No show is perfect. And most have at least a couple of episodes that most viewers would consider to be stinkers. But by “Star Trek”‘s standards, the final season failed to deliver on many occasions. Even showrunner Fred Freiberger admitted it. Looking back, he said that some of the episodes they made were wonderful but there were others he wasn’t proud of, as he said.
Most Trekkies agree that episodes, “And the Children Shall Lead,” “The Way to Eden,” and “Plato’s Stepchildren” were subpar. Most of the disappointments that came out of the third season are the result of budget constraints.
The Kiss That Was Dismissed
NBC complained about too many provocative scenes in the series. This was one of them. And it wasn’t only NBC, the BBC flatly refused to air this episode. But the actors on the show felt strongly about making this statement, as they saw it, in the midst of the civil rights and feminist movements.
It's amazing to think that something as simple as a kiss could cause such a stir at any point of TV history. But that was the case. Actors intentionally flubbed their lines for the scene that NBC wanted to use in its place. Therefore, with no other option, the kiss between Shatner and Nichols had to be used.
The Infamous Kiss
While “Plato’s Stepchildren” (1968) holds a spot on the list of bad episodes, it has one redeeming quality. This is the episode that is now celebrated for inclusivity. At first, showrunners wanted Spock to plant the interracial kiss upon Lt. Uhura. That’s when Shatner’s narcissistic side took over.
He would not allow anyone else to partake in something that would be considered groundbreaking in 1968. He believed that he should do the kiss scene because, as he put it, “If anyone’s going to be part of the first interracial kiss in television history, it’s going to be me.”
When the Actors Protested the Script
There was a lot of chaos during the time that the actors of "Star Trek" started to protest about the script. So much so that Freiberger called it a mutiny. With all the cutbacks, actors started complaining. Nimoy and Shatner led the protest. Freiberger said that when he arrived on set, Shatner and Nimoy refused to do the scene.
It was the episode, “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” and the two actors in charge of the U.S.S. Enterprise said the script was unacceptable. They threatened to walk off the set until it was rewritten. Now that is one way to get your point across. Shatner and Nimoy knew what they were doing.
Shatner's Roddenberry Problem
There was plenty of drama and disharmony between the cast and the showrunners pretty early on in the show's run. For example, Shatner complained about Roddenberry during the third season. He wrote in his book “Star Trek Memories,” that the show was “getting sloppy.” He complained that scripts were wanting and blamed it on Roddenberry for drifting away from the show.
He reserved most of his ire towards Roddenberry for cashing out on merchandising, or as he put it, saying he tried to “milk every possible cent” from “his dying cash cow known as Star Trek.” It is safe to say that Shatner wasn't pleased with Rodenberry's attitude toward his baby.