STAR TREK At 50: Five Of Your Favourites

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To celebrate Star Trek's 50th anniversary we'll be looking back at a variety of fan favourite episodes every Wednesday throughout 2016, all chosen by one of our team or by a guest contributor. Today, thanks to the Treknobabble Reddit community, we have five of your favourites. 


The City On The Edge Of Forever
Chosen by Trekkie1980

I know this is often cited as the best, or one of the best Trek episodes ever, which might make it a bit of a predictable choice, but there's a good reason it's so well regarded. The City on the Edge of Forever is the perfect confluence of superb science fiction writing, well-honed directing, and sensitive acting, in particular from William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.

The script is incredibly well-written by one of the best science fiction writers of all time, Harlan Ellison. Ellison wisely uses modest humor (like Spock's clueless insistence on securing platinum, and Kirk's explanation of Spock's ears to a policeman) to keep the story from becoming overly maudlin.

Show this to anyone who says that William Shatner can not act, as his nuanced and sympathetic performance clearly shows how good of an actor he could be when given the right material. Likewise, Joan Collins acquits herself quite well, and Leonard Nimoy is, as always, marvelous. Spock's final line in the 1930s world alone is worth the viewing.


Mirror, Mirror
Chosen by Mildreaded

There are lot of The Original Series episodes I could chose but Mirror, Mirror stands out for me as one of the best-written, best-acted TOS episodes ever. Ordinarily there is some aspect of the writing to nitpick about, but not here. Every action anybody takes makes sense, the characters are developed superbly, and the pacing is swift and invigorating. This is quality TV writing, and if every script had been this good the series would have lasted a lot longer, I think.

The acting is equally as good. William Shatner's Kirk displays the quick wits and cleverness that make the character so interesting, and notice how our good guy Kirk is not entirely uncomfortable in his new, dangerous environment. Sure, he's disgusted by all the cruelty around him, but you can sense he gets a thrill out of navigating all the treachery. Leonard Nimoy's evil version of Spock is genuinely menacing in a cool, calculating way. Nichelle Nichols' Uhura shows us a cunning, wily side of her we have only ever seen suggested before (and check her out in that revealing outfit). But the acting prize goes to George Takei, his evil Sulu is slimy, sleazy, scary, and wonderfully despicable. Takei should have played more villains.


Yesterday's Enterprise
Chosen by king_dublin

While I was thinking through all the episodes I could consider my favorites, it struck me that most of those episodes feature time travel, and I generally dislike time travel being added to my Star Trek. But I digress.

I always loved the episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" because while it has my favorite ship, it also gives so much depth to the Trek universe. When the Enterprise C mysteriously appears and changes the peaceful Federation into a war ragged group, it shows how different Trek is from so many other sci-fi shows that want the audience to run and gun through the universe. The character Guinan mirrors the audience reaction to a battle ready Enterprise and war weary crew with the words "This is a mistake."

Perhaps the most significant element of this episode is the return a the character Tasha Yar, who previously died "an empty death" and at the climax of this episode, gets a much more fitting end. For me, the ship is the reason I keep watching this episode. Its a brand new design from the time period we haven't seen in the show yet. The Enterprise is a magnificent design the embodies the ship of TNG while hinting at elements from the days of TOS and their movies.


Measure of a Man
Chosen by rensch

Has to be The Next Generation's 'Measure of a Man'. Data is on trial and Picard has to prove he's a sentient person endowed with certain constitutional rights.

It asks some big philosophical questions. Is Data truly sentient or does he simply display an elaborate simulation of sentience? What does sentience even mean? A microbe is alive but not sentient, so what does it even mean to be alive? If we say Data is sentient; is he also alive despite being a machine? Aren't we all machines as well, just made out of organic materials instead?

Picard asks these questions in one of the highlights of Patrick Stewart's acting career. The classic Picard speech as the end is Star Trek at its finest: philosophical, relevant (it aired around the start of the digital revolution) and thought-provoking.

This one is also great because it becomes more relevant with the increasing power of computers, automization, and robotics.


What You Leave Behind
Chose by Twilight_Ike_Galaxy

My personal favorite is the whole last 9 episodes of DS9, but particularly What You Leave Behind.

I felt like it was perfect closure to the Dominion War and to the show as a whole. It wrapped up all of the character relationships and plot points very well, and unlike other Trek finales, it didn't leave me feeling like "Wait, that's it?" because so much closure was provided, with Sisko, Worf, and Odo all leaving, Sisko defeating Dukat and the Pah Wraiths, Bashir and Ezri finally getting together, and Odo and Kira saying goodbye as Odo helps restore the Changelings to a peaceful race.

With thanks to the moderators of the subreddit Treknobabble.

Which is your favourite Star Trek episode (from any series)? If you'd like to share your love for a particular story, and would like to write about your favourite (either a paragraph or two, or a full blown 500-1500 word article) then please contact us at warpedfactor@live.com and put Trek@50 in the subject bar. We'd love to hear from you.

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