Star Trek TOS s01e03 Where No Man Has Gone Before

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The second pilot, and first episode filmed featuring William Shatner as “James R. Kirk”, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” very nearly captures all the elements that make up Star Trek.  Noticeably absent from the mix, and to the detriment of the show’s chemistry, is Dr. Leonard McCoy whose brash demeanor and unabashed emotional displays serve to counterbalance Spock’s otherworldy logical exterior. Not to say the episode is without merit, far from it. There are some great performances and it’s far more cohesive than the first pilot under Jeffrey Hunter‘s Christopher Pike. But the episode feels incomplete. The chief medical officer in this episode is Mark Piper played by Mark Fix, a veteran of Westerns and Frontier movies. His inclusion is demonstrative of the original pitch of Star Trek as “Wagon Train” in space. His performance comes across as a ‘wise old man’ there to dish out advice to the young adventuring protagonist, but without being integral to the action, the way McCoy would prove to be time and again. He is calm and grandfatherly, much like Dr. Boyce in the first pilot. This doesn’t work on two levels. The Enterprise is on a mission of exploration. It is dangerous and they are equipped for war. Pitting this doctor as the human side of Kirk’s moral compass would be like seating a social worker next to the Captain’s chair. (No disrespect to Mirina Sirtis. Some of my best friends are social workers)

The "R." stands for "Retcon".

The “R.” stands for “Retcon”.

There’s a lot In this episode that comes across as clunky. It is obvious from the start that they were still finding their feet. Yet the episode remains a favourite for many with some iconic moments and a truly memorable villain in Gary Mitchell. While they had not yet found their feet, the foundation on which they stood was solid and they were clearly poised to create magic.

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Star Trek TOS s01e02 Charlie X

Charlie X is regarded by many to be a seminal episode of the original series. I have heard, on more than one occasion, friends state that this was their favourite episode. Upon viewing it again, I can certainly see why. The episode has a great mix of humour, suspense, and mystery, all woven around the awkwardly relatable title character who is suffering the pangs of teenage angst, hormonal urges, unconstrained omnipotence.

Most of us have been teenagers at one point, and some of us even remember our teenage years. Often fondly, through rose tinted glasses, putting aside the hardships and agony we endured in order to store up a few nostalgic memories. (Notice to teenagers: Don’t let anybody tell you it’s just a phase.)

"He's a boy in a man's body, trying to be an adult with the adolescence in him getting in the way." - Kirk

“He’s a boy in a man’s body, trying to be an adult with the adolescence in him getting in the way.” – Kirk

Being a teenager sucks. And it’s amazing. There is so much that we experience for the first time, so much to learn about the world that we don’t understand, and so much that we understand implicitly in spite of the adult world telling us that we don’t. It is a point in our lives where we stop being shaped and start to choose how to shape our own idendity. We begin to choose what lesson we learn and who we learn them from. Teenagehood is complicated and painful, and this is something D.C. Fontana and Gene Roddenberry conveyed on a profound level.
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