Monday, February 8, 2016

6 More of My Favorite Episodes of Improvised Star Trek

If you are long time reader of this blog, you know I am a member of the Improvised Star Trek Podcast.

If you've known me for longer than 15 minutes, I have probably asked you at some point to give said podcast a listen. Maybe you're not into Star Trek, so you don't think the show is for you. That's cool. Trust me when I tell you: this is a show that is great for Star Trek likers, but also for non-likers. It's essentially an office comedy on a spaceship. Theoretically, if you like laughing at some of Chicago's best improvisors, you will like this show- no previous Star Trek experience required.

Now I also understand that at 130 episodes, there is a lot to listen to. Like, a whole, whole lot. It's hard to know just where to get started with an older podcast that has a whole backlog of episodes.

Fortunately, about two years ago, I created this list of my ten favorite episodes of the show.

It's been two years, so I figured it was time to update that blog entry. So, as an addendum to that list which ends at episode 82, here are 6 more of my favorite episodes from episode 83 to the present.

Episode 87: Hamnesia There's a lot of great stuff happening in this episode. This is the debut of Eli Mandel's character Rip Stipley, a notorious Maquis terrorist who eventually becomes part of the regular crew. Rip has a scheme to take over the Sisyphus using hams which is ridiculous and hilarious. The episode also includes one of our best scenes ever in which we parody the famous "Four Lights" scene from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Episode 95: Operation Brunch This episode is a huge change of pace. It has a small cast, (with special guest Brendan Stallings) occurs on a brunch planet instead of the Sisyphus, and is essentially one long scene instead of a series of smaller scenes. Very different and very fun.

Episode 109: Who Washes the Window Washers One of my favorite things we do from time to time on IST is peer through the holes in Utopian science fiction. Case in point: in this episode, the crew encounters an alien species that seemingly only washes windows. By the end, everyone re-examines their notions of the Federation's economy and what constitutes fair compensation in a post-scarcity dystopia.

Episode 110: Planet Cat I really love that "Window Washers" and "Planet Cat" aired back to back. While washers is probably one of our smarter episodes, "Cat" is one of our sillier episodes. In Planet Cat, new crewmember Ensign Spot (played by Julia Weiss) has to return to her planet to deal with a cruel dictator bent on ruling the universe. This episode is essentially just a series of escalating cat jokes, and it's the best. Find out why Ensign Spot was the breakout IST character of the year.

Episode 121: Nick O'Time Temporal Adventurer Speaking of common scifi tropes: the "time traveler who is not what he seems" is a big one. Eli Mandel plays Nick O'Time and Julia Weiss plays his trusty dog Rusty. This is a shorter episode, but Nick O'Time is one of the best characters to ever appear on the show.

Episode 128: Yesterday Would Have Been a Good Day to Have Died Here's a relatively new one. In "Yesterday," we discover that for once, the crew of the Sisyphus won: they saved the Federation. The only catch is they can't tell anybody about it. The episode is mainly about how the crew adjusts to returning to life as a bunch of losers after a triumph they can't talk about.

There you go. 6 episodes that all make great entry points to Improvised Star Trek, all from the last 2 years. Give a listen, and if you like them, maybe try out some of the other 124 episodes!