Ironbutt Star Trek: TOS
November 27, 2017 12:50 PM   Subscribe

I want help putting together a curated list of 10 episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series, to show in an all-day marathon. 10 episodes is about 8.5 hours; add in some snack breaks and lunch, and maybe a late dinner after, and that's a solid day on the couch. Since these are slash fic writers & readers, that means "Amok Time + 9 more." Reference aids: Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3

I want to introduce a pack of friends who've seen the new movies to the original series - they may have seen an episode or two, and have probably seen clips and gifsets and ridiculous amounts of fanart, but have no sense of the series as a whole. I'd like the 10 best episodes (and ideal viewing order) for new slash-friendly fans. (New to this fandom; not necessarily young or new to fandom in general.)

Commentary and single-episode recommendations are welcome. I'd like to make sure the set highlights something about every major character and their relationships, gives some background about Starfleet, and shows off what made so many people fall in love with the series. I'm not looking for "the best quality" episodes, but "the best intro for fans" - who, if they love it, will seek out the rest on their own; if they don't, they'll at least be able to understand the references and recognize crossover fics.

Bonus extra work: a second set of 10, for a full weekend event. But I don't expect everyone to be willing to put up with a second day; that'd have to be either "the B list" or "additional information."
posted by ErisLordFreedom to Media & Arts (41 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
The Trouble with Tribbles, obviously. It is a classic for a reason.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 12:54 PM on November 27, 2017 [9 favorites]

I wish I could come over and watch!

I highly recommend "The City on the Edge of Forever", aka the one where Bones overdoses and leaps back in time, and Kirk and Spock follow to find him and fix the unknown thing he changed in the past. Excellent work from all three leads, terrific domestic plain-clothes Kirk and Spock, heartwrenching finale.

Spock: Interesting. Where would you estimate we belong, Miss Keeler?
Edith Keeler: [to Spock] You? At his side, as if you've always been there and always will.
posted by theatro at 1:02 PM on November 27, 2017 [9 favorites]

Must do "Darmok". Especially appropriate for the audience, but also a really interesting story conceptually. As long as they can suspend obvious questioning about "Why, again, doesn't the universal translator handle this?"
posted by amtho at 1:07 PM on November 27, 2017

The Naked Time, aka The One Where Spock Cries, is mandatory watching for cultural descendants of our K/S foremothers.

it's also The One Where Sulu Swordfights Down a Corridor Shirtless, so there's all kinds of fun in that one
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 1:07 PM on November 27, 2017 [12 favorites]

Darmok is Next Generation, and exempt from this collection. (But yes, if I do TNG, Darmok goes on the list.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:09 PM on November 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

"Must do "Darmok". Especially appropriate for the audience, but also a really interesting story conceptually. As long as they can suspend obvious questioning about "Why, again, doesn't the universal translator handle this?""

Please note: this is from ST:TNG, not TOS.
posted by Hanuman1960 at 1:10 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Space Seed.
posted by Melismata at 1:12 PM on November 27, 2017 [7 favorites]

I would add:
Balance of Terror (Romulans)
Space Seed (Khan!)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:15 PM on November 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh! Also This Side of Paradise, the episode that literally invented the Sex Pollen fanfiction trope.

no really this is where it comes from. there's a lot of fanfiction nonsense you can lay at the feet of TOS
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 1:15 PM on November 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

OH AND “Mirror, Mirror” with SPOCK’S EVIL GOATEE.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:15 PM on November 27, 2017 [8 favorites]

If you're watching the episodes that have made the most impact on popular consciousness, you'll need to include Arena, the one where Kirk fights the Gorn at Vasquez Rocks.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:18 PM on November 27, 2017 [8 favorites]

Amok Time+

1. The Corbomite Maneuver - great episode
2. The Devil In The Dark - major cultural touchstone
3. The Naked Time -shirtless Sulu, for the fan fic folks
4. The Trouble With Tribbles -major cultural touchstone
5. Mirror, Mirror- major cultural touchstone
6. Space Seed -the origins of Kahn
7. The City on the Edge of Forever -great episode
8. Balance of Terror - first romulan episode
9. Arena - kirk battles lizard doods, how can you lose?

I didn't include The Menagerie since it's a two episode story and I didn't want to eat two spots out of the list
posted by Dr. Twist at 1:18 PM on November 27, 2017 [10 favorites]

I also recommend "Mirror, Mirror". Crucial foundation of the whole Mirror Universe, including famously-bearded Spock, and shows that the Kirk/Spock connection is so powerful that across universes Kirk may have convinced Mirror-Spock to overturn the whole regime.

I don't recommend Tribbles--it's light and funny, but we're focusing on the slash project here I think.

I definitely don't think The Way to Eden should make it into the top ten of anything. Fun to laugh at, har har, but ugh. Don't.
posted by theatro at 1:18 PM on November 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Man Trap (basic sci-fi horror)
Shore Leave (wacky but somewhat horrorific mystery, mccoy dies)
Devil in the Dark (It's life, Jim, but not as we know it!)
Mirror, Mirror (evil dimension, how will they escape)
I, Mudd (kill computers with illogical actions) -- alternatively -- Mudd's Women (mysterious beauties hiding a secret)
Private Little War (establishes klingons as strategic enemies, not just tribble hating angry dudes, ehavy-handed cold war allegory)

Miri (very twilight-zoney, how will they survive)
Charlie X (more twilight-zoney, child with unpredictable powers on ship)
posted by AzraelBrown at 1:19 PM on November 27, 2017

I adore The Way To Eden, but... yeah, I can't quite justify it in such a limited list. (Maybe because it showcases Spock's musical talents?) (Erm, probably not.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:21 PM on November 27, 2017

Honestly, I have nothing to improve upon this list from Nerdist in the order presented, other than it is 11 episodes and not 10. If you must cut one, I guess I would cut Arena (the one where Kirk wrestles the Gorn in the desert).
posted by AndrewInDC at 1:21 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Man Trap (basic sci-fi horror)

Grar! that one totally slipped my mind!
posted by Dr. Twist at 1:21 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

"Devil in the Dark" is a classic for its encounter with a truly alien alien, the Horta. "City on the Edge of Forever," "The Trouble with Tribbles," and "Amok Time" (the Vulcan puberty one) are no-brainers. "Journey to Babel" gets in lots of aliens and Spock's parents.
posted by rikschell at 1:23 PM on November 27, 2017

A while ago I put together a list of episodes to introduce a friend to Trek - three from each series and then three runners-up from each series. I focused on choosing good representative examples of Trek rather than necessarily choosing particularly notable episodes. Full list is here but these were the TOS ones:

Balance of Terror (1x14) – Cat-and-mouse game between the Enterprise and the mysterious Romulans. Basically a tense submarine chase, but in space. (You can append “but in space” to literally all of these, of course.)

The Devil in the Dark (1x26) – The Enterprise has to come to the aid of some miners who Delved Too Deep ™, and we get a great dose of several classic speculative fiction tropes.

Amok Time (2x01) – Spock, the characteristically emotionless Vulcan, is having some anger issues. I love this one because it’s one of the first where we get to see one of our humanoid alien friends act like an alien. Watch this one last, because it works best if you’ve gotten to know Spock a little.

Runners-up (watch these if you’re now ~intrigued~ but not quite ready to commit to a full watch):
The Naked Time
The Trouble with Tribbles
Mirror Mirror

posted by showbiz_liz at 1:26 PM on November 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh, that Nerdist reminded me of the Doomsday Machine.... man, can you really narrow it down to only 10?

(Edit: I also concede, Balance of Terror is a much better episode to establish an enemy race than Private Little War)
posted by AzraelBrown at 1:26 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm going to throw Gamesters of Trisekelion in there.
Why? Because Shahna, that's why.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 1:29 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is outside what you specifically asked for but may be of some use: back when it was announced that Bryan Fuller would be running the new Trek (sob), I started putting together a series of posts explaining Star Trek to an audience of Bryan Fuller fans who had never seen any Trek before. It sounds like your core audience and mine are pretty similar (ie slash-conversant internet nerds), so in case it is useful, here are the first couple posts from that project, which I think give a decent super-brief overview of what Trek is about:

What Is A Star Trek

Star Trek Aliens And Where To Find Them
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:38 PM on November 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Okay, instead of coming up with more suggestions piecemeal, I consulted with some likeminded friends and have laid down a list of 9 that we feel is tailored to your purposes.

I don't have an ideal watching order for these--I'd need to give that more thought.

Amok Time, plus:

City on the Edge of Forever: As mentioned in my comment above, an excellent episode overall, good character work from Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, good emotional bonds, heartwrenching.

Mirror, Mirror: Also as mentioned in my comment above, establishes the Mirror Universe, good stakes and tension between the different universes' characters. Our Kirk sways Mirror Spock, but Mirror Spock also basically mindrapes our McCoy.

The Corbomite Maneuver: Taut action/suspense, plus a good solid look at the different philosophies of Spock (chess) and Kirk (poker) (a characterization which remains consistent across the series/movies), and a particularly excellent scene about this between them at the crux of the action.

The Naked Time: The entire crew is exposed to a pathogen which flips the worst of their ids wide open, so it gives us an intense look at the psyches of a lot of the characters, Spock especially but also others. The scene where Spock breaks down is particularly good, as is the one where Kirk manages to snap him out of it (activating Spock's worry for Kirk helps pull him together).

Journey to Babel: We meet Spock's parents, and there's a murder mystery plus domestic discord. McCoy gets the last word. ♥

This Side of Paradise: Might be considered thematically a little close to The Naked Time? But gives another look inside Spock, who is under the influence of spores and wants to run away from himself and his life, but in the end cannot.

Devil in the Dark: A good mystery with horror overtones, which turns out in the end to embrace the original Trek philosophy of reaching out in peace to the alien.

Balance of Terror: First appearance of the Romulans (triggering a racist backlash from one of the crew when the mysterious Romulans turn out to look Vulcanoid), a tight suspenseful war drama in which both ships are basically submarines. The futility of war.

Errand of Mercy: First appearance of the Klingons. Kirk and Spock undercover in plainclothes (I do love a nice cloak), threatened with torture, etc. Also boils down to the futility and temptations of war, some mature observations from Kirk about it.
posted by theatro at 2:03 PM on November 27, 2017 [8 favorites]

Oh, TOS, a slasher's playground to the end. ♥

Theatro's list looks really solid to me; I'd maybe add A Piece of the Action for some lighter moments with Spock playing along with Kirk's off-the-cuff methods. Plus, you know. Fizzbin.
posted by current resident at 2:10 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Counting up the repeat votes and such, the top recommendations are:

Mirror Mirror
City on the Edge of Forever
Balance of Terror
Devil in the Dark
Space Seed (Not actually one of the most recommended, but it's in the next set, and I'm assuming it's essential for the fandom, regardless of whether it's one of the best individual episodes.

I'm going to consider those locked in. That leaves 4 spaces. The three next-most-recommended are:
The Naked Time
The Trouble with Tribbles
Journey to Babel

Followed by:
Doomsday Machine
The Corbomite Maneuver (which is, apparently, on every mainstream list of "top TOS episodes," but I don't actually care what the milscifi fans love.)
This Side of Paradise
Errand of Mercy

And several other much-loved episodes that I can't fit into a 10-ish hour viewing schedule, no matter how awesome they are. (Space hippies, sniff.)

THANKS EVERYONE! Still working on details - still very happy to get input - but I have enough to work from now.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:14 PM on November 27, 2017

Lots of excellent suggestions; I will put in a good word for a few episodes that haven't made others' lists but I think would be good for your purposes:

The Galileo Seven. Unusually character-driven episode that looks at the relationships between McCoy, Scott, and Spock.

Assignment: Earth. One of the progenitors of the "future humans visit earth in the past" trope, lots of fun 1960s sets and clothes, and TERRI GARR!!!!!

Shore Leave. Notable because it follows a bunch of different characters in independent mini-storylines.
posted by googly at 2:19 PM on November 27, 2017

One thing to note about your summary of votes: they seem heavy on the scifi, but is missing some of the humor and B-movie silliness that is part of Star Trek; it's part of why Trouble with Tribbles ranks so highly is that it mixes up all of the features that make Star Trek cool, even if it's not Quality Science Fiction. Ultimately, Star Trek is a kids/family show and watching Kirk and McCoy do wacky things to make robot twins zonk out isn't a bad episode. I'm not pushing I, Mudd specifically, but there's a lot of humor and goofball stuff, see also Shore Leave, Squire of Gothos, A Piece of The Action, which if you're trying to give people a "feel" for Star Trek you can't leave that out.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:31 PM on November 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Obvs the right list depends on what your friends are interested in but:

No "Plato's Stepchildren"? With the smooching?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:33 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't actually consider Space Seed crucial--other than introducing the fact of Khan, it doesn't do much for me. And the female crewmember who it turns out just wanted to be dominated by a Real Man? Hasn't aged well for modern women is all I'm saying.

(And I'm no milscifi fan and yet love Corbomite Maneuver!)
posted by theatro at 2:34 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Lots of good recs here, especially from theatero and the Nerdist link!

Do you have any ability to show episodes from the Star Trek: The Animated Series? Episodes stream from on Amazon if you have a Prime membership. Those episodes are all about 25 minutes long, and have great old skool character dynamics and plots. It's been a while since I've rewatched, but Yesteryear comes to mind as an ep that might meet your requirements as it focuses heavily on Spock's childhood and character development, and builds off of City on the Edge of Forever's Guardian of Forever. Spock has to travel back in time to prevent his own death as a youngster. There's introspection, action, and Spock's ridiculous pet sehlat (think: giant saber-toothed teddy bear).

I'm gonna go rogue and also recommend The Enemy Within, in which Kirk is split into two beings - his rational but indecisive side, and his emotional but feral side, id and superego personified - due to that classic Star Trek trope, the transporter accident. You get some great acting by Shatner, a classic goofy Star Trek alien (a dog in a unicorn costume, literally), Spock musing about Kirk's personality and reflecting on his own dual nature, and Kirk's reluctant realization that he needs both his positive and negative aspects to be complete and to be a good commander. The darkness within him fuels his greatness, when channeled and tempered properly. This episode also provides a strong sense of the Kirk/Spock/McCoy super friendship. There is also some gross misogynistic stuff concerning Yeoman Rand, but it's representative of an ugly vein of retrogressive writing about women that was very much present and still resonates with our current political climate (sigh).

Another dark horse recommendation: Return to Tomorrow. Kirk, Spock and Diana Muldaur (who returns in TNG as Dr. Pulaski) agree to let powerful alien beings who have been inhabiting glowing spheres since a cataclysm destroyed life on their planet ages ago timeshare their bodies so they can construct android bodies for themselves, and also gain access to the aliens' fathomless knowledge and power. But one of the aliens goes rogue and decides to keep Spock's body for himself, causing a series of unfortunate events that our intrepid heroes must overcome. Interesting classic TOS premise of the all-powerful aliens who struggle to find meaning and morality in the universe when their powers outstrip their corporeality, great acting, a stirring and idealistic speech from Kirk about why they should volunteer to host the aliens that embodies TOS's core themes, love, sacrifice, responsibility, and Chapel being awesome. It's so good!

Here's the speech, btw:

They used to say if man could fly, he’d have wings. But he did fly. He discovered he had to. Do you wish that the first Apollo mission hadn’t reached the moon, or that we hadn’t gone on to Mars and then to the nearest star? That’s like saying you wish that you still operated with scalpels and sewed your patients up with catgut like your great-great-great-great-grandfather used to. I’m in command. I could order this. But I’m not because Doctor McCoy is right in pointing out the enormous danger potential in any contact with life and intelligence as fantastically advanced as this. But I must point out that the possibilities, the potential for knowledge and advancement is equally great. Risk… Risk is our business. That’s what the starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.

As pointed out by Torie Atkinson in's old TOS re-watch (highly recommended & very insightful!), what makes this speech even more awesome is the fact that it references the Apollo moon landing as a fact...even though it hadn't occurred yet in real life! There's the intense optimism, idealism and faith in human nature (of course we will go out into the galaxy and explore - it's in our blood!) that makes TOS so special. Imho, of course!

Good luck, and let us know what your finalists are! :D
posted by the thought-fox at 2:51 PM on November 27, 2017

Whoops ErisLordFreedom, looks like you posted your update while I was typing this up. Oh well!
posted by the thought-fox at 2:53 PM on November 27, 2017

I think Tribbles is a very good representative of the light-comedy episodes, and I'd encourage you to keep that one instead of trying either of the Mudd ones. Tribbles is a comedy about bureaucracy, whereas I Mudd and Mudd's Women can get really gross as far as women are concerned--Mudd keeping a robot around of his super-stereotyped shrieking henpecking wife just so he can yell SHUT UP at her and she has to do it; or, Mudd's titular women being mail-order brides--not necessarily a big deal in itself, but their super-beauty keeps distracting the male crew in this sort of "Ahhh-OOGA" cartoon way that is no fun.

Tribbles and A Piece of the Action are two of my favorite comedy episodes because they can be funny and even plain old wacky, without being gross. And Tribbles gives you a nice cross-section of other characters, as well as a great scene with Spock basically being lulled by the purring kitty tribble even as he is explaining how he is COMPLETELY IMMUNE to their kittyness soothing effects.
posted by theatro at 3:07 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I also think you already have enough B-movie-silliness, so no worries there... I mean, even the best episodes have that in them, it's part of the show's DNA. Corbomite ends with Clint Howard and the tranya, Mirror Mirror's costumes (glittery! sashes!) are a camp fantasy, Journey to Babel has Kirk knocking an assassin out by flinging himself butt-first, the Horta looks like what it is which is a shuffling rubber suit, etc. So I don't think there's any particular need to dial that up more; seems to me it'll take care of itself.
posted by theatro at 3:19 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd think I'd pick "Spock's Brain" over "The Way To Eden".
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:19 PM on November 27, 2017

I don't think it makes much difference what order you view them in, as TOS is by far the most episodic of the Trek series, with little in the way of character growth throughout the series. And many fans of my age (too young to have viewed the original airing, but old enough to have become a fan before streaming, before Blu-Ray, before DVD, even before VHS, so we just caught them on reruns) saw them all out of order originally and it didn't make much difference. So I'm presenting my list of, erm, twenty, listed simply in production order. Top ten are starred. These aren't necessarily what I think are the twenty best episodes, but twenty that fit your criteria, so some of the lesser ones were chosen because they're the most quintessentially Trek, or most referenced, or most significant in light of the later series in the franchise; but I haven't included bad episodes just for the sake of being bad - no "Spock's Brain" on this list.

*The Corbomite Maneuver - a bit rough around the edges, as a very early episode, but does a good job at setting up Kirk and Spock's worldviews. And I've always loved the resolution to the Bailey plotline.

*The Naked Time - as mentioned by several already.

Charlie X - Uhura sings, with Spock acommpanying her on the Vulcan lyre! What more could you want out of an episode?

Balance of Terror - gripping episode, based on a WWII submarine movie, and introduces the Romulans.

The Conscience of the King - Good story, good acting, with Shakespeare references sprinkled in.

The Galileo Seven - mixed feelings on this one, as a detailed study of Spock in command of an away mission, but let's acknowledge Trek's weaknesses as well as it's strengths, and this episode is one of the most egregious examples of the Straw Vulcan, which Trek would employ more than once.

*The Squire of Gothos - one of the Enterprise's many encounters with a near-godlike being, and probably the most entertaining one. The ending is directly parodied in a Futurama episode.

*Space Seed - notable as the genesis of Khan, who would of course return in STII:TWOK.

*The Devil in the Dark - a good story featuring one of the more truly alien aliens in TOS.

*The City on the Edge of Forever - as previously mentioned

*Amok Time - as required (and I'd include it even if you hadn't required it)

The Changeling - probably the best example of the "Kirk outthinks a computer" episode, which Trek visited on multiple occasions.

*Mirror, Mirror - Trek would revisit the Mirror Universe in DS9 and ENT, plus this is the source of the "evil twin with a goatee" trope.

*The Trouble with Tribbles - as previously mentioned, and the best of TOS's more comedic episodes.

Journey to Babel - first appearance of Sarek (and only one within TOS, not counting the movies)

The Gamesters of Triskelion - Three hundred quatloos on the newcomers! Not the best episode, but I feel like it's one of the more frequently referenced ones, so if you're looking for cultural literacy it's worth viewing.

A Piece of the Action - second best comedic episode in TOS, behind Tribbles

*The Enterprise Incident - second and last appearance of the Romulans in TOS, Kirk in disguise as a Romulan, first appearance of a female in command of a ship in Trek.

Day of the Dove - thematically Trek: enemies come together to overcome a common threat.

Let That Be Your Last Battlefield - again on the "acknowledge and lean in to Trek's weaknesses, we love them too" theme, Trek can be a little too on-the-nose when trying to address real-world social issues, and this is a prime example. Or maybe I should say I love when Trek takes on present-day social issues at all, even when it goes overboard in its treatment.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:24 PM on November 27, 2017

Love TOS, I watched it way after TNG et al, and it quickly became my favorite series. I haven't re-watched it in forever, so I'm going to mention episodes that stuck with me for weirdness or old-timey campiness.

Well, everyone has mentioned the 'good' ones already, like Amok Time and City on the Edge of Forever. So I'm going to mention some duds and underrated episodes that never make the lists.

So, an episode that stuck with me was "The Return of the Archons," just because the opening scenes with the robotic-acting people on the world were great. "Festival, Festival!" is something that I still say, whenever we go to any kind of fete or event. It's a pretty hilarious opening, honestly, even though it's not a very 'good' episode, and never makes any lists. I like this one for the weirdness and campy-ness.

Plato's Stepchildren is significant because it features the first interracial kiss, and was pretty controversial at the time. It was almost vetoed by the network, and if I recall correctly, they tried to change the kiss to Spock, but in the end the writers and actors insisted, and it played as it is seen. Also, there are some great, campy, funny bits in that episode too; 'I'm tweedle dee, he's tweedle dum!' but despite that, it's an interesting one, in a philosophical sense. It's also an episode that's full of camp, and not easy to forget. I found it really disconcerting, but it is supposed to be, and it makes you think.

The Naked Time because Riley needs to be punched. It's just so campy and annoying, plus shirtless psychotic Sulu with a fencing foil!

Same with The Squire of Gothos this is another campy episode, that is actually fairly interesting.

Honestly, I don't like Tribbles that much, because while it's funny and cute, that's basically all it is. It is a fan-fiction written episode and it shows. It is basically Star Trek as a workplace comedy, and although the camaraderie is good-- the characters themselves don't shine. Plus the camraderie is always good in TOS, so Tribbles isn't special in that regard. I think Tribbles themselves are quintessential ST now, but the episode itself doesn't feel like quintessential TOS for me. I know fans 'love' it, though, I am very much in the minority in that opinion, though.

That's all that comes to mind off the top of my head, although of course the one with the Gorgon is also a fun episode, and so is the one with the Horta.

Also "Spocks Brain" is memorable because it is literally the worst episode in the series. It is notorious for being so, has quite the reputation, and if you want to show a well rounded set of episodes, might be worth including. But probably, don't. It really is terrible and not even the campiness saves it, imo.

Have fun! TOS forever!
posted by Dimes at 6:35 AM on November 28, 2017

Honestly, I wouldn't leave out both parts of The Menagerie, either. If, for no other reason, than the comparison between the original vision of the show and the show as it came to be. I know that would eat-up two slots in your binge, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:06 AM on November 29, 2017

I think I've finalized my list and viewing order:

The Naked Time: Shirtless Sulu; Spock crying; everyone's seen screencaps
Balance of Terror: Intro to Romulans
Space Seed: Intro to Khan. Origins of plotlines that got picked up again later.
The Trouble with Tribbles: Fun, also, everyone's seen tribbles at the Star Trek tables at conventions. Not one of the best, but iconic.
Devil in the Dark: Good episide; mind meld; have filk of it
This Side of Paradise: Sex pollen
Journey to Babel: Spock's father; other races
City on the Edge of Forever: Big angsty romance; timey-wimey shenanigans
Amok Time: The episode that launched a fanfic genre
Mirror, Mirror: The episode that launched a tv trope. The original canon AU.

But there's been enough input that I've put together a second day's list, viewing order undecided. I have fewer specific reasons for these; more "well-recommended; cover lots of other details." (All Our Yesterdays is not high on most people's lists, but it's core for Spock/McCoy shippers.)
Menagerie I
Menagerie II
Piece of the Action
All Our Yesterdays
Plato's Stepchildren
Corbomite Maneuver
Errand of Mercy
Return to Tomorrow
Piece of the Action

Thank you all so much! And anyone whose suggestions I didn't use - those are all good episodes, and good reasons, and I can't cram more hours into a day. It's possible we'll run extras (and I'll get to introduce the space hippies) (you cannot know how much it hurts me to put together a rec list and leave out the space hippies). If not, we'll probably try to coordinate online mutual viewings with a chat window open, and I want to be able to say "and there are MORE GREAT EPISODES; these are key for fandom, but it's not like these are the best and everything else was forgettable."

(And I like Corbomite Maneuver and am not in to MilSciFi. Is just, it's on all the rec lists because it crosses over into MilSciFi fandom. It's also just a good episode - but plenty of good episodes show up on some lists but not others.)

Again, thank you all!! You gave me lots to think about and persuaded me that I really do need to push for two days.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:15 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Come on - you should do "Spock's Brain"... How can you not???
posted by KazamaSmokers at 4:16 PM on December 2, 2017

Just noticed this in the MeTa highlights. ErisLordFreedom, this cries out to become a Duffer's Guide, if you'll permit.
posted by mwhybark at 7:34 PM on January 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

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