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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

Star Trek or Star Trek: The Next Generation?
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Ratings are based on a four star system.
One star means that the commercials are more entertaining than the program.
Two stars watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars is good solid entertainment.
Four stars means you never dreamed television could be this good.

Stra Trek Ten years ago, there was still a debate about which was better, the original Star Trek or Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I think that debate is over now. The Next Generation has won. While the original Star Trek scores on originality, and produced some wonderful moments and memories, the The Next Generation wins in every other department: acting, directing, scripts, and especially special effects.

Today I know people who consider themselves Star Trek fans but have never watched the classic Star Trek, or who have watched a few episodes and dismissed the original series as garbage. If you have only watched a few original episodes, then what you think is the luck of the draw. Every version of Star Trek has produced a few stinkers, but the classic Star Trek had more than its share, including almost the entire third season.

The Sci-Fi Network is now showing all of the original Star Trek episodes, in order. Here is a checklist, to help today's fans find the good ones and avoid the bad. Naturally, to some extent, this is a question of taste. However, after having watched every episode many times, I have come to realize that some are clearly better than others by any standard you want to apply. And, some are excellent, and as good as anything that has ever appeared on television.

The Essential Trek:
The **** episodes people still talk about
"The Cage" by Gene Roddenberry -- the original pilot, shown at the 1966 Worldcon but never aired.
"Where No Man Has Gone Before" by Samuel A. Peeples -- -- the second pilot, shown at the 1966 Worldcon, third episode aired
"The Enemy Within" by Richard Matheson -- Good Kirk, Bad Kirk
"The Naked Time" by John D. F. Black -- the episode that established the characters of Spock and Sulu: Kevin Riley sings "Take me home again, Kathleen"
"The Menagerie" by Gene Roddenberry -- the only two part episode, incorporating most of "The Cage" as a flashback
"Shore Leave" by Theodore Sturgeon -- Alice and the White Rabbit
"City on the Edge of Forever" by Harlan Ellison -- The Guardian of Time
Second Season:
"Amok Time" by Theodore Sturgeon -- the episode that established much of what we know about Vulcan
"Mirror, Mirror" by Jerome Bixby -- parallel universe
"Journey to Babel" by D. C. Fontana -- Spock's mother and father
"Assignment, Earth" by Gene Roddenberry and Art Wallace -- stars Gary Seven: the second season finale: pilot for a spin off series that never materialized
There were no four star episodes in the third season.

The Fun Trek:
The *** episodes you will enjoy, even though you have to make some allowances, usually for bad special effects
First Season:
"The Corbomite Maneuver" by Jerry Sohl -- the enemy cube is more powerful than the Enterprise. Kirk bluffs.
"Mudd's Women" by Stephen Kandel and Gene Roddenberry -- Harry Mudd
"Charlie X" by D. C. Fontana and Gene Roddenberry -- the kid has powers he can't control.
"Balance of Terror" by Paul Schneider -- Romulans
"The Squire of Gothos" by Paul Schneider -- Trelane, Squire Trelane, retired
"Space Seed" -- Khan
"This Side of Paradise" by Nathan Butler and D. C. Fontana -- "Fight back, you disloyal Vulcan half breed!"
"The Devil in the Dark" by Gene L. Coon -- the horta
"Errand of Mercy" by Gene L. Coon -- Klingons, and the treaty of Organia
Second Season:
"Metamorphosis" by Gene L. Coon -- Zephram Cochrane, inventor of the warp drive
'The Doomsday Machine" by Norman Spinrad -- giant space cone tries to eat the Enterprise.
"The Changeling" by John Meredyth Lucas -- "Error! Error! Must self destruct! I have made an error!"
"The Deadly Years" by David P. Harmon -- rapid aging overtakes the crew
"I, Mudd" by Stephen Kandel -- "Harcourt Fenton Mudd!"
"The Trouble With Tribbles" by David Gerrold -- Tribbles vs. Klingons
"By Any Other Name' by D. C. Fontana and Jerome Bixby -- invaders from Andromeda
"The Ultimate Computer" by Lawrence N. Wolfe and D. C. Fontana -- Dr. Richard Daystrom
Third Season:
"The Enterprise Incident" by D. C. Fontana -- Romulans and the Vulcan Death Grip
"The Day of the Dove" by Jerome Bixby -- last of the four Klingon episodes
"Requiem for Methuselah" by Jerome Bixby -- "Captain, the paint on this Rembrandt is still wet."
"Turnabout Intruder" by Gene Roddenberry and Arthur H. Singer -- a woman's mind in William Shatner's body

Can't Get Enough Trek:
The ** episodes
First Season:
"The Man Trap" -- first episode aired -- the salt vampire
"What are Little Girls Made Of" -- mind transfer machine
"Dagger of the Mind" -- mental hospital
"Miri" -- planet of children
"The Conscience of the King" -- Kodos the Executioner. Kevin Riley.
"The Galileo Seven" -- Spock commands a shuttlecraft
"Court Martial" -- Kirk on trial
"Arena" -- the Gorn
"Tomorrow is Yesterday" -- back in time
"The Return of the Archons" -- computer-run society
"A Taste of Armageddon" -- war by computer simulation
"Operation Annihilate!" -- parasites, Kirk's brother
Second Season:
"Catspaw" -- witches
"Wolf in the Fold" -- Jack the Ripper
"Bread and Circuses" -- Planet of the Romans
"A Private Little War" -- Kirk vs. Klingons
"Obsession" -- Kirk vs. invisible monster
"A Piece of the Action" -- Planet of the Gangsters
"Return to Tomorrow" -- body-stealing aliens
"Patterns of Force" -- Planet of the Nazis
"The Omega Glory" -- Planet of the American Flag
Third Season:
"Specter of the Gun" -- Planet of the O.K. Coral

Really Bad Trek:
The * episodes
First Season:
"The Alternative Factor"
Second Season:
"Friday's Child", "Who Mourns for Adonias?", "The Apple", "The Gamesters of Triskelion", "The Immunity Syndrome"
Third Season:
"Elaan of Troyius", "The Paradise Syndrome", "And the Children Shall Lead", "Spock's Brain", "Is There in Truth No Beauty?", "The Empath", "The Tholian Web", "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky", "Plato's Stepchildren", "Wink of an Eye", "That Which Survives", "Let That be Your Last Battlefield", "Whom Gods Destroy", "The Mark of Gideon", "The Lights of Zetar", "The Cloud Minders", "The Way to Eden", "The Savage Curtain", "All Our Yesterdays"

Copyright © 1998 by Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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