A Star Trek Community
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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