Sunday 15 March 2020

satire x

First airing on this day in 1968, the penultimate episode of the second season of Star Trek: The Original Series “Bread and Circuses” takes its title from an eponymous satirical poem written by Juvenal that addresses how constituencies are easy led astray from weightier issues if their base needs are satisfied takes place on an alternate Earth (Magna Roma, 892-IV) where the Roman Empire never fell and in a twentieth century setting.

The landing party visit the planet after finding wreckage of a survey vessel without a trace of its crew and compliment, eventually realising that the former captain, now elevated to Princeps Civitatis (emperor and first citizen), went native and sacrificed his company to the gladiatorial games from a conviction that the civilization be shielded from cultural contamination (the Prime Directive), having not yet arrived at the technological threshold of interstellar travel, and tries to convince Kirk and Spock and the rest of the away team to do the same and abandon their Star Fleet careers. Resistant, Kirk and Spock are thrown into the melee and disappointing the audience by dispatching their opponent swiftly and non-bloodily with a Vulcan nerve pinch and then scheduled for execution—to be televised. Deus ex machina, Scotty causes a power disruption and beams them aboard just in time, the blackout preserving the Romans from potential future shock.