Star Trek seems to have gotten one right. For those not familiar with the TV franchise, there’s a plot device they used in called Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development. There’s some mumbo-jumbo about “similar planets with similar environments and similar populations tended to gravitate toward similar biological developments over time.” What it really meant was that they could save money by having planets look like Earth at many points in history, allowing the show to use existing sets and costumes.
But, maybe, just maybe, there is something to Hodgkin’s Law. On March 15, 1967, the 25th episode of the show’s second season (production episode 43) aired.
Here’s the setup. The Enterprise happens across a planet similar to earth (the fourth planet of system FGC 892) with Hodgkin’s Law in full effect. On this planet, the Roman Empire didn’t fall in its 503rd year (476 A.D. by our calendar). It survived another 1,500 years or so, to Start Date 4040.7 when the Enterprise happened across it.
Rome is in what we would call the 20th century, and Kirk, Spock, and McCoy get captured when investigating. They’re thrown into jail with an ex-gladiator named Flavius. And that’s where our video picks up.
FLAVIUS: Long ago there were rebellings, but they were suppressed. And, with each century, the slaves acquired more rights under the law. They received rights to medicine, the right to government payments in their old age, and they slowly learned to be content.
SPOCK: Even more fascinating. Slavery involving into an institution, with guaranteed medical payments, old age pension.
The only thing they forgot were the Obama phones.