Star Trek 43rd Birthday: Watching Season 1 on DVD Part I
Okay, today we are continuing our Star Trek 43rd Anniversary celebration by revisiting the original TV series episodes. On Wednesday I did a movie retrospective of the first six Star Trek movies, but today I’m reviewing Season 1 of the TV series. Growing up in the ’80s, I was a big fan of the movie version of Star Trek. Treks II and VI were my favorite movies with the original cast. I had seen some of the episodes of the original TV show in syndication, but I didn’t remember them. I said before, that the only episode I’ve watched in its entirety more than once was Squire of Gothos because it contained the character of Trelane, the precursor to Star Trek: The Next Generations’ Q character.
Looking at the Season 1 set being offered from Netflix, I noticed something odd. The original unaired pilot, The Cage, is not offered on the first season set. I was disappointed because I really wanted to see this episode. However, after digging around on the internet I found out that The Cage was offered on the very last disc of Season 3 as a bonus. So I had to get the last disc of season 3 mailed to me from Netflix to see the unaired pilot. I just thought that was weird.
So, anyway, this is what I’m watching, the Blu-Ray set of Star Trek The Original Series, Season 1.
Going into this I was very worried that the original show was going to be a little dated and boring. That I wasn’t going to enjoy it as much as the movies. That’s one of the reasons I decided to re-watch the shows, to see the whole phenomenon how it originally aired.
Overview of Season 1 as a Whole
So, how does the series hold up? Very well, actually. Like I said, I was prepared to be a bit bored by the cheap special effects and low caliber story telling, but the series really surprised me. Yes, there are episodes that plod along and bore you, but for the most part it is fascinating to watch the crew at work. Predictably, Shatner is UNBELIEVABLE as James Kirk. All the reasons I love him in every Star Trek movie is presented in this first season. He is supremely bad ass, as macho as the offspring of a T-Rex and a Great White Shark and totally in charge at all times. He seeks out new life, then when the new life starts acting like bitches, he throws photon torpedoes at it until the problem goes away. Kirk doesn’t care. And Spock. OMFG, Nimoy is a treasure. He is the king of the subtle insults. Whenever some crew member is freaking out about the near death adventures Kirk keeps getting them into, Spock always comes at them completely deadpan with something similar to “emotions are illogical” or “emotions make you weak”. Then he gives them that penetrating Vulcan stare with the raised eyebrow that informs the crew member that they have just been OWNED. The crew of the Enterprise have got to think Spock is a douche. I love it.
Something I didn’t realize was that Chekhov doesn’t show up until the second season. In season one there is a revolving door of navigators, not one of which sticks around too long. One of them, Kirk gives away to an alien as a friend (I kid you not, see highlights below).
Here’s an interesting anecdote about watching this series. When I started to watch this show, my wife was having NONE of it. She loved the reboot but had no interest in the TV show. While I was watching the episode Mudd’s Women Steph walked in, took one look at William Shatner and nearly gave birth to twins. “WHO IS THAT?!” When I told her it was Shatner she said, “The Priceline Negotiator guy?!” When I told her yes she screamed, “I didn’t know he was so HOT!” So we now see proof of the power of the Shat in 1966. Steph has been watching episodes ever since.
Now, let’s look at some of the best moments in Season 1.
Season 1 highlights
Where No Man Has Gone Before – After crossing the Great Barrier at the edge of the galaxy, Kirk’s friend Gary Mitchell is endowed with god-like powers. Either forgetting that Mitchell could destroy him with a thought, or just not caring, Kirk faces him down like he’s any other man. Yes, Kirk actually engages a GOD in a fist fight. This is why Kirk is the greatest Starfleet captain EVER. Kirk winds up burying Mitchell in the very grave he theatrically created for Kirk earlier in the episode. Poetic or bad ass? I say both.
The Enemy Within – This episode is EPIC. Kirk and Sulu are excavating for whatever reason on some nameless planet. A guy is beamed aboard the Enterprise with some metallic dust on his uniform and it causes the transporter to start blinking on and off and shut down. Scotty says something like, “That’s odd.” So, of course, Scotty immediately beams Captain Kirk up after the malfunction and everything goes haywire again (there’s a shocker). After everyone conveniently leaves the transporter room, a second Kirk materializes. This “evil” Kirk is lit from below so he’s more menacing and sweats like a mofo. Evil Kirk immediately goes to Bones and forces him to give him bourbon and drinks it out of the bottle as he stumbles around the ship. Kirk really chews the scenery in this episode like he’s eating a celery sandwich. It’s unbelievable. Next, evil Kirk goes and hits on Yeoman Rand and, when she refuses, actually tries to force himself on her. The rest of the episode is Kirk trying to convince everyone that he doesn’t normally try to rape his crew. Eventually, evil Kirk tries to take the Bridge, starts crying for some reason when no one believes he’s the Captain and we find out that Kirk has been split into his “good” and “evil” personalities (because that’s how transportation science works, people). Kirk and his doppelganger are put back through the transporter and are once more merged into the man-God we all know and love. Oh, and then Yeoman Rand apologizes to Kirk for reporting that he raped her. And Kirk forgives her in a tender moment…about rape.
The Corbomite Maneuver – This episode starts off with classic Kirk. Bones has him taking a physical in sickbay (doing inclined leg presses). This leads into Kirk being shirtless for the next 10 minutes. Even walking back from sickbay to his quarters unfettered by his uniform. This happens more often than you think. While Kirk is off the bridge, the Enterprise meets what looks like a giant Rubik’s Cube. For some reason the Enterprise can’t go around the object so they blow it up. Then, the Enterprise meets a giant ship containing an unknown, seemingly hostile alien, Balok. Balok sees the Enterprise as beneath him and gives Kirk and his crew 10 minutes to pray to whatever God they believe in before he annihilates the ship. Throughout the 10 minutes the crazy navigator wants to try to destroy the alien ship. Kirk calls him an idiot and sends him to his quarters. With a minute or so left, Kirk gets an idea. He threatens the alien with some ridiculousness about his ship containing Corbomite that would also destroy the attacker’s ship. Being a highly superior alien, he naturally believes Kirk’s BS and gives them a reprieve. The alien gets in a smaller ship to tow the Enterprise elsewhere (because the bigger ship couldn’t do it, WTF?!). Kirk starts up the Enterprises engines, pushes them to their max (and beyond), escapes the tiny ship’s tractor beam and nearly destroys the alien ship. Kirk and the idiot navigator beam aboard the alien ship to see WTF is going on and…Holy crap! The alien is a baby Clint Howard!!
They all drink pineapple juice, Baby Clint Howard laughs awkwardly and Kirk agrees to give his idiot navigator to Baby Clint Howard as a “friend” because the baby alien is lonely on his giant ass ship. I can’t even begin to describe how much I’m loving this show.
I don’t want this to get too long, so I’ll continue these highlights in another article next week. Hope you’ve enjoyed them so far.
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