Being made available to television viewers on Thursday, 3 Nov. 1966, the ninth episode of the Gene Roddenberry created “Star Trek” series titled “Dagger of the Mind” was televised for the first time in the United States.
With a teleplay penned by Shimon Wincelberg under the name S. Bar-David, the story featured in this episode sees Captain James T. Kirk, played by William Shatner, and the Enterprise crew making a supply run to the planet Tantalus V.
Dr. Simon Van Gelder, played by Morgan Woodward, is beamed to the Enterprise for psychological evaluation. When Gelder manages to escape the ship, Dr. McCoy, played by DeForest Kelley, begins to suspect not everything occurring on the colony is what it first appears.
When on the planet, the Enterprise captain and psychiatrist Dr. Helen Noel, played by Marianna Hill, become trapped inside a maximum security penal colony. The colony has a reputation for employing psychiatrist that experiment with mind control. Mr. Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, must use the Vulcan mind-meld technique to save Kirk and Noel.
Prior to appearing in this “Star Trek” episode and for a long time after, Woodward was known for appearing in western-set productions inclusive of “Wagon Train,” “Daniel Boone,” “The High Chaparral” and “Bonanza.”
Desperate to extend his acting repertoire past the western genre, Woodward looked up on his casting as Gelder as an opportunity to escape being typecast. In articles published by both “Starlog” and “Entertainment Weekly,” the actor is referenced to have referred to his portrayal of Gelder as being “the most physically and emotionally exhausting acting job of his career.”
With such a well-crafted performance as Gelder in “Dagger of the Mind,” Woodward impressed “Star Trek” series creator so much that the actor was asked back to play Captain Tracey in the season two episode “The Omega Glory.”
Even though Woodward continued to play characters in western-set productions long after his “Star Trek” appearances, playing Gelder opened new doors the actor explored extensively.
While IMDb has “Dagger of the Mind” listed as the ninth episode of Roddenberry’s original “Star Trek” series, from a production perspective, it should be noted the Vincent McEveety directed episode was filmed eleventh on the production schedule.
In respect to the title of this article, “Star Trek: S1.E10. ‘Dagger of the Mind’,” it acknowledges the existence of the then untelevised Robert Butler directed series pilot “The Cage” as being the series’ first episode.