Writer David Gerrold shared his thoughts with the Official Star Trek Magazine on why he wrote The Trouble With Tribbles.
The Trouble With Tribbles was meant as a way to show that a starship captain might have to deal with petty annoyances as well as things that might threaten a whole planet, system or galaxy. “My original intention for The Trouble With Tribbles was to demonstrate that not every problem a starship captain might have to deal with would be a big problem, threatening the safety of the galaxy,” said Gerrold. “Once in a while, the little problems could be just as annoying.”
Gerrold didn’t initially envision the episode as a broad comedy. “At the beginning, I had no idea that The Trouble With Tribbles was a laugh-out-loud comedy,” he said. “I thought we were doing quiet whimsy, but moment by moment the comedic opportunities started piling up.”
William Shatner proved to be a pleasant surprise when it came a certain well-known scene from The Trouble With Tribbles. “Prior to this episode, we’d seen only hints that William Shatner could be a great comic actor,” said Gerrold. “The giveaway moment was the storage compartment scene. I had written in the outline and the script that the tribbles fall on Kirk’s head. I had always assumed that at some point, Shatner would say, ‘This makes my character look too silly,’ and I was prepared to have him step aside just before the tribbles fell. But William Shatner has always been the consummate professional and I believe he was eager to show off his comic abilities as well. The moment when he is up to his neck in tribbles, when he gives Dr. McCoy a very annoyed look, that’s equal to any expression that Oliver Hardy ever gave to Stan Laurel at his most exasperated.”
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Source: Star Trek Magazine