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Friday, October 25, 2013


Here's a rundown of the three WORST episodes of "STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES" (as chosen by me) with commentary by a roundtable consisting of some of my distinguished Facebook friends.  (We talked about the three BEST episodes HERE.)

3rd worst "Star Trek: The Original Series" episode of all time--"The Way to Eden", aka "Space Hippies."

Charles Napier and Skip Homeier help make this one a real treat.  Skip plays a charismatic guru conning a bunch of futuristic flower children into thinking there's an Eden planet out there somewhere and they can reach it by hijacking the Enterprise. 

Before  that happens,  however, Spock tunes up the old Vulcan harp and jams with them in an impromptu musical concert that sounds like cats running around on a set of rusty box springs.  The "hippies" in this case are straight out of the DC Comics "Totally-Out-Of-It" notion of how hippies should look, act,  and, God help us,  speak.

    William J Ellingsworth: I want that guitar!
    Ruby Wolf: I always wondered where they got their hair bleach, Nair and make-up in space.
    Porfle Popnecker: Lucille Ball's "Desilu" studios had one of the worst makeup departments imaginable.

    Ruby Wolf: I know, right. Lucy came in as a redhead but by the time they finished with her, everyone was black, white and grey.
    Porfle Popnecker:  Florence Henderson tells of having to get made up for an audition at Desilu and ending up looking like one of "Mudd's Women."
    Richard Von Busack: Oh, my god! I can't wait to see this, knowing Napier is in it!  That's the smile of success!
    Porfle Popnecker: It does help make it one of the cooler "bad" episodes of a TV show.
    Ruby Wolf:  Looks like it was cold in there, too.

    Porfle Popnecker:  He was used to tweaking them for Russ Meyer before every scene.

    Paul Sanchez: I had Napier's same outfit back in my Vegas Disco days.

    Porfle Popnecker: I think he may be wearing it backwards.

    Paul Sanchez: I think SHE is wearing HERS backwards.

    Porfle Popnecker: Not according to NBC Standards and Practices she ain't!

2nd worst "Star Trek: The Original Series" episode of all time--3rd season opener "Spock's Brain."

(Pictured: Marj Dusay of the CBS soap opera "Capitol" feeds Kirk's femdom fantasies while a brain-free Spock waits for someone to jiggle his joystick.)

 The male and female members of this particular race live separately,  with the savage males (the Morg) roughing it topside and the childlike females (the Ey-Morg cared for in a comfortable underground complex by a brain-powered computer. 

Whenever this computer needs a new brain, the head female, Kara (Dusay), has a session with a helmet device called "The Teacher" (shades of FORBIDDEN PLANET), gains temporary intelligence, and goes off looking for a brain to steal.  Which, in this case, just happens to belong to our favorite pointy-eared Vulcan.

While not under the influence of "The Teacher",  these babes are pretty dense--"Brain and brain!  What is brain!"  Kara exclaims at one point as Kirk presses her for information.  He's barking up the wrong tree here.  Spock, meanwhile, is operated by remote control  like a toy robot until he can get his brain back.  Leonard Nimoy, not surprisingly, found the episode "embarrassing."

James Cole: But it's fun! Unintentional side-splitting humor!  "You are not Morg. You are not Ey-Morg! What are you?"

Porfle Popnecker: I love the way Shatner hogs the camera during their "pain" sequences.

Paul Sanchez: Not as much as he does in "Gamesters of Triskelion." [posts picture]

Porfle Popnecker: That's a great pic but I'd have to do a comparison.

James Cole: I actually used a cropped photo of the above for my profile pic!

Porfle Popnecker: It's classic Shatner.

Worst "Star Trek: The Original Series" episode of all time--"The Alternative Factor." 

With guest star Robert Brown ("Here Come the Brides") as "Lazarus."

Blah. Just...blah.

    Harcourt Mudd: Sitting around the break room, playing with the food replicator, and being disappointed there is no live gagh available. And you thought you could have it yourrrrrr way.

    Porfle Popnecker: Lazarus looks like he just smoked a space doobie in this pic.

    Nathan Baxter Simar: He's a late 60s mess.

    Nathan Baxter Simar: I am always struck by how blandly sterile the ship's interior sets were. Do people really live here?

    Porfle Popnecker: Well, it is sort of a science-military work environment. I always thought it was rather pleasant looking.

    Nathan Baxter Simar: It really grates on me. But, then, that's just me.

    Porfle Popnecker: I dig it. Now the first movie, THAT'S blandly sterile looking.

    Nathan Baxter Simar: Yeah, true. And too too disco-y.

    Porfle Popnecker: It looks like they're wearing pajamas inside a fish tank.

    Nathan Baxter Simar: I'd never thought of it that way, but that's a good way of describing it...

    Porfle Popnecker: Surprisingly, I like the J.J. Abrams Enterprise interiors except for Engineering, which is actually the interior of a Budweiser brewery.

    Nathan Baxter Simar: I have gotten to the point where I don't really see sci-fi ship interiors any more that grab me, like they used to when I was a kid and later as a young man.

    Porfle Popnecker:  I like most of them. ALIEN is a fave. And STARSHIP TROOPERS.
    James Cole: Absolutely agree. Worst. Episode. Ever. (Of TOS.) It's in part because a major subplot had to be cut and made the script too short - so they filled it with endless repeating shots of Lazarus running and falling and running and falling...

    Porfle Popnecker: Ugh, I'm starting to relive it now!

    James Cole: The episode always confused and bored me as a kid. It gives me a headache just thinking about it. Among its many faults: WHY DOES KIRK LET THIS RAVING MANIAC JUST WANDER THE SHIP BY HIMSELF?

    Porfle Popnecker: And you had to figure out which Lazarus you were looking at by keeping up with his Band-aid or whatever.
    James Cole: The editing was incomprehensible - and if you look closely, Lazarus's beard on the planet doesn't match how it looks on the ship. It's like twice as thick.

    Porfle Popnecker: The whole episode is twice as thick!
    Paul Sanchez: I kinda liked the basic concept, but yeah. the production of it was a mess.

    Paul Sanchez: And don't diss on ST:The Motion Picture. I love it. Those uniforms were the logical update from the TV show-- practical, yet comfy-- so sure, you could sleep in them too.

   Porfle Popnecker:  All that was missing was the footies!

   Porfle Popnecker: I actually have a much higher opinion of the first movie since the release of the Director's Cut on DVD.

   Paul Sanchez: Oh that cut is great. It all gels. Robert Wise had never made a BAD movie-- when allowed.

   James Cole: Friends of mine worked on the Director's Edition DVD. It's a far superior cut of the movie - it works great.

   Porfle Popnecker: And the addition of a countdown to self-destruct at the end adds some actual old-fashioned suspense like the original series had.

   Paul Sanchez: Porf's fave part is when Chekov gets an owwie and screams like a little girl.

   Porfle Popnecker: Yeah, that's the most thrill-packed moment in the whole movie.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this discussion!  You can check out the follow-up, "The Three Best-Ever Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'" right HERE!



Joseph McGarry said...

I would add one. And The Children Shall Lead. That one is almost universally named as one of the worst, if not the worst, episode ever. I don't know why they cast lawyer Melvin Belli in this episode. It must have been either payback or someone wasn't thinking. Very bad episode.

Stanley said...

I previously commented on your picks for the top 3 episodes, and disagreed with 2 of those choices. I'm afraid that I'll have to do the same here. "The Alternative Factor" is definitely one of the worst episodes. I agree with your group member who said that he found it confusing and boring when he watched it as a kid. I have no love for that episode; there's probably something I could find to like about it...but nothing comes immediately to mind. At the end, doesn't Kirk say, "But what of Lazarus?" and I think, "I could not care less about Lazarus.

As for Brain and Eden, they're not top tier episodes in my opinion, but I prefer them over "And The Children Shall Lead," "Turnabout Intruder," or the one episode that I simply cannot bear to watch, "Plato's Stepchildren." The latter has great actors (especially Michael Dunn and Barbara Babcock) and an interesting concept, but trying to watch the thing is akin to having your teeth sawed off at the gumline with a dull handsaw.

Thanks for sharing your worst picks--and letting me rant a little about mine.