Politics gone wrong is the theme behind these two early Trek winners.
"A Taste of Armageddon" is what Captain Kirk and his landing party get on Ameniar 7, a planet that theoretically has been at war with one of its neighbors for centuries. But Kirk and his party find nothing wrong on the planet - no ruins, no signs of violence, no injuries or bodies. Bureaucrat David Opatoshu sadly informs the landing party that they and their ship were blown up in orbit - and since Kirk and the others are obviously quite well, and a quick call on their communicators confirms that, yes, the Enterprise is, too, the mystery deepens. Opatoshu explains that, in order to avoid the bloodshed of real war, Ameniar and its enemies long ago decided to fight their wars by computers. Those areas listed as casualties are obliged to report their populations to disintegrator booths, for neat disposal. Now, if the Captain and his crew will merely oblige, by walking into the disposal ovens...
A solid script, and a chilling premise. Opatoshu is a squirrelly and cagey bureaucrat, the charming Barbara Babcock a credible tender trap, and Gene Lyons really shines as a humorless by-the-book Starfleet diplomat who nearly gets the Enterprise destroyed by his own lack of common sense.
"Space Seed" was the forerunner story to the second movie in the later film series, "The Wrath of Khan." The Enterprise encounters a centuries-old derelict in space, with the cryptic enough name of "Botany Bay." It contains several dozen cryogenically frozen perfect human specimens, the leader of whom, Khan, is awakened for questioning. Khan turns out to be Khan Noonian Singh, the leader of an uprising of eugenically created Nitzschean supermen that nearly destroyed Earth in an atomic war at the turn of the 21st century. With the aid of the Enterprise's romantic Lieutenant Marla McGivers - who is helplessly smitten with Khan's physique and dominant persona - Khan attempts to take over the Enterprise, and conquer the universe it will give him access to in this new age.
Ricardo Montalban lends his unique charisma to the role of Khan, and Madlyn Rhue sympathetically plays the lieutenant of divided loyalties. One of the more satisfying melodramas of the series, it also contains at least one of Star Trek's famous amusing bloopers, if you pay attention - a crewmember who runs straight back into a gas-filled room he was easily escaping, as if responding to the off-camera director signalling, "No! Go back! Go back!"
Both quite good, "Space Seed" especially.