It’s one thing for television producers to torture their fictional characters, but it’s quite another when they torture their hapless viewers. Unfortunately, that’s the result of this pointless, turgid, plodding episode. “Plato’s Stepchildren” is among the “bitter dregs” of the third season, if not the entire series. Here’s the plot: The intrepid Enterprise crew responds to a distress call from a small society of aliens with psycho-kinetic powers who torture Kirk and Spock to force McCoy to make a permanent house call. The crew discovers the chemical source of the aliens’ power, juices themselves up with a super high dose, and beats them at their own game. The end.
Articles by Kevin Ganster
“Exactly in some ways, different in others.” So describes the similarities to Earth of planet 892-IV (also known as Maga Roma). The Enterprise has found a 20th Century Roman Empire and Hodkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development strikes again. “Bread and Circuses” has it all: a high concept plot, richly drawn characters, humor, suspense, action, a blonde bombshell with a name ending in the requisite letter “a,” and great acting. It is also notable for plumbing the depths of the Spock-McCoy relationship and dealing directly with religion, which makes it unique among TOS episodes. Now it is new and improved and remastered…with double the moon goodness. The episode also has enough plot holes to swallow a dozen starships, but more on that later.