This is going to be an ongoing project. Expect updates as I go, and I’ll put a link on the website to it in case anyone ever wants to check back.

I was talking with my wife the other day, and the topic turned to Star Trek.

My son has never seen Star Trek.

I’m not talking about being aware of how Star Trek has permeated our culture, influenced our way of telling sequential stories, or spawned countless memes.

He doesn’t know it exists. Period.

Never heard of the original series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine or Enterprise, none of the movies.

He has an imagination untouched by the idea of boldly going where nobody had gone before.

No Vulcan nerve pinch. No “Live Long and Prosper”. No “KHAAAAAAAANNN!!!”

Star Wars has remained relevant through the generations. Say what you will of George Lucas, and now Disney, but it is a very visible and vital universe of new creations and stories that our youth enjoy every day. Plus, of course, endless Lego toys.

There have continued to be Star Wars movies, and those movies have had toys and cartoons targeted directly at the younger generations to keep them up to speed.

Star Trek, not so much.

The new Star Trek movies aren’t a good place to begin, because to fully invest in their story you need to have been there for all that came before. If you don’t, then you are left feeling like an outsider as all the cool kids share the in-jokes and secret handshakes around you. When old Spock appears, the experienced and knowledgeable people ooh and aah and get it immediately, while you go “Huh, so this is that Spock dude from the future? Okay, that’s cool, but is that going to be important? And why not take the actor from the movie and artificially age him so it looks more like him?”

Does it feel fun to be the one that doesn’t get the reference everyone else understands? I don’t think so.

So.

Project Star Trek: Generations is born.

My goal is simple. To take the core of greatness that is the Star Trek that I grew up with and present it to my son.

It is my duty to pass the important parts of our heritage on to my son. What he does with it after that is his business.

What makes this a project is, I have no intention of sitting him down in front of three full seasons of original Trek, then Next Gen, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, etc etc and so forth.

I am not a trekkie. I enjoyed it growing up, but then I enjoyed a lot of stuff growing up. It’s important to me that he groks the heart and the most significant or enduring stories, not that he has an encyclopedic knowledge of it.

If he decides he wants to see it all someday, if he gets hooked, that’s fine. But that’s not the project.

 

My intent is to cherry pick the very best and brightest episodes of the original series, and follow that up with the best of the movies starring the original cast.

Concerning the Next Generation, I think Next Gen might be fun to watch together when he gets older, I was overseas when most of it was released so I never saw much of it either. For now, Star Trek will mean Kirk, Spock and McCoy. That is what I intend to focus on. Time enough for him to see the Next Generation when he has some distance to make those original cast cameos seem special.

 

In order to narrow the selection down, I have to decide what ‘the best’ means to me.

To me, what I loved best was the warmth and the camaraderie between Kirk, Spock and McCoy. That held the episodes together for me. Whatever craziness was going to happen, those three would be able to count on each other to succeed, no matter what.

But the best episodes were the ones that took a bold concept and made it fascinating, asking questions that lingered long after the episode was over.

I know the original tagline was “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.”

To me, the series served to boldly explore science fiction concepts that I didn’t see on TV before, concepts that made me think about normal things in new ways.

I don’t have a ‘maximum number of episodes’ that I want to get down to. But I do want each episode we watch to be a ‘must see’. If we start including episodes where there was ‘like this really cool 2 minute segment’ in it, then we would be watching every episode. Even “Spock’s Brain” has to have some cool bit in it somewhere, even if it lasted less time than the lifespan of a mayfly. No, I want to whittle this sucker down to ‘must watch’ core episodes only.

Here is the complete list of the original series episodes I have to cull from;

1 “The Man Trap” – the melancholy of the salt vampire is cool, and i do remember the episode, but no.
2 “Charlie X” – hell no, I remember thinking it was crap when I saw it, and I was younger than Alex.
3 “Where No Man Has Gone Before” – no. I remember it during syndication, and I always wondered “where did this almost-trek come from? And where’s Bones?”
4 “The Naked Time” – must watch, an inside look at the hidden personalities of the crew, but I can’t remember details other than it was very revealing and cool.
5 “The Enemy Within” – must watch, transporter malfunction and good kirk/bad kirk
6 “Mudd’s Women” – must watch. Harry Freaking Mudd. Or is it? There is another Mudd later that was very good.
7 “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” – no.
8 “Miri” – not sure
9 “Dagger of the Mind” – no, I remember this one well, and I never did care for it.
10 “The Corbomite Maneuver” – must watch, I still remember loving how the first encounter isn’t decided by who was strongest, but by who thought who was strongest. Bluff and counter bluff and how belief affects what you think you can get away with.
11 “The Menagerie, Part I” – no. My memories of this were of a horribly dry and boring snoozefest lacking in charm.
12 “The Menagerie, Part II” – no.
13 “The Conscience of the King” – must watch, strong acting between Spock and McCoy, and Shakespeare in space.
14 “Balance of Terror” – must watch due to being highly recommended (I don’t remember it, lol)
15 “Shore Leave” – must watch. I remember this one well, and it has inspired some of my more interesting RPG designs.
16 “The Galileo Seven” – hell no.
17 “The Squire of Gothos” – must watch. The Squire, powerful Spock moments, great fun from the god-being.
18 “Arena” – must watch OMG, GORN and how to make gunpowder to prove all we need is guns, dah de dah da da.
19 “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” – time travel and could be a good preparation for Star Trek IV, but I remember it as being dull.
20 “Court Martial” – god, I hated this episode.
21 “The Return of the Archons” – no.
22 “Space Seed” – must watch, and sets the stage for Wrath of Khan.
23 “A Taste of Armageddon” – possible, I remember this one, and it’s strong send up of the stupidity of war without objectives, for the sake of hate.
24 “This Side of Paradise” – an absolute must-watch, the episode where the enemy is being too damn happy, and Spock smiling and in love.
25 “The Devil in the Dark” – must watch. Silicon-based life forms, judging by appearance instead of by deeds, foul heart concealed by fair face. “I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!”
26 “Errand of Mercy” – on the fence. first appearance of Klingons, but… I didn’t like this one as a kid, and the Klingons look like, not Klingons.
27 “The Alternative Factor” – hells no.
28 “The City on the Edge of Forever” – must watch, Harlan Ellison’s classic time travel piece and a powerful story that lingers.
29 “Operation: Annihilate!” – maybe, but not remembering anything special.
30 “Amok Time” – must watch, standing by your friends, not being ashamed of who you are, the price of repressing your feelings.
31 “Who Mourns for Adonais?” – I do not mourn for Adonais. Not even slightly.
32 “The Changeling” – nah. The all powerful probe from hell wasn’t that interesting.
33 “Mirror, Mirror” – must watch evil facial hair doppleganger twins! Parallel dimensions of fun! Oh, hell yes.
34 “The Apple” – nope
35 “The Doomsday Machine” – must watch.
36 “Catspaw”
37 “I, Mudd”
38 “Metamorphosis”
39 “Journey to Babel”
40 “Friday’s Child”
41 “The Deadly Years”
42 “Obsession”
43 “Wolf in the Fold”
44 “The Trouble With Tribbles” – oh come on, it’s awesome. Must watch.
45 “The Gamesters of Triskelion”
46 “A Piece of the Action”
47 “The Immunity Syndrome”
48 “A Private Little War”
49 “Return to Tomorrow”
50 “Patterns of Force”
51 “By Any Other Name”
52 “The Omega Glory”
53 “The Ultimate Computer”
54 “Bread and Circuses”
55 “Assignment: Earth”
56 “Spock’s Brain”
57 “The Enterprise Incident”
58 “The Paradise Syndrome”
59 “And the Children Shall Lead”
60 “Is There in Truth No Beauty?”
61 “Spectre of the Gun”
62 “Day of the Dove”
63 “For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”
64 “The Tholian Web”
65 “Plato’s Stepchildren”
66 “Wink of an Eye”
67 “The Empath”
68 “Elaan of Troyius”
69 “Whom Gods Destroy”
70 “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”
71 “The Mark of Gideon”
72 “That Which Survives”
73 “The Lights of Zetar”
74 “Requiem for Methuselah”
75 “The Way to Eden”
76 “The Cloud Minders”
77 “The Savage Curtain”
78 “All Our Yesterdays”
79 “Turnabout Intruder”

The Movies

“Star Trek – The Motion Picture” – I don’t want to include this. It’s a hard decision, because I loved the core concept – We sent a spaceship out there loaded with things to tell others who we are, and something finds it and follows it back to us that is beyond anything we ever dreamed of. But damnit all, it’s slow as hell, and I hated the uniforms. It was like they pretended time enver passed and the original cast was still in their twenties. The second movie brought that feeling of age and wisdom and experience that the first lacked. Just… brilliant story idea, but as cold in presentation as V’ger itself.
“Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan” – oh hell yes.
“Star Trek III – The Search for Spock” – yep, gotta have it, everyone gets a part to play.
“Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home” – well sure, save the whales, Spock swearing, transparent aluminum, mouse driven computers. The Enterprise in dock. Of course.
“Star Trek V – The Final Frontier” – I think I blocked this out, so I don’t know. I think I hated it, but it’s all a blur.
“Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country” – I remember thinking it was great when it was over, but damned if I can remember anything about it now.

Update 1: added link to the Wikipedia page for the original Star Trek episodes.
Update 2: I welcome your opinions and suggestions on which episodes should be included in the ‘absolutely must be included list’, but please, you must tell me why. And only one episode per comment, please. It will help me sort. I will continue to update episode titles above with comments and my decisions as we go.

Update 3: Added more episode decisions, influenced by comments from Tesh, Ted, Kamalia and Degei.

Update 4: okay, made it into Season 2 a little, made the first cull. Now to sleep on it. I can’t believe how many of these I remember from my childhood.

29 Responses to “Star Trek: Generations”
  1. Tesh says:

    There are still some TOS episodes I haven’t seen. My favorites have to be the following, though:

    14 “Balance of Terror”
    25 “The Devil in the Dark”
    28 “The City on the Edge of Forever”
    30 “Amok Time”
    44 “The Trouble With Tribbles”

    …and oddly, perhaps,
    8 “Miri”

    That last one because it’s the one that sticks most in my mind from my youth, and what really got me interested in Star Trek. The others are just what I’d consider the heart of TOS.

    Sounds like a lot of fun, teaching the Cub. I’m looking forward to the same with my kids. They have seen the Trouble with Tribbles, and they love it… but they are a little young yet for the heavier (or more boring) episodes. Movies will wait even longer, I think.

    • Tesh says:

      Ah, sorry. Condense mine to “The City on the Edge of Forever”, simply because it shows Spock doing miracles, Kirk making a tough choice, and McCoy showing his humanity. There are other gems, but that’s the one at the top of my list.

  2. Kamalia says:

    The Trouble With Tribbles, because it’s just plain funny, and because tribbles are one of those iconic Star Trek memes.

  3. tedthethird says:

    14 “Balance of Terror” – great tactical shots of fighting the Romulans, and fighting in 3 dimensional space
    18 “Arena” – great episode and you can talk to your kid about making black powder!
    28 “The City on the Edge of Forever” – one of those stories that sometimes something awful can lead to something good. It had a big impact on me as a kid.
    35 “The Doomsday Machine” – great tension. Today’s kids didn’t grow up like we did with the constant threat of nuclear war. This episode was a great metaphor for that.
    44 “The Trouble with Tribbles” – classic, revisited later by DS9. Cute, and cuddly.

  4. DeGei says:

    I agree with The City on the Edge of Forever as it has a tough lesson to teach and involves time travel. Sometimes, one must give up what they want, even what they possibly deserve, for the greater good of all.

    Trouble with Tribbles is also a classic, with a good mix of humor, Classic Klingons make an appearance and you can get meta and point out how they will “evolve” in production by the time of Next Generation, also there is a time travel episode in DS9 where they go back to the very episode which was also kinda neat.

    3. Where No Man Has Gone Before – is an interesting premise and was used as a sorta of scapegoat for where Benedict Cumberbatch’s Character got his power in the latest movie (assuming you don’t know there is a twist).
    4. The Naked Time – George Takei lists it as his favorite episode as well.
    33. Mirror, Mirror – Alternate Evil Universe. Need I say more? (Again, this universe shows up some other times, including in DS9 for sure, set it up)
    46. A Piece of the Action – One I like, involving an alien planet of gangsters.

  5. Elynea says:

    I also agree with The City on the Edge of Forever! A valuable lesson in not all things good for the whole are good for all. I may be alone in this other one, though…

    The Gallileo Seven. When all the other girls couldn’t stop drooling over Kirk, I was a Spock girl, through and through. So “Gallileo” really made an impression on me, because it showed the ever and always logical Spock was capable of making a decision based solely on desperation and hope…Spock’s own version of the Hail Mary pass.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      I’ll have to revisit The Gallileo Seven, then. I remember it as being a kilkenny cats with Spock given a very unflattering treatment acting in ways that were uncharacteristic. He is logical, but even then I thought he was still sensible, and this episode I remember being shocked at how he seemed to act differently, as though for dramatic effect.

      • Elynea says:

        …and you do have a point, there. Spock’s logic was never in question, but in “Gallileo”, it seems to approach the robotic and compassionless. All of a sudden, he seems to not listen to anyone’s suggestions, preferring his own idea on the “right course”. Even McCoy seems to be more snarky toward him than usual, and not for the better…

        In fact, let me withdraw the suggestion. The more I think about it, the more it appears to be a badly realized version of what could have been a decent episode, with its only saving grace being his one and final act of desperation near the end that miraculously brings everyone back to the friendzone in time for the credits to roll. Still…that one, small act…that final saving grace…sticks with me, even now. It was just so awesomely…hopeful.

  6. Kemonojin says:

    Do:
    37 “I, Mudd” — Harcourt Fenton Mudd again.

    46 “A Piece of the Action” – My two very favorite episodes are the comedic ones. Tribbles and this.

    33 “Mirror, Mirror” — Not great, but I think it shows some good characterization… and it’s the single reason that EVERY show that ever does ‘evil twin’ plots has the evil one with a goatee.

    Do not:
    Spock’s Brain: Ohghodno. Even as a kid that was lousy…

    30 “Amok Time” – must watch, standing by your friends, not being ashamed of who you are, the price of repressing your feelings.– And featured in 99% of fanfic. :P

    There is no try:
    I’ve never liked the movies. I really don’t like ‘expanded universe’, even when it’s official. “Star Trek III: The Search For More Money’. “Star Trek Babies in ‘The Holodeck Broke’”, (TNG seemed to have taken the original characters and split them in half. Man of Action ‘rawr punch’ Riker + disciplined and intelligent Picard = Kirk; half-breed telepath Troi + emotionless and logical Data = Spock. Got tired of it after the first couple of episodes, so didn’t see who else.) “Star Trek: Let’s sit in a stationary space station where everything in the universe happens”.

  7. Nurowyn says:

    Movie wise if the language is okay I highly recommend #4. I think it has the best kid-friendly plot and it’s the only one I remember clearly from childhood (I’ve since rewatched them all). So many hysterical scenes in that one. And to be honest it might be why I’m a scientist.

    Episodewise tribbles is kind of a must, highly agree witha piece of the action. But I liked “I, mudd” way better than mudd’s women. For one thing, fembots before they were a thing, and the copy of his wife was awesome. Just all around a more entertaining episode that starts to bring up all the issues we see with Data.

  8. Grimmtooth says:

    Here’s the thing.

    As old school Trekkies, we have a common bond not of just the high points, but also the low points of ToS and, to a lesser extent, TNG. We suffered through the clinkers in those first 79 episodes and it changed us. Me and Mrs Grimm will often, for example, utter “Brain! Brain! What is brain!” when we get confused or forget something. Little things like that impact on our geek culture in the same way as the epic episodes did. So my radical notion is this: watch all of them. Let him soak in all that good old badness.

    A decision: do you watch the unretouched episodes, or the remastered episodes with the reworked special effects? I gotta tell you, the first time I saw “Where No Man Has Gone Before” from the remastered series, I was amazed at the job they’d done. But will the Cub appreciate that, or would he be better served seeing the clunky old special effects of the original? That’s a tough call, unless you base it off of “whatever I have in the house, of course!” :)

    MeTV broadcasts the remastered ToS every Saturday, so me and the missus try to catch it every week. It’s been a lot of fun, even the bad ones! :)

  9. Grimmtooth says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention – ST: TMP to me is a must-have. It’s not the story or the uniforms or anything like that. It’s the fact that this was the “triumphant return” of the franchise (that wasn’t a word in this context at the time) to our national geek consciousness. The “grand tour” of the Enterprise when they ferried Kirk over was pure fan service, as was the departure from drydock. I could watch those any time.

    As a story it may be a bit of a flat spot, but as a significant part of our Trekkie culture, it’s a major link in the chain.

  10. Kamalia says:

    “Journey to Babel” because it’s the first appearance of Spock’s parents. I forget which episode they show up again in later, though. And Sarek continues to show up throughout the later series, so, yeah, need to see this one.

  11. hasteur says:

    The Naked Time (which got ripped of in TNG as The Naked Now)
    Space Seed (For setting up Khan, and sneaking into the suggested movies)
    Amok Time
    Trouble with Tribbles (if only to see the trick that they play in DS9 with a alternate viewpoint)
    The Gamesters of Triskellion (depending on if the cub can appreciate some of the humor)
    A Piece of the Action (Fizzbin!!!)

    Movies:
    The Khan Trilogy (Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, Voyage Home) – They present a well connected story line, a good mix of Star Trek techno-babble, human component, and moralizing lesson that wraps the entire unit and it’s connected storyline up in a neat package.
    Soundtrack:
    The Motion Picture – The 15 minute Enterprise montage is beautiful to listen to and what I sometimes use to get up in the mornings.

    It should be noted that the first appearance of “improved” klingons is in The Motion Picture

  12. Matty says:

    Another great conversation Bear…thank you. Can’t offer anything more than that.

  13. Zendo says:

    OH MY GOD I have read your blog for a long time.

    Like, a LONG LONG TIME

    Reading this blog post in particular drove me to comment for the first time.

    I have been contemplating the exact same thing for my son!

    He’s only a toddler at the moment, but I want to make sure he understands the awesome power of the Star Trek series.

    Personally, I’m a TNG fanatic in particular, and I’ve been working on what episodes will be most important for my kid to watch when he’s older.

    When it comes to TOS, I’ll likely use the help of your list here!

  14. tithian says:

    Avoid Star Trek V, it’s beyond meh… Star Trek VI is probably one of my favorites, right after II and III, in case you don’t remember, this is the one where Kirk and McCoy end up in prison. Avoiding the first one is also a good move, it’s not a movie that a kid can tolerate.

  15. Raidri says:

    If you don’t want to include “Where no man has gone before”, how about “Where no fan has gone before”? (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Where_No_Fan_Has_Gone_Before)

  16. Moonstalker says:

    I chose these because as a kid watching them for the first time, they were the coolest. As an adult, I may choose differently but here we go.

    14 “Balance of Terror” – Space fight, Romulan cloaking, and SPACE FIGHT!
    18 “Arena” – Mortar photon grenade and cool alien
    25 “The Devil in the Dark” – an alien that moves through rock?? How cool is that?
    35 “The Doomsday Machine” – Space fight and not so cool looking alien weapon but really cool having two “Enterprise” like ships
    44 “The Trouble with Tribbles” – TRIBBLES and a bar fight
    64 “The Tholian Web” – Spock large and in charge and another great concept – a web in space

    These I would add but they were less appreciated by me initially
    28 “The City on the Edge of Forever” – GREAT SCI FI, but as a kid, not so exciting. Certainly appreciated it more as I grew older
    33 “Mirror, Mirror” – evil twins – great concept which I loved later but confusing as a child

  17. Wolrab says:

    #8 Miri….i think that is the episode with the children turn into monsters and die when they become “grups”…grownups……”bonk bonk…bonk on the head”…..Kirk says “no bonk bonk”…been laughing for years even though it was not meant to be funny…my fav episode of all time…a must watch for sure

  18. Wolrab says:

    or was it “no blah blah”…either way it was funny…and the typical over acting I loved from Kirk :)

  19. Specter says:

    Rewatched all the movies myself recently. Star Trek: TMP can be given a pass if all you are going for is the “interesting” stuff. But I’d still recommend giving it a shot. Maybe switch to something else if he can’t stand it. But… If he becomes a true fan from watching the episodes, he’ll be into that movie from the beginning.

    Star Trek V? What movie was that? Oh you mean the movie that I took a vote on from all my friends and it was almost unanimously decided that it didn’t really happen. 1 time seeing that travesty was certainly enough for me. And I paid good money at the theatre for it. : /

    Just remember the maxim. Even numbered Star Treks do not suck.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      I know what you mean about even numbered movies, but I think Star Trek 3 has to go in there.

  20. Specter says:

    I agree. The movies lose some of their flow if you don’t fill that storyline. Especially if you intend to bridge the gap from the original timeline to the new one… You need, should I say NEED, the backstory from the first 3 movies, so far.

  21. tweell says:

    I’d like to second ‘Journey to Babel’. It’s a good episode, and introduces Sarek, who has important spots in later series. Spock donating blood to save his dad in spite of Sarek’s disapproval of him is also a nice lesson on family ties and obligations.

  22. Tesh says:

    This is a good behind the scenes video on “The Doomsday Machine” episode:

    • Tesh says:

      Gah, didn’t mean to embed that, sorry. I just grabbed the basic HTML from the YouTube browser.

      • bigbearbutt says:

        I use some… funky code I don’t like to talk about, and for purposes that nobody needs to know in my plans to take over the tri state area.

        Nothing to see here, move along.

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