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Star Trek: The Original Series

Zamros

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I've just started watching Star Trek from the very beginning (Now it's all on Netflix in the UK). I'd only seen the reboot movies and Wrath of Khan before this and I'm already loving it.

Pilot: The Cage

I perhaps shouldn't have started with this one as it uses Captain Pike (The Original Captain of the Enterprise) with only Spock staying on to become part of the cast. However it was an intriguing beginning to my Star Trek journey with the cheesiest of 60s TV FX. It posed the question of whether reality is really more important than one's perception of reality.

1. The Man Trap

A fun wee introduction to the Enterprise cast, with plenty of dead red shirts as the cherries on top. A creature that drains men of the salt in their bodies was an interesting idea, although I'm not sure how close the Star Trek crew were to replicating the symptoms of extreme hyponatremia. The ethical argument of whether or not to kill the creature was very well done.

2. Charlie X

This is probably the episode that made me start to realise why this show is so beloved. Charlie X was an extremely well crafted monster of the week. I thought it was incredible how I could feel so much hatred and sympathy for someone simultaneously. Janice's predicament threw me right back to watching Jessica Jones, and how terrifying it must be for someone with that kind of power to be obsessed with you. In the end we're faced with another Gone Baby Gone style choice that tugs at all of the heartstrings.

3. Where No Man Has Gone Before

This series is just going to be us sympathizing with things that use their godlike power for evil isn't it? I was thinking to myself throughout how I'd react to being gifted that kind of power and I'm not sure I'd react too positively either. But they're going to have to evolve past just putting the monster of the week out of its misery for its own good, or the series is going to get a little repetitive. The episode wasn't bad, the ending was just a little contrived.

4. The Naked Time

This episode was just pure magic. George Takei running around shirtless with a foil, an American that thinks he's Irish, Spock's emotional breakdown, Kirk being a Shakespearean motherfucker. Also we're only 4 episodes in and already THE ENTERPRISE CAN TRAVEL THROUGH TIME! HAS NOBODY ELSE FIGURED THIS OUT YET? THAT WARP DRIVES ARE CAPABLE OF SHIFTING YOU BACKWARDS THROUGH TIME? WHAT THE HELL?

I'm starting episode 5 now, but are there any episodes I should avoid? I know it can get really bad at times.
 

matrixgrindhouse

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Spock's Brain, The Way to Eden, and Assignment: Earth are all pretty awful.  And much of Season 3 is on the weak side.  But I'd still say everything's worth a first watch.  With something like The Original Series, the bad episodes are as much a part of the legacy as the good, if that makes sense.
 

Canon Editor

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Awesome, I have started watching it yesterday too!  This thread may be a good place to share ideas!  

Nonetheless, I’m not going the complete route: with a bit of research I have come up with a list of 25 essential episodes to get started with, which I’m enjoying very much.  Since many of the episodes are standalone, once I get over these first 25, I’ll probably go back and see what I’ve skipped.  
If anyone is interested, I have posted the episode list, along with a shorter one, in my following post.

By the way @"Zamros", the fan series Star Trek Continues (11 episodes released in the last two years) has been receiving a lot of praise too.  It continues and concludes the voyage of the Enterprise, rebuilding sets, costumes and narrative structure de facto identical to the one of the 1960s series.  
Roddenberry’s son even said so at a convention: 
“As far as I know, if my father was alive he would consider these stories canon.” 

It is probably worth a look!   :D
 

asterixsmeagol

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YES. I tried getting a friend into TOS but we started at the beginning and he got burned out on the bad ones. I should have picked a top 10 list and then filled in the blanks later.
 

Canon Editor

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I watched THE ENEMY WITHIN today and enjoyed it far more than I had WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE, which certainly didn’t annoy me but did kind of lose my interest in the third act.  This episode completely delivered with a more compelling, thoughtprovoking threat.  It completely turns around Kirk’s character, only for the audience to realize it really just showed you what us humans are really made of.  
Very poetic.  Hopefully it’ll keep getting better!  

I will be updating it as I watch them.
The first one is the one I’ll be following, and is 25 episodes long.
1. Where No Man Has Gone Before
2. The Naked Time
3. The Enemy Within 
4. The Corbomite Maneuver 
5. The Menagerie, Parts I and II
6. The Conscience of the King
7. Balance of Terror
8. Space Seed 
9. This Side of Paradise 
10. The Devil in the Dark 
11. Errand of Mercy
12. The City on the Edge of Forever 
13. Amok Time 
14. Mirror, Mirror 
15. The Doomsday Machine 
16. Journey to Babel
17. Obsession 
18. The Trouble with Tribbles
19. The Gamesters of Triskelion
20. A Private Little War
21. The Enterprise Incident 
22. The Tholian Web
23. The Empath
24. Let That Be Your Last Battlefield 
25. All Our Yesterdays


I’d be curious to know what @"bionicbob" thinks of any of these.   :p Perhaps…?
 

bionicbob

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Both lists are excellent imo, showcasing a wide variety of different themes and allegories.

Just curious, are you watching the original versions or remastered?
 

Handman

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asterixsmeagol said:
YES. I tried getting a friend into TOS but we started at the beginning and he got burned out on the bad ones. I should have picked a top 10 list and then filled in the blanks later.

What bad ones are there in the first season?


Also, Canon Editor, you are watching these for the first time?  If you are, are you for sure set on only watching 25 episodes?  If not, may I suggest you bump it up to 26?  The Menagerie is very good.  If you'd bump it up to 30, I'd add The Naked Time, Shore Leave, The Squire of Gothos, and Journey to Babel (which introduces Spock's father, Sarek).  They might not be "essential" episodes, but they're what makes this show so good.

But what you have are great picks.  I wouldn't be able to narrow the show down to 25 episodes.  I think all 79 of them are iconic in their own way!
 

Duragizer

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Handman said:
asterixsmeagol said:
YES. I tried getting a friend into TOS but we started at the beginning and he got burned out on the bad ones. I should have picked a top 10 list and then filled in the blanks later.

What bad ones are there in the first season?

"The Alternative Factor" instantly springs to mind. "The Galileo Seven" is none too hot, either, though I wouldn't exactly call it bad. Can't think of any others.
 

Handman

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I like "The Galileo Seven", but Spock does seem a bit out of character at times throughout.
 

Canon Editor

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bionicbob said:
Both lists are excellent imo, showcasing a wide variety of different themes and allegories.

Just curious, are you watching the original versions or remastered?

Thank you for your ready and kind opinion!  I don’t exactly know, in fact.  I think they may be the remastered versions as I’m watching them on Netflix, but I’m not sure.  

I’m onto “The Corbomite Maneuver” now!

EDIT: Removed details on what I removed from list
 

Canon Editor

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I finished THE CORBOMITE MANEUVER  just a few minutes ago.  Although the episode starts to drag before the reveal, the dialogues and characterization here really raises the bar and the revelation had my jaw dropped.  I enjoyed it a whole lot.  The core idea of the episode - the central theme of discovering the unknown and preparing for it to be something entirely different to what we expect it to be - is played extremely well here to subvert expectations in a fun, ironic and extravagant ways.

Next up, The Menagerie: Parts I and II!
 

bionicbob

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Canon Editor said:
 I don’t exactly know, in fact.  I think they may be the remastered versions as I’m watching them on Netflix, but I’m not sure.  

Oh you will know the difference lol... The Remastered version feature all new CGI effects, instead of the original 1960s model work, not too mention the picture quality is significantly better.   If you are watching it on Netflix, it is most likely Remastered.   While I love the original model work, the CGI definitely enhances the storytelling in certain episodes like Amok Time, The Ultimate Computer or the Doomsday Machine.

"Journey to Babel" is significant as it gives insight to Spock's family and background.  Character's history is rarely touched on in the original series, so when you do get a character background story it is usually pretty juicy.  "Conscience of the King" is a great one, revealing a key piece of history from Kirk's past.

"Day of the Dove" is my least favourite Klingon episode.  I much prefer "Arena", which deals with similar themes.  Plus its Kirk fighting a Gorn!!!

"Let This Be Your Last Battlefield" -- I keep going back and forth on this episode.  Love.  Hate.  Maybe that's the point.  Certainly still relevant.   And it has a nice piece of Trek continuity, as the self destruct code is the same one used in Trek III.

"Paradise Syndrome" -- often overlooked on most lists, many hating it, I have true soft spot for it.  I will often debate other Trekkies that Kirk's TRUE LOVE was not Edith Keeler from "City on the Edge of Forever" but Miramanee.

From your list, my Top Five Faves are:
1. Amok Time
2. Doomsday Machine
3. Devil in the Dark
4. Balance of Terror
5. Errand of Mercy and All Our Yesterdays (its a tie!)
 

Canon Editor

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Thank you @"bionicbob" !
I have added "The Conscience of the King" to the list, in place of The Deadly Years (which I'll see anyway).  
I hsortened the list to 23, by the way.  Added "Journey to Babel" too.
 

asterixsmeagol

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Duragizer said:
Handman said:
asterixsmeagol said:
YES. I tried getting a friend into TOS but we started at the beginning and he got burned out on the bad ones. I should have picked a top 10 list and then filled in the blanks later.

What bad ones are there in the first season?

"The Alternative Factor" instantly springs to mind. "The Galileo Seven" is none too hot, either, though I wouldn't exactly call it bad. Can't think of any others.

"The Alternative Factor" was the one where he stopped watching. He didn't stop because he hated it, but it wasn't great and he had other things he'd rather watch.
 

asterixsmeagol

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bionicbob said:
Oh you will know the difference lol... The Remastered version feature all new CGI effects, instead of the original 1960s model work, not too mention the picture quality is significantly better.   If you are watching it on Netflix, it is most likely Remastered.   While I love the original model work, the CGI definitely enhances the storytelling in certain episodes like Amok Time, The Ultimate Computer or the Doomsday Machine.
I'm not a fan of the remastered version. The CGI effects look out of place with the 60s sets and costumes, and 12 years later they really don't hold up, while the original props do look dated, but they fit in with the dated look of the whole show.
 

bionicbob

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It should be noted many hard core fans dislike the Third Season, as Gene Roddenberry was essentially pushed out  by the Network and replaced by Fred Freiberger as show runner.  While season three lacks some of the depth and poignancy of episodes past, there are still many fun adventures.

Though it does have the infamous "Spock's Brain", considered the worst TOS episode ever.

For me, the worst 3rd season episode has to be "Requiem for Methuselah".   Kirk is written as a complete @sshole... utterly out of character and contemptible.   The only redeeming feature is the very last scene with Spock trying to ease Kirk's pain.
 

Canon Editor

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Indeed, I had heard.  Interesting to hear about Gene Roddenberry being kicked off.  I thought that had been the case only on The Next Generation after two or three seasons.  

On a side note, I have updated my 23 episode list for one last time.  After your comments on “Day of the Dove”, and “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”, @"bionicbob", I dug a bt deeper and thought I should replace the former with the latter.  
Again, all episodes I remove I will get back to after I’m done with the first essentials.  
This probably isn’t interesting to anyone, but seeing as I posted the list I thought it would be reasonable to explain my modifications.  

I’ll be seeing “The Menagerie, Part I” tomorrow!  Can’t wait!
 

addiesin

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When I sat and watched a bunch of TOS for the first time last year, "The Conscience of the King" was the first one that surprised me and that I genuinely enjoyed. I wouldn't recommend watching it first, I think part of my enjoyment came from being familiar with the main players and (very mild spoilers with the rest)
getting a peek into some Kirk backstory and world (universe?) building. 

With the rest up to that point I could at least see the merit and why others enjoy the show, but felt like a lot of episodes feel like repeats, particularly with evil versions of the main cast (because of a teleporter accident, a shapeshifter who isn't really them, some kind of space drug, another kind of space drug, an illness, a double from another universe, etc.). 

I was really surprised with just how much this show really is the American version of the same idea as the first original Doctor Who. Science fiction, emphasis on education and real science where possible, with a lead that very much represents the sensibilities of the patriotic everyman of their respective countries of origin. A small crew of regulars that are there to be sometimes relatable and sometimes dumb to take the lead look good/smart/compassionate/right. 

I also get slightly more Futurama jokes, which is always a plus. I will probably revisit the show soon and get through the rest but if season 3 is as bad as they say I may just move on to trying TNG again.

Edit: I reread this and feel like it's way too negative overall. Most, if not all, episodes are very charming, the remasters on Netflix have a visual quality so good it'd make Classic Who fans jealous, I liked many elements and parts of most episodes even if I have a few gripes about repetition and or filler (like if they were all fifteen minutes shorter I think it'd be a huge improvement in pacing), and if the ideas hadn't been done to death in more recent fare I'm sure I'd be taken in wholly.
 
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