It's really quite weird what you notice when you see them back-to-back vaguely in production order, something I'd never actually done before -- I'm only old enough to have seen the 3rd season in first run, and that only because NBC decided that year that it was a "kids show" and moved it back to an early time slot, and even by then, what with Freddy Freiburger in charge, things were already quite random (though since I was only 8 years old, I didn't notice).
Sort of fun to see how Gene was completely winging it for those first several episodes. Whatever series bible they had at that point, it was very sparse. It takes quite a while for them to get to even having a "Star Fleet". And there is no Federation:
- "Where No Man Has Gone Before" makes vague references to "Earth bases"
- In "Corbomite Maneuver", only the aliens have a Federation.
- In "Balance of Terror", the treaty is between Romulus/Remus and "Earth" and the neutral zone outposts are all "Earth Outpost"s
- In "Tomorrow is Yesterday" (the one where they snatch the USAF pilot in 1967) which has the first references to "Star Fleet", Kirk tells Christopher that their governing authority is the "United Earth Space Probe Agency"
- one of Kirk's log entries in "Charlie X" mentions reporting the destruction of the Antares to "Yewspah Headquarters", which, I'm assuming, is how UESPA is supposed to be pronounced.
- "Errand of Mercy" -- Hi, Mr. Organian Town Council Guy. Don't mind us beaming down right in the middle of your primitive village. We're about to fight a war with the Klingons, and if you let us have a base here, we'll give you all sorts of neat hi-tech stuff.
- "A Taste of Armageddon" -- Your stupid computer-war with Vendicar is bullshit and we're going lay waste your entire planet if we don't get our people back. We even have a general order for just this kind of situation.
- "Return of the Archons" -- This is the one 1st season episode where they actually attempt to blend in with the population. But, they're investigating a planet where something took out a starship; figure that keeping a low profile in that kind of situation is not actually a bad idea. Admittedly, there is a brief discussion of whether this culture is worth preserving, and, oddly enough, the answer they come up with is, well, no.
Meanwhile, oddly enough, while the UESPA may not (yet) have a Prime Directive, Landrew does.
- "Miri" -- one supposes parallel Earths are exempt and can be messed with however we like. Besides, it's for the children.
- "Man Trap" -- let's see... the creature needs salt to live, it's intelligent, and it's not like we don't have tons of salt on board ship, and there's a fairly good bet that if we were to give it salt, it would stop trying to extract salt from random crewpeople. And it's the last of its race. But we're gonna kill it anyway. Go us.
- "Devil in the Dark" -- The Horta is another of these last-of-its-race things. At least this time, Kirk and Spock actually have an argument about whether or not to kill it.
Hm, I guess "Squire of Gothos" and "Charlie X" are alien-contact episodes, too, but Trelane and the Thasians are so bad-ass that anyone who interferes with them is not long for this world. Really when you consider the number of bad-ass aliens in the Trek universe it's a wonder the Federation survives at all or why the Borg were ever a a problem. Imagine what an alliance of the Organians, the Talosians, the First Federation, the Thasians, the Metrons and Trelane's people could do -- the Borg would get ripped to shreds before breakfast -- and that's just the 1st Season bad-asses.
Stupidest episode by far: "The Alternative Factor". Makes no sense whatsoever. None. At all.
I've now decided that no sci-fi series is worthy of the name unless it has a Stupid Antimatter Episode. Now I need to see this one back-to-back with Space:1999's "Matter of Life and Death" just to see which one is worse.
Biggest Surprise: "Mudd's Women" is a lot more watchable than I expected it to be.