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Star Trek Season Three (3) of the Original Series STTOS – A Theory of What Killed the Original Star Trek

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury –

I put it to you – that the classic Star Trek television series was primarily killed off from a mortal wound suffered by leading off season three with the episode “Spock’s Brain”.

Star Trek Starbase 11 courtroom

When a presentation is made – it is best to lead off with the strongest point up front.

“Cut to the chase” is a long time standard to grab an audience and keep a television program, feature film, speech, business presentation, elevator pitch, and even a novel seem interesting and exciting to keep your attention.

Think of every James Bond movie you have ever seen. How do they all begin? An exciting scene of a chase – or explosions – or a combination of both. Every great movie, book, and even a song starts off with a strong hook to capture the audience right off.

There is only one question I have about the original NBC television series of Star Trek that I would love to have a definitive answer…

Who was the moron that scheduled the lead off episode of season three to be “Spock’s Brain”?

Some argue that the death of the original series of Star Trek was NBC changing the schedule to have Star Trek show on a Friday night. Airing on that very night that begins the weekend when their young and hip audience would be out on the town being young and hip and watching each other for fun – while their interest at the moment is not in watching a television show targeted to the young and hip!

Star Trek Enterprise Incident Series Three

Bollocks!

When a new series airs or it is the first episode of the season in a continuing series – the first episode is most important. It must start out with a BANG! The third season of the original Star Trek started off with the most clumsy episode of Star Trek ever made. It should have been hidden well back in the episode airings for that season.

The second episode of Star Trek’s season 3 was “The Enterprise Incident” written by the series script supervisor D.C. Fontana.

Not only was that episode exciting and well written; the dialog was perfect and exquisite, the characters had great substance as well as the brilliant casting of actors.

It is my educated and experienced belief that if the third series of Star Trek would have led off with “The Enterprise Incident” first for that season – there would have been a forth season of Star Trek.

Consider the British movie “Trainspotting” – it immediately begins with a chase and forces excitement while introducing the primary characters. While that movie did not impress me and is not my cup of tea … it did a great job of jumping right in like any great storytelling does. No matter the media – film, print, broadcast, etc …

The Star Trek episode of “The Enterprise Incident” did just that. Jumped right into the action!

Best Star Trek Episode EVER – “The Enterprise Incident”

Captain Kirk explodes onto the bridge and something is wrong with him – William Shatner is doing his best shatnerizing and it is easy to tell!

The episode teaser before the theme sequence of just two or so minutes ends with not only a serious violation of the Federation rules because Captain Kirk has obviously gone nuts, the Enterprise finds itself surrounded by enemy Romulan ships. Also – the audience being shocked that the Romulans are now using Klingon designs for their ships. These ships appear out of nowhere using a cloaking device!

Star Trek Captain Kirk goes nutsJust two minutes into this episode – Kirk has gone nuts and orders the Enterprise to violate a treaty – the Romulans show up in Klingon ships – Scotty shows up and is freaked out – Spock is a bit freaked out … All heck is about to break out!

The rest of the episode is just one mind blowing event that leads into another!

Captain Kirk has gone bonkers … the Romulan commander is a woman of epic eye candy … Spock rats out Kirk as nuts … Spock and the Romulan commander babe start getting the vapors … Spock kills Captain Kirk !?! … it is revealed that it is in fact a secret mission … Kirk disguises himself as a Romulan … the Romulan commander entertains Spock and gets into something more “comfortable” … Spock is STIMULATED and they drink Romulan ale from funky square tumblers … Spock gets ratted out … the Romulan commander is now a woman scorned! … Spock is going to be executed … and so on and so forth …

Star Trek Spock enjoys Romulan ale

Would that not make a great start to a season of a beloved television show to the fans on a first run?

But – Nooooooo … They make “Spock’s Brain” the lead off episode!

They start off with the worst episode ever in the series. Slow starting bad teaser … stupid dialog … clumsy editing … terrible premise … goofy premise … it is so painful to watch these actors who have fleshed out such good characters do their best with such a bad story and dialog.

Star Trek The Enterprise Incident Spock romance with the Romulan CommanderMany young fans say the third season of classic Star Trek had all the bad episodes …

MANY say (even Star Trek Fans) that season three of the original Star Trek was the worst ever …

Not true! Consider this …

While I agree that season three of the classic Star Trek DID have some real boner episodes, some of the best television of that year was seen in that third season …

Let’s go through each of the third season Star Trek episodes and take all things into consideration:

Star Trek Original Series – Third Season:

In episode broadcast order in 1968/1969:

“Spock’s Brain”

Yes – The worst episode of Star Trek.

“The Enterprise Incident”

The best episode of Star Trek ever produced! Should have been the first episode of season three.

“The Paradise Syndrome”

An excellent example of the classic Star Trek. Time travel with a connection to ancient Earth and a great story of love, jealousy, and happiness with a dash of irony. I would have put that as the third episode of the season if i were the programmer.

“And The Children Shall Lead”

Interesting – but one of those episodes that had a great premise while lacking the best in story telling.

“Is There In Truth No Beauty”

A good idea and very interesting. Some people think of it as one of those less than best episodes.

“Spectre Of The Gun”

While I can appreciate this episode, it rates as the second worst Star Trek episode just before “Spock’s Brain” and helps give the third season its bad reputation.

“Day Of The Dove”

GREAT episode and also defining to the Star Trek universe.

This should have been the second episode in season three of Star Trek. It is not only an exciting episode full of action – the premise is very good and has a great moral story. It also has Kingons with swords!

“For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky”

One of my favorite episodes. Good story, great cast, and great dialog. Not only is there great action, it has a very touching element of a love story. It seems like a season two episode!

“The Tholian Web”

A defining episode of what made Star Trek great.

“Plato’s Stepchildren”

Another one of those episodes that tried to find a higher concept. Yet – it lacked in providing a good script, story and dialog. Painful to watch Kirk and Spock dance.

“Wink Of An Eye”

A well done episode and a great premise. Lots of action and interesting manipulation of jealousy.

“The Empath”

Good try. Well made – but too high a concept for a one hour television show to truly explore.

“Elaan Of Troyius”

Fantastic! A defining episode of what made Star Trek such a great show.

A perfect balance of drama, comedy, plot twist, action, adventure, wonder and personal interaction. As well as Kirk getting something more out of the situation! It also had an interesting moral to the story – devotion to duty.

“Whom Gods Destroy”

I found this episode to be another definitive episode. Not the best – not the worst – but … definitive to the spirit of what made Star Trek a great show.

“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”

This episode could have fell over the edge – but it didn’t. Consider the times when it was broadcast. It made a great statement and is one of my favorite episodes.

I just wished they didn’t use such heavy MIME makeup and went for more realistic skin tones … The overdone makeup was almost clownish which is the reason it could have been a disaster.

“The Mark Of Gideon”

A great concept of the moment where people were very afraid of overpopulation at the time. This episode falls just within the boundaries of a definitive Star Trek episode … just barely in my opinion.

“That Which Survives”

This episode really freaked me out when I saw it as a young teen in first syndication run in the early 1970s. It is certainly a good episode. Since then, I see it as an average episode in an above average TV series.

It does contain my favorite moment with Spock. It was during the teaser when everyone on the bridge was thrown around a bit – and after the shaking up, Uhura asks Spock what happened.

“The Lights Of Zetar”

A well done episode that sheds some light on the structure of the Star Trek universe. Good drama and premise. Feels like a second season episode to me.

“Requiem For Methuselah”

Another defining series episode. Such a great concept of what would happen if there was an ancient immortal human who was from across Earth’s history. This was well before the movie “Highlander” came out in 1986.

This episode brought life changing concepts into my 13 year old mind seeing it while I was in the 8th grade when it was first run in television syndication. That would be around the summer of 1974 when I was longing to find such a meaningful relationship.

“The Way To Eden”

Space hippies? Am I herbert? I am not Herbert. OK – sometimes television seeks to grab onto the latest happenings. I can forgive them. SciFi has always been a vehicle for taking present troubles into a way to give a possible solution.

This episode did redeem itself for having great dialog and story. A great balancing act like “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” … BUT – not as an important concept … maybe it was? And we also get to see and hear Spock jam with a hippie band!

Star Trek - All Our YesterdaysONE … yes Spock … I am ONE

“The Cloud Minders”

Another great episode that seemed to be from the second season. Great concept and action.

“The Savage Curtain”

Ugh … The definitive episode that made the audience think season three was all bad …

“All Our Yesterdays”

BRILLIANT! One of the top episodes.

Beyond definitive in what made Star Trek such a great television show. So much goes on in this episode with concept, story, dialog and classic Scifi at its best!

This episode also had some of the best moments of acting in television history!

“Turnabout Intruder”

Yet another best episode of classic Star Trek …

I remember reading that William Shatner had become very ill and ran a high fever while this episode was filming.

Yet – it is undetectable in Shatner’s performance … or maybe his condition was enhanced by his illness?

The story did call for him to take on a different character and was a stretch and challenge for any actor to achieve.

Stunning that this was the final episode ever.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury –

Do you see that season three of the classic Star Trek is not all bad?

While NBC did have a hand in killing the classic television show “Star Trek” in a classical sense where networks do make terrible and misguided decisions in their programming …

I put it to YOU – the factual narrative in this argument would be – that the popular concept of why Star Trek was cancelled by NBC is in error.

The actual cause to the cancellation of the classic Star Trek television series was in fact in the moronic decision to have the episode “Spock’s Brain” as the lead off to season three.

I put it to you that the third season of the classic Star Trek was mostly made up of some of the best episodes ever! And the third season of the classic Star Trek series is perhaps the best programming the television industry has ever offered the viewing public!

AND – If such an episode as “The Enterprise Incident” was allowed to be the lead off episode in season three – it would have created sufficient interest and momentum into the 3rd season of Star Trek.

With such a well made episode to open the third season so strongly, Star Trek would have held the audience and fans regardless of the shift in the schedule to Fridays nights. And with that momentum – the show would have achieved greater interest to the public and fans.

The obvious results would have at the very least resulted in a forth season of Star Trek !!!

One moronic decision in programming the wrong season lead off episode deprived us of a fourth season of the classic Star Trek !

I rest my case …

*whew* … Wasn’t that fun?!?

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