3 TOS Star Trek musical episodes we wish we could see and hear

Christina Chong as La’an in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Best Possible Screengrab/Paramount+
Christina Chong as La’an in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Best Possible Screengrab/Paramount+ /

Several classic adventures would make memorable Star Trek musical episodes.

Three weeks after it debuted, “Subspace Rhapsody”—the musical episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2—continues to leave large swaths of fandom singing its praises. Sure, not everyone thought Star Trek could pull off song-and-dance showstoppers, but I think “Subspace Rhapsody” proves (to paraphrase Captain Picard at the end of “All Good Things”) the franchise should have done a Star Trek musical episode years ago.

Many Star Trek fans have noted that Ronald D. Moore wanted to do a musical episode of Star Trek as far back as the days of Deep Space Nine. (Arguably, DS9 ended up getting one anyway with the sixth-season episode “His Way.”) But I submit Star Trek had first-rate material for a musical even farther back, during the first run of the original series.

The original series’ creative team knew it, too. How could they not, with the gloriously talented and trailblazing Nichelle Nichols in the cast? As the original Uhura, Nichols sang in the first-season episodes “Charlie X” and “The Conscience of the King,” and briefly sings in the second-season episode “The Changeling.” (And, yes, Uhura canonically sings in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, although the voice we hear isn’t Nichelle Nichols.)

Nor was Uhura the only original series character to sing. Kevin Riley sings “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen”—several times—in “The Naked Time” (even inspiring another crewman to sing a version of it to Janice Rand). Spock and Kirk are telepathically forced to sing and dance in “Plato’s Stepchildren.” And “The Way to Eden” is another strong contender for the title of Star Trek’s first musical episode, thanks to the groovy jam sessions of Dr. Sevrin’s “space hippies.”

But some episodes that don’t feature any singing would have made fine musical theater productions. Here are my votes for the top three original Star Trek episodes that could have been musicals—and, if we’re lucky, one day may yet be!

“The Trouble With Tribbles” as a Star Trek musical episode?

Fans already adore David Gerrold’s first and most famous Star Trek tale. Why not lean into the franchise’s funniest hour by making it a true musical comedy?

I’m imagining a farce along the lines of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, complete with a patter quintet about quadrotriticale for Kirk, Spock, Nilz Baris, Arne Darvin, and Mr. Lurry, as well as a rousing number for the male chorus as the row breaks out in Space Station K-7’s bar.

We’d also need a sinister soliloquy for Darvin as he reveals his secret Klingon status and schemes to the audience before he is exposed. And I think Cyrano Jones deserves a rollicking tune introducing himself, don’t you? Something along the lines of Nanki-Poo’s song from The Mikado, only these lyrics might run: “A wand’ring trader, I / Dealer in gems and tribbles, / And though you have your quibbles, / They don’t even have any teeth!”

“Amok Time” as a Star Trek musical episode?

Especially now that Strange New Worlds has given us a longer look at Spock and T’Pring’s ill-fated relationship, wouldn’t the story of how their tempestuous relationship reached its final end make a gripping musical?

And doesn’t the iconic score by composer Gerald Fried scream for lyrics? His “Vulcan fight music” would be a challenge for any Broadway lyricist, with its short, sharp, staccato style, but someone with real talent could set words to it that tell the tale. “T’Pring! T’Pring! / Hear her ring the gong, / The challenge is now on! / She has chosen Kirk, / But the truth is, she wants Stonn! / T’Pring! T’Pring!”

Well. As I said, it would take someone with true talent.

“The City on the Edge of Forever” as a Star Trek musical episode?

How could the episode routinely ranked as the original series’ best not be worthy of a musical treatment? It’s got high stakes and deep emotions. Who wouldn’t want to hear Edith Keeler and Captain Kirk sing a passionate love duet? Or hear Kirk sing a soliloquy about how he’s torn between his love for Edith and his need to save the future?

The Guardian of Forever could even sing the episode’s exposition: “A question! / Since before your sun burned hot, I’ve sought a question! / Here’s a suggestion: / Travel back and fix the temporal congestion!”

I won’t be waiting around for a call from Paramount to work on musical revisions of these classic Star Trek episodes. But in the hands of talented lyricists and composers, who knows? Musical revamps might be just the way to introduce even wider audiences to these Star Trek adventures!

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