I recently decided to binge the entire run of all Star Trek shows in roughly chronological order. I guess I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I’ve seen some episodes from the original series, and had plain forgotten a few of them.
The internet has loads of content critiquing ST:TOS; everything from the crude special effects to esoteric discussions of incorrect star dates, but I want to focus specifically on which episodes you think have aged most poorly and why. This is not the same as a list of the worst episodes, as there were poorly written shows that were lame back when they were written in the late 60’s. I’m looking for examples of shows considered adequate or even good back in the day that for whatever reason simply don’t wash with modern audiences.
The episode with the mentally unstable woman who took over Kirk’s body because she couldn’t be a starship captain. To be fair, I don’t remember if someone other than her in the episode said women couldn’t be captains.
Not the entire episode, but certain aspects of the episode with the stranded Zefram Cochrane being kept alive for decades; namely, that a woman could be an important Federation official but then she couldn’t have any kind of social/love life.
“Space Seed” and its portrayal of a heaving-bosom romantic pushover of a Starfleet scientist being effortlessly seduced by Khan may not have aged the absolute worst in the context of the series, but I suspect it’s one of the most noticeable examples of poor aging, simply because the masterpiece that is Wrath of Khan makes lots of people go back to the episode to see how this amazing villain was introduced.
The one with the space hippies? The one with the black/white guy and white/black guy trying to kill each other? I’m guessing those may have been cutting edge social commentary when they were first aired (but then, what do I know? I was five) but they just seem silly now.
In general, there is a high level of sexism found throughout TOS. Everything from offhand comments like ‘not another woman yeoman [/eyeroll]’ to the mini-dress uniforms, rampant mansplaining, up to and including the premise of entire episodes like “Mudd’s Women.”
That one was just on TV the other day. Ricardo Montalban played that role to the hilt (as it were.) I dunno… I’m an intelligent, well-educated, modern woman, and Khan might have had that effect on me… Kirk certainly never did.
I think what really puts it in the lead is that it had other aspects that would have made it a pretty good episode, especially by third-season standards, (William Shatner got some good acting moments, the fleshing-out of the universe with the hints about the “Preservers”) if not for the embarrassing “white savior” tropes.
The episode where Kirk is split by the transporter into Good Kirk and Bad Kirk. Bad Kirk tries to rape Nurse Chapel, who is understandably traumatized. There’s a scene where Spock, McCoy and Good Kirk are standing around discussing the implications of Bad Kirk being loose and how that affects Good Kirk but are completely underwhelmed about Chapel’s trauma as she sits there like a chastened kindergartener in time-out. It made me livid when when it was replayed recently.
Not only silly, but actually harmful because the resolution is, in essence, “let’s just stop worrying about who was oppressing who or whether one side over the other had actual legitimate grievances and instead view racism as something people do to each other, not something that might actually represent serious underlying systemic issues that can and should be resolved, but which will not be resolved merely by telling everyone on #bothsides to just play nice and be civil from now on.”