Revisisting "Revisiting TOS"

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Warped9, Feb 27, 2020.

  1. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Writer and occasional starship commander Premium Member

    Dec 26, 2003
    Where No One Has Gone Before
    Agreed. I recall reading a Discovery writer say that Disco had the best first season since TOS... and I'm like no, not even close.
  2. Armus

    Armus Commodore Commodore

    Feb 14, 2003
    Massachusetts, USA
    I'm glad to see The Apple at the bottom of every one's season 2 rankings. That was one talk-a-computer-to-death/planet of bad-blonde-wig-natives too many!

    Last edited: Feb 29, 2020
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  3. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 18, 2017
    The clinic located by the Q Continuum
    I loathe how a certain scene from "Plato's Stepchildren" is taken completely out of context to prove an artificial point about the show, particularly the third season, being "bad", what with Kirk horsing around and all. And another scene taken completely out of context to make a completely inaccurate point as the UK had done "the kiss" years earlier already. And without the form of mind assault imposed upon them by the Platonians, having characters genuinely love one another instead!

    Granted, "Plato's Stepchildren" has a very open ending that doesn't amount to much. At least they take aboard Alexander. That's a good plot twist as well; it'd be a cliche for Alexander to get the power then take over and start mustache twirling. This episode is by no means "poorly written". And never before has psychokinetic power been shown to control others' minds. It's a high concept episode but an extremely horrifying one.

    "Turnabout Intruder" needed some polishing but the acting from all is at a consistent quality level. It easily could have been a better story. There's a lot in season 3 that easily could have been excellent instead of just good, fair, poor, or even bad. The potential and ideas are there...
  4. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Aug 3, 2003
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada
    Strikes me as a lot more imaginative than the California surfer dudes and beach bunny aliens in TNG’s “Justice.”
  5. Armus

    Armus Commodore Commodore

    Feb 14, 2003
    Massachusetts, USA
    Justice is by far an inferior episode.
  6. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Aug 3, 2003
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada
    Season 1


    “Where No Man Has Gone Before"
    “The Corbomite Maneuver”
    “The Enemy Within”
    “The Naked Time”
    “Balance Of Terror”
    “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”
    “Dagger Of The Mind”
    “The Galileo Seven”
    “Court Martial”
    “Shore Leave"
    “Tomorrow Is Yesterday”
    “A Taste Of Armageddon”
    “Space Seed”
    “Errand Of Mercy”
    “The City On The Edge Of Forever”

    **** Good
    “The Man Trap”
    “Charlie X”
    “The Menagerie” (Part I)
    “The Menagerie” (Part II)
    “The Squire Of Gothos”
    “This Side Of Paradise”
    “The Devil In The Dark”

    *** Fair
    “Mudd’s Women”
    “The Conscience Of The King”
    “The Alternative Factor”
    “The Return Of The Archons”

    I'm sure someone out there is going to accuse me of being biased, but in Season 1 although Star Trek does stumble occasionally it never really drops the ball in any significant way. Out of twenty-nine episodes there isn't a bad or even genuinely poor episode in the lot. Wow!

    Not too long ago I became familiar with the original The Outer Limits (predating TOS by a few years) and from that one can clearly see that Star Trek in the early goings had very much of an Outer Limits feel to it. But Star Trek goes one better than The Outer Limits on at least two points. Firstly TOS had generally better production standards overall (although there's a lot of good stuff and a helluva lot of imagination in The Outer Limits) and TOS benefits from a regular cast. Being familiar with a good and well executed cast allows us to be more easily drawn into the stories which leads to greater emotional empathy and impact for the viewer. Also TOS in its first season benefited from generally consistent writing and acting---rather few offbeat moments or performances.

    Season 1 delivers pretty much everything or at least most of what the show's premise promised: action/adventure, drama, some humour, range of stories and even periodic allegory. And even with limited f/x resources it still managed to give us non human, or at least non humanoid, lifeforms, the most visually prominent being the Salt Vampire, the Gorn, the Horta and the insanity inducing parasites. We've no idea what Trelane or the Metrons or the Organians really look like.

    If Star Trek had been cancelled after its first season it would have been a travesty because here we have not only one of the very best seasons overall in the Trek franchise (and I'd argue the best), but it is one of the very best seasons overall for science fiction on television, period.

    Season 2

    ***** Excellent
    “Amok Time”
    “The Doomsday Machine”
    “Mirror, Mirror”
    “Journey To Babel”
    “Return To Tomorrow”
    “The Ultimate Computer”

    **** Good
    “Who Mourns For Adonais?”
    “The Changeling”
    “The Deadly Years”
    “The Trouble With Tribbles”
    “Bread And Circuses”
    “A Private Little War”
    “The Immunity Syndrome”
    “The Omega Glory”

    *** Fair
    “Friday’s Child”
    “Wolf In The Fold”
    “The Gamesters Of Triskelion”
    “By Any Other Name”
    “Patterns Of Force”
    “Assignment: Earth”

    ** Poor
    “The Apple”
    “I, Mudd”
    “A Piece Of The Action”

    Star Trek finally stubs it toe. The poor episodes here are not complete write-offs by any means, but they definately flawed conceptually.

    Season 2 is still a reasonably solid season with a fair mixture in quality of work. And candidly it would have been hard to repeat such a stellar effort as the first season. But for me the real distinction is a slight change in overall tone. Mind you this change in tone was not evident in everything, but it made its presence known in enough episodes. That change was a somewhat lighter sensibility at times (and sometimes inappropriate) that could take the edge off some of the drama and make it challenging to appreciate the potential drama of a given story. It was if the show were trying to take itself less seriously at times. The characters themselves could also be looser and more casual than they were in Season 1 which added to the overall lighter sensibility. It must also be said that even when Star Trek was less-than-impressive it was certainly not boring.

    Season 3

    ***** Excellent
    “Elaan Of Troyius”
    “The Enterprise Incident”
    “Is There In Truth No Beauty?”
    “The Tholian Web”

    **** Good
    “Spectre Of The Gun”
    “The Empath”
    “Day Of The Dove”
    “Plato’s Stepchildren”
    “That Which Survives”
    “The Cloud Minders”
    “The Way To Eden”
    “Requiem For Methuselah”

    *** Fair
    “The Paradise Syndrome”
    “For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky”
    “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”
    “The Lights Of Zetar”
    “The Savage Curtain”
    “All Our Yesterdays”

    ** Poor
    “Spock’s Brain”
    “The Mark Of Gideon”
    “Turnabout Intruder”

    * Bad
    “And The Children Shall Lead”
    “Wink Of An Eye”
    “Whom Gods Destroy”

    In the end Season 3 isn't as bad as what seems to be the generally held perspective. At least half of the episodes are respectable and if you include the watchable ones as well that's three quarters of the season is at least acceptable. That is still a damned good batting average. And while I don't have the hard numbers at hand no TNG season did much better than that.

    It's also interesting that Season 3's budget constraints didn't really make itself apparent as often as might be believed. Even under budgetary constraints quite a few episodes still put on a good show. And there was sufficiently abundant creativity and resourcefulness apparent throughout much of the season.

    Where Season 3 fell down was in terms of careless thinking and careless execution. Things went south when ideas weren't thought through enough and the general execution felt rushed just to get the show in the can. A little more attention and overall polish could have gone a long way.
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  7. Armus

    Armus Commodore Commodore

    Feb 14, 2003
    Massachusetts, USA
    While I'd switch a few episodes around in your rankings your analysis is spot on. Season 1 was pretty amazing. I just rewatched it and even some of the weaker episodes, like Return of The Archons, have a commendable weirdness and a palatable atmosphere. In Season 2 I see some Star Trek becoming somewhat redundant and close to cliche. Some of the humor present in season 2 just hasn't aged well and I liked that season 3 took a more serious approach and didn't try to be so cute. When McCoy and Spock argue in season 3 it's real drama not manufactured and forced banter. The parallel earth stories in season 2 were done one too many and they were wisely dropped in season 3. Season 3 has a lot of poor episodes but at least half the season is highly entertaining. Season 3 also has some of Star Trek's prettiest incidental music and those new silky uniforms are an improvement over the fabric used in previous seasons.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2020
  8. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Aug 3, 2003
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada
    The change in tone--away from comedic stories--was the doing of Gene Roddenberry and Fred Frieberger. GR did not like the comedic episodes that had been green lighted in his absence. While "The Trouble With Tribbles" was tolerable and okay as a one-off "I, Mudd" and "A Piece Of The Action" were definitely over the top. GR reputedly said, "Star Trek is not a comedy." or something to that effect. He was fine with contextual humour, but episodes where comedy was so prominant did not sit well with him for TOS. Subsequebty he directed Frieberger not to green light any more such stories during the third season.

    I must say I agree with GR even though "A Piece Of The Action" was apparently based on a story idea GR himself had when he was initially pitching Star Trek. It's possible he had had something else in mind with a tone more like that seen in "Bread And Circuses" or "Patterns Of Force." Gene Coon, as creative as he was, was the one who liked the comedy--something he and Roddenberry apparently disagreed on. Some of the actors--notably Shatner--also liked the comedic stories, but it was Roddenberry's vision they were playing with and he had definite ideas about it.

    During third season the show would falter when something wasn't properly thought through. "When The Children Shall Lead" and "Whom Gods Destroy" could have been genuine horror stories instead of being just awkwardly surreal. "Spock's Brain" needed a better title and a proper rewrite to fix some of the embarassing moments.
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  9. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

    Nov 3, 2001
    55 years ago
    Stardate order is possibly the best order (I did it several years ago).

    That said, I hope you join us for the period, week by week rewatch next September! The trick will be watching it as if you'd never seen it before, which is pretty hard for deep Trek nerds like us.

    But if you bring a newbie friend, that helps cleanse the palate!
  10. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 7, 2014
    I've yet to try the BBC order myself but are there any other orders say from stations in America that were good, odd or just plain weird does anyone know?
  11. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Oct 1, 2013
    I have a goofy idea, but could possibly be quite fun: doing a series re-watch...but just the episode previews. Lots of unused takes, effects shots, etc. More than once I've found myself checking them out on discs, and there's lots of neat stuff there! :)
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  12. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

    Oct 17, 2005
    One ferry ride from Starfleet HQ
    Um... what?

    First, no one controlled any one else's minds in that episode. They forced their bodies to do things against their will.

    Second, psychokinetic isn't the term you'd use for mind control.