‘BREAD AND CIRCUSES’ (TOS)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
‘Bread and Circuses’ has been an enjoyable ‘Star Trek’ episode to watch from the series. It’s unusual since it has Kirk, Spock and Bones visiting a world that’s a 20th century version of the Roman Empire.
The Enterprise visits a planet where the crew of the SS Beagle were believed to be lost. One of Kirk’s friends Captain Merik was among this spaceship crew and they hope to find some trace of him there.
The Enterprise crew sees the planet as a 20th century version of the Roman Empire when watching tournaments of soldiers fighting via TV broadcasts. Kirk, Spock and Bones beam down to investigate.
I thought this concept of a Roman empire on an alien planet interesting. Again this is another misuse of the Prime Directive by Starfleet as it was seen before in ‘Patterns of Force’ and ‘The Omega Glory’.
Kirk, Spock and Bones meet some of the natives on the planet who are actually ex-slaves that escaped from the Roman games. They gradually welcome the trio into their cave and also help them.
It was interesting to hear from Ian Wolfe as Septimus and Rhodes Reason as Flavius about what’s been going on their planet. It transpires that Captain Merik has now become Merikus on the planet.
William Smithers guest stars as Merik/Merikus. He seems to be a man who had no choice in submitting to the ways of this alien Roman Empire. He rules and oversees the games on the planet.
Logan Ramsey guest stars as Proconsul Claudius Marcus. The Proconsul is a nasty piece of work. Through his charm, he threatens Kirk to beam his crew down and to be participants in these games.
Rhodes Reason as Flavius is an interesting character, as he was once a gladiator before he escaped and believed in the word of the Son. Flavius finds himself recaptured and forced to fight Bones here.
It was so tense when Spock and Bones are forced to fight in the tournaments against armed Roman gladiators including Flavius. Kirk has to watch his two friends fight and refuses to obey the Proconsul.
I liked that scene when Spock and Bones are in their prison cell. Bones tries to thank Spock for saving his life, but it doesn’t register across well. Spock and Bones do spar off each other a lot in this story.
There’s an unusual scene during the episode where Kirk gets attended to by Lois Jewell as Drusilla, who becomes his ‘slave’ for the evening. Kirk won’t have it at first, but Drusilla soon persuades him.
This is where the romantic aspects of Kirk’s character start to wane a bit during the series. As much as I like Kirk having love scenes with beautiful women, I think there’s an overdose of it by this point.
I like how Scotty manages to help Kirk, Spock and Bones out of their situation by turning the lights off on the planet. Kirk, Spock and Bones manage to escape as Merik helps them, but he’s killed sadly.
I liked how during this episode, Kirk, Spock and Bones ponder on what Septimus and Flavius when talking about worshipping the Son. The trio assume it is the sun in the sky, but they’ve got it wrong.
Uhura tells Kirk, Spock and Bones that it’s the Son of God, Jesus Christ that they worshipped. This was very reassuring for me since I’m a Christian and it was interesting to see it depicted in the story.
‘Bread and Circuses’ is an interesting excursion into a Roman Empire-styled world with 20th century aspects to it. It’s not one of my absolute favourites, but I enjoyed the tension-filled moments in this.
The DVD special features for this episode are as follows. On Disc 7 of the original DVD and Disc 8 of the re-mastered DVD of ‘Star Trek: The Original Series – Season 2’, there is a preview trailer for this episode.
‘Bread and Circuses’ (TOS) rating – 7/10
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