Today is a busy day because I am off for vacation starting tomorrow. In an effort to save time so I can pack and clean house before tearing out of here, I thought I would cut-and-paste a ranking of my top-five episodes from each Star Trek series that I had made last week. A fellow fan and I were discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of all things Trek, and this is how we let each other know exactly What Kind of Star Trek Fan We Are. Because, let's face it, wars have been started over this kind of thing.
But then I decided to rank the series themselves.
Then I decided to write my thoughts on each series.
Then I had to go back through my lists and question some of my choices.
Next thing I know, a half hour has passed, and my entire reason for this entry have all come crashing down. I spent more time making a blog post out of something that I would have been much better off starting from nothing. Cat photos take hardly any time at all.
But anyway... here we go, starting with my ranking of all the series best-to-worst...
And here are my top-five episodes within each, in series order...
The first Trek is undeniably the best Trek with strong stories that hold up even to this day. That they managed to make it look so good given the effects technology at the time is just icing on the cake. Yes, the acting was less than subtle, but there's no denying that the cast was a magical combination that sustained the franchise well past cancelation. If there's a grievous fault in the series, it would be almost the entirety of the third and final season, which saw budgets slashed and shitty stories like And the Children Shall Lead taking a steaming dump on the sublime excellence of the first two seasons. No spin-off even comes close to how imaginative and revolutionary a show Star Trek was, is, and will always be.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Gene Roddenberry's bizarre edict that the future was perfect, everybody on The Enterprise was buddy-buddy, and all internal conflict on the ship was to be purged, made for a bland return to a once-great show. I was on vacation in Maui when the premiere debuted. But I was such a Trek fan that I gave up precious time in paradise to watch the first episode. It was so heinously boring and shitty... from the story to the sets to the effects to the costumes to (some) of the acting... that I was mired in shock and disbelief. How in the hell did anybody making the show thing this was Star Trek? Not to say it was all crap. Things improved after the first season and some true gems were to be found amongst the ruins... but, yeah, it was mostly crap. Though it wasn't the crappiest thing to come out of Star Trek. Not by a long shot.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Despite having the series elevated by the amazing talents of Avery Brooks in the lead (ZOMG! It's Hawk!), this low-rent Trek knock-off was absurd to new extremes. Made infamous for Odo being the shape-changing alien that never changed shape, everything seemed to be done on the cheap. They blew their budgetary wad on the Deep Space Nine space station set, then had no money to go anywhere interesting, do anything interesting, or see anything interesting. They tried to compensate with the whole Bajoran/Cardassian conflict, but it was poorly handled and came across as false drama. The religious angle with the "Prophets" was boring in ways Next Generation could only dream about, and things were off to a bad start from the beginning because of it. Eventually even the people running the show realized what a turd they had crapped out, and added a ship (The USS Defiant) so they could go places... and fan-favorite character Worf... but it was too late. All that had come before had mired the show in mediocrity, and precious few episodes managed to escape it. But when they did manage to escape it, the series showed such amazing promise. A glimpse at what could have been. Unfortunately it was too rare an event to make me care about the show, because they always went crawling back to what made it suck.
Star Trek: Voyager
Holy shit where do I even start? Because I am having a tough time finding the words to express just how much I hated this show. Hated it. There were elements I liked... in particular Robert Picardo as The Doctor and Tim Russ as Tuvok. And eventually we got Jeri Ryan as the Borg's "Seven of Nine" which was another coup. But that wasn't even remotely enough to salvage what a mess things were. First of all... the entire concept of the show was to remove "Star Trek" from everything "Star Trek" so writers could throw out the rules and let their imaginations run wild. A crew formed from conflict! No support system! Limited resources! Life on Voyager was to be a brutal struggle for survival in a strange and hostile universe far, far from home. But we never got that! Well, we rarely got that. What we got was yet another Next Generation retread that didn't even come close to the standards set by Next Generation (such as they were). As if that weren't shitty enough, "button-pushing action" was elevated to new heights. A conflict arises. Buttons are pushed to solve it. All while the "EPS conduits" are failing and the plasma is rerouted. Over and over and over and over again. I barely watched the show, but ended up binging on DVD rentals after everything ended so I could fast-forward through the boring crap. Which is to say I was fast-forwarding most of the time. The fact that I couldn't even manage to think of five episodes I liked well enough to list speaks volumes. It was all Oh... I remember that one with Sarah Silverman! and Oh... that episode with the rapid-evolving civilization was good enough that "The Orville" ripped it off!" Give me a break.
Star Trek: Enterprise
It was a good concept. Go back to all the newness and exploration of the unknown that made Star Trek so amazing by setting a show before Star Trek existed. Then get a big name like Scott Bakula to star in it. Then spend the money needed to make the show actually look great. It would be different. It would build pre-continuity continuity for the original series. It would focus on all the things Star Trek fans love and jettison those things they didn't. It would be a love letter to everything Star Trek! That would be great, right? Well, it sure could have been. Except some genius decided to mire the whole thing in the so-called "Temporal Cold War" which had death-grip on the show for three whole seasons. Sure, they were creative enough to escape it from time to time, but it pretty much killed what should have been an enjoyable outing. The fact that it never really paid off just added insult to injury. No surprise that my favorite episodes are ones that tried to side-step the restrictions that plagued the series.
Star Trek: Discovery
And here we are. The latest Star Trek spin-off that has divided fans and set the internet on fire. It seems most people either love it or hate it, though the reason they love it or hate it differ completely. I absolutely loved it. And the reason I loved it is because I felt it finally... finally... recaptured what I loved about the original series. At long last, we had actual Star Trek happening again! And yet there are people who hated it because they didn't feel it was Star Trek at all. And I get it. Honestly I do. It has many problems continuity-wise. It completely and utterly rejects Roddenberry's silly "no internal conflict" edict. There were inexplicably stupid changes made (WTF with the Klingons?). And some of the tech is just plain silly (spore drive?!?). But, as a die-hard fan of the original, I just didn't care about any of that because the "flavor" or what captured my imagination from the start was there. It also had some brilliant re-workings of some of Trek's best ideas. As if all that wasn't enough, the special effects and casting were choice. Sure the last two episodes fizzled, but the slow burn and massive payoff for everything before that was all I could want in a Star Trek show. I cannot wait to see what they come up with for their second season.
Just for duck soup (and a need for completeness), here is my ranking of the Star Trek movies which I took from my blog post here (with details, if you need them!)...
And I guess that's a wrap on Star Trek. If all goes as planned, tomorrow's entry will be written from the airport.