Thursday, April 17, 2014

Trek Thursday: The Worst-Ever TOS Episode

For a few months, I wrote for a British pop culture site styled on the model of The gig ended, but not before I wrote a massive, 20,000 word article ranking every Star Trek: TOS episode from worst to best. Unfortunately, the article sat in Internet development hell for two or three months before they closed my account ("We're focusing on moving forward with a smaller, dedicated staff of writers.") and so it will never see the light of day.

Until now.

Because I worked a lot on that article, dammit. My relationship may or may not have suffered for the month I spent hunched over the keyboard, finding something to say about even the most blasé and uninspired of episodes (in between the real, paid work I also had to do). I'd hate for it to all be for nothing.

I had the foresight to save the bulk of the writing on my own computer, so even though I may be locked out of my account, I still have access to my material. True, it's not going to be published in a monetized form (while the article was waiting in development hell, I signed up for a program on the site that would pay me a pittance per 1,000 page views), but that's better than not being published at all.

Plus, now I don't have to cram 78 episodes together into one post and I can take all the time and write all the commentary I damn well please.

Without further ado, let's begin Trek Thursday with the worst episode of them all.

#72. The Omega Glory

In case you forgot: The Enterprise finds a planet with "Yangs" and "Kohms," primitive people who are what's left after a planet-wide nuclear war. Surprise! It's a Cold War analogy!

TOS is infamous for plot contrivances. Most aliens are humanoid, everyone in the galaxy speaks English, etc. Ridiculous on the face of it, but coincidences I'm willing to overlook for the sake of a good story.

What makes "The Omega Glory" so awful, though, is that (1) it relies on what is maybe one of the worst plot contrivances of all time (2) as the third act twist. That image up there? That's basically a huge spoiler. It's one thing to beam down to the planet and ascertain within about five minutes or so that this is a parallel universe Cold War where America lost—okay, it's weak, but if you can make some lemonade out of that lemon I'll drink it. It's another to hold on to that and save it as some kind of genius reveal. It was a long, hard think to decide on the worst episode of TOS, but in the end it was the reliance on that reveal that put "The Omega Glory" on the bottom of the list.

People like to hate on Season 3 of TOS ("Spock's Brain" and "Way to Eden" are basically nothing more than punchlines in the fandom), but let's not kid ourselves into believing the first two seasons were anything less than consistent brilliance.

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