On paper, Star Trek has always been about exploring a fantastic universe teeming with exotic life. But in reality, the exotic aliens have to be played by actors, usually with something glued to their forehead.
Part of the central charm of the franchise is how they always try to get around these limitations with clever, imaginative writing. But on occasion, they'd just slap something together and call it a day. That's how we wound up with...
6The Catullans a.k.a. Space Hippies
Star Trek, Episode 76: "This Way to Eden."
When we call the Catullans Space Hippies, we're not joking. That's what they are. They're also responsible for what is probably the lowest point in Star Trek history, as you'll see shortly.
In the episode, the Enterprise is tracking a stolen spaceship, which they manage to catch up to when the irresponsible layabouts piloting it let the engines overheat. The ship stealing aliens are beamed aboard, and upon arrival they immediately start busting out trippy tunes on their space guitars and rebelling against the Man, rudely chanting "Herbert" at Kirk whenever he tries to talk sense into their thick hippie skulls.
Come on guys, be cool, if you just got to know Kirk you'd realize the only reason he keeps hanging around is because he's hoping for an orgy to break out.
It seems the Catullans are on a quest to find a planet named Eden, and after seducing the crew with rock music and their brazen navel-exposing women, they take over the ship. The Catullans find Eden and beam themselves down, but when Kirk and the crew follow only minutes later they find the Catullans have, predictably, all accidentally killed or injured themselves eating poison fruit or walking on acidic plants in their bare feet.
Silly space hippies, if only you'd listened to authority!
Oh and by the way, the main hippie who dies from eating poison fruit was named Adam. Get it? Adam? Eden? Consider your mind blown man.
Video Evidence of Catullan Lameness
Which brings us to the video clip, the aforementioned low point for Star Trek as a franchise. Charles Napier in rainbow colored hotpants jamming with Commander Spock? The seamy seduction of Ensign Chekov? Gene Roddenberry was clearly willing to go to any lengths to deliver his important anti-hippie message:
5The Iotians a.k.a. Space Mobsters
Star Trek, Episode 49: "A Piece of the Action."
Looking to score yourself some bootleg Romulan ale, a few green hookers and the best damn cannoli in the quadrant? Well head on over to Sigma Iotia II, home of low-down dirty space mobsters, the Iotians.
Never before has a man looked so smug wearing a straw hat and purple bow tie.
Now you're probably wondering, why the hell is there a planet populated entirely by cartoonish Italian mobster stereotypes? Don't worry, there's a perfectly logical answer.
See, 100 years before Kirk and crew stumbled upon them, a previous Federation ship had visited the planet and somebody left behind that classic piece of 22nd century literature "Chicago Mobs of the 1920s." Upon finding and somehow decoding the book, the Iotians, in a perfectly reasonable move, decided to completely model every aspect of their entire society after it. Holy shit, it's a good thing nobody left them a copy of Lolita.
By the way, this was hardly the only time Trek producers had the crew dress up in stock costumes and romp around some Hollywood backlot. How do you top space mobsters as villains though? Well...
We think that episode ended with Kirk punching Hitler.
Video Evidence of Iotian Lameness
Kirk goes undercover among the lotians, in a scene that somehow encompasses every single thing there is to love about William Shatner. Observe Shatner hamming it up as Captain Kirk hamming it up as an alien hamming it up as an Italian gangster.
So laugh all you want about the idea of a planet basing their whole culture around gangster stereotypes. We plan on basing our whole culture on William goddamned Shatner.