Episode 1: Beyond the Farthest Star
It’s a Trektacular start for the crew of the animated Enterprise as they face off against every sci-fi cliché known to man, Romulan and Klingon! A dead sun with a monstrous secret! An ancient spacecraft with a deadly surprise! An alien lifeform with bad intentions! And it’s up to Captain James Tiberius Kirk to recklessly lead his people into all these dangers!
The absurdly limited animation technique that Filmation employed only served to ratchet up the tension aboard the Enterprise as Kirk was relegated to two distinct facial expressions. One was talking (i.e. his lips moved). The other was his sneaky look (his eyeballs moved from side to side). No matter what the evil alien menace had up its sleeve, you felt sure that Kirk was up to something no good as well every time he looked here and there, even if it was just to glance at Spock while he babbled incoherently about magnetic forces. By the time they haul out the rusty trusty “slingshot” trick, you’ve already signed up for the entire mission of 22 episodes.
Episode highlights: Kirk rolling out of the way of a laser blast; Scotty pinned in a hatch.
Episode 2: Yesteryear
Yesteryear? I’m calling it Besteryear! Proving that the first episode was merely the warm up, Yesteryear gives us so many classic moments in Trek that you’d have to have a transporter malfunction split you in two to catch them all! When Kirk and Spock return from their jaunt in the time stream (uh-oh!) they find out that some scummy Andorean is now the First Officer on the Enterprise and no one but Kirk even remembers who Spock was! Sounds like someone needs to go back into the past and fix things up straight away!
Spock does the only sensible thing and goes undercover as his own cousin back to the time of his youth when his life was saved in the desert by his cousin that looked just like the adult Spock! That might be enough high drama for the regular old hour-long series, but this is the Power Bar of Trek shows, so they throw in generous helpings of Spock’s father Sarek, his beloved mother whatshername, and a very heavy ending where Spock has to confront the moral quandary of euthanasia. No, Spock! Don’t do it! Don’t remove Kirk’s feeding tube!
Episode highlights: Kirk ordering the Enterprise’s “wardrobe section” to provide Spock with some clothes for his role as his own fake cousin; a young Spock being bullied by Vulcan kids for being a half-breed – they taunt him because he can’t do a nerve pinch and call him an “Earther”; Spock’s pet sabre-toothed bear.
Episode 3: One Of Our Planets Is Missing
Kirk demonstrates the sort of leadership acumen that won him Top Gun honors at Starfleet Academy when he delegates saving the Enterprise from a big cloud of red space gas to Spock. But that doesn’t mean that Kirk isn’t still the MAN when he needs to be. These cartoon tales of the Final Frontier may only run 22 minutes, but that’s still plenty of time for Kirk to advocate violating the Prime Directive, order the self-destruct sequence to be engaged, and ultimately dump the responsibility of actually getting something done on the apathetic Spock.
This go round, we have our self some crazy living swamp gas that’s floating around eating up everything in its path. With a Federation planet in its crosshairs it’s up to Kirk and company to come up with something that Spock can do to avoid any further interstellar unpleasantness. After the Enterprise gets eaten by the gas, the crew has to find a way to communicate with it to make their escape and save the planet. Thank goodness for that handy-dandy Universal Translator!
Episode highlights: Space gibberish abounds as Bones spews something out about enzymes and Scotty worries about an indicator going below two anti-klicks when he’s not busy coming up with a scheme that involves cutting a chunk of antimatter with the ship’s tractor beam and transporting it aboard the ship while it’s contained in a force field; the crew looks at Kirk like he’s a Cardassian skunk-rabbit riddled with bloodfleas when he suggests that they blow up the space cloud’s brain.
Episode 4: The Lorelei Signal
One of the best aspects of Trek is when it not only entertains, but also educates. Sure, there’s the Rules of Acquisition that all latinum-loving folks live and breathe, but I’m also talking about episodes such as this one. In an adventure so fraught with mystery and danger that Kirk puts us all on Yellow Alert barely two minutes into our mission, we learn what most men already know, but could always use a refresher course on. And that’s that women will suck the life right out of you.
Of course this is Trek, so in this case it’s literally true. Finding themselves on one of those planets where hot blondes in low cut togas are always trying to enslave hunky astronauts, Kirk, Spock, and Bones get fitted for snazzy red headbands and have their lifeforce drained so badly that Kirk and Spock end up looking really old and shriveled. It doesn’t really seem to make Bones look that much worse. Uhura takes command of the ship and has to take an all-hottie security detail with her to get their men back from these alien sluts!
Episode highlights: Spock tossed like a rag doll by an alien babe; Scotty sitting in the captain’s chair singing a lengthy Scottish folk song; Spock declaring that the odds for a plan to reverse their aging by reprogramming the transporters to re-pattern their molecules like they were before they were turned old are 99.7 – 1 against success.
Episode 5: More Tribbles, More Troubles
This fifth episode is easily the best so far as Kirk finds himself embroiled in all sorts of trouble ranging from a starving planet, crabby Klingons, all the way up the titular Tribbles. It all begins with a snooze-inducing escort mission involving a couple of robot grain ships. When Kirk notices a Klingon battle cruiser attempting to blow up a scout ship, he practically falls over himself get in on that action. He quickly regrets it though when Scotty finally gets the pilot of the scout ship beamed aboard and discovers that it is none other than Cyrano Jones, interstellar traitor and general nuisance (Kirk’s words, not mine).
As distasteful as Cyrano is, it’s the pack of tribbles he has with him that makes Kirk throw up inside his mouth. As any Trek geek will tell you, tribbles are little round puff balls who multiple like crazy. These tribbles are slightly different though. They’re all pink and get really fat. And guess who went and beamed all that grain on board from a robot ship when the Klingons started attacking? And guess whose starship is caught up in the Klingon’s new paralysis ray? But as you might expect, it’s Kirk who has the last laugh when he pulls one of the dirtiest tricks ever seen in the Federation by beaming a ton of lard ass tribbles over to the Klingon ship! Wah, wah, wah, waaaaaah!
Episode highlights: The whole freaking thing! Kirk’s willingness to use the robot ships with the much-needed grain to ram the Klingon ship; a running gag where Kirk has to swat increasingly larger tribbles off of his chair on the bridge; Scotty explaining transporter problems are due to “decalibration of the integration parameters.”
Episode 6: The Survivor
The series finally stumbles as episode six serves up a hum drum tale of an alien with the ability to impersonate other crew members. The original The Thing was already more than twenty years old when this first aired back in 1973, so the gimmick was tired even then. Making matters even more pedestrian is that the alien turns out to be a spy recruited by the Romulans in a scheme to trick Kirk into violating the Neutral Zone. Don’t these space goobers realize that if left to his own devices Kirk will violate the Neutral Zone three or four times a week?
They try to lather on some pathos by using the abominable coincidence that the person the alien is impersonating when the Enterprise rescues him was the fiancee of a crew member. Small universe, huh? The alien itself is an upright red octopus and after a little sabotage he has a heart to heart with his not-quite-ex-fiancee that turns him into good guy after all. He even decides to impersonate a deflector shield to help out. All of it will put you into a deep Khan-like sleep.
Episode highlights: The alien disguised as Bones giving the fiancee relationship advice; forced comic banter between Bones and Spock at the conclusion of a very long 23 minutes.
Episode 7: The Infinite Vulcan
Even a story by Chekov (the starship navigator, not the Russian playwright whose name was spelled Chekhov) can’t halt the mid-season slump we’re mired in. Recycling another sci-fi movie gimmick (this time it’s killer plants) just as the previous episode did, Chekov dresses it up with an eye-rolling plot about a superman from the Eugenics War who is working with a race of intelligent plants to create an army of clones to enforce peace throughout the galaxy. The superman chooses Spock to clone (no doubt irritating Kirk), but it will be at the cost of Spock’s life!
I was fuzzy as a Bolian mind-caterpillar as to some of the specifics of all this, especially the part that had these clones end up as giants or how these bratty plants were going to help out, but Kirk is nonplussed by these plot questions and invokes the legendary IDIC concept to the giant clone Spock to save everyone’s bacon. IDIC is a Vulcan idea standing for Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations which means something, but since I’m not some pointy-eared spacer, I don’t know what. Luckily, CloneSpock knew all about it and saved the day.
Episode highlights: Uhura warning Scotty about dilithium crystals getting drained and Scotty not slapping her molecular pattern to Antares-7 and back; Kirk ending the episode with a racist comment about Sulu being inscrutable.
Episode 8: The Magicks of Megas-Tu
Another fairly hideous episode hampered by a story that doesn’t make any sense or provide much entertainment until the end. The Enterprise is patrolling the very center of the galaxy in hopes of discovering whether matter is still being created there like it was when the galaxy first began. They encounter a powerful storm and are forced to take refuge in its eye. It is here that they meet up with Lucian, one of those half-man, half-goat guys you always find at the center of the galaxy.
Kirk learns that in this part of the universe which is beyond known time and space, magic is real! You just have to believe! Spock declares such an event to be logical for this place. If Bones or Scotty had said that, I would have pronounced them as suffering an acute bout of space-stupor, but coming from Spock it makes perfect sense. Much mumbo-jumbo abounds regarding a race of wizards who came to Earth centuries ago to help us, but got run out by the Salem witch trials. Inevitably, humanity is then put on trial to prove we aren’t still such stinkers.
Episode highlights: Spock drawing a pentagram on the floor of the Enterprise to practice magic; Sulu using his magic powers to summon a hot babe; Kirk and a wizard dueling with magic.
Episode 9: Once Upon A Planet
After the last three episodes, we could all use some shore leave and so it is that we find ourselves on the very functionally-named Shore Leave Planet. Kirk and company are looking for some R&R, but it isn’t long before Bones is getting himself chased by the Queen of Hearts and her playing card minions! Oh no! Pleasure planet gone wild! Computer that runs things turns surly and kidnaps Uhura to his underground lair! I’m sure it had nothing to do with trying to shut up her awful singing while she was on the surface.
While Kirk concocts a plan to get inside the computer’s hideout, the Enterprise is also somehow at peril while orbiting above the planet. As Scotty is surprised to discover, his shipboard computers are building a new computer which is trying to take over the ship! Alls well that ends well though as Spock, Uhura, and Kirk prattle mindlessly about how awesome it is that the computer in charge of the planet can get to meet all these alien races doing its job. This episode marks four dull space turds in a row.
Episode highlights: Pink pterodactyls attacking crew look exactly the same as pink pterodactyls attacking crew in previous episode; Bones, Sulu, Alice, white rabbit, and two-headed dragon enjoy picnic together at end of adventure.
Episode 10: Mudd’s Passion
The slump is over! Harry Mudd returns (from the original series) to wreak havoc on the crew of the emotionally repressed Enterprise when his love potion gets loose and turns everyone into a bunch of space horny toads! Does it even matter what the set up is? As soon as Nurse Chapel’s inexplicable crush on Spock is used to initiate the sexiest threat ever to Starfleet, it’s just one galaxy-class sized classic moment after another! There’s Chapel giving Spock a lap dance! There’s Kirk and Spock hugging each other! There’s Mudd making himself a fake I.D.!
Once Spock gets affected by the love potion, there’s no stopping this installment! Spock rages when Mudd kidnaps Chapel and worries about Mudd harming a hair on her pretty head! Spock demands to beam down to the planet immediately to save her! Spock refers to one of Kirk’s plans as nothing more than stupidity! By the time Kirk is feeding the love potion to a giant monster, your only regret is that this isn’t a two part episode!
Episode highlights: Montage of stunned looks by crew members as Spock lusts after Nurse Chapel culminating with an alien crewman making a wolf-whistle; crew too busy in transporter room slow dancing to transport Kirk and crew from out of danger on planet’s surface; Kirk somersaulting out of the way of giant monster’s oncoming foot.
Episode 11: The Terratin Incident
It’s the Incredible Shrinking Kirk! This is another episode that starts off with Kirk in the middle of a really boring mission and instantly abandoning it once he sees something with more manly potential. In this case, it’s a mysterious radio transmission from a planet containing a single word from a two century year old language. Let’s see: survey burnt out supernova or investigate some strange planet’s choice of drive-time radio? These are the kind of decisions they can’t train you for at Starfleet Academy.
Turns out it was the right decision because before you know it, the Enterprise’s dilithium crystals get all busted up, the ship gets probed by strange rays and everyone starts shrinking! This results in some blather about double helix molecules being compressed and that they won’t be able to run the ship anymore once they hit about one centimeter in height. Kirk instinctively knows that the exploding planet holds the solution as well as the best possible action possibilities so he beams down there and discovers a shrunken city ripped straight out of Superman comic books! Luckily, the very act of beaming down engorges him back to the man-sized captain we all cherish.
Episode highlights: A shrunken Uhura climbing suggestively on the control panel; Nurse Chapel whining about some stupid mice shrinking so much they got out of their cage; Nurse Chapel tripping over a toothpick and falling into a fish tank.
Episode 12: The Time Trap
The slump is back! The Enterprise’s investigation of a Bermuda Triangle in space fails to inspire much more in the crew than by-the-numbers last ditch planning to escape it. Kirk follows a Klingon ship that has disappeared in the area and discovers that there is some sort of pocket in time that traps starships. Spock effortlessly agrees with the logic Kirk displays when Kirk rambles on about continuums and the like. The survivors of the starships have formed a kind of United Nations that governs the area and they forbid violence.
With Klingons milling around, violence is what you’re going to get though! But first Kirk decides that it would be best to work together with the Klingons to get out of this pickle while the Klingons decide it would be best to plant an explosive pellet on the Enterprise to blow their wimpy cooperating butts to kingdom come. Happy endings all around when Kirk finds out about the pellet and immediately tells Spock and Scotty to go take care of it while he relaxes on his nice, safe, faraway-from-the-pellet, captain’s chair on the bridge. You’ll feel like you got your foot caught in a time trap when you watch this one.
Episode highlights: Bones and a Klingon getting into a squabble over a girl at a dance.
Episode 13: The Ambergris Element
This is another one of those missions where Kirk is checking out some supposedly deserted planet that is actually full of sea monsters and an underwater race of humanoids. It’s all a good excuse to finally take out the Enterprise’s sub and cruise around the ocean depths instead of sitting around on the bridge listening to Scotty try to explain the latest reason you’re out of dilithium crystals. Even when you’re getting heaved around to and fro by a big red fish-dragon instead.
Guys like Kirk and me wouldn’t normally sweat a little set-to with some otherworldly demon of the deep, but we draw the line at getting turned into a fish-man! Kirk and Spock go missing for five days after getting the snot beat out of them by the sea monster and in the meantime the mermen turn them into water-breathers! From there, it’s a routine race against time to get the venom from the sea monster that can restore them to human form. Features standard issue blah blah about how surface dwellers hosed the merman eons ago. Whatever. I’ll try to remember that the next time I pee in the ocean.
Episode highlights: Kirk with webbed hands; Kirk complaining about not being able to command the Enterprise from an aquarium.
Episode 14: The Slaver Weapon
Do you hate Captain Kirk? Sure, we all do. Tired of Bones and his bad attitude? Annoyed at Scotty for all his accented babbling about rerouting this and bypassing that? Have I got an episode for you! Spock, Sulu, and Uhura go it alone against a bunch of war mongering cat people who are after an ancient device that could possibly be used to do something really bad! Though things begin routinely enough with Spock and company transporting a mysterious box to a Federation location, it all goes sour when Spock displays a distinctly Kirk-ian flair by taking a detour to another planet where it seems a second mysterious box is!
It all ends up being a dastardly trap set up by these cat people. The weird boxes come from a time long ago when the Slavers ruled the galaxy. Sometimes there’s a really good prize inside of them like an antigravity gizmo and other times it’s something cruddy like a disruptor bomb with the pin pulled. Sort of like the secret toy surprise in a box of delicious Cracker Jacks! These boxes also give off signals when another is nearby and the cat people have been hanging onto their empty one waiting for some rube like Spock to roll by.
Episode highlights: Uhura bemoaning the fact that she doesn’t run the 100 yard dash as fast as she used to; Spock telling Sulu to think of a vegetable to antagonize the meat-loving aliens.
Episode 15: The Eye of the Beholder
What if some alien species looked down on us like we do with all the crappier lifeforms on Earth? What if we were no more than a beast to be caged and observed, to be put on display for everyone’s entertainment? That’s right, Trek fan! It’s space zoo time! Another comfy sci-fi short story standby finally makes it’s appearance in this series. I think it’s a mark of the excellence of this show that they held off all the way until the 15th episode to phone it in with this particular plot.
The Enterprise is investigating the disappearance of some Federation geeks on one those Class M planets that look really sweet from orbit, but turn out to be overrun with sulfur pits, dinosaurs, and intelligent aliens with their own deadly agenda! After being captured by these things that look a little like giant snails, Kirk has to figure out a way to escape from the zoo his crew finds itself in. In a shocking twist, Scotty actually saves everyone’s bacon when he beams down with his new pal, a young alien that Kirk accidentally beamed up (whoops!), and everything gets worked out.
Episode highlights: Bones gets trapped beneath the tail of a giant dinosaur; those pink pterodactyls make their third appearance in the series.
Episode 16: The Jihad
Finally! A mission where Kirk is in a jam and has to save the entire universe because he’s supposed to and not because he got bored and blundered into something that looked more interesting than whatever survey he was charged with conducting! A race of bird-like aliens has had an object which the brain pattern of their chief religious figure was inscribed on stolen! Being an ancient warrior race who only found peace through the teachings of this great bird, they know only one recourse to solve this situation – galaxy-wide war!
Kirk, Spock, and an assortment of loser aliens form a commando team whose double-secret mission
is go to the planet where the artifact is located and recover it for these birdbrains before the Federation’s starships become awash in heaps of bird-doo. But wait! With the fuse lit to this space powder keg, they have to contend with a saboteur from within! A saboteur with motives so fiendish, that the only way to avert a jihad is for Kirk and Spock to call upon all their null gravity battle training and tag team this sneaky bastard into submission!
Episode highlights: Kirk getting hit on by a white trash member of the team at the beginning of the mission; Kirk getting hit on by a white trash member of the team in the middle of the mission; are those the same pink pterodactyls making their fourth appearance in this one?
Episode 17: The Pirates of Orion
Spock goes and catches himself a fatal disease thus delaying Kirk’s diplomatic mission to somewhere or other (much to Kirk’s delight, no doubt). That pointy-eared rascal’s green blood is the reason he is so affected while red-blooded Earthers like Kirk and Bones are okay. He only has three days to live, but the nearest serum is four days away! At maximum warp!! There can be only one solution – space rendezvous! But before they can complete their space rendezvous, the ship carrying the cure to the Enterprise gets hijacked and has all their booty taken from them by pirates!
The rest of the story details the efforts of Kirk to track down these scum of the starways through an explosive asteroid belt before finally making contact with them. Negotiations ensue with Kirk and the head pirate agreeing to an exchange on the surface of an asteroid. Meanwhile the head pirate and the second head pirate negotiate amongst themselves for a deadly doublecross that not only sees them attempting to blow up Kirk and the Enterprise, but themselves as well!
Episode highlights: Spock fainting on the bridge; the head pirate attempting suicide on the bridge; Kirk and Bones laughing about it all at the end of the episode.
Episode 18: Bem
Captain Kirk finally seems to be reaching his breaking point as he finds himself in yet another improbable and hard-to-follow jam. Saddled with the most annoying guest-alien to date, Kirk and Spock get themselves captured by some lizard people who keep them in wooden cages causing Kirk to moan to Spock about how come they always find themselves in this sort of trouble. Spock’s logical Vulcan response? It’s fate, Captain! Err, I think all that green blood must have drained from your head.
The alien Bem is along with Kirk and Spock as an observer and is nothing more than a pointless pain in the butt. If he isn’t using his bizarre segmented body to pickpocket the phasers and tricorders from Kirk and Spock underwater, he’s getting himself caught on purpose by savages, and then he’s threatening suicide for some mistake he claims he made. I found myself as exasperated as Kirk was with all this incoherent yammering and scheming and was pleading with Kirk to set his phaser on “kill” and just hand it over to good old Bem.
Episode highlights: Kirk whining to Spock that he (Kirk) should have been a librarian; Bem constantly referring to himself in the third person.
Episode 19: The Practical Joker
You can practically hear Kirk begging for some action as he makes his Captain’s Log about their survey mission which is three days ahead of schedule. One can only imagine the contented sigh of relief he must have breathed when those three Romulan ships ambushed the Enterprise and sent her into a mysterious energy cloud in retreat. But things aren’t exactly what they seem when during the celebratory dinner they have after running away from the Romulans, Kirk and the crew find themselves afflicted with one the galaxy’s most feared conditions: dribble glasses!
Thus begins one of the greatest of all Trek episodes wherein we see Kirk and the rest of his uptight buddies cut down to size by a mysterious practical joker. But who is responsible for the Enterprise turning into the wackiest starship in the Alpha Quadrant? As Kirk says, while it was funny for awhile, now it’s getting old and friend is turning against friend. And Sulu, Bones, and Uhura exercise the intelligence of a single-cell Tellurian dung beetle when they decide to visit the holodeck in the midst of all this wackiness. This already classic episode gets bonus points for shoehorning a holodeck malfunction into the proceedings.
Episode highlights: In what has to be the highlight of the entire series, Kirk complains about how when he picked up his uniform from the cleaners someone had written “Kirk is a Jerk” on the back of it – and he went ahead and wore it anyway!
Episode 20: Albatross
Unremarkable tale about how Bones went and killed a bunch of aliens with some plague 19 years ago and now the aliens want to put him on trial. As Kirk, Spock, and Bones are about leave this planet after delivering medical supplies, Kirk gets served with an arrest warrant for Bones. Displaying his Starfleet-trained tact and diplomacy, Kirk immediately denounces the aliens’ justice system as a “kangaroo court” and sets about conducting his own investigation for the real killers.
On another planet in the system that was ravaged by the plague, Kirk encounters an alien who claims that Bones actually saved him from the plague all those years ago! Star witness in tow, Kirk is surely salivating at the prospect of presenting one of those Perry Mason-style defenses with surprise evidence and last second revelations, but is thwarted when the plague hits him and everyone on his ship! Only Spock is unaffected and must bust Bones out of jail to find a cure for everything and simultaneously clear the good doc’s name!
Episode highlights: Plague causing Uhura to turn white; Spock complaining that Bones is derelict in his duty to dispense vitamins to the crew.
Episode 21: How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth
This one sputters along purely on impulse power. Not only boring due to the interminable yammering going on between Kirk and the flying serpent pretending to be an ancient god, the episode also is quite contrived. Remember Ensign Walking Bear? You know him, he was the guy who took Sulu’s spot. In a single episode. When the story needed a crew member familiar with the ancient legends of the Mayans and Azetcs. Ugh.
Things go from boring to contrived all the way on up to painfully self-important as we endure one those “earthlings are all grown up now and don’t need help from their ancient Gods anymore” storylines that by law must include Kirk and Bones quoting Shakespeare at the end of the episode. Throughout it all though, Kirk is still Kirk, saving the day by both busting up this wannabe-God’s intergalactic zoo and talking him to death.
Episode highlights: None really, unless you count Kirk chastising Bones for back talking the god. Or Spock snootily informing Bones and Kirk that when aliens visited Vulcan, it was the aliens that left smarter. Weak, weak episode.
Episode 22: The Counter-Clock Incident
The second season and the entire series come to a rather dismal end with “The Counter-Clock Incident.” Kirk’s busybodying once again endangers the lives of the other 400 odd people on board the Enterprise as he tries to prevent an alien ship from flying into a supernova with his ship’s tractor beam. The Enterprise is unable to disengage its tractor beam as both ships enter the supernova and end up in one of those reverse universes that’s scattered around the bottom of black holes and tears in the fabric of the time-space continuum.
In the reverse universe, Kirk finds that everything runs backwards compared to our own universe. The Enterprise flies in reverse, the sky is white, the stars are black, and people are born old and get younger. Not much of any of this explored though as most of the time is devoted to some hair-brained scheme to start a supernova that the Enterprise could travel through to get back home. I guess the drama is supposed to come from the fact that the crew is turning into babies, but with two old Starfleet fogeys on board (one of those lucky coincidences that this show traffics in), it doesn’t take a Denebian stink goat to smell the ending of this one a parsec away.
Episode highlights: Bones hitting on the elderly doctor on board. (I told you it was dismal.)
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