Flashback TV #1: Star Trek, the Animated Series
Star Trek: The Animated Series was shown in 1973 after the cancellation of the original series. The first episode is a called “Beyond the Farthest Star” and its a short primer to the series. The Animated Series has all the characters and voices from the original series, including Spock, Uhura, and Sulu. The only one missing from the cast is Chekov, because they couldn’t afford him, for some reason. The animation itself is fairly average to poor, with some noticable color errors even in the first episode, but it’s passable for a quick flashback to Star Trek.
Beyond the Farthest Star uses the cliché ‘ship gets stuck’ setup, so the crew have to think their way out. The Next Generation and other science fiction stories have used the same plot scenario before. Used in this episode, it is fairly generic. The main villain is an energy parasite who wants to free itself from the huge gravity around the area of a dead star.
Captain Kirk and crew investigate an abandoned ship in orbit around the star and find a warning message about the entity. It tries to take over the Enterprise and only flees when the ship seems ready to crash with it aboard. Free of the entity, the Enterprise uses a slingshot maneuver to get away and everybody does a little dance of celebration.
All in all, this is a fairly standard episode. I wouldn’t call it great science fiction, although it has a good concept and some interesting environments. The entity is voiced by James Doohan, who does double-duty as Scotty. The “slingshot effect” or “slingshot maneuver” was later used in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, although with much greater dramatic effect. Beyond the Farthest Star inspired a novel in 1974, so it does have a legacy. I would say they were off to a good start with this episode, although it isn’t my favorite, and could use some improvements in the originality and plot departments.