JJ Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness has gotten great reviews. Already released in Australia, Mexico and other countries, the movie's U.S. release was delayed because of a competing opening of The Great Gatsby. Reviews thus far argue that Into Darkness barters a little originality for theatrics pulled from Mission: Impossible III, swirled with Lost's melodrama. (That still doesn't excuse refusing to screen the film for Portland critics before press deadlines, though.)
Abrams has done more than just made a good prequel: He's lifted a 34-year curse on Star Trek films. Serious Trekkies believe the odd-numbered films are doomed to fail, and there may be some evidence to support that superstition. Before 2009's Star Trek, that is: The 11th film in the series was one of the best-reviewed to date. Into Darkness, the 12th, will have the curse—if it still exists—working on its side.
But what of those cursed films and TV episodes the producers would just as soon leave out of DVD reissues? We compiled Star Trek's worst moments throughout its 47-year history on the big and little screens, in part to thumb our nose at the critic-hating studio, and in part to illustrate just how good Abrams really is.
Star Trek, Season 2: "The Omega Glory" (1968)
Two factions on an alien planet are in a standoff when suddenly Kirk and Spock decode the groups' names. "Yangs...Yankees!" Kirk blurts. "Kohms...Communists," Spock says. Jinkies! The Cold War and its factions have been magically duplicated on the planet Omega IV, and we'll leave it up to you to guess which are the blue-eyed Johnnies. At first, the plot seems in high orbit around realism. But when the Yangs parade out a tattered American flag and a copy of the U.S. Constitution and then stumble through a distorted Pledge of Allegiance, it's clear the Trek writers plotted a course straight to planet WTF.
Star Trek, Season 3: "The Way to Eden" (1969) (pictured above)
Pitiful hairdos and child-crafted instruments fail to fill a disjointed plot, while the acting makes In Living Color's parodies look like tributes. Curly-haired hippies who speak in future jive and refer to strangers as "Herbert" are trying to find their way to Eden, but thanks to the modern scientific advance known as the fast-forward button, the audience can be there in seconds.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2: "Shades of Gray" (1989)
The only way to save Commander Riker's life is to force him to relive all of his bad memories in an induced dream state, effectively showing a montage of the 21 worst moments of the critical flops that were seasons one and two of The Next Generation, including a battle with the tar monster of Vagra II. The whole episode was shot in three days, which is about how long watching it seems to last.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
William Shatner's first and only shot in the director's chair was, unfortunately for him, an odd-numbered film. Incessant jokes about the aging of the crew don't fit with their still-virulent fighting styles. The Enterprise has been co-opted into a search for—who else?—God. Cue one of hundreds of reaction shots! These geezers need to be transported back to Yosemite National Park, where they were enjoying semi-retirement at the opening of the film.
Star Trek: Voyager, Season 2: "Threshold" (1996)
Lieutenant Paris becomes the first human to travel at Warp 10, but he finds his body mutating into a giant reptile as a result of the stresses. Naturally, he kidnaps Captain Janeway and turns her into a mate, and the two abscond to a swamp planet and bump lizard nasties, producing three squirming sucklings. Of course, the offspring are left to fend for themselves while Janeway and Paris are reverted to their human selves, but how the characters manage to heal those kinky emotional scars remains a mystery.
SEE IT: Star Trek Into Darkness is rated PG-13. It opens Thursday at Cedar Hills, Eastport, Clackamas, Lloyd Center, Bridgeport, Division, Evergreen Parkway, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Pioneer Place, St. Johns Twin, Moreland, Tigard, Wilsonville, City Center. Look for AP Kryza's review at wweek.com.