7 things you never noticed in the historic Star Trek episode ''Plato's Stepchildren''

Taking a closer look at an iconic kiss, Nimoy's singing, and an actor who was very nearly Spock.

"Plato's Stepchildren" will forever be remembered for a kiss — the kiss. Captain Kirk smooched 19 different women in total on Star Trek, but none of them made history quite like his moment with Uhura near the end of this episode. Some may split hairs of the specific historical importance of this kiss — Sammy Davis, Jr. and Nancy Sinatra pecked each other on the cheek during a music special in 1967, actresses of Asian descent Pilar Seurat and France Nuyen kissed action heroes Robert Conrad and Robert Culp onscreen earlier in the Sixties — but the fact remains, this 1968 tale marked the first time a black character kissed a white character on American television.

Not only that, these are two iconic characters, household names. In the decades since, this has become the most important kiss of Sixties television.

For this reason alone, "Plato's Stepchildren" remains one of the highlights of Star Trek season three. But the episode has so much more to offer. Let's take a look.

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1. William Shatner claimed their lips never touched.


The book jacket to William Shatner's 1993 memoir Star Trek Memories promised, "The truth about Kirk and Uhura's first prime-time interracial kiss." What was that revelation? Shatner explained that the production used camera angles to conceal the space between the actors and make it look as if the two were kissing. The network insisted that a version of the scene be shot without the two kissing — but the actors conspired to make it unusable. Nichelle Nichols recalled in her memoir, 1994's Beyond Uhura, that Shatner hammed it up throughout the alternate take, going so far to cross his eyes à la Jerry Lewis. NBC had no choice but to use the kiss.

2. Leonard Nimoy wrote the song "Maiden Wine."


The episode has many joys to offer beyond the kiss — Kirk slapping himself silly and Spock singing a ballad among them. Sporting his sparkling green toga and laurel, Spock croons a tune called "Maiden Wine," accompanied by harp. It may seem like a centuries-old song from the Renaissance, but not so. It was a Nimoy original. The star included it as the second track on his 1969 album, The Touch Of Leonard Nimoy.

3. Gene Roddenberry considered Michael Dunn for the role of Spock.


Dunn played a key role in "Plato's Stepchildren" as Alexander, a Platonius native without the psychokinetic powers of his lords. Born in Oklahoma and raised in Detroit, the actor nearly had a much-larger role in the Star Trek universe. In The Star Trek Interview Book (1988), author Allan Asherman chatted with Star Trek legends, including series creator Gene Roddenberry, who revealed that he nearly cast Dunn as Spock. "I was also considering Michael Dunn, a dwarf," Roddenberry revealed in the book. "I wanted Spock to look different and be different, and yes, to make a statement about being an outsider looking in." Dunn remained on the mind of Star Trek creators. In the production notes for the episode "The Corbomite Maneuver," NBC Manager of Film Programming Stan Robertson suggested casting a "'Michael Dunn' type person" in the role of Balok. Clint Howard, younger brother of Ron, ended up with that part.

4. The BBC banned the episode until 1993.


British television officials deemed "Plato's Stepchildren" too "sadistic" for Her Majesty's airwaves. Remember, the plot revolves around Platonians using mind control to make the Enterprise crew slap themselves, writhe on the floor, dance, recite Shakespeare, kiss, etc. It was not the only episode barred for such content. An official BBC statement proclaimed, "After very careful consideration a top level decision was made not to screen the episodes entitled "Empath" [sic], "Whom The Gods Destroy" [sic], "Plato's Stepchildren" and "Miri", because they all dealt most unpleasantly with the already unpleasant subjects of madness, torture, sadism and disease." Thus, "Plato's Stepchildren" would not air on the BBC until December 22, 1993.

5. The Tricorder graphics have been enhanced.


The computer-enhanced images of the Enterprise and planets stand out as upgrades in the digitally remastered episodes seen today. However, there are subtler alterations that may escape your notice. Take Bones' Tricorder, for example. In the modern HD episode, we see a line graph on the display with distinct green, red and yellow lines. The original effect showed verticle meters with white triangles all pointing to the same level. The update better shows the differences between the blood of humans, Alexander and the antagonist, Parmen.

6. Chekov and Sulu are not in the episode.


Ever wonder about Sulu and Chekov's usage rates? George Takei was in 52 of 79 (66%) total Star Trek episodes as Sulu. Walter Koenig, who did not join the cast as Chekov until season two, was in 36 out of 50 (72%) episodes in seasons two and three.

7. The original title was "Sons of Socrates"


Writer Meyer Dolinsky titled his original submission "Sons of Socrates." Maybe that was too hard for the Bills & Teds of the world to pronounce? Remember, Socrates was the teacher of Plato in ancient Greece. It was Dolinsky's only script for Star Trek, though he also wrote some memorable episodes of The Outer Limits, including the unforgettable "The Architects of Fear."

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Spaceseed 51 months ago
Architects of Fear really spooked me as a kid. OL was so different it even outpaced Twilight Zone on the Weird-O-Meter.
dmarkwind 51 months ago
I liked Dunn as an actor - especially as the recurring villain Dr. Loveless on The Wild Wild West. Not sure he could have held his own dramatically on an ongoing basis against Shatner if he had been cast as Spock. Always felt that Kirk's line at the end of Plato's Stepchildren "Scotty, I have a little surprise for you," was embarrassingly patronizing and infantilizing of Dunn. Would there have been more of that if he was on the show all the time? If Dunn had been cast as Spock, would that have meant Vulcans were a race of dwarfs? Would we have been looking at Billy Barty as Sarek?
GeoRubik 51 months ago
Dr. Miguelito Loveless as Spock. I don't think it would work.
HopeDuchaine 51 months ago
William Shatner was such a hunk back then. This episode was controversial.
HopeDuchaine 51 months ago
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jimmyvici 51 months ago
Uhura was gorgeous. Lucky Shatner. The director probably would have to pry my lips off, lol.
jimmyvici 51 months ago
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fda 51 months ago
If you are going to have a quiz about James Arness in Gunsmoke, don't send me the Columbo when I click the link, Which I don't give a damn about.
fda 51 months ago
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bdettlingmetv 51 months ago
Interesting about the "enhanced graphics" of the tri-corder. My cousin's dad was John Dwyer, the set decorator of TOS for the second and third seasons. Growing up, my cousin had several original props (tricorder, a communicator, a couple of "hero" phasers, and a "stunt" phaser cast of soft rubber) that his dad brought home.

We were about 8 or 9 then and played with them every time I came to visit. The screen of the tricorder was a nicely made little TV screen, perfectly blank. I suppose that graphics may have been pasted on the screen as needed, or my cousin ended up with a "blank" by design.

I asked him about those props a few years ago and he told me he held on to them all through childhood and that when needed, they went a long way toward paying for his college education. :)

As many know, John went on to work on every Star Trek film up to "Nemesis" plus a ton of other films. Sadly, he died in September 2018, suffering from Alzheimer's.
GregYurkon 51 months ago
Re #1. Nobody ever mentions Danny Thomas kissing the black maid on the cheek on his show.
Catman GregYurkon 51 months ago
There was no sexual tension in that kiss; the Star Trek episode crossed a line that sorely needed crossing and the fact that it was coerced with neither party willing was kind of a copout. Still, it was the best of times; it was the worst of times.
GregYurkon 51 months ago
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DavidBartholomew KIMBB002 51 months ago
There is a fictional short story written by Nichols based on a backstage incident in Star Trek. I think it was in one of the Fan Fiction books called Strange New Worlds. In it, Uhura walks in on Kirk just coming out of the shower. Very funny scene!
Nestor GregYurkon 51 months ago
And that was in the 50’s!!!
How did that get by the sensors? How sad to think that something as simple as a kiss on the cheek would cause such turmoil, just because the people are of different color.
Catman 51 months ago
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Catman SeenEnough 51 months ago
Why is that? Explain.
GregYurkon Nestor 51 months ago
Danny Thomas' writers got a bunch of hate mail because of it.
(Of course, nowadays they'd accuse him of sexually harassing an employee.)
F5Twitster 51 months ago
Re "5. The Tricorder graphics have been enhanced.

The computer-enhanced images of the Enterprise and planets stand out as upgrades in the digitally remastered episodes seen today. However, there are subtler alterations that may escape your notice. Take Bones' Tricorder, for example. In the modern HD episode, we see a line graph on the display with distinct green, red and yellow lines. The original effect showed verticle meters with white triangles all pointing to the same level. The update better shows the differences between the blood of humans, Alexander and the antagonist, Parmen."

That's VERTICAL meters.

djw1120 F5Twitster 51 months ago
Let's not nitpick here.
Obviously, MeTV does not use "Spellcheck".
Sooner F5Twitster 51 months ago
You are correct on that spelling. One thing else, in my opinion, is that I like the old meters better than the supposed upgraded versions. The old animated meters seem more likely than static line graphs.
Josie92 51 months ago
My personal opinion here; I really don't like it when wonderful old shows and movies are digitally enhanced! It ruins the whole original effect! That line graph was in so many episodes, it was part of the fabric that made Star Trek so unique!
JD1701 Josie92 51 months ago
You have that backwards. The 3 sliding bars that were used in the original version were smaller readouts over the beds in sickbay. The graph lines replaced the 3 sliders readout. Personally, I think the sliders were better. I see a graph, and I think office presentation. The sliders were unique to McCoy's sickbay/Starfleet.
Josie92 JD1701 51 months ago
Oh my goodness thank you for correcting that! Yep, that is what I meant to say!
Greg 51 months ago
After watching Once Upon a Time in Hollywood commenters were talking about the 1960s as the good old days when life was simple. I pointed out the Vietnam war fight for civil rights and basic rights for so many groups far from simple.
Greg 51 months ago
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harlow1313 SeenEnough 51 months ago
Empty comments like this don't help anyone. Most times are a mixture of good and bad. Also, down with tribalism.
kevopilis 51 months ago
Grace Lee Whitney was my favorite female crew member, but it's a difficult choice with all those girls in short dresses and go-go boots.
WilliamLAllen kevopilis 51 months ago
I always wondered if her hairdo was a wig or her real hair- it seemed awfully ornate!
Delmo WilliamLAllen 51 months ago
It was a wig.
kevopilis 51 months ago
I find it hard to believe Captain Kirk only kissed 19 women, I first learned this in a separate quiz.
Does that count all the alien babes in lingerie?
F5Twitster kevopilis 51 months ago
Kissed only, not only kissed.
djw1120 F5Twitster 51 months ago
Again, who's nitpicking?
Wiseguy djw1120 51 months ago
Words and order of words have meanings. Being aware of what you write is not nitpicking, Or are you one of those people who say "I could care less" when you mean "I couldn't care less"? You do know the difference between their, there and they're? And your and you're? And to and too? Grammar is taught very early in one's life. Too bad there are too many who didn't learn the language they write and speak every day.
FrankCollins 51 months ago
Of all the beautiful sexy women on all the Star Treks, my favorite is still Nichelle Nichols. I wish they would have given her more scenes and more lines in the show.
FrankCollins 51 months ago
Michael Ansara, who played Kang the Klingon, played Leonard Nimoy's brother in a Virginian episode.
WilliamLAllen FrankCollins 51 months ago
Micheal Ansara was once married to Barbara Eden.
djw1120 WilliamLAllen 51 months ago
He was also in a "Lost In Space" episode playing an alien ruler and Kurt Russell's father.
Kurt challenged Will Robinson to a duel, until his father stepped in to challenge John.
Then they wound up fighting a monster together.
djw1120 FrankCollins 51 months ago
And then you have John Colicos who played Kor the Klingon in TOS "The Trouble With Tribbles", and again when Kirk and Spock were on the planet Organia, then again in DS9's season 5 episode "Trials and Tribbleations", then again when Dax, Worf and the "Dahar Master" Kor searched the Gamma Quadrant for Kahless's bat'leth, then he played everybody's favorite villain Baltar in "Battlestar Galactica".
He was flawless as Mr. Freeze many times too.
Joseph FrankCollins 51 months ago
He also played a Russian scientist, helping to disarm a runaway Soviet satellite, on tonight's episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Well done.
MarkSpeck RobCertSDSCascap 51 months ago
Who was flawless as Mr. Freeze? Neither of those men played that character on the live-action Batman series...or are you talking about the cartoon?
RobCertSDSCascap MarkSpeck 51 months ago
Michael Ansara, in several animated series was brilliant.
Also the animated movie Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero.
tr64tr4 51 months ago
Just sarcasm, please don't drink CLOROX!
tr64tr4 51 months ago
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F5Twitster tr64tr4 51 months ago
I'd like to teach the world to swig
In perfect harmony
I'd like to buy the world some bleach
And make it COVID-free
That's the real thing...
Doc tr64tr4 51 months ago
People who listen to that idiot are too stupid to know what sarcasm is. So is he. I hope they all drink Clorox. It will make the world a better place.
Doc 51 months ago
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tr64tr4 SeenEnough 51 months ago
If you are really sick, go see Dr. Trump. He is giving out sound "medical" advice. It is a shame that the "fake news" show exactly what he says and does and then compounds the problem by showing him saying the exact opposite of what he did the day before.
tr64tr4 51 months ago
Hey Vin. Relax and take a nice shot of Clorox. You'll be just fine.
stumarion1 51 months ago
Really Vin? Trying to make a Star Trek thread political? Shameful and misinformed, like the leader for whom Fauci and Birx work. Let me guess, you were "just kidding?"
stumarion1 51 months ago
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Vin 51 months ago
Fauci and Birx: The modern "architects of fear."
Mac2Nite Vin 51 months ago
Focus: let's keep this a personal-politics-free zone please!
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