Star Trek: TOS Revisited

Posted on Posted in Commentary, personal, Technology

As Star Trek’s 50th anniversary year comes to a close, I took a fresh look at The Original Series and its episodes.  I have developed a ratings scale to rate each episode.  I will not be presenting a synopsis of every episode, there are many other places to find that information.

Mr. Spock’s Rating Scale

  • Fascinating – The best episodes get this rating.  A true classic.
  • Interesting – A very good episode with many redeeming qualities.
  • Logical – A good, solid episode.
  • Insufficient – A decent, but not great episode.
  • Illogical – What were they thinking?
  • Unfortunate – Unwatchable.

Season 1

8 September 1966: “The Man Trap” (TOS Season 1 premiere)

Interesting – Star Trek is just getting its footings with this early episode.  For one of the first episodes, it is an excellent example of Star Trek’s coming mission.

15 September 1966: “Charlie X

Logical – Another good episode, not great, but it passes as an early episode where the series is getting its footing.

22 September 1966: “Where No Man Has Gone Before” (Pilot episode)

Fascinating – For a second pilot episode, this excels at establishing the characters and environment.

29 September 1966: “The Naked Time

Interesting – A great Trek episode with a nice blend of humor.

6 October 1966: “The Enemy Within

Illogical – This episode is full of implausibilities and confounding technical details.  How can someone get divided into two in the transporter.  Law of conservation of matter?

13 October 1966: “Mudd’s Women

Interesting – Humor, high stakes, what more do you need?

20 October 1966: “What Are Little Girls Made Of?

Logical – A great little episode.

27 October 1966: “Miri

Logical – A great show about aging, dying, and disease.

3 November 1966: “Dagger of the Mind

Interesting – This episode was parodied on a very early episode of South Park.  It deserves a high rating for that fact and its own merits.

10 November 1966: “The Corbomite Maneuver

Fascinating – The escape maneuver alone was worth making this a top-rated episode.  Brain, not brawn, is used to escape a seemingly inescapable situation.  Remember, Kirk doesn’t believe in the no-win scenario.

17 November 1966: “The Menagerie, Part I

Interesting – A nice way to incorporate the first un-aired episode of the series and show a different perspective of a ship commander.  Spock smiles.

24 November 1966: “The Menagerie, Part II

See above.

8 December 1966: “The Conscience of the King

Logical – A good episode, not great.

15 December 1966: “Balance of Terror

Fascinating – This is the first Romulan encounter in the Trek universe (at least in broadcast order).

29 December 1966: “Shore Leave

Logical – Here we have some great humor in a puzzling scenario.

5 January 1967: “The Galileo Seven

Illogical – Why does this episode make such a big deal about “Spock’s first command”???

12 January 1967: “The Squire of Gothos

Logical – Good humor.

19 January 1967: “Arena

Interesting – Nice use of gunpowder.

26 January 1967: “Tomorrow is Yesterday

Unfortunate – This is one of the worst episodes of Star Trek.  I hate time travel in general.  The science never makes sense; the timing of the return trip is always perfect; and there are rarely repercussions that stick.

2 February 1967: “Court Martial

Interesting – A very good court episode.  It is worthy of the best crime show dramas, just in a different century.

9 February 1967: “The Return of the Archons

Interesting – This is borderline fascinating.  Unfortunately it starts a long string of “let’s confuse the computer with illogic” episodes.

16 February 1967: “Space Seed

Fascinating – Kahn.

23 February 1967: “A Taste of Armageddon

Interesting – A new way to wage war places this futuristic episode in the place of being a highly unique concept.

2 March 1967: “This Side of Paradise

Illogical – Can a plant really protect against nasty radiation?  Can that same plant really make people overly happy?  No.

9 March 1967: “The Devil in the Dark

Interesting – Wow, so many getting this rating.  Let’s keep going…

23 March 1967: “Errand of Mercy

Insufficient – A fair episode with some good story ideas.  Good, but it falls a bit flat.

30 March 1967: “The Alternative Factor

Unfortunate – Who can really watch this one?

6 April 1967: “The City on the Edge of Forever

Illogical – This is often rated as one of Star Trek’s best episodes.  It has time travel, therefore the bad rating.

13 April 1967: “Operation — Annihilate!

Interesting – This gets a higher rating from me because it is the first episode I remember watching.  I love it.  A solid episode, but I’m probably overrating it.

Season 2

15 September 1967: “Amok Time

Fascinating – One of Star Trek’s best episodes.  It introduces Vulcan mysticism and cultural norms.  I find it to be a very creative episode in that it establishes the Vulcans as a very different species from Humans.

22 September 1967: “Who Mourns for Adonais?

Illogical – Maybe ancient aliens visited and acted as the prototypes for our mythology.  Maybe.  It’s an interesting idea, but that’s about it.

29 September 1967: “The Changeling

Insufficient – This episode, whether it was meant to or not, provides the prototype for the unfortunate Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  It is another example of trying to outsmart a computer in order to get it to explode.

6 October 1967: “Mirror, Mirror

Interesting – We have another transporter malfunction episode, but a very solid one.  This is the best mirror universe episode in the Star Trek canon.  The evil characters are evil enough to be believable.

13 October 1967: “The Apple

Insufficient – With exploding rocks and ANOTHER computer/machine to destroy through illogic.  It’s ok, not great.

20 October 1967: “The Doomsday Machine

Logical – It is hard to imagine anyone building a machine large and powerful enough to destroy star systems.  A great episode about a burnt out Commodore trying to take over the Enterprise.

27 October 1967: “Catspaw

Illogical – Star Trek’s Halloween episode.  Need I say more?

3 November 1967: “I, Mudd

Interesting – A great episode full of humor.  Yes, we try to confuse androids with illogic, but still a great episode.

10 November 1967: “Metamorphosis

Logical – A good episode where we meet Zefram Cochrane, inventor of the warp drive.

17 November 1967: “Journey to Babel

Fascinating – Another Vulcan episode that shows the father-son struggle between Spock and Ambassador Sarek.

1 December 1967: “Friday’s Child

Illogical – This episode tries to show a primitive alien race that is very different from ours.  It falls way short of a coherent story.

8 December 1967: “The Deadly Years

Interesting – A very good episode in which our heroes battle alien radiation.

15 December 1967: “Obsession

Insufficient – This episode rubs me the wrong way.  It is out of place for Kirk to be come obsessed about anything.

22 December 1967: “Wolf in the Fold

Logical – Did Jack the Ripper really survive?  It’s an interesting notion and a worthy episode.

29 December 1967: “The Trouble with Tribbles

Fascinating – This is usually rated as one of Star Trek’s best episodes.  The humor is top-notch.  I love it.

5 January 1968: “The Gamesters of Triskelion

Interesting – Super-beings are reduced to gambling for entertainment.  It’s a great episode that shows a different type of slavery in action.

12 January 1968: “A Piece of the Action

Insufficient – Do you really think an entire society is suggestible enough to build a life based on the gangsters of Chicago?

19 January 1968: “The Immunity Syndrome

Logical – A decent bottle show.

2 February 1968: “A Private Little War

Insufficient – I just don’t like this episode.  Why would Klingons really want to arm a developing culture against another developing culture?

9 February 1968: “Return to Tomorrow

Interesting – A terrifically advanced race tries to save itself through our favorite characters.

16 February 1968: “Patterns of Force

Logical – I really don’t know how to rate this episode.  It’s a fine episode on cultural contamination.  The similarities with Nazi Germany are a little too close.

23 February 1968: “By Any Other Name

Interesting – A nice episode with an interesting story and plot line.

1 March 1968: “The Omega Glory

Illogical – This could have been a great episode if it didn’t use Communists and Yankees as the two groups of primitive species.  That is what makes it horrible and barely watchable.

8 March 1968: “The Ultimate Computer

Logical – Do we need to outsmart another computer, again?

15 March 1968: “Bread and Circuses

Logical – An interesting story about parallel Earth development with a terrific punchline.

29 March 1968: “Assignment: Earth

Unfortunate – Time travel.  See above.

Season 3

20 September 1968: “Spock’s Brain

Illogical – This episode has all the earmarks of a cheap dime store novel.  I don’t find it to be all that bad, but most rank it as one of the worst episodes.

27 September 1968: “The Enterprise Incident

Fascinating – A terrific Romulan episode with intrigue and mystery.

4 October 1968: “The Paradise Syndrome

Unfortunate – It’s so bad that I can’t watch it and therefore can’t rate it.

11 October 1968: “And the Children Shall Lead

Logical – Children partaking in group chant is creepy.  A very creepy episode.

18 October 1968: “Is There in Truth No Beauty?

Illogical – Can a species be so ugly as to make one mad?  No way.

25 October 1968: “Spectre of the Gun

Illogical – Why?  Oh, why?

1 November 1968: “Day of the Dove

Unfortunate – This gets the worst-of-the-worst rating due every aspect of the episode.  The fighting is bad, the premise missing, the ending anemic.  Happiness makes the being go away… REALLY?!?!  This worst part of this episodes is that the Klingons now appear in blackface.  Could they not be made up to look more cruel without applying 1960s racial stereotypes?

8 November 1968: “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky

Fascinating – I love this episode.  This is the model Star Trek episode to show what the whole series is about.

15 November 1968: “The Tholian Web

Logical – It’s okay, not great.

22 November 1968: “Plato’s Stepchildren

Fascinating – This is the most historically significant episode of Star Trek.  We have the first interracial kiss on TV at just 17 months after interracial marriages became legal in all 50 states.  Amazing.

29 November 1968: “Wink of an Eye

Logical – I’m not sure how the science works, but it is an interesting concept.

6 December 1968: “The Empath

Illogical – This is just a bad episode, but watchable.

20 December 1968: “Elaan of Troyius

Logical – I like this little episode.  It has some great Klingon trickery.

3 January 1969: “Whom Gods Destroy

Insufficient – I have problems with the magical quality of Captain Garth’s abilities.  I love the challenge phrase.

10 January 1969: “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

Logical – This episode has my favorite scene.  The self-destruct sequence is just a classic and it makes good sense.  It was used well.  I admit that I tend to like pomp and ritual.

17 January 1969: “The Mark of Gideon

Logical – A novel idea of an overcrowded planet, but the mechanics don’t work.  Where do they grow their food… on their heads?

24 January 1969: “That Which Survives

Interesting – A good episode with a great nail biter.

31 January 1969: “The Lights of Zetar

Illogical – I still don’t know what those flashing light things were.  Bizarre, disjointed episode.

14 February 1969: “Requiem for Methuselah

Fascinating – I really like this episode for its “what if” scenarios.  It achieves a high level of believability… somehow.

21 February 1969: “The Way to Eden

Unfortunate – Star Trek’s hippy episode.  Need I say more.

28 February 1969: “The Cloud Minders

Fascinating – This is a wonderful statement on mental health.

7 March 1969: “The Savage Curtain

Insufficient – Abe Lincoln in space.  This episode could have been good, but just fell very flat.

14 March 1969: “All Our Yesterdays

Illogical – How can you magically transport to anywhere at anytime?

3 June 1969: “Turnabout Intruder

Insufficient – This might have been rated lower, but it is entertaining to see Kirk in a woman’s body.