I know I originally promised a continuation of my Ideal Images column from last time, and that’s still coming, but I felt like having a little fun this week. So indulge me for a bit.
As you folks may have grasped by now, I’m a big fan of the original Star Trek. And recently over on the TrekBBS discussion board I frequent, one of the members asked an interesting question:
Of course ‘Space Seed’ is canon given Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but I am curious as to (in terms of internal chronology/consistency) how/what level of canon the rest of TOS is viewed within the context of the first six Star Trek movies?
Now the real answer to this is, of course, that CBS/Paramount’s basic policy is that everything onscreen is canon. If it’s on film, then it happened in the Star Trek universe, even if an episode’s events are never referenced again.
But it raises an interesting question: What episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series are explicitly in continuity because they were referenced in the Trek movies? Could you state that, say, “A Taste Of Armageddon” definitely happened to our heroes because it was referenced in one of the films? Could you find references to the entire television series if you looked hard enough?
It seemed like an interesting challenge. And since I was going through a bout of insomnia when I first read the question, I decided to find out.
So here’s the deal: I’ll start out with a list of all 79 of the original episodes. When I come across something in one of the movies that references a particular character or element in an episode, I’ll eliminate that episode from the list. The episodes that are left over will be considered to have never happened in the movie continuity. Oh, and one more thing: For the sake of fun, I’m not going to use something that appears in every episode like the Enterprise or Starfleet. We want this to be a little more challenging than that.
And don’t take this too seriously, folks. It’s just me having a little fun by looking at Star Trek in a new way. This may not make a whole lot of logical sense, but just go with it, okay?
Star Trek: The Motion Picture starts out with the Klingons (even if they looked like no Klingons we’d ever seen before), so presumably that brings all the Klingon episodes of TOS into the movie continuity. That would be “Errand of Mercy,” (1) “Friday’s Child,” (2) “The Trouble with Tribbles,” (3) “A Private Little War,” (4) “Elaan of Troyius,” (5) “The Day of the Dove,” (6) and “The Savage Curtain” (7). That’s seven episodes to start.
A couple of Andorians are seen during the Enterprise‘s mission briefing, so that incorporates the Andorian episodes “Journey To Babel,” (8) “The Gamesters of Triskelion” (9) and “Whom Gods Destroy” (10) as well. That brings us up to 10 episodes.
Spock mind melds with V’Ger about 2/3rds into the film, so that brings in the 12 TOS episodes featuring the mind meld: “Dagger of the Mind,” (11) “Return of the Archons,” (12) “A Taste of Armageddon,” (13) “The Devil in the Dark,” (14) “The Changeling,” (15) “Mirror, Mirror,” (16) “By Any Other Name,” (17) “Spectre of the Gun,” (18) “The Paradise Syndrome,” (19) “Is There In Truth No Beauty?” (20) “Requiem for Methuselah,” (21) and finally “Turnabout Intruder” (22).
I’m not going to include Will Decker as a TOS reference. I know it’s said in the Star Trek: Phase II writer’s guide and several bits of tie-in fiction that he’s the son of Commodore Matt Decker from “The Doomsday Machine,” but since it’s never directly stated onscreen, I’m not counting it.
So that’s 22 episodes of TOS referenced just in the first movie. Not a bad start.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan brings back Khan Noonien Singh from “Space Seed,” (23) so of course that’s included.
TWOK finds several of Kirk’s crew instructing at Starfleet Academy, so that brings in any episode that mentions the Academy. According to this script search, that’s “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” (24) “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” (25) “Court Martial,” (26) “Shore Leave,” (27) “The Apple,” (28) “Bread and Circuses,” (29) “Obsession,” (30) “Patterns of Force,” (31) and “The Way To Eden” (32).
Klingons are again mentioned and their ships are seen in stock footage from TMP. McCoy gives Kirk Romulan Ale as a birthday present and the Neutral Zone is mentioned, so we can incorporate the Romulan episodes “Balance of Terror,” (33) “The Deadly Years,” (34) and “The Enterprise Incident” (35).
David Marcus mentions Surak, so that further confirms “The Savage Curtain.”
When Kirk and company are stranded in the Genesis Cave, Kirk orders the Enterprise to go to the nearest Starbase if they don’t hear from him in one hour. Starbases were mentioned and seen several times on TOS, so according to this script search, that adds “The Menagerie,” (36) “The Alternative Factor,” (37) “Tomorrow Is Yesterday,” (38) “This Side of Paradise,” (39) “Operation: Annihilate!” (40) “Who Mourns For Adonias?” (41) “Amok Time,” (42) “The Doomsday Machine,” (43) “The Immunity Syndrome,” (44) “And The Children Shall Lead,” (45) “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” (46) and “The Lights of Zetar” (47) to our list.
After the crew beams up from the Genesis Cave, Saavik expresses amazement that Spock lied. I suppose that brings in any episodes that tell us that Vulcans don’t lie. According to this script search, it looks like the earliest episode to do so was the two-part “The Menagerie,” which also incorporates footage from the original pilot, “The Cage” (48).
Spock’s “Remember” to McCoy could perhaps be drawn from him telling Kirk to “Forget” at the end of “Requiem for Methuselah,” reaffirming that episode.
So TWOK gives us 26 additional episodes, bringing the total to 48.
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock again references “Journey To Babel” through the character of Sarek. Sarek mind melds with Kirk, reaffirming all the mind meld episodes. Klingons appear once again.
We see some Tribbles in the bar that McCoy visits, further confirming “The Trouble With Tribbles.”
Spock’s resurrection partly depends upon him placing his Katra into McCoy, an ability we saw him display with Nurse Chapel in “Return To Tomorrow” (49).
The regenerated Spock undergoes Pon Farr, so that reaffirms “Amok Time.”
The Enterprise self-destruct sequence is drawn from “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” (almost word-for-word).
Surprisingly, The Search For Spock only brings in one new episode, bringing our current total to 49.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home uses the slingshot time-travel method introduced in “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” and reused in “Assignment: Earth” (50).
The movie again uses Sarek and brings in Amanda for good measure, further confirming the place of “Journey to Babel” in the movie continuity.
Since “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” was brought in earlier, that’s again only one new episode, bringing our total to 50.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier uses Klingons and Romulans again, and mentions Starfleet Academy. Sarek has a cameo in a flashback/dream sequence. Spock plays his Vulcan lute during the campfire scenes, but that doesn’t bring in any episodes we don’t already have. I can’t think of any other TOS episodes not referenced before.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country has Klingons, Romulans, Sarek, a mind meld, Romulan Ale, and mentions of Starfleet Academy and Starbases, but again, I can’t really think of any brand-new TOS references.
But wait! I just realized that I’m not including two recurring TOS characters who appear in the movies. Nurse/Doctor Christine Chapel has cameos in TMP and STIV, so we ought to bring all of her TOS episodes into continuity, too. So, not counting the Chapel episodes we’ve already included, that adds “The Naked Time,” (51) “Spock’s Brain,” (52) “The Tholian Web,” (53) “For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky,” (54) “Plato’s Stepchildren,” (55) and “Wink of an Eye” (56) to the list.
That’s six more episodes, so we’re at 56 total.
And the former Yeoman Janice Rand appears in TMP, STIII, STIV, and STVI, so that gives us her TOS episodes “The Corbomite Maneuver,” (57) “The Enemy Within,” (58) “The Man Trap,” (59) “Charlie X,” (60) “Miri,” (61) and “The Conscience of the King” (62). (Again, I’m not including the Rand episodes that we’ve already listed for clarity’s sake.)
That’s another six episodes, bringing our grand total to 62.
So that means that a total of 17 TOS episodes are left out in the cold. Let’s take a look at what’s eliminated…
“Mudd’s Women” and “I, Mudd” are both out. Harry Mudd is a popular character, but his shenanigans were never mentioned in the movies.
“The Galileo Seven” is eliminated, which I guess explains why we saw the shuttlecraft Galileo in so many other episodes.
“The Squire of Gothos” gave us Trelane, who was basically the proto-Q. Fun episode, but nothing too vital.
“Arena” is gone. No more Kirk fighting with the Gorn. Rats.
The Halloween adventure “Catspaw” never happened. No big loss in my book.
“Metamorphosis” gave us warp speed discoverer Zephram Cochrane, who didn’t appear again until the Next Generation film First Contact.
“Wolf in the Fold” didn’t happen, so congratulations, Star Trek movies, Jack the Ripper is still on the loose.
No “A Piece of the Action,” meaning that Kirk and Spock never played Fizzbin or dressed up as Space Mobsters. This is starting to hurt. Vic Tayback is officially out of continuity.
“The Ultimate Computer” is gone. No M-5 or Dr. Richard Daystrom, who didn’t get a shout-out until TNG‘s “The Measure of a Man” established the Daystrom Institute.
We’ve vaporized “The Omega Glory,” so no more of Kirk reciting the Preamble to the Constitution. Sad.
“The Empath” is another one I won’t miss much, as I’ve only seen it once or twice. Like most of the third season, it’s not high on my rewatch list.
“That Which Survives” I remember mainly for Lee Meriwether. Again, no huge loss.
“The Mark of Gideon” is the overpopulation episode of TOS, and another one I haven’t watched very much.
“The Cloudminders” is the TOS version of Metropolis, with Spock acting very out of character and expressing romantic interest in Droxine.
Spock gets his freak on again in “All Our Yesterdays,” but that episode at least had the courtesy to give us a handwave explanation for his behavior.
And that’s all of them. A few fan favorites, but nothing too vital to our perception of TOS as a whole. Yep, nothing too important there. I mean, it’s too bad we’re losing Harry Mudd and the Gorn, but it’s not like we’re eliminating a huge fan favorite, like…
So there you go. According to the movies, “The City on the Edge of Forever” never happened, but we still have Space Lincoln and Space Hippies, so it’s all good.
See you next week.