Star Trek: The Original Series

"Shore Leave"

3 stars

Air date: 12/29/1966
Written by Theodore Sturgeon
Directed by Robert Sparr

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Crew members beam down to a beautiful planet, where they slowly realize that their thoughts are magically manifested into reality. After a number of apparent misfortunes, the crew learns the world they're on is a magical alien amusement park, capable of making dreams come true.

"Shore Leave" isn't a wonderful story, but it does have an undeniable sense of fun. Kirk is beat up by his academy-days tormentor, and later gets to return the favor (it's fitting for the captain that his idea of fun is having the chance to "beat the tar out of Finnegan"); Sulu gets to fire off a few rounds with a six-shooter; and Bones gets to chase a white rabbit, then die, and then come back to life. This episode maintains enough balance between adventure, danger, comedy, and silliness that it manages to be a pleasant hour of rather non-cerebral fantasy.

Previous episode: Balance of Terror
Next episode: The Galileo Seven

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40 comments on this post

Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 2:06am (UTC -5)
I always wondered why we never see Finnegan again (do we?). He's a Star Fleet officer somewhere!
Sat, Jun 1, 2013, 9:18am (UTC -5)
@Strider. No we never see Finnegan again on the series. No mention is ever made of him again after this episode. I read in somewhere that the writers had planned on bring the real Finnegan into another episode, but for whatever reason it never happened. It would have made for a fun scene though.
Thu, Dec 26, 2013, 5:35am (UTC -5)
My only problem with this episode was that it took them so long to figure out that what they think will become reality.

Seriously, how could even Spock be so dense?
Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 8:52am (UTC -5)
Understood this was supposed to be a fun ep.
But it wasnt. 1 star to be generous.
Mon, Sep 8, 2014, 11:22pm (UTC -5)
I LOVED "Shore Leave" as a kid. Now, not so much. It's Trek and sci-fi for kids.

But episodes like "Shore Leave" got me hooked on the series. I didn't appreciate something like "City on the Edge of Forever" until later.
Sat, Nov 29, 2014, 7:10am (UTC -5)
So this is a 3/4 for you, eh? Meh, It's a 2/4 for me. A fun episode, but the crew are pretty dense for not getting the connection between their thoughts and what was appearing. It also seemed like as soon as Kirk encountered Ruth or Finnegan, he completely lost all sense. But I suppose that's the machinations of these menageries at work. And the big reveal at the end was okay, but not earth shattering or anything. It's a middling episode for me.

One thing I'll say - I rather envy that chick who caught McCoy's fancy. DeForest Kelley was pretty dang hot! (Nimoy and Shatner are pretty shaggable too, I'd say).
Tue, Mar 3, 2015, 8:58am (UTC -5)
I always wondered about the character of Yeoman Barrows (described above as "the chick who caught McCoy's fancy"). The episode really seemed to invest a lot in creating her character, giving her a personality beyond "miniskirt crewgirl No. 17", and yet we never see her again. And the actress who played her, Emily Banks ... she doesn't show up much in IMDB afterward. Realize this doesn't count for much in Trek's extremely loose canon, but author David George was struck enough by the Barrows character to invent a decades-long relationship, culminating in marriage that is still going strong at the start of TNG, for her and McCoy in "Provenance of Shadows."
Fri, Jul 10, 2015, 11:24am (UTC -5)
Ah, pity the poor brunette at the end. First Spock. Then Sulu.

Of course, she was a plant. So...
Sat, Jul 11, 2015, 11:25am (UTC -5)
The bit where Spock tricks Kirk into ordering himself on shore leave is one of the funniest moments in all of Star Trek period.
Some of Jammer's other reviews pointed out that the TOS cast had a natural chemistry that none of the other series' casts were ever able to duplicate; moments like this definitely support that argument.
Thu, Sep 10, 2015, 5:46am (UTC -5)
3 stars? Really? For what? There was no mystery, no science, no adventure. I was 11 when I first saw this and I had it figured out by the time McCoy saw the rabbit. I spent the rest of the hour wondering how these trained Starfleet officers -- these ADULTS -- could be so clueless.

Earth to Kirk: your old Academy nemesis pops up out of nowhere still 20 years old, then your old girlfriend later. and you still don't get it? Hint, hint: you were JUST thinking about them a moment before they appeared.

In "Mirror, Mirror" you had the entire theory of parallel universes figured out like freakin' Einstein in under a minute. 1 and half stars. I'm done.
The Man
Sun, Jul 3, 2016, 11:36am (UTC -5)
Thank God your done miichael. Anyway great episode.
Tue, Jul 26, 2016, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
I seem to recall hearing that the Yeoman who had eyes for McCoy was due to a hasty rewrite after Yeoman Rand got written out of the show. Originally, there was supposed to be some romantic interactions between Rand and Kirk, and presumably that got rewritten into a combination of this random Yeoman and McCoy as well as Kirk and Random Girl From Past #573.

I have to agree that the repetitive nature of the plot and the fact that the crew were completely clueless does kinda render the whole situation rather absurd. Just how many times does someone need to say "I'm reminded of X..." and then X appears for someone to get the hint? And isn't it convenient that practically everything that appeared after the White Rabbit was a threat to the crew? No one was thinking any sort of happy thoughts? Even in the beginning before everyone was worried about all the threats? Heck, even afterwards no one was thinking to themselves how much better it would be back home or with a book or anything else? Pretty convenient to keep the "action" side of things moving along.

For that matter, wasn't it just a week ago that Martine's fiancee died? Shouldn't she have thought about him? Yeah, I know, this is before continuity was important, but still... Actually, more egregiously, did anyone else notice that Martine died and she was never brought back, unlike McCoy? Or at least she disappeared... I guess they intended to show her getting shot by the plane, but it looked like she just ran into a tree and fell down instead. Maybe the fact that she doesn't show up again is just her being too embarrassed to show herself after being that stupid.

I guess the twist in the end that this is just a holodeck-like experience and that they get to enjoy their shore leave after all was kinda nice, and the mystery at the very beginning was ok, but the middle just dragged on way too long. Arsenal of Freedom had a similar idea in TNG, but because the danger was real there it ended up being a lot better. That's kinda sad, being beaten by a Season 1 TNG episode...
Mon, Sep 12, 2016, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
You seriously thought this episode was better than Balance of Terror, Jammer?
Mon, Jan 30, 2017, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
About the only good thing about this episode is the soundtrack. (I really enjoy the Star Trek TOS soundtracks). Anyhow, I don't understand how Jammer rates this 3/4 stars and "Balance of Terror" 2.5/4 -- off the mark on both counts.

The premise is kind of silly - that the crew gets themselves into all kinds of trouble because what they think of comes to life. It should become obvious to them quite quickly of what is going on, yet it doesn't, and therefore we have a weak episode.

The fight scene with Kirk/Finnegan drags on far too long as does this whole episode. The ending is weak with the creator of the amusement park world showing up and just explaining everything.

The episode looks even weaker when coming right after "Conscience..." and "Balance..." And why was the force field on the planet affecting the ship and preventing communications etc.?

For me, 1/4 stars, weakest of Season 1 so far, weaker than "Mudd's Women" for sure.
Fri, Feb 17, 2017, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
Skeptical - Martine does reappear at the end. She can be seen standing with the others very briefly.
Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Yeah.... this episode was pretty not-good, but at least it was kind of fun. Probably 2/4 for me (after 4/4 Balance of Terror and 3/4 Conscience). Better pacing than some of the early season episodes, but just a dumb premise that was pretty lamely executed. But it was nice to see the crew in an actual outdoor location.
Mon, May 29, 2017, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
Very surprising to see Theodore Sturgeon's name under the writing credit at the end. Often a guest writer may get a killer plot and totally fail to integrate it into the tone and formula of the show (I'm looking at you, William Gibson-penned-X-Files-Episodes) - here we get kind of the opposite.
Trek fan
Tue, Sep 26, 2017, 8:43pm (UTC -5)
I'm going through TOS boxed set one episode per night -- it's amazing how much continuity there is in the show when you watch the episodes in order. Right now I'm on "Shore Leave" and I just realized that Lt. Martine, whose fiancé died on their wedding day in the Romulan attack on the last episode "Balance of Terror," is in this one too where she gets a fake death. The yeoman part in "Shore Leave" is clearly written for Janice Rand, but Grace Lee Whitney had departed the show (her last episode was "Balance") due to her alcoholism, not to return until the movies. Plot of "Shore Leave" even refers to events of previous three months as reason the crew needs a rest. And Lt. Kevin Riley, the obnoxious Irishman in "Naked Time," appears again in "Conscience of the King." Even though the show is mostly episodic, it's good to watch the episodes in order to pick up the little continuing arcs like Sulu's botany hobby (referenced again at start here) and little crew romances. Fascinating.

Of course I started with the third episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" because it's actually the pilot and looks different (a different doctor than McCoy, etc.) than all the others -- it's so weird that NBC aired episodes out of order and showed "The Man Trap" first.

Anyway, this is the original Holodeck episode, a fun little romp that actually feels a bit welcome at this point in the series after several heavy and tragic stories. (And although there's no actual holodeck, let's remember that the Enterprise holodeck first appears with the original cast in The Animated Series, not TNG.) We see some great cast chemistry in this one (the Spock dialogue luring Kirk into shore leave is much funnier than the TNG homage in "Captain's Holiday" where Crusher uses almost the same dialogue with Picard) and it's nice to see location shooting. Altogether, "Shore Leave" is just an excuse to spend 50 minutes with people you like, and it's a pretty good romp -- Scotty doesn't appear and Uhura gets little screen time, but several main and semi-recurring characters develop nicely in this one, and Uhura plays a bigger role in The Animated Series sequel to this episode when they return to the planet. Even though there's not much depth to it, this one is highly enjoyable when it catches you in the right mood and doesn't descend into embarrassment like some later Holodeck episodes, so I give it 3 or 3 1/2 stars.
Sean Hagins
Tue, Aug 21, 2018, 1:56am (UTC -5)
I LOVED this episode as a kid, and still do now! Not every show has to have a message, some can be light, fluff. That's what escapist entertainment is all about! The one thing I hoped as a kid was that Alice would be on the Enterprise crew (I know that was a bit random, but that's what I wanted)
Wed, Sep 26, 2018, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
What bothered me about the whole thing is that all the actors had clearly read the script. I can understand they are all rather amused by the idea of a rabbit, but they maintain that amusement while Kirk gets attacked by Finnegan, Yeoman Barrows is assaulted by Don Juan, and Sulu is menaced by a samurai warrior. They seem to finally get a bit worried when they are being strafed by fighter jets and Dr. McCoy DIES, but sheesh. The very lighthearted tone was inappropriate to what was actually happening.

One other thing--when they first chose this planet for shore leave because it was so pristine and lovely, where were they planning to sleep? I didn't see any camping gear . . .
Sun, Nov 18, 2018, 7:11pm (UTC -5)
@ Grumpy Otter: I guess they would just have to imagine a Red Roof Inn?
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
Fun episode, but as mentioned by other posters, it takes a very long time for everyone to make the connection between their thoughts and the people and things they find.Also the kirk/finnegan fight goes on for far too long.
Wed, Mar 20, 2019, 10:05pm (UTC -5)
Requisite Flirty Sexy Lady makes an early appearance as a beautiful young yeoman gives the Captain a quicky back massage while he sits in the captain's chair.

Well, we're off to a strange start, as McCoy sees Alice in Wonderland characters on a planet he's scouting with Sulu.

Pretty silly so far, as the crew's random daydreams come to life.

Now the yeoman is flirting with McCoy who's flirting back. She looks young enough to be his daughter. But McCoy dies before this pairing can go any father. I mean farther.

Endless fight with Finnegan. Endless.

McCoy is back from the dead and no one notices or cares that "dead" crew member Angela is still missing.

Below average. Too much silly.
Sun, Jun 23, 2019, 2:37am (UTC -5)
Unnoticed yet:
This episode seems to be the first which introduced the closing pun among crew (Kirk and McCoy mostly) usually aiming at Spock, which became a feature in many episodes. So this is significant for the chemistry thing TOS is famous for, among other things.
Also enjoyable dry remarks of Spock to Kirk: the moment he tells Kirk he's supposed to go on shore leave, as has been honored already in comments here. And when he shows up after Kirk is done with beating up Finnegan, standing there at a distance and asking Kirk "Did you enjoy it?" Priceless.
Too bad they did not establish Yeoman Barrows as a new regular cast member. More sexy than Rand for sure.
Sun, Jun 23, 2019, 9:37am (UTC -5)
I have to comment on that because if we are talking about dumping characters and yes I'm totally drunk with okish reason then I think they should have replaced Scotty with a hot hunk. If I want to see a fifty year old guy with loooots of make up I move to Amsterdam.
Sun, Jun 23, 2019, 9:49am (UTC -5)

As I’m rewatching TOS I notice that they hardly ever keep a regular Yeoman around, even when the actress was exceptional. Number One’s absence from the show’s chemistry is really noticeable in 2019. (Thanks NBC!)
Sun, Jun 23, 2019, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
Well Booming, you may be pleased to know you think just like the network executives in charge did back in the 1960s! Too many old men! No young people would want to watch that!

Roddenberry didn't fire Scotty, but he did go and hire an actor who looked like one of the Monkees. This was their strategy to appeal to teenagers and give the girls someone to look at*. Of course, Roddenberry made the character Russian to advance his vision of a united Earth, but the character was primarily there to look pretty.

*I think the girls mostly still preferred Nimoy
Sun, Jun 23, 2019, 4:09pm (UTC -5)
Of course I know about "the Chek" but I grew up after the beatles so f*** him.
You know like the Rock... I can already see him telling it to the warp drive...
I need a tall guy with muscles not a dwarf with a fancy haircut.
Tue, Jun 25, 2019, 10:50pm (UTC -5)
Cetric, totally!
When I think of shore leave, I think of spending time with someone who has Barrows’ righteous curves.
Wed, Jun 26, 2019, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
This reminds of much of DS9's "If Wishes Were Horses" and unfortunately that's not a good thing. I do like how the mystery unfolds and we get various levels of curiosity, mystery, danger, goofiness, and fear.

Also good were the jokes between Spock and Kirk, especially the one that got Kirk to finally take some away time and go on the planet.

Unfortunately, the solution to the mystery is painfully obvious, and I found myself yelling at my iPad a few times when characters didn't make basic connections like "I was just talking about Alice in Wonderland then Alice showed up". Could there possibly be a connection, Doctor? Hmm...

Also, I'm not really keen on the ending. Okay, so the caretaker insists it was all in good fun and the Doctor wasn't really killed so there's no problem right? Wrong! The crew was stalked by tigers, lampooned by medieval weapons, and shot down by warplanes! Even if the caretakers can heal the physical wounds, it sounds like a traumatic experience to me. It makes me wonder if Kirk's idea to let everyone beam down and enjoy the planet was really well-conceived. I mean what if someone imagines something horrible and has nightmares the whole time? It's just not worth the risk, is it?
Mon, Jul 15, 2019, 1:14pm (UTC -5)
Just saw this today for the first time while home sick. Maybe 15 minutes of action and exposition spread over 45 minutes (plus commercials!). Watching paint dry would be more interesting.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Sat, Aug 3, 2019, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
"Most ... illogical"
oh hahahahaha
ha ha
Bobbington Mc Bob
Sat, Aug 3, 2019, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jul 18, 2020, 7:26am (UTC -5)
Not to mention, @Chrome, that Barrows was assaulted and almost raped. By no less than Don Juan, who should be the epitome of charm and good manners, while he is represented basically as a hulk with a sword.
I know that, back then, women were supposed to be taken by force - like Rand almost was by Bad Kirk in The Enemy Within - but Barrows' tears here do not configure a nice day of relax and recreation.
Sean J Hagins
Tue, Nov 10, 2020, 2:27am (UTC -5)
I just watched this episode again after a few years. It's still a funny, silly episode. As a kid (and still now), I like how Star Trek has some DARK and serious episodes, and some funny and silly ones like this! Yes, it does seem the crew was a bit thick for not figuring things out right away, but as a kid, I didn't either, so there! Hehe!

I still am amazed at watching shows I watched as a young child. The pretty women were totally unnoticed by me, but I liked kids around my age! I guess that is normal, but still, it is so jarring looking back on it.

Anyway, I think this one is neat, and it is a shame that the planet was never mentioned again. Oh well, I guess by the 24th century, the ships had holodecks so they could basically have the shore leave of this planet on their own ships anyway!
Tue, Nov 17, 2020, 2:18am (UTC -5)
As to the crew not realising what was happening, Maybe we were supposed to think that aliens were trying to kill the crew using their own memories/fantasies. That's why they had those ominous shots of an antenna spying on them and the twist that it's an amusement park makes sense.

I really liked this one and the location filming was very nice. Episodes like this make the show feel more epic than if they had filmed entirely on sound stages.


This is better than Balance of Terror definitely.
Thu, Nov 19, 2020, 9:31am (UTC -5)
A couple people seem to have some weird comments about Yeoman Barrows, who was wonderfully pleasant, and enjoyable to watch - not just because she was beautiful, but yes, she certainly was. For the record,

@Springy, DeForest (Bones) was 46, Yeoman Barrows (Emily Banks) was 33. Fairly reasonable age pairing.

@Spinoza, Barrows said she was thinking about how nice it would be meet a Don Juan, who of course is well known for a life of violence, gambling and seducing women:

TONIA BARROWS: I was thinking, all a girl needs is Don Juan. Just day dreaming, the way you would about someone you'd like to meet.

So she enjoyed rape fantasy @Spinoza, what’s wrong with that?

@Sean J Hagins, I agree - I have zero memory of Yeoman Barrows! This was a top episode for me when I was a little kid watching re-runs and marathons. I remember always enjoying Finnegan beating Kirk up! But no memory of Beautiful Barrows. The mind of children indeed.

Yes, @NCC-1701-Z, I literally laughed out loud when Spock tricked Kirk into going on shore leave. It’s the simple things.

I have no idea how @Jammer gave this three stars. I can only surmise that he has retained a child-like enjoyment that I seem to have misplaced. Makes me jealous.
Sun, Mar 14, 2021, 4:01am (UTC -5)
Although I enjoyed watching this silly episode, I thought it was a potentially good story done very poorly. And written by Theodore Sturgeon, one of the sci-fi greats? Surely not...

What especially grated was all the women being either nothing but eye candy playthings, or silly helpless creatures who screamed loudly and needed rescuing.

And who validated the initial scientific report? “No mammals, no birds, no insects...”. Uh? No insects yet an entire planet of lush vegetation? Yes, it made sense in the end, but no-one questioned it to start with.

Still, there was at least a great example of Shatner Speak:
Could you.
Be here?”

Sorry, just barely 2 stars.
Wed, May 26, 2021, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
Better than Balance of Terror? Wow. I struggle to find even one moment of entertainment in this episode. Just 50 painfully slow minutes of nothing. 1 star.
Wed, Jul 28, 2021, 10:19pm (UTC -5)
Bobbington McBob comments above are a hoot!. Made me laugh out loud.

Probably the worst episode ending in the entire series. 1 star.

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