Elf Spock wrote:
But IMO Season 3 wasn't all that bad.
It had some really good episodes that defined aspects in the Star Trek universe. It also had a few duds.
The only ones in season 3 I have to force myself to sit through are "And The Children...", "Let that be..." and "Plato's Stepchildren".
For Season 2 I struggle with "I, Mudd", "Omega Glory", and "A Private Little War".
In season 1, it's "Mudd's Women", "The Alternative Factor", and "Operation : Annihilate!".
So Season 3 (in my opinion) has no more horrible episodes that the others. I think what drags it down is that the mediocre episodes number far more - there was just way too much time spent aboard the ship, talking, and the ship was just far too empty - we needed to be meeting new characters in that third season, but for budgetary reasons it seemed like the 430-man Enterprise was run by our seven main characters and half a dozen redshirts.
To give you an idea of how frustrating it must have been trying to make Star Trek's scripts come alive on a budget of ~$200,000 per episode, this is a quote from the late, great Bob Justman I found in the new TOS book by Cushman (2013) :
"Sometimes I get the feeling the only way we could achieve a STAR TREK segment on budget would be to have 60 minutes of Mr. Spock playing kazoo solo as Captain Kirk holds him in his arms while standing in a telephone booth."
The man was a genius. And consider he made that comment in 1967, before a couple of rounds of further budget cuts and a couple of contactually binding salary increases for the leads. Freiberger really was up against it.