The perfect ‘Star Trek’ episode

On this, the 50th anniversary of the premiere of “Star Trek,” I’d like to offer what I consider to be the quintessential episode of The Original Series. In other words, if I encountered someone who had never seen a single episode of the original “Trek” and was curious as to what all the fuss was about, this is the episode I would recommend to them.

In my opinion, the second-season episode “Friday’s Child,” written by D.C. Fontana and directed by Joseph Pevney, distills everything that is “Star Trek” into one episode.

And before I list those elements, I want to reiterate: I’m not saying this is the best episode of TOS (that would be “Balance of Terror” in my book). I’m simply saying that this episode is like a nightclub recommendation by Stefon: It has everything.

Including:

  • Transporters
  • Phasers
  • Communicators
  • Redshirt death (before the credits!)
  • Klingons
  • Kirk-Spock-McCoy buddy adventure
  • Kirk-Spock-McCoy banter
  • The entire Magnificent (Trek) Seven, including Chekov
  • A MacGuffin alien race that has all sorts of strict punishable-by-death rules and customs that, naturally, make things difficult for our heroes
  • Costumes for said alien race made from scraps picked up at the upholstery store
  • Kirk flirting with babe from said alien race
  • Big-name guest star (Julie Newmar) as Important Alien
  • Spock just saying no to emotions
  • Vulcan neck pinch
  • A McCoy “I’m a doctor, not a …” line (in this case, escalator)
  • All the requisite Star Trek musical cues, including Rousing Fist Fight, Outer Space Intrigue and That Woodwind Piece When Things Get Cute And/Or Babies Show Up
  • Outer space intrigue
  • Enterprise door whooshes
  • Battle stations (with the flashing red “Condition Alert” sign)
  • Extras roaming around the bridge to random, non-existent locations
  • Chekov claiming something popular is from Russia
  • Kirk goading both McCoy and Spock into doing the impossible (“Well, if you can’t do it …” “I didn’t say that, Captain.”)
  • The Prime Directive
  • A mix of soundstage sets and back-lot locations
  • Kirk punching out many opponents
  • Kirk wanting to kill a Klingon just because
  • Kirk saying, “Kirk to Enterprise” into communicator
  • Uhura saying, “Enterprise to Captain Kirk” while wearing that big, silver, 23rd-century Bluetooth earpiece
  • Scotty saying “Aye” a lot
  • Captain’s Log
  • Someone (in this case, Chekov) looking into that mysterious, blue-light scanner device at Spock’s bridge station
  • Papier mâché cliffs and boulders
  • Kirk and Spock MacGyvering weapons out of stuff
  • McCoy getting all badass when he needs to
  • McCoy waving around that twirly medical scanner
  • Uhura reporting a distress signal
  • Sulu taking the ship out of orbit
  • Warp 5 (“Six when she’s ready”)
  • A bridge officer (in this case Scotty) casually signing one of those fat, triangular iPad things while delivering dialogue
  • Kirk and McCoy teasing Spock in the episode tag
  • Laughter on the bridge as the episode fades out

If you were playing Star Trek Bingo, your card would be filled many times over from just this one episode, I guarantee you. Not only that, but it’s just a fun episode.

Happy Birthday, “Star Trek.”

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