Kieran Somers

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50 Years of Star Trek 1966 – 2016



The 8th September, 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the debut of Star Trek The Original Series on television.  Conceived by its creator, the late Gene Roddenberry, as a ‘Wagon Train to the stars’, as per the popular western series that came before it, the influence of this entertainment franchise on television, films and popular culture generally is widespread and grows richer with each passing year.  The Original Series has spawned four spin-off series in the Next Generation (1987 to 1994), Deep Space Nine (1993 to 1999), Voyager (1995 to 2001) and Enterprise (2001 to 2005), as well as an animated series which aired between 1973 and 1974.  A new series titled Star Trek: Discovery is currently slated to premiere in January 2017.  In creating the original series Gene Roddenberry was inspired by the aforementioned Wagon Train as well as such works as the Horatio Hornblower novels and Gulliver’s Travels.  With particular reference to the famous work of Jonathan Swift, Roddenberry made the telling remark that he wished for the Original Series to operate on two levels – as an adventure story beyond the stars with attendant science fiction paraphernalia, and also as a morality tale.  It is this very fusion which I believe has sustained the franchise over the past 50 years – viewers of the various shows and film versions are presented with stories with real heart and soul which just so happen to take place in the backdrop of deep space.  Of course there are many other things to praise in the series as well, not least the reflection of contemporaneous events in the real world, which the franchise has consistently sought to address, as well as universal themes such as friendship, loyalty, duty, civil rights, the impact of technology and human progress.  In writing a piece about such an enduring series, which has had many iterations over the years, it is not possible to cover every show or indeed every film which the Star Trek universe has produced thus far.  Rather than analyse each film and series separately I have decided to nominate below my five personal favourite films of the thirteen and to nominate my 10 favourite episodes of the Original Series, which ran from 1966 to 1969.  My subterfuge in all of this is simple really.  With the 50th anniversary upon us, I’d like to spark my own piece of debate amongst fans and Trekkies as to what you might consider to be the best films in the film franchise and best episodes in the Original Series.  So here we go – space the final frontier – see if you agree or disagree with my choices.

To date (as of 2016) there have been thirteen feature films as I’ve mentioned above.  The first six featured the original cast of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and other prominent members such as Scotty, Sulu and Uhura.  The seventh feature film – Generations (1994) – was a transition piece essentially, offering as its central premise the meeting of Captain Kirk from the Original Series and Captain Picard from the Next Generation.  The Next Generation then owned the franchise in films eight, nine and ten before the rebooted series beamed down to us in 2009 by way of J.J. Abrams’ excellent Star Trek.  Films twelve (Into Darkness) and thirteen (Beyond) have been in the hands of Abrams and Justin Lin as directors.  The principal players now – meaning as I do the central trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy – are Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban.  At this point in time a fourteenth film is tentatively said to be in the works.  No matter at this stage; here, in any event, are my five favourite Star Trek films:


Star Trek II


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Nicholas Meyer 1982)

After the lukewarm reception to the Motion Picture there was a tacit feeling that some of the warmth of the original series had to be recaptured.  From a box office perspective the Motion Picture was relatively successful, and, hence, the second instalment in the series.  Producer Harve Bennett, who came on board for this one, screened all episodes of the original series, and one of those from the first season, Space Seed, caught his eye in particular.  Khan Noonien Singh (as played by Ricardo Montalban in the original episode) is still on Ceti Alpha V where Kirk had exiled him and his acolytes following the events of Space Seed.  When Chekov and Captain Clark Terrell mistakenly beam down to the surface of this planet, Khan seizes the opportunity to capture their ship and plots to exact revenge on the captain whom he holds accountable for his banishment and the subsequent death of his wife.  More sinisterly as well, Khan becomes very interested in Genesis, a rejuvenative process designed to create habitable worlds on otherwise barren planets.  Khan ambushes the Enterprise, which is on a training mission, and Kirk soon comes to realise the high personal price he has to pay when confronted by his former nemesis.  I’m listing Star Trek II as my own personal favourite of the films (just slightly ahead of The Voyage Home mind) because it did certainly achieve what producer Bennett and director Meyer set out to do and that was to capture some of the magic, warmth and general camaraderie of the original series.  And Khan has a more than worthy villain too as played by Montalban who clearly relished the role.  This is a superior entry in the film franchise also because of some of the other themes it examines such as friendship, personal sacrifice and the sense of one’s impending mortality.  The closing scenes of course are very well played and quite moving.  A young Kirstie Alley features quite prominently as Saavik, a Vulcan and commander in training who is less than happy with Kirk’s solution to the Kobayashi Maru zero-sum game.  For Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, fearing being typecast, the future Cheers star did not make herself available.  The role of Saavik was instead played by Robin Curtis.


Star Trek IV


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Leonard Nimoy 1986)

Probably the happiest and definitely the most fun-filled of all the film franchise, this one completes the story arc begun in the Wrath of Khan and sees the intrepid crew, facing imminent charges for the theft and destruction of the Enterprise, travelling back to 1980s California in an effort to source humpback whales in order to save the Earth.  Arriving in contemporary San Francisco, the crew splits up in order to expedite their mission with some hilarious moments as their garb and attitude stand out in the fast-paced American city.  The proverbial clock is meantime ticking as well as the planet needs to be saved in the future time, and the whales which Kirk and Spock locate are soon due to be released back into the wild.  This was Nimoy’s second Star Trek film at the helm and he fills it out with some deft humorous touches and a nice laissez faire tone throughout.  He was given more artistic freedom on this one as opposed to The Search For Spock and there is an innate sense at the heart of The Voyage Home that the cast had great fun and revelled in the latitude passed on by the director.  Curiously enough the central premise of the story – time travel with a marked environmental message – was conceived by Nimoy and producer Harve Bennett.  The studio had its doubts as to whether such a story could be put over in an appropriately entertaining way (especially also since there is no actual villain in Voyage Home) and requested re-writes which involved Nicholas Meyer.  Eddie Murphy – a trekkie fan – was apparently most interested in securing a part for himself in the film as well.  The then hugely hot property was seriously considered by the studio and Nimoy, but, subsequently, dropped out as he was dissatisfied with the character written for him.  He proceeded to make the turkey that was The Golden Child instead.  The Voyage Home proved to be no such thing and was a box office success when set against its quite modest budget of $21 million dollars.  The film was suitably dedicated to the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger who perished in the infamous January 28th, 1986 accident, a mere four weeks before principal photography on The Voyage Home began.


Star Trek VI


Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Nicholas Meyer 1991)

After the misstep that was The Final Frontier the Trek film franchise got back to a much sounder footing with this one which has the Enterprise at the centre of peace negotiations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.  The last film, alas, which featured the entire cast of the original series, The Undiscovered Country has some contemporaneous elements in its plot as the Berlin Wall had recently come down and the Cold War was receding.  Kirk, an active participant in the previous war with the Klingons, and also a victim (in terms of the loss of his own son), is reluctant to become involved in such negotiations, but his hand is forced by the powers-that-be in the Federation.  Enter General Chang (a worthy Shakespearian-quoting nemesis in Christopher Plummer) who, like Kirk, considers himself a soldier foremost and is determined to sabotage the efforts for peace and harmony.  The steadying influence that was Nicholas Meyer returned to helm this excellent entry in the series and he was aided by the regular cast which was joined by such names as the aforementioned Plummer, David Warner, Iman and Kim Cattrall.  Watch out also for a cameo appearance by Christian Slater – his mother Mary Jo Slater was the casting director.  Produced in time for the 25th anniversary of the TV series, The Undiscovered Country was a financial success and also went down well with critics who had previously savaged The Final Frontier.  Following that mauling it’s interesting to note that the producers had briefly toyed with the idea of a reboot for the series; namely depicting Kirk and other key members of the crew during their time at Starfleet Academy.  This idea would eventually be realised as we know, but it’s a good thing it wasn’t pursued at this particular juncture as The Undiscovered Country provided a fitting swan song for the original cast as an ensemble.  The film was released a few weeks after the passing of series creator Gene Roddenberry.


Star Trek First contact


Star Trek: First Contact (Jonathan Frakes 1996)

This was far and away the best film of the Next Generation series and it benefits from a good storyline, involving a time-travel element along with the ever-present threat of the dreaded Borg, who’d featured in the Next Generation TV series (particularly The Best of Both Worlds episode).  Jonathan Frakes helmed this one which was a watershed in the series as a whole as it was the first film not to feature any members of the original cast.  Frakes, who’d directed several episodes of the Next Generation TV series, proved to be a most apt choice and the plot of First Contact is handled well by him with a knowing pace and gusto approach to its subject matter.  Most of the Next Generation cast featured in this fine entry and they were joined by such notables as James Cromwell and Alfre Woodard in support.  Highlights included the Borg Queen, as played by Alice Krige, the performance of Patrick Stewart as a somewhat haunted Captain Picard (who has already had a far too intimate encounter with the cybernetic Borg) and the film’s makeup and visual effects.  The real star of the show though is Frakes’s direction in what was his debut in feature film.  He would subsequently go on to direct the next film in the series as well – Insurrection – which, in truth, has more of an extended episode feel to it and most certainly pales in comparison to this one.  First Contact rated well with the critics and, with a box office haul of $146 million worldwide, ensured that the Next Generation players would get two more films in the series.  After the completely flat Nemesis in 2002 they also then hung up their phasers.


Star Trek 2009


Star Trek (J.J. Abrams 2009)

And so we come to the rebooted series and this first of the three to date is the best as far as I’m concerned.  Following the critical and commercial disappointment of Nemesis in 2002, and the cancellation of the series Star Trek: Enterprise, the franchise had most certainly reached a crossroads and the very astute decision to go back to its roots was taken.  Several key elements fell into place.  J.J. Abrams was a perfect fit to direct and he managed to assemble a cast of key players who were just right for the iconic roles.  Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto appear to have been playing Kirk and Spock their whole lives, Karl Urban is a younger but nevertheless suitably grouchy McCoy and then there are Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho and the late Anton Yelchin who bring flesh and bone to their respective roles.  Plus the film itself is great fun and moves along at a warp speed pace (yes I am enthusing here with Star Trek puns).  The whole time continuum/alternate reality aspect of the story is a bit muddled perhaps, but it was great to see Leonard Nimoy appearing also as Spock Prime and it posits a nice continuity with all that has gone before.  All other aspects of the film are of the very highest order as well: Michael Giacchino’s score retains the original theme by Alexander Courage and gives it a wider symphonic tenor, the cinematography and visual effects are right up there with the very best science fiction has to offer, and the makeup won an Oscar in that particular category at the 82nd Academy Awards.  Possibly the best prequel ever?  Yes, I think it might well be.  In any case this was the shot in the arm which the franchise so badly needed and Star Trek went on to be a commercial hit and a favourite with the critics.  Two further reboot films later the franchise still looks quite strong.  A fourth reboot film is planned for the future.  That would make fourteen in all.  The series has indeed come a long way since its relatively humble beginnings in the mid-1960s.


The 10 Best Episodes of the Original TV series (1966 – 1969)

As I mentioned earlier, Star Trek The Original Series premiered on NBC on the 8th September, 1966.  A pilot for the show – ‘The Cage’ – had originally been made in 1965.  Starring Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike and Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock, ‘The Cage’ was rejected by NBC, but the network took the unusual step of ordering another pilot episode which became ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before.’  A full season was then commissioned with William Shatner’s Kirk replacing Pike.  Despite the network’s initial dislike of Spock’s pointy ears, Leonard Nimoy managed to hang on to his job and, along with Shatner, was joined in the cast by the likes of DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei and Nichelle Nichols.  The first episode actually aired on the 8th September 1966 was not ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’ but rather ‘The Man Trap’, a tale of a shapeshifting creature which seeks to extract salt from human bodies.  I recently watched a show hosted by Leonard Nimoy in 1982 called Leonard Nimoy’s Star Trek Memories.  He had many interesting observations and reminisces to offer up (including how the network almost culled his own character), but chief amongst these was that ‘The Man Trap’ was not a favourite episode amongst the cast and crew; in fact, if anything, it was one of the more forgettable of the excellent first season.  The only true turkey from this first season I would suggest was the very iffy and convoluted entry titled ‘The Alternative Factor.’  Unfortunately, as the show moved through its subsequent two seasons, there was something of a law of diminishing returns at work.  Concepts and storylines from earlier episodes were re-worked, more often than not in an unsuccessful way.  Season 2 of the Original Series has its mixture of the good and bad (good being episodes such as ‘Amok Time’ and ‘Journey to Babel’; bad being ones such as ‘I, Mudd’ and ‘The Gamesters of Triskelion’).  Season 3 has many decidedly weak episodes such as ‘The Way to Eden’, ‘Elaan of Troyius’ and the infamously at-the-time controversial ‘Plato’s Stepchildren.’  Such remarks aside though, I still think the Original Series stands on its own merits and also that many of its best episodes stand up to repeated viewing.  Below – listed according to their original airdate – are my own personal ten favourite episodes:


Naked Time


The Naked Time (Marc Daniels, 29th September 1966)

Just a mere four episodes into the first season and the series served up this nice blend of gripping drama and some lighter comic touches.  Having attempted to locate a research team on a dying planet, the Enterprise crew finds itself the victim en masse of a contagious malaise which spreads like wild fire and causes them to act irrationally and with uninhibited emotion.  Meantime, the ship itself is sucked into the planet’s decaying vortex and spirals towards certain disaster.  The original series frequently revelled in the spectacle of showing the central characters acting against their better instincts and The Naked Time as an early episode has many such instances of this.  Take, for example, Sulu’s swashbuckling efforts.  And Lieutenant Kevin Riley’s endless and quite inept rendition of ‘I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen’ as he manifests his Irish heritage to comic effect.  Spock, of course, has his moments too following a profession of love by the as-always enamoured Nurse Chapel.  Star Trek: The Next Generation did their own take of this particular one in the episode The Naked Now, but this earlier entry for me is much better and deserves its place on the Top 10 list.  A segment of this episode curiously appears in Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.  George Takei has publicly stated this is his own favourite episode in the series.


The Enemy Within


The Enemy Within (Leo Penn, 6th October 1966)

This episode afforded William Shatner an early opportunity to flex his acting muscles and he seizes it with much aplomb.  One could argue that his scenes as the evil Kirk are overplayed and somewhat hammy, but they are offset by the Canadian’s fine performance as the gentle, thoughtful Kirk.  The premise here is quite simple really.  A transporter malfunction splits Kirk into two entities: one his good half, the other his bad.  His bad goes about demanding alcohol and attempting to woo Yeoman Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney) in her quarters.  The good Kirk, completely oblivious to such shenanigans, protests his innocence and Mr. Spock soon deduces that there is an intruder on board.  This is a truly great Star Trek episode (scripted incidentally by Richard Matheson, author of I Am Legend) which explores the theme of how a captain, such as Kirk, needs both sides of his personality to be a truly effective leader.  Notable highlights include the good Kirk confronting his evil side, one of the early employments of Spock’s famous Vulcan neck pinch, and the very first utterance of McCoy’s immortal line, ‘He’s dead Jim!’  The episode also features an atmospheric musical accompaniment and was one of the few which in fact had a full score written for it.




Miri (Vincent McEveety, 27th October 1966)

Several key members of the Enterprise crew beam down to a planet which resembles Earth almost down to the very last detail.  Whilst searching there amongst its ruins the landing party, including Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Yeoman Janice Rand, discover that a deadly plague has entirely decimated the adult population and only the children remain.  They capture one played by Kim Darby (a few years later Mattie Ross in 1969’s True Grit) and she begins to fall for the dashing, handsome captain.  But all is not well on the infested planet and Spock and Kirk learn the horrible truth behind the age-extending experiments which have so badly backfired on the grown-ups.  The landing party, with the exception of Spock, begin to manifest symptoms of the deadly disease.  This is a wonderful episode that is both touching and tense in equal measures, and it employs the characters of the children as antagonists and victims to great effect.  The scenes between Shatner and Kim Darby are well played and you might also notice a young Michael J. Pollard (of 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde) in a supporting role.  Some of William Shatner’s children also feature as the young ones; as do Grace Lee Whitney’s sons.


The Conscience of the King


The Conscience of the King (Gerd Oswald, 8th December 1966)

The play is indeed the thing in this one in which an old friend of Kirk’s – the badly scarred and mentally traumatised Dr. Thomas Leighton – plants the thought in the captain’s head that a lead actor in a Shakespearian company was formerly a mass-murdering dictator.  To complicate matters further both he and Kirk are amongst the few survivors from the Earth colony where this dictator, named Kodos, went on his eugenics-fuelled killing spree.  Lieutenant Kevin Riley, it is revealed, is another such survivor.  Kirk is sceptical at first, but with Leighton’s sudden and violent death, he decides to investigate further and invites the company, including Karidian/Kodos and his very lovely daughter Lenore, aboard the Enterprise on the pretext of transporting them to their next destination and, naturally, the performance of a play into the bargain.  But is Karidian who he says he is – a lowly actor?  Or does he have a hidden past which the captain must now uncover?  Again another nicely balanced episode which further amplified the three central characters of Kirk, Spock and McCoy.  By my calculation Bruce Hyde made his final appearance in the show as Lieutenant Kevin Riley.  As indeed, sadly, did Grace Lee Whitney as Yeoman Janice Rand.  She did, however, turn up in a small supporting role years later in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.


The Return of the Archons


The Return of the Archons (Joseph Pevney, 9th February 1967)

This is one of my favourite episodes – hence its inclusion in my Top 10 – but for some reason it doesn’t appear to figure on a lot of other similar lists.  The Prime Directive (the oft-referenced Starfleet directive which prohibits its personnel from interfering in the natural development of alien civilisations) is first mentioned in this episode and it’s most pertinent.  Again, as with so many Star Trek episodes, a landing party of several key personnel is dispatched to the surface of a planet to investigate a mystery which appears to have no clear answers.  The Archons of the title is a USS mission of some 100 years before which has been declared lost.  Upon arrival Kirk and his men discover a culture and society which has stagnated to the point of near-regression.  The indigenous population are compliant and exude wide cheery smiles, with the exception of the time of the ‘festival’ when they descend into a state of tribal anarchy.  And behind all of this is the mysterious figure of their reclusive leader Landru who appears as a projection on walls and has cloaked henchmen do his bidding.  An oft-repeated premise in the series – that of a unsophisticated civilisation which is worshipping, and also living in fear, of a false God – this is by far the best elucidation on this very theme.  Plus the finale of Kirk literally arguing a computer to death is a hoot.  A great entry in the series.


Space Seed


Space Seed (Marc Daniels, 16th February 1967)

And so we arrive at one of the true classics of the original series.  So much so in fact that it later formed the starting point for the second film, but more on that I have mentioned above.  Whilst on its deep space mission the Enterprise come across a sleeper ship (aptly named Botany Bay it transpires) which, as it turns out, contains a master race of super humans (any parallels occur to you yet?).  Releasing them from their hyper-sleep, Kirk soon discovers that their leader, one Khan Noonien Singh (the great Ricardo Montalban), is a warrior, leader and thinker of the very highest order as befits his distinguished past.  But he’s also extremely dangerous and is effectively an instigator of the Eugenics war which decimated Earth in a previous lifetime.  The reawakened Khan has lost none of his considerable fervour and zeal for power and attempts to take control of the Enterprise.  There are many highlights in this episode, including several fine performances, most notably by Shatner and Montalban, but my own personal favourite scene is the dinner party thrown by Kirk in Khan’s honour in which the wily captain provokes a reaction he entirely expects from the other man.  The reference to Milton’s Paradise Lost at the episode’s end is also nicely employed and once again demonstrates the strong writing and sharp allusions at the heart of the series.  All in all a classic episode.


This side of paradise


This Side of Paradise (Ralph Senensky, 2nd March 1967)

Spock in love?!  Picking flowers in the fields and contemplating the beauty of rainbows!!  The premise may seem half daft and more better served in a regular sitcom, but this episode from the latter half of the first season also has some pointed things to say about duty, obligation and the need ultimately for mankind to progress.  Kirk and his landing party, including Spock and McCoy, beam down to a federation colony where they believe the settlers have perished from radiation some time before.  To their astonishment all the colonists are accounted for and are, in fact, in much better states of health than they ought to be.  Spirited away by the pretty Leila (Jill Ireland), whom he knew years before, Spock is exposed to strange flowers which shoot spores.  His behaviour is transformed; he becomes amorous and most appreciative of his Paradise-like setting.  Before long the other members of the landing party (with the notable exception of Kirk) and, eventually, the crew of the Enterprise are similarly exposed and emotionally reduced.  Lots of scenes to enjoy in this one including a rejuvenated Dr. McCoy whose voice has regained its youthful vigour and, of course, the great scene in which Kirk goads Spock into a fight.


Devil in the Dark


The Devil in the Dark (Joseph Pevney, 9th March 1967)

Again another beautifully measured episode that is both thoughtful and somewhat touching.  The Enterprise travels to a mining colony which has been encountering much trouble, and a high rate of mortality, in connection with a bizarre creature which possesses a strong corrosive substance thereby allowing it to tunnel through rock with apparent ease.  Believing that the creature is a killer, the chief engineer of the colony -Vanderberg – implores that they be aided in hunting and killing the creature.  Matters take an even more ominous twist when the creature breaks into the colony’s main nuclear reactor and begins a chain of events that may well lead to a core meltdown.  There are several elements to admire in this very strong episode including the astute script and fine performances, particularly by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.  The central conflict as expressed in The Devil in the Dark, that of commercial endeavour (as personified by the miners and their vested interests) versus the desirable scientific need to preserve life, in this case a last of its species in the mysterious Horta (as articulated by Mr. Spock), is brilliantly realised through the episode’s teleplay and the steady direction of series regular Joseph Pevney.  William Shatner has called this his own personal favourite of the original series.  It certainly is up there with the very best, no argument from me in that respect.


City on the edge of forever


The City on the Edge of Forever (Joseph Pevney, 6th April 1967)

Ok, we were just talking about all-time favourite episodes, and this one is my all-time favourite episode of Star Trek.  Not only that, but I also think it’s one of the finest television episodes in any genre of all time.  The average Star Trek episode – old series at least – was approximately 50 minutes in length, give or take by my reckoning, and in this regard The City on the Edge of Forever fits in so much admirably in terms of beautiful storytelling, genuine moral dilemma, and great acting in the process.  The penultimate episode of the ground-breaking first season, this one has the Enterprise crew discovering a structure on a planet pompously referring to itself as the ‘Guardian of Forever.’  The crew’s foray to the otherwise unremarkable planet has been occasioned by a crazed Dr. McCoy who has accidentally injected himself with an overdose of cordrazine inclining him now towards violence and paranoid behaviour.  In his emotionally afflicted state the good doctor passes through the portal of time that is the Guardian and alters the course of history in some detrimental way.  The Enterprise above disappears and Kirk learns his only way of correcting McCoy’s inadvertent intervention is to seek him out in the past, into whichever era he has journeyed.  Spock accompanies the captain and they arrive in a Depression-era 1930s American city.  Here they encounter Edith Keeler (Joan Collins), a socially conscientious near-visionary, who runs the 21st Street Mission in the city.  She provides them with shelter in exchange for their labour.  Spock begins working on a device to access the records on his tricorder.  Kirk, being Kirk, gradually falls for the spirited and high-minded young lady.  But then this great episode takes the first of its dramatic twists as Spock learns that Edith Keeler is at the very heart of McCoy’s disastrous tampering with the natural course of history.  As it tragically transpires, in order for history to resume its proper trajectory, Edith must die, an unavoidable fact Spock can see through his logic, but which Kirk finds most difficult to stomach.  The City on the Edge of Forever is an absolutely sublime piece of storytelling and incorporates so many of the key ingredients that made Star Trek the Original Series such a great show.  Shatner is at his very best as the conflicted Kirk, and Joan Collins has never been better as the seemingly doomed Edith.  Acting kudos should also be extended to Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley.  The climax of this remarkable episode is surely one of the most affecting in television history.  The final line, ‘Let’s get the hell out of here,’ as uttered by Kirk, is entirely fitting in the context of what has gone before, but was deeply problematic at the time for the network NBC who did not wish for the word hell to feature on its show.  Shatner and Gene Rodenberry fought for its retention – rightly so – and this is one of the first instances of the word hell used as a profanity in an American television series.  A timeless classic that gets better with repeated viewing.


Amok Time


Amok Time (Joseph Pevney, 15th September 1967)

My only non-first season inclusion, this second season opener has Spock acting entirely out of sorts and requesting – even demanding – that the Enterprise break from its plotted course and divert to his home planet of Vulcan.  Kirk is initially reluctant to do so, but upon McCoy’s timely medical advice decides to acquiesce to his friend’s request.  Spock as it turns out is undergoing pon farr a condition which will result in his death if he does not return to his world to mate with his childhood betrothed.  Upon arrival on the planet, however, Spock’s bride-to-be, T’Pring, elects for a duel to the death prior to the wedding ceremony and selects Kirk as her champion.  Kirk and Spock face off in a famous duel involving traditional Vulcan weapons.  Amok Time was a fine first episode in the second season and maintained the high standard set by the first.  A few notable firsts were set as Walter Koening made his Star Trek debut as Ensign Pavel Chekov, and DeForest Kelley’s name was added to the opening credits following Shatner’s and Nimoy’s.  The famous episode was parodied to marvellous effect in the Futurama episode titled ‘Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?’and that particular entry in the Matt Groening animated show also features the musical score which accompanies the fight scene between Kirk and Spock.

2 comments so far

  • Great to be reminded of so many fantastic memories of the original Star Trek which I had forgotten. I too loved the 2009 movie. Star Trek was always good at setting your moral compass!! Happy 50th Birthday Star Trek

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