Charlie X - episode #8

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Charlie X - episode #8

Post  BoG on Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:37 pm


CHARLIE X (1st season; episode #8) Air Date: 09/15/66
Directed by Lawrence Dobkin / writers: D.C. Fontana, Gene Roddenberry

The first episode to feature a human being acquiring extraordinary powers was the pilot, Where No Man Has Gone Before, though, through the vagaries of network scheduling, Charlie X aired first in the sixties, as the 2nd episode, followed by the pilot. So, technically, despite how early it aired, Charlie X is not the first such Trek story, being the 8th to be filmed.  The angle with this episode is that the human being in question is a teenager, 17-year-old Charles Evans (well played by actor Robert Walker, Jr., in his mid-twenties at the time). It's bad enough when adults get delusions of godhood; when it's a teen, all bets are off.



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Kirk brings on a sector worth of trouble on board his ship when he accepts a transfer of a young guest from a smaller ship (the Antares, not seen in the classic original episode, but visualized in the remastered version). The Charlie character spent all his years up to this point on some planet without other human beings. His introduction to the fairer sex (Yeoman Rand - probably Grace Lee Whitney's best episode) is painful in itself; his growing pains are accentuated by his complete ignorance of common social customs. Charlie swiftly develops an intense crush on Janice Rand, who is a bit older and, of course, not interested in that kind of a relationship with him. Rand attempts to right things by introducing Charlie to a younger female crew member and this quick fix fails miserably; teens can be troublesome, don't we all know?
All this is uncomfortable to watch because Walker imparts an uneasy, twitchy psychosis to his character. Then, in the second half of the episode, he reveals his unlimited powers - he literally seems able to do anything, whether making people disappear or transforming them into lizards. The story now begins to take on a more horrific tone; in his frustration, Charlie is not beyond torturing crew members, terrorizing the entire ship. And, what else can we expect? Power such as this, as we've seen in other episodes & films, can corrupt most adults; how can we expect a teen to handle it any better? If anything, this scenario is even worse.
All this is alienation taken to the nth degree. In a way, Charlie is in a no-win situation - no matter how he behaved, there would always be someone who was uncomfortable around him, knowing what he was capable of, probably many such people.  The episode makes a strong case for the issue of parental control - even more on the topic of maturing without parents (think of the famous story of Superman/Clark Kent, for example, and if he'd grown up without the influence of the Kents; the positive version of this has been on display for the past few years on the series "Smallville"). In this particular episode, the parental duties fall on Kirk, but it's too little too late - far too late. One drawback to this episode: an extended scene of Uhura singing about Spock and then Charlie - the one point that Charlie's surreptitious use of his powers seemed warranted.
As with most of the Trek episodes in the original series, the strongly structured scripts included excellent endings, as is the case here. There are no pat unrealistic conclusions, i.e. a happy ending, where-in Charlie is somehow able to remain with the human race (due to the miraculous removal of his powers, for example). No, even in this sector of space, you reap what you sow and things are not solved for you. There's a genuinely tragic tone to the ending - Charlie's main weakness, after all, was just a great need, an overwhelming need, for other people to like him. That need will never be fulfilled at the end. As with the previously aired The Man Trap, total incompatibility between two sets of entities shows that some things are beyond our ability to set right, even with future technology. Alas, poor Charlie, we knew him well. BoG's Score: 7 out of 10

Extra Trek Trivia: the original title was "Charlie's Law" - the same as was used for the short story adaptation by James Blish; as with a few other memorable characters and / or villains on TOS, Charlie was brought back in other media, namely in one of the Star Trek comic book storylines published decades later, as an older, meaner version of himself. Further, his character also returned, older & vengeful, in the recent independent Trek film, Star Trek - Of Gods and Men (2007).

Great quote,from a Thasian: "We gave him the power so he could live. He WILL use it - always - and he would destroy you and your kind, or you would be forced to destroy him."  
remastered trailer:


Last edited by BoG on Sat May 02, 2015 10:12 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Charlie X full episode

Post  BoG on Sun Mar 28, 2010 6:42 pm

CLASSIC TREK QUOTES:
galley chef: "Sir, I put meatloaf in the ovens, there's turkeys in there now. Real turkeys."  (voiced by Gene Roddenberry)



Supply the Caption... here's mine: "Too much make-up..!"
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