|via Memory Alpha|
Another benefit of an animated show was the opportunity to exhibit the vocal talents of the original series cast members, particularly a select few further down the chain of command: Majel Barrett (Nurse Chapel), Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) and, most of all, James Doohan (Scotty). Roddenberry knew from the beginning that he had a vocal talent on his hands with Doohan, a veteran of radio dramas. In his audition for the original Star Trek series, Doohan offered several different choices for the accent of his character. The actor himself is Canadian. In addition to his performance as Scotty on TAS, he supplied the voices for the vast majority of the supplementary male characters.
The female characters were split between Barrett and Nichols. Barrett got more of the work early in the series, particularly computer voices. Nichols got more later on, probably in part because Barrett had a baby in 1974. I like Barrett's voice well enough but Nichols was the true star. Hers is a lilting, lyrical singer's voice, one that could be warm, ethereal, sexy, sensual, mystical, nurturing. Given her obviously superior talent, why didn't she get more of the work? Well, Barrett was married to the boss.
The canon value of the episodes is frequently debated but during the 1970s, they were the only new Trek stories on television. Perhaps they were enough to turn a few kids on to the originals, helping to build the audience for the movies, the first of which would hit theaters in 1979. They're certainly a lot of fun for those of us already converted.
Time to hand out the hardware...
Favorite Episode: "Yesteryear"
Our visit to Spock's childhood, "Yesteryear" has a strong legacy in the canon. The 2009 Star Trek reboot film used many of the elements of this story, even specific lines of dialogue. Just as important to me, the character of Thelin, Spock's replacement in an alternate time stream, displays the graceful generosity that represents the very best of Trek.
Least Favorite Episode: "The Practical Joker"
TAS's worst episodes really aren't that bad. In "The Practical Joker," the ship's computer plays tricks on the crew. The basic concept is fine but a few of the scenes run too long. For the sake of the exercise, I had to pick a clunker. "The Practical Joker" gets the nod.
Favorite New Character: Agmar
Agmar is a Phylosian, a plant-based intelligent life form encountered by our friends in "The Infinite Vulcan." He's essentially a walking, talking dandelion. He's a fine example of what one sees a lot in TAS: a strong story element in an otherwise weak story.
5 Must-See Episodes
I allowed myself 10 with the original series but with only 22 TAS episodes in total, 5 would provide a reasonable sample tour for the novice. All are from the first season, listed in order of original broadcast date:
"Yesteryear" - See above.
"The Lorelei Signal" - Other episodes have stronger stories but "The Lorelei Signal" contains my favorite scene from the series. As the Enterprise floats across the screen, we hear Scotty singing a Welsh ballad from the captain's chair.
"More Tribbles, More Troubles" - One of several sequels to TOS episodes. Cyrano Jones is at it again, peddling his furry critters. The episode also marks the first of two TAS appearances by the Klingons.
"The Survivor" - A shapeshifter story, long a Star Trek staple. Ted Knight guest stars.
"The Ambergris Element" - Perhaps the best example of a story made possible through animation. Our heroes visit the underwater world of the Aquans.
I am so grateful to my friends for joining me in this adventure, both on our blogs and on Twitter. I might have worked my way through TAS at some point of my own but it was loads more fun with company. I look forward to future endeavors!