Viewers of public state television in Germany have just seen a brand-new episode of Star Trek – the original show with Captain Kirk and Mr Spock – after a 43-year ban was lifted.
“Patterns of Force”, made in 1968, saw the crew of the original USS Enterprise visiting the planet Ekos (in the M34 Alpha System, if you’re plotting this out on your star chart) where the entire culture was Nazi. It was from Star Trek’s subtle period: Captain Kirk sorted out the world and showed the whole civilisation where it was going wrong just by having a fist fight with some fella and kissing some woman filmed in soft-focus.
The episode featured swastikas and SS uniforms as the series’ leads, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley (as Dr McCoy) dressed up to infiltrate a group rather than just beam them to the Enterprise like the UN would do.
This, plus a discussion of Nazi culture, meant that Germany’s ZDF public channel and pay TV Sat 1 did not show the episode. Pay TV waited until the mid-1990s before airing it but this month saw its first public transmission on the ZDFneo channel.
This episode is not the only Trek to have been banned: the BBC dropped “The High Ground”, a 1990 edition of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was about terrorism and was considerably subtler than the original 1960s Trek would have been, but it did feature a claim that Ireland was reunited in 2024 after a successful terrorism campaign. The BBC didn’t show it until 2007.