My love affair with the original Star Trek series began on the shag-carpeted floor of my grandparents’ house in the early 80’s, watching syndicated reruns with my uncles before family dinners. This being the 80’s, and me being an impressionable young grammar school nerd, I was acutely aware that Trek was dumb and old, and Star Wars was awesome. I also had an action figure-obsessed cousin who took every opportunity to convert the kitchen linoleum into the frozen surface of Hoth, all while ridiculing his dad’s scale model Enterprise.
The passage of time has allowed me to appreciate Star Wars for the wild west space fantasy that it is (and, let’s face it, two good movies), while more fully embracing Gene Roddenberry’s vision of our future and the timeless relevance of his ever-expanding Star Trek universe. It all started with this show, in 1966. And now, years later, I’m able to watch these episodes in all their technicolor glory and recall the wide-eyed, partially terrified impressions from my youth. The melodrama, mystery, and mini-skirts. The iconic sound effects and styrofoam soundstages. I’m all in. It’s impossible for anything of this sort to fully withstand the test of time, and many moments have since crossed over into camp, but the sum is certainly greater than its parts.
Having said that, of course, I’m going to pick five individual episodes that stand out. There are plenty of best-of and favorite episode lists out there, and narrowing down my own proved more difficult than I anticipated. I’m just glad I opted for The Original Series, because choosing just five episodes from the seven seasons of either The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine would probably be far more difficult. I’ll let my cohorts struggle with those choices (and then rudely comment on the ones they missed). The following episodes are listed in airdate order, not preference.
“What Are Little Girls Made Of?”
Season 1, Episode 7 (1966)
This early Trek episode provides examples of some of the classic conventions that we’re all familiar with: red shirts dying first, Kirk’s problem-solving fisticuffs, and discovering that space is full of beautiful women. It’s also a reminder that, as wonderful as this original cast is, sometimes the guest stars steal the show. Gene Roddenberry’s wife, Majel Barrett, is back as Nurse Chapel, a role she became more and more comfortable with as the seasons progressed (and the role I’d prefer to remember her for, as opposed to Lwaxanna Troi from Next Generation). The great Ted Cassidy (Lurch from Addams Family) plays the hulking Ruk. And the gorgeous Mini-Skirt Mobster Sherry Jackson, as the android Andrea, teaches us a thing or two about programming. In the middle of all this is a meditation on humanity’s quest for youthfulness, and the ever-pertinent question of Man or Computer. Continue reading Star Trek: The Original Series – Top 5 Favorite Episodes