It’s been 54 years since Star Trek debuted on televison, and it has been with us in one form or another pretty much solidly since then. But for those who aren’t yet invested, a franchise with almost a thousand episodes can be daunting. Don’t worry though, because almost every episode can be watched with very little prior knowledge. That’s the joy of Star Trek, and here are some simple reasons to watch the show in any of its various guises:
STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES: The groundbreaking original. Yes, it’s dated. the sets are wobbly, the CGI terrible and the sexism rampant. But where else can you see William Shatner wrestling a lizardman? Or William Shatner wrestling a robot? or William Shatner wrestling a Nazi/ If you want to see William Shatner wrestling anything that comes his way, this is the show for you. It’s also chock full of campy adventures and intriguing ideas.
STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES: Okay, I haven’t seen this one myself, but it has generated enough memes and gifs that surley you wnat to take a look. Right?
THE NEXT GENERATION: Jean-Luc Picard. there’s your reason to watch right there. While Kirk was the action hero, Picard is the statesman. Not an episode goes by without a profound and immensely quotable speech. With Geordi la Forge, Data, and even Wesley, Next Generation has some of the best characters in the franchise. Besides all that, it’s just nice to see some optimism in the world.
DEEP SPACE NINE: The best of the bunch, DS9 takes Trek to the world of war and politics. This is the one where stories are driven by characters as much as ideas, and where the optimism is peppered with moments of tragedy. It has the best character growth of any Trek, and doesn’t shy away from the harder facts of life on the frontier. Also, Quark. Quark alone makes everything watchable.
VOYAGER: Take the optimism of Next Generation, and throw a crew halfway across the Galaxy. Voyager is at its best when it lives up the danger of its premise, though it also has an episode where people turn into lizards because they travelled too fast. Voyager at its peak shows the risks of clinging to your humanity in a Galaxy that wants you dead. At its worst, it’s still hilarious.
ENTERPRISE: Enterprise takes a step back to show the early days of the Trek universe. Meet a crew who make mistakes, and don’t always learn from them. But while it takes a darker turn than a lot of the others, Enterprise is still a show about the pereverance of the human spirit. It’s final season also has some of the best serialised storytelling Star Trek has ever engaged in.
STAR TREK (2009): The silver screen reboot shows an alternative timeline for Kirk and his crew. If you want an action-driven, explosion filled film trilogy, this is the one for you.
DISCOVERY: Discovery brought Star Trek back to the small screen with a bang, and threw itself headlong into modern storytelling. Though it’s not always consistent with other parts of the universe, there’s no doubt that it’s a great slice of science fiction. Season 2 also delivers Anson Mount’s Captain Pike, for which all other sins are forgiven.
PICARD: A return for Star Trek‘s most famous captain, Picard takes a slower pace, taking its time to fully explore the morality of the situation. It’s got its share of action too, and may just be the most Star Trek Star Trek yet.
LOWER DECKS: I ahven’t seen this yet. You should, and then you should tell me about it. Okay?
And if, like me, you’re still hungry for more Star Trek after devouring all of this, then there are hundreds of novels to sate you while you wait for the next season. With any luck, I’ll be back to tell you about some of those in the very near future.