Star Trek: The Animated Series has been unjustly neglected by all but the most devoted Trekkies for most of the 36-plus years since it originally aired. The animation may — does — look cheesy by today’s standards, but some of the stories are truly excellent, and they did get all but one of the original cast members to do their characters’ voices.
Well, StarTrek.com has now put every episode of the series online for free viewing (though not, alas, downloading). If you’ve not seen any of the 22 episodes of the series, but are a fan of ST:The Original Series, you’re in for a treat. Some of them are just so-so, but even the worst of them is better (to my mind, anyway) than 70% of the episodes of ST: Enterprise. My favorites are:
- “Yesteryear,” in which we learn a lot about Spock’s childhood. If you’ve seen the 2009 Star Trek movie, you may recognize some of Sarek’s lines (voiced by the inimitable Mark Lenard) from this episode (as was intentional on the part of the filmmakers).
- “More Tribbles, More Troubles,” written by David Gerrold as a sequel to his famous ST:TOS episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.” A very funny episode, particularly because they got Stanley Adams (who played the part originally) to do the voice of Cyrano Jones.
- “The Slaver Weapon,” by sci-fi master Larry Niven. The episode even features an appearance by Niven’s Kzinti.
- “Mudd’s Passion,” featuring Roger C. Carmel as the voice of Harry Mudd, of course.
- “The Practical Joker,” in which the holodeck makes its first appearance in the Star Trek universe.
- “The Infinite Vulcan,” not so much because it’s a great episode, because it’s not (although it’s not bad, either), but because it was written by Walter Koenig — thereby making him the first Star Trek actor to write an episode of the show in any form.
The irony of the last one is that Koenig was the one original cast member who didn’t provide a voice for the show, though according to Koenig that was not by his choice but because they simply couldn’t afford to bring everyone back. And at least they were decent enough not to put Chekov in the series with a different actor, but rather to introduce two new characters as navigators.
(Oh, and a message to the hardcore Trekkies out there: I know Gene Roddenberry said ST:TAS wasn’t canon. It doesn’t matter: it’s still good.)