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Star Trek - The Original Series, Vol. 22, Episodes 43 & 44: Bread And Circuses/ Journey To Babel

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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(Apr 24, 2001)
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Frequently Bought Together

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"Bread and Circuses," Ep. 43 - Kirk, Spock and McCoy must contend with a former starship captain-turned-traitor, Roman gladiators and television ratings in this unusual story. "Journey to Babel," Ep. 44 - The Enterprise is crowded with alien ambassadors, Kirk is attacked and Spock is in a terrible dilemma: he's replaced Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise, but his ailing father needs a transfusion in order to survive.


"Bread and Circuses"
Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), and First Officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy) discover that Captain Merik (William Smithers), commander of the long-missing Starfleet vessel S.S. Beagle, has become "First Citizen of the Empire" in a re-creation of ancient Rome on an obscure, unnamed planet. Under orders from the Emperor, Merik forced his own crew to die in gladiator battles and lured other Starfleet personnel to the same fate. Now with Kirk, McCoy, and Spock in hand, the Emperor's barbaric (and televised all over the planet) amusements carry on another day. While the script takes a swipe or two at the sometimes less-than-elevated tastes of global audiences, the episode's most interesting idea is the existence of a long-suffering cult of sun worshippers, a parallel to the suppressed Christian groups in Roman times. For Trekkers, however, this one is full of the essentials: a surreal premise, a hostile planet, lots of fighting, and Scotty (James Doohan) on the bridge. --Tom Keogh

"Journey to Babel"
Years before George Lucas knocked us out with his wildly imaginative bar scene in Star Wars (in which a broad mix of exotic creatures mill about), Star Trek did much the same thing in "Journey to Babel." Serving as a transport for a variety of extraterrestrial diplomats, the Enterprise becomes a warp-capacity hotel for truly eclectic visitors. (Director Joseph Pevney credits the makeup artist with this episode's impressive array of alien species.) The story finds murder committed aboard the ship and an attack on Captain Kirk (William Shatner), all in an effort to sabotage the imminent signing of a peace treaty. But against this mystery is an even more curious family drama featuring Spock's conflicts with his parents, the Vulcan ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard), who disapproves of his son, and his human wife, Amanda (Jane Wyatt). Story editor Dorothy Fontana wrote the script after deciding it was time to show us the oft-mentioned mother and father of the Enterprise's first officer (Leonard Nimoy). We can thank her for inventing all the fascinating details of a complicated family relationship that ultimately became crucial to a couple of feature films and even a memorable episode of The Next Generation. --Tom Keogh

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, Bill Blackburn
  • Writers: Gene Roddenberry
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: CBS Paramount International Television
  • DVD Release Date: April 24, 2001
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000059XU0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,562 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Star Trek - The Original Series, Vol. 22, Episodes 43 & 44: Bread And Circuses/ Journey To Babel" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

There really is not an obvious connection between the two second season episodes of Star Trek included on Volume 22 of this DVD series, but the cover photograph of Mark Lenard as Sarek tells you why you want this one in your collection. Following the wreckage of the SS Beagle, the Enterprise comes upon another one of those planets that is essentially Earth with a twist (remember Hodgkins' Law of Parallel Planet Development for future reference). In "Bread and Circuses" the twist is that the Roman Empire has never fallen. The Enterprise discovers some of the Beagle crew are still alive because they are being used as gladiators in the Roman's televised Circus. But the worst news is that Merrick, the Beagle's captain, has been helping Proconsul Cladius Marcus in violation of the Prime Directive. When the away team is captured, Marcus tries to get Kirk to help by making Spock and McCoy fight in the arena. But as Merrick tries to explain to Marcus, Kirk is a starship captain who will not give in to coercion. "Bread and Circuses" is an average Star Trek episode, although there is a nice scene between Spock and McCoy as they sit in their cell worrying about Kirk and Uhura's explanation of planet's religion of "sun" worshippers is a surprising twist for network television in the Sixties.
Certainly "Journey to Babel" has the best teaser in Star Trek history. The Enterprise crew is decked out in their formal dress to welcome the Vulcan Ambassador Sarek aboard. Kirk and McCoy are surprised when Sarek snubs Spock and go into complete shock when Spock tells that Ambassador Sarek and his wife are his parents.
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Over the course of 79 original Star Trek episodes, can anyone imagine the gravity of this series and its progeny without the importance lent by the episode "Journey to Babel?"
No other original series episode visually demonstrates the scope and inclusiveness of The United Federation of Planets as does this episode. Over the course of the series, the grand United Federation of Planets is represented mostly as a boatful of multicultural humans plus one Vulcan. Sure, the costumes and productions values are not up to modern-day snuff--the Tellerite masks were no doubt deplorable in their OWN time--but folks, THIS is THE original Cantina scene. In an admittedly shoddily re-set USS Enterprise conference room, we have, perhaps, THE original "casual" meeting of indiscriminate races and alien life-forms. Not only is does this scene represent the true substance of seven years worth of DS9 Promenade beauty-shots, this is one of the only episodes in the entire series that attempts to demonstrate that humans were working with other races to solve to varied woes of newly encountered species. Ironic that in one of the only other instance in which we saw an Andorian, he is crazed murderer looking to escape a Federation penal colony. (Andorians are, after all, one of the five founding races of the the Federation, along with Terrans, Vulcans, Tellerites, and the Alpha Centauri).
This episode is worthy of recommendation even were it not for the very compelling 'human' drama of a successful hero facing the life-threatening choice of saving the life of his own unsupportive father.
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I've got mixed feelings about this mixed bag. I'm a trekker with a tilt towards the original series (Classic Trek or, to others, "TOS"), yet even I can't ignore that incarnation's weak spots which abound in "Bread and Circuses", but are ably compensated for in "Babel".
In "Bread", the Enterprise searches for the crew of a missing starship. A clue turns up when finding that a nearby planet, supposedly stuck in the pre-industrial age, now shows appears to have advanced to something comparable to 20th Century Earth. The advances, however, are also paralleled by that world's embrace of Imperial Roman culture, especially its bloodlust. Unsurprisingly, the missing starship captain has much to do with elevating (and debasing) the planet's primitive state. Despite the gory depths to which cultural disruption has brought that world (every night is gladiator night, complete with canned cheers and catcalls, but very real gore) the rogue captain rationalizes his violation of the Prime Directive. This would have been a middling episode, but it's devolved itself, mostly because the idea seems to have been done to death in other TOS episodes: A planet patterned after one of Earth's less proud eras ("A Piece of the Action"); starship captains who violate the prime directive ("Omega Glory"; "Patterns of Force"; "A Private War") and little more to separate from that pack.
The high-point of this disc, far and away, is "Journey to Babel", in which the Enterprise hosts a menagerie of alien ambassadors to a high-level conference where they will hash out the admission of the beleagured world of Corridan. Here we meet Andorians, Tellarians and other Vulcans.
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