Trektember 2016: Season One Retrospective

Well, that’s it.  We did it.  (Did what?  If you missed the entirety of Trektember, click here)

Twenty-eight episodes and one podcast in the can; boy, was it a ride.

I’m going to offer up my Top Three and Bottom Three episodes later on, but first I want to talk about what I learned.

What I learned about Star Trek

Season 1 of TOS is a somewhat uneven season (though there’s a definite climb when you watch it in production order).  Some episodes are essentially retreads of concepts already committed to film.  The characters aren’t all there yet (Bones and Uhura don’t show up until a couple of episodes in; Chekov is notably absent all season).  The terminology and lore hasn’t quite settled down (phasers with burst fire?  No Klingons until Episode 26?).  For a Trek fan who has been steeped in the franchise my entire life, it’s like watching home video of your parents learning to walk.

Still, it’s an incredibly good season.  I cleansed my palate of Star Trek during Trektember by rewatching season one of Stargate SG-1.  And – vfx aside – there is nothing as good as Trek in that season.  Trek is unique and interesting in every episode, even if it isn’t as good as it could be.  Even season 1 of TOS is brilliant.

And, although some important developments (like the aforementioned Chekov, Tribbles, the Mirror Universe, the famous interracial kiss, the famous half-black-half-white alien racists, and the infamous “Spock’s Brain”) don’t show up until season two or season three, the fact that it’s already Star Trek is very evident.  The core of what Trek is has seeped into the minds of the writers.  And most of the episodes still hold up today.

It also does a great job of hiding its deeper meaning, not only for people from the 60s, but for the thoughts and emotion that are locked within us all.

But that repetitive music has got to stop.

What I learned about myself, God, and Redeeming Culture

I’m not good at sticking with things.  On my own, this month would have started with two half-baked articles, one really late half-baked article, and then radio silence for three weeks.

But God maintained me, restoring me and giving me the energy to write.  He kept (and keeps) me awake through bad episodes and bad articles, giving me words and concepts through family and friends when I don’t think I have a good angle on the concept.

This month was also great practice for Redeeming Culture going forward, providing concepts about new ways to approach writing and new ways to examine old ones.

The Best and Worst: Bottom Three

My least favorite episodes of season 1 are simple to choose, though I might change my mind.  If you disagree, please let us know what your bottom three might be.

  •  The Alternative Factor.  I usually like alternate universe stories, but not when it’s this slow-plodding.  Nothing happens in this episode!
  • Mudd’s Women.  Misogynistic and uneven, with a confusing message and a worse twist.
  • The Man Trap.  In a lot of ways, this episode is just trying to be a standard old sci-fi show, with a kooky monster and a light horror plot.  But it isn’t Star Trek, and I think it was a poor choice for the world’s intro to the franchise.

The Best and Worst: Top Three

My favorite three episodes are hard to come up with, but they’re all from late in the production run.  Again, if you disagree, please comment with your picks!

  • The Return of the Archons. A beauty that explores the nature of free will, as only Trek can do it.
  • A Taste of Armageddon. Kirk’s surprise “third option” choice at the end is a daring selection, and he proves who he is in remarkable form.
  • The City on the Edge of Forever. Who doesn’t place this as their favorite? It’s time travel (which I always love), and Ellison wrote a compelling, beautiful, thought-provoking story along with it.

What’s next?

In the short run, back to normal!  No more daily Trek posts.  My gift to you.  Happy October.

But in the long run, I’ll give you a hint: there’s a certain show that will reach its 30th anniversary next Trektember.

Thanks for reading, make sure you check out the rest of Trektember, and looking forward to hearing from you soon!

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