Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ship's Log, Supplemental Bonus: “...maybe 20 good ones.”

So Monday we finally start Star Trek: The Animated Series and the next phase of the franchise. This means today is sort of our last opportunity to talk about the Original Series as the incumbent form of Star Trek (although even then it's not quite cut-and-dry as I make it seem, which we'll talk more about tomorrow) and, given that, I thought I'd use this space to very briefly sum up my thoughts and recommendations concerning the 1964-1969 series.

Under my post on “The Apple”, frequent commenter and blog friend Flex quoted a Futurama episode where Fry, when talking about the Original Star Trek says something along the lines of how the show had “79 episodes...and maybe 20 good ones”. Back then, Flex mused as to whether we'd even be able to meet that tally on Vaka Rangi.

I took that as a challenge.

More recently, under the “Turnabout Intruder” post, 5tephe wondered if I could put up my revised list of recommended episodes: I mentioned coming up with such a thing for my Trek neophyte sister when talking about “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” and made an offhand remark on how I'd've chosen different episodes after doing this project. 5tephe quite reasonably thought this might be a good resource for other people who are trying to get into this historically significant but notoriously sticky and problematic series.

So this is for Flex, 5tephe, my sister and I suppose anyone else who might get some use of it. It's a list of twenty episodes of the original Star Trek that I feel showcase the series at its strongest and that most clearly reflect its best virtues. I tried to pick six from each season, although that still doesn't divide evenly so I gave more weight to some eras than others, but not unjustly I feel. There were a few other episodes I thought were solid, if not particularly outstanding and I could have included them as well, but I really wanted to hit an even 20 here to keep with the theme I'd chosen for myself.

So with that, I hope you enjoy.

Pilots and Season 1 (1964-1967)

1. “Where No Man Has Gone Before”
2. “Balance of Terror”
3. “The Conscience of the King”
4. “Arena”
5. “The Alternative Factor”
6. “Tomorrow is Yesterday”
7. “The Devil in the Dark”

Season 2 (1967-1968)

8. “Amok Time”
9. “The Doomsday Machine”
10. “Mirror, Mirror”
11. “The Trouble with Tribbles”
12. “Journey to Babel”
13. “A Piece of the Action”
14. “Patterns of Force”
15. "The Ultimate Computer"

 Season 3 (1968-1969)

16. “Spectre of the Gun”
17. “The Empath”
18. “The Tholian Web”
19. “That Which Survives”
20. “The Cloud Minders”


  1. Haha, I appreciate the shout out and love the way you framed this and put it together.

    Great list, too. I'm not sure I'd change much from it. Despite it being reactionary garbage, I might try to make room for "City" but otherwise this is about as solid as it gets. And, honestly, it's a pretty good greatest hits package. Seeing that list of episodes it's easy to see why this is a series that has endured and helped spin off so much other good stuff.

  2. Hey there, thanks greatly for the list! Season 3 does suffer, but not unduly, it must be said.

    I love the way that this list works best with the themes of the blog (obviously). It kind of demands a viewing alongside the appropriate entries, as a sort of reading list.

  3. "It has been said that social occasions are only warfare concealed." is not from Journey to Babel. It is from Space Seed, the episode with Khan.

    1. Good job! You noticed I don't pick my title quotes from the episodes I'm reviewing. Aren't you clever!

      And you know what else? A lot of my title quotes aren't even from Star Trek! Can you believe it?