FW Presents – Discovering Star Trek

Rob welcomes newly minted STAR TREK fan Erin Entrada Kelly to rank the original series 79 episodes!

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29 responses to “FW Presents – Discovering Star Trek

  1. Ironically, after multiple failed attempts across more than a decade and a couple of countries, I finally got my significant other started on an incarnation of Star Trek this weekend. Not just willingly, but enthusiastically. Now if I can get her to 79 episodes…

  2. GREAT episode. Erin almost lost me at the beginning, comparing Buck Rogers to TOS, but thankfully she instantly saw the difference. Oddly enough, this week, I had Trek on MeTV with the sound down, listening to my daughter’s impromptu flute concert. But I could still see the episode, and “Mirror, Mirror” was just as engaging with Shatner and Nimoy emoting in silence. When Buck Rogers came on, again silent, it really showed the difference in general quality to me between the shows. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Buck, but it’s greasy fast food compared to Star Trek TOS.

    I don’t want to spoil anyone about your listing, but I have to say in recent years your #1 has really moved up my personal list. That is one of the few episodes where I feel the “new” effects plus it as well.

    Oh, and insane as it sounds, Shari Lewis is indeed THAT Shari “Lambchop” Lewis! I had no idea either! I learned that in Marc Cushman’s wonderful “These Are The Voyages” book series, which are now my Trek bibles. I can’t recommend that enough. I think both you and Erin would enjoy the heck out of them. THE best book for all the behind the scenes creative goings on in Star Trek, literally day-by-day for each season.

    Again, great episode, and please do a sequel when Erin has watched Trek films I-VI!!!

    Chris

    1. I had no idea that that was “the” Shari Lewis. It seemed so absurd that it would be that I didn’t even consider looking it up. WOW!

      Thanks for listening Chris! I always love talking to Erin. I highly recommend her YA books.

    2. Chris, according to the Memory Alpha wiki on “The Lights of Zetar” (you inspired me to Google), Shari Lewis wanted to play Lieutenant Romaine but wasn’t cast. She also intentionally had Mira fall for Scotty because “Kirk always got the girl.” In another weird coincidence, Jerome Bixby was Bill Bixby’s uncle! (Okay, I made that up; I was channeling my inner Roy Thomas.)

      This was a lot of fun, and I hope you keep filling Erin’s F&W dance card. I’m not hard core enough as a Trekkie to have all the episode names memorized, but I was with you on the best and the worst and anything where you described the setting or plot. “The Enterprise Incident” is actually my favorite, but I’m also a big fan of “The Doomsday Machine,” or as I call it, “The Flying Blue Cornucopia of Death.” I’m one of the weirdos who really appreciated the updated effects, and as Chris said, they really shined in that episode.

      In fact, I agreed with Erin’s choices generally. I, too, reject any episode with space hippies or unsupervised children, both of whom always came off as shrill and/or creepy on TOS. I will add this caveat about Bill Shatner: I recognize that in some episodes, he chewed the scenery like a Bismollian (Rob, ask One if the other network all-stars for clarification.). That said, he didn’t always do so, and there were many scenes where he would communicate with a raised eyebrow, a Rob-like sigh, an eye roll, or just the tone of his voice. This was especially true in episodes that were more about relationships, or ones where Kirk wasn’t always at the center of the action, such as “The Trouble With Tribbles.” I found it entertaining when he was hamming it up, but those underplayed moments were the ones where he came across the most “commanderly” to me.

        1. Shatner is a helluva an actor. Maybe he occasionally went to big, but he was never less than engaging. Whenever they gave Kirk a personal stake in a story, he really shined. “Obsession”, “Court-Martial, “Conscience of the King”. “Operation: Annihilate” and of course “The City on the Edge of Forever” featured some of Shatner’s best nuanced, non-hammy work, and it’s great.

          On the other end of the spectrum, you can kind of tell Nimoy was fed up with some of the shenanigans in Season 3 and often just looks bored, or pissed. So they both could run real hot, or real cold.

          Chris

  3. Great episode! Interesting ranking! And I agree – robots and AI is always the greatest villain — a lesson we seem to refuse to learn!

    Nobody likes Space Hippies, do they? Except Rob.

    1. Count me as another Space Hippies enthusiast. I’ve always been fond of that episode and almost felt a bit hurt that Erin put it dead last (sorry for the spoiler everybody) when there’s so many worse episodes. C’mon, worse than Alternative Factor or Spock’s Brain? Say it ain’t so…

      1. I will always put “The Alternative Factor” at the top of my personal “worst” list. Great intentions for an interracial (and interdimensional) love story were squashed by last minute re-writes that left the story incomprehensible. John Drew Barrymore, the actor cast as Lazarus didn’t show up for filming, and Robert Brown literally had to learn his lines as he went. Everyone involved tried to pull it off, that episode disintegrated during production. It’s just a mess. Worse than “Spock’s Brain” or Space Hippies any day, for me.

        But “The Way to Eden” is actually pretty cringe-inducing, for me too. I do always like me some Charles Napier, though.

        Chris

  4. What a thoroughly enjoyable episode. I found it fascinating that Erin was so completely unfamiliar with TOS and I was similarly fascinated listening to her comments on the various episodes. It’s also impressive that she drew up a complete ranking list for the entire series. I’ve never done anything even close to that (in fact, I think I would drive myself mad if I tried).
    Anyway, not to give anything away, but I’ll say that her no. 1 choice is indeed one of my very favorite all-time episodes, and I fully agree with many of her top-end picks.
    As for some of her low-end, worst episodes, well, I tipped my hand above that I don’t agree with her last place choice, but again, find myself in agreement with many others. And I’ll say that while I don’t by any means think “Turnabout Intruder” is a good episode (yes, its gender politics are reprehensible), I at least find it watchable because I think Sandra Smith did such a good job when she was playing Captain Kirk. It’s really a case of making the best of a bad script and story idea (kind of similar to France Nuyen in “Elaan of Troyius”, as Rob noted).

    Anyway, I hope you do more episodes with Erin’s Star Trek impressions/commentary. Nice to know she’s working her way through TNG, although I’m thinking she maybe should have watched a few of the movies, like I through IV, first. Also, I’m surprised it didn’t come up in your convservation, but I’d also recommend watching the animated series, which – like a number of other fans- I consider season 4 of TOS.

  5. Funny because I also started watching TOS with some of my friends last year. We started with watching (the reboot of) Battlestar Galactica and TNG, then added TOS to the rotation because we were curious. One of them has seen BSG and TNG, while none of us have seen TOS.

    We’re currently on season 5 of TNG, S3 of BSG and midway through season 2 of TOS. The Original Series is…sure a thing, if you’re coming into it in your mid-20s, in 2020-2021. The consensus thus far has been that it’s insanely boring, until things started going, in which case it gets insanely wild. Some episodes of season 2 feel like fever dreams, like “A Piece of the Action” and “I, Mudd” giving us headaches from how crazy they are.
    My favorite episodes are “Amok Time” and “Mirror, Mirror”. I prefer the more concept and character-driven Twilight Zone style episodes of the show, ultimately. The straightforward sci-fi action stuff is a little unremarkable to me; the most recent episode we saw, “The Immunity Syndrome”, was a huge slog.

    The cast really are phenomenal. Despite how slow the episodes are (I truly believe that even shaving 5 minutes off the runtime would help these immeasurably), as long as any of the main three are there, it’ll be watchable. Unsurprisingly, Spock is my favorite. I received a Spock stand-up for my birthday last year, and I look to it for inspiration during these hard times.

    This was a great episode, I really enjoyed hearing the two perspectives, being closer to where Erin’s coming from. Given how many season 3 episodes are firmly in the back half of the list…hoo boy, looking forward to that.

    Also if you have Amazon Prime, you have the option to watch TOS without the CGI effects, they simply say “Star Trek Season _”. That’s how we’ve been watching, as we prefer that flimsy plastic model.
    I’m actually cool with the digital Enterprise, but the matte paintings being replaced are a big loss.

    1. The complete Blu-ray collection also includes the old non-CGI versions of the episodes. My wife made sure to find me the d school versions. :-)

    2. Davis, between Erin, your crew, and we middle-aged people who grew up with Trek TOS reruns, Dr. Coletta (professor and sometime commenter) could do a case study on how tastes have changed and what’s stayed the same.

      I’d be interested in hearing y’all’s takes on the Kelvin universe Trek movies. To me, they strive to maintain much of the same personality and relationship dynamics (Uhura-Spock notwithstanding), but the pacing is more frenetic, consistent with modern tastes. I enjoy the Kelvin roller coaster rides in addition to TOS, which makes me wonder if I’m not conditioned to put my brain in a different gear when I’m watching something made decades ago.

  6. This was delightful. It shows the power of Star Trek that 55 years later, people like Erin can discover it and still get sucked in. The original still has the highest highs (and the lowest lows!) of any Trek series and The Doomsday Machine is still one of the best Trek, of any vintage. I’d love the hear a sequel either about TNG or the films.

  7. What a fun episode! As someone that started with Trek when there was only the NCC-1701, with no bloody A, B, C, or D, I loved listening to this episode.

    Bit piece of trivia about this episode – you got to the very end of the list right about 79 minutes into the episode.

    I can’t remember the content of all the episode, but the titles all rang a bell. I loved trying to guess what the next episode was, and how Erin would feel about it. There were some that were completely on the mark (to me), and others had me shocked, like you. As we got to the top 5, I was trying to think what episodes remained. Once I realized what could be (and was) number one, I was a bit shocked. I never considered it one of the best, but thinking back on it – it really is. It does belong up there with the others Erin had the top.

    I hope we get to continue with Erin on this journey. I’d love to have her back to hear her thoughts on the Original Series films, and to hear her thoughts on TNG.

    PS – Rob, I stand with you on your feelings about DS9. A couple I enjoyed, but just wasn’t ever my thing.

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