02nd Jun2017

Trek to the Past – Star Trek: TOS Season One in Review

by James Morrell

Star Trek is probably the most successful science fiction franchise of all time spanning six decades of science fiction storytelling. In the series, I will be looking at the highlights of all the past episodes from each season of all five TV shows that went before leading up to the new series Star Trek: Discovery that will be airing in the fall of 2017.

Star Trek: The Original Series – Season One

Original Broadcast: (September 8th 1966 – April 29th 1967)

st-tos-cast

Development

After a failed attempt at selling Star Trek to NBC with the pilot ‘The Cage’, starring Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike, NBC told Gene Roddenberry to film a second pilot with a more “action & adventure” orientated plot – which was unheard of at the time. Roddenberry complied and wrote two story outlines: one being ‘Mudd’s Women’ and the second being ‘The Omega Glory’ both of which were produced later on the series’ run; with ‘Mudd’s Women’ becoming the second episode in the regular series run and with the latter being apart of Season Two.

Roddenberry asked his long time writing friend Samuel Peeples to write a story outline and a teleplay which was titled ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before.’ NBC executives liked this and it was commissioned; and filming on the pilot started on July 19th 1965.

Most of the elements of the pilot never made it to the regular series run – like the uniforms, weapons. Most of the cast made their first appearances: like Captain Kirk, Scotty and Sulu which would carry onto the regular series, Spock was the only character that was brought over from the rejected pilot, but Paul Fix who played Doctor Mark Piper was replaced by DeForest Kelley as Dr Leonard McCoy and Sulu was moved from Physicist to Helmsman after the helmsman in the pilot was killed.

After the pilot got the OK from NBC executives they gave Roddenberry an episode order of 16 episodes, which was later expanded to another 13 episodes, which took the episode total up to 29 episodes – including the pilot episode.

Music

Due to the low budget of the show, the series’ dramatic scores were ‘tracked’ music or music written especially for a number of episodes in Season One but were later reused for episodes throughout the series run. Only 31 Star Trek episodes, throughout the series run, had complete scores that were especially written for them.

The theme tune had two different slightly different versions of the theme. In the early episodes of the first season there was a version  that had an electric violin playing the melodic line but then after half way through the first season they re-recorded the theme with the female vocals playing the melodic line.

Writers

The writing staff on the first series of Star Trek were already experienced with writing for television and ultimately wrote some of the best episodes from this season. For example Gene L. Coon, who wrote five episodes from this season: a lot of which became fan favourites  – ‘Arena’ which featured the famous fight between Captain Kirk and The Gorn, which is just as epic as it sounds and was the first episode I saw as a kid; ‘Space Seed’ which featured my favourite recurring Star Trek villain Khan; ‘Taste of Armageddon’; ‘The Devil in the Dark’ and ‘Errand of Mercy,’ which the Klingons made their glorious first appearance in Star Trek. The show also had a female writer on the show, which was unheard in the 1960s… D. C Fontana, like Coon, would go on to be a prolific Star Trek writer, later writing for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The episodes she wrote in the first season were ‘Charlie X’, ‘Tomorrow is Yesterday’ and ‘This Side of Paradise’ which are pretty solid episodes in this season. Another writer that had written some standout episodes in this season was Paul Schneider, who wrote one of my personal favourites in this season: ‘Balance of Terror,’ which featured the first appearance of the Romulans. It’s basically a submarine battle in space between the USS Enterprise and the lone Romulan warship and watching Kirk out-manoeuvre his enemy in battle is well worth the watch. He also wrote ‘The Squire of Gothos’ which was a precursor of ‘Q’ – who has magnificent powers and plays deadly games with the crew of the USS Enterprise just for his own amusement. It’s such a shame Schneider never wrote any more episodes after this one.
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Season One Regular Cast

William Shatner – Captain James T Kirk (Commanding Officer)
Leonard Nimoy – Lt Commander Spock (1st Officer & Science Officer)
DeForest Kelley – Doctor Leonard McCoy (Chief Medical Officer)
James Doohan – Lt Commander Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott (Chief Engineer)
George Takei – Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (Helmsman)
Nichelle Nichols – Lieutenant Nyota Uhura (Communications Officer)
Grace Lee Whitney – Yeoman Janis Rand
Bruce Hyde – Lieutenant Kevin Riley (Navigator)
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Top 5 Episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series – Season One

5) ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’

This episode was always personal favourite of mine. It’s just a well written episode, on a low budget, with lots of action and I like Kirk’s dilemma between his best friend or the safety for his ship; and we see the genesis of the Kirk and Spock friendship at the end of the episode. I felt that the actor who played the role of Doctor Piper was a bit off though, I’m glad he was replaced by Doctor McCoy in the following episode, when the show started regular production.

4) ‘The Devil in the Dark’

A classic fan favourite written by Gene L. Coon, who is one of my favourite Star Trek writers. I like how he didn’t show the monster until later on into the episode and the audience were just shown bits here and there. The monster may look like a mindless killer at first glanc,e before Spock mind melded with creature, and in my opinion this is the best use of the mind meld as plot device in the series. Great episode to start if you’ve not seen Star Trek before.

3) ‘Balance of Terror’

Like I said before in this article It’s basically a submarine battle in space between the USS Enterprise and the lone Romulan warship; as we watch Kirk out-manoeuvre his enemy in battle. What’s not to love about this episode? It’s well worth the watch.

2) ‘The City on the Edge of Forever’

Very thought provoking episode that deals with time travel – if you mess with the past and you risk messing with the future. And you really feel for Kirk when Edith is killed at the end of the episode which brings a tear to my eye every time.

1) ‘Space Seed’

Khan is one of the best villains in Star Trek history in my opinion. This is one of those brilliant stand out episodes and you probably were expecting ‘The City on the Edge of Forever’ (which is still a excellent episode) as my number one, but no this is my favourite of this season and it has a good end fight scene in engineering. Watch out for Kirk and Khan’s stunt doubles!

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