Worst Star Trek TNG Episodes: Skin of Evil

skinThe first 2 seasons of TNG are universally regarded as the worst part of the show’s history. If you want the whole sordid story of why these seasons are such a mess, I suggest watching  Chaos on the Bridge, the 1-hour documentary about the beginnings of the show.

One of the biggest problems with the first season is definitely Tasha Yar, played by Denise Crosby, who was chief of security in that season. We know very little about her, and she was one of the few characters who didn’t get a spotlight episode in the entire history of the show. This is her only spotlight, and–spoiler alert–she dies! Is it any wonder why Denise Crosby wanted to leave?

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Worst Star Trek Episodes: The Apple

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It’s widely known that Gene Roddenberry was an atheist. For the most part, Star Trek didn’t show this. “The Apple” is one exception.  Here, his atheism is on full display.

The story begins with the Enterprise arriving at Gamma Triangula VI. Despite seeming like a tropical paradise akin to Eden, the environment is hostile, claiming the lives of three away team members. However, they cannot return to the Enterprise because an energy field is draining the ship’s energy reserves.

Kirk orders the away team towards a primitive village, where they meet the planet’s inhabitants. They refer to themselves as the “Feeders of Vaal”, and are led by a man named Akuta, who wears antennae that allow him to communicate with their deity, Vaal. While conversing with Akuta, Kirk learns they are not permitted to procreate or even fall in love.

While exploring, Kirk and Spock come across a stone idol, which Kirk discovers is Vaal. Vaal is displeased with the crew, especially since they are exposing its Feeders to intimacy (they happen to see Chekov and a woman kiss) and orders Akuta to teach his people how to kill. Kirk realizes that he must now destroy Vaal and free Akuta’s people.

Like many atheists, Roddenberry misrepresents Christianity in this episode.  To him, Vaal represents God.  (Note: I know he didn’t write this episode, but he did approve it, so he still has some responsibility.) It’s obvious the planet is supposed to represent Eden, even though the vegetation attacks the crew at the beginning.  In fact, after he destroys Vaal, Kirk wonders if humans were even meant for paradise at all.

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Star Trek 50th Anniversary Part II: The Wrath of Khan

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“I’ve done far worse than kill you. I’ve hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me. As you left her. Marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet…buried alive.”– Khan Noonian Singh

When Nicholas Meyer and Jack Sowards came on to Star Trek II, they actually had no knowledge of Star Trek lore.  They corrected that by watching the entire series. They were inspired by the episode “Space Seed”, in which Khan makes his first appearance. At the end of the episode, Khan is exiled with the other survivors of Botany Bay.

What makes Star Trek II such a great story is its allusions to literary classics like Paradise Lost and Moby Dick. (we even see these books on Khan’s shelf) Khan is like Lucifer, cast out of Heaven to dwell in Hell.

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Star Trek 50th Anniversary Special Part 1: Star Trek: the Motion Picture

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Throughout 2016, I will revisit all six of the original Star Trek movies on all the 0dd-numbered months. I will also be counting down my favorite Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Animated Series episodes (and the worst ones too). I won’t be looking at the “Next Generation” revivals of the 80’s and 90’s, as I feel that should be a separate entity. I also won’t be looking at the JJ Abrahms reboot, because while I do like it, I think they don’t have the magic of Roddenberry’s vision, and they’re too recent. Let’s star with The Motion Picture.

After the series was cancelled in 1969, Roddenberry didn’t give up on the series. He wanted to make a movie and he’d also considered a revival. Filmation got the rights to make an animated series that only lasted 22 episodes, even reuniting most of the original cast. Then Paramount decided they wanted to launch their own network, and a new version of Star Trek, called Star Trek: Phase II, would be the flagship program. (Keep in mind this was the 70’s, a good twenty years or so before the United Paramount Network was launched) Paramount did back out on the network, but they went ahead with the movie anyway. Three movies helped influence the idea that a Star Trek movie should be made: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and of course Star Wars. All had done well at the box office.

In this first movie, the Enterprise investigates a black hole, as it is the only spaceship near its vicinity. (get used to this loophole if you’re a starting Trek fan, folks) Kirk assumes command of the Enterprise, hoping to relive his glory days, and even invites Spock, Scotty, and the rest. Deep within the black hole is a sentient being without form, and its presence has even been felt by Spock while he was performing a ceremony to help suppress his humanity. He realizes his friends are in danger, so he beams to the Enterprise as well. The entity takes over a crewwoman, calling her V’ger. It wants to contact its creators. It’s not a bad plot, even if it’s similar to the Original Series episode “The Changeling”.

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