Uhura teases Spock in song (“Charlie X”)
Certainly, women and men can and do work together as professionals without thoughts of romance ever entering the picture. But I defy anyone to watch that smile play across Spock’s lips as the clip above begins and tell me he never had any romantic interest in Uhura—or to watch and listen to Uhura sing her first song and tell me the interest wasn’t mutual!
The flirtatious fancy these coworkers took with each other—an element sadly lost, along with most of the original series’ early ensemble feel, not too long into the first season—is on full display here. It’s especially obvious in those first few moments, which I never saw until I watched the show on DVD. Those seconds had always been cut from the syndicated reruns I was so familiar with.
One can’t help but get the impression Uhura’s “accidental singing” to interrupt Spock’s playing of the Vulcan lute is a popular rec room ritual. Who knows? If ensigns are still playing Enterprise bingo by Captain Kirk’s tenure, maybe it even occupies one of the squares!
Per the Memory Alpha wiki, the tune Nichelle Nichols sings in this scene is a variant on an actual Scottish folk song, “Charlie Is My Darling.” “Charlie X” is one of only three episodes in which Nichols got to sing during the original series. She sang “Beyond Antares,” a song she also sang outside of the show, in “The Conscience of the King” and “The Changeling.”
Arguably, Nichols’ rendition of “Beyond Antares” in “The Conscience of the King” showcases her beautiful voice better than this scene from “Charlie X” does. But Nichols is more clearly singing in character in “Charlie X.” The music emerges organically from the situation, as opposed to feeling forced (though welcome) by Riley’s request for a song in the other episode.
Whichever of Uhura’s songs you prefer, it’s too bad Star Trek didn’t find more ways to showcase Nichelle Nichols’ spectacular voice.