There's a book that says "Everything I needed to know in life I learned through Star Trek" or something like that, that book title pretty much sums up my experience. The original show had fantastic characters, great stories and a prescient cultural image. All of the characters were memorable, particularly "the big three" of William Shatner's swaggering Captain Kirk, Leonard Nimoy's analytical Mr Spock and Deforest Kelley's irascible Doctor McCoy. Great episodes like "Balance of Terror" and "City on the Edge of Forever" displayed action, space adventure and social commentary disguised as pure Sci Fi. But the biggest impact to me was the general concept, the idea that people of all races and cultures would be able to overcome differences to establish a unified Earth and explore the galaxy. And so much technology from our present has been clearly modeled after Trek whether they're communicators (cell phones) or phasers (stun guns). The Original Series had its cornball moments ("The Omega Glory") but was the strongest influence on my childhood outside of my family. That's because Kirk proved you CAN mix matter and anti-matter cold. I'm a blogger, not an engineer!
2. Star Trek - The Motion Picture thru Star Trek VI (1979 - 1991)
Sportin' the pajama uniform look from Star Trek-The Motion Picture
Despite having the same cast and characters, I consider The Original Series and the first six movies to be two separate things. That's for two reasons: There was a ten year gap between the two and the Great Bird of the Galaxy Gene Roddenberry saw his involvement reduced after the first movie. Star Trek - The Motion Picture was a staggering monument to the cerebral vision Roddenberry had of the future...and it was really boring. Starting with one of the greatest movies of all time Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan, The Federation moved with the times by becoming more militant ("Admiral on the Bridge!") and driven by the equivalent of nuclear fear ("What if Genesis was used where life exists? It would destroy such life, in favor of its new matrix"). Producer Harve Bennett and Directors Nicholas Meyer and Leonard Nimoy drove the films to Star Fleet magic. The rest of the series was all about Spock - Spock died, go get Spock to resurrect him, Spock gets funny, Spock takes a back seat to Kirk and then Spock solves the mystery of universal peace. All because the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few.3. Star Trek Voyager (1995 - 2001)
a fitting picture for Voyager, they look ready to throw down!
For me, one of the key components of Star Trek was exploration. Voyager excelled at this by getting tossed into the Delta quadrant with no Star Fleet to support them. Led by the strong willed Captain Janeway, the Voyager crew had a solid mix of characters and one breakout star-Borg babe Seven of Nine. I haven't seen all of the episodes so when I watch Voyager, its usually for the first time which is nice because there's always some new Trek to view. While Voyager lacked charismatic characters overall, they had the best adventures of any of the modern shows by wrestling with the quest to explore versus the need for survival. It was the scrappiest of the Star Treks and I enjoy watching the Voyager blow up one episode after another (it always turns out to be some time space continuum fake out). Other than Kirk, Janeway is the one Star Fleet Captain you don't want to mess with. Once you've hit her, she'll go through hell and back just to jack you up.
4. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987 - 1994) and Star Trek: Generations thru Nemesis (1994 - 2002)
Looks like somebody bought Khan's line about rich Corinthian leather bucket seats.
When Roddenberry announced he was creating a new Star Trek series, ripples went through the Sci Fi community. How could it live up to the original? And so millions sat down for the much ballyhooed debut episode in 1987 - and watched a British sounding Frenchman Captain a new Enterprise that had the plush interior of a Chrystler LeBaron walk through a two hour episode that basically remade Star Trek - The Motion Picture. For a few seasons, Roddenberry got to give a full dose of what his vision entailed: Intellectual and caring people exploring the universe to gain knowledge and create peaceful relationships with other cultures from a moral and ethical position. When Roddenberry decreased his input after season two ended, the show changed a little to make the characters less perfect and more relatible. The Borg (resistance is futile), Data vs Lore, expanding the Klingon mythos were all great accomplishments in the Star Trek Universe.
Considered the best Trek by many, I just didn't like it as much as the originals or Voyager. For one thing, there was way too much technobabble - like I could complete this post if I reroute the Impulse engines on Deck 12 through the sensor array to create a tachyon field around the Dyson sphere unless I overload the Warp Core resulting in rerouting subcircuits through life support...talk like this just went on and on. I hate to think what engineering marvel they would have to pull off if the toilets jammed on Ten Forward. Also, they hardly explored anything. The Enterprise seemed to go to known parts of the Galaxy most of the time, more like a patrol boat than an exploratory vessel. And how many times do they need Data or Wesley Crusher to save them? If it wasn't for androids and children they would have been so screwed. To the show's credit, the characters were well drawn and acted. And the show continued the spirit of the original series in making modern social commentary among laser beams and funny costumes. And the movie First Contact was awesome. A special bonus was my wife and I were compared to Beverly Crusher and Picard while we were dating (mainly because I'm bald). Make it so!
5. Star Trek - The Animated Series (1973 - 1974)
The last two years of the five year mission were a little cartoonish. Oohh, that's bad.
Just when kids thought Star Trek was just the same three seasons of episodes repeating endlessly, we got a treat on Saturday mornings when the Sci Fi show was revived as a cartoon. They thoughtfully used the animation to show landscapes and characters not possible with the special effects of the day and struck a strong balance between kiddie tv and the show's serious nature. And no cartoon could contain the full power of Shatner! In the early 70's, these episodes made my day. And the episode where Spock is a kid and his pet dies is a classic.
6. Star Trek: Enterprise (2001 - 2005)
When ratings are low, logic dictates the girl's clothes should come off
The Star Trek that tried everything it could not to be Star Trek. Enterprise tried to have it both ways by playing with Trek lore of the formation of Star Fleet while acting like it was Babylon 5. Sexy Vulcans, the first transporter, the Quantum Leap guy as Captain and a Diane Warren theme song wasn't enough to hide the fact that there had been too many Treks at this point. The only new wrinkle on this show was the more desperate they got for ratings, the more often girls had to strip down to their skivvies to "decontaminate". With nothing new to do, the Enterprise seemed like a show in search of a mission. Time to jump out Sam.
7. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993 - 1999)
Gold Press Latinum lovin' fiend!
There are many Trek fans who love this show and if they read this they'll probably not be too happy about my ranking. I can't stand Deep Space Nine, I find it relentlessly dull. If the original Trek was Wagon Train, Deep Six Nine was Gunsmoke with Captain Sisko as Sheriff.
Yes, there was a lot of characterization and they eventually added Worf. But the only character I truly liked on this show was Quark, the sleazy Ferengi whose blatant attempts at manipulation caused chaos - upsetting security officer Play Doh (Ono? Odo? Ohno? What was the guy from Benson's name?) . He always said Quark's name with the same amount of stuck up contempt he said Benson's. And then he would transform into a pool of Jello. Can I stand the excitement?
I don't know, it was like the Star Trek B players to me with a bunch of second stringers slapped together in a tiny little spot next to a wormhole. They had wars, some mystic mumbo jumbo about Sisko being "The One" or something...I just didn't watch enough to care. Miles O' Brien was robbed! He should have stayed on the Enterprise.
And this brings us full circle. Can Star Trek 11 live up to the legacy of past Treks? I'm skeptical. But then, that's how I go into any new Star Trek venture anyway. Beam me up, Scotty.
Additional Note: I just noticed the website that had the Captain Kirk inspirational poster above asked if a link to their site could be added if the poster is used-so here it is: