Friday, August 10, 2012

A Rare Allusion to Cymbeline in Star Trek

“Genesis.” By Brannon Braga. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Dwight Schultz, and Brent Spiner. Dir. Gates McFadden. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 7, episode 19. Syndicated television. 19 March 1994. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

I acknowledge that my previous two (at least) posts about Shakespeare in Star Trek may have been stretching it a bit, but we're back on solid ground here.

In this episode, the hypochondriac Barclay is worried that he may be suffering from a particularly Shakespearean illness: Cymbeline Blood Burn:


The skeptics among you may point out that the condition is spelled "Symbalene" in the captioning to the episode, and those same skeptics may point to the entry on Symbalene blood burn at Memory Alpha; however, those individuals may have overlooked two important points in their skepticism. First, the disease is likely named for this quote from Shakespeare's Cymbeline:
Thou basest thing, avoid! Hence, from my sight!
If after this command thou fraught the court
With thy unworthiness, thou diest: away!
Thou'rt poison to my blood. (I.i.125-28)
It's clear enough that a poison in the blood was enough to inspire the name of this condition, but the second point clinches it. Barclay had originally thought he was suffering from "Terellian Death Syndrome," which could be spelled "Tyrellian Death Syndrome" to indicate its connection to the character Tyrrel from Richard III. Tyrrel, as you know, is the one who dispatches the two princes in the Tower of London. If any Shakespeare character could be equated with a Death Syndrome, it's Tyrrel.

Links: The Episode at IMDB.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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