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'Tribbles' episode author remembers 'Star Trek' on 50th anniversary

William Shatner in the "Star Trek" episode "The Trouble With Tribbles," which was written by David Gerrold. [Photo provided by Paramount Pictures]

William Shatner in the "Star Trek" episode "The Trouble With Tribbles," which was written by David Gerrold. [Photo provided by Paramount Pictures]

Fifty years ago this week, "Star Trek" debuted on NBC. The science-fiction program ran for three years, but despite that relatively short run, the concept birthed a franchise that has continued in additional TV series, films, novels, video games, comic books and more.

This week, the "Star Trek 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection" was released on Blu-ray, featuring every feature film and television show made with the original crew, along with a new multipart documentary with nearly two hours of new footage. It also includes "Star Trek: The Animated Series," remastered on Blu-ray for the first time.

Author David Gerrold, who wrote the original series episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" and the Animated Series episodes "More Tribbles, More Troubles" and "Bem," spoke to The Oklahoman on the event of Thursday's 50th anniversary.

"I kept waiting for 'Star Trek' to fade away, and it kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger," Gerrold said. "I remain astonished and humbled and a little embarrassed. It's like being one of the Beatles without being mobbed. You look around and you see the impact of 'Star Trek' everywhere."

In Gerrold's episode, Tribbles are small furry creatures that replicate quickly, endangering the Enterprise.

Unexpected results

Gerrold said he watched the episode with friends, who were congratulating him after the viewing.

“It's only one episode of one TV show; in 20 years who's going to remember it?” Gerrold recalled saying to his friends. "It's kind of like the universe said, ‘Challenge accepted, David.' ”

Tribbles have since gone on to become a popular "Star Trek" icon, with various merchandised versions being made. They've appeared in other "Star Trek" series and in the most recent series of films, as well.

"My episode has become an incredibly popular part of one of the most iconic parts of American culture," Gerrold said. "I am humbled by it. I thought it was a good episode at the time. I thought I'd done a good job. But I had no idea it was going to turn into this big thing."

Gerrold appeared as a security guard in the “Deep Space Nine” episode that featured that crew traveling back in time to interact with the “Trouble With Tribbles” episode.

"It was one of the best- written, one of the cleverest scripts I'd ever read in my entire life," he said. "They recreated the look of the original 'Star Trek' so completely, it was like traveling back in time."

Changing times

In the 1980s, Gerrold, who is gay, wrote a "Star Trek: The Next Generation" script that would have included a gay couple in the ship's crew. The episode wasn't made at the time, which was very disappointing to Gerrold. I asked him for his thoughts about the appearance of gay characters in "Star Trek: Beyond" and the announcement of a gay character in the upcoming "Star Trek: Discovery."

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I think it's time — actually, I think it's overdue — but I'm looking forward to it because there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of fans who are LGBT or have LGBT members of their family, and they want to know that they'll be part of 'Star Trek' too. So I'm grateful for it, I'm looking forward to it, and I applaud the people who made that decision."

Gerrold is being honored in the current issue of "Fantasy & Science Fiction," with its first special author issue in a decade. The issue features two stories by Gerrold, "The Dunsmuir Horror" and "The Further Adventures of Mister Costello."

Upcoming for Gerrold is “A Method for Madness,” the fifth book in his Chtorran series. He also mentioned a potential graphic novel series based on his "Star Wolf" books.

"There have been conversations about a graphic novel, as well as another way to get it in front of the cameras," he said. "But that's not an immediate project."

Related Photos
<p>David Gerrold with Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on "Star Trek." [Photo provided]</p>

David Gerrold with Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on "Star Trek." [Photo provided]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-514b8bfa7b95e56aced905dfadaa2f59.jpg" alt="Photo - David Gerrold with Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on "Star Trek." [Photo provided] " title=" David Gerrold with Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on "Star Trek." [Photo provided] "><figcaption> David Gerrold with Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on "Star Trek." [Photo provided] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-e973c4d484b548b8d67f865c178a02ce.jpg" alt="Photo - David Gerrold. [Photo provided] " title=" David Gerrold. [Photo provided] "><figcaption> David Gerrold. [Photo provided] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-304be5ff2bfdd04e98a24c1a92ec4dd2.jpg" alt="Photo - Star Trek: 50th Anniversary TV & Movie Collection. [Photo provided] " title=" Star Trek: 50th Anniversary TV & Movie Collection. [Photo provided] "><figcaption> Star Trek: 50th Anniversary TV & Movie Collection. [Photo provided] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-250baf9d85a996349d430c419efbec25.jpg" alt="Photo - William Shatner in the "Star Trek" episode "The Trouble With Tribbles," which was written by David Gerrold. [Photo provided by Paramount Pictures] " title=" William Shatner in the "Star Trek" episode "The Trouble With Tribbles," which was written by David Gerrold. [Photo provided by Paramount Pictures] "><figcaption> William Shatner in the "Star Trek" episode "The Trouble With Tribbles," which was written by David Gerrold. [Photo provided by Paramount Pictures] </figcaption></figure>
Matthew Price

Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s... Read more ›

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