Fri
Apr 3 2009 1:20pm

Star Trek TOS Re-watch: Introductory Post

Greetings and salutations. I’m Eugene Myers and I’m pleased to tell you about an exciting new blog series at Tor.com in preparation for (and perhaps eventual recovery from) J.J. Abrams’s new Star Trek film coming to theaters on May 8, 2009.

Following up on my recent post, A Star Trek Primer, we thought it might be fun to go back to the roots of Star Trek, where countless Trekkies have gone before...

3 seasons. 79 episodes. 1,771,561 tribbles.

In the tradition of the Wheel of Time and Lord of the Rings Re-read series here, Torie Atkinson and I will be covering one episode per post, in air date order, from “The Man Trap” to “Turnabout Intruder.” (No use arguing about the “proper” episode order, but if you must, fire away in the comments.) As fascinating as those new HD CGI effects are, we’re watching this series in its original format, cheesy special effects and all, the way the Great Bird of the Galaxy intended. We won’t even skip the bad episodes, because those are the most fun to talk about.

 

Each post will have a brief summary of the episode, followed by commentary and often interesting bits of trivia. And since Star Trek fans are nothing if not vocal and opinionated, we’ll ask some questions and raise points of debate for everyone to discuss. We also hope you’ll watch along with us, since all the episodes are freely available online at CBS.com, and let’s face it, you probably still have all those VHS tapes, laserdiscs, DVDs, HD-DVDs, and soon Blu-Ray discs that Paramount has issued and re-issued at exorbitant prices.

We’re also trying something a little different with the format of this re-watch. Torie and I will be alternating episodes and commenting on each other’s posts. Since I’m a card-carrying Trekkie (really, my credit card is sanctioned by the United Federation of Planets), and Torie’s watching many of these episodes for the first time, we think this will provide an interesting look at the series from a Star Trek veteran and someone with a fresh perspective—making our reviews suitable for existing fans and people new to this whole phenomenon.

In case you’re wondering what makes me qualified to talk about Star Trek (as if my credit card weren’t proof enough): I’ve been a huge fan of the show for 18 years (I’m 30 now, but not living in my mother’s basement). I came to the franchise late, beginning with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country on HBO. I had previously not only ignored the show but went out of my way to avoid it, until that film showed me just how smart and complex it could be. (Thank goodness I sampled one of the even numbered movies first.) That set me off and I soon went after everything I could get my hands on: Collector’s Edition VHS tapes from my Latin teacher, media tie-in novels, The Next Generation reruns (still my favorite series) and pretty soon thereafter, Deep Space Nine and Voyager.

I gave up on Enterprise. Didn’t you?

Perhaps my strongest qualification is the fact that my name is Eugene, just like Gene Roddenberry! That’s like, fate.

Basically, I love Star Trek, but it’s been a long time since I’ve re-watched it; my tapes were in storage, one of the compromises of living in NYC. I recently panicked when the non-Lucased (can that be a word?) DVDs went out of print, so I bought them all and have just been waiting for an excuse to watch the show again. So far I’m really enjoying this project, and I hope all of you do, too. It should be an interesting voyage.

Torie Atkinson: I’m not even going to try to compete with the Federation credit card, but I assure our readers that I’m well-qualified for such a mission. I’m a long-time Star Trek fan—my first movie was Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which I caught on TV as a kid (in my whale biologist phase, no less). I’m pretty sure my parents only watched because it took place near our home town. (Extra credit! Where was ST:IV actually filmed? No Googling, people!) It was kind of history from there: the first series I caught on-air was Voyager, and I worked my way backward. My re-watch of choice tends to be TNG, so I’m a little ashamed to admit that while I’m familiar with a good many of these episodes, this will be my first real sit-down watch-through of the whole shebang.

We’ll start next week with our first episode: “The Man Trap.” Play along at home by watching it free at CBS.com.

I hope I won’t be the only one new to this series, and that you will have fun watching these with us!

31 comments
Jason Henninger
1. jasonhenninger
I look forward to the posts. I have not watched TOS in a very long time but it's an important part of my childhood and I have many fond memories associated with the show. I even trained myself to raise one eyebrow when I was little, because Spock looked so cool when he did it.
Richard Fife
2. R.Fife
Hmm, I might tag along with this. And Torie: I'm right there with you. I grew up on the movies, got to see The Undiscovered Country in theaters and owned the VHSs of the tapes at home, but I have only seen a limited number of TOS. The joy of having been born in '82.
Torie Atkinson
3. Torie
@ 1

That is thoroughly charming.

@ 2

Woohoo! Twenty-somethings represent! :)
Angela Korra'ti
4. annathepiper
Oh very cool. I've watched a lot of Trek in my time, but really, my heart belongs to TOS. And The Kirk, first action hero to teach me that hazel eyes can be swoonable!
Bill Siegel
5. ubxs113
When I was a kid I watched reruns of TOS everyday after daycare with my dad so this is definitely hitting that emotional soft spot for me. Can't wait!
Matt London
6. MattLondon
I call dibs on the Lost re-watch next year. It will rock.
C.D. Thomas
7. cdthomas
Ah, youth.

I came in during the Animated Series (*first-run*, mind; it was choosing between it and Girl Scouts), so I've seen fire, rain, bumpy forehead controversies, the venal Cochrane retcon, the whole megillah.

I still believe these kids upcoming can't drive a starship, and that Abrams will get Pike, Finnegan, Ruth and even Robert April wrong, but I guess Paramount considers this franchise chemotherapy. Damn Ron Moore's hide, for giving them a reboot template.

*sigh*

I'll just be glad to go over TOS without the egregious broadcast emendations that two generations of fen consider normal. Please, if you can, try to point out the missing speeches that the kids don't see unless they use the DVDs. There are meanings in those words, rhythms, that made TOS the power in our culture it is.
James Goetsch
8. Jedikalos
I was ten years old when I watched "the man trap" on tv in its original broadcast (yes I am over fifty years old, alas). I actually wrote a fan letter to Nimoy and got back one of those autographed pictures they sent out. I used to record parts of the show on a cheap reel to reel tape recorder (audio recording, of course): how amazing to think how singular watching something on tv was then, with no way to watch it again.

It will be fun to read what you have to say about watching the episodes.
tomnackid
10. tomnackid
Its funny to hear some latter day Trek fans complain that Abrahms is "sexing up" the franchise. These kids today (I've always wanted to say that!) don't realize how risque the original Trek was and how much Rodenberry got away with (and how much more he WANTED to get away with!). Personally I can't wait to see JJ's movie. It looks like we are getting back the sexy, slam-bang adventure show I knew as a kid that still managed to keep a little toe anchored in the 20th century--making it easier for all of those mundanes watching on their couches to swallow the healthy doses of philosophy Gene and SF writers like Harlan Ellison and Norman Spinard and Theodore Sturgeon were spooning out.

Maybe its an imprinting thing--TOS was my introduction to the world of SF--but I've never cared much for the subsequent Treks. I'ld rather watch Kirk punch a Klingon and seduce an alien babe than watch Piccard negotiate a trade agreement (yawn). Deep Space 9? Babylon 5 did it better and first. Voyager? Hey in MY day (another thing I've always wanted to say!) the people WANTED to be where no man has gone before! They weren't whining about trying to get home! I kind of like the parts of Enterprise for the glimpse at The early days of Starfleet but the whole Zindi (Xindi?)story line turned me off.

Anyway, it will be interesting to look back on the original.
tomnackid
11. scifidavid
I am definitely watching along with you guys. I watched all the TOS episodes over and over when I was a kid. They used to come on everynight at midnight on WPIX Ch. 11. I actually enjoy TNG more taken as a whole, but the best of the TOS episodes are timeless classics.
Eugene Myers
12. ecmyers
@ 7

Good idea on noting the syndication edits! I'll have to see if I can track down a list of them or I'll just be relying on my memory, though I do still have VHS tapes of the first two seasons from WPIX. Strange to think that shows used to be 51 minutes long, when they're closer to 41 these days.

@ 8

I once met Nimoy when he was visiting my college for Parents' Day. He's very gracious. And tall.
Pablo Defendini
13. pablodefendini
@5

I have similar, dad-related memories of watching The Voyage Home. Those whales get me every time.

And Torie: Monterey, iirc?
Mitchell Downs
14. Beamish
I came to TOS with the WPIX Saturday afternoon syndication. I remember my father being really excited about taking me to see The Motion(less) Picture...and then apologizing afterward because the 9 year old me was a bit bored. He assured me though that the TV show was still great.

Star Trek is the first time where I can actually recall becoming aware that Science Fiction was about more than rockets and rayguns. A year or so after the Motion Picture we were watching "A Private Little War" and near the end Kirk talks to McCoy about the necessity of those "20th Century Brush Wars" for securing freedom and balancing power. I actually looked at my father and asked if he was talking about Vietnam and my dad simply said: "See, I told you the show was better than the Movie."
Alan Stallings
15. astacvi
@7, @12

Yes, please do try to note the edits. Some episodes don't seem to suffer that much, but I've seen several absolutely maimed by just a missing line or two, let alone entire scenes. CotEoF just flat doesn't work for me without the "stone knives and bearskins". And I happened to see Shore Leave the other day and Finnegan's "yeh've broken me back, Jimmeh" was just gone.

Are the free episodes at CBS full-length?
Eugene Myers
16. ecmyers
@ 15

Yes, the CBS episodes are uncut (with the original effects). Episodes run from 50-51 minutes.
LT Tortora
17. Lucubratrix
Oh, I'm looking forward to this. I was obsessed with Star Wars when I was small, and my parents, tired of renting those three videos over and over, made the mistake of broadening my horizons by introducing me to Star Trek. And they thought they were sick of Luke and Leia....

I actually haven't watched Star Trek in years, but I have many fond memories of it (and will check out the free episodes). Also, Spock is still one of the coolest characters ever.
David Spiller
18. scifidavid
Finally one of these I can do. I am planning to start the WoT books soon (I've had the first three books on my shelf for years) with a goal of catching up by the time the final volume is released in 2011. And I plan on reading the The Vorkosigan saga one of these days too (Cordelia's Honor has also been on my shelf for years). As much as I love LotR and am tempted by the re-read, I have too many things to read for the first time. But a TOS rewatch?! This is going to be awesome!!
tomnackid
19. clovis
Auuggh (as Linus van Pelt would say), the CBS freebies aren't available in Britain. Ah well, will have to do this by memory. I'm old enough to remember Star Trek on its first British showing, BBC 1, Saturday tea-time, filling the gap after the latest series of another SF show had finished, one Dr Who.
tomnackid
20. sps49
I don't recall Star Trek: TOS on the title screens.
This is Star Trek, pure and unadulterated, baby!
Blue Tyson
21. BlueTyson
As usual, we can't 'play along at home', because it is blocked.
David Lev
22. davidlev
For non-Americans: I think Star Trek is available from Surf the Channel, but i don't know if the episodes are full-length, and you'll have to put up with slow-loading and chinese subtitles
C C
23. Hatgirl
Oh, this is weird. I just started a TOS marathon yesterday.

I have seen some of these episodes, but mainly know them through the James Blish novelisations (no, I'm not that old, I just didn't have cable as a child). I'm grew up watching TNG and adore DS9. Voyager let me down and Enterprise....

I don't want to talk about Enterprise. *shudders*

I am willing to give JJ the benefit of the doubt. He had better not let me down, though.
Bill Siegel
24. ubxs113
Are you going to have a nice little index page like WOT and LOTR?
Torie Atkinson
25. Torie
@ 24

You don't want to be surprised? :D

(The answer is yes. I'll keep making 'em as long as we keep havin' 'em.)
C.D. Thomas
26. cdthomas
And if you could start with THE CAGE, then reassess the material used for THE MENAGERIE, that would be peachy keen, kthxbi!
tomnackid
27. bufsprite
Thursday, September 8, 1966 @ 8:30 P.M. Eastern time. Doing the homework in front of the TV and becoming lost in THE MAN TRAP. I can remember whispering "I love it-I LOVE it!". Yep, an original Trekkie. I agree w/ the general consensus that ENTERPRISE was a snorefest-and I tried to like it, for Scott Bakula if nothing else-but alas! not possible. Kirk and Spock rule. Picard and Riker follow closely behind. I look forward to the reviews!
Serge Mailloux
28. SergeBroom
I hope that JJ Abrams's movie gets it right, after those other series, although Uhura's skirt and gogo boots make me wince. I have long thought that "The Corbomite Manoeuver" was the epitome of what the original was about: people who venture into the Unknown and who, when they encounter a threat, do not abandon their values and in fact become better from the experience.
tomnackid
29. psikeyhackr
Why?

I am a science fiction fan not a Star Trek fan and I watched it in black and white back in the day. But since I had been reading sci-fi for years before I thought it was very good by the standards of television but it wasn't great sci-fi. TV needs too big an audience.

Captain Kirk was the Lone Ranger in outer space with a libido since it WAS THE SIXTIES. And Mr. Spock was an Uncle Tom Tom Alien.

The Outer Limits was somewhat better.

Let it go and move on. Babylon 5 was better than Trek except for not having a Scotty character. I mean a 5 mile space station without a chief engineer? Definitely not GROOVY! LOL
Serge Mailloux
30. SergeBroom
psikeyhackr... B5 did have Harlan Ellison in charge of making sure that elevators worked.
tomnackid
31. Plamadude30k
My first words upon seeing this entry: "Woah." This is an awesome finale.

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