedusians will locate planets of similar chemical make-up, go there and be able to change their appearance so that everybody they meet won't hate them.


What if you can't find similar planets, Kirk asks. Tares hesitates. Spock surmises that the Thedusians would then seek out his home world and take it over. Therefore Spock refuses to tell them which planet in the Earth Galaxy he is from.

Tares pleads, and Spock is sympathetic. He agrees to tell which planet in the Earth Galaxy he is from… if Tares will release Kirk and the others. Kirk is having none of it, and denies Spock's sacrifice. Tares grows angry, his body pulsates with heat, fire erupts from it, threatening to engulf every crewman on the ship. Kirk ain't impressed. But he does offer to make a deal.

If the Enterprise is released back to their light wave length, he will make a "memory tape" of Spock's mind and transmit it to Tares. Tares huffs and puffs and pulsates, but, you see, its just a show. He really couldn't hurt anyone. He agrees.

Back on the Enterprise, Kirk has McCoy hook Spock to an electrode cap with wires leading to an ionized leaden container to tape his memories. Once done, they transmit it to Tares, and the Enterprise leaps into "ram-warp" speed to escape. But the ship shudders with a "tremendous electronic shock blast," and everyone is stunned "into comatose." 

When Kirk revives he sees that Spock is still sitting there, unmoving, mindless, with the electrode cap on his head. McCoy moves to him, notes the wires which run to the container which is labeled "SPOCK TAPE." McCoy feeds the Spock tape back into Spock's brain -- he revives as well and opines that the escape attempt from the Thedusians was obviously successful.

Huh?  What? What are Thedusians?


Spock looks at his colleagues – realizing the truth. He mumbles something about having had a dream...Kirk agrees...the heat band they just passed through was a rough one. A report comes through from communications. In checking the tapes – they’ve discovered every tape aboard ship shows a blank.... since hitting the heat wave...but the tapes appear to have run through a two-day period – and they seem to have been wiped clean...simoultaneously [sic].

Kirk looks questioningly at Spock – who merely shrugs. It must have been the heat....“Correct our course for Athosargasa...”


I have nothing but admiration for the acting talents of the late, great Malachi Throne (in fact I wish I had such a cool name -- show me a name more euphonious and impressive than MALACHI THRONE!). He was a fine, fine character actor whose presence lent a gravitas to roles others would have been forgettable in, but as a writer...



Editor's Note: Although Malachi Throne (1928-2013) had a prolific career as an actor, as far as I've been able to determine, he never had a produced screenplay or teleplay. Gene Lesser (born 1925) appears to have been active as a television writer from 1958 to 1968, during which time he wrote for Death Valley Days, Zane Grey Theater, and Lock Up.

Image courtesy of Trek Core.

Review originally posted at Orion Press.


  1. Wow. That's ... really, really BAD. :-) Glad Mr. Throne didn't quit his day job.

    I've been reading "These Are the Voyages, Season Two" and was wondering if you were going to review it, the way you did Volume 1? It's clear that an ENORMOUS amount of love and work and research went into producing this volume, and yet it has obvious errors, such as saying that Leonard Nimoy was nominated for an Emmy for Best Actor, when he was actually nominated for Best SUPPORTING Actor. And Cushman asserts some important and potentially controversial things without giving any documentation, even as much of the book is painstakingly well documented.

    The book is such a strange mixture of the well done and the slapdash. One wonders why Cushman didn't get the book proofread by someone even at my level of Star Trek knowledge -- I'd have proofread the book for free and would have caught several errors -- and he really should have gotten the book proofread by someone at your level of Star Trek knowledge.

    I'm glad the book exists, and I'd rather have it than not, but with better proofreading and more careful documentation and citation, the book could have been authoritative, rather than the strange mixture of things that it is now.

  2. I haven't read volume two yet -- only heard about things in the book secondhand -- but it seems likely that I'll be able to derive at least a few pieces on it once I get a copy. However, considering I won't be giving Cushman any of my money, that may be a little while.

    I have some more stuff waiting in the wings once Cushman's series is done. Considering his propensity for swiping material from other fans without attribution, though, it will have to wait until the end of the year. But I'll have other material before then, not to worry!