Last week, we wrapped our reviews of the episodes of The Original Series that we deemed worthy of the Trek Tapestry — and next week, we’ll get to the movies. This week, though, we’ll talk about the episodes that you probably ought to view as well, though they’re not as historically relevant as the 14 we’ve reviewed so far.
We’ll do this at the end of every series, as a way of giving a nod to significant episodes that didn’t make the cut that we still recommend. Think of these as supplemental reading.
The Enemy Within
A transporter accident splits Kirk into good and evil halves. It’s over-the-top, and one of the episodes that provides the most fodder for Shatner impersonations. But it’s a good early episode that shows what Trek was capable of doing with the right story.
The Galileo Seven
Trek’s first shuttle-crash episode (which basically inspired about half of “Star Trek: Voyager”). It’s campy and repetitive, but it’s a good Spock show if you swallow that he can be first officer of the Federation flagship without having been in command of anything before.
The City on the Edge of Forever
Considered TOS’ greatest episode, which defies a sentence-long summary. I’ve always liked it, but thought it was slightly overrated. The events of the episode are never mentioned again and the time-travel reset kept it from our list. But Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley are on their A games and this is just classic science fiction (in a good way).
The Doomsday Machine
TOS’s best example of shipboard battle sequences, even surpassing the very good “Balance of Terror.” It didn’t make the Tapestry because of its one-off nature, but it’s worth a look. It’s also a good example of the TOS creators shoving contemporary messages into the plot. Kirk’s speech about “doomsday machines” is heavy-handed, even for this series.
The Trouble with Tribbles
The best comedy Trek’s ever done. Tribbles do appear in later episodes — and actually play a key part in “Star Trek Into Darkness”“Star Trek Into Darkness”. But we couldn’t quite justify giving it Tapestry status.
Spock’s brain is stolen to help run a civilization. Really. It’s a terrible concept that’s ridiculously conceived (Spock’s body is actually run by remote control for much of the episode!) but it’s enjoyable in its absurdity. It’s also not dreadfully dull, like some third-season offerings. For completists, it’s to Star Trek what the “Star Wars Holiday Special” is to Star Wars.
The Tholian Web
Another one that almost made the Tapestry, but the Tholians are such bit players for the rest of Trek that their introduction is more on par with the Jarada or the Pakleds than the Klingons or the Romulans. This episode does pave the way for the “Star Trek: Enterprise” two-parter, “In a Mirror, Darkly.” But it didn’t quite make the cut. Still, it’s probably Trek’s best Spock-Bones episode (even if Bones goes overboard in some scenes).
Requiem for Methuselah
TOS’s strangest episode, which is a major statement. The good: On an isolated planet, Kirk and Co. find an immortal human who was apparently Alexander, Merlin, Brahms and a bunch of others in Earth history. The bad: Weird stuff about android love and a plague threatening to kill the Enterprise crew. The idea that one human could have been so important in history could have made for a Trek classic. But this all the other stuff in this episode? Not so much.
The Way to Eden
Space hippies hijack the Enterprise in search of a mythical Eden, but all the plants there are … filled with acid (sad trombone). Like “Spock’s Brain,” this episode is so infamous that it deserves a viewing — and it’s another one that’s not dull or boring. It is absurdly heavy-handed and even kinda reactionary. If “Spock’s Brain” was the “Star Wars Holiday Special,” “The Way to Eden” is Mark Hamill’s appearance on “The Muppet Show.”
The final episode of TOS, and the only finale that won’t make it into the Tapestry, as it wasn’t filmed as a true sendoff. It’s final episode status makes it worth the view, but it’s also an absurd hour that ends a (mostly) absurd third season.
Others worth a look
Arena (visually iconic fight scene with a Gorn), A Taste of Armageddon (brash Kirk at his best, even if he pisses all over the Prime Directive), The Changeling (pretty clearly the inspiration for “Star Trek — The Motion Picture”), A Piece of the Action (Trek’s hammiest hour), The Ultimate Computer (the most starships seen in one episode of TOS), Return to Tomorrow (includes one of Kirk’s best speeches about space exploration), Assignment: Earth (a pilot for Gene’s proposed spinoff show), A Private Little War (after you’ve seen the Mugato and the Vietnam parallels, turn it off), Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (another visually iconic episode), All Our Yesterdays (the last truly great episode of the series).
Coming next week …
We get into the original six Trek flicks. And, no, we won’t be asking why God needs a starship.