The iconic original Star Trek series was beloved for its fantastic sci-fi adventures – but not every episode was a winner.
By Gabriela Delgado
Published 8 hours ago
Despite being off-air for several decades, the original Star Trek series retains its place as one of the best science-fiction TV?shows of all time. It set standards for modern sci-fi?and became a pop culture phenomenon that has endured over the years in the form of several spin-offs, novels, and comics.
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With?three seasons, Star Trek has its fair share of great and awful episodes.?Many of them are well-known for their iconic status within the fandom and television history as a whole, but others are infamous for their outlandish plot, bad writing, and terrible characters. Thankfully for new fans, IMDb can help them skip over the bad episodes?and go straight for the best ones.
While orbiting a seemingly uninhabited Pyris VII, a mysterious entity places a curse on the Enterprise that demands Captain Kirk leave the planet, lest the rest of the crew be killed. Kirk, Spock, and Doctor McCoy all beam down to investigate and happen upon a castle filled with iconography from Terran fairy tales like black cats, witches, and dungeons.
The episode is quite slow and dialogue-heavy, with many unnecessarily long scenes where the villains?just stand around showing their powers and?explaining the plot. The lack of action makes “Catspaw” a pain to watch, and not even the appearance of a cute cat can save it from being one of Star Trek’s most boring episodes.
When patrolling system L-370, the Enterprise intercepts a distress signal from a fellow Starfleet ship, the Constellation. Upon beaming to the destroyed vessel, Captain Kirk finds Commodore Decker, who tells him about a large alien machine that destroyed the entire system around them?and killed?his crew. This doomsday machine’s only purpose seems to be annihilating everything in its path, with no apparent way to stop it.
”The Doomsday Machine” is one of Star Trek’s best episodes, with fast-paced writing that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats while exploring themes like?revenge, survivor’s guilt, and trauma through the character of Matt Decker. All in all, it’s a classic example of what makes Star Trek such a beloved show even now.
In “The Alternative Factor,” Kirk receives a mission from Starfleet urging him to investigate a bizarre disruption affecting the entire galaxy. While trying to find the source of the problem, Kirk and Spock encounter Lazarus, a man who claims to be escaping from a horrid humanoid creature.
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The episode’s biggest issue is the writing. Apart from making the plot impossible to fully grasp until the last third of its runtime, “The Alternative Factor” gave?fans one of the worst Spock characterizations in the entire first season. Kirk himself even comments on it in a strangely self-aware fashion that falls completely flat and does nothing to?help the episode out.
Upon?arriving at Deep Space station K-7 to assist on a dispute with the Klingons, the crew of the Enterprise finds itself troubled with more than they were expecting. Apart from the Federation’s most violent enemies, Kirk must deal with an entitled Federation official, his genetically-altered grain, and a swarm of small, furry creatures called tribbles who never seem to stop reproducing.
”The Trouble With Tribbles” has it all: comedy, the perfect amount of tension with the Klingons on board, and cute animals that, as Doctor McCoy says, humans have trouble resisting. The episode works incredibly well despite its intersecting storylines, which all tie together nicely in the end.
After?beaming aboard the Enterprise and incapacitating the entire bridge, an alien woman steals Spock’s brain to power a machine that rules an?underground community in her planet. Captain Kirk, Doctor McCoy, Scotty, and a non-sentient Spock must then search for Spock’s surgically removed brain before his body ceases to function.
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The premise already establishes “Spock’s Brain” as one of the more questionable Star Trek episodes, but the strange narrative choices are what?ultimately alienates the audience.?Having a race of beautiful women who, despite their power, seem to have no thoughts of their own is certainly…a choice, to say the least.
In the middle of?officiating a wedding between two crewmen, Kirk receives a distress call from an outpost?at the edge of the neutral zone between the Federation and Romulan?territories. A lone Romulan ship is suspected of destroying various?outposts within the neutral zone, leading Kirk into tactical combat with an alien race the Federation hasn’t engaged with in over a century.
”Balance of Terror” features one of the series’ best space battles, highlighting Kirk and his crew’s adaptability in critical situations. The episode also introduced the Romulans as an enemy Vulcanoid race with several differences from Spock’s culture.
The Enterprise is tasked with apprehending and transporting a rogue group who reject modernity in?”The Way To Eden.” Once aboard, the group explains that their main goal is finding Eden — a paradise where they can live away from technology — before covertly?attempting to take over the ship to fulfill their mission.
It’s easy to see why the episode is so disliked. While “The Way To Eden” is an interesting exploration of hippies during a?time when the movement?was most prominent, the ridiculous antics of the new characters, their unnecessary songs, and, most importantly, the atrocious writing make the episode?one of the worst in the series.
After a transporter malfunction strands Kirk, McCoy, Uhura, and Scotty in a parallel universe, the quartet must fit in with a more violent version of the Enterprise crew while they try to find a way back. Along the way, they meet the alternate?version of Spock, who notices the change in his crewmates and begins suspecting their origins.
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A combination of a popular trope, entertaining?writing, and great?character moments, “Mirror, Mirror” is as famous as an episode can get. Apart from being regarded as a fan-favorite, it also?spawned an array of novels and comics centered around various mirror universes. It also features Spock with a beard, which immediately makes it?unforgettable.
In “And The Children Shall Lead,” the Enterprise receives a distress call from a Starfleet outpost in Triacus, where Kirk and his landing party discover the site of a massacre. Much to their astonishment, the children of Triacus act as if nothing has happened, but further investigation shows that there’s a sinister explanation behind their strange behavior.
Some of this episode’s sins include the unforgivable amount of plotholes and out-of-character moments, as well as Melvin Belli’s acting as Gorgan, the main villain, and, not surprisingly, the inclusion of children.
When McCoy crosses a time portal into the 1930s, Kirk and Spock must go after him and prevent him from changing the past. Once back in time, they meet Edith Keeler, a kind social worker who allows them to help out at the mission she owns while they wait for McCoy, who despite crossing first is set to arrive later. Spock finds out that Edith’s death is the event that will change the timeline, forcing Kirk, who has fallen in love with her, to make a terrible choice.
”The City On The Edge Of Forever” is not only popular with Trekkies but is also widely?cherished by?the cast and crew, with Gene Roddenberry and Leonard Nimoy citing it as one of their favorites. Despite a slow start, the episode immediately picks up after Kirk and Spock step back in time, delivering what many consider?to be the best Star Trek episode ever.
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About The Author
(24 Articles Published)
Gabriela Delgado is a writer based in Lima, Peru. A Film Studies and Creative Writing graduate from the University of Alberta, she now writes for Comic Book Resources. She’s a fan of all things film and television, ranging from the latest superhero entries to the classic reality tv of the early 2000s. Send all inquiries and suggestions to her email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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