“The Pirates of Orion” is the second season premiere episode of the American animated science fiction television series Star Trek: The Animated Series, the 17th episode overall.
It first aired on NBC on 07 September 1974. It was directed by Bill Reed, and written by Howard Weinstein. The episode was Weinstein’s first professional sale at the age of 19, making him, as of 2018, the youngest writer of any Star Trek TV episode.
Set in the 23rd century, the series follows the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (voiced by William Shatner) and the crew of the Starfleet starship Enterprise. In this episode, Kirk and the Enterprise must contend with pirates who have stolen a load of cargo that includes medicine crucial to save a dying Spock (voiced by Leonard Nimoy).
The story was developed from Weinstein out of a Star Trek-based short story he had previously published in a school science fiction publication. After it failed to be read on the first submission, it was resubmitted and purchased by the production team. The episode featured the first appearance of male members of the Orion species in the Star Trek franchise; male Orions would not appear in a live action episode until 2004. Critical reception to the episode was mixed, and it has been released in several forms of home media, including VHS, LaserDisc and DVD.
On stardate 6334.1, the Federation starship Enterprise is on its way to planet Deneb V when the Vulcan First Officer, Spock (voiced by Leonard Nimoy), contracts the disease choriocytosis and is diagnosed by Chief Medical Officer Leonard McCoy (voiced by DeForest Kelley) with having only days to live. The Starfleet freighter SS Huron is to rendezvous with the Enterprise and deliver medicine direly needed for the cure, when it is attacked by Orion pirates who steal its cargo, which turns out to be primarily a sizeable load of dilithium crystals.
The Enterprise follows back on the rendezvous course and finds the battered Huron and its surviving crew. Analysis of the attack leads Captain Kirk (voiced by William Shatner) and his crew to chase the Orion ship in a desperate attempt to recover the cure before time runs out. The Orions, knowing they cannot escape the Enterprise or best them in a fight, plan to destroy both themselves and the Enterprise in order to protect the lie of “Orion neutrality”. Kirk meets with the Orion Captain (voiced by James Doohan) on a highly unstable asteroid which the Orions plan to detonate to carry out their plot. Kirk and the Enterprise crew realise the Orion Captain is carrying an explosive trigger in his pack and are able to neutralise it. They recover the medicine to save Spock, capture the Orion Captain (who orders his crew to abort the self-destruct, which would now be a pointless loss of life, and surrender) and retrieve the dilithium crystals.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Bill Reed.
- Writer(s): Howard Weinstein.
- Release Date: 07 September 1974.
- Running Time: 30 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.