10 Most Embarrassing Episodes


Cringe-worthy..."why did they make it?"...in broadcast order:

1. The Man Trap
2. Mudd's Women
3. Operation: Annihilate!
4. A Piece of the Action
5. Patterns of Force
6. The Omega Glory
7. Spock's Brain
8. And the Children Shall Lead
9. Plato's Stepchildren
10. The Way to Eden

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I'd be interested in an explanation. I thought Mudd's Women made a rather important message about equality even if late in the episode. Operation Annihilate was a pretty good restatement of the Puppet Masters and some good stuff about the Kirk-Spock-McCoy relationship. Not much in the way of SF but A Piece of the Action was pretty good farce showcasing Vic Tayback, Anthony Caruso, and others. People need to get over The Omega Glory. Not a great episode but reducing it to Kirk reciting the Pledge of Allegiance does not do it justice. DeForest Kelley maintained that material was filmed implying that Omega IV was previously visited by Earthmen hence the American flag then not making the final edit. Roddenberry did have a failing in that he preferred style over substance so a fair number of episodes have holes in them. A number of very mediocre episodes on your list but would only put And the Children Shall Lead down as purely unwatchable.

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Spock's Brain was really hokey. He has no brain, yet McCoy could make him walk like a robot including ratcheting mechanical noises...

Plato's Stepchildren wasn't a bad story, but was really hokey in the way Spock and Kirk were forced to act under Parmesan's command. Hard to watch.

Keeping with the hokey theme, I, Mudd (not on OP's list) was hokey as well. The "whistling finger" phasers were enough to make me laugh, and not in a good way.

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Like I said most of the mentioned episodes were mediocre. A schism between the sexes would have been an interesting idea to explore without the nonsense about Spock. I don't know how much 1960's television standards and practices played into the final product of Spock's Brain. Maybe it could have been done along the lines of Bread and Circuses but then again the idea would have been stale for SB. Very little meat on the bone for Plato's Stepchildren. We had already seen other examples of "absolute power corrupts absolutely" with ST before PS.

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That really wouldn't have worked. It is established that the natives have extraordinarily long lives. It is also implied that the war is generations ago. The one Com that is questioned is over 400 years old. The original series occurs around the mid 23rd century. Even one generation old would put the supposed Americans into the 19th century.

While I find the episode fun, it is not very logical.

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The war was from generations ago but outsiders such as Earthmen could have changed the nature of it. Just as the US changed the nature of the conflict among European nations during the Cold War. Perhaps the only time that an alliance between Britain and France had some body and strength to it. Also, the Cold War finally gave France a buffer to the East which also at the same time discouraged any notion of France warring with its eastern neighbors. On top of it all the nature of conflict shifted from territorial ambitions to one of prevailing political philosophy. Could be the conflict on Omega IV was something more simple such as a territory grab but changed into a political fight.

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I'm sorry that really doesn't make sense to me. As portrayed in the episode (which i freely admit doesn't make any logical sense either), the declaration and flag was mythical to the Yangs; by that I mean part of their very character. You don't reach that is a single generation.

No, I think this was just a poorly conceived episode intending to illustrate the destructive nature of ideologies. I don't actually believe that this is the inevitable conclusion of opposed ideologies; but it was, and is, a fairly common trope.

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I would pull A Piece of the Action out of the list. Admittedly it's a one-off comical episode, but it's pretty good

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I love A Piece of the Action. Kirk puts his quick thinking skills on display again when he plays cards with the gangsters.

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I will always be convinced that the only reason this episode was made was to allow the studio to save money by using pre-existing sets and wardrobe.

I can still respect that some people enjoy the episode, but I remember being hugely offended when I first saw it 40+ years ago.

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That's actually true during the production of TOS the staff used to just create silly scripts so they could reuse assets from other shows and save money.

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"The Way to Eden" could have been good, if they hadn't made the rebellious youth just poor hippie caricatures that real hippies wouldn't have recognized. Undoubtedly some idealistic young people in the Federation might indeed have qualms about such a technological society, wondering if basic humanity might get lost inside of it. The Ultimate Computer" was one reaction to that, a thoughtful study of what is required to be a captain, a leader, for instance. Humanity has always had a streak of yearning for a pastoral Earthly Paradise--look at all the brilliant poetry written about it! If they had made those youthful rebels more thoughtful, more concerned & reflective, they might actually have had a worthwhile episode. But their bad, heavy-handed "generation gap" story just didn't work.

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You are not Herbert. We reach.

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I can only crack my knuckles and jump for joy at such praise, my friend. :)

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All are lesser espisodes with the exception of #6 The Omega Glory.

While I agree the sci-fi aspect is too fantastic to be plausible. I really enjoyed the interesting plot, the corrupted semi mad Captain Tracey, and the interplay
between Spock ,Kirk and McCoy. It is also one of the few times (I believe the ONLY time) Kirk was defeated in a fair one on one fight.

It also had one of the strongest guest starring preformances in the series from Morgan Woodward (Tracey) and Roy Jensen (Cloud William) .

The espisode was written by Gene Roddenberry himself.

"Freedom?"

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"Freedom?"


One of many things I do to annoy my wife is to sing along to the Eagles song Desperado. When Henley gets to the line "And freedom, oh freedom, well that's just some people talkin'", I do my best Cloud William right at the "freedoms".

But one thing I always wondered about is Captain Tracey. We've learned from several episodes that starship captains are culled from a large group of officers, and are exceptional candidates in every way.

Captain Tracey was not only breaking Federation directives, he was murdering men in cold blood with no compunction. OK, he did lose his crew, but he was over the top vicious.

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That is what makes Tracey's turn all the more disturbing.

I don't know if the Federation could come up with a good enough test for the extreme psychological damage of losing ones entire crew.

Probably enough to break any man or woman.

The same happened to the Captain in the 'Doomsday Machine' episode.

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I'd put Spock's Brain at the top. People will criticize the execs back then for cancelling TOS, but the show did kind of go to hell in the third season. IIRC Roddenberry was gone by then, and it definitely had an impact.

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Too many episodes on that list that I like. Here is my list of the worst:

1. The Paradise Syndrome
2. Turnabout Intruder
3. The Way to Eden
4. Spock's Brain
5. Plato's Stepchildren
6. The Empath
7. Friday's Child
8. And the Children Shall Lead
9. I, Mudd
10. That one with the black and white face race war

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Your #10 above is Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.

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Thanks!

Some of those on my list have good parts. Just because I rank them worst doesn't mean I didn't like them.

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Interesting... I place The Paradise Syndrome as one of the best episodes. The idea of "The Preservers" has been one of the greatest unexploited ideas in Star Trek. It could explain innumerable Earth Parallels... The love story actually has months to develop and is not more embarrassing than any other presented. This could have been an epic two parter, but such was not the way of '60s TV. The Enterprise warping out in hours to intercept the asteroid as far away as possible, failing and then having to return at sublight over months, is proof that the writers had some grasp on the concepts (I would think impulse engines would permit return in days. But the damage could just as easily be assumed to have wrecked all of the ship's more sophisticated engine gear. How about we assume that the inertial compensators are wrecked and will take months of work to fix - so acceleration and deceleration are greatly limited.) Spock's months of work trying to understand the Preserver glyphs gave a certain sense of reality to the process of working out wholly alien symbols with a limited set to work from (Later Trek might have had Spock using the Holodeck to examine the Preserver artifact.)
The greatest flaws are: 1) Gross coincidence of having Kirk's name (Kirok) be the "door code" for the Preserver structure. 2) Rather shoddy treatment of the Indians and their culture. So, they never invented the simplest irrigation without Kirk? 3) Miramanee dies... inevitably. But it was episdodic TV.

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I will agree that it helps forgive the multiple costumes-we-had-available episodes. That is a cool aspect I didn't think about. Still, it takes perseverance for me to rewatch this one.

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Most of the ones mentioned here probably started off as reasonably good ideas. The problem in part was no doubt that either Gene Coon or Gene Roddenberry were not around to put some polish on them plus work the problems out. With The Paradise Syndrome I did not like nor did I especially hate the romance angle. I would rather have had Miramonee just reject Salish in favor of Kirk and bypass the nonsense about Kirk being a temple god which we could see early on was going to work against Kirk. It made no sense for McCoy to go back to the Enterprise when Kirk left personnel behind in far riskier situations such as on Cestus III in Arena. But at the same time McCoy was needed aboard to question Spock's decision about the asteroid. Scotty could have taken on the additional task of questioning Spock to the extent of creating personal discomfort for Spock. Or Dr M'Benga introduced in The Tholian Web. Or had M'Benga be a part of the landing party. Or just eliminate a doctor and have Chekov along. The whole proceeding at minimal impulse power back to the planet also did not work for me. Anyways, a half baked effort that might have been worked into a decent episode if the people who worked the magic in Season 1 were around.

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I have to say - The first season also has it's share of bad episodes, with comparable flaws. Miri... Another Earth. The combination of intent to make episodes relatable while using off the shelf props (A necessary thing) with a bizarre lack of common sense about... I don't even know where to begin... It exceeds probability into the domain of the literally impossible. Every other problem with the episode derives from this basic insanity. AND There is The Alternative Factor. Even without the last minute story changes and the other minor problems, this episode is no more believable than the antimatter universe episode of Lost in Space. No harsher words can be said about a Star Trek episode.
And, unfortunately neither Gene fixed the same problem in the second season episode The Omega Glory, which is dramatic and exciting and based on a totally absurd premise... A premise which was one of Roddenberry's original pilot concepts at that.
I love Star Trek but even back in the day we (me and fans of my acquaintance) would have to re-write these episodes in our heads to make them reasonable. Miri and Omega Glory needed to be cleaned of the silly exact parallels, The Alternative Factor needed to be either forgotten or written into some non-antimatter alternative universe story... I mean we already had Mirror Mirror, so that sort of thing was acceptable in principle.

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Yes, Season 1 was not perfect but overall was far better when you consider the other episodes that it consists of.

I believe Gene Coon was gone when The Omega Glory was being readied for production. DeForest Kelley had said in later years that dialogue was filmed for TOG that indicated that planet had been previously visited by Earth men but was cut during the editing. One of the books from the 1970's pointed out that Roddenberry had a heavy finger in editing and more often than not made poor decisions. Usually back then 20-25 hours of material was filmed with sometimes 8-10 scenes which got pared down to 52 minutes and 5-6 acts. I always wondered if somebody ever scooped up the cull and hid it away. Illegal as the studio had ownership but I had always hoped somebody might release a bunch of material upon their death.

Anyways, The Making of Star Trek and the World of Star Trek were early guides as to how television production worked and it is often a flawed process. Even the greats such as All in the Family had poor episodes.

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#10 was one of the best episodes of the series!

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I liked Mudd's Women. I even liked the Man Trap in spite of itself. The rest of those I'm okay with being on that list. I would add the Gamesters of Triskelion and yes, The Trouble with Tribbles (even though everybody loves that one) as well. I hated both of those episodes.

Back To The Man Trap. The only thing that bothered me about that episode was when the great Michael Zaslow started talking to that guy's wife about how she looked like someone he left behind on a pleasure planet. That's like saying "Hey, your wife looks like somebody I met at a whorehouse."

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