An on-going series of Star Trek: The Original Series episode reviews
Hi, I’m Sue. I’m neither a doctor nor a bricklayer, but I am an Anomaly…
And I have to admit something. It’s a bit of a dirty little secret. I consider Star Trek to be my first and greatest love in geekery, and yet, I have not seen all of the series that started it all. I’ve seen every episode of TNG (several times over), DS9, Voyager, even Enterprise. But I’ve only seen a handful of TOS episodes. I haven’t even seen each of the first six movies. And I think it’s about time for that to change.
Back in January, I made it a goal (because I’m not a fan of the word “resolution”) to watch all of TOS during 2014. Well, I got a few episodes in, and then real life intruded on those plans. Suddenly, we’re at the midpoint of the year and I’ve made exactly zero progress, but things are calming down, fewer new shows are airing over the summer, and it’s time to try this again.
So, here’s the plan: I’m going to watch TOS (in order of airdate) and, to keep me motivated and hopefully entertain you, I’m going to blog about it. Each Sunday night, I’m going to post the list of episodes I’ve watched that week with a short summary of the episode and then no more than a paragraph of my thoughts on the episode, as someone who knows the rest of the Trek cannon pretty darn well but not so much of the Kirk-era stuff. I know you’re probably thinking that this is going to take a really long time, but I am a world-class binge-watcher. (All of Lost in 3 months, anyone?)
Ready? Here goes!
0x00 The Cage
Summary: The first, unaired pilot. Captain Pike is captured by an alien race who can control his mind and create fantasies and illusions.
Thoughts: I really adore Number One. I did find it curious that one moment, Pike says that he’s “not used to having a woman on the bridge” and not 5 minutes later, he’s calling her his “most experienced officer.” But still, she was great. Spock with emotions is just strange to see. Clearly the cast has not come together yet, but I wish she could have continued throughout the series as the First Officer. It is interesting to note, though, that the entire cast is white in this initial pilot. And that was not unusual when this show started airing. Watching this episode reinforces how important this show was for our culture, including not only different races but different ethnicities, all officers on the bridge, working toward a common goal.
1×01 The Man Trap
Summary: The crew is on a routine mission to give some scientists an annual checkup, but it turns out that the scientist’s wife has been replaced with a shape-shifter that can suck the salt out of people.
Thoughts: Feminist-me groaned a lot during this episode. A shape-shifter takes advantage of every man’s inability to resist a beautiful woman. *insert eyeroll here* But I get the feeling I’m going to have to get used to that while going back to these episodes. For me, the other takeaway from this episode is that Uhura is totally into Spock, and anyone who doesn’t see it needs a VISOR.
1×02 Charlie X
Summary: A teenage boy, the lone survivor of a crash, beams aboard the Enterprise. He tries to adapt to the human culture he’s never experienced before, but is sensitive and desperate to be liked. Turns out that’s not a great combination when the kid is a powerful psychic.
Thoughts: I love the scenes in the lounge and the camaraderie of the crew – that’s usually not something you see so early on in a series. In just the second episode that aired, the writers (or was it Gene himself?) are giving depth to their female characters. In 1966. Charlie’s powers are supposed to be a gift, but he has no self-control. He’s ruled by emotions, and when we let that happen, things can go wrong quickly. And another episode about manipulation and perception.
1×03 Where No Man Has Gone Before
Summary: A member of the crew becomes accidentally endowed with God-like powers. And then another. And Kirk has to make a choice between his friend and his people.
Thoughts: This was sort of like a re-pilot, shot first but aired third, which I don’t understand because a different look and feel had already been established in the previously aired episodes. The uniforms for the women match The Cage (pants!), and so does the cast – no Uhura, no McCoy. Everything feels a little bit off, the dialogue a little bit stunted, and they “tell me” instead of “show me.” (“Ah, yes. One of your Earth emotions.”) This is another story about humans gaining powers of mind-reading and mind-control, and the implications that it has. It’s not difficult to figure out what Roddenberry thought about a lot.
1×04 The Naked Time
Summary: A virus causes the crew to lose all inhibitions. They feel “strange, but also good.”
Thoughts: There is so much amazing stuff in this episode. It’s ridiculous and I love it. They actually say “SPACE MADNESS!” And the exchange between Sulu and Uhura (“I’ll save you, fair maiden!” / “Sorry, neither.”) might be the best sass in the history of television. Can we also discuss how the crewman sent over to the frozen shit takes off his glove to touch the thing he’s taking a sample of, then lifts up his hazmat helmet to rub his nose with that same bare hand? How did that guy graduate from the Academy? But what really I didn’t get: They found an intermix formula for the engines that let’s the go back in time, and they’re just all “whatever” about it? C’mon, guys. Yes, this was a ton of fun, but if TNG really wanted to do a callback to TOS in their first season, why did they pick this episode?
1×05 The Enemy Within
Summary: A transporter malfunction splits Kirk in two – separating the Good from the Evil.
Thoughts: I love transporter accidents! I’m surprised it took only 5 episodes to get to one. No one is all good or all evil, and we can’t be – one cannot survive without the other, and we are a balance of both… just like the dog wearing that ridiculous alien suit. They did that again in TNG (remember the Targ?). Three questions, though: 1. Why didn’t they just send a shuttlecraft down to the planet so the away team wouldn’t freeze? (Seriously, is there an explanation I missed? Or are shuttlecraft not cannon yet?); 2. That dog-creature is clearly a mammal. How does it survive in such freezing cold temperatures on that planet; and finally and perhaps most importantly, 3. Is Evil!Kirk wearing eyeliner?
That’s it for this week! I hope you will enjoy this as much as I am so far. As you can see, there will be snark. I snark at things I love.