Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Tribble Code.

Random Tribble parody we found on the Internet.

A while back, we examined Bill Shatner toupee-related pop-culture imagery (such as the above picture) spawned by the classic Star Trek episode "The Trouble With Tribbles".

This then led us to an obvious question: did the episode's writer David Gerrold in some way intend this toupological metaphor when he wrote the episode? We wrote to Gerrold, who told us:

"At the time 'The Trouble With Tribbles' was written, I didn't even know that Shatner wore a rug. While the fans have had a great time speculating about subtext in the decades since then, there was no deliberate intention to mock him in any way when the show was in production."

Gerrold was apparently an innocent bystander; perhaps the metaphor was accentuated by (re)writer/producer Gene Coon or the designers or it's all just a huge coincidence or it's all just in our heads! But there is yet another chapter in this saga! We've found a photograph (below) of Bill Shatner and David Gerrold together from the Tribble writer's book on the making of this episode. Once again, as with the famous scene in the episode pictured at the top of this page (in which Captain Kirk is buried in Tribbles), there is considerable room for seeing things that may or may not be there!

David Gerrold with William Shatner

More unintended irony? As part of our analysis, we asked our "Department of Toupological Symbolism, Artistic Criticism and Metaphorical Subtextual Interpretation" for their take on the image. The Da Vinci Code? More like the Shatner Code!:

In terms of layers of meaning and room for interpretation both overt and covert, this may well be one of the richest images since the era of Renaissance art. Where to begin? Is Bill Shatner placing the Tribble on David Gerrold's head or is he taking it off? Is this because he is saying "I get the joke and I appreciate it. Welcome to the club!". Or is he saying "This is mine! Give it back!"

Or is the interplay not overt at all? Would anyone else have held the Tribble in their arms for such a photo, because of the creature's resemblance to a domestic pet? Was Bill Shatner locating the Tribble on Gerrold's head a subconscious (or a conscious) action, indicative of his own association of the Tribble with a toupee?

And is Bill Shatner somehow saying: "You don't need this yet, I'm taking it as I always welcome a toupee!"

And what of Gerrold? He is looking up. Is he looking at his own still thick hair, noting that the Tribble is redundant and unnecessary? Or is he looking beyond to the heavens, smiling at the gods for giving him a story that offered crucial parallels to important subject Shatner's toupee.

The juxtaposition of the watch in the image, symbolizing the passage of time and the loss of hair is also crucial. It is placed in-between Bill Shatner, David Gerrold and the Tribble as if to suggest that only time separates these three items. Bill Shatner, meanwhile, is looking straight at us. He too is smiling. He may be sensitive about overt toup discussions, but is he actually enjoying the symbolism? Is the joke on us?

The full 273 volume detailed study of this image will be published shortly by the WSSTS.

One other potential point of interest - assuming the picture is from 1967, which it may not be - Bill Shatner apparently isn't wearing his "Jim Kirk lace" in the picture, but rather appears to be wearing his personal "ratty" toup from this time. Though if the image is from the early 1970s, then it's a typical "Lost Years" toup.

Famous statue outside the archives of the William Shatner School of Toupological Studies.

On a completely different note, our researchers recently discovered something rather unusual. We'd always assumed that Bill Shatner's performances in the late 1950s play The World of Suzie Wong went unrecorded. Not so. Turns out he and France Nuyen actually appeared together on The Ed Sullivan Show in November 1958 and performed several scenes from the play. We'd love to track this (likely very hard to find) footage down! Any tips, we're always grateful...

BREAKING: Walter Koenig is to appear on Shatner's Raw Nerve, according to Bill Shatner's Twitter page. Will he talk toup? If he does, how will Bill Shatner react? Must see TV, we think!


  1. With a trouser like that, why bother with the toupee?

  2. France Nguyen is the most beautiful woman who has ever lived. Just so you know.

  3. Throw out the nonsense with the watch, tribble on the head. The real find here is the a toup that could be from the 66-69 era that is not the JKL. Judging from the pants, I'm guessing this is circa 68. Oh yeah, I second the France comment.

  4. Think it more likely the Shat + Gerrold pic is from the early 1970's

  5. I find the first pic cruel.Not the style this site has accustomed us.
    The "Department of Toupological Symbolism, Artistic Criticism and Metaphorical Subtextual Interpretation"analysis is amazing.Toups off to these amazing scientists.

  6. Thanks for your comment Shat-attack. The image at the top of the page is just one of many amateur Tribble parodies out there on the Internet. Just type "Toupee Tribble" into your image browser and you'll find many more! -ST

  7. Cheap toupee - check
    Horrendous trouser - check
    How about the paunch?

  8. The Museum of Broadcast Television has all the Ed Sullivan shows in its archive I believe.

  9. Another great post!

    The face of the person depicted on the statue outside the WSSoTS looks suspiciously like Stacy Keach!

    If you haven't seen it already, go to YouTube and look for "The $25,000 Pyramid" pitch film, featuring host Bill Cullen! Shatner's hair in this clip must be seen to be believed!