M is for — Montgomery Scott, Lieutenant Commander and Chief Engineer on the Starship Enterprise
I’ve always been a fan of the original Star Trek series that ran from 1966 to 1969. Captain James. T. Kirk and his intrepid crew aboard the USS Enterprise boldly went “where no man had gone before.” Even though the “big three” of Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy were the major players on the show, my favorite character was Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, played by James Doohan. I loved his Scottish brogue and his wry sense of humor. His technical wizardry kept the starship together and pulled the captain and crew’s bacon out of the fire many times. The dramatic exchanges between Kirk and Scotty over engine and transporter troubles were every bit as suspenseful as what was going on outside the ship.
In my favorite episode, The Doomsday Machine, Captain Kirk plans to use a crippled starship, the USS Constellation, as a bomb to destroy a cone-shaped machine that has been roaming through the galaxy, obliterating entire planets. Kirk pilots the Constellation toward the open maw of the machine and triggers the detonator, giving his crew aboard the Enterprise thirty seconds to beam him off the Constellation, back to his own ship. But an earlier attack by the machine damaged the Enterprise’s transporter, and it malfunctions. Scotty races the clock to fix the transporter to save Kirk before the Constellation explodes. No matter how many times I watch the episode, I’m still on the edge of my seat at the end.
Never seeking higher rank, Scotty is happy just being an engineer and taking care of the Enterprise. Two of his funniest moments come in my second-favorite episode, The Trouble with Tribbles. Some of the Enterprise crew, with Scotty in charge, and some crew members from an enemy Klingon ship are taking shore leave on the same space station, under an uneasy truce. Lieutenant Commander Scott has been given strict instructions to keep order and not let anyone in his charge pick a fight with the Klingons. In the hilarious scene that follows, Scotty, himself, starts a brawl, not when the Klingons insult his captain, but when they insult his beloved ship. The end of the episode is equally funny when Scotty finds the perfect solution to getting rid of the rapidly proliferating Tribbles — living, purring furballs that love humans but hate Klingons as much as the Klingons hate them. I can’t watch the show without smiling.
An interesting note about James Doohan — he lost a finger when he was seriously wounded in battle on D-Day, 1944. As a result, he hid his hand during the filming of the show and only on rare occasions was the maimed hand visible. One of those occasions was in the Tribbles episode.