Best Star Trek Episodes #1: City on the Edge of Forever


Well folks, here it is, the all-time greatest episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. This isn’t just my opinion, it’s also Roddenberry’s favorite, tied with “The Menagerie” (which was a re-working of the original pilot episode “The Cage”).

From the series’ inception, Star Trek actually had the support of elites in the sci-fi community. When “The Cage” was shown by NBC and Roddenberry to these people, Isaac Asimov himself was in attendance and personally congratulated Roddenberry. But he wasn’t the only elite that supported Roddenberry. He also had Harlan Ellison, who had a special story he wanted to write for the show.

Harlan Ellison was a sci-fi writer who wrote novellas, screenplays, and even scripts, and not just for Star Trek. In fact, when Twilight Zone was revived by CBS in the 80’s, Harlan Ellison was brought on as the show’s executive producer, and wrote many of the scripts. (By that time, Rod Serling had died.) He actually was not pleased with this episode, as he and Roddenberry had disagreements over how the script was supposed to be written. These disagreements soured his relationship with Roddenberry, which is why this is the only story he ever wrote for the series.

The story begins with McCoy treating a comatose patient, and injects him with cordazine. The drug has the potential to cause insanity, but the patient does not appear to be affected.  However, when the Enterprise is rocked by a galactic distortion, he accidentally injects himself with too much of the drug, causing him to become paranoid. Driven by his paranoia, he beams down to the planet’s surface, with Kirk and Spock chasing after him. When they arrive, they discover a “time tunnel” (no relation to the short-lived TV series), which is causing the distortions. McCoy runs through the tunnel, and moments later, Kirk discovers that the Enterprise no longer exists. In fact, neither does Starfleet itself!

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Worst Star Trek Episodes: Spock’s Brain


And here it is folks, my #1 pick for the worst Star Trek episode of all time: “Spock’s Brain”. This is a legendary episode, and in every bad way possible. There’s a story around that Gene Coon, who produced Star Trek along with Roddenberry, and wrote many of the episodes, wrote the script of “Spock’s Brain” as a joke because he didn’t like the idea of Fred Frieberger replacing Roddenberry as producer. Prior to working on Star Trek, he was on Lost In Space. Personally, I have to disagree with this. Yes, Lost in Space was less serious than Trek, but I still consider it part of the sci-fi genre.

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Best Star Trek Episodes: Space Seed


When Nicholas Meyer signed on to direct Star Trek II, he actually had little knowledge of what he wanted. To prepare, he watched several episodes, including this one. In fact, if someone had never watched Star Trek, this is an episode I would show.

The story begins when the Enterprise finds the starship Botany Bay. They board the ship with historian Lt. Marla McGivens accompanying them. When they beam onto the ship, they discover there are inhabitants in suspended animation. These are the notorious Khan Noonian Singh and his followers.

Everyone is intrigued with the idea of reviving Khan and his followers, despite their reputation. I like how Spock is bewildered that Khan is actually revered despite his tyranny. This is realistic. There are many notorious people who are still admired to this day.

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Worst Star Trek Episodes: Plato’s Stepchildren


Gene Roddenberry wanted Star Trek to be an inspiration to the future. In fact, it’s one of the few optimistic visions in science fiction. It is a future in which all colors and creeds of the human race come together to explore the final frontier.

“Plato’s Stepchildren” is probably Star Trek’s most controversial episode. It features TV’s first interracial kiss. So, why do I place it here? Because I cannot let controversy make me give it a pass. I have nothing against the scene personally. But how we got to it is a path I did not like.

The story begins with Kirk, McCoy, and Spock beaming down to a planet, investigating a distress call. They are greeted by a friendly dwarf named Alexander. They meet the planet’s inhabitants, (called Platonians) who have created a society based on the ideals of the Greek philosopher Plato. These Platonians are ageless, and with the exception of Alexander, all are telekinetic.

The Platonians have actually lured the crew because their leader, Parmen, is ill. Parmen isn’t alone, but Kirk objects. The Platonians demonstrate their abilities on Kirk and McCoy, making them dance like jesters and imitate horses, with Alexander riding Kirk. This was the moment that made me hate the episode.

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Best Star Trek episodes: Balance of Terror


Mark Lenard appeared in two classic Star Trek episodes, and both are among my favorites.  I’ve already talked about “Journey to Babel”, so now let’s talk about “Balance of Terror”

The Federation has two alien races as enemies: the Klingons and the Romulans. While the Klingons eventually became allies by the start of Next Generation, the Romulans remained enemies throughout both Classic and Next Generation. While both are warlike, they approach conquest in different ways. The Romulans are such a threat that they set up a “Neutral Zone”, an area of space which the Federation is forbidden to enter. The Romulans can come and go as they please, but if the Federation crosses it, it could start an intergalactic war.

What I truly enjoy about this episode is the parallel between the unnamed Romulan Commander and Kirk. Both are well-respected by their crews.  In fact, the Commander, despite being the villain, is a father to his men. His crew believes it unwise to question any order he gives. They trust his judgment completely.  The Commander knows very little about Kirk’s background, but he sees Kirk as an equal.  Despite the fact that they are enemies, the Commander respects Kirk.

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Worst Star Trek Episodes: The Savage Curtain


I almost put “Catspaw” in this slot because of its silliness. But I found an even sillier episode for my #3 spot on my Worst Star Trek Episodes countdown: “The Savage Curtain”.

This episode follows the formula seen in better episodes like “The Corbomite Manuever”, “The Gamesters of Triskellion” and “Arena”, where the Enterprise crew is put to a test by advanced aliens. That’s not the problem I have with this episode, the premise is fine.

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Dishonorable/Honorable Mention Star Trek Episodes

Before I unveil my top 3 worst and best Star Trek episodes, I thought I’d unveil what didn’t make the cut for worst and best. So, this post will be my “dishonorable” and honorable mentions for the countdowns. We’ll start with the ones that weren’t bad enough to be in the worst countdown.


  • “The Man Trap”–when NBC started its run of Star Trek, they had three choices for the premiere episode: “Charlie X”, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, (the true pilot, after “The Cage”, which was reworked into the two-part episode “The Menagerie”)and “The Man Trap”. The first two episodes would have been good choices, but instead “The Man Trap” was chosen. This had a bad monster with bad make-up on top of it.


  • “Catspaw”–This was meant to be a Halloween episode, with all the trappings: a creepy castle, sorcerers, and monsters. In short–nothing that should be in a Star Trek episode! To be honest, this is really “so bad it’s good”.


  • “Day of the Dove”–An entity powered by hate traps the Enterprise and Klingons. To eliminate the entity, Kirk proposes a wary alliance. And no, this has nothing to do with how the Klingons are actually allies in the Next Generation version.

The next three are my “honorable mention” for the best episodes.


*”Piece of the Action”–The Enterprise finds a planet with a society that finds a book on Prohibition-era Chicago. This episode is silly, but in a good way.


*”This Side of Paradise”–The Enterprise finds a planet on the brink of destruction, however none of the inhabitants wish to leave because they’re enthralled by plants that spray spores that make you content to remain on the planet. It’s another great story from DC Fontana, and one of her best character studies for Spock.


*”Errand of Mercy”–This was actually a contender for my favorite Klingon episode, but I liked the uncertainty in “A Private Little War” better. The Klingons made their first appearance in this episode, and it’s a great introduction.


Film Freak: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier


“What does God want with a starship?”–Captain Kirk, reading the audience’s minds.

The general consensus considering the classic Star Trek movies is that the even-numbered movies are great, but the odd-numbered movies are bad. I don’t completely agree with it because I happen to like Search For Spock, the third movie in the series. However, Star Trek V is a movie I cannot defend, and I’ve defended some stinkers.

This is a bad movie from start to finish. The budget couldn’t be met because Paramount was too busy investing it in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Leonard Nimoy almost wasn’t available because he was filming another movie. Sean Connery would’ve played Sybok, but he was busy with Last Crusade as well. Shatner had no directing experience and thought of this movie as a love letter to James T. Kirk, essentially himself. There was also a teamsters’ strike.

The movie introduces Sybok, a Vulcan who seems like he’d fit right in with those televangelists who ruin Christianity even today (like Oral Roberts or Jimmy Swaggart). He claims that he can remove pain and slowly wins over followers. He wants a spaceship to visit the fabled planet Sha Ka Ree, where he believes he will encounter God Himself.  When they finally do encounter God, Kirk asks the question I quoted at the start of the article, angering “God.” (It’s actually not God)

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Best Star Trek Episodes: Journey to Babel


As I said in my review of “The Way to Eden”, DC Fontana was one of Star Trek‘s best writers.  So many great stories came from her, including this one.  It’s also one of two episodes starring Mark Leonard.

This episode was a glimpse into Spock’s character and introduces his parents, Sarek (played by Mark Leonard) and Amanda. Sarek would later go on to appear in Star Trek: The Next Generation, in fact he was one of three characters from TOS to do so. (the others being McCoy and Scotty)

We also get some great world-building in this story, particularly in the introduction of the Andorians. While the Andorians did not appear in any more episodes of TOS, they did appear in the prequel series Enterprise. There is tension between the Andorian ambassador Thelev and the Tellarite ambassador Gav, leading him to assassinate Gav.

Sarek seems cold towards Spock, as if he rejects his joining Starfleet. Amanda, however is more compassionate towards her son. This dynamic is a great glimpse into Spock’s character, especially when Sarek goes into cardiac arrest and Spock is asked to donate his blood. He refuses because Kirk was attacked when he confronted Thelev.

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Worst Star Trek Episodes: And The Children Shall Lead


In his review of this episode, SF Debris said that one thing that you should never mix with Star Trek is children. Now in a way, I have some disagreement. One of my favorite supporting characters on TNG was Alexander, Worf’s half-Klingon son. And on Deep Space 9, Jake Sisco was one of the most-developed characters. But you also have Wesley Crusher on TNG, who only had a few good episodes, and this episode, “And the Children Shall Lead”.

Fred Frieberger wanted this episode to be his attempt to do a better story than “Miri”, Star Trek‘s 2nd season episode that had children in it. “Miri” wasn’t a bad story at all, in fact, I’d rate it middle of the road.

The story does have some promise. It starts when the Enterprise comes upon an abandoned colony. All that are left are children. The children say that all the adults killed each other. We later learn that the children are unwitting pawns to an evil entity named Gorgan, played by Melvin Belli. The entity uses the children in order to draw energy and causes the adults on the Enterprise to hallucinate, in the hopes of coaxing them into killing each other like the adults on the colony did.

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