Saturday, August 4, 2007

The best of Star Trek

I'll probably receive complaints about this. I expect it.

But you have to say what you think; or at least I do.

For decades, fans have said that "The City on the Edge of Forever" is the best Star Trek episode ever, and I've always agreed. Harlan Ellison's screenplay had drama, romance and pathos, and it stood out among TOS stories. So did "Space Seed," in which Ricardo Montalban learns to hate Kirk.

RELATED: Links to Star Trek web sites

"The Trouble With Tribbles" stands out, as do "Amok Time" and "Journey to Babel" and "Balance of Terror", but how many TOS episodes really shine? Not many.

Several Next Generation episodes stand out. "Measure of a Man," in which Data goes on trial, Riker prosecutes and Picard defends, is extraordinary. Is it as good as "The City..."? I've always thought so. The Locutus episodes were terrific, as good as anything else on Star Trek. And I enjoyed the next episode, when Picard visits the in-laws. It wasn't sci-fi; it was human.

In one Deep Space Nine episode, Major Kira encounters a Cardassian who looks like the one who butchered thousands, maybe millions, of Bajorans. Naturally, she hates him. Then she learns that he was a clerk who had plastic surgery to make him look like the evil Cardassian. She still thinks little of him. But the more she knows him, the more important he is to her. When he's assassinated, she mourns him.

In another DS9 episode, Sisko is sent into a sort of limbo. Jake's sure he's alive, and he wastes his life looking for his father. By the time Sisko shifts back into real time/space, Jake is older than he is. The scene between two grown men, Avery Brooks as Sisko and Tony Todd as Jake (Todd played Worf's brother on ST:TNG), is powerful. When I saw it, I thought it was the best Star Trek episode I'd ever seen. It may have been.

I just found a DS9 episode called "Ties of Blood and Water" in which Major Kerya has a visit from a Cardassian who is like a father to her. He is dying and wants to give her all of his secrets. The Cardassians, led by Gul Dukat, want him back, but they don't get him. Kukat gives her information about Ghemor's work during the war, and she tries to stay away. But she recalls who own father, who died alone while she was fighting. She finally went to stay with Ghemor during his final time. Her reaction was heart-wrenching, and the ending was perfect. I didn't remember that 5th-season episode until I saw it again, but it was wonderful.

I recently watched a Voyager rerun in which 700 years have passed, and some Delta Quadrant race believes that the crew of Voyager was evil. They blame Janeway and her crew for their second-class status. The doctor's program is found, and he is protrayed as a butcher. It takes most of the episode, but the caretaker of the Voyager history begins to believe that the doctor is telling the truth — Voyager's crew didn't do the foul deeds. At the end, the doctor realizes that Voyager's place in history isn't as important as the present. He becomes a powerful symbol of hope on the planet, and eventually he borrows a small ship and goes looking for earth.

There IS one Enterprise episode that stands out. It's "Twilight", the one where the captain has been injured and has lost his long-term memory. T'Pol is taking care of him, and she constantly has to remind him what's happened, over and over... Is that as good as the best of Trek? Maybe. I thought so when I first saw it.

I've watched Star Trek for more than 51 years. I wonder when the NEXT great Star Trek episode will air. Or if it will.

P.S.: One last thought: It's funny how Seven is big in Star Trek lore. Seven of Nine is the Borg babe in Voyager, and the late Robert Lansing was far-out agent Gary Seven in "Assignment: Earth." And TNG, DS9 and Voyager all lasted seven seasons each for rerun purposes. They were rolling Sevens.

UPDATE: I haven't watched "Star Trek: Discovery", and I probably won't. I'm not going to pay for just one show.

RELATED: Links to Star Trek web sites


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