Wednesday, May 22, 2013

To Boldly Go

After seeing the rousing new, immensely entertaining "Star Trek Into Darkness", you may have an urge to rediscover some classic “Star Trek” episodes, or simply seek them out them for the first time if you are a newcomer brought into the Trek universe by the J.J. Abrams’ movies.

This is a not your typical best episodes of “Star Trek” list (“City on the Edge of Forever”, “The Trouble With Tribbles”, etc.) Notice I have two third season episodes on my list. For many Star Trek fans the third season is generally considered to be the weakest.

One of few times the series ever delved into an area considered disturbing. KirkSpockand McCoy are captured by two advanced aliens called the Vians who subject them to a cruel experiment in torture along with a mysterious mute girl named Gem who is an empath.
This is actually a moving piece of dramatic television even by today’s standards. One of DeForest Kelly’s best performances and special guest star Kathryn Hays is superb and magical as Gem the empath. The episode is also greatly enhanced by the gorgeous and haunting music of George Dunning.
Remember that “Mad Men” episode last season when a character was trying to write an unsolicited script for “Star Trek”? Well, that  was for real. The original actually series accepted unsolicited scripts and the producers did indeed read them, and occasionally they were purchased and produced. “The Empath”, written by Joyce Muskat, is one of those scripts.

This is another episode penned by an unrepresented writer, Jean Lisette Aroeste, and is actually her second produced script. The U.C.L.A librarian also wrote the third season’s wonderfully melodramatic episode “Is There No Truth In Beauty?”
Most would call “All Our Yesterdays” the second best time travel episode of the original series. Granted, there is no denying the greatness of “City on the Edge of Forever” and its boatload of awards and well deserved praise. But “All Our Yesterdays” is a formidable episode in its own right featuring an irresistible storyline about escaping into the past and a Spock romance that is every bit as interesting and dramatic as the Kirk/Edith Keeler love story in “City”.

At first this episode may seem more suitable to a guilty pleasure list, and it sort of is. But it is a great “Star Trek” episode period, because if ever there was a single episode that encapsulates everything that was a blast about the original series, "The Gamesters of Triskelion" is it.
This episode presents every “Star Trek” cliché you can think of and revels in its entertainment glory.
Omnipotent alien life form who must be taught a lesson by Kirk, check. Impossibly hot humanoid alien space babe, check. A hot and heavy romance between Kirk and the impossibly hot humanoid alien space babe, check. Arena style fight to death where Kirk wagers everything, check. This episode has it all, including character humor from Chekov and a gloriously over the top William Shatner giving a classic Captain Kirk style speech.
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