Star Trek: My Favorite Moments*

(*From the Original Series only. Because let’s face it: The new film is bringing back the original characters.)(On another note, doesn’t this title sound like a book report I am going to share with the class or something? So…quaint. You love it.)

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.

My family on my dad’s side and I don’t have too much in common. I grew up overseas as a bonafine “third culture kid”, so my relationships with my aunts and uncles were never really close. But the one thing I know is universal to the James side of the family is a fierce, unabashed love for Star Trek The Original Series (Next Generation somewhat too, but mostly TOS). Of course, when I was little, I didn’t really notice; my sister and I watched and loved Star Trek, but it was a just another thing we watched. It never occurred to me that other might not watch the show. I mean, who wouldn’t love Star Trek?

I actually didn’t notice how important this was to my family until a few years back, when I took The Boyfriend to a family dinner. While we’re all munching on biscuits at the Red Lobster, waiting for our food, my Uncle makes fun of someone by comparing him to Trelane (from “The Squire of Gothos”). Everyone at the table laughs, while The Boyfriend looks mystified. I explain that it’s a Star Trek reference.

He then commits the One Unforgivable Sin: The Boyfriend says “Oh, Star Trek is lame.”

Dishes clatter. Conversation stops. Every face at the table is turned in animosity towards The Boyfriend (who had it coming).

It’s moments like these that make you realize that despite your differences, family can be pretty cool sometimes.

While I never really got into the other spinoffs beyond some casual viewing (lots of TNG, a few episodes of DS9 here and there), the Original Series will always have a special place in my heart.

SO it is with mixed emotions, again, that I get ready for J.J. Abrams’s reimagined version of Star Trek this weekend. One thing in particular bugs: why stick with the original characters? I love my old Kirk and Spock and Uhura and Bones and Sulu and Scotty…and inevitably will compare the newbies with my notions of how the characters SHOULD be in my head. That said…the reviews I’ve heard thus far are pretty favorable, so, I’m still very excited. Nervous, but excited.

And, in preparation for my 7:30 ticket tonight, here are my top TV moments from the Original Series (in no particular order):

ArenaBamboo, Mercy and Gorn

The first season will always be my favorite, and this is my favorite Kirk-in-a-gladiator-arena episode. Using his brains to build a canon out of a bamboo shoot (making the precedent for MacGuyver), he outwits the much bigger Dino-head Gorn, and by virtue of taking mercy on his foe is allowed to go his separate way by the Metrons.

Mudd’s WomenMagic Gummy Bears

Harry Mudd, pirate dressing smuggler, is beamed aboard the Enterprise with his cargo: three beautiful women, wives for miners in a far off system. Mudd and his women, however, hide a big secret: Ruth, Magda and Eve are actually hideous old hags who are made beautiful so long as they keep taking Mudd’s Venus Drug (the things that look like Magic Gummy Bears). At the end, Eve takes a placebo (Regular Gummy Bear) and her inner beauty is reflected in her outer beauty. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t like this episode so much (y’know, as an independent minded woman and all), but I really liked the girls’s pretty dresses. And the magic gummy bears.

The Squire of Gothos“I would have won!”

Trelane, eponymous Squire of Gothos and a cultural enthusiast for all things Earth, transports Kirk and Sulu down to his castle on an uncharted planet against their will. He refuses to let the crew leave, and Kirk ends up breaking Trelane’s magic mirror and outwitting him…that is, until Trelane’s Mommy and Daddy amorphous blobs apologize to Kirk for their child’s spoiled behavior.

Papa Amorphous Blob: Trelane! Stop this nonsense at once, or you’ll not be permitted to make any more planets!

Space SeedAhh, Sweet Khan

When the Enterprise stumbles across a seemingly abandoned ship of which there is no record, they board to find its passengers in suspended animation. The crew learns that the ship was launched from Earth in the Eugenic Wars of the 1990s (eee I love how dated this is), and almost immediately upon the crew’s arrival, the life support system starts to fail. Hurriedly the Enterprise takes who they surmise is the leader of the derelict ship, who awakens and after a scuffle with Bones introduces himself as Khan Noonien Singh. Khan and his crew were genetic supermen, bred to be ideal soldiers. Soon Khan, seducing Lieutenant Marla McGivers, tries to take over the ship. When Kirk inevitably regains control, he offers Khan and his people an out – challenging him to start his world anew on Ceti Alpha V. Khan accepts, and he and his soldiers (and besotted Lt. McGivers) go into exile, never to be seen of again…oh yeah, until The Wrath of Khan.

The MenagerieChristopher Pike FTW

The Menagerie parts I & II (and the unaired pilot episode, The Cage) focus not on Kirk but on the unfortunate Christopher Pike, paralyzed and burned after a training incident. When Spock claims he received a message from Pike, whom he served under for years prior on the Enterprise, he breaks Federation law by helping Pike return to Talos IV. He is soon apprehended before reaching Talos IV, and surrenders himself for trial (where he shows ‘video logs’ – really the transmitted images from Talos – of what happened years earlier on the planet with Pike and the Talosians; footage all from “The Cage”). Thirteen years earlier, Pike and his crew received a distress signal from the planet and so beamed down to find survivors of an earlier crash. Pike falls for Vina, a woman born shortly before the crash, but too late realizes he is being manipulated by the Talosians (whom my father and I nicknamed “The Butt-heads”) who want Pike and Vina to mate and repopulate the planet.

Later it is revealed that the Talosians, masters of illusion, are actually masking Vina’s horrible scarred deformity from the crash – hence Spock’s desire to return Pike to the planet. With the Talosian’s help, he and Vina live together happily.

As the Talosians tell Kirk, “Captain Pike has an illusion, and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.”

Balance of TerrorAaaaaaaa! Romulan Showdown!

If I had to choose my favorite Star Trek episode, “Balance of Terror” is definitely on the shortlist. For one thing, this is our first introduction to the Romulans. For another, it comes down to an Epic showdown between the Enterprise and the Romulan Bird of Prey (What will win? The Romulan cloaking device plus incredibly damaging plasma torpedoes? Or the Enterprise’s swift maneuverability and Kirk’s unmatched savvy?). I am a sucker for these sort of mind/war game episodes and movies, and “Balance of Terror” does it brilliantly. And the dialogue! It doesn’t get any better:

Romulan Commander: I regret that we meet in this way. You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend.
Kirk: What purpose will it serve to die?
Romulan Commander: We are creatures of duty, Captain. I have lived my life by it. Just one more duty to perform.

Or, more memorably:

Romulan Commander: [speaking of Captain Kirk] He’s a sorcerer, this one! He reads the thoughts in my head!

Mirror, MirrorParallel Universe Goatee

Kirk, McCoy, Uhura and Scottie beam up from a planet expedition…only the Enterprise they find themselves on is not the same. Their suspicions are tipped off when Spock enters…with a GOATEE.

Kirk deduces that they have somehow been transported into a parallel, or mirror, universe. Simultaneously, Evil!Kirk et al have been beamed up to the USS Enterprise and are causing problems there. Kirk and his small team desperately try to throw off their mirror companions and return to their own reality – and manage to do so when both they and their mirror counterparts attempt to beam back. This is the first introduction of the Mirror Universe in Trek lore, and it is totally, undeniably awesome.

Trouble With TribblesInsatiable Furry Klingon-haters

A fan favorite, “The Trouble With Tribbles” is pure, Star Trek gold. Brought on board as a pet by Uhura, the cute, soothing little furry animals, Tribbles, start out as lovable companions, but soon make a huge problem of themselves. The Tribbles multiply at an exponential rate, eating all of the Enterprise’s food stores and precious cargo. However, when the Tribbles start to die and uncover an incognito Klingon spy, as a result of poisoned grain, the furry little guys save the day. Sort of. Bonus, the episode has a sweet bar brawl between our intrepid crew and some Klingons. Awesome.

(DS9 fans might remember this episode from the awesome Trials and Tribble-ations homage to the original)

City on the Edge of ForeverSurprisingly Poignant

I’m pretty sure this episode makes it on any fan’s list. Kirk and the crew investigate a temporal disturbance from a nearby planet, where they find the “Guardian of Forever”. After Bones accidentally injects himself with a drug that makes him incredibly paranoid, he ends up traveling back in time and dramatically altering the past (Nazis have taken over the world). Kirk and Spock go back in time to try and undo what Bones did, but in the process Kirk falls in love with a woman named Edith – and the fate of the world lies in her hands. Ultimately, Kirk sacrifices the woman he loves for the fate of the future. And, the Guardian of Forever is left alone once again.

(I live in LA, and last year went to the Long Beach Star Trek Tour, where they had this set piece. It was awesome.)

Plato’s StepchildrenSinging, Kissing, Togas

The crew encounters a telepathic, toga toting people called the Platonians when their leader, Parmen, is injured and needs medical help. After McCoy heals him, Parmen refuses to let the doctor go on his way, resulting in an angry Kirk. Parmen, using his mind control powers, punishes Kirk by making he and Spock dress in crazy togas, sing songs, kiss and then threaten women. This is the famous first interracial kiss between a black woman playing a fictional character and a white man playing a fictional character (interracial kisses had been shown on TV earlier than this episode, for example on I Love Lucy with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez), which is freaking awesome.

Plus, where else will you get Spock singing? (Oh wait, I forgot about Leonard Nimoy and his bizarre Bilbo Baggins song)

Favorite Movie (with the Original Cast, because DAMN I love First Contact so much)?

It’s a tough call. I’m being a bitch and calling it a tie between Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

I don’t think it gets any more poignant than the death of Spock (or RAGE!Kirk). But saving the planet by bringing back humpback wales from the 20th century is freaking awesome too. I am such a sucker for time travel episodes and the ensuing shenanigans. And any time Chekov says “Nuclear Wessles”.

So…any other Star Trek fans in the house? Care to share your favorite episodes (spinoff or original recipe) or movies? We’re all ears…


  • Ana
    May 7, 2009 at 6:02 am

    You know, I never watched the TV Series but I love, LOVE the movies and watched them countless times.

    My favorites are 2 and 4 as well. The death of Spok makes me cry every.single.time and the fourth movie makes me laugh so much.

    Win. :mrgreen:

  • azteclady
    May 7, 2009 at 7:03 am

    You named several of my favorites… but one. What was the one where they land in a planet where there are only children? ‘cept these children haven’t aged for a hundred years or so, and when they *do* reach puberty they suddenly age incredibly rapidly and go insane…

  • zeek
    May 7, 2009 at 7:13 am

    Been a huge fan of the trek since a kid- I used to watch the reruns on the old tv we had to turn on with a pliers which sat in the kitchen while the rest of my family watched The dukes of hazard on the living room tv-

    The Menagerie & The City on the Edge of tomorrow were some of my fav eps as well, and the Salt Sucking creature ep, can’t remember the title…

    I have to laugh because I knew about this remake for about a year now & I have a line up of Star Trek TOS figures on my wall at work yet I have people stopping by daily saying, “Hey you know there’s a new star trek movie coming out?”

    I just look pointed up to the wall and say, “Really?”


    (Btw, got my advanced tickets for tomorrow! WOO HOO!)

  • zeek
    May 7, 2009 at 7:17 am

    azteclady- the title is Miri and it starred Kim Darby is more popularly known for being in the movie True Grit with John Wayne.

    Oh the Salt sucker one was “The Man Trap” and I just saw “The Naked Time” where everyone acts like they’re drunk- another fav of mine!

  • zeek
    May 7, 2009 at 7:18 am

    omg Plato’s Stepchildren- groundbreaking and ANOTHER great one!

  • carolyn jean
    May 7, 2009 at 7:22 am

    What’s weird is that a lot of these weren’t on the set of reruns I always watched. The Khan one never ran. And Mudd hardly ever. Like, they are prized lost episodes. Oh, I LOVE Star Trek though, and I’m quivering with excitement for the movie!

    Fave episodes are numerous! Like, the one where they sniff the magical pollen on that one planet and get happy. And the pancake monsters – so scary! And then Spock develops the third eyelid during treatment. Also, where the brains in the jar bet on the man-fights. I actually really liked TNG, too. Yay!! So glad to see these good reviews rolling in!

  • KMont
    May 7, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Great post!! I’m a fan, I just have nowhere near the memories of the original series as you do. I was only about 10-ish to twelve-ish, so please don’t hold it against me. Plus you know my memory just sucks. I’m much more of aTNG fan anyways.

    From what I can remember, The Trouble with Tribbles is my all-time fave of the originals. As for the movies, original cast, Star Trek IV, The Voyage Home without a doubt. Never get tired of those whales saving Earth. I’m also pretty fond of Star Trek VI, The Undiscovered Country, too. I LOVE me some Klingons.

    I’m really looking forward to the new movie and will definitely make time to see it in the theater.

  • Lori
    May 7, 2009 at 7:51 am

    I am also a humongous fan of TOS. I think you’ve hit my favorite episodes. I haven’t bothered at all to watch any of the other series. I’m kind of a snob like that.

    On an interesting note – we’re going to see the movie on Saturday with (original) Scotty’s son. He’s our good friend, and also has a bit part in the movie.

  • Gerd Duerner
    May 7, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Hmm, fave episodes:
    “Who mourns for Adonais?”; “Catspaw”; and “Let this be your last Battlefield” come instantly to mind on top of those already mentioned, and what was its name “War of the Computers”? where they lead a war with victims reduced to simple computer statistics? So far ahead of its time.

    I also adored the “More trouble with tribbles” episode; from DS9, I think?

    Voyager I liked to watch for Richard Picardo, he was a lot of fun, oh and the pixie’ish Jennifer Lien.

    From the movies naturally “Wrath of Khan” and “Undiscovered Country”

  • MaryK
    May 7, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Have you seen this LOLTrek? 🙂


  • Diana Peterfreund
    May 7, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I love TOS. I don’t know the names of the episodes, but I like the one where Spock has to go back to Vulcan and fight because he’s in heat, and also the Trouble with Tribbles. I always wanted a tribble.

    My favorite movie is 4. My favorite scene is where Scotty goes to the factory:

    Scotty: (looking at computer) Computer?
    Dude from the 1980s: Um, try the mouse?
    Scotty: How quaint. (picks up mouse like a microphone) Computer?


    I also like 1, because they stole the plot from Solaris, and I love that book.

    My husband loves TNG and has been having me watch it for the last few months. I’m becoming a BIG fan, maybe even more so than TOS. They really up the bar on the war/mind games in TNG.

  • zeek
    May 7, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Oh the TNG is HUGE on my list too- seen every one I think.

    “Scotty: (looking at computer) Computer?
    Dude from the 1980s: Um, try the mouse?
    Scotty: How quaint. (picks up mouse like a microphone) Computer?”

    lol! We do that at work ALL the time and it always gets a laugh!

  • KristieJ
    May 7, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    I didn’t get into the spin-offs as much but I did love the original show. I don’t remember the name of the episode, but it’s the one where they go to this planet to relax and suddenly all their inner thoughts keep coming true. Kirk has this Irish classmate who used to give him problems after him, Bones was helping a damsel in distress, Sulu was being stalked by a Samuri warrior and Alice in Wonderland and the White Rabbit made an appearance. And I of course I loved the trouble with Tribbles episode.

  • orannia
    May 7, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    One of the TV networks here has been showing all of the Star Trek movies….*clicks* probably as an introduction to the latest offering! This was probably my mother’s favourite TV series (with the exception of Blake’s Seven, which is…incomparable 🙂 so I’ve watched (and enjoyed) numerous episodes.

    I look forward to seeing what you think of the movie Thea…. I’m looking forward to seeing it, but am going to Wolverine first (tomorrow actually).

  • Pam P
    May 7, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    We have same favorites – Wrath of Khan, City on the Edge of Forever, Mirror, Mirror and Trouble with Tribbles. Also, Amok Time, when Spock goes through his mating ritual.

  • Diana Peterfreund
    May 8, 2009 at 5:49 am

    Amok Time! thanks, Pam!

  • Malnurtured Snay
    May 11, 2009 at 11:23 am

    I got into a ridiculously long argument with a guy I work with, who insisted that Search for Spock was superior to Voyage Home. I was like, ‘WTF is wrong with you?’

  • Joan
    October 14, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    “The Trouble with Tribbles” and “The Voyage Home” instantly come to mind as my favorite tv episode and movie, respectively. I’ve been collecting Star Trek books, all the series, for years and have almost 800 here at home. My sister has all the series and movies on DVD. We are a Trek family!

  • home
    December 11, 2016 at 9:01 am


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