This September marks the 50th anniversary of the debut of the TV series Star Trek. I came from the generation, who were born after it's initial network run (I was born two months after the last episode aired) and came of age before the other big, sci-fi, pop culture phenomenon, Star Wars.
Here are some of my favorite episodes of the original Star Trek.
1. "This Side of Paradise" - Captain Kirk and the landing crew are supposed to evacuate a planet of farmers. The farmers in the colony refuse because they are in a state of bliss. Mr. Spock is sprayed by the spores of a plant, which cause him to fall in love with a beautiful, blonde, female scientist, played by Jill Ireland. This leads to always serious Spock hanging upside down from a tree. Soon everyone is sprayed with the spores including the crew of the Enterprise. Captain Kirk finds out that the effects of the plant spores can be counter acted by anger. He manages to get Mr. Spock back by insulting him by calling him a "jackrabbit" and saying he belonged in the circus "next to the dogface boy."
2. "Mirror, Mirror" - A transporter malfunction sends Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy and Lt. Uhura to a parallel world, in which the Enterprise is a pirate ship, where the crew members kill and torture each other and Mr. Spock has a cool beard.
3. "Amok Time" - Mr. Spock goes back to Vulcan to marry T'Pring, a girl from his childhood. She wants to marry another guy (that dork in the photo), but can only if Spock is dead. She forces him to fight Captain Kirk to the death. This episode is the first time we learn the Vulcan phrase "Live long and Prosper."
4. "A Piece of the Action" - I seriously believe that Star Trek's production company, Desilu, insisted its shows pay homage to one of its biggest successes, The Untouchables. Mission: Impossible has a 20s gangster story and The Lucy Show had an episode complete with Robert Stack and a narration by Walter Winchell. Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock go to a planet modeled after the 20s gangsters. One of the gangsters is Vic Tayback (Mel from Alice). One of the highlights of this episode is Kirk and Spock trying to drive a car.
5. "Shore Leave" - The crew are on a planet where whatever you are think of suddenly appears. Dr. McCoy sees Alice and the White Rabbit and Capt. Kirk sees a girl he loved and an obnoxious Irish school bully named Finnigan, who wants to fight "Jimmy boy." Finnigan is the second most annoying character from the original Star Trek.
6. "Arena" - Captain Kirk is forced to fight the alligatorish captain of another ship on a desolate planet.
7. "The Trouble With Tribble" - Klingons are bad enough, but the crew has to deal with fuzzy, little balls that eat grain supplies.
8. "Return of the Archons" - A planet filled with mindless, happy people that dress like extras from Little House On the Prairie, except at 5 p.m (The Red Hour), which begins "Festival," when the drink, vandalize property and rape women. Turns out this is the will of Landru and the hooded lawgivers. This episode features the creepiest and most annoying character ever on the show, the overly friendly Bilar (above). "Come for Festival, aye ya? Your daddy can give them a room."
9. "Catspaw" - A story by horror writer Robert Bloch that aired right before Halloween of 1967. The landing crew encounter a warlock, witches (pictured above) and a black cat in an old castle.
10. "Operation: Annihilate" - Captain Kirk finds his brother dead, sister-in-law hysterical, nephew deathly ill and the citizens of the planet rioting. His sister-in-law screams about the "HORRIBLE THINGS." It is flying jellyfish creatures. One of them stings Mr. Spock. Dr. McCoy needs one to develop an antidote, so Mr. Spock volunteers to go back to the planet and get one. Turns out intense light kills them. Spock volunteers to test the treatment, so Dr. McCoy can save Kirk's nephew. Spock survives but is blind.
I realize I didn't pick the typical choices for favorite episodes, but many list have the same one over and over. I tried to throw in some personal favorites. Hunt these town and check them out if you are not familiar with them. I leave you with this RCA magazine ad featuring Star Trek (click to enlarge).