Geek Deep Dive: Writing the 'Star Trek' history book, 'Federation: The First 150 Years'


Image Credit: Mark McHaley/CBS Studios

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Given Goodman’s exhaustive knowledge of all things Trek, I couldn’t resist asking him about his favorite Trek episodes from each of the five TV live-action series. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of his picks dealt in some way with Trek history.

Star Trek: The Original Series — “Mirror, Mirror”
When I was kid and I saw that episode, it was the first time I was presented with the idea of an alternative reality, and that blew my mind. I still love it. Kirk’s got his own whore living in his quarters. Spock is so cool with a beard. Everyone’s evil. You see the influences of alternate universes in pop culture, and it’s all from that episode. Obviously, it existed in science-fiction literature, but that Star Trek episode popularized an idea that has been used in comedies and dramas, movies, TV shows, and I love that. There was an episode of “The New Monkees,” I think, where they went to an alternate universe, and Davy Jones had a beard or something. You got to have the beard. That tells you you’re in an alternate universe.

Star Trek: The Next Generation — “Yesterday’s Enterprise”
I didn’t love the show in the beginning, but I grew to love it. Third season, I’m like, all right, they’re really hitting a stride here, this is great. I VCR’d every episode of Next Generation. That was before DVDs. That was before Netflix. That episode I must have watched five times the week it aired. I loved it so much. It’s like a little movie. That episode, more than any other episode of Next Generation, basically requires the audience to keep up. We are not stopping to explain anything for you from the minute that the reality changes. You better be keeping up. We’re not stopping. And I love that. I love that from a TV writer’s point of view, that idea that, you know what? You can trust the audience. This is a smart audience. They will keep up.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine — “Trials and Tribble-ations”
I mean, how can you not love that episode? They went all-out. I felt like every line of dialogue, they’re referencing something for fans. Sisko at some point goes, “Storage compartments? Storage compartments?” And that’s a line that Kirk has in “The Trouble With Tribbles.” It’s clear the writers of that show are as geeky as I am. It works in the narrative of the episode, but they’re also like, pay attention, this is all for you.

Star Trek: Voyager — “Equinox, Part 1 & 2″
Some of the things that I enjoyed about the original series was the bad captain episode, the captain who got like crazy and did bad things, and Kirk had to get him in line or deal with him. I feel like that episode of Voyager did that very well. You had John Savage playing this captain of his ship, and he’d been trapped in the Delta Quadrant, and he started to do some very bad things. It harkened back to the original series, and it was a fun conflict to have.

Star Trek: Enterprise — “North Star”
It’s the one I wrote. [Laughs] I know it’s not the best episode of Enterprise. I think there’s certainly better written ones. We were doing all these episodes involving the Xindi, but they said also we should come up with a non-Xindi episode to do just in case the Xindi thing doesn’t work out. So I pitched this idea of a wagon train that’s been kidnapped from the 1880s, put on another planet, and the Enterprise now finds this western town. The idea being, let’s do a cowboy planet episode, just like they would do on the original series. [Exec. producer] Rick Berman heard the story and said, don’t change a word, no notes, go ahead, which is just great. And the execution, I just thought, was beautiful. This was the fulfillment of a lifetime dream,  getting to do the cowboy planet episode of Star Trek. So that’s my favorite, but that’s because I have this personal involvement, contributing an episode that fans really don’t like, but I love it.

Read more:
Patrick Stewart on ‘Star Trek: TNG,’ returning to ‘X-Men,’ and Wil Wheaton’s beard
Geek Deep Dive: 4 surprising things about the ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ poster
‘Star Trek’ poster-palooza: New retro-cool posters inspired by the original TV series — EXCLUSIVE

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