Star Trek Rewatch

Star Trek Re-Watch Season 2 Wrap-Up

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Before we embark on the third and final season of Star Trek, we thought it would be a good time to look back and reflect on the past year of the re-watch and talk about some of the things we have to look forward to (for better or worse…) in the months to come.

Here is a breakdown of our respective ratings.

 

Ep. #

 

Title

 

Eugene’s Rating

Torie’s Rating

1.

2×05

 

Amok Time

 

6

6

2.

2×04

 

Who Mourns for Adonais?

 

3

2

3.

2×08

 

The Changeling

 

4

5

4.

2×10

 

Mirror, Mirror

 

5

5

5.

2×09

 

The Apple

 

2

2

6.

2×06

 

The Doomsday Machine

 

6

5

7.

2×01

 

Catspaw

 

3

2

8.

2×12

 

I, Mudd

 

4

4

9.

2×02

 

Metamorphosis

 

5

3

10.

2×15

 

Journey to Babel

 

4

5

11.

2×03

 

Friday’s Child

 

3

1

12.

2×11

 

The Deadly Years

 

4

5

13.

2×18

 

Obsession

 

4

4

14.

2×07

 

Wolf in the Fold

 

2

2

15.

2×13

 

The Trouble With Tribbles

 

6

6

16.

2×17

 

The Gamesters of Triskelion

 

3

3

17.

2×20

 

A Piece of the Action

 

6

3

18.

2×19

 

The Immunity Syndrome

 

4

5

19.

2×16

 

A Private Little War

 

1

1

20.

2×22

 

Return to Tomorrow

 

6

6

21.

2×23

 

Patterns of Force

 

4

4

22.

2×21

 

By Any Other Name

 

4

3

23.

2×25

 

The Omega Glory

 

2

1

24.

2×24

 

The Ultimate Computer

 

4

5

25.

2×14

 

Bread and Circuses

 

4

3

26.

2×26

 

Assignment: Earth

 

3

2

Are there any ratings you would change?

Eugene: I may have been too enthusiastic about “A Piece of the Action.” I wanted to give it a 6 because I held it in such high regard, but my first instinct was to make it a 5 and I think that’s probably a more appropriate rating for it. I don’t know what I was thinking giving “Friday’s Child” a 3; perhaps I was too stunned to think clearly immediately after watching it, but it’s obviously no better than a 1. Similarly, in retrospect I really need to knock “The Omega Glory” down to a 1—it’s just too much of a mess despite it’s incredible teaser. Finally, Torie’s thoughtful analysis of “The Deadly Years” has persuaded me that it is one of the best episodes of the season, and thus I’m nudging my rating up to warp factor 5.

Torie: I’ll knock “The Immunity Syndrome” down a point, to a 4, because just a few months later I have to struggle to remember what it was about and what I liked so much. Clearly not as exemplary as I had thought at the time. The rest I’m pretty comfortable with.

Best episode? Favorite episode?

Eugene: “Amok Time” is without question the best of the season. Star Trek put its best foot forward leading with it, and it’s a classic in every sense of the word. My favorite is also a classic: “The Trouble With Tribbles.” (Is anyone surprised?) It’s such a fun episode I can watch it over and over again, with or without the DS9 crew. However, I was surprised by how much I loved “The Doomsday Machine” and “Return to Tomorrow” (even though I can’t remember the episode just by that title), if I can award them honorable mentions.

Torie: The best episode, hands-down, was “The Trouble With Tribbles,” which is as close to perfection as Star Trek ever gets. “Amok Time” is a close second. But my favorite is probably “Return to Tomorrow,” an episode I had never even heard of, that moves me every time I recall it.

Strangely, I think the episode that stayed with the most from this season was “The Changeling.” It wasn’t the best, or my favorite, but it’s the one I keep returning to in my thoughts about Star Trek. (I had a similar response to “A Taste of Armageddon” in the first season.)

Most disappointing episode?

Eugene: I’m calling it a tie between “The Gamesters of Triskelion” and “Bread and Circuses,” which I remembered as being much better than they are. As a result of my faulty memory, I inadvertently misrepresented “Triskelion” as one of the best episodes to Torie, and I’ll never live that down. It’s memorable, sure, but for all the wrong reasons. “Bread and Circuses” simply lacked the excitement and creativity I was expecting. I mean, how do you make gladiatorial combat boring?

Torie: There were more of these than I anticipated! In terms of expectation, “Gamesters of Triskelion” and “A Piece of the Action” were ones I had been greatly looking forward to that just failed to impress. Both had been drummed up (EUGEEEENE!) far more than they deserved. Then there were episodes like “Friday’s Child,” “A Private Little War,” and “The Omega Glory” that felt kind of like punches in the face (a feeling that always disappoints).

Resources

As much as we occasionally re-invent the wheel, Eugene and I aren’t the first fans to tackle Star Trek (academically or otherwise). We make use of a number of resources when compiling our posts, and we wanted to be sure to share them with you.

First, the dead tree stuff. Allan Asherman’s The Star Trek Compendium is a great source of trivia, background information, and all around cool tidbits. Though each episode’s coverage is brief, the book contains insightful and useful information. It’s also packed with over a hundred screencaps and photos. Most of our information about script and show development comes from this book.

Then there’s Phil Farrand’s The Nitpicker’s Guide For Classic Trekkers, which aside from being a ridiculous amount of fun, has (much to our relief) laboriously cataloged every syndication edit and wardrobe malfunction. In addition to the episode-by-episode guide it also includes essays on topics ranging from militarism to the treatment of women in the show. But mostly, it’s got some great trivia and a few really nerdy and fun games. Try the Captaincy Aptitude Test sometime.

Both books are now, sadly, out of print, but you can find them on the used book market very cheap.

Lastly, the Star Trek Encyclopedia, by Michael and Denise Okuda. This book is huge, but the full-color pages make it worthwhile. There’s even an updated edition that includes most of Voyager, though sadly they didn’t bother to integrate the additions and just stuck them in the back. Its out-of-dateness doesn’t mar the usefulness of having something to point to for “SEE! I TOLD YOU SO” moments.

On the web: this re-watch would be a sorry shadow of itself without Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki devoted to canon works in the ST universe. For all those times you need a list of who likes plomeek soup, there’s Memory Alpha. It also adds a lot of background and trivia to the episodes, and those of you following along with the re-watch are encouraged to read the MA pages on each episode, if you aren’t already.

We are also deeply indebted to Chrissie, whose transcript archive is an indispensable resource. I can’t properly express how grateful we are that she’s out there, and how much we appreciate the staggering amount of work she’s surely put into the project.

And then there’s Trek Core, where we get our screencaps and the occasional publicity photo. I often go there to refresh my memory about an action scene, and then, looking at what is essentially a storyboard to the show, realize something illuminating or interesting.

So that’s our bag of secrets! Go forth and enjoy!

Some background on seasons 2 and 3:

Season 2 of Star Trek certainly had its ups and downs, as much as any weekly show, but it was consistently better than its fledgling year and delivered some of the most memorable episodes of the series. Many of them are undisputed classics to fans, and several attain the same notoriety as the best episodes of Twilight Zone among non-fans; even people who don’t watch Star Trek are probably familiar with “Amok Time,” “Mirror, Mirror,” and “The Trouble With Tribbles.”

Despite the overwhelming support of devoted viewers and their legendary letter-writing campaign to save the show from premature cancellation, NBC was not impressed by the show’s ratings. In typical network fashion, they renewed the show for a third season but kept it on Friday nights; worse still, they moved it from 8:30pm to 10:00pm—essentially a death sentence. In the pre-VHS era, it was difficult for the show to reach its intended young audience that late in the evening.

Gene Roddenberry was so adamant that the show be broadcast earlier in the night that he actually offered to resume his first-season role as producer if they changed the time slot, but unfortunately the network didn’t go for it. He remained an executive producer, even less involved with the show than in season 2, and Fred Freiberger (best known as writer/producer of the cult film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms) was brought in to produce. (Interestingly, he had been offered the job in the show’s first season but turned it down.) Freiberger, aka “the Series Killer,” also supervised the final seasons of other SF shows like Space: 1999 and The Six Million Dollar Man, and ended his television career penning episodes of the ludicrous live-action The Adventures of Superboy series.

Freiberger is often maligned as the man who destroyed Star Trek, but he may have been its last champion, doing the best he could with very little. Without NBC’s support, the show’s budget was cut, and it showed in everything from the sets and costumes to the drastically reduced quality of the scripts and acting. In its third season, the show seemed dumbed-down, perhaps to appeal more to the kids who couldn’t stay up to watch it. With few exceptions, episodes were less intelligent and creative than it was capable of; the season premiere, “Spock’s Brain,” established a goofier tone that was almost unrecognizable from the Star Trek that preceded it—although arguably the last several episodes of season 2 were already heading on this disastrous course.

For all the clunkers the show would turn out in its final year, there were also some gems, many considered classics in their own right: “The Enterprise Incident,” “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky,” “The Tholian Web,” and “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.” If the highs didn’t quite reach the lofty levels  of “Amok Time,” the lows set devastating new records, such as “The Paradise Syndrome” and “The Way to Eden.” (*shudder*) It’s a mixed bag, to be sure, and your warp mileage may vary.

We hope the last stretch of our re-watch will prompt lively discussion of the merits and failures of the third season.  Look for something special in a couple of weeks to start things off with our coverage of “Spock’s Brain.” In the meantime, which episodes are you most looking forward to or dreading in the coming months?


Season 3 reviews will resume shortly with “Spock’s Brain.” US residents can watch it for free at the CBS website.

Check the Star Trek Re-Watch Index for a complete list of posts in this series.

If you enjoy what you read here, do please leave a comment, tell your friends, and spread the word.


Eugene Myers writes fiction as E.C. Myers. When he isn’t watching Star Trek, he’s probably working on one of his young adult novels.

Torie Atkinson is perhaps most excited for Season 3. Forgive her?

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