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NBC (ended 1969)
Perhaps you are new to Star Trek and want to want to see what all the fuss is about. Where to start? Sure, you could start at the beginning and work your way through every episode in chronological order. But to be honest, you'll have to wade through a few tough episodes beforeTrek really begins to hit its stride.

The originalStar Trek existed in a time before the "novelization" of television, when episodes were more or less stand-alone. This means you can pick up practically anywhere in the series and have a good time without worrying about complex plot lines or "myth arc" storytelling.

For the newcomer toTrek, here are five episodes I believe typify what makes the show great. These are sure to whet your appetite for more:

The Devil in the Dark


This was the first episode I ever saw, and it is a perfect introduction to everythingStar Trek did right. It is a "monster of the week" episode with ambitious philosophical underpinnings, Spock mind-melding with an alien creature, a surprisingly restrained Kirk, and a classic McCoy line: "I'm a doctor, not a brick-layer!"

And what a great cold opening! "Like the rest of them. Burned to a crisp."

The City on the Edge of Forever

The storytelling doesn't get much better than this Hugo Award-winning episode, and for good reason: it was written by the great Harlan Ellison. One of the best time travel episodes by far, it's a tragic tale that ends on a melancholy note, leaving the viewer to ponder the ethics of time travel.

Space Seed

KHAAAAAAAN! Ricardo Montalban sets the bar forTrek baddies. Once again, an episode that handles a heavy subject without devolving into babbling philosophizing; that leaves you to ponder said subject after the end credits roll. They take on eugenics, and the notion of genetic superiority just a couple of decades after a world war was fought over such ideas.

Balance of Terror


This episode gives us a tense game of tag with a cloaked Romulan Bird of Prey, and shows Kirk in his element as captain of theEnterprise. Spock experiences the irrational and misplaced fear of a crewman who can't help but notice how much he looks like a Romulan. Oh yeah, and Mark Lenard, who plays the Romulan captain, is amazing. How amazing? Roddenberry brought him back to play Spock's father, Sarek!

Arena


Part ofStar Trek's charm is a certain -- for lack of a better word --goofiness. But unlike its contemporary sci-fi shows,Trek at least tried to stay grounded in science. The fisticuffs between Kirk and the Gorn are pretty goofy, but Kirk's discovery/invention of the weapon, and his ultimate act of mercy are anything but. (And seriously, it may be a little goofy by today's standards, but the Gorn costume isboss.)

That's my list. What do you think? What episodes would you recommend a newbie watch?

(All photos found at www.trekcore.com)
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It's always been a big part of the TOS mythos (or 'meta-mythos') that season 3, well, kinda stinks. But I am going to name the episode that is often cited as the very worst TOS episode - 'Spock's Brain' - as one of my favourites. I know, I know. I just like it for, as the above article puts it, it's 'goofiness'. It's great!
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Good job!

If I could only pick 5, most of these would be on my list.
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My first episode was The Trouble With Tribbles, and I got confused because William Schalert was in it and I had misread Shatner's name in the credits, and though Schallert was the star. It didn't make sense, but the next episode cleared it all up for me. Your 5 are as good as any, but there are so many more good ones.
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I think an episode where Star Trek explores the "man vs. machine" motif could be included, such as "The Ultimate Computer" or "The Return of the Archons".
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Return of the Archons was arguably one of the worst episodes ever. I've gone back several times and it always sucks.
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Peace and Harmony be with you, Muderboy HEHE
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Fantastic picks Andrew! Your reasons are on point and I really like them. I might have a slightly different line up but I would have certainly picked 3 or 4 of the same episodes as you have. Bravo!
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Should still start with the first Kirk episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" or even the first Spock episode "The Cage" or the two-part "The Menagerie."
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My problem is that I was raised on TNG and as such it was THE most fascinating of the Star Treks ever. Recently I re-watched it and decided to move on and watched all seven seasons of DS9 which imo were far deeper psychologically than TNG but not as funny. TNG had so many laughing moments that I cannot even recall one the best. The problem is that I cannot get myself to watching TOS. DS9 had a splendid episode which moved in the past to the moment when Kirk dealt with furry lovable but breading like crazy creatures. I did like it but still, I don't know where to start. Or should I go on watching Voyager? Anyways, I love Julian Bashir and Odo :-)
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Definitely give TOS a try! Watch one of the episodes Gislef or I suggest. TOS has its own special charm. :-)
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The idea of Voyager seems quite interesting, however - a woman is a captain? Oh my, the world is crumbling :) But, I guess I will simply try the episodes mentioned by you guys and perhaps they will stick to me the way the other ones did :))
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I've been working my way through TNG, DS9 and Voyager in order of airdate, and I'm almost to Voyager. Kate Mulgrew is awesome, and I can't wait!
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DS9 Is my personal favorite of the Star Trek series!
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So far - the first double episode looks promising - a lot of action and brand new species. I like that. Robert Picardo who appears in one of DS9 episodes (Dr. Bashir, I presume) is great - a possibility of humorous sections with him I hope. What I really didn't like about DS9 and that was really bothering me all the time was that Captain Sisko or rather Avery Brooks who imo had a set of let's say five facial expressions and about ten behavioral patterns and on he went with them. It was so distracting! I missed Picard at those time :) Good ol' Benjamin was simply dummy-like while Jean-Luc was all man and personality :)))
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the devil in the dark was the first episode i saw too hooked me on star trek right away-fyi i mean in 1967-dont know i didn't watch sooner
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It must have been such a blast to see it in its original run! Color or black and white?
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we only had a black and white tv then-so
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Heavy on the first season. I'd add Trouble with Tribbles and Journey to Babel. Maybe Doomsday Machine.
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Yeah ... I guess I did favor season one a bit!

Good call onErrand of Mercy! Great twist, too.
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If I had to drop one to make room, it'd probably be Balance of Terror. I like it, and Mark Lenard makes the show. But the racism angle doesn't play well, IMO (mouthing off to a superior officer?), and there's a few logic gaps. ("Turn out of the path of the plasma beam!"). Not that ST was free of logic gaps, but still...
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Or Errand of Mercy. First appearance of the Klingons and another moral/philosophical debate.

If we have to have third season, Day of the Dove in honor of Michael Ansara.
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THANK YOU for this! I was actually just talking with my friend last night about wanting to get a few episodes in as a "crash course." I'm totally going to follow your advice!
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