There's a lot of Star Trek. As of the end of the first season of the latest show Discovery, there are over 740 episodes in total - and then the films on top of that. With this in mind, it can be worth doing what the crew of the USS Voyager did on their way home, and take a few shortcuts.
The original 1960s series is where the Star Trek phenomenon began, but it's also understandably dated and often radically different to what today's TV audiences expect. I recently decided to get an introduction to The Original Series, and watched around 30 of the 79 episodes aired between 1966 and 1969 - using as my guide a number of "best of" lists.
If you've less time than I had, or are eager to move on to The Next Generation, what follows is my list best-of-the-best - my ten personal favourites episodes of the first iteration of Star Trek.
1) "The Corbomite Maneuvre" (S1E10)
In this episode, the Enterprise encounters a hugely powerful and mysterious alien vessel. Its occupant gives the crew just ten minutes to pray to their deities before they are destroyed. The episode takes its title from a spectacular bluff that Captain Kirk uses to rescue the situation, and it launches a grand tradition of bluffing in Star Trek. The ending employs a surprising, upbeat twist.
2) "The Galileo Seven" (S1E16)
Spock's lack of desire to have a command of his own is an idea that Star Trek has often returned to, but this excellent season 1 episode left the Vulcan with no choice. In "The Galileo Seven", he is forced to take charge of a small crew stranded on a planet and besieged by giant, angry, Yeti-like creatures. The episode delivers much more real tension than The Original Series usually did, and Spock's crisis of confidence is fascinating.
3) "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" (S1E19)
A classic time travel episode, this particular example sees the Enterprise unintentionally end up orbiting Earth in the 1960s. Realising they have caused damage to the timeline, Kirk's crew must try to repair the disruption - without making it worse in the process. There's some good humour in the fish-out-of-water scenario and Roger Perry is excellent as a pilot the ship must "abduct". Perry was a real-life US Air Force veteran.
4) "Space Seed" (S1E22)
Famously, "Space Seed" was used as the launchpad for the best-received Star Trek film of them all - 1982's Wrath of Khan. Even if the episode wasn't so important to the series canon, it would be essential in its own right. Ricardo Montalban is perfect as the exceptionally dangerous genetically-engineered "superman" Khan Noonien Singh, who threatens to wrest the Enterprise from Kirk's control.
5) "The City on the Edge of Forever" (S1E28)
Written by sci-fi royalty Harlan Ellison, "The City on the Edge of Forever" is undoubtedly the most celebrated episode of The Original Series, and possibly of the whole Star Trek mythos. An accident involving McCoy requires Kirk and Spock to visit Earth in 1930, where Kirk falls in love with a good samaritan played by none other than Joan Collins. The episode has it all - a rich vein of humour, tension, and the series' most tragic moment.
6) "Mirror Mirror" (S2E4)
If "Space Seed" is crucial in terms of setting up the successful Star Trek film series, then "Mirror Mirror" serves a similar purpose for future TV shows. In this superb episode, Kirk and some of his crew find themselves in a mirror universe in which there is no Federation, but instead a vicious Terran Empire. The mirror universe would go on to feature prominently in Deep Space Nine, Enterprise and particularly Discovery.
7) "The Trouble With Tribbles" (S2E15)
The comic interplay between Kirk, Spock and McCoy is a crucial element of The Original Series, but occasionally writers pursued a much more thoroughly humourous approach. One of the most notorious episodes of all, "The Trouble With Tribbles" sees the Enterprise increasingly packed with bizarre, purring, vibrating, fluffy creatures. The surreal concept provokes some genuinely brilliant verbal and visual gags.
8) "A Piece of the Action" (S2E17)
Broadcast shortly after "The Trouble With Tribbles", "A Piece of the Action" is another comic highlight from season 2. The ludicrous backdrop this time is a planet with impressionable inhabitants who have based their entire civilization on a single book about Chicago's 1930s gangsters. The charm of the story is how Kirk gradually adapts to this laughable environment, telling the pinstriped locals "we're taking over the whole ball of wax!"
9) "The Enterprise Incident" (S3E2)
Star Trek's third season has gone down in history for the poor quality of its episodes, due in part to budget cuts, but it has its bright spots. In "The Enterprise Incident", Kirk's outwardly reckless behaviour in provoking the Romulans turns out to be part of a fascinating secret mission. Intriguing dialogue is the episode's strength, as Kirk, Spock and the Romulan commander enter a duel of wits.
10) "Spectre of the Gun" (S3E6)
Like "A Piece of the Action" before it, "Spectre of the Gun" reflects the desire to put the Enterprise crew in more down-to-Earth locations, which prompted the development of the holodeck in The Next Generation. Here, the crew are made to re-enact the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in 1881 Arizona - as the side doomed to die. As well as having some interesting pyschological aspects, the episode delivers on the promise of a showdown.
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