“The Conscience of the King.” “Who Mourns for Adonais? ” “The Omega Glory.” “Bread and Circuses.” “The Gamesters of Triskelion.” Are these Led Zeppelin songs? Chapter headings for a Russian war epic? One-act plays your high school drama teacher loved? Nope: they’re just a few of the incredible episode titles from the original run of Star Trek. Earlier this month, Mack Elder, a Trek megafan with a Trek villain name, set a world record by naming all 79 titles of the original series, in order, in just under 100 seconds. The video of his feat is fun to watch. (Much like the series itself, he begins to stumble right around season 3.) And it got me thinking about the curious art of naming TV episodes.
Until the advent of the internet, I imagine most viewers probably weren’t even aware that episodes had titles. As a result, there’s a long tradition of episode titles that are little more than explicit plot descriptions. This is especially true of Friends, which made a joke out of titling every episode with the purely functional identifier, “The One with…” (sometimes amended to, “The One where…”, as in, “The One Where No One’s Ready.”)
If I had to arbitrarily point to the tipping point when everything changed and episode titles entered the cultural lexicon, it would have to be with “The Constant,” the Desmond-centric fourth season episode of Lost. Everyone I knew loved that episode, but I always remember the particular way they expressed that love: not saying, “Man, that last episode of Lost was awesome!” but rather “Man, ‘The Constant’ was awesome!” The rise of iTunes and Hulu helped spread the titles to enter the cultural mainstream, and now, following Lost‘s example, lots of shows even release the title early as a tease for fans. READ FULL STORY