The Shuttle Pod Evaluates Four Of Star Trek’s Under-appreciated Episodes

We can all name the “best of” Star Trek episodes. You know, the ones that always make it in a Top 10 list. But, today, we wanted to talk about great Star Trek episodes that never seem to make that cut, for one reason or another. Take away “Inner Light”, “City on the Edge of Forever”, and “In the Pale Moonlight”, and what have you got? Guile.

All four Shuttle Pod crew members beamed in for this episode, and each of us chose one under-rated episode to discuss. This week, we deep dive into: “Family” (TNG), “The 37’s” (VOY), “Wink of an Eye” (TOS), and “Peak Performance” (TNG).

Shuttle Pod 51: Star Trek’s Under-appreciated Episodes


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And, to make good on our word, we include this incredible fan-made video, which Jared gives a shout-out to on the show.

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USSEXETER

Voyager’s “Equinox” was one of my favorite from that series.

DataMat

Equinox was good, but it was also another Smash and Grab episode, in a long line of Star Trek episodes of that nature, especially Voyager. Two episodes is simply not enough to build characters and develop the story line properly.

USSEXETER

Agreed! My hope would have been to have the Equinox and her crew around to caravan like BSG back to the Alpha Quadrant.

FLB

Both ‘Peak Performance’ and ‘Family’ are personal favourites. ‘Half A Life’ and ‘Silicon Avatar’ as well.

Michael Hall

Are you guys passing around the Saurian brandy by any chance*, or maybe toking on something a little more potent? “Family” is a fine, if unexciting, follow-up to the events of “The Best of Both Worlds,” and “Peak Performance” very entertaining if unexceptional. But “Wink of an Eye,” seriously? Just hideously dumb on all counts, a poster child for how much credibility TOS lost as a serious science fiction show in its third year. And as for the “The ’37s”–sheesh! A vintage car that starts on the first try after centuries in outer space tells you everything you need to know about this turkey, other than how it managed to waste the talents of guest star Sharon Lawrence. Originally shot during the show’s first season but held over for the second, “The ’37s” was proof positive that Voyager‘s 70,000 light-year trip back home would get far rockier than anyone imagined.

*Just kidding. :-) Love the Trekmovie staff, and everyone’s tastes are different. (Still, really?!)

I invite you to listen to our discussion in the podcast before passing judgment on our picks! You may just find that we make compelling arguments for these eps :)

Michael Hall

*Sigh* I try to be open-minded, God knows, but I have to tell you that such an argument is difficult for me to imagine. As a working scientist, I would think the concentrated stupidity on display in “Wink of an Eye” should offend you even more than it does me.

BorgKlingon

Hall, your assessment is about the same as mine. Wink of an Eye and The 37’s are funny to watch, and not funny in a good way. Just silly and forgettable.

And Family was pretty boring, and felt a bit forced, to be honest. The last 10 minutes are good, but the journey to get their is not very worthwhile to watch.

Peak Performance was OK, but the inexplicably lazy make-up job on Sirna Kolrami, who looks more like an elder actor who had too many plastic surgeries earlier in life than an Alien, takes me out of the episode.

Gonzo

Built Ford Tough

ML31

Oh my God… “Family” was just awful. The 37’s no real gem either. My underappreciated episode is “The Galileo Seven.” Take away the weird way the indigenous population changes size, the episode was a very well done Spock episode where learned a great deal. It was awesome to see.

Bomer: But you said “there are always alternatives.”
Spock: Did I? I may have been mistaken.
McCoy: Well at least I lived long enough to hear that.

I'm Dead Jim

Excellent choice but I’ve never thought of “The Galileo Seven” as being underappreciated.

“The Galileo Seven” is great. I agree with I’m Dead Jim, I’ve never thought of it as under appreciated.

In my defense I tried to pick something a little less obvious. Nearly all of TOS Season 1 is high quality. You can basically pick an episode at random and get something that’s anywhere from good to excellent.

VZX

Here’s a question : why did TOS have a great first season while the other Trek shows struggled in their first seasons?

Danpaine

My answer to that is great writing by real sci-fi writers, and the gathering of a cast which had immediate and real chemistry with each other. Lightning in a bottle.

That’s the million dollar question :)
It seems to be a case of everyone being dedicated to making a great unique adult oriented sci-fi show. Bringing in known writing talents like George Clayton Johnson, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, and Theodore Sturgeon certainly helped too.

ML31

OK ok. Point taken. It’s just that I’ve never heard that episode included in a “best of” list of any kind. A great episode that gets missed. At least, that was my understanding.

You still have a good point. “The Galileo Seven” doesn’t necessarily come to mind right away when people talk about the best of TOS. I think it might miss the top 10 lists, but if you give people 20 episodes, it would find its way in.

Michael Hall

I happen to think very highly of it myself. Great acting and musical choices, even if the alien monsters are ridiculous and the planet set unconvincing. But Nimoy himself wasn’t a fan, believing the Spock character only worked when he had Kirk to play off of. And others here, whose opinions I respect, have disparaged it as well. It’s definitely a second-tier show.

BorgKlingon

We are in full agreement on this one!

Gonzo

Two underappreciated Voyager episodes, I think, are “Distant Origin” and “Relativity.” One has dinosaurs and the other has time travel shenanigans, and I’m a sucker for both. Plus it’s cool seeing Voyager at Utopia Planitia.

DataMat

Since when were those under rated episodes?
I’m genuinely confused?

Kayla Iacovino

Listen to the pod to learn more! All of these are poorly rated on IMDb and never appear on Top 10 lists.

Michael Hall

Maybe, but lots of people thought “Family” was a wonderful episode at the time it aired. And lots of Trek’s worthier episodes don’t appear in Top 10 lists, for the simple reason that there are actually quite a few good shows, and a fair amount of agreement about which are the best ones.

SpectrePrime

All of those episodes are better than the tripe that is the fan-made video, Tik Tok! That video is just retarded.

Martin

Ahhh, when Trek was Trek. I wish they’d have gone forward instead of yet another unwanted prequel. Seeing post-Nem Trek with today’s style of television would of been all kinds of awesomeness. Voyager was great, wish it had been braver but seeing what’s happened to the franchise, all is forgiven.

Jack

I wanted a prequel.

Michael Hall

Though it won the Hugo, these days it seems to me that “The Menagerie” is decidedly underrated.

Interesting. When Voyager was released in Australia on VHS, The 37s was the final episode of season 1, so that’s how I’ve always thought of it. I was quite shocked a few years ago, when Voyager hit Netflix, and I saw a bunch of season 1 episodes munged into season 2.

Yes it was supposed to be the Season 1 finale. Then UPN for some reason shortened season 1 and held it along with “Projections”, “Elogium” and “Twisted” over to Season 2. That’s interesting that it was released in production order on VHS outside the USA. It’s always been part of Season 2 in the US.

DataMat

I remember my Mum had the 10 volume Voyager boxset of Season 1 on VHS. The one thing I love about the VHS format is the attention that seemed to paid towards the ‘box art’, which is lovely. All the individual videos have unique art, which really gives the product a lovely unique touch which is somewhat missing today with the advent of streaming and DVD boxsets.

From what I’ve seen online it looks like the UK VHS releases of Trek really went above and beyond with their box art. The US VHS releases of Trek have always looked quite pedestrian.

TrekFan72Dayton

“VOY: The 37’s” While the people from the past being revived in the future has been done, this one really works well. It also held a bit of a pang of sadness as David Graf, who passed away too soon, makes an appearance in this episode (Police Academy’s Tackleberry). Kate Mulgrew and Robert Beltran show off the trust and friendship their characters are developing in a very emotional scene. I would like to have seen two pivotal parts of the episode which are oddly skipped – seeing Janeway address the crew and seeing the new human cities. Overall it is still a great episode.

“TNG: Family” is one of the best episodes of that series. And because we know the eventual (and pointless) fate of Picard’s nephew and brother, it makes the ending so emotional that it is hard to watch with dry eyes.

“TNG: Peak Performance” is another of TNG’s best episodes. It has the highs and lows you expect from a well-written episode and ends on a terrific comedic note. Easily one of my favorites.

“TOS: Wink of an Eye” is one of the episodes I remember watching on TV as a kid. Another amazing fun story with an interesting premise.

ML31

Here is my issue with “Family”. And I guess it is just my issue. It’s because I never really cared about Jean-Luc Picard. I was always more interested in Patrick Stewart PLAYING Jean-Luc Picard. As a character, I found Picard distant and impossibly perfect. “Family” was completely devoted to letting the audience see the Picard family in a way that could have just been said with a line or two of diolog. I didn’t care about his sibling rivalry. I didn’t care about his family wine. I really didn’t care about Picard as he was presented in the show. To me, him dealing with his Borg experience was just one 42 minute snooze fest made watchable, as most of the lower end TNG episodes are, because Stewart is such a charismatic actor.

Michael Hall

Well, that’s fine, but many of us thought it was a wonderful show, with a terrific off-format Ron Moore script, exceptional acting, and one of TNG’s finest (and most evocative) final shots ever. And the producers at the time seemed to be very pleased by how it turned out, even if it proved to be the lowest-rated episode aired that season.

ML31

I do not recall the final shot. But then, like most TNG episodes, I’ve only seen it once as the vast majority of TNG episodes are not repeat viewing worthy in my book. I just recall being completely underwhelmed. Sort of like Moore’s Kirk-Picard scene in Generations. Which I have actually heard him apologize for. He said he thought it was a nice unexpected thing for them to do but later realized it was a mistake. And “Family” was just as boring an episode as Jean-Luc Picard is a character. Sorry. And I have heard that criticism of Picard before, too. So I’m certainly not alone in that. That Stewart made such a bland character watchable is a testament to his skills as an actor.

Michael Hall

Moore never apologized for ‘Family’. In fact, he was very proud of that show when it aired, and I’ve never heard him say otherwise in the ddcades since. As for Picard, sorry you
found him boring, but that obviously wasn’t the case with a great many people.

ML31

He was also involved in “All Good Things” which was at best a very pedestrian episode. I’d like to see a list of the episodes he wrote. I’m starting to think many of them were not among the better ones.

Regarding Picard, I suspect a lot of people are confusing the character with the actor who played him. A really good actor can make a terribly written character watchable. As Stewart did.

c d

I liked “Family”. I was interested to see Picard’s family. I thought Jeremy Kemp and Samantha Eggar brought quite a lot to it. I appreciate how they dealt with Picard’s crisis of doubt. It was good to see Worf’s adoptive parents also.

“Peak Performance”: was that the one where Dr. Pulaski is really annoying? Oh wait, that doesn’t really narrow it down. It was a good episode. The simulation gives an interesting platform to show the characters.

If “The “37s” is not appreciated enough, it is appropriate: it was crap. Not one redeeming thing about except it had no warp 10 salamanders. Otherwise, total crap.

“Wink of an Eye”: one of those disappointing 3rd season Freiburgers. The tilted camera made me think I was watching a villain’s lair from Batman. And really, the phaser would not move that slow. Stupid episode, of course, not nearly as stupid as “Spock’s Brain”. No wonder the show was canceled.

(I can’t believe I just typed that.)

Cygnus-X1

#IdeologyAdvocacy

vs.

#HonestHumanReaction

Which is more relevant to fans?

#Doyoucare?

What is this in reference to?

Cygnus-X1

Brian Drew

Please see below.

Michael Hall

Who gets to decide which is which?

Cygnus-X1

Well, when you have an episode like The 37s that isn’t about advocating feminist ideology, either explicitly or implicitly, then I’d say that the fair-minded viewer gets to decide based on the content of the episode. Are fans here to be pitched religion, or are they here to discuss and appreciate Trek content? Would you like it if one of the reviewers said that, for example, The City on the Edge of Forever, is an advocacy of Christianity or Islam or whatever——pick your dogma? Are you here to be indoctrinated or to appreciate Trek for its content? Speaking for myself, places where can go to get away from politics these days are few and far between. There are Jehova’s Witnesses of one kind or another everywhere I turn. I’d like a brief respite from all of that, if it’s not too much to ask.

Calculon

I remember seeing that Tik Tok video back in 2010, still holds up well. I always thought it was so good a regional TV network would have used it for a TOS commercial

ML31

OK. I listened to the podcast and I can understand why one would want to include “Family”. The problem I have is for that episode to work it requires the viewer to care about Jean-Luc Picard. Which I never did. Even when he had his humanity stripped away from him, as many like to say that is when he became most human to them, I still did not see it. I actually did not start caring about him until the feature film “First Contact”. Him succumbing to revenge, to me, humanized him more so than anything that happened in TNG. In that show, he was just too perfect. The perfect statesman. The perfect man for first contact. The perfect leader. And the finest military strategist Star Fleet has ever known. I mean, what CAN’T he do?

Also, I looked at the IMDB list of TOS episodes and a bottom feeder on that list I liked was “The Apple”. I liked it because it was a perfect example of Kirk listening to Spock and McCoy and making a HUGE decision. Right or wrong, he made it.

Michael Hall

Ugh. Glad someone liked it, but if I had to list all the ways “The Apple” is an awful episode I’d be here all night.

ML31

Well, it does have the advantage of being immensely better than “Family” going for it. Here is a thought… Perhaps “Family” has the disadvantage of having been aired immediately after TBOBW. Quite a high standard to follow.

Is “The Apple” one of the best? No. Is it among my favorites? No. Does it have problems? Yes. But it does deal with a typical Trek dilemma which right there makes it better than an episode with two old men wrestling in the mud.

Josh

What’s up with Jared’s mic lately? Sounds terrible.