It's pretty solid. It is nowhere near as bad as its reputation. The irritation of the senior officers with the kids is convincing (because we viewers are irritated too). It's important that the kids are misjudged in terms of their ability: they are able to take over the ship, which is something no one anticipates.
There is one awesome moment: after the sonics have incapacitated the crew, and Adam's "Yay-ayyy brother" echoes over the limp bodies as we break to commercial. That is terrific.
There are easily 10 worse episodes in s3. It's not bad at all. It only makes us squirm because of the costumes and singing.
Agreed. In fact, one of the most forward-thinking lines ever written for Star Trek
comes from Spock in this episode--and is often swept aside in blanket criticism of the episode:
"There are many who are uncomfortable with what we have created. It is almost a biological rebellion. A profound revulsion against the planned communities, the programming, the sterilised, artfully balanced atmospheres. They hunger for an Eden where spring comes."
Decades before the corporate/cultural shifts which made the modern day "Green Movement" a political mallot/entertainment business' "safe" cause (and not the fringe idea of the 60s), the bolded dialogue accurately predicted the rejection of the kind of Stepford
-like artifical, politically "middle road" neighborhoods built around new corporate developments (for employee families which popped up like weeds on steroids over the past 20 years).
Such corporate communites all have the right amount of "culture" to make the inhabitants feel relevant and individualistic, yet communites of this kind appear to be clone factories--painted with the right "psychologically comforting" colors, lighting and all of the right, over-processed structure to keep all in a sort of air-conditioned, Apple/Starbucks/Virgin/multiplex-driven dreamland.
It is this very kind of community the Spock dialogue predicts, which--in my opinion--lifts "The Way to Eden"
out of the "bad" catagory, only because that line was one of TOS' most potent, accurate predictions.