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Star Trek Blind! -- The Original Series

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
I'm roughly 6000 dollars away from finally paying off my student debts, and am basically pushing myself to the limits of sleep and patience with my jobs in order to meet that amount within the next 4 or 5 months. Thus, I have arbitrarily decided I'm gonna watch some Star Trek. I enjoy watching/reading people's initial experiences on the things I love so I thought I'd log my experience for posterity.

The Next Generation was one my favorite shows growing up, but its been over 20 years and I've not seen all the episodes as I would just catch reruns whenever they broadcast. The other series I only have knowledge of from cultural osmosis, and is more or less a mystery.

Make no mistake: I am a star trek noob, and for the most part these are going to be my sequential impressions. I am watching the series for enjoyment and not serious critical study. There may be potential spoilers but I'll try to keep things vague, so bear that in mind if you haven't watched these either.

★ = Irritating
★★ = Mediocre
★★★ = Interesting
★★★★ = Engaging
★★★★★ = Riveting

I've been itching to make this thread for a while so with that, lets begin our voyage.


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Pilot – "The Cage" (★★★)

The best word I think I can use to describe this one is "Surreal." The camerawork, the strange star backdrop sequence when they jump to warp (I think? I had no clue what was happening), and especially Mr. Spock giving a little smile while they were petting that plant. Its certainly a pilot, trying to establish all the potential the show has to offer. We swing from a sci-fi glass menagerie, to an old castle, to a horse farm out of some 50s western. Its pretty wild, and I think folks in the 60s must have thought so too.

Those Talosians missed an opportunity. I couldn't help but think when they grabbed the two women from the transporter room "you've got one male human who absolutely refuses any attempts to bend him over your knee and resists your tampering with everything he's got, and a woman who seems more or less on board with the whole repopulation thing. Why not grab two or three of the men from the same away team?" Its that old 60s syndrome. I expected sexism in some form would be present in TOS but not right in the pilot. Poor Vira. If you had left with the crew maybe they could have helped you!

There's lots of pretty great details here. I was initially confused that Vira was clearly so young and not as scuffed up as the older scientists; chalked it up to the aforementioned syndrome. But turns out it makes a lot of sense in hindsight. This is clearly at the sales pitch stage, and a lot of what would come to be known and loved in the fandom hadn't quite materialized yet. Pike? Who the heck is Pike?! I wonder if he'll return. This doesn't feel like star trek so much as a dimestore paperback plot, but one adapted for the screen by diehard passionate fans.

I personally found the central conceit pretty interesting. "Live life, scuffs and all, or turn your back on it and wither" is something I can really relate to and thought about often. A strange pathway to explore it, but I hope its something the series revisits later.

I got a kick out of the one random guy walking around in shorts and a striped polo. Strap in Isrieri: its gonna be a long journey.


ep 2 "The Man Trap" (★★★)

Oh man. So this is the original series, huh? Things are gonna get jank I can tell.

Yet I'm kinda surprised that through the jank its still kind of...good? Compared to the pilot the dialogue and acting is leagues above, and I feel its only gonna get better. Pretty wacky to kick things off with some weird salt vampire monster, especially considering the modestly cerebral plot from before, but its kinda charming. What made the episode was the charisma of the actors & actresses, as well as the strange blocking: Kirk crawling around in the sand sneaking up on Crater was.... they must've held the camera on it for a fair minute or so. Got a chuckle out of me. I seriously can't wait until we get to that legendarily juicy ham. I live for that stuff.

If you had to ask me, what's the one thing that is unmistakably and quintessentially star trek, something that is the series signature, its the red alert sound effect. I didn't know it was this old and it threw me that it went unchanged from here to TNG apparently? Also I didn't mention last episode but these special effects are pretty damn good for the time. The props, I'd argue, might even be ahead of their time in some respects – the transceivers they used in this episode were basically flip phones.


Ep 3 – "Charlie X" (★★★)

Rated TV-14 for "Sex, Fear." That's a good sign right there.

And it delivered! Geez louise what a madcap episode this was; what an audience hook! A goofy stare, a musical sting, overlapping voices. That's one way to get you invested as the enterprise faces its mightiest foe yet, an adolescent boy! For something so goofy its a major downer.

Also can I just say, I know starfleet is a psudo-military organization and child-rearing is not in their wheelhouse but I mean c'mon now you can't offer better advice than perfunctory non-answers? Letting him roam around the starship as if he was just another member of the crew? And not as though he hasn't been cut off from all human society for 17 years? If this is even a slimmer of the sort of parenting commonplace at the time its no fucking wonder there's so much stupidity in the world. Just explain things! Mindfully! Literally! Just council the poor bastard and stop off-loading the responsibility! God-powers be damned! This is the reason why starfleet starting mandating psychiatric professionals aboard space vessels: to prevent just this sort of horseplay.

Already we're into the grey zone with the ethical dilemmas. Charlie is someone who's never had to deal with responsibility, and clearly the Thalians are even worse guardians than the enterprise. Having to send him back into their arms is clearly not the right thing for the boy, but what choice did they honestly have? He blew up an entire ship! How is he possibly going to learn about responsibility and empathy when his powers make his will paramount? Through no fault of his own the Thalians (out of pity) made him into a walking beast, his humanity a liability rather than an asset and now with no choice but to be made to quash it. The first episode was the escape from a cage, and this one is about remaining in one. Its tragic.

Y'know Spock might be a Vulcan in control of his emotions but that doesn't mean he can't feel them. Why ya gotta embarrass him in front of the entire mess hall Uhura? That's also why Charlie silenced her when she started singing for him. It might seem baffling to some since it clearly wasn't mean-spirited, but its pretty obvious to me there's little to love about being singled out and put on display for your awkwardness, like some sort of animal to gawk at.

Props to Charlie's actor. I love how he invaded their personal space and stooped over everyone sitting. Made the discomfort palpable.
 
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Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
Ep 4 – "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (★★)

Another day, another human with a god complex. Kinda boring and not much to say about this one. A guy gets zapped by a nebula and goes awol. He was Kirk's friend of 15 years but he also hasn't shown up until this episode. Here, we see Mr. Spock pretending to have no emotions so he can try to convince Kirk that, yes, the guy who's attaining unlimited power is going to take over the ship and likely murder everyone aboard. Although I dislike how that's a foregone conclusion.

I've been informed that this was the actual pilot for the series, and that the cage didn't air until much later. Weird, because it doesn't feel that way: I thought the cage was much more imaginative.

ep 5 – "The Naked Time" (★★★★)

A ticking time bomb: The ship spiraling down into a crumbling planet. A deadly disease on-board rapidly infecting the crew. All while being serenaded by off-key singing. I'd crack.

What a fun episode! This is more what I had pictured in my mind for TOS. I'm absolutely appalled by the unprofessionalism of these amateurs: You're on an ice-planet with an inhospitable atmosphere and an unexplained series of deaths in this tiny outpost, and then you decide you're gonna take off your glove and reach UNDER your protective suit to scratch an itch. Yes. Excellent. Everyone gets the damn virus and has itchy palms and not a one of them think to report this to sick bay. The first infected crewman's speech regarding his fears and doubts of space travel is pretty good, and it was tense moment.

Sulu is shaping up to be one of the most charismatic characters. Up till now he was just one of the background crewmen but I think this episode is what catapulted him into main cast territory. I love so, so much how he challenges the two crewmen and they don't freak out: "This isn't weird at all! Sulu's just up to his old antics again! Happens all the time!" Scotty is the true hero as far as I'm concerned – I always liked engineering stories and here we see him getting a complete lock on the situation. Uhura also had some great moments of sass and humanity here. The standout is Spock who, for those viewers who may have believed he had no emotions, now that illusion is shattered once he contracts the virus. A lot of pathos in the scene where he tries so hard to wrestle with his emotions, and just breaks down further at the futility of it all. Everyone got a little bit of development.

Also they can time travel now. And have discovered Warp 9 possibly. So that's nice. I'm used to TNG and the replicators of that series having eliminated scarcity, but in this era it seems they haven't been invented yet and they still need to manage the logistics of supply and delivery. I remember reading TOS being described as the 'wild west' days of star trek and I can see why that's so.

ep 6 – "The Enemy Within" (★★★★★)

This. Now this is the good stuff. Fuck physics its time for metaphysics babyyyy!

Superb camerawork with this one. Great shots like Shatner walking forward toward his double, then the two switching places for the next shot with the double in the shadows and Shatner backing away. My favorite is when Kirk & Spock go up in the lift and as the doors close, the imposter's hand juts forth in front of the camera, as though to clutch the door. Its so dumb but its great! The more bombastic the better.

Last episode I said everyone got some development, but that was everyone who's names I recognized. Yeoman Rand has been around since episode 2, and it seems like she's intended to be part of the main cast, but her only development is the myriad ways she can be made uncomfortable. Unfortunate, but its clear why she fell off the wagon. Shatner just owns the screen in this, and this is probably the first solid example of the relationship between Bones, Spock, and Kirk. With Kirk's two halves burning up and withering away respectively, its up to them to help put the man back together. Sulu also gets some great lines. This is a must-watch episode, but I'm beating around the bush here:

WHAT IS WITH THE DAMN DOG. You glued a horn to its head! And we're supposed to take that seriously?!? I love how unabashedly silly this show is unafraid of being.

"I've seen a part of myself no man should ever see." says Kirk. I disagree, its a part of themselves that every person should see and know. If it wasn't worth seeing, I don't think it would have been worth showing, and exploring. This concept appears time and again in media, and its typically riveting for good reason.
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
ep 7 – "Mudd's Women" (★)

Gotta say initially I thought this was gonna be pretty cut & dry: A sleazy smuggler in some kind of slave-trade who's trying to keep his real business under wraps in the guise of a mail-order bride business. But then after the hearing he's going on about making the three ladies rich, duchesses even! That sounds like the words of a man in their employ. Something more is happening under the hood here...

And then there wasn't. Or if there was it really wasn't explained. What even is this episode? I think this one's safely skipabble; nothing remotely interesting going on. If there's a central premise I have no clue what it is. There was potential for it and I think you could have spun something interesting out of this, but the writers clearly didn't know what they were going for here. There's gonna be more duds I'm sure, and I'm certain this isn't the least of them.

The show acts like the women without the venus drug (makeup) are somehow hideous but they're not?? I'm guessing they're just supposed to be older women? Vira in the pilot, when they revealed her true face it was more pitiable and tragic considering how badly she had been mutilated in the transporter crash. Here its just.... this episode explains nothing.

JUST GIVE KIRK THE DAMN CRYSTALS.

ep 8 – "What Are Little Girls Made Of" (★★★)

Kirk makes me laugh, man. Look at his face just before it fades to opening titles: the timing of the cut and his agape mouth are too good. He also tries to fake out the villains with the old "distract them by talking then suddenly leaping to action" trick as well fight it out with the power of styrofoam rocks. To say nothing of the EPIC DODGE ROLL OF DESTINY.

Corby's quest to create android vessels into which humans can transplant their consciousness doesn't really seem like an ignoble goal here. Kirk immediately finds it distasteful, signalling that the audience should too but I don't quite understand why. Well....I mean apart from the needless deaths of his two security officers but that feels more like its the serving the plot's need for a villain than examining the ethics of the situation. It does raise some interesting questions regarding whether Corby truly is human or not. Being more familiar with Data & his quest for personhood in TNG, I would say the answer seems obvious. However Corby's own assumptions and prejudices are what gets in the way of his vision – he's unable to look at Angela as anything more than a machine yet tries so hard to convince Kirk & Angela that he is not. Where is the line? By whom is it drawn? Would a human-android transplant really be a perfect replica? Its similar to that famous thought experiment with the transporters.

The makeup for Rock was kinda creepy and therefore I loved it. Also what a voice that actor has! I damn near spit out my drink when Kirk tried to leave his cell and Rock just slides into frame and stares Kirk down an inch from his face! This is a good episode for Kirk shenanigans.

ep 9 – "Miri" (★★)

A perfect replica of Earth?! 100,000 light years from the solar system?!? With technology and architecture from the 1960s?!?!?!?! OF COURSE!! WHY NOT?!?!?

Using these familiar locales to tell science fiction stories is just as weird and extremely cheesy now as it likely was then, but it also kind of serves to help ground things a little with familiar surroundings rather than being plunged into a completely alien world each episode. I mean its not too hard to just use your imagination and pretend that this isn't a perfect earth copy, and is intended to be an alien planet. I predict they're gonna get a lot of mileage out of this old trick. Gotta say though, not an auspicious start.

A deadly disease that is the product of a botched attempt at eternal youth wiped out the entire adult population of the planet's species 300 years ago. Only the children were left, with their growth severely slowed down due to the disease's latent effects. The titular Miri is the girl the away team finds hiding in a closet, about to enter puberty and contract the disease herself. The team has to find a cure for her and themselves while dealing with the roaming packs of half-starved kids who get up to some mischief.....I dunno, man. I'm starting to think one of the writers had a phobia of children.
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
ep 10 – "Dagger of the Mind" (★★★★)

This might have been a pretty decent episode by its concept alone, but its elevated to the stratosphere by Van Gelder himself. His performance is intense and arresting, and builds up the neural neutralizer before you even know what's amok in the penal colony. Seeing the horrific effects it imparts gives it more gravitas than if it had just been some silly colored light show. I don't know why people don't embrace the ham! Sometimes it works in your favor!

That brings up one thing I really like about TOS thus far: Its good at reeling you in with little questions. The show never explains weird inconsistencies or odd behavior to you outright, but leaves you guessing. Its clear when something's up, but that something could be a lot of things! Here, it was pretty obvious -- "Lethe" is the name of one of Adams' patients. Not exactly subtle.

"What was your crime?" Kirk asked Lethe. "Does it matter?" she responds. Dr. Adams completely wiped her memory and thoughts making her into a mindless slave, and the cruel hypocrisy of his "treatments" are made explicitly clear with this exchange. Of course it matters.

ep 11 – "The Corbomite Manuever" (★★★)

I keep saying 'corbonite' but no, its corboMITE. Damn annoying.

I've heard of this one. Its supposed to be super famous, right? Its pretty cut & dry but what is there is imaginative and sufficiently tense. The camerawork in this episode is a lot more cinematic and dynamic, and the unique music for the strange spinning cube does a lot to make this feel like a more significant encounter than what we've seen up till now.

The whole episode is this showdown of wits between a potentially hostile vessel in their sovereign space. The alien Bartok is pretty obviously a puppet but I love how the episode turns that to its advantage by making him an actual puppet. The real Bartok is much creepier. I suppose its a happy and uplifting ending but it felt anticlimactic to me that the whole thing was just a "test" by this alien to see whether we'd resort to violence or not. That's lame, man.

For a show that seems to believe violence has no place in the future, so far every single episode someone bites the bullet. The only exceptions have been The Enemy Within & this one. The threat of death is not really what drives the tension but rather which of the two ships will break from the pressure first, which is much more interesting. Good trek always inspires your imagination, and bumping shoulders with a brand new alien life form is going to be a plot point I foresee returning a lot.

ep 12 – "The Menagerie Pt.1" (★★★★)

I honestly wasn't sure if Captain Pike was going to come back. But I didn't think it would be so soon......and I didn't think it would be like this. I'm on the edge of my seat before the titles roll.

Pike suffered severe injury & radiation burns saving civilians from a starship wreckage and has been confined to a wheelchair, his body in a vegetative state. Spock has risked mutinity to direct the enterprise to the starbase where he's been kept to pick him up and take him back to Talos IV. But why?! Having seen the pilot I think I know: He wants to deliver Pike back to the Talosians so that using their mental powers Pike will be able to communicate again, or to try and release him from the confines of his mutilated body. With TOS you can't ever be quite certain.

Spock is the best damn character on this show and seeing him in any peril is knuckle-biting stuff, let alone peril that's entirely self-afflicted as he is acting against Pike's own wishes to be left as he is. Talos IV after the events from the pilot episode seems to have been declared a forbidden zone by starfleet, and returning or contacting the system for any reason will result in the death penalty. Why is Spock doing this? What does Pike know or not know? Has the situation on Talos IV changed? Will Kirk's command be permenantly revoked? TUNE IN NEXT WEEK FOR THE EXCITING CONCLUSION.

The big knock I have to give is that during Spock's trial they run a clipshow of the pilot episode to give some context to those who didn't see it. I wonder if my feelings toward this episode would have been elevated further had I not watched it; Spock's motives and Pike's past being a complete mystery.

Lt. Uhura hasn't been given a ton of lines in the show so far, but her screen presence is incredible. She makes the most of her time to inject some humanity into big moments. I love how she gave Angela a little hug when she found her lost husband in ep8, and here her shock upon Spock admitting his betrayal reflects what we're all probably feeling.

ep 13 – "The Menagerie Pt.2" (★)

Well I was right. First off this entire episode is just the remainder of The Cage. I was also right that Spock was going out of his way for an old friend to help him in a time of need, seeing a solution that can allieviate his condition where medical science could not. I was rather hoping there would be some new development as we checked back with the Talosians, or that we could see Pike happy & hearty and able to say a few words to Spock. That would have made it all worth it. Unfortunately the show lets you down there and lets the clips do all the talking. I skipped through the whole thing.

I think if you're watching blind as I am, not seeing The Cage first may elevate your intrigue in the first part, but the second will let you down anyway.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
ep 10 – "Dagger of the Mind" (★★★★)

This might have been a pretty decent episode by its concept alone, but its elevated to the stratosphere by Van Gelder himself. His performance is intense and arresting, and builds up the neural neutralizer before you even know what's amok in the penal colony. Seeing the horrific effects it imparts gives it more gravitas than if it had just been some silly colored light show. I don't know why people don't embrace the ham! Sometimes it works in your favor!

That brings up one thing I really like about TOS thus far: Its good at reeling you in with little questions. The show never explains weird inconsistencies or odd behavior to you outright, but leaves you guessing. Its clear when something's up, but that something could be a lot of things! Here, it was pretty obvious -- "Lethe" is the name of one of Adams' patients. Not exactly subtle.

"What was your crime?" Kirk asked Lethe. "Does it matter?" she responds. Dr. Adams completely wiped her memory and thoughts making her into a mindless slave, and the cruel hypocrisy of his "treatments" are made explicitly clear with this exchange. Of course it matters.
I'm not sure if this is relevant or not but the title is taken from a soliloquy by the title character in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

"Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible to feeling as to sight? Or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressèd brain?"
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
I'm not sure if this is relevant or not but the title is taken from a soliloquy by the title character in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

That it is Macbeth has no relevance in that episode, but reading from the quote its very possible they took inspiration from the line in creating the neural neutralizer. However, the writers were clearly drawing from Shakespeare quite a bit:


ep 14 – "The Conscience of the King" (★★★★★)

"Captain Kirk, who are you to say what harm was done?"
"Who do I have to be?"

Great television right here. The dialogue speaks volumes with few words, and sticks the landing every time. Its a bitter episode, but a vital one that reveals a lot about Kirk and how our actions today resonate throughout time. As well as how they can shape others.

I wish I had more to say about it but its 3:00am and I'm tired. Easily my favorite so far. It helps that I'm a history rather than sci-fi nerd.

ep 15 – "Balance of Terror" (★★★★)

ROMULANS! Wait, so Romulans were introduced before Klingons? I thought it was the other way around. Also I'm amused that the romulans are literally romans in space. That makes sense, but I used to think the name was just artistic license. ALL KINDS of preconceptions are being shattered tonight!

These are my favorite kinds of star trek episodes: Political intrigue vs the various intergalactic factions. The juxtaposition of the rival captains was juicy and correct me if I'm mistaken, but is this the origin of that line? "In another life, I could have called you friend." A little weird that when they cut power from both ships to hide from the others' sensors, they also need to whisper. I know they're going for submarine combat here but I don't think that's how space sonar works...

Don't tell me that the only reasons the romulans have pointy ears is so that a helmsman could be racist toward Spock? Y'know what they also look like? Humans! You don't see Spock going around mistrusting everyone onboard the enterprise do ya? Its actually not that unbelievable that the Vulcans in an earlier century could have colonized many different star systems, and those systems in time developed their own identities and empires. I always thought it was weird as a kid "they're not the same type of aliens they shouldn't look alike at all!" but its easier to understand now. Nevertheless it feels like Vulcan should be a Romulan colony rather than the opposite.

I've got a question: In Kirk's time he's never once used the term federation. Rather when we refer to a universal body things like "United Earth" or earth vessel or starfleet gets thrown out there. Seems as though these are the first footsteps of earth outside our main star quadrant or whatever. The show is skim with any details, but the first contact war with the romulans is intriguing: Primitive vessels, on nuclear power, and can only communicate with basic radar & radio tech. How did all that work? Leaves you wanting more!
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
I've got a question: In Kirk's time he's never once used the term federation. Rather when we refer to a universal body things like "United Earth" or earth vessel or starfleet gets thrown out there. Seems as though these are the first footsteps of earth outside our main star quadrant or whatever.

I thought I knew the answer to this, but I decided to do some wiki diving and found a different answer than I thought. According to Shatner, it was the writer Gene L. Coon that first introduced the concepts of Starfleet, Starfleet Command, and the United Federation of Planets. Apparently the first spoken reference to a "Federation" is in a season 1 episode you haven't quite gotten to yet? "A Taste of Armageddon"
 
Yeah, the first season of TOS, their writer's room bible must have been like a few stray memos; there's almost no coherence or well thought out ideas of what the setting even is. Star Trek fans today like to talk about the Federation like something that's a holy concept that always was and as some kind of coherent "vision". But building out the setting is something that took decades for Star Trek to do with a bunch of trial and error as they went. So it's really fascinating to me to go back to TOS and see them slowly put together the thing. It's also fun to see little call backs to TOS Season 1 peppered through out the franchise like logos for the "United Earth Space Probe Agency" showing up in Voyager or Enterprise.

Keep an eye out for more stuff like this, Isriei. IIRC it isn't until like Season 2 that we even get the first mentions of core Star Trek concepts like the Prime Directive.

Also, fantastic writeups so far, they're a lot of fun to read. I also appreciate them being in their own thread, because it helps to be able to easily get to all of your other posts on the subject. I might not reply on a regular basis, but I'll continue to lurk and read these with great anticipation, so keep up the good work!
 
This doesn't feel like star trek so much as a dimestore paperback plot

I think one thing that watching TOS reveals for people mostly coming in from TNG or later shows is that Star Trek and dimestore paperback plots are not mutually exclusive. I would say that the vast majority of TOS episodes (and many early TNG episodes) are basically dimestore paperbacks of various quality. Star Trek has been many things, and before the TOS movies one of those things was an anthology series of dimestore sci-fi paperback stories that happened to feature a reoccurring cast.
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
In a lot of ways, isn't TOS a pioneer of serialized TV storytelling in the first place? Not that the show really tries to have multi-episode story arcs or anything, but it was still pretty new for a prime time TV show to build up a cohesive setting beyond just "here's the main characters you know and love doing another episodic thing" like every other TV show at the time.
 
I would argue that it's mostly not until the movies. It's wildly inconsistent from episode to episode and doesn't trend toward becoming more serialized over time.

I don't think this is a problem. I enjoy the show for what it is. But I think that although it has reoccurring characters and concepts it isn't serialized in any meaningful way.

If you disagree and do think that the reoccurring characters and concepts do make it meaningfully serialized, at the very least I don't think TOS can be argued to be a pioneer of serialization. That would have to go to soap operas. Even if you want to limit it to a very narrow category like only prime time American TV, there were prime time soap operas with heavy serialization that pre-date Star Trek.
 
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Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
ep 16 – "Shore Leave" (★★)

Oh this is gonna be a fun one. Its extremely clear what's happening at the outset here, but the big mystery is what's causing it? Personally I think I'd enjoy a planet where your hallucinations come to life. Provided of course that the planet didn't try to trap you on it. Its a holodeck episode before holodecks. A knight even skewers McCoy. "He's dead" says yeoman barrows. Nonsense, says I! You're not a doctor! Turns out that yes, the yeoman was not a doctor and McCoy in peril is nowhere near as riveting as Spock. The actual truth of what's going on behind the scenes is a little silly and every scene is filled with walking stereotypes, but it was the 60s what am I supposed to do about it.

In this episode, Spock tells a joke. This convinces Kirk to take the shore leave and its brilliant. Good thing he did too: Even though this is just a silly what-if there is still a body count. It would be easier to list the episodes were someone doesn't die. McCoy comes back, why didn't the ensign? No one even asks about her.

How can you not love Finnegan? How can you not love Kirk asking him "What's going on here Finnegan, what's happening to my crew?" LIKE HE'S GONNA KNOW. Turns out that he does know. Epic twist. You also gotta love that there's shots of the sidewalk and what looks to be a storage hut from the park they're filming in.


ep 17 – "The Galileo Seven" (★★★★)

Yo there's a plague. There's a plague on this planet that they need to deliver this medicine to. And we're studying quasars with our thumbs up our butts? I'm with the commissioner – why take the chance? Kirk messed up here and I think that's the point.

I don't consider this an episode about the callousness of cold emotionless logic or about needing to make difficult ethical decisions. This is a story about shortcomings, the difficulties of command & leadership, and how what we consider our strengths can also be our biggest weaknesses. Spock's stubbornness & intelligence fails to avail him of the situation and in fact exacerbates the problem. The other men aboard, with their insistence upon burial and desire for vengeance, risk the life of Spock and the crew for what amounts to a human ritual. Kirk's willingness to take chances, his shrewd and in-the-moment decision making backfired on him and he put the lives of multiple crew members at risk. He tries his damnedest to buy time and rectify his mistake, but its an impossible task and he's forced to leave them behind. It takes Spock finally learning the lessons that the mission taught him to make a reckless decision in an act of desperation to save them all. I'd love if someone with a larger vocabulary could put this more concisely for me. This is an excellent lesson for us all to learn. No matter how self-sufficient or encompassing your ability, our mistakes often come from our weaknesses which can at times even BE our strengths. We all have our shortcomings. We need one another to make up for those shortcomings.

We need men like Mr. Scott! Scotty is once again the true hero of this show.


ep 18 – "The Squire of Gothos" (★★★★★)

WHAT. ITS Q! Q IS HERE! Okay okay, he's not Q I hear you all saying. But you remember Q episodes don't you? This is one of those.

"We must get back to our ship!" says Kirk.
"Yes I must experience your grief at separation." says Trelaine
"I am responsible for 400 men & women aboard this vessel-"
"WOMEN?!?"
Kirk's like ohh shit.

The strange entity calling himself Squire Trelaine is essentially Q, but rather than feeling bemusement and moderate contempt of humanity here he's utterly fascinated by us. Specifically by our martial & warlike history; killing & death. Its all terribly quaint, how these lesser beings struggle & romanticize. He's been observing Earth through some kind of telescope, but his planet is far enough away that the light currently reaching him is from the early 19th century. With human visitors finding their way into his lap how could he not resist entertaining them and enjoying the pleasure of their company? If only they'd stop being such spoilsports about it. I feel like there's a lesson here about the appropriation of culture, the difference between that and how experiencing a way of life different from one's own is meant to enrich yourself. It requires genuine admiration & respect which Trelaine lacks. The fact that its western european culture he's playing with, which considering the eurocentrism of the last several centuries on this half of the globe, is particularly poignant on several layers. He understands the form...but not the substance.

Fantastic from beginning to end. Great quips, great performances, and pretty much everyone catastrophically uncomfortable. What's not to love? "You will hang by the neck until you are dead! DEAD! DEAD!!!!"

P.S: I'm convinced. Someone DEFINITELY had a child phobia.


ep 19 – "Arena" (★★★)

...Oh my god. Its this one. I know this one. I....I can't tell if this is good or not.

Now don't get me wrong. This is incredible. THIS dear readers, is the PINNACLE of absurdity. The original series up till now has been more than a little bit silly, but no matter what they've thrown at me I've been able to take it in stride and laugh along with it. This however, is too much.

Its not even the Gorn itself, nor the battle. Its everything that is silly all stirred in and calculated just right to brew a perfect storm of schlock: The static camerawork, the lumbering movements, the dumb hissing, Kirk shimmying into the background for multiple edits, the whistling of the grenades, the preachyness of the Metrons, the bright sunny desert environment, the helplessness of the crew, the audio logs, the contrast between what we're shown and what we're meant to make of it.

L-like...I mean the Gorn has Kirk, is about to kill him, and then it MOVES THE ROCK THAT'S GOT HIM PINNED to get a clear stab. I guess. I suppose.

I love it so much. Its so terrible its beautiful. There's a reason you see this a lot in parodies. The actual ideas behind this episode aren't bad but it all just fell flat on it's face. I've decided: This absolutely deserves three stars for effort. They tried goddammit. Oh lord on high, they gave it their all. Let no one say that Star Trek doesn't swing for the fences with every ball.
 

Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
Regarding The Menagerie, basically the network types found the pilot (The Cage) too cerebral. Obviously DesiLu didn't want to let all that footage to go to waste, so it was recut into this two parter.
 
If you enjoyed the Trelane episode, the actor comes back to play the character again in the honestly quite good 90s PC adventure game Star Trek: Judgment Rites, which is basically like a series of mini-episodes featuring the original voice actors.

Between the two 90s PC adventure games and Star Trek: The Animated Series, TOS is blessed with great adaptations that not only maintain the spirit of the show but feature the original cast. The games might be a stretch if 90s PC adventures aren't up your alley genre-wise, but I'd definitely recommend trying out The Animated Series too if you enjoy TOS and want more!

(Personally, I like the Animated Series even more than the original show.)
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
I think one thing that watching TOS reveals for people mostly coming in from TNG or later shows is that Star Trek and dimestore paperback plots are not mutually exclusive. I would say that the vast majority of TOS episodes (and many early TNG episodes) are basically dimestore paperbacks of various quality. Star Trek has been many things, and before the TOS movies one of those things was an anthology series of dimestore sci-fi paperback stories that happened to feature a reoccurring cast.
Of course there is that one episode of TNG which is a dimestore novel (but not sci-fi).
 
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Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
ep 20 – "Tomorrow is Yesterday" (★)

"Swing for the fences with every ball." Did I say that?

The enterprise gets flung back in time to – okay I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count....didja guess? THAT'S RIGHT. The 1960s! SURPRISE SURPRISE!

I groaned and rolled my eyes cuz right after the Gorn episode I really wasn't in the mood for these types of shenanigans but it went in a direction I wasn't expecting. Rather than needing to sneak around looking for some kind of vital part to warp back to the future or whatever, they bring up a guest. No dilemmas or tension or ethical quandaries, its a silly what-if that's pure mindless fun... Emphasis on mindless. But that only lasts for about 25 minutes before it switches right back to my initial reading.

I was only barely able to finish this one its so God. Damn. Boring!

ep 21 – "Court Martial" (★★★)

Its the history nerd in me but I like court trial episodes. We get some background, the mystery, the investigation, and the big twist. It doesn't really compare to the likes of Measure of a Man but its decent. The defense lawyer is definitely what you might call theatrical: I had to roll my eyes at the "rights!" spiel. Feels like in older shows that was a big trope.

Well I think we can say Yeoman Rand has been dropped from the show for good. Initially her plot was that Kirk had feelings for her but is never able to act on them because as a starship captain he needs to maintain a level of professionalism and propriety, maintaining a sort of will-they-or-won't-they. She has slowly disappeared over the course of the series run as Kirk's old flames reappear again and again. Here they finally toss that plotline out the window as he smooches the prosecution right on the bridge. I think this was the right choice: If they're gonna have a character who's only there for Kirk to schmooze with, better to have it be a different actress each time. Rand's actress didn't have a lot of stage presence. Uhura had her beat by a country mile.
 
It's complicated enough and there are enough competing accounts that I think it's best to avoid reducing it to to "she had a drug problem."

She also had a complicated relationship with an executive on the show who sexually assaulted her, and Roddenberry said it was just a budget cut and nothing about her behavior on set.
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
ep 22 – "Return of the Archons" (★★★)

We've finally done away with the need for an 'explanation' of the obvious earth-like aesthetics on these alien planets. Here we're dropped right in with no explanation and Sulu in peril. He's transported back to the enterprise but just a hair too late, before his mind could be possessed by the odd hive-mind that controls the planet. Doesn't really feel like a hive mind as much as a cult. Which is why the costumes used are so apropos.

Landru sounds like the name of some stuffy professor. I was waiting the whole episode for him to be just that but apparently this story was far more influential than I first gave it credit for! People in the 60s sure did have the robot voice on lock. Here is an example of another concept that is extraordinarily goofy – convincing a computer to self-destruct with pure logic alone! But it nevertheless works somehow. I don't know why.

Shatner pulls off the old-timey tux pretty well. Nimoy does too but he had to wear a big dumb cloak for the first 20 minutes of runtime. They don't tell you it was to hide Spock's ears and I respect that they didn't feel the need to explain something so obvious. Star Trek: Made by nerds, for nerds.

ep 23 – "Space Seed" (★★★★★)

Kirk found a mutual adversary in the Romulan commander of Balance of Terror, and far more powerful foes like Bartok from The Corbomite Manuever, but no other antagonist yet has felt as ruthless, as calculating, or as menacing as Khan. Even in the most dire situations, the villains have always come across as cartoonish, misguided, or tragic. In comparison Khan's introduction is taken very seriously indeed.

This is the one episode of the original series I've seen before. After I saw The Wrath of Khan and learned he was in an earlier episode I had to come check it out. Having other episodes to compare it to now it isn't only iconic because of the movie, but a top shelf episode in it's own right. I can only compliment Ricardo Montalban so much.

"I'll need someone with late 20th century knowledge, here's a chance for that historian to do something for a change what's her name...McGuyvers?" says Kirk.
"McGivers." mutters Spock.

I feel for McGivers man. How irritating must it be to be a historian in the 24th century? Most officers probably have some basic working knowledge of Earth history, and in that case only to know how far ahead they've come. But to be a lover of history in a time where those your fellows seem eager to put it all behind them... that's not a fun job.

Getting a glimpse of star trek's past and learning about the Eugenics War is fascinating; the idea of stumbling on someone from the distant past floating out in space in an iron tomb. It doesn't take Khan long to take over the ship entirely, and of course Khan being Khan, he does it in no time at all and makes it look easy. The supposed stakes of him using the enterprise as a weapon of war to conquer an earth colony isn't really the draw here. Montelban's performance and his antagonism with Kirk are magnetic. He's intelligent and seems to have a plan for every situation, he's witty and can see through Kirk's machinations outsmarting and overpowering him at every turn. Honestly save for McGivers' moment of conscience, the crew should never have been able to beat Khan who had the upper hand the entire runtime, and when things started to go south still had an ace in the hole. But of course, he didn't account for his weakness to ketchup dispensers.

I love the ending to this episode so much because its a tactful example of killing two birds with one stone. Khan's a man with a superiority complex and an urge to control the things around him. He has no place in the 24th century, but they can't simply lock him up or execute him. After all it was the enterprise that opened the lid of the coffin, and for all his faults he is a human being out of his time. There's also McGivers whose mutiny cannot go unpunished, but she's still a member of the crew, and to my mind the enterprise was never an assignment that could make her happy. So rather than trying to rehabilitate him in a penal colony, Kirk decides to leave Khan on a desert planet. Its capable of life but hostile and wild. "Can you tame a world?" It really feels like the best possible outcome. Just AND humane: A solution that adheres to the mores of star trek's idealistic future.

"It would be interesting to return to that planet in 200 years, and see what crop grows from the seed you planted here today."
Oh what portentous words, Mr. Spock.

ep 24 – "A Taste of Armageddon" (★★★★★)

OH MY STARS AND GARTERS Scotty is in the captain's chair?! I'm nerding out over here! I totally didn't see that coming and what do I keep telling you all Scotty is the HERO of this show! Picks up something fishy where the others do not and sees through it straight away! He fixes problems in no time flat, squeezes every ounce of efficiency from equipment and crew, AND is sharp & shrewd himself to boot! The man can't be stopped! Errm 'ahem' anyway...

This was wild. I'm honestly a little taken aback by how good this is. I'm struck by how many good episodes there are in just the first season. SET ASIDE the fact that this premise is incredibly asinine and lets do some math real quick: Say that on each planet there are 400 million people. Lets say that on average, each year about 5 million people die due to "casualties" from the war. The war has been waged for 500 years, so that's approximately 2.5 billion people dead total. Nevermind the horror that all of those would have been suicides....

This episode takes a good hard look at war, but strips away all the excuses. What are they even fighting the war over? No one ever says. As ugly as war is, we don't descend to it without reasons; petulant and greedy ones, but reasons nonetheless. The conflict between these two planets has long lost it's reason. The deaths have no reason. However that's just the surface level: There's a lot to unpack with this episode if you really want to get into it. What fascinated me most was, assuming a universe with no afterlife and no continuation of the soul, the survival of your species is the single most paramount directive. Without more of you to continue on, all the deaths of the past and their struggles in life, everything our ancestors clawed for, were for nothing. What about your struggles? Your triumphs? Are you still telling yourself its all for your own sake? The difference between the annihilation of your entire history, everything that makes you who you are, an millions of lives spent for a vain prolongation, is that really so high a cost if you believe it is all or nothing? I'm not certain this is meant to be a critical finger pointed at how war is bad. Its highlighting the decisions that have to be made by those who are responsible for these lives and how having to choose between two impossible stances feels like a terrible trap. Maybe it seems like I'm gushing undeservedly over a kitschy episode but the presentation and scenario aren't as important as what sort of reflections it leaves you with.

Kirk & Co, with style and panache do indeed find a way to broker a peace but I thought that the solution was going to be different. Kirk destroys the computers that the two races use to perpetuate the virtual attacks, but I thought he was going to use one to completely bomb out and destroy the enemy planet. Its all virtual: When faced with the need for the entire planet to massacre it's own population, they would have no choice but to stare long and hard into the mirror and recognize the stupidity of what they've been doing. If Kirk had done that then opened a channel for peace talks, wouldn't they have leapt at the chance to end the struggle?

Some of the preceding episodes like Return of the Archons have their echos and callbacks in later television shows, but this was completely new to me. I also gotta point out that for the netflix episodes, they've used some CGI to update the wide shots of the ship exteriors or to update the odd model here and there. All of its been inoffensive until now: they went full monty for the planet's surface. Its obtrusive and looks terrible.

P.S: Here's where we finally get the United Federation of Planets referred to by name!
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
ep 25 – "This Side of Paradise" (★★★★)

The music swells, the camera zooms in on the woman's face. The inexplicably recurring coat of vaseline on the lens surrounds and accentuates her visage. Ohh boy another Kirk escapade here we come. Cut and zoom to Sppp—whhhhAAAAT?!?!?!?!

Yet another episode that utterly floored me. All signs pointed to this being a run-of-the-mill mediocre mystery but it was so much fun, the actors were having a great time, and it tops off at the end with a great character moment between Kirk & Spock. I haven't been so thoroughly mugged like this by television in years! Basically an agricultural colony ran afoul of some of the natural flora that are...hmmm. Lets say a a metaphor. Spock gets zapped by some of the spores and the fun only escalates from there.

"Get back to your stations... Ensign! Get back to your station!"
"I'm sorry sir, we're beaming down to the colony."
"This is mutiny, mister."
"...Yes sir, it is."

Kirk's face in that moment... That's the face of utter realization. It might be the hardest I've giggled thus far... Right up until the plants snuck up on him then the giggles were uncontrollable.

One funny thing about TOS that keeps cropping up: Every now and again there will be a musical sting in a...funny location. It throws me into a laughing fit everytime and the one here about 11 minutes in might take the cake.

ep 26 – "The Devil in the Dark" (★★★)

This feels within the same vein as The Man Trap all the way back in ep 2. Not too amazing but also not without its intriguing aspects. The monster here is beyond goofy. Its a walking carpet that digests both rock...AND PEOPLE DUNDUNDUN. Its pretty nifty how it all ties up in the end but 50 men are still dead y'know. The reason that the creature attacked the miners is justified but its like...I don't know how I would personally feel about such an arrangement.

I haven't mentioned it but this is actually the second appearance of Spock's vulcan mind-meld technique. The first was back in Dagger of the Mind. At that time it felt like an ingenious way to pull information from a man who's thoughts were being hidden even from himself, and here they try to do something similar: Speak with a creature that has no mouth, no means of communication that we can understand, yet possesses an intelligent mind. I feel conflicted because whether or not you find it compelling or cringing depends on the extent you wish to apply your imagination and roll with it. Star Trek has no fear of being silly or campy because it asks you to see past all that to the crux of the matter. I find that earnestness endearing.

ep 27 – "Errand of Mercy" (★★★)

Of course the enterprise initiates the war with the Klingons. How ridiculous of me to imagine otherwise.

"We won't get more time by talking about it Mr. Spock. The trigger's been pulled, we've got to get to Organia before the hammer falls." He's talking about a gun here but its the future does he even know how one of those old suckers work? Sulu's the collector. As far as I know Kirk has little interest in such antiques.

I love the interaction between Kirk and the Organian who comes to greet them. He does some strange bow and hand gesture, and Kirk stands there just looking at him, before he decides to try and mimic the same gesture in response but ITS TOO LATE and the organian already started talking before Kirk could finish... its really hard to explain something that is funny without being able to see it.

This is one of those times where I'm not sure how literal I'm meant to take the presentation. Organia is an alien world, and the sets that the production was able to lift this time was from a medieval picture three lots down. The organians seem rustic and not even capable of spaceflight, but are perfectly able to receive alien visitors, and the residents don't even bat an eye when Kirk & Spock beam down right in the middle of the village. The reason I ask is because when Kirk explains that the Klingons are going to occupy their planet to use as a base to launch attacks against the federation, they say "Well we don't need the protection of the Federation, we have nothing the Klingons could possibly want." If they really were a rustic, agricultural people this would make some sense despite the obvious, because from their point of view they might be thinking on a smaller scale. Its more than a little incongruous...is what I was thinking until they dropped the twist on us. This episode is like a re-examination of A Taste of Armageddon but in reverse and far more naive. Not sure how I feel about it, but it was pretty humorous that the organians had to be driven to the absolute brink of their societal norms before they were compelled to do literally anything.

The Klingons are pale shadows of what they will become (no forehead ridges = no klingon!), but that contrarian streak is right here at their inception. "We want obedience! We will have no disorder, no rebellion! Any rule-breaking is punishable by death!" The organians completely cooperate with a smile, and the Klingons despise them for it. Kirk isn't afraid to talk sass and they're like, "Genuine hatred! Excellent!" So much for that war. I'm sure we'll take the 'lesson' of the organians to heart and never have another one forever and ever.
 

Issun

Could be a fren
I'm so happy that you liked This Side of Paradise. It's easily.my favorite original series episode.

Also, did you recognise True Balok in The Corbomite Maneuver?
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
I'm so happy that you liked This Side of Paradise. It's easily.my favorite original series episode.

Also, did you recognise True Balok in The Corbomite Maneuver?

I did not recognize him, but I've been informed after the fact that he played Opie's little brother on Andy Griffith.

Choosing my favorites from the season isn't gonna be too tough, but ranking them is. I like them all for different reasons.
 
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