As will surprise no one who’s read my exhaustive ranking of all the Star Trek series, I’ve been watching all the new stuff. And it’s not just because those are going into the sort soon enough. A lot of it has been darn enjoyable in a 4th season Enterprise kind of way. They’re making connections and widening the Star Trek universe into quite the multiverse.
But what if you haven’s seen all of the Star Trek series? And what if you’re all ready to binge-watch another series this year?
If you haven’t seen Enterprise, the Trek franchise’s first prequel series, you’re probably not alone. While I have found several people who consider it their favorite, anecdotally, it appears to be the least watched series outside of the original animated one.
And I understand. The first two seasons are tough going a lot of the time. The theme song never gets better (except for briefly in season 4). However, as with all Trek, it –by and large– ages pretty darn well and scratches some itches you didn’t know you have about Andorians, Vulcans, and the founding of the United Federation of Planets.
The following list cuts 44 of the 98 episodes out of the mix, giving you enough grounding with the characters in the first two seasons to better enjoy the increased continuity and worldbuilding of the final two seasons.
If you find you really are enjoying the series, you can always catch up on those missing episodes in the inevitable rewatch for completeness (I’m cutting some episodes I really like, but –if I’m being honest– aren’t necessary for a first watch).
Also, after hearing the opening theme song, feel free to turn down the volume or skip the intro entirely except for “In a Mirror, Darkly” in the fourth season (I love the visuals, I’ve tried and the song doesn’t work for me).
Skip most of it except:
“Broken Bow” (Eps 1 & 2)
“The Andorian Incident” (Ep 7)
“Silent Enemy” (Ep 12)
“Dear Doctor” (Ep 13)
“Vox Sola” (Ep 22)
“Shockwave, Pt. 1” (Ep 26)
Skip most of it except:
“Shockwave, Pt. 2” (Ep 1)
“Carbon Creek” (Ep 2)
“Minefield” (Ep 3)
“Vanishing Point” (Ep 10)
“The Breach” (Ep 21)
“Cogenitor” (Ep 22)
“The Expanse” (Ep 26)
Watch most of it, except:
“Extinction” (Ep 3)
“Exile” (Ep 6)
“Similitude” (Ep 10)
“Doctor’s Orders” (Ep 16)
Watch most of it, except:
“Daedalus” (Ep 10)
“These Are the Voyages…” (Ep 22)
As per the showrunner, the true series finale is “Terra Prime,” episode 21.
There you go! A Star Trek binge-fest that can easily fit into the rest of the year.
(Note: I did this one as a favor to someone who had meant to watch the series, but couldn’t get into it and have since been told by several people that they were in the same boat (or NX-class starship?). If people think I should do viewing guides for other series, let me know!)
As long-time readers of this blog know (all seven or nine), I am a bit of a Star Trek fan, as may be deduced from my manic series Crisis of Infinite Star Treks alone.
Where that series delves into fannish hand-wringing and minutiae, it did remind my of how much I enjoy Star Trek in its seemingly infinite combinations. I wanted to do something special for its official 50th anniversary, but life has intervened (quantum filaments, holodeck mishaps, Borg incursions… the usual).
So what better way to express rampant fandom while looking back at the history of Star Trek than to rate each of its 700+ episodes? Think of it as a gift of the pandemic (well, for those of us in Sector 001).
Regardless, doing a retrospective of previous TV Trek seemed appropriate before now… and by the time I was fully invested in rewatching and ranking everything, new TV series started appearing (and may never abate). Yes, Lower Decks, the next seasons, of Discovery and Picard, and who knows how many other series will all find their way into the rankings ’cause I’m as foolish as Stamets wanting to do one more jump.
Oh what I wouldn’t give for a fortuitous temporal anomaly right now.
Anyway: to the links! (Not great links, perhaps, but links none-the-less)
The Methodology The short version? Every TV series (even the original animated one) is in. I had to make command decisions on how to judge two-parters and continuing storyline episodes, so I did. Movies are not included.
How to Rank ‘Em Yourself Even an honest Vulcan will tell you their logic is susceptible to mortal foibles as emotions and other intangibles creep into their calculations. It could be that ranking Star Trek episodes objectively is a no-win scenario, but tell me your Kobayashi Maru solution in the comments, whether it’s the top 10, the whole list, or anything in between (be civil, please).
What if you Object, Dislike, or Outright Hate My Rankings? No self-respecting Starfleet captain nor honorable Klingon commander would take such injustice lying down. Do something about it!
Re-watching (and in some cases, watching) all 700+ episodes of Star Trek took an inordinate amount of time over the past few years, so there’s no way I wasn’t going to comment on everything, including both spoilers… and a certain amount of irreverence. If you’re not ready for potential spoilers and snark, stick to the links marked “episode names only.”
(As alluded above, these lists will be updated as new episodes premiere. The lists below include all episodes for all series before July 2020)
From over 3,500 responses, he breaks down Trek fans’ likes and dislikes of the various series and by different generations, with Millenials and Gen X being the most represented. Apparently, he’ll have a second installment of results coming after the season finale of Picard, so I’ll post about that too.
I would say in answer to the articles title question “Can ‘Star Trek’ Chart a Way Forward?,” that Trek is in a similar position as it was when they were getting ready to launch Deep Space Nine. They have an audience for Trek, some Trek fans are unconvinced, and they want to expand the franchise. Unlike DS9, I think there’s a much more palpable sense of excitement vs. the “Sure, I guess we’ll check it out” attitude of that series launch. Picard has gone from “who’s that bald guy in the lycra uniform that’s not Kirk?” back in 1987 to a Trek legend in his own right (and deservedly so I might subjectively add). So here’s one last look at teasers before the Internet verdicts come tumbling in.