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Star Trek, The Best and Worst Of....

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  • Star Trek, The Best and Worst Of....

    Those who have been members here for at least as long as I have will probably know that I have been a life-long Star Trek fan. Over the last year I have been completing my collection of the Star Trek episodes from their various incarnations on DVD, and have been watching some of my favorite episodes when time allows. Recently certain dialogue of an episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine provided me motivation to pursue another personal desire, and I decided to indulge myself and write a bit about this particular passion of mine. Hopefully all who read this will find something of worth or value in it.

    The history of Star Trek is long and varied, now spanning five decades. It includes five separate incarnations for episodic television and eleven feature films. In comparison, Star Wars has had six feature films and a few cartoons. But I digress. The Star Trek Universe, as originally created by Gene Roddenberry and expanded upon by countless writers over time, is vast and prolific. But its basis was simple. Mankind has survived its infancy, reached the stars, and is now part of a grand alliance of sentient beings bonded together under the umbrella of an interstellar federal republic known as the United Federation of Planets. Within this organization can be found not only the Human race, but the Vulcans, the Andorians, the Tellarites, the Denobulans, the Rigelians, and the Coridanites, to mention but a few. As James T. Kirk himself once said, the United Federation of Planets represented:

    "A dream that became a reality and spread throughout the stars."

    It is here I wish to begin, with the original voyages of the Starship Enterprise commanded by Captain James T. Kirk and manned by the legendary crew of Mr. Spock, Doctor McCoy, Ensigns Chekov and Sulu, Communications Officer Uhura, and, of course, Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott. They were the trailblazers, and all who came after fell within their shadow.

    Star Trek the Original Series, as it is now known, aired from September 8th, 1966 to June 3rd, 1969. Set in the 23rd century, seventy-nine episodes were produced over the series three season run, each one ushered onto the screen with the voice of William Shatner as Captain Kirk, extolling the wonders of “Space, the Final Frontier……”

    I intend to break each season down into its best and worst episodes, at least in my humble opinion, including appropriate commentary as necessary. I will list what I consider to be the five best and the five worst episodes from each of the three seasons, and will, of course, begin at the beginning.


    The first Star Trek episode ever aired was entitled The Man Trap, airing on September 8, 1966. The Stardate for the episode was 1324.1. The basic plot pitted Kirk and company against a creature later dubbed the Salt Vampire, an alien life-form which required salt to survive. This creature was the last of its kind, and could forcibly take the salt it needed from other living beings while projecting whatever image of itself it wished for the prey it stalked. The opening sequence has Kirk, McCoy, and a doomed crewman encountering three different versions of a woman named Nancy Crater, part of a scientific research team the Enterprise is on a mission to re-supply. This episode would later be novelized by writer James Blish under the title of The Unreal McCoy, a reference to the plot point that Doctor McCoy had a prior relationship with Nancy Crater. Chief Engineer Scott, or “Scotty”, did not appear in this episode, although his voice was dubbed in with dialogue taken from another episode. This episode was chosen to be the first aired because the planned series opener had yet to clear production, and the producers felt this story fulfilled the series “strange new worlds” concept. In all, twenty-nine episodes were aired during the first season run.

    Watching over the entirety of the first season of Star Trek, it is easy to see why the show caught the imagination of millions of fans and was renewed for a second year. Although the show was in its infancy and many aspects of the cast and crew, characters, and history of the Star Trek universe were yet to be fleshed out, the writing overall was light-years (heh) beyond what constituted most of network television of the day. Even given that Roddenberry envisioned the show as a “wagon train to the stars”, many of the shows were edgy, and attempted to push the stories and the viewing audience far beyond the Lost in Space monster mash currently in vogue.

    To pick the top five episodes of season one I really had to be more critical in my choices than in either season two or three, as many of the first twenty-nine shows were quite good. Likewise, a couple which fell into the bottom five were not far removed from this status, their demise resting on a faulty plot device or just a poor story which the actors couldn’t save. Regardless, my choices for the best of Star Trek The Original Series Season One are as follows.


    1. The Corbomite Maneuver

    I know many would be expecting something else, but this show had moments of sheer Star Trek brilliance. The basic plot centered around contact with a mysterious marker buoy while on a deep space survey mission deployed by an unknown race. Forced to destroy it, the Enterprise crew is soon confronted by this race as the mother ship returns and quickly overpowers the Enterprise and its crew. Balok, captain of the gigantic alien craft, allows the insignificant humans ten minutes to make “death preparations”, and then they will be destroyed. Kirk cannot use brute force in this situation, he must think his way out of the dilemma, and does so with a bit of cleverness inspired by a caustic comment delivered by Doctor McCoy. The episode also draws inspiration from the Wizard of Oz, with the antagonist putting forth a fierce but false persona while subsequently being revealed to be little more than a highly intelligent child.

    The episode was well done, the characters various persona becoming more and more tense as the story developed. The plot was basically man versus man, but each were thinking men, as the only phaser shot fired was to destroy the marker buoy. Kirk, for the first time in the series run, faces his mortality, and as would be his nature over the life of the original series franchise, finds a way to cheat death with a simple but clever bluff. The character interaction established by this episode would continue and be built upon for the duration of the series.

    The episode contained some interesting dialogue as well, as Kirk makes the first reference to the Star Trek timeline, and Spock mentions his father. Kirk and Spock discuss the virtues of poker, and Scotty displays his Scottish stoicism in regard to Sulu’s death watch over the ship’s chronometer. Bailey, part of the bridge crew for this episode only, loses control when he believes the others have simply accepted their fate. These lines are highlighted here.

    "What are you? Robots? Wound-up toy soldiers? Don't you know when you're dying?"
    - Bailey, before being relieved of duty

    "You have an annoying fascination for timepieces, Mister Sulu."
    - Scott, as Sulu keeps track of the countdown to destruction

    "I regret not having learned more about this Balok. In some manner he was reminiscent of my father.”

    "Then may heaven have helped your mother.”
    - Spock and Scott

    "A very interesting game, this poker."

    "It does have advantages over chess."
    - Spock and Kirk, after Kirk's successful bluff

    A very young Clint Howard played Balok. Howard would return to the Star Trek franchise on a first season episode Star Trek Enterprise as a Ferengi pirate. The episode also introduced the First Federation, a political and military organization which would continue to make appearances throughout the franchise run. Quark, the Ferengi bartender on Deep Space Nine, served Tranya, an alcoholic beverage and major export of the First Federation.

    2. Balance of Terror

    Kirk goes mono-a-mono with a Romulan starship captain in a life or death struggle, the loss of which could lead to interstellar war.

    The basic plot has the Enterprise responding to distress calls issued from Earth Outpost along the Romulan Neutral Zone. Upon arrival the crew finds that the outpost are being methodically destroyed. Investigation reveals that the Romulans are responsible, testing a new weapon capable of devastating a planet.

    Kirk and the Romulan captain, played by actor Mark Leanord, engage in a battle of wits, Phasers, and Photon Torpedoes over the course of the show. The stakes of winning or losing the battle for the Federation are defined as destroying the Romulan ship in order to give the Roumlans pause in considering starting another war, or appearing weak before the Romulans and inviting one. This premise is founded on facts introduced during the show, which include a previous war between the Romulans and the Federation some one hundred years before.

    The script was well written with the action occurring solely on the bridges of the opposing Starships. The two captains engage in a deadly game of chess, each outwitting the other at some key moment. Eventually, of course, Kirk prevails, and the Romulan ship is crippled, leading its captain to activate the self-destruct mechanism and blow his ship to atoms.

    The crew complement for this episode included one Lieutenant Stiles, who lost a number of his family during the first Federation-Romulan war. He finds himself at odds with Mr. Spock when it is learned that Vulcans bear an uncanny resemblance to and share a potential heritage with Romulans. The issue of racial bigotry is introduced as a plot device and this issue is addressed in a manner which would pass the notice of network censors, something Star Trek would become known for over the course of its television life.

    The overall plot of this episode was based on the 1957 movie The Enemy Below, which featured an American destroyer pitted against an enemy submarine. According to writer Harlan Ellison, who would later pen the episode City on the Edge of Forever, when writer Paul Schneider informed him that he had adopted the script for this Trek episode from that movie, Ellison refused to speak to him any longer. This episode begins with a wedding scene, and as homage to The Original Series, in the Star Trek the Next Generation episode Data’s Day, Captain Picard’s wedding remarks are almost exactly the same as Captain Kirks were in Balance of Terror. William Shatner would later write a Star Trek novel entitled The Return, in which the Romulan alliance is arranged by the granddaughter of the Romulan commander in this episode. She is convinced that Starfleet is comprised of brutal murderers and is seeking revenge for her grandfather’s death at Kirk’s hands. The bridge displays in this episode show the Earth Outpost along the Romulan Neutral Zone as being located in Sector Z-6.

    There is memorable dialogue in this episode as well.

    "Leave any bigotry in your quarters. There's no room for it on the bridge."
    - Kirk to Stiles, after he implies that Spock could be a Romulan spy.

    "I wish I were on a long sea voyage somewhere. Not too much deck tennis, no frantic dancing. And no responsibility."
    - Kirk to McCoy, on the Romulan incursion.

    "He's a sorcerer, that one! He reads the thoughts in my brain!"
    - Romulan Commander to Decius, on Kirk.

    "You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend."
    - Romulan Commander to Kirk, after the Romulan ship is disabled.

    "We are creatures of duty, captain. I have lived my life by it. Just one more duty to perform."
    - Romulan Commander's last words.

    Mark Leanord played the part of the Romulan Commander, and he would go on to play Spock’s father in later episodes of The Original Series and The Next Generation, three of the Star Trek feature films, as well as a Klingon in the first Star Trek feature film Star Trek The Motion Picture. Writer Paul Schneider was credited with creating the Romulan race. It was later said he based them on the Romans of old, and wanted to create an adversary worthy of Captain Kirk. He succeeded.

    3. The City on the Edge of Forever

    Often cited as the best of The Original Series, this episode was written by the formally cited Harlan Ellison. Ellison is appropriately known as one of the greatest Science Fiction writers of all time.

    In the story the Enterprise crew encounters the Guardian of Forever, an alien artifact of immense power capable of transporting willing travelers into the time-lines of any civilization anywhere in the galaxy. Kirk and Spock are forced to travel to Earth of the 1930’s in pursuit of Doctor McCoy, who, under the influence of Cordrazine induced madness, jumped through the portal as it displayed the history of Earth. The result of this is that history as the Enterprise crew knows it is destroyed, and Kirk and Spock must go through the portal as well in an attempt to correct whatever McCoy has done in order to restore the time-line.

    It was a brilliant show, with an intricate plot involving alternate history, conflict with epic repercussions, love, and personal choice with catastrophic results either for mankind or Kirk himself. The actors all delivered memorable performances, with Dee Kelly stealing whatever scene he was in as he went from competent Doctor to deranged madman to recovering mere human doubting his reality. This episode also featured one of if not the first network use of what was considered forbidden in those days, the word “hell” spoken as a curse, when, at the end of the episode, Kirk says “lets get the hell out of here”. Shatner would repeat this line years later on one of the Star Trek tribute episodes of Futurama.

    For years after this episode aired, Harlan Ellison lamented his involvement with this show. His original script was rewritten many times, to the point that only two lines from his writing survived to the final cut, both spoken by the Guardian of Forever. His original script also placed the Enterprise crew in old Chicago. Producer Robert Justman later admitted that the show contained anti-Vietnam-war subtext.

    Joan Collins, in her most favorably remembered role, was once quoted as saying:

    “To this day, people still want to talk about that episode – some remember me for that more than anything else I've done. I am amazed at the enduring popularity of Star Trek and particularly of that episode."

    This episode was also chosen by William Shatner as his personal favorite, and he and Collins share an extended dialogue as part of the additional features contained on the Star Trek Fan Collective DVD set during which they discuss the enduring power of both this episode and Star Trek in general. Shatner flirts with Collins, of course.

    Memorable dialogue includes the following.

    "Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."
    - Guardian of Forever, to Kirk.

    "A lie is a poor way to say hello."
    - Keeler, meeting Kirk and Spock

    "I am endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bearskins."
    - Spock, as Keeler sees his work on the tricorder.

    "Where would you estimate we belong, Miss Keeler?"
    "You? At his side, as if you've always been there and always will."
    - Spock and Keeler

    "Save her – do as your heart tells you to do – and millions will die who did not die before."
    - Spock, to Kirk

    "I could have saved her! Do you know what you just did?"
    - McCoy to Kirk, on Keeler's death.

    An episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine gave tribute to this episode by use of a boxing poster first seen in The City on the Edge of Forever. The names of the two boxers featured on the poster were the same.

    One recurring theme of the series, the use of Nazi’s as villains, was introduced in this episode. This theme would be used in later episodes of not only The Original Series, but in the later incarnations of Star Trek Voyager and Star Trek Enterprise.

    In the MMO game Star Trek Online, players may engage a mission which allows them to travel through the Guardian of Forever. They must go back in time to destroy a Klingon ship which has also passed through the portal and is attempting to disrupt the current timeline. I played this mission, of course, and found it great fun.

    4. The Naked Time

    While observing the breakup of Planet Psi-2000, the Enterprise crew is exposed to a virus which causes them to loose all of their inhibitions, exposing their unfettered personalities and releasing the beast within. The crew begins to engage in actions they would never normally engage in while simultaneously exposing their personal character flaws. Sulu becomes a swashbuckling swordsman, chasing crewmen through the ship with a sword. Tormolen, a character which appears only in this episode, kills himself when overcome with remorse. Riley, a character who appeared in only one additional episode, becomes a flamboyant and insubordinate Irishman who tricks the Engine room staff into abandoning their post. He subsequently shuts down the ship’s engines and plunges the Enterprise toward disaster as the planet continues to disintegrate, all while singing a horrible rendition of “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen”. Kirk and Spock are also infected, with Spock revealing his human side and his own remorse over not being able to show affection for his mother, while Kirk reveals his love and devotion to his ship.

    Doctor McCoy eventually discovers a cure for the effects of the virus, and the ship is saved via a “cold re-start” of the engines. The result of this Warp Engine implosion hurls the Enterprise three days back in time, thus introducing another theme which would be used again and again in every incarnation of Star Trek.

    I like this particular episode for a number of reasons. The plot allowed the actors to step out of their usual character and reveal personality traits which would otherwise have remained hidden. Nerves become frayed as the tension mounts, leading to one moment where Uhura yells at Kirk over the matter of Riley’s singing. Nurse Christine Chapel reveals her love for Spock, eliciting his pained and heartfelt response of “I’m sorry”. Kirk and Spock share one of the most memorable scenes in the history of the franchise, during which they slap each other around while trying to discuss the cold start procedure. Kirk then educates Spock on the topic of love, telling him “you’re better off without it and I’m better off without mine!” The episode is full of surprises, and just when you think there can be no more, Sulu discovers that the ship is traveling backward through time. To a Star Trek fan, these moments are the core essence of Star Trek, and signify what the show could accomplish at its best.

    Memorable lines include the following.

    "Get off me! You don't rank me and you don't have pointed ears! So just get off my neck!"
    - Tormolen, to Sulu.

    "You know what Joe's mistake was? He wasn't born an Irishman."
    - Riley to Chapel, on Tormolen's death.

    "I'm in love with you, Mister Spock. You, the human Mister Spock, the Vulcan Mister Spock."
    - Chapel, holding Spock's hand.

    "This vessel. I give, she takes. She won't permit me my life. I've got to live hers."
    - Kirk, to Spock.

    And perhaps the most prophetic line of dialogue of all where the character of Captain Kirk is concerned:

    "Never lose you. Never."
    - Kirk, to the Enterprise.

    I once met George Takei at a Star Trek Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. He stated in the Q&A that this was his favorite episode of the Original Series. According to his narrative in the additional content on the DVD, he practiced as much as he could for the fencing scene in the ships corridor. This is also the only TOS episode in which Uhura, Christine Chapel, and Yeoman Janice Rand appeared together. They would not do so again until Star Trek The Motion Picture.

    The second episode to air of Star Trek The Next Generation was entitled The Naked Now, and was perfectly forgettable except that the Enterprise crew under Captain Picard fell victim to the same malady, only a slightly different variety which would not succumb to McCoy’s remedy as detailed in the ship’s medical logs. During this episode, Data and Ensign Tasha Yar wind up in the sack together, and Picard’s inner lover is revealed in scenes with Doctor Crusher. Kirk and crew are mentioned in the dialogue when Ryker access the Starfleet Data Base, but Picard makes no notice that he even knows who Kirk is when he reads the information aloud. This would be corrected in a later episode of TNG which featured Mr. Spock.

    5. Arena

    Often criticized for the fight scene between Kirk and the Gorn, which was simply a stunt-man in a lizard suit, this episode also epitomizes the essence of Trek, in that it pit’s the protagonist against a deadly foe in a life and death struggle upon which the fate of the Enterprise crew hangs in the balance. Again, Kirk must rely on his wits to survive, an aspect of his character which is often overlooked in critiques of the Kirk persona.

    Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and three crewmen beam down to Cestus III on invitation of the base commander, only to find that it has been attacked by an unknown alien force. Kirk delivers a short but memorable line at the end of the teaser, when he contacts the ship and states “Cestus III has been destroyed.” The crew then fights battles both in space and on the ground during which, of course, two of the red-shirts are killed. The attacking aliens are identified as the Gorn, and are driven off the planet by use of a weapon resembling a nuclear weapons launching mortar tube. Upon returning to the ship Kirk decides that the attack was a prelude to invasion, and that he cannot allow the enemy ship return to its home space under the premise that to do so would signify weakness on the part of the Federation and invite war.

    Both ships are subsequently intercepted by another unknown force which decides to resolve the conflict by pitting Kirk and the Captain of the Gorn ship against each other in individual combat. Identified as the Metrons, they inform the crew that the planet selected for this combat holds all the combatants will need to construct a weapon adequate to defeat the other. Greatly outclassed, Kirk must figure out exactly what this means, eventually constructing a make-shift shotgun out of a hollow bamboo like tube filled with Sulfur, Coal, and Potassium Nitrate as the catalyst and Diamonds as the projectiles.

    This is not the strongest of the first season episodes, but I have always felt that it stood on its own among the best of the season due to the writing, plot, and conflict. Aspects of Kirk’s character are revealed, in that initially he tries to rely on force to overcome his opponent because he is, after all, Captain Kirk, only to find that this will simply get him killed. He then begins to think of an alternate solution, and defeats his opponent largely in part due to the fact that the Gorn Captain was operating under the same delusion. Kirk defeats his opponent, but spares his life in the end, much to the surprise of the Metrons.

    The ongoing tension and feud between Spock and McCoy is also highlighted during various bridge scenes. Allowed to watch the combat but not interfere, these two snipe at each other relentlessly, and climaxes when Spock realizes that Kirk has “figured it out” before McCoy does.

    Much of the episode was filmed at Vasquez Rocks in California, a location featured in other episodes of TOS. This location would also be used in the 1998 movie Free Enterprise, when two of the characters would play around the area dressed in Starfleet uniforms. William Shatner would return to Vasquez Rocks in the History Channel show How William Shatner Changed the World. He would drive up in a sports car and stand in front of the very rocks where he battled the Gorn.

    Cestus III would be revisited during the seven year run of Star Trek Deep Space Nine, but only in dialogue. Captain Sisko’s love interest would have a brother stationed there who played baseball, and the two often spoke of the game and the Pioneers of Cestus III. An eight-week journey from Deep Space Nine, Cisco once commented it would be worth the trip to see an actual live baseball game played.

    The Gorn would not reappear until an episode of Star Trek Enterprise. Perhaps in tribute to the Original Series, Captain Archer is pitted in personal combat with a Gorn Captain while onboard the stolen Starship Defiant.

    Memorable dialogue includes the following.

    "Like most humans, I seem to have an instinctive revulsion to reptiles."
    - Kirk, on seeing the Gorn captain.

    "I'm weary of the chase. Wait for me. I shall be merciful and quick."
    - Gorn Captain, persuading Kirk to surrender.

    "You are still half savage. But there is hope."
    - Metron's parting words to Kirk.

    "We're a most promising species, Mister Spock, as predators go. Did you know that?"
    "I've frequently had my doubts."
    "I don't. Not anymore."
    - Kirk and Spock.

    The initial fight scene between Kirk and the Gorn is probably the worst fight scene ever put on film. But it is the story which carries this episode. In the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode Trials and Tribble-ations, Captain Sisko says to Jadzia Dax that he would love to meet Kirk and ask him about “fighting the Gorn on Cestus III”.

    Honorable Mentions From Season One

    Miri: Kirk and company are stranded on an Earth like planet with a group of three hundred year old children.

    Errand of Mercy: Kirk and Spock are stranded on a Klingon occupied planet in the midst of a new Federation/Klingon war.

    Shore Leave: The Enterprise crew unknowingly beams down to an Amusement Planet, where their very thoughts are transformed into living things.

    The Squire of Gothos: Often thought to be the first incarnation of the character known as Q, the Enterprise crew is toyed with by a sinister, powerful, and insensitive child, wonderfully played by actor William Campbell.

    The Return of the Archons: Festival!! Also not the strongest of the Trek episodes, this one always stood out due to the writing, and the uniqueness of the Festival and just who the Archons were. Kirk also talks his first computer into committing suicide (sort of).

    The worst five episodes will be dealt with in a follow on post. This is enough for now. All dialogue quotes and some details of the episodes were taken from this source.

    Last edited by Martok; 08 Sep 10, 21:40.

  • #2
    For those interested, here are some youtube clips from the five episodes cited above.

    The Corbomite Manuever (entire episode)

    Balance of Terror (beginning sequence)

    The City on the Edge of Forever (opening sequence)

    The Naked Time (entire episode)

    Arena (opening sequence)


    • #3
      I hate Tribbles...
      If the art of war were nothing but the art of avoiding risks,glory would become the prey of mediocre minds. Napoleon


      • #4
        Balance of Terror...great. So was Judgment at Nuremberg.
        Shut up, Shatner was in it!


        • #5
          Balance of Terror had an unbelievable flaw in it - the need for the "midships batteries" to be fired by crewman only after receiving verbal orders do to so - wasting a huge amount of time. I once read a tongue-in-cheek chapter in a book for Trekies, which basically spent 15 pages speculating what negative events had taken place on Earth that such a retrogressive level of military/technological development could take place - the "system" of fighting and firing the "midships batteries" was in many ways a WW II or pre- WW II system.

          The name of "the boy" who was killed, who was getting married at the beginning, "Tomlinson" was a nice touch - a name which suggests the conservatism of military service - the -son part - which likewise also suggests Vikings.


          • #6
            In choosing the worst of the first season of Star Trek the Original Series I found two of the choices obvious. The other three, when judged by the standard of episodic television of the day, would easily stand out as solid episodes. However when judged by life-long Star Trek fan standards, they deserve their place in the Federation Hall of Shame. As in listing the top five, these are ranked in decreasing order, with one being the bottom of the barrel and five being judged as least-worst. No you tube videos will be posted of these five episodes.

            The Worst of Season One

            1. The Alternative Factor

            Geez did this episode suck. It was and still is painful to watch, with a disjointed plot, a bad story, poor action, and an antagonist you just wish would die, all wrapped around ho-hum performances by the overall cast.

            The basic premise has the Enterprise engaged in a survey operation when all within sensor range of the ship momentarily “blinks” out of existence. Spock then notices that he is now getting life-sign readings from the planet below where none existed before.

            The standard away-mission crew beams down and encounters a man named Lazarus, who informs Kirk and Spock that he is pursuing a “monster” responsible for destroying his entire civilization. The plot devolves into a seemingly never-ending slowly revealed device in which it is discovered that there are two “Lazarus’”, or Lazarus prime and anti-Lazarus. One is sane, the other is deranged. Lazarus prime is also revealed to be a time traveler, the planet the “action” takes place on simply the future of the destroyed civilization.

            Perhaps in an attempt to salvage the story, it is later determined that the two Lazarus’ are from opposite universes, sort of like matter and anti-matter. Thus, if they come together in this universe, they would annihilate not only each other but the universe itself. But such a grandiose plot only served to further sink this episode into the depths of inanity.

            In better hands, this could have been a good episode, but the writing and directing were both sub-par and the episode simply drags on and on and on with little for a viewer to get excited about. According to the book Inside Star Trek, The Real Story, at one point this episode was going to be scrapped because of actor conflicts, director conflicts, and because some saw what crap it was becoming. Neither Scotty nor Sulu were featured in this episode. Lucky them.

            As an example of how stilted the dialogue was in this episode, consider the following.

            "He's death! Anti-life! He lives to destroy!"
            - Lazarus, on his anti-matter counterpart.

            "Sometimes pain can drive a man harder than pleasure."
            - Kirk to McCoy, on an injured Lazarus.

            "Captain, the universe is safe."
            "For you and me. But what of Lazarus? What of Lazarus?"
            - Spock and Kirk

            Spock does deliver one good line, however.

            "I fail to comprehend your indignation, sir. I've simply made the logical deduction that you are a liar."
            - Spock, to Lazarus.

            One interesting fact I found was that this episode was the only one of The Original Series to show the Enterprise firing her phasers while being filmed from behind. I went back and watched this one scene, and also noticed that the ship only fires one beam instead of the usual two.

            In conclusion, if you are ever flipping through the channels and this episode is on, watch C-Span instead.

            2. Mudd’s Women

            If the three bitches featured in this episode were supposed to represent the beauties of the 23rd century, then I sincerely hope I don’t live that long. I mean, even given that the original Star Trek series suffered from severe budgetary constraints, the producers could have gone to the back woods of West Virginia and found better looking women than this. Ah well.

            The one enduring aspect of this episode was the introduction of Harcourt Fenton Mudd, an intergalactic scallywag smuggling women hooked on some type of beauty drug (yeah, right) to lonely but rich lithium minors on the desolate planet Rigel XII. It is later revealed that Mudd has prior convictions for such activities as smuggling, theft, and counterfeiting.

            Kirk is forced into making a deal with the lithium minors, crystals needed for his ship in exchange for the women. Of course, as the dashing chivalrous Starship Captain, he doesn’t want to do this. But the women convince the minors to play ball, and all ends well. Except for the upset stomach I got from re-watching this crap.

            There are a few lines of dialogue of note, however.

            "I read once that a commander has to act like a paragon of virtue. I never met a paragon."
            "Neither have I."
            - Eve and Kirk, in his quarters.

            "Oh! The sound of male ego. You travel halfway across the galaxy, and it's still the same song."
            - Eve, to Childress.

            "Is this the kind of wife you want, Ben? Not someone to help you, not a wife to cook and sew and cry and need, but this kind. Selfish, vain, useless. Is this what you really want?"
            - Eve to Childress, after taking the pill.

            "There's only one kind of woman."
            "Or man, for that matter."
            "You either believe in yourself, or you don't."
            - Kirk and Mudd, after revealing Eve swallowed a fake pill.

            "Ever try considering the patent medicine business?"
            "Why should I work your side of the street?"
            - McCoy and Kirk.

            The character of Harcourt Fenton Mudd would re-appear during the second season of The Original Series in the episode I, Mudd. But don’t worry, that one won’t make the top five either.

            It was said that writer Harlan Ellison visited the set during the filming of this episode. At this time The City on the Edge of Forever was still in pre-production, and he was supposedly simply checking out the production standards. It is a wonder he didn’t walk right then and there.

            3. What Are Little Girls Made Of?

            Wires, circuits, and a big pile of crap laying around the sound stage, if this episode is any indicator.

            The Enterprise is sent on a mission to discover the fate of one Doctor Roger Corby, a former love interest of Nurse Christine Chapel, who hasn’t been heard from in over five years. Previous missions to the planet in question have failed to discover what happened to the Doctor, so Kirk and company are sent in to solve the mystery.

            The mystery turns out to be that the Doctor and company have transferred their living essence into Androids, and in an attempt to preserve their secret, Kirk himself is duplicated in android form and sent to the Enterprise to, in effect, take over.

            This episode is not terrible, it is simply a bit bland and shows all the signs of low budgetary constraints. Shatner has an on-screen moment which I have always felt he probably never lived down. At one point in the story he is being pursued by Ruk, the android heavy protecting Corby. Kirk tries to ambush Ruk by hiding behind a large rock holding a stalactite he has broken off of the ceiling of the caverns Doctor Corby has made into his lab and home. The stalactite, made of prop foam, looks like a giant penis complete with scrotum. I have always wondered if the prop guys did this on purpose.

            There is one moment of brilliance, however, when Kirk, while being copied, repeats a phrase over and over in hopes the memory of it will be transferred to his doppelganger. If his andriod copy then repeats the phrase, it will then be revealed to be an imposter. The effort is successful, leading to an Original Series as-fans-we-love-this-moment when Kirk, after being asked a simple question by Spock, replies:

            “Mind your own business, Mr. Spock. I’m sick of your half-breed interference, do you hear?”

            This is the only episode to prominently feature the character of Nurse Christine Chapel. Majel Barrett, who played Chapel and would later marry Gene Roddenberry, would go on to play Lwaxana Troi repeatedly during the seven year run of Star Trek The Next Generation as well as on an episode of Deep Space Nine. She also appeared in the first pilot episode of The Original Series as second in command of the Starship Enterprise, or Number One. She would also do the computer voice for all five incarnations of the Star Trek television series. She died in December of 2007.

            4. Operation - Annihilate!

            The Enterprise crew is sent to Deneva to investigate why all contact has been lost with the colony there. They discover that the inhabitants are now all madmen, controlled by a type of parasitic creature the Enterprise crew has not encountered before. These flying brain-cells, so called because that is what they appear to be, attach themselves to their host and highly stimulate their nervous systems. This renders the host not only nearly insane but highly controlable, which the aliens capatalize on in order to force their host to become workers, building ships which the parasites can use to travel to other worlds. Shortly after arrival Kirk discovers that his brother, Sam, has been killed by the aliens.

            This episode contains hints of a later block-buster movie franchise the first of which would debut in 1979 entitled Alien. Any host of the parasite race will eventually die due to the effect of being host, and the alien race is attempting to spread out across the galaxy to find more host and propagate the species. Spock, like Ripley would later be, is infected himself. Unlike Ripley, however, he is saved when Kirk and McCoy determine that exposure to high intensity light will kill the aliens. The aliens in this episode are all part of a collective, having first arrived on Deneva as stowaways on a passing starship, and are everywhere. The original script called for the Enterprise to leave the planet and simply destroy it, just as was planned by Hicks and Ripley in the first sequel to Alien.

            Again, this episode is not terrible, simply devoid of the magic Star Trek could conjure when at its best. The story and plot are mediocre, and Shatner’s acting is a bit over the top. There are, however, a few memorable lines delivered.

            "Pain is a thing of the mind. The mind can be controlled."
            - Spock to McCoy, on his infection by a neural parasite.

            "Freeze right there, Mister Spock. Or I'll put you to sleep for sure."
            - Scott, pointing a phaser at Spock in the transporter room.

            "My first sight was the face of Doctor McCoy bending over me."
            "'Tis a pity your brief blindness did not increase your appreciation for beauty, Mister Spock."
            - Spock and McCoy, on the bridge.

            Part of this episode was filmed on the campus of UCLA. A later episode of Star Trek The Next Generation would use this plot device again, when Picard and company discover that aliens which force themselves inside their host to control them have taken over key positions within Starfleet Command and on various starships. They defeat this threat when they manage to kill the alien queen.

            5. The Conscience of the King

            The title is a clear reference to and is taken from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and indeed a presentation of Hamlet is featured during the episode. The plot revolves around the lead actor, whom Kirk is led to believe and later confirms is actually a criminal known as Kodos the Executioner. Kodos was charged with ordering the execution of over half of the population of the Tarsus colony he once governed, and only nine of the survivors from this were known to have ever seen his face. Two are onboard the Enterprise, Captain Kirk, and Lieutenant Kevin Riley, previously featured in the episode The Naked Time.

            This was actually a good episode, but I chose it because of the pacing. The plot was slow to develop and entirely predictable. Nothing happened which could not be foreseen, therefore the end was a simple anti-climax. The actress who played the daughter of Kodos must have slept with the producer to get the part, and made Shatner look like Sir Laurence Olivier in the scenes they shared. The fact that she was the person stalking the survivors in order to kill them and protect her father’s identity was as much of a surprise as seeing Spock with pointed ears.

            Once again neither Scotty nor Sulu appeared during the show, and this episode was the last in which Grace Lee Whitney would appear as Yeoman Janice Rand. She was fired for filing a sexual assault charge against one of the producers of the show, but would reprise her role in both Star Trek Three the Search for Spock, and Star Trek Six The Undiscovered Country, as well on one episode of Star Trek Voyager.

            I did like these lines from the dialogue.

            "And this ship. All this power. Surging and throbbing, yet under control. Are you like that, captain?" (oh, baby)
            - Lenore to Kirk, in the observation deck.

            "Worlds may change, galaxies disintegrate, but a woman always remains a woman." (Kirk was a genius)
            - Kirk, before kissing Lenore.

            "Even in this corner of the galaxy, captain, two plus two equals four. Almost certainly an attempt will be made to kill you."
            - Spock, in Kirk's quarters.

            This episode did inspire a legacy of sorts. Attentive watchers of The Simpsons will note that the two aliens which often appear on that show are named Kodos and Kang, after both the antagonist in this episode and a Klingon Starship Captain who would be featured in a season three episode entitled Day of the Dove. Star Trek Enterprise would also mention Kodos the Executioner in a fourth season episode. A future biographical information proffered concerning Hoshi Sato would state that she was one of those killed by Kodos on the Tarsus colony.

            Honorable Mentions for Worst of Season One

            Charlie X: A teenager wielding supreme mental powers takes over the ship but is removed by even more powerful beings which just happen to show up and save the Enterprise. Duex ex machina.

            The Enemy Within: There was a hole in this plot you could fly a shuttle craft through.

            Dagger of the Mind: Good episode on some levels, but Kirk screams. Didn’t the writers know he was Kirk?

            So there you have my selections for best and worst of Star Trek The Original Series, Season One. Now go buy the DVD.
            Last edited by Martok; 09 Sep 10, 10:54.


            • #7
              You are correct, lake, about the midship batteries thing. But I always felt that was a plot device used to highlight the two characters who were going to be married and give them something to do in the episode.


              • #8
                Originally posted by lakechampainer View Post
                Balance of Terror had an unbelievable flaw in it - the need for the "midships batteries" to be fired by crewman only after receiving verbal orders do to so - wasting a huge amount of time. I once read a tongue-in-cheek chapter in a book for Trekies, which basically spent 15 pages speculating what negative events had taken place on Earth that such a retrogressive level of military/technological development could take place - the "system" of fighting and firing the "midships batteries" was in many ways a WW II or pre- WW II system.
                Well it was basically a remake of The Enemy Below.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by lakechampainer View Post
                  Balance of Terror had an unbelievable flaw in it - the need for the "midships batteries" to be fired by crewman only after receiving verbal orders do to so - wasting a huge amount of time. I once read a tongue-in-cheek chapter in a book for Trekies, which basically spent 15 pages speculating what negative events had taken place on Earth that such a retrogressive level of military/technological development could take place - the "system" of fighting and firing the "midships batteries" was in many ways a WW II or pre- WW II system.
                  Oh Come on. You have ball-turret gunners in Star Wars.


                  • #10
                    Martok, I didn't know the story about why Grace Lee Whitney was fired. I had read two different stories which didn't seem terribly convincing, that 1. She had a drinking problem or 2. They didn't want Captain Kirk to have a "girlfriend", they wanted him to be able to "play the field" without cheating on her.


                    • #11
                      Martok, I agree, the Lazurus episode was very weak. I did like the episode with Kodos and his daughter, she did seem strange, but she was pleasant to look at. Hard to say is she was strange by design.


                      Here is the Phasor on Overload/DOUBLE RED ALERT Scene

                      I hope someone was court-martialed for screwing up - how the heck did she get access to a phasor on the ship, or how did she smuggle on on board?

                      Last edited by lakechampainer; 10 Sep 10, 06:23.


                      • #12
                        What are little girls made of?

                        I agree the What are Little Girls Made of? shows severe signs of budget restraint, but I enjoyed it anyway. I believe Ruk was on The Addams Family.

                        Two lines I like: When Ruk is crushing Kirk to death, and Kirk is reasoning with him/trying to kill the computer, and Ruk says something like: Survival - that was the answer to the equation.

                        infamous prop scene 5 minutes in

                        Survival post

                        I never noticed before that Korby killed himself - I thought Andrea had pulled the trigger - I guess Dr. Korby was human if he committed suicide

                        And at the end of the episode, when the rescue team says, where's Dr. Korby, and Kirk says "Dr. Korby was never here." About 7:40 into the previous post
                        Last edited by lakechampainer; 10 Sep 10, 06:50.


                        • #13
                          Star Trek will always be to me.

                          Original series, or 'a window into the years of my youth' when race was an issue and so much of the show mirrored the times.

                          NG was the series where it looked too 'clean' and the uniforms apparently were badly tailored unless you were a slim female wearing a body suit.

                          DS9 otherwise known as a western in space with aliens.

                          Voyager, or how to make a show look like a rip off of Lost in Space.

                          Enterprise, the show I thought looked grittier. No one knew everything, the ship wasn't perfect, plenty of races were still unknown, and in general, it was easier to screw up. Looked more believable. Which is why I have this one on DVD and I never really watch the others any more. I only see them when I watch the movies now.
                          Life is change. Built models for decades.
                          Not sure anyone here actually knows the real me.
                          I didn't for a long time either.


                          • #14
                            Just watched Turnabout Intruder (info here) the last episode of the original series. It was okay, nothing special, although Kirk becoming a woman is funny in itself .

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                            • #15
                              I had just started third grade when the show premiered; The Man Trap scared the crap out of me. I didn't watch Star Trek again until it went into syndication (When I was in 6th grade IIRC) and it became my favorite TV show of all time.

                              We recently emptied out a storage unit and I found my old Star Trek VHS tapes. I immediately watched The Trouble With Tribbles, I Mudd and Who Mourns for Adonis?...

                              I love the "comedy" episodes.

                              My favorite "serious" episodes are probably The Doomsday Machine & Balance of Terror.

                              Here's the TV listing for Sept. 8, 1966... TV Tango
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