Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Top 5 Star Trek: The Original Series Episodes
I can't believe I haven't done a Star Trek list yet! Here I am, one of the biggest Trekkies this side of Ferenginar, and scarcely a mention of my favorite TV Series(es)! This must end! Today's list begins a series of Star Trek Top 5s, which I will not post consecutively for the sake of all you readers (say, 2 out of the 5 of you) who don't watch the show, that will span the entire franchise's history. Today, my Top 5 episodes of The Original Series (TOS).
5. Space Seed - Two words: Ricardo. Montalban. The introduction of the now-legendary Khan, Kirk's nemesis and the only man to rival Shatner's bad-acting skills. Of course, it paved the way toward The Wrath of Khan, which is now an American classic whether you're into Star Trek or not.
4. The Menagerie, Parts 1 & 2 - The Original Series's only two-part episode, The Menagerie's greatest contribution is creating the foundations for the Trek mythology, a sense of past, a sense of continuity. In this episode, which encorporates footage from the unaired first pilot to Star Trek, The Cage, Spock kidnaps his former Captain, Christopher Pike, and hijacks the Enterprise, setting it on a course to a forbidden world. For what purpose? The mystery unfolds fifteen years in the past, telling the story of the last man to command the Enterprise, with a young science officer named Spock (who appears younger because he was) at his side.
3. The Balance of Terror - A rarity for Cold War-era television - in this episode, the battle between "good guys" and "bad guys" is told from both perspectives simultaneously. When Kirk's Enterprise scores a hit against the Romulan ship, you see the carnage on the enemy ship as well. The first half of the episode lets you see the Romulans as heartless murderers. Halfway through the episode, however, you start to see that they, like Kirk, are only doing what they've been ordered by their governments. The Romulan Commander (played by Mark Leonard, who would later go on to play Spock's father Sarek) and Kirk acknowledge at the end that in another life, in another time, they could have been great friends. Like most of the great Treks, this episode has a great message: the real enemy is not your combattant - the real enemy is the war.
2. The Doomsday Machine - One of the most ambitious television productions of its time, The Doomsday Machine had it all: a great story, suspense, psychological weight, great acting (for the show - remember, it's still Shatner) and of course some nice social commentary and allegory. Plus, in the Remastered version, a space battle that actually looks cool! Note: This is the closest that Trek: Remastered ever came to pulling a Lucas; wheras most Remastered episodes had improved special effects that were shot-for-shot CG replacements of the original material, TDM actually did add a few that were in the original script but they couldn't afford in 1967. Honestly, I didn't mind, if only because the effects in the original episode were so unbefitting the epicness of the script that they tended to ruin it for me.
1. City on the Edge of Forever - God-awful acting non-withstanding, (as with most TOS episodes,) this hour is certainly one of sci-fi's finest. What happens when, while traveling through time, you fall in love with someone who history says must die? Plus, the epic Guardian of Forever makes its first (and only) live-action appearance, though its rumored to be involved in the new J.J. Abrams reboot. (If you know for sure, please don't tell me; I'm trying to avoid spoilers.) CotEoF has been hailed on almost every list I've seen (and I do a lot of reading on the subject) as the best The Original Series had to offer, and some even call it the best Star Trek ever. (To which I reply "not even close, thank you.") Though I'm partial to the second-generation series, this episode stands up to any science fiction story made in the twentieth century.
Next in our Top5Trek series: Top 5 Star Trek: The Next Generation Episodes. Coming soon...