Pick of the Week – February 9-15, 2015

Last week, my Pick of the Week was a recommendation of a single episode of the original Star Trek series for someone who has never seen the show.  Continuing on with that theme, this week’s Pick comes from the next Star Trek television series to hit the air.

If you think that was the 1987 premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I have a surprise for you.

For two seasons in 1973 and 1974, the original crew of the Starship Enterprise returned to NBC in an animated Star Trek series.  To differentiate the two, the original Star Trek is generally referred to as TOS (The Original Series) by fans and the animated series as, predictably enough, TAS. 

At this moment, you might be thinking, “A cartoon?  No way am I watching that.  They probably dumbed it down for kids.”  Let me assure you that they didn’t.  Original Series creator Gene Roddenberry was in charge, and he got scripts from many of the writers from TOS, including D.C. Fontana, who also was an Executive Producer of the show along with Roddenberry, and David Gerrold, who provided a sequel to his classic TOS episode, “The Trouble With Tribbles.”

As for the voice cast, it’s made up of the same actors from TOS, with the exception of Walter Koenig (Chekov).  Koenig did, however, write an episode of the series.  TOS actors James Doohan (Scotty) and Majel Barrett (Chapel) also voiced almost all of the “guest stars” on the show, including new and very alien crewmembers Arex and M’Ress.

TAS was made by Filmation, a company possibly best known for the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon series in the 1980s.  If you watch TAS, several episodes have Captain Kirk and crew running in the same distinctive style as He-Man and friends

The series only ran for 22 half-hour episodes, but, if I had to pick one for you to watch (Which I do, since that’s the whole point of this exercise), I would select “Yesteryear,” written by D.C. Fontana.  The episode involves a bit of time travel (Thanks to the Guardian of Forever from the TOS episode “The City on the Edge of Forever.”) and is an exploration of Spock’s past.  Mark Lenard, who played Spock’s father, Sarek, in the TOS episode “Journey to Babel” returns to voice the role he originated (and continued to play even into Star Trek: The Next Generation).  If you’re looking for phaser battles and starship combat, this isn’t the episode for you, but “Yesteryear” is a well-done and at times touching look at the childhood of our favorite Vulcan.

- Alan Decker

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