My last day of school was June 3. I set a goal for myself to watch an episode of the original Star Trek every day during my break. Just for kicks, to spur my creativity during the slow summer hours, I also decided to write a haiku for each episode on a screenshot. I was disheartened to realize that there are 79 episodes featuring Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, while I only have six weeks off. Nonetheless, I kept working toward my goal.
Today marks the halfway point. The 40th episode, “Friday’s Child”, has now been screenshotted, written, and posted. I’ve managed to watch Star Trek every day. Most days, it’s one complete episode, though I doubled up here and there in order to stay ahead if needed. One day, I only managed to watch half an episode, but all in all, I’m pleased with my progress so far. I’ve never watched the entire show in order like this, and most episodes either I’ve never seen, or don’t have any memory of watching. The viewing has been quite enjoyable, as I expected. Taking the screenshots and writing the haikus has been even more fun than I thought it would be.
If you look around for the “best” Star Trek episodes, you’ll find that most of them are from Season 1 and the first half of Season 2. Thus, I’ve already watched most of the “best”. Looking forward, only “The Trouble with Tribbles” and “The Tholian Web” are generally thought of as being standout episodes. Few indeed are the TV shows that get better, and not worse, the longer they run, and it would appear Star Trek is no exception. Some of the “worst” of Trek is yet to come, including most notably “Spock’s Brain” which I’ve never seen but cannot wait to experience for the first time. I’m somewhat concerned that it will be hard to get through Season 3 in particular, but momentum is on my side at this point.
There’s a decades-long debate over which is best, Star Wars, or Star Trek. Usually, I answer Star Wars. Jedi Knight and X-wings and Darth Vader have had a huge effect on me since I was a kid. I’ve always enjoyed Star Trek, sure, but I’ve never had the same fondness for it. However, with a daily dose of Trek this summer, I have grown to love it just as much. Really, Star Wars and Star Trek are totally different from one another. Star Wars is a space opera, an action adventure with some sci-fi trappings here and there. Star Trek is more “hard” science fiction, and explores some heady ideas and concepts that Star Wars isn’t concerned with. It’s more cerebral, if you can say that without seeming snobby. I love it when problems are solved by lightsabers and trench runs as much as the next guy, but in Trek there are conflicts that can’t be solved with phasers, proton torpedos, or fists (though Kirk always tries punching if he can). Picking Star Wars or Star Trek as a favorite is as impossible as picking my favorite child; I love them both equally, yet differently, paradoxical as that may be.
A few random thoughts to wrap this post up:
- Kirk and Spock are great characters, but my favorite is Bones, hands down. McCoy doesn’t get nearly the screen time as the other two, but he always makes the most of it when he does. When he says “I’m a doctor, not a…” it brings a smile to my face. “Friday’s Child”, “Devil in the Dark”, and “Shore Leave” are standout episodes for DeForest Kelley, absolutely worth viewing if you love Bones. (I also adore Karl Urban’s version of the character.)
- Taking a screenshot of each episode made me much more aware of the way the show was photographed. There are some truly stunning shots in nearly every episode. The sets, lighting, costumes, and makeup are fantastic, especially considering they are nearly fifty years old. The use of color in the series, in particular, is truly great. I can only imagine that as color TVs were adopted, Star Trek was one of the most impressive shows to watch.
- I’ve been watching on Netflix, and all but one episode (“Obsession”) has been the remastered version. I don’t want to get into a debate over the merits of remastering here, but I appreciate far more what was done with these Star Trek episodes than I do the changes George Lucas made to the original trilogy. For the most part, the new effects are excellent, and blend in well. The only exceptions are the shuttle craft scenes. They don’t look nearly as good as the Enterprise shots. My favorite alterations were in “The Doomsday Machine”. The titular planet devourer is jaw-droppingly impressive in the remastered version.
So far, I’ve loved my little summer project, and look forward to finishing it up on August 21, 39 days from now. I’ll share my own personal top ten episodes at that point. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@marcallie) or check out the Star Trek Haiku gallery for daily updates!