Happy Birthday, Star Trek

If there is one television show that really defined my childhood, it had to be Star Trek the original series. Note that I say the original series because in my world, Klingons are not on the bridge, there is no such thing as a ship’s counselor and the Captain does not sip tea.

As Star Trek turns fifty this year (like me!) I decided to make a list of some of my favorite episodes. It was hard to whittle the list to ten, but, in no particular order, I managed to come up with:

The Menagerie I and II: I love how these episodes incorporated the unaired pilot with Captain Pike and the original crew. It’s an interesting insight into the “progressive” sixties that the network cut the role of Pike’s second in command, played by Majel Barrett, because test audiences thought she was too pushy. Majel ended up as Nurse Chapel, the voice of the computer, and Mrs. Roddenberry, so I’d say it worked out well enough.

Spectre of the Gun: The Enterprise crew gets to re enact the OK Corral… as the losing  side. Great stuff, even with a modest set budget.

Let That be Your Last Battlefield: Many Star Trek episodes were metaphors for modern issues, sometime thinly disguised and sometimes less than deft in their execution. But this one, in which superficial physical differences were perceived by opposing sides as fundamental character distinctions, was brilliant.

A Piece of the Action: If I straight up had to choose one episode, this would probably be it. Kirk and Spock navigate an alien culture that has modeled itself on the gangtsers of the 1920’s. I  totally understand all the rules of fizzbin.

Shore Leave: Unbeknownst to the crew, a  well-intended pleasure planet is reading their minds to help create a Fantasy Island type experience. McCoy’s white rabbit and Kirk’s vengeance on his Star Fleet bully was epic. I would love to see this Kirk/Finnegan rivalry in the current reboot of the series.

Trouble with Tribbles: Klingons, furry creatures, interstellar political intrigue. A classic by anyone’s standards.

Mirror Mirror: Doppelgangers, Spock with  beard and Uhura has a knife in a thigh holster.

I Mudd. I love the humor in this episode, and especially Kirk’s revenge by stranding Mudd on a panel full of androids… of his nagging mother.

The Conscience of the King: Shakespeare, murder, revenge. Perfection.

Patterns of Force: This was a powerful visual episode in which a Star Fleet observer’s “well intended” manipulations of a society result in a Nazi-like regime that Kirk joins a resistance to overthrow.

Runners Up include the The Corbomite Maneuver, which is crafty Kirk at his best, The Gamesters of Triskelion, which has all the classic Trek elements, campy music, fight scenes, scantily clad aliens and those shock collars, and The Galileo Seven, Spock’s moment to shine as leader of a stranded shuttle, who has to battle for his own crew’s respect as much as battling the largely unseen aliens outside.

Ok, Trek fans, what are your favorite episodes/series? I’m always up for Trek talk. Live Long and Prosper, ya’ll.