I’ve been in a Star Trek TOS phase lately and was researching it on Wikipedia when I ran across some top 10 lists compiled by Entertainment Weekly and IGN.com. I decided to see how their lists stacked up with mine.
Here are my top 10 favorite eps from the series that started it all.
10. “Where No Man Has Gone Before”:
The Enterprise travels to the edge of the galaxy and hits an energy field that turns Captain Kirk’s best friend into an evil God. Kirk eventually has to kill him in order to save the ship. This was the second pilot that sold the series to NBC and it laid the groundwork nicely. Less cerebral than its predecessor, but with more emotional impact and compelling characters.
9. “The Enterprise Incident”:
Kirk and Spock conduct an elaborate spy mission to steal a cloaking device from the Romulans. In the process, Spock commits subterfuge with the female Romulan commander. The third season sucked, but this is one of two episodes that made my list to help redeem it a bit.
8. “Journey to Babel”:
Spock’s estranged parents are on board as part of a diplomatic mission, but things go south when an assassin frames Sarek for murder. This episode has it all; political intrigue, suspense and family drama.
7. “A Private Little War”:
Kirk discovers that the Klingons are interfering in the evolution of a planet by supplying flintlock muskets to one side in a war. This story was a direct allegory of the Vietnam War and is probably the darkest episode of the series.
6. “The Trouble With Tribbles”:
This is probably the most light-hearted episode of the series. It involves Klingons, a space station and fuzzy little creatures that like to be fruitful and multiply. I don’t know how to give a better synopsis.
5. “Space Seed”:
The crew discovers an ancient ship adrift in space containing genetically enhanced super humans from Earth’s past. Kirk makes the mistake of waking them up and spends the next 15 years paying for it. This episode was good on its own, but it stands the test of time because of the sequel movie, The Wrath of Khan.
4. “Mirror, Mirror”:
Kirk and a landing party are accidentally beamed into a parallel universe during a storm and encounter a duplicate Enterprise and evil doubles of the crew. It sounds corny on paper, but the episode is a classic and the mirror universe was re-used time and again on Deep Space 9.
3. “The Tholian Web”:
Kirk is lost through a temporal rip in space and Spock and McCoy are left to run the ship while the crew goes insane. This is another third season ep I like because it high-lights the love-hate relationship between Spock and McCoy by placing Kirk in the background.
2. “Amok Time”:
Spock is usually a very logical being, so Kirk can’t figure out why he’s acting like a crazy guy. Turns out Spock is just hornie and needs to go back to his home planet to work it out with his wife. Turns out his wife is a bitch, so Spock takes it out on Kirk in a fight to the death.
1. “City on the Edge of Forever”:
This is pretty much a no-brainer in Trek fandom and I don’t disagree. Time travel is a concept that has been done to death in the Trek franchise, but this one is still the best example. Kirk and Spock chase McCoy through a time portal to Earth’s past after McCoy goes insane. Once there, Kirk falls in love with a woman, so of course, she has to die.
“Balance of Terror,” “The Doomsday Machine,” “The Naked Time,” “A Wolf in the Fold,” “Devil in the Dark,” “Arena,” “The Galileo Seven.”
And now, the top five worst episodes of Star Trek TOS:
5. “Spock’s Brain”:
A strange woman appears on the bridge of the Enterprise and knocks out the entire crew. When they revive, they discover Spock on life support with no brain. It’s an unintentional projection for this entire episode, which makes no damn sense and is full of gender stereotypes. I can’t believe I just wrote that.
4. “Errand of Mercy”:
I used to love this episode, but every time I watch it, I like it less. It’s the first episode to feature the Klingons as they officially go to war with the Federation. Long story short, the war never happens, because an omniscient race of beings known as the Organians refuse to let the two powers fight.
It’s a giant cop-out, written in a time when pacifism was popular in the face of an unpopular war. It’s also worth noting that the Organians are never seen again after this episode in any Trek incarnation and are referenced only once in passing. Yet, the Klingons became the most popular antagonists in the original series, and later, they were steadfast allies to the Federation.
3. “The Way to Eden”:
Another sad episode that marks the time in which it aired. A group of space hippies under the control of a Jim Jones-like leader hijack the Enterprise in search of paradise.
2. “Plato’s Stepchildren”:
Another episode in which a group of beings with superior powers use the crew as sport for their amusement. It’s a story with no real meat to it. It is noteworthy only for containing the first interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura. Of course, if you’ve read Shatner’s book on the series, you know that the kiss never really happened.
1. “Turnabout Intruder”:
The finale that took the series out with not a whimper, but a belly laugh. Decades before gender identity became a thing, Kirk is forceably transferred into a woman’s body so that she can take command of the Enterprise.
This episode is unintentionally ridiculous on many levels. The notion that women could not serve as the captain of a starship in the 22nd century was ludicrous when women were already emerging in positions of power in the 20th century. Also, Shatner was always a ham, but in this one, he is a scenery-chewing, double-fisted ham who outdoes even himself. This episode is so bad, it’s actually good.
Most third season fare, plus “The Omega Glory,” “The Alternative Factor,” and “I, Mudd.”