10-LIST: Essential Star Trek Original Series Episodes

I’ve watched every episode of Trek, to save you from having to do so. No one needs to watch all of the episodes of TOS. In fact, most of Season 3 can be safely skipped. If you’re a Cliffs Notes type of person and just want to get the essence of the series, I’d recommend watching these ten episodes.

STCity

The City on the Edge of Forever” — The original Harlan Ellison teleplay won a Hugo Award. The finished product wasn’t bad either. A time travel episode featuring the iconic line of dialogue: “Edith Keeler must die.” This is my favorite episode of Trek, period.

STMenagerie

The Menagerie, Parts 1 & 2” — I’m counting this as a single episode even though it’s usually shown as two. This episode includes the original pilot episode with Captain Christopher Pike. But the wraparound TOS story used as a framing device is also well-done. This one was going to be on the list even before Anson Mount showed up as Capt. Pike on Star Trek: Discovery.

STSpaceSeed

Space Seed” — Ricard Montalban chewing up the scenery and showing off his pecs. This deserved to be made into a feature-length Trek movie.

STMirror

Mirror Mirror” — This is the one that introduced the Mirror Universe and the Terran Empire, which continued to be a thing through all of the series including the current one.

STBalanceofTerror

Balance of Terror” — This featured a tense submarine warfare sequence between Kirk and the Romulan Commander, played by future-Sarek, actor Mark Lenard. The unnamed Romulan Commander (who is often called “Keras,” which is “Sarek” spelled backwards) revealed that Star Trek enemies can display honor as well.

STGalileo7

The Galileo Seven” — This season-one episode demonstrates a lot of character growth in Spock, who is, of course, our favorite character from the original series. In this story, he shows true leadership in the face of adversity. And, we get our first close look at a shuttle, which will become a Trek staple.

STAmokTime

Amok Time” — Pon’farr, and Vulcan, and a Kirk and Spock battle to the death. For Vulcans, apparently, killing your best friend is the equivalent to a human cold shower.

STTroubleTribble

The Trouble with Tribbles” — A genuinely funny episode that also has a high stakes exciting story at its heart.

STPatternsForce

Patterns of Force” — Everyone who knows me knows I hate Nazi Trek episodes. Except for this one: the first. McCoy especially makes a convincing Nazi.

STJourneytoBabel

Journey to Babel” — The first appearance of Sarek, as played by Mark Lenard, and the antennaed, blue-skinned Andorians. It establishes the father-son dynamic between Sarek and Spock that continues even to present-day Star Trek. Plus, it includes a gripping central mystery.

Your mileage may vary in choosing your Essential Trek episodes, of course. For me, only the last two involved any internal debate; the first eight were a lock. It is no accident that none of these came from the final season.

Advertisements

One thought on “10-LIST: Essential Star Trek Original Series Episodes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.