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Star Trek: The Original Series (soundtracks)

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Star Trek: The Original Series soundtracks have been released by several record labels since the mid- 1980s , showcasing scores from a number of episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series . Several of the releases were of newly recorded suites, or reproductions of the original arrangement by the original composer.

In 2012 , La-La Land Records released the entire soundtrack library in a single, 15-disc set.

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Published Jun 21, 2023

10 Favorite Star Trek Musical Pieces

For World Music Day, let's look at how music played an intrinsic part of Star Trek's enduring legacy.

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StarTrek.com / Rob DeHart

From the first notes of Alexander Courage’s theme for The Original Series up through Michael Giacchino’s soaring scores for the most recent films, and everything in between, music has been an intrinsic part of Star Trek’ s enduring legacy.

Music plays a big part in helping me with my writing. Classical, film scores, and pretty much anything else without actual lyrics, is a candidate for helping me “get in the zone” as I push words. When it comes to writing Star Trek , you might guess that I listen to a lot of music from the different episodes or films, and you’d be right. To be honest, though, it isn’t only a tool for working. I also just simply enjoy it as a fan. I own the scores for all of the feature films, as well as the complete soundtrack collection from The Original Series and a smattering of selections from each of the other television series. I even have a suite of music from The Animated Series . Hey, it’s for work, people.

Spock plays the Vulcan lute in 'The Way to Eden'

"The Way to Eden"

StarTrek.com

Naturally, I have my favorite pieces and cues. Doesn’t everybody? I could write for days about the music of Star Trek and how it inspires my writing, or how it’s just something I enjoy listening to during long drives. Given my “Ten for Ward” format, I’d only be scratching the surface so far as compiling a list of music from any of the series or films, so I’m hoping folks will chime in with their own favorites.

Still, I’m going to be cheating a bit here and there, rather than just trying to limit my selections to ten individual pieces of music. This isn’t intended to be a definitive or “best of” list, and I’m not citing each television series’ standard opening or closing music, as those are easy picks, but otherwise? Here’s a list to get the discussion started.

“The Doomsday Machine,"  Star Trek

The Enterprise flies towards the planet killer in 'The Doomsday Machine'

"The Doomsday Machine"

To tell you the truth, I could fill up several lists just with music from The Original Series before I even thought about moving on to anything else. I forced myself to pick one example, and I think it’s a doozy. How many films of the era wish they could’ve had a musical arrangement as compelling as the one created by composer Sol Kaplan for this fan-favorite episode?

It’s space opera at its finest as Kaplan punctuates the tragedy of Commodore Matt Decker and the torment inflicted upon him by the mammoth automaton that has destroyed his ship, the U.S.S. Constellation . Likewise, the cues servicing the battle between the machine and the Enterprise are first-rate, and the entire score is a high water mark for a series where music was already one of its defining strengths.

“Stealing the Enterprise, ”  Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

James Kirk leans over between Montgomery Scott and Hikaru Sulu at their stations as they all stare intently at the viewscreen in front of them in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

James Horner had already hit it out of the park with his score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan , and he comports himself well with this follow-up. However, the original release of the third film ’s soundtrack was something of a disservice to him, as it omitted many of the pieces that set this movie’s music apart from the previous film.

The 2010 “Complete Score” release corrects that oversight, even though my favorite cue appeared on the original vinyl album. While borrowing and reworking some elements from his Star Trek II music, Horner still offers an exhilarating piece that highlights the hijacking of the Enterprise from space dock by Admiral Kirk and his command crew.

“Life Is A Dream (End Credits),”  Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Sybok looks at the deity as Spock, McCoy, and Kirk stand in the back on Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

It’s impossible to overstate the importance and lasting appeal of Jerry Goldsmith’s musical contributions to Star Trek . His score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture holds a permanent spot on my personal “Top 10 Film Scores Ever” list.

However, his end theme for the fifth movie is my favorite variation of the end credits theme he created for the first film. There’s a little more pomp and flourish in the now-familiar notes, and Goldsmith does a masterful job weaving other themes from the film, including a new take on his familiar “Klingon” music, as well as Alexander Courage’s iconic “ Star Trek fanfare.”

“Borg Engaged” and “Captain Borg,”  Star Trek: The Next Generation

Picard assimilated as Locutus of Borg in 'The Best of Both Worlds, Par I'

"The Best of Both Worlds, Part I"

Star Trek: The Next Generation 's third season ending cliffhanger, "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I," deserved its own score worthy of the silver screen, and Ron Jones delivers in fine fashion for this episode as well as the next season’s “Part II.”

The ominous image of the massive Borg cube on the Enterprise ’s viewscreen and — later — the shock of seeing Jean-Luc Picard assimilated by the Borg Collective is rammed home by Jones’ haunting themes, which are just two highlights from a superb score written for one of The Next Generation ’s most memorable episodes.

“Sign Off,”  Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

The Original Series bridge crew in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Kirk bids farewell to Captain Sulu and the Excelsior , before the entire Original Series cast says goodbye to us after 25 years of bold adventures in the final frontier. This moving piece by composer Cliff Eidelman, accompanying Captain Kirk’s final log entry along with William Shatner and the rest of the cast affixing their signatures to the end of the film, perfectly underscores the melancholy felt by so many longtime fans as we realized that “our” Star Trek had finally come to a close.

“Overture,”  Star Trek Generations

Kirk and Picard on horses in Star Trek Generations

Star Trek Generations

Despite its name, this is actually the end credits theme for the first film to feature the cast of The Next Generation . The stirring theme incorporates music from other cues that Dennis McCarthy crafted to give weight to scenes set in the Nexus as well as defining the courage of our heroes, including Captain Kirk’s valiant acts at both ends of the film. Capping off the whole thing is an emotive rendition of the classic “Star Trek fanfare” that acts as a true passing of the baton from one generation to the next.

“Flight of the Phoenix ,” Star Trek: First Contact

Riker, Cochrane, and La Forge in the Phoenix in Star Trek: First Contact

Star Trek: First Contact

The score for Captain Picard and the Enterprise -E’s second film outing is an underrated effort by Jerry Goldsmith, who once again succeeds at combining familiar themes with new pieces that give each Star Trek film its own musical identity.

For this piece, the legendary composer’s son, Joel Goldsmith, brings vitality, hope, and triumph to what in one respect is the “birth” of the Star Trek universe to come as Zefram Cochrane (with the help of Riker and La Forge) pilots the fragile Phoenix spacecraft on humanity’s first warp speed flight.

“Bride of Chaotica,”  Star Trek: Voyager

Dr. Chaotica pulls Janeway as Arachnia in close as he shows her around in 'Bride of Chaotica!'

"Bride of Chaotica!"

David Bell’s unrestrained musical homage to Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers is an utter treat on all counts. Though the episode also includes cues more consistent with Voyager ’s usual lower-key offerings, the “Captain Proton” pieces are delightfully loud and bombastic, in keeping with the 1930s science fiction movie serials to which they’re paying loving tribute.

“In A Mirror, Darkly,”  Star Trek: Enterprise

In a Mirror Universe, humans approach first contact in a dark manner by killing the Vulcan and storming their ship in 'In A Mirror Darkly, Part I'

"In A Mirror, Darkly, Part I"

What begins as a beautiful callback to Jerry Goldsmith’s themes from Star Trek VIII: First Contact takes on a sinister twist as Dennis McCarthy plunges us headlong into the cruelty of the “Mirror Universe.” The score for this landmark two-part episode includes a new theme to accompany an alternate take on the series’ opening credits sequence, preserving the effect of the entire storyline taking place in the parallel universe with no connection to our own. McCarthy goes all-out as he accentuates all of the backstabbing and scheming weaving around the story’s action sequences, including a foreboding final cue as Hoshi Sato declares herself “Empress.”

“Enterprising Young Men,”  Star Trek  (2009)

McCoy, holding an ill Kirk up, addresses a Starfleet official in Star Trek (2009)

Star Trek (2009)

While fans debate the merits of the most recent Star Trek movies, few take issue with the effort composer Michael Giacchino channeled into his musical scores . Nowhere is that more evident than this signature piece from the first film, which encapsulates in rousing fashion the energy of these “new” Star Trek voyages as well as the journey of this modern, bold incarnation of our beloved heroes.

Okay, that’s my 10, and that was playing fast and loose with my own rules. Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite piece of Star Trek music? Let us know on Social!

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This article was originally published on May 29, 2015.

Dayton Ward (he/him) is a New York Times bestselling author or co-author of numerous novels and short stories including a whole bunch of stuff set in the Star Trek universe, and often collaborating with friend and co-writer Kevin Dilmore. As he’s still a big ol' geek at heart, Dayton is known to wax nostalgic about all manner of Star Trek topics over on his own blog, The Fog of Ward .

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Gerald Fried: Amok Time Music Composer

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One of the best-known pieces of Star Trek music, composed by Gerald Fried , comes from the original series episode Amok Time , where Spock and Kirk face off on Vulcan in a fight to the death.

This piece of music, known as either “The Ritual” or “Ancient Battle” has been used in other shows and movies, such as Futurama ( Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love? ) and Cable Guy .

When asked how it felt to have become part of the musical lexicon of every single generation of composers since he created the music for Amok Time , Fried said that it was “one of life’s continuing pleasures.” Fried also enjoyed having his grandchildren discover that he had scored the fight theme. “I find it more fun to have the grandkids, four of whom are graduating high school and college, this month and next, stumble on the credits on their own.”

Working on Star Trek was a positive experience for Fried. “I enjoyed all the Star Trek s. There was a good feeling surrounding the Trek series.”

Fried answered fan questions regarding his other work, which can be read by heading to the link located here .

Thanks to Justin Boggan for the tip!

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R.I.P. Gerald Fried, Emmy-winning composer of Star Trek 's famous "fight music"

Fried won an emmy for roots , while his music from star trek 's "amok time" remains one of the most iconic sci-fi fight themes of all time.

Gerald Fried

Gerald Fried has died. A veteran musician and long-time Hollywood composer, Fried contributed work to dozens of films, as well as some of the defining TV shows of the 1960s and ’70s and beyond, including scores for Roots , Star Trek , and Gilligan’s Island . Although his work was sometimes overshadowed by the frequently flashier theme songs for the projects he worked on , many of his songs would eventually reach legendary status—most notably his horn-heavy, trilling score from the Star Trek episode “Amok Time,” essentially the iconic theme music for a good old-fashioned sci-fi fight scene. Per Variety , Fried died this week of pneumonia. He was 93.

Born in New York in the 1920s, Fried graduated from Julliard in the 1950s and quickly fell in with Stanley Kubrick, serving as the composer on many of the director’s early films (including their final collaboration, Kubrick’s 1957 military drama Paths Of Glory ). Working frequently in genre film and TV, Fried contributed scores to Westerns, crime thrillers, horror flicks, and more over the next several years, while also making significant (and, eventually, significantly lucrative) inroads into the world of TV.

Fried’s TV career started, again, in Westerns—including the inevitable detour through Gunsmoke that pops up on the resumé of essentially every single person working in Hollywood in the 1960s—before landing meatier gigs with shows like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Gilligan’s Island . (Fried composed music for 51 episodes of the endlessly syndicated series; he later noted , that, thanks to royalties, the series was the most profitable thing he ever did.) His music appeared in five episodes of Star Trek : “Shore Leave,” “Amok Time,” “Catspaw,” “Friday’s Child,” and “The Paradise Syndrome.”

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Fried attained his most prestigious TV credit in 1977, when the producers of Roots —apparently worried that original pick Quincy Jones was missing deadlines—brought him on to write a large portion of the music for the later episodes of groundbreaking miniseries Roots . Jones and Fried would share the Emmy win for the series’ score, and Fried would return to the franchise for follow-ups The Next Generations  and The Gift .

Fried more-or-less retired from composing in the late ’80s, not long after the death of his 5-year-old son Zachary, who contracted AIDS after receiving a blood transfusion. Fried devoted time and effort in later years to raising money for T he Pediatric AIDS Foundation; he eventually returned to composing for a brief stint many years later, contributing music—including to a Star Trek fan series—in the early 2010s.

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  • The tense music in the closing moments of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Doomsday Machine" is kickass, as is the swirling arrangement of the main theme used at the beginning of the teaser.
  • Gerald Fried's brooding cello theme first heard in "Amok Time" (also played on electric guitar) does as much as anything else in defining the character of Spock. The iconic "Kirk Fight Music" (real title "Ancient Battle") was composed for the same episode and is probably the second most famous music cue for the series, after the main theme itself, having popped up in numerous other media.
  • Any episode scored by George Duning (e.g. "The Empath"). In fact, it can be argued that what salvages the generally weak third season is the lush, mystical music contributed both by Duning and primary composer Fred Steiner (whose eerie score for "Spock's Brain" is so much better than the episode itself ).
  • The two contributions by Sol Kaplan (the sinister "The Enemy Within" and the thrilling "The Doomsday Machine") stand as some of the finest music ever composed for Star Trek . Both scores were constantly reused in later episodes, such was their potency and effectiveness.
  • The triumphant reprise of the TNG theme that plays when Starfleet warps in to stop the Romulan assault on Coppelius. It sets the stage perfectly for the shot that follows: Captain William T. Riker in the center seat of the USS Zheng He , commanding the fleet and ready to kick some treacherous Tal Shiar ass.

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Gerald fried, ‘star trek’ and ‘roots’ composer, dies at 95.

The Emmy winner and Oscar nominee befriended Stanley Kubrick on a Bronx baseball field, then scored his first four features.

By Chris Koseluk

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Gerald Fried

Gerald Fried, the Oscar-nominated, oboe-playing composer who created iconic gladiatorial fight music for the original Star Trek series and collaborated with Quincy Jones to win an Emmy for their theme to the landmark miniseries Roots , has died. He was 95.

Fried died Friday of pneumonia at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut, his wife, Anita Hall, told The Hollywood Reporter .  

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Fried also supplied the music for such cult Roger Corman classics as Machine-Gun Kelly (1958), The Cry Baby Killer (1958) and I Mobster (1959). He also worked with directors Larry Peerce on One Potato Two Potato (1964) and The Bell Jar (1979), as well as with Robert Aldrich on The Killing of Sister George (1968), What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969), Too Late the Hero (1970) and The Grissom Gang (1971).

And chances are if you are a fan of Gilligan’s Island , Lost in Space , Mission: Impossible , The Man From U.N.C.L.E. , Emergency! , Flamingo Road or Dynasty , you have heard his music.

Fried first worked on NBC’s Star Trek midway through the first season on the December 1966 episode “Shore Leave,” but he really made his mark on the second-season opener, “Amok Time.” His relentless “The Ritual/Ancient Battle/2nd Kroykah” score dramatizes a memorable “fight to the death” on the planet Vulcan between Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy).

In the 1999 book The Music of Star Trek , author Jeff Bond describes the music as “a model of action-scene bombast, wildly percussive and bursting with exclamatory trumpet, flute and woodwind trills to accentuate the hammering of the brass-performed fanfare.”

Passages were reused for 18 other Star Trek episodes and popped up in The Cable Guy (1996) and installments of Futurama and another animated series.

A year after Fried received an Oscar nomination for Birds Do It, Bees Do It (1976), a documentary about the mating rituals of animals and insects, he won his Emmy for his work on the first episode of ABC’s Roots .

Jones had been hired to write the music for the miniseries, but as the January 1977 premiere date loomed, he was missing deadlines. So producer Stan Margulies called Fried.

“Quincy, for whatever reason, went into some kind of writer’s block and did not come up with a main theme,” Fried said. “And they needed a main theme for advertising. It was three weeks before airtime. So they called me in. I wrote the main theme . I finished episode number one. The first show, Quincy did 56 percent of that, and I had to finish that. And I’m very happy I was on Roots . It was quite an honor.”

Fried also was nominated on his own for his underscore on the eighth and final episode.

“There were two shows that I did in television that had reverberations far beyond what you’d expect from the venue and the possibilities,” Fried said during a 2013 Q&A with StarTrek.com . “One was Star Trek , and the other was Roots . There was an atmosphere, doing both shows, that these were a little special and certainly more important than most shows. So I’m not totally surprised, but the enormity of Star Trek is a little bit startling and wonderful.”

“She was one of these perfect-pitch types of people who could hear and reproduce anything,” he said. “I studied with her, and because they forced me to take piano lessons, I got my revenge by being the world’s worst pianist.”

His love of music grew after Fried entered New York’s High School of Music & Art and was assigned the oboe. He took to that instrument and the tenor sax, then enrolled at Juilliard as an oboe major.

In 1948, Fried began a three-year stint as the English hornist for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Following gigs with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and a return to Dallas, he returned to New York to perform with The Little Orchestra Society.

Fried was playing baseball in the Bronx for a club team called The Barracudas when he met a kid who “wasn’t a very good athlete” but still wanted to play. Fried encouraged his teammates to let the guy join in, and they became friends.

“This turned out to be Stanley Kubrick,” Fried said. “He found out that I was a musician. He saved his pennies. He made a short [film] that was actually quite good. And I think I was the only musician he knew. He said, ‘Hey, Gerry, you know how to write and conduct movie music?’ ‘Sure,’ I said, ‘I do it all the time.’ I spent the next three or four months going to about 20 movies a day to learn what to do.”

Fried came to Los Angeles and worked on Terror in a Texas Town (1958), starring Sterling Hayden of The Killing and written under a pseudonym by Dalton Trumbo; filled out the scores for episodes of such shows as M Squad , Wagon Train and Riverboat ; and often collaborated with Corman.

Fried did other series like Gunsmoke , Ben Casey , My Three Sons , Mannix , The Flying Nun , It’s About Time and Police Woman and other films including Dino (1957), I Bury the Living (1958), Cast a Long Shadow  (1959) and Soylent Green (1973).

He received three more Emmy noms, for his compositions for the telefilms The Silent Lovers in 1980 and The Mystic Warrior in 1984 and for the miniseries Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story in 1987.

More recently, Fried taught at UCLA and played the oboe with the Santa Fe Great Big Jazz Band and Santa Fe Community Orchestra. The oboe is “the instrument of passion. It somehow gets into people’s guts,” he said .

In addition to his wife, survivors include his children, Daniel, Debbie, Jonathan and Josh; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His son Zach died from AIDS in 1987 at age 5 as the result of a blood transfusion.

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“I think that was a pretty dramatic, heightened account of what happened.”

That’s something that Alex Baskin — the boss of Bravo’s “ Vanderpump Rules ” — said at Variety ’s TV FYC Fest, during a panel called “Reality Producers Tell All.” He was refuting recent claims made by “Vanderpump Rules” cast member Scheana Shay, who has said of late that during production on the show’s 11th season last summer, Baskin made a veiled threat to the cast about canceling the show if it didn’t improve.

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In saying that, Shay was trying to offer an explanation for why she and Lala Kent seemed to turn on their friend Ariana Madix — instead, favoring Madix’s ex-partner Tom Sandoval — as the season went on. These developments culminated in the show’s May 7 finale, when Madix walked out of the season-ending party rather than be subjected to a tearful (without actual tears!) Sandoval performance of an apology. Afterward, Kent blew up after Madix’s departure, and broke the fourth wall on camera, saying “for Ariana to walk out this way is just such a slap in the face,” before accusing Madix of thinking she’s both God and Beyoncé.

On the panel, Baskin offered an account of this midseason meeting.

“We did get the entire cast together, and we thought we had hit a point in the season where I actually think that they were impacted by what was happening on social media,” he said. “We basically were telling them to drown out the noise, and to make the show that they had made over the previous 10 seasons — and that didn’t mean we asked them to manufacture anything.”

“It didn’t mean that we gave them any specific talking points,” he continued. “It just meant that we had made a show that worked because it was everybody rowing in the same direction, and reacting to each other. And we’ve gotten away from that. So we thought that we had to intervene in that sense.”

But restarting a brand-new season in the aftermath of the Scandoval proved to be difficult. In early May, Bravo confirmed that “Vanderpump Rules” is “on pause” — to use the network’s parlance for taking a break.

Baskin said “we’ll have a clearer picture a few months from now” about “Vanderpump Rules,” because “it was such an intense experience in such a compressed timeframe.”

“I think we will do an analysis of what else we need to consider for the show — and that’s who returns, and what the complexion of the cast looks like,” Baskin said. “I think everybody needs a little bit of time to live their lives, and then we can pick back up on them in a different spot.”

“ The Valley ,” Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules” spinoff led by Jax Taylor, Brittany Cartwright, Kristen Doute and cast members new to the Bravoverse, is definitely not on pause, having had the highest-rated premiere of a new Bravo show in 10 years. Its successful first season that concluded earlier this week.

“We go into production very shortly, and I’m excited about that, because obviously all chaos is broken out in their lives,” Baskin said, referring to the now-exploded marriages of Cartwright and Taylor and Jesse and Michelle Lally.

Despite the pending future awkwardness of estranged couples interacting, the cast of “The Valley” will not be deterred.

“Everyone is coming back, which is great!” Baskin said. “We’re very excited to pick up with everyone in a different place, and see what happens.”

Elsewhere on the “Reality Producers Tell All” panel were Tom Campbell, the executive producer of “RuPaul’s Drag Race;” Isabel San Vargas, president of production and operations at Propagate Content, and an executive producer of “The GOAT;” Jen Darrow, an executive producer of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” and the senior VP of programming and production at Citizen Pictures; and Courtney White, president, Butternut Media.

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IMAGES

  1. Star Trek Fight Song (TOS: "Amok Time") Sheet music for Trombone, Tuba

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  2. Star Trek TOS: Amok Time Fight Music sheet music for Trumpet, French

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  3. Star Trek Season 2 Fight Music

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  4. Star Trek Fight Music Cover

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  5. Star Trek Season 1 Fight Music

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VIDEO

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    The Original Series Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). The score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture was written by Jerry Goldsmith, who would later compose the scores Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek: Nemesis, as well as the themes to the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager.

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  23. Vanderpump Rules Future, Cancellation Claims Explained by ...

    At Variety's TV FYC Fest, 'Vanderpump Rules' boss Alex Baskin refuted the cast's claims about threatening to cancel it—and addressed the show's future

  24. Arena (Star Trek: The Original Series)

    "Arena" is the eighteenth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek. Written by Gene L. Coon (based on a 1944 short story of the same name by Fredric Brown) and directed by Joseph Pevney, the episode was first broadcast on January 19, 1967.. In the episode, while pursuing a Gorn vessel for an apparently unprovoked attack on a Federation outpost ...