As everyone on earth (to say nothing of everyone in the United Federation of Planets) must know by now, the debut episode of Star Trek's first season, "The Man Trap," was not the first episode filmed. Nor was the series' "official" pilot episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," the first one to go before the cameras. The real launching pad for Star Trek was "The Cage," which stars not William Shatner as James T. Kirk, but instead Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike of the Starship Enterprise. Though Hunter was replaced by Shatner, producer Gene Roddenberry wasn't about to let the costly "The Cage go to waste: thus, the episode was reedited as a two-part "flashback" titled "The Menagerie," with an added wraparound sequence in which the Enterprise's first officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) explains at his court-martial why he attempted to kidnap the now-enfeebled and demented Captain Pike. With this out of the way, it can be said that Season One of Star Trek--or more specifically, year one of the Enterprise's five-year mission to "boldly go where no man has gone before"--contains several of the series' best and best-loved episodes, with the ensemble cast--Shatner, Nimoy, DeForest Kelley (Dr. "Bones" McCoy), James Doohan (Engineer Scott), Nichelle Nichols (communications officer Uhura), George Takei (helmsman Lt. Sulu) and Majel Barrett (Nurse Christine Chapel)--in peak form. In fact, the casting falls short of perfection in only one respect: Walter Koenig as ensign Chekov would not join the show until Season Two. This season represents the first series contributions of Richard Matheson ("The Enemy Within"), Jerry Sohl ("The Corbomite Maneuver"), Robert Bloch ("What Are Little Girls Made Of?"), Theodore Sturgeon ("Shore Leave") and Star Trek story editor D.C. Fontana ("Tomorrow is Yesterday"). Perhaps the most memorable--and certainly the most controversial--of the season's offerings is Harlan Ellison's Hugo-award winning "City on the Edge of Forever" (Alas, Ellison would never write again for Star Trek, the result of a well-publicized feud between the author and producer Roddenberry which has been exhaustively chronicled elsewhere). Finally, let us take note of two unforgettable guest star turns in Season One. First there's Roger C. Carmel, making his first appearance as intergalactic con artist Harry Mudd in "Mudd's Women." And last but not least, Ricardo Montalban plays the evil Khan, a genetically engineering superman who endeavors to take over the Enterprise in "Space Seed." Sixteen years later, Khan (again played by Montalban) would be up to his old tricks in the theatrical-movie spinoff Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan!The Starship Enterprise's five-year mission to "seek out new life forms and new civilizations" and "boldly go where no man has gone before" shifts into warp speed as Star Trek enters its second season. The biggest news this year is a fresh addition to the ensemble cast: Now taking his place alongside such TV immortals as William Shatner (Capt. Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock), DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy), James Doohan) (Engineer Scott), George Takei (Lt. Sulu), Nichelle Nichols (Officer Uhura) and Majel Barrett (Nurse Chapel) is Walter Koenig as young Russian-born ensign Pavel Chekov (a character added to attract more teenage viewers--and NOT to pacify the Soviet Union, as has often been claimed) The season begins with one of the series' best efforts, Theodore Sturgeon's "Amok Time," in which the half-Vulcan Mr. Spock must mate or die. Spock is also the focus in D.C. Fontana's "Journey to Babel," featuring Jane Wyatt and Mark Lenard as Spock's parents Amanda and Sarek. Other Season Two highlights include the return of intergalactic con artist Harry Mudd (Roger C. Carmel) in "I, Mudd"; Margaret Armen's superb "The Gamesters of Triskelon," in which the crew is forced to engaged in barbaric combat, and the thematically similar "Bread and Circuses," depicting an ancient Roman society decked out with 20th-century technology; "The Changeling," with Vic Perrin (best known as the "Control Voice" on The Outer Limits) supplying the voice of the lethally "perfect" computer Nomad; "The Deadly Years," in which the crew is subjected to an accelerated aging process; and Robert Bloch's "whodunnit in space," "Wolf in the Fold." And we can't forget David Gerrold's classic "The Trouble with Tribbles," all about those incredibly prolific little furballs; the supremely silly but enjoyable "A Piece of the Action," aka "Star Trek meets The Untouchables"; and the much-maligned "Mirror, Mirror," wherein the crew comes face to face with their barbaric doppelgangers. The season finale, "Assignment: Earth," was intended as the pilot for a spinoff series, starring Robert Lansing as altruistic time traveller Gary Seven.The third and final season of Star Trek is frequently written off as the series' nadir, if only because creator Gene Roddenberry had relinquished a great deal of his creative control to the NBC executives and to new producer Fred Freiberger). Another reason given for the series' decline was the decision to cut the budgets to the bone, and to depend more on "house" writers than established science-fiction specialists. Also, there was a heavier reliance upon gimmickry and gadgetry than in previous years, upsetting those purists who preferred strong characterizations and story values to the standard sci-fi/fantasy cliches. But while Season Three was overall the weakest, especially in terms of ratings, several of the individual episodes are among the finest that Star Trek has to offer. We get off to a good start with the opener, "Spock's Brain," in which the titular organ is "kidnapped" from its owner Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy). Attorney Melvin Belli makes his acting debut as a sinister, corruptive life force (not a lawyer, but close!) in "And the Children Shall Lead." The crew of the Starship Enterprise is forced to sacrifice themselves during the Gunfight at the OK Corral in "Spectre of the Gun." "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" is an allegorical drama in which the fate of a civilization is determined by a duel to the death between its two last survivors (Frank Gorshin, Lou Antonio), whose faces are half-black and half-white. And in the series finale "Turnabout Intruder," the mind of Captain Kirk (William Shatner) is exchanged with that of his embittered ex-lover (Sandra Smith)--and vice versa. The season's most controversial episode was "Plato's Stepchildren," originally telecast November 22, 1968, in which Kirk and officer Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) share the first interracial kiss ever seen on network television.