When Star Trek was cancelled and rerun in syndication, Gene Roddenberry realized there may be a way to save the franchise. To test the waters, he brought the license to Filmation in 1973. It sadly only lasted for 22 episodes and two seasons. In fact, when I started watching it, I actually thought Netflix was unable to get the whole show until I did research on Wikipedia.
For the most part, there are notable differences between this and the original series.
- While most of the original cast reprised their roles, Walter Koenig was unable to reprise his role as Ensign Pavel Chekov. Instead, he was replaced by a three-armed and three-leffed Edosian helmsman named Arex (voiced by James Doohan). However, Koenig did write a script for an episode.
- As hinted above, the animators took full advantage of the freedom of animation that could not be replicated in live-action, resulting in characters who probably wouldn’t have existed in any live-action format (like Arex.) In addition to Arex, we also have anthromorphic aliens such as Communications Officer M’ress, (voiced by Majel Barrett) who occasionally took Lt. Uhura’s position.
- The theme from the original series was still under copyright from NBC, and thus couldn’t be used. Instead, a similar theme was composed, with Kirk still giving the narration.
It is the first two differences that have caused many fans to exile this series from the franchise’s continuity, much like the spin-off novels and comic books. However, I don’t think the series shouldn’t be watched. I was entertained and found the writing almost on par with that of the original series, despite a somewhat lighter tone as the series was intended for children. It was a welcome sight to see guest characters from the original shows such as Cyrano Jones and Harry Mudd, two antagonists from the original series.
To close this article, I thought I’d list my top 5 best/worst Star Trek Animated episodes. The series can be viewed on Netflix and is also available on DVD. If you’re curious, check it out.
Top 5 worst episodes:
5. “The Practical Joker”–A mysterious disturbance causes the ship’s computer to develop a penchant for pranks.
4. “The Ambergris Incident”–While exploring the watery planet Argo, the crew is transformed into water-breathers.
3. “The Terratin Incident”–A supernova causes the crew to continuously shrink in size.
2. “The Counter-Clock Incident”–An unusual spaceship causes the Enterprise to enter a dimension where time flows backwards, causing the crew to slowly revert to childhood.
- Beyond the Furthest Star–A malevolent entity possesses the ship’s computer.
The top 5 best episodes:
5. “Mudd’s Passion”–The Enterprise once again meets Harry Mudd, who has been peddling an aphrodisiac.
4. “The Slaver Weapon”–The crew is captured by the K’zinti, a race of cat-like slave traders in pursuit of a superweapon.
3. “The Jihad”–A quest to retrieve a stolen artifact may be integral in preventing a warlike race of bird people from taking over the galaxy.
2. “More Tribbles, More Troubles”–Cyrano Jones has stolen a creature that preys on Tribbles from the Klingons.
- “Yesteryear”–Spock is almost erased from history and must return to the setting of “City on the Edge of Forever”, where we also get a glimpse of Spock’s childhood. Spock must repair the damage done to his timeline or risk never existing at all.