Mythical Monday: The Trouble With Tribbles
Humans have been creating and believing in mythological creatures for centuries. They've also been working on creating new myths as a part of popular culture. It was just 45 years ago last week that a new creature entered our collective consciousness and lodged there with a fondness rarely seen in mythology. It is the lowly, furry, purring tribble.
The original Star Trek television series was a landmark in changing the direction of the entertainment industry. Network executives panned the series as being "too cerebral" for the standard television audience. It turned out that America was smarter than the executives believed and the show took off in popularity. Although it only lasted for a brief three seasons, it changed human culture forever.
During the second season an episode aired that many fans of the show (Trekkies) consider to be their favorite. It blended drama and humor together by creating a new creature -- the tribble. The trouble with tribbles is that they breed profusely outside of their native environment where there are no predators to mitigate their proliferation. It was a tale warning of the dangers of invasive species at a time when few people were aware that such a thing was even possible.
The tribbles are the inadvertent heroes of the episode as it turns out that their love and attraction for humans turns to alarm every time they come near Klingons, the main adversary of the humans. In like kind, the Klingons find the creatures offensive and unpleasant. They help uncover the fact that the Klingons have been involved in poisoning grain headed to a planet on the brink of starvation.
Both space station K7 and the Starship Enterprise become completely overrun by the furry bundles. Scotty, the chief engineer of the Enterprise has them all collected and put in the transporter. He then transports the whole kit and caboodle onto the Klingon ship where "they'll be no tribble at all."
To order the second season of the original Star Trek television series, including "The Trouble With Tribbles," click here.
Laurie Kay Olson
Animal News Blogger