Star Trek the original series season 1 is currently available on Instant Netflix. These are the remastered high-definition episodes. While they are not as good as the Blu-Ray discs, the visuals are astounding if what you are used to is either memories of the old series or the Columbia House VHS/DVD transfer. The audio has been given a huge boost as well. Season two is my favorite as it contains most of my favorite episodes – hopefully Netflix will release this on Instant at some point. On the other hand if Netflix releases too much Star Trek on Instant then I’ll never get any work done. There are many excellent episodes in Season 1 – here are a few of my favorites:
1. Space Seed – “In this prequel to the film Star Trek II, the Enterprise encounters a group of brutal superhumans led by Khan Noonien Singh. Khan battles Kirk for control of the ship and turns a trusted crew member against Starfleet. Ricardo Montalban guest stars”
Ricardo Montalban’s florid style of acting goes well with the arrogance of Khan’s character. Interesting goof is that Chekov recognizes Khan’s ship, The Botany Bay in the movie Star Trek II even though Chekov doesn’t appear in Star Trek TOS until the second season. An old Starlog cartoon pokes fun at this by showing Khan and Chekov meeting in the Enterprise bathroom.
2. Balance of Terror – “The Enterprise pursues a Romulan warbird after it destroys several Federation outposts. The physical similarities between Vulcans and Romulans spark bigotry against Spock by a racist human member of the Enterprise crew. Mark Lenard guest stars”
My favorite episode of Season 1, this one plays out almost exactly like a WW2 submarine movie. Very tense episode and our first look at the Romulans. Mark Lenard is excellent as the Romulan commander but it is a bit disconcerting when we see him later as Sarek.
3. The Galileo Seven – “Spock, Bones, Scotty and several crew members crash-land a shuttlecraft on a planet where they’re attacked by deadly giants. In a race against time, Spock risks his and the lives of the other survivors for a slim and dangerous chance at a rescue”
This episode really gives Leonard Nimoy a chance to shine. Another very tense exciting episode, this is another retelling of Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo.
4. Arena – “Aliens abduct Kirk and a Gorn, a large, violent, lizardlike humanoid. For a chance to save the lives of their crews, the aliens order Kirk and the Gorn to fight to the death. But Kirk won’t agree to being some alien bullies’ space gladiator”
William Shatner’s turn to shine as Kirk goes mano a Gorn while the rest of the crew spectate. The one problem with the high definition transfers is that it’s hard not to laugh when they cut from Shatner to a very obvious stunt double. On the other hand, the Gorn does appear to do all of his own stunts.
5. The Devil in the Dark – “When a bizarre monster kills several men at a mining colony, Kirk and Spock beam down to investigate. Through a Vulcan mind-meld, Spock learns the creature is intelligent and has a valid motive for its murderous actions against the miners.”
The Devil in the Dark takes a classic monster scenario and turns it into a morality tale (something Star Trek has always been good at). This episode also features one of Bones’ classic “I’m a doctor not a…” comments.