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9/4/11

Star Trek's 45th Anniversary, Pt. 1

 

As we close in on the 45th anniversary of Star Trek's premiere, I've been thinking about all the Star Trek episodes and movies that have been made. Counting the films and animated series, there are 737 hours of Star Trek. I've tried to pick the 45 best stories, one for each year of Star Trek's existence. I'll be posting them over the next few days. Tell me what you think of my list, and feel free to post your own. Without further ado, here's the first installment of the Forty-Five Best Treks Ever, IMHO:

45. The Defector (TNG)
Picard must decide whether to violate the Neutral Zone based on a warning from a mysterious Romulan defector. James Sloyan gives a strong performance as the defector, Jarok, while the subplot exposes Data to the benefits and difficulties of relying on human instinct instead of fact. The late Andreas Katsulas reprises his role as the smug Commander Tomalok.

44. The Siege of AR-558 (DS9)
Nog looses a leg when the crew of Defiant are trapped on a remote communications post during a Dominion attack. Deep Space Nine set itself apart by depicting the darker side of life in the Federation, and this grim war story displayed the show's willingness to do permanent harm to it's central characters. Billy Mumy (Lost in Space, Babylon 5) has a nice guest role.

43. Second Skin (DS9)
Kira wakes up as a Cardassian, and is told that she's been a sleeper agent, and her life as Kira Nerys was just a cover. DS9 did a wonderful job of torturing its characters, and this episode was a good example as Kira begins to questions all her assumptions about the Cardassians.

42. Sins of the Father (TNG)
Worf's brother reveals that their father has been posthumously accused of treason, and they travel to the Klingon homeworld to defend their family honor. Michael Dorn and Patrick Stewart own this episode as Worf faces trial in the Klingon court while Picard tries to discover the truth. This was the beginning of Star Trek's first real story arc, where everything wasn't resolved neatly at the end of the episode.

41. Star Trek (2009 Movie)
Director J.J. Abrams reboots the Star Trek universe in an alternate timeline where Kirk and Spock are rivals before becoming friends. While there's definite room for improvement, this film infused the Star Trek franchise with a sense of drama and passion that had been missing for over a decade.

40. The Tholian Web (TOS)
Spock and McCoy think Kirk is dead, and must figure out how to save the ship and crew from the Tholians. One of the few great episodes of the orginal Trek's third season, "The Tholian Web" showcased the Spock/McCoy dynamic in all its glory. It also provided part of the basis for one of Enterprise's high points, the "In a Mirror, Darkly" two-parter.

39. Dear Doctor (Enterprise)
Archer and Phlox disagree over whether or not to supply a cure to an alien race. Enterprise was at its best when it showed the genesis of the things we take for granted in the later Treks. All of the philosophical debates over Starfleet's Prime Directive began here. Superb performances by John Billingsley and Scott Bakula make this one of Enterprise's few great moments.

38. Rocks and Shoals (DS9)
Sisko and crew must serve as executioners when a treacherous Vorta offers them their only chance to escape after being marooned behind enemy lines. TOS invented the Romulans and Klingons, and TNG the Borg and Ferengi. DS9's great contribution to Trek's illustrious list of alien cultures is the Dominion with its multi-layered society of Jem'Hadar, Vorta, and Founders. "Rocks and Shoals" manages to turn the Jem'Hadar into perfect soldiers, and our heroes into the villains of the piece.

37. Timeless (Voyager)
An accident with a slipstream drive sends Harry Kim and Chakotay back to Earth, but destroys Voyager. Voyager's 100th episode demonstrates that Garrett Wang was woefully underused in the series. Wang carries the episode with a manic obsessive intensity as Harry is intent on correcting his mistake, and rises above the plot which borrows a little too much from Ellison's "City on the Edge of Forever." A cameo by director LeVar Burton as Captain LaForge adds a nice touch.

36. Cause and Effect (TNG)
The crew experiences the destruction of the Enterprise over and over again when they are caught in a time loop. Brannon Braga contributes a brilliant high-concept idea, which is directed flawlessly by Jonathan Frakes. A myriad of tiny details make the storyline stand up to repeated viewings when it ought to be annoyingly repetitious.

I'll post the next part of the countdown tomorrow. Click here to comment on this post.

 

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