Someone recently asked me for a list of my favorite Star Trek (TOS) episodes that they could watch as an introduction to the gestalt that is the Star Trek universe. It turns out there are some young people out there who are just discovering Science Fiction and understandably they are curious about Star Trek. As a world renowned expert on the subject (ahem) they naturally sought me out. I had some trouble limiting my list to ten but I picked those episodes I thought would speak well for the series and that contained the most important history of the universe they would be entering.
Here then is my edited email response with my list.
This is my list of the top 10 Classic Star Trek episodes.
I would also be happy to provide list for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
Remember when you are watching these that it was a very different time.
Many of the ideas and media techniques you are watching had never been tried before.
Basically, at this time, television production was only good at producing police shows and westerns.
In fact, Roddenberry, in order to even sell the idea to the network had to explain it as “a wagon train to the stars.”
In any case, here is my list in the order they should be watched with the episode number:
1 10 "The Corbomite Maneuver"
In many ways this was the very first real Star Trek episode. By that I mean it’s not a pilot and is shot with finished sets and uniforms.
2 11 "The Menagerie, Part I"
3 12 "The Menagerie, Part II"
A little Star Trek History here via a re-edit of the original pilot
4 14 "Balance of Terror"
Here we meet the Romulans.
5 22 "Space Seed"
The back Story to the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
6 26 "Errand of Mercy"
One of my personal favorites also we meet the Klingons
7 30 "Amok Time"
A little insight into Vulcans
8 39 "Journey to Babel"
We meet Spock’s parents as well as some other aliens
9 28 "The City on the Edge of Forever"
Widely regarded as one of the best episodes, it’s like a Star Trek episode in the Twilight Zone
10 33 "Mirror, Mirror"
My absolute favorite classic Trek episode!