Our Trek thru Season One of The Original Series

Captain Kirk

So, I’m pretty sure this blog has covered this before, but some of us here at the Longest Wind (along with myriad friends of ours) are in the midst of a “Great Trek Watchthru” starting with The Original Series and moving on from there.

We recently finished Season One.

With each episode, we discuss what we thought about the episode (and sometimes live tweet the episode with the hashtag #TrekWithUs if you’d like to follow along and/or join in), and rate each episode.

Therefore, with the completion of Season One, I thought I’d run through my own personal Top Ten from Season One, the groups collective Top Ten based on the rankings, and how those top tens compare to the Top Ten based on the rankings of each episode on IMDb.

First, my season one Top Ten with looks at the grades from myself, the group, and IMDb users, as well as where each episode ranks (if it does) on the other Top Tens:

10.  NAKED TIME (My Grade 80%, Group Grade 80%, IMDb Grade 80%)

Naked Time

An episode that would get a sequel from the Next Generation, I really think this episode shows off how much fun Star Trek can be, while also often highlighting serious philosophical issues and tackling social issues oftentimes way ahead of its own time.

Group Ranking: 5

IMDb Ranking: NR

9. ERRAND OF MERCY (My Grade 81%, Group Grade 80%, IMDb Grade 83%)

errand of mercy

The first instance of the Klingons in Star Trek, but even more interesting to me is how the problem of the episode is handled.  While both the Klingons and the Federation are both somewhat blinded to any other possibilities to their encounter beyond war, the people on the planet that the Federation was ostensibly there to protect (although, you could easily argue they wanted the planet for the same reasons the Klingons did) were interested in trying to show them both a better way, and this episode set up the fact that in the future, these two enemies would one day work together.

Group Ranking: 9

IMDb Ranking: 6

8. THE ENEMY WITHIN (My Grade 82%, Group Grade 80%, IMDb Grade 78%)

the enemy within

A fascinating (as Spock might say) philosophical discussion on the nature and importance of our baser sides.  While “evil” Kirk features William Shatner’s classic over-acting style, the subtle takes in “good” Kirk shows off how good an actor Shatner really can be.

Group Ranking: 7

IMDb Ranking: NR

7. TOMORROW IS YESTERDAY (My Grade 84%, Group Grade 67%, IMDb Grade 80%)

tomorrow is yesterday

I’m a sucker for Time Travel episodes.  This one works for me, even if others in the group had some problems with it.  It has almost two separate episodes inside of it, first as the crew try to erase their appearance into the timeline, then as they try to go through with the plan that can get them back to their own time (which sadly makes the first part of the episode completely unnecessary, but they didn’t know that would be the case as they were doing it).  This is the only episode on my Top Ten which doesn’t occur in at least one of the other two Top Ten lists we’ll be discussing.

Group Ranking: NR

IMDb Ranking: NR

6. WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE (My Grade 88%, Group Grade 80%, IMDb Grade 79%)

where no man has gone before

The first episode filmed with Kirk as the Captain, but the third episode aired.  I think it suffers some with fans due to the similar storyline to the episode that aired before it, Charlie X.  However, for me, the way that this episode and that episode work together say some interesting things about the allure of and desire for power.

Group Ranking: 6

IMDb Ranking: NR

5. THE CORBOMITE MANEUVER (My Grade 89%, Group Grade 75%, IMDb Grade 82%)

The Corbomite Maneuver 1

Sure, the resolution might feel a little easy (although for me it is a twist that I love and which I believe works), but the episode has some incredibly tense moments, and the ideal nature of humanity begin to become clear with this episode.  We are more than just the high idealized words we use.  We have truly moved past the violent nature of our predecessors and are attempting to be something more.  That was the vision for the future that Roddenberry had, and that is what the crew epitomizes in this episode.

Group Ranking: NR

IMDb Ranking: 7

4. THE GALILEO SEVEN (My Grade 94%, Group Grade 80%, IMDb Grade 78%)

galileo seven

I love the episodes where others doubt or openly deride Spock. While he acts as though he doesn’t care what others think of him, Nimoy’s performance gives that hint that Spock does care, does have emotions and feelings, but desires to rise above what he sees as something lessor than who and what he aspires to be. The actions of the humans around him often show that to be a worthy desire. And yet often we get the sense that there is somewhere in between pure emotionless logic and simply allowing our feelings to dictate what we do, and that somewhere in between is where we should all attempt to reside. It’s an amazing performance that Nimoy gives, especially considering the entirety of the character, as Spock ultimately finds that place, thanks in part to his time among humans. And this episode is a great moment along that journey. Did watching it so soon after the death of Nimoy affect my judgment on this episode? Perhaps, but it has always been a favorite of mine.

Group Ranking: 8

IMDb Ranking: NR

3. THE DEVIL IN THE DARK (My Grade 95%, Group Grade 90%, IMDb Grade 85%)

devil in the dark

Its a common Star Trek (and sci-fi for that matter) storyline, a being so alien it seems incredibly monstrous, but then it turns out that in actuality, the monster is us.  That storyline was first introduced and immediately perfected in this episode.  It is no surprise that this is a consensus top Star Trek (TOS) episode.

Group Ranking: 3

IMDb Ranking: 4

2. BALANCE OF TERROR (My Grade 97%, Group Grade 90%, IMDb Grade 90%)

Romulan Commander

This is the episode that introduces the Romulans, but also the first moment that any human sees a Romulan.  The striking resemblance they have to Vulcans (in fact, the Romulan commander looks exactly like Spock’s dad!) would be more fully explained later in Trek, but it lead to some intriguing points about how we judge others based solely on appearance (bringing up images of how Sikh’s were treated in this country right after 9/11 despite having no connection whatsoever to Islam much less al Quida).  The episode also brings up intriguing questions of how much we really have in common with those we fight.

Group Ranking: 2

IMDb Ranking: 3

1. THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER (My Grade 100%, Group Grade 90%, IMDb Grade 93%)

city on the edge of forever

Quite simply, the best episode of Star Trek ever and among the best episodes of television ever. Fantastic questions raised about war and peace, and a moral situation that tugs at the heartstrings while also posing serious philosophical issues for discussion.  This is Sci-Fi at its best as well as Star Trek at its best.  Of course, as I told you earlier, I love time travel episodes!

Group Ranking: 1

IMDb Ranking: 1

So, with my rankings, you get a pretty good idea of the Top Ten of the Great Trek Watchthru group as well as of IMDb users, but here are their Top Tens

Our Group’s Top Ten (ties in rankings were broken first by number of votes, then by who had the higher score on IMDb)

10. The Return of the Archons (IMDb Ranking: NR/My Ranking: NR)

This is the only episode that is in the Group Top Ten that isn’t in either of the others.

9. Errand of Mercy (IMDb Ranking: 6/My Ranking: 9)

8. The Galileo Seven (IMDb Ranking: NR/My Ranking: 4)

7. The Enemy Within (IMDb Ranking: NR/My Ranking: 8)

6. Where No Man Has Gone Before (IMDb Ranking: NR/My Ranking 6)

5. The Naked Time (IMDb Ranking: NR/My Ranking: 10)

4. Space Seed (IMDb Ranking: 2/My Ranking: NR)

I really think the view of this episode is inflated because of how incredibly Wrath of Khan is.  If the second movie hadn’t brought Khan back, I don’t think this episode would be as highly thought of.  Other than the incredible performance by Ricardo Montelbon and the intriguing premise of genetically modified humans causing a World War, the episode itself is actually pretty weak.

3. The Devil in the Dark (IMDb Ranking: 4/My Ranking: 3)

2. Balance of Terror (IMDb Ranking: 3/My Ranking 2)

1. The City on the Edge of Forever (IMDb Ranking: 1/My Ranking 1)

IMDb Users Top Ten (ties were broken by number of votes)

The IMDb Rankings (unlike the group’s and mine) often have episodes that don’t appear in the other two top tens.

10. This Side of Paradise (Group Ranking: NR/My Ranking: NR)

9. A Taste of Armageddon (Group Ranking: NR/My Ranking: NR)

8. Arena (Group Ranking: NR/My Ranking: NR)

This has one of the most iconic scenes in Star Trek history, the hilariously bad fight between Kirk and the lizard-like Gorn, but beyond that iconic moment (which is iconic in part because it is so horrible), I don’t know why this episode gets the notice that it does.

7. The Corbomite Maneuver (Group Ranking: NR/My Ranking: 5)

6. Errand of Mercy (Group Ranking: 9/My Ranking: 9)

5. The Menagerie Parts I&II (Group Ranking: NR/My Ranking NR)

4. The Devil in the Dark (Group Ranking: 3/My Ranking: 3)

3. Balance of Terror (Group Ranking: 2/My Ranking: 2)

2. Space Seed (Group Ranking: 4/My Ranking: NR)

1. The City on the Edge of Forever (Group Ranking: 1/My Ranking: 1)

Finally, I thought I would list all of the first season episodes with the IMDb user rating as well as what the group rated the episodes with occasional comments, but mostly, I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.

The Cage – IMDb Grade 77% (Group Grade 68%)
The Man Trap – 73% (52%)
Charlie X – 72% (69%)
Where No Man Has Gone Before – 79% (80%)
The Naked Time – 80%, (80%)
The Enemy Within – 78% (80%)
Mudd’s Women – 70% (47%) (by far our group’s least favorite season one episode.  However, IMDb users had an episode they ranked much lower, this was their 2nd lowest ranked season one episode)
What Are Little Girls Made Of? – 77% (55%)
Miri – 72% (53%)
Dagger of the Mind – 75% (60%)
The Corbomite Maneuver – 82% (75%)
The Menagerie: Part 1&2 – 84.5% (53%) (this was no doubt hurt by our group’s decision to watch the original pilot, so this episode was in many ways an early repeat for us, which probably resulted in some lower scores)
The Conscience of the King – 73% (60%)
Balance of Terror – 90% (90%)
Shore Leave – 77% (53%) (perhaps a product of the smaller sample size, a negative ranking by a few in our group can radically drop an episode’s score, I rather liked this episode)
The Galileo Seven – 78% (80%) (The Group and IMDb users rate this fairly similarly, despite making the Group’s Top 10 and missing IMDb’s, but I have it ranked substantially higher)
The Squire of Gothos – 76% (67%)
Arena – 81% (60%)
Tomorrow is Yesterday – 80% (67%) (while this is the one episode in my Top 10 in neither of the others, IMDb users do rank it fairly high)
Court Martial – 74% (60%)
The Return of the Archons – 73% (80%)
Space Seed – 90% (85%)
A Taste of Armageddon – 81% (67%)
This Side of Paradise – 81% (50%)
The Devil in the Dark – 85% (90%) (while on the whole, IMDb users rank episodes higher, they don’t rank individual episodes extremely high, even the best ones)
Errand of Mercy – 83% (80%)
The Alternative Factor – 59% (80%) (the only episode we ranked radically higher than IMDb)
The City on the Edge of Forever – 93% (90%)
Operation – Annihilate – 76% (70%)

Overall, this has proved to be an interesting experience as we went through season one, and hopefully it will continue to be throughout season two.

Let us know what your top ten episodes are from Season One of TOS as well as where you would grade any of the episodes.  Are there any where IMDb users are way off, any where are group are way off, any where both are wrong (I would argue Space Seed)?  Feel free to let us know in the comments.

And don’t forget to #TrekWithUs each week!

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