The Reviewinator: Star Trek – The Animated Series (1973-1974)


I’ll admit: I didn’t even know this Animated Series existed until I decided to delve into all things Star Trek. And after I found out about it, I strongly considered skipping it, if for no other reason than real “Trekkies” don’t consider it part of the canon. It’s a cancelled show that’s a sequel to another cancelled show. And it’s animated, something I don’t do too well unless it’s raunchy like Archer or hilariously eccentric like Invader Zim. But with only 22 half-hour episodes, I decided to give it a go.

Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and crew continue their five-year mission to explore the galaxy. Most of the cast returns save for Chekov (although Walter Koenig did write an episode), and they play their roles as if nothing has changed since The Original Series. Because nothing has. It’s the same exact thing, just animated (poorly).

Low-budget animated shows can be pretty hard on the eyes. Think of the old Spider-Man cartoon, where the fastest the action can get is still slow enough to test your patience. Add in a group of astronauts who seem to run slower than an elderly man with a walker and you’ll understand how riveting this show is (or isn’t). Apart from the stiff animations and distorted voice-overs, this show just doesn’t really offer anything noteworthy. Aside from some odd new crew members, like the skinny-necked nasally-voiced guy, or the cat girl who purrs at the end of every sentence, there’s really nothing to draw in even the most hardcore fans. Although it does have the first appearance of the holodeck, so there’s that.

And then it hit me: it’s a kids’ show. And then I realized: no it’s not. And then it dawned on me: or is it? I honestly couldn’t tell. It’s animated like a kids’ show, but the plots are full of so much scientific mumbo-jumbo that I couldn’t imagine kids being entertained by this at all. It’s only when a strange alien creature, like a bird man or something, shows up, that I’d think kids might possibly tune in (at least for a minute or two). But this show almost feels like it was an excuse for Gene Roddenberry to “complete” the five-year mission started in 1966. And with the second cancellation in a row, he didn’t even get to do that.

The Animated Series is not a terrible show, it’s really just a whole lot of nothing. It’s only 22 half-hour episodes, so it’s easy to get through. But once it’s done, you’ll try to forget you ever watched it. It adds nothing and it takes nothing away. It takes a lot for a completionist like me to recommend skipping an entry in any franchise, but the reality is: animated sequels are rarely considered part of the overall canon (which is secret code for: “Skip this show and go right to the movies.”). On that note, unless you’re a hardcore superfan, I recommend leaving this “kids’ show” out of your Star Trek line-up.

2 out of 5

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