Trekkie Vote
November 26, 2004 9:13 AM   Subscribe

All right nerds, here it is: What's the best Trek series?
posted by hughbot to Media & Arts (60 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Next Generation.

Although I can see where this is going... sigh
posted by seanyboy at 9:17 AM on November 26, 2004

Babylon 5
posted by Capn at 9:19 AM on November 26, 2004

Deep Space Nine, by far.
posted by interrobang at 9:21 AM on November 26, 2004

posted by Arch Stanton at 9:22 AM on November 26, 2004

Deep Space Nine. Great character development + continuing story line = fantastic show. Oh, and Captain Sisko rules!
posted by smich at 9:23 AM on November 26, 2004

The old series, specifically the first two seasons. But the third season was awful and is largely responsible for the popular misconception that the original series was just a cheesefest.

Everything that's wrong with Trek today started with cracks in the basically decent facade of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Kirk and Spock are literary heroes whose names will echo throughout the next century. Not so with Voyager.

After the first Trek, the show is memorable in fits and starts, but you really can't beat the passionate Golden Age sci-fi writing of the late 1960s (Theodore Sturgeon! Harlan Ellison!), in contrast with the bland-o Rick Berman drones who cranked out dialogue for Marina Sirtis and plots about warp core fluctuations and Data learning about comedy.

In my humble opinion.
posted by inksyndicate at 9:25 AM on November 26, 2004

ds9 was definitely the most decent-space-opera-ish of all the series, and the least oh-what-happy-shiney-fascists-we-are.
posted by dorian at 9:27 AM on November 26, 2004

I third Deep Space Nine. For all the above reasons.
posted by philcliff at 9:28 AM on November 26, 2004

TOS, oh yey.

Er, I just happened to call it TOS as a made-up-just-now shorthand for the original series. I certainly didn't spend far too long in usenet groups as a lad.
posted by bonaldi at 9:31 AM on November 26, 2004

linksyndicate said it all. The first series was the beginning and end of all that was good about Star Trek. What really annoyed me about everything that followed, was the creepy little prosthetics that tacked on everyone's faces to indicate "alien." That, and the grotesque Klingon forehead-ware. All these little doodads are cheap-looking and distracting, that they compromised the whole programs. What was the only good thing about "Next Generation?" Patrick Stewart, his Britishness and his pure, spanking-clean baldness. No gewgaws on his kisser.
posted by shambles at 9:33 AM on November 26, 2004

Response by poster: Since moving into a house with satellite TV, it seems like some sort of Trek is ALWAYS on. Next Generation is probably my fave, but I don't know if that's because it's actually good, or because I grew up watching it, and I'm just nostalgic.

inksyndicate: Harlan Ellison?! Really?!

Sub AskMe question: Why are the Trek Seasons so DAMN expensive?
posted by hughbot at 9:35 AM on November 26, 2004

Next Generation, starting with Season 3
posted by falconred at 9:41 AM on November 26, 2004

DS9 also had far less of the traditional Star Trek cheesiness that plagued the other series. It all started with Kirk on the Mafia Planet, or maybe the Ancient Rome Planet, or whatever. And only got worse in The Next Generation's Robin Hood/Sherlock Holmes madcap holodeck adventures.

DS9 had maybe one episode which seemed altogether goofy (the baseball game ep) but maintained a degree of linearity and character development that made it far better than other series.
posted by Danelope at 9:43 AM on November 26, 2004

I agree - DS9 is vastly underappreciated. It had a coherent 7-year plot arc. Avery Brooks is... possibly not THE finest actor to grace the Star Trek stage, but certainly close, and less susceptible to occasional bouts of cheesiness than most. The political tensions as the galaxy stood on the brink of war were devious, interesting, and believable. The handled the ensemble cast with a light touch and great balance.

And there's even great commentary in there about what happens when a military society takes advantage of a "terrorist action" that may or may not have been staged for political gain.

I'd love to see those guys pick up the movie franchise. That last one was a piece of shit. I can tolerate a LOT of bad things in a Star Trek movie, but they better damn well get the physics at least close to right.

But anyway, this also brings up the issue of this - who's behind it all?

From what I can see from the outside (mostly interviews and where names appear in the credits), the main creative force behind everything that's been good in Star Trek since Gene is clearly Michael Piller. He was heavily involved with TNG and DS9, and everything that Brannon Braga and Rick Berman have done without him has basically run into the ground with terrible plots, poor acting, and cheesy effects.
posted by Caviar at 10:04 AM on November 26, 2004

I actually liked the Sherlock Holmes madcaps, it was an opportunity to explore the implications of a holodeck as an entertainment medium. The ep were Moriarty and the Countess are tricked into entering a simulated universe is one of my favs.

hughbot - it's because we'll shell out for them (and if you find ones on eBay for ridiculously cheap, especially "Chinese versions," pass on them)
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:42 AM on November 26, 2004

posted by Deepspace at 10:58 AM on November 26, 2004

No real answer - TOS has some of the best and the worst episodes (just compare Ellison's "City on the Edge of Forever" with "Spock's Brain", which is so painfully bad it's good), TNG has the strongest single seasons (Season 3, to a lesser extent 2 and 4) but also starts cheesy and ends bland, DS9 was best when dark and difficult (dealing with occupation fallout, religious in-fighting), and had some great characters, but the arc didn't work for me (too much copying B5, but maybe I should try to rewatch sometime), some good fanfic?.....anyways, Enterprise didn't grab me at first - I was hoping it would be a fresh new direction, especially with the new style of opener, but it was too much the blandness of bad TNG and Voyager - but I've just started watching again lately, and the Vulcan episodes are really good - they are working through religious and political tensions (I'm a society nerd, so I like my Sci-fi to have more sects than nuts or bolts).

But that said - best series? For me, I think it will always be the novels, by far. I haven't been reading lately, but in the 80s and 90s, the novels were where you went for well-thought out stories and gasp! actual character development and change! The authors couldn't mess with the main characters, but they could introduce other new characters who could experience life-changing moments. I had heard this isn't allowed any more, except for something like Peter David's New Frontier series, which is great - also a contender for best series. In the novels were epics, romances, bildungsromans - and even one Gilbert and Sullivan comedy.
posted by jb at 11:05 AM on November 26, 2004

I always had a thing for Captain Janeway.
posted by muckster at 11:05 AM on November 26, 2004

mid-run TNG. But I loves me my TOS. Hear tell this season on ENT is teh second coming, so gotta check it out at least once this year. Anybody else got around to looking in on Archer et al?
posted by mwhybark at 11:12 AM on November 26, 2004

TNG means a lot to me but I fear it is mostly for sentimental reasons.
I saw all of DS9 this summer and liked it a lot. It presents a deeper, darker, seamier side of the Federation that we all knew existed but was never previously shown.

oh, and mwhybark -- Enterprise is much better than CW makes it out to be but it is too soon to see if it will have the same significance as TOS or TNG.
posted by jabberwock at 11:22 AM on November 26, 2004

Deep Space Nine sucked so bad. Voyager all the way. Yeah Harry Kim was a dork, Seven of Nine got old, but Janeway was always there as the tough hot captin.
posted by pwb503 at 11:24 AM on November 26, 2004

Can I post a follow on question: If I'm going to Netflix DS9, should I start from the beginning or should I jump-in somewhere later after they've worked out the characters?
posted by mojohand at 11:32 AM on November 26, 2004

I've never seen a full episode, but I've always liked the look of Star Trek the Animated Series.
posted by stevis at 11:35 AM on November 26, 2004

Even though it's painfully derivative of B5 in many ways, in my estimation, DS9 is probably the best of the... I'm so used to thinking four, but I guess it's five, isn't it. It had a substantial and solid story arc later on, and some brilliant & beautiful non-arc episodes ("The Visitor," which has an equally beautiful soundtrack). Not without its problems--couldn't Terry Farrell have stayed on for ONE MORE SEASON to maintain consistency? sheesh--but I think it's still the best of the bunch.

TOS & TNG I both enjoyed. I never really made much of an effort to watch Voyager, though. I don't much care for the "dangling carrot" style of show unless it's done really well ("will Our Heroes ever get home? tune in next week, when we present a solution and then snatch it away from them in some contrived way!") and after a while I just started to get pissed off at the way that Voyager (and First Contact, to be fair) castrated the Borg and turned them into another set of standard bad guys, albeit very powerful ones. The Klingons and the Romulans were both analogous to powers in the world at the time Star Trek was conceived, but in my view the Borg in their original form went deeper: a pure essence of a psychological terror, an enemy that will not reason with you under any circumstances. Period. The way Q & Guinan describe the Borg in that 2nd season TNG ep (Q Who?), during the officers' meeting where the command staff is trying in vain to come up with ways to stave them off, was great.

Every time I think about a juggernaut like that it gives me a little chill, and then I remember the goofiness that was the Borg Queen (and the acrobatic retconning that went on to fit her in) and the feeling is destroyed. :p

I am obviously biased in favor of B5 as far as SF TV goes, but that's not what you asked, so I'll let that go. :)

Re: Avery Brooks, he had his moments, but I personally think Patrick Stewart is the best actor of the five major COs. They both have awesome voices though.
posted by Kosh at 11:35 AM on November 26, 2004

All right nerds, here it is: What's the best Trek series?

It says here that the L series is "simple and dependable", so I'd start there.
posted by HifiToaster at 11:36 AM on November 26, 2004

Caviar - Physics? Muh?
posted by notsnot at 11:39 AM on November 26, 2004

mojohand, I'd start at the beginning, but that's just me. Though it's true with arc shows there tend to be a lot of little details scattered throughout the early episodes, I don't think DS9 had as much central planning as B5 did (if you watch B5 season 1, there are details there that are touched on in all the other seasons, even subtle ones that seem meaningless at the time but later make you look back in appreciation of the planning that went into it). It's probably safe to start at season 3 or so; I don't think the real arc stuff starts until the Defiant appears at least ("The Search," pts. 1 & 2, which is the Season 3 premiere). You might want to pick up the last disc of Season 2 to see what I think is the Jem'Hadar's first appearance, though (I can't remember if that's their true first appearance, it's been a long time since I've watched the show).

Oh, yeah, something I forgot to add in my earlier comment... DS9's theme music is easily the best of the bunch, though Voyager's is good.
posted by Kosh at 11:43 AM on November 26, 2004

If I'm going to Netflix DS9, should I start from the beginning or should I jump-in somewhere later after they've worked out the characters?

You can pretty much safely skip everything prior to the second season finale. That's not to say the first two seasons aren't any good, they are, but it's a very different show up to that point, and almost nothing that transpires in the first two seasons is relevant to the story that unfolds over the next five.
posted by jjg at 11:52 AM on November 26, 2004

I'm pretty sure I like DS9 best, probably because it so strongly resembles my beloved Babylon 5, except with better production values. Everything after Voyager sucks so hard it strips the atmosphere from nearby planets.
posted by neckro23 at 11:54 AM on November 26, 2004

(that includes Voyager myself. I don't think I phrased that correctly.)
posted by neckro23 at 11:55 AM on November 26, 2004

Deep Space Nine will always have me because of "Far Beyond The Stars", which had me in tears. Even though I hadn't seen DS9 in years, even though I dropped out of my Star Trek love, I caught this episode one night, and I couldn't stop crying.

If Avery Brooks had ended up on Babylon 5, I think it would've been the Best. Sci-Fi. Show. EVER. Because as much as I love B5, I still can't get over Boxleitner...
posted by Katemonkey at 12:12 PM on November 26, 2004

Enterprise. Right?
posted by Orange Goblin at 12:34 PM on November 26, 2004

I kind of like them all about the same, except Enterprise, which I never got into.
posted by Quartermass at 12:39 PM on November 26, 2004

Deep Space 9 might have been better if it hadn't been located near the whiniest planet in the galaxy.

That said, I would say that while TNG was probably the best series of the bunch overall, TOS is still my favorite.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 1:05 PM on November 26, 2004

I'm going with the decidedly minority opinion here and going to say my preference I'd rather watch

"Voyager" than
"DS9" than
"ST:NG" than
"TOS" than
"Horses With Diarrhea Hour" than

Janeway kicks ass, I like the shorter story arcs of Voyager and it has two of my top five ST characters (aforementioned Janeway and 7of9, [BTW-before you draw conclusions, I'm gay, so I really do like 7 as a character, not a set of tits])

DS9 gets the second place nod mostly because of its weakness in the beginning, when Michael Dorn and the Defiant showed up, and they started using Garrick (my most-favorite Star Trek character) the series started kicking ass.

You know what I find really funny about Enterprise, the visual effects are ...worse... than the older series. The cheesy CG is miles crappier than the cardboard sets of the original series.

That, in addition to the feces that passes for dialog. Thats really funny also.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 1:24 PM on November 26, 2004

Original. And don't call me a nerd.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:37 PM on November 26, 2004

TNG, no questions asked.
posted by shepd at 1:43 PM on November 26, 2004

I think Farscape was the best of the bunch by a mile.
posted by madman at 1:54 PM on November 26, 2004

HifiToaster wins.

And I agree with whomever said Season Two of TOS and Season Three of TNG.
posted by briank at 1:55 PM on November 26, 2004

Yet another vote for Deep Space Nine: The only Star Trek show I'm buying on DVD.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 2:15 PM on November 26, 2004

Well, I haven't seen any of Star Trek New Voyages yet, but it must be better than Enterprise...

Oh, and DeSalle just seems so damned cool!

And for all you "Farscape" and "Babylon 5" people...

I say: Doctor Who, Red Dwarf
posted by Chuckles at 2:16 PM on November 26, 2004

just be glad they didn't have mrs. king up there running b5 with him.

chuckles: blakes7.
posted by dorian at 2:43 PM on November 26, 2004

DS9 imho as well (recommend starting at the beginning as well, there is much that is referenced later on.) Don't understand how it's similar to Babylon. Many stories with "arcs" are then similar as well?

Great ensemble cast, writing, sense of humour, nothing over the top and pipey. Voyager is worst on my list, you could see the "point" (or the pipes) of each episode coming on like a pre-school cartoon show. Lacked any kind of grace or style. TNG and TOS are a toss up for me. Enterprise may slip into second as it also has some extended stories and like DS9 seems to be the least popular of the bunch for reasons unknown to me.

Balance of Terror (TOS) shows how a well directed episode makes a world of difference. Individual episodes from each series can be very good.
posted by juiceCake at 4:40 PM on November 26, 2004

Regarding the similarities... arcs in Star Trek were previously unheard of before DS9 season 3 or so, when the main story starts. DS9 up to the season 2 finale follows the standard Trek formula of being episodic and having, at most, two-part episodes. It's not that there is some quality that goes along with all arc-styled TV series, but that this was a big change from established Trek at the time.

I actually wouldn't think much of it if Paramount hadn't been approached about producing B5 well before DS9 ever premiered (or was even conceived, if I recall correctly, something's telling me that the idea for DS9 was sketched out loosely in 1990, but it's been a long time since I've read about any of that).

As this article notes, the similarities are largely superficial to an extent, as the actual character personalities and details differ a great deal, but in broad strokes, they're very similar in a number of striking ways. Given that one precedes the other, and that Paramount had seen the B5 series bible way back in 1988, I think it's fair to say that they may have worked some of those plot elements into their product after turning JMS down. I don't think anyone knows for sure except the execs at Paramount, though, and there's no denying, for me at least, that DS9 was a very fine show that I'd love to own if I was willing to pay the exorbitant amounts that Paramount charges for their Star Trek sets just because they can. I don't really hold the similarities against it (using the term "painfully derivative" was the drama queen in me coming out, I think), but I do acknowledge them.
posted by Kosh at 6:20 PM on November 26, 2004

And yeah, re: individual episodes, I agree completely. Some real gems have come out of the hands-off episodic style ("City on the Edge of Forever," "The Inner Light," "The Visitor," the aforementioned "Far Beyond the Stars," etc., there are more that I don't feel like thinking of; I enjoy episodes like that because they transcend Trek fandom and touch something deeper... I can show them to my girlfriend and she doesn't need to know anything about the show itself, the episode is a self-contained story, so that's less time I have to spend boring her by geeking out over details). I don't mind the episodic model; I just find the arc model more compelling on the whole.

I need to work on keeping my commentary in one comment instead of writing one out, remembering something else, and adding another. :p Bear with me, I'm new at this...
posted by Kosh at 6:24 PM on November 26, 2004

Darth Vader rules
posted by joelf at 7:24 PM on November 26, 2004


of the actual trek series, probably ds9. that garrick character made ds9 bearable, but if you look at any of the stuff before he shows up, avery brooks is the only thing that keeps the show from being horrible.
posted by juv3nal at 8:43 PM on November 26, 2004

Just gonna add in another vote for DS9
posted by nomad at 9:31 PM on November 26, 2004

I just bought the TOS DVDs for the first two seasons (and yes, I'm planning on buying the third season set too, despite "Spock's Brain" and "The Way To Eden"). I think of all the series, these shows have the broadest appeal and have shown they withstand the test of time.

However, my favourite Trek series is Deep Space Nine. Just a great combination of characters, stories and depth. The story arcs worked for me (although it felt rushed in the end) and I appreciated how dark things were. The average DS9 episode is of a higher caliber than any of the other modern era shows, with an appreciable number of stand out episodes (Hard Time springs to mind, as do the more obvious The Visitor and Trials and Tribblations).

Of course, TOS encountered aliens dressed like this:

Oh Sherry!

So it's a tough call. A very tough call :(
posted by filmgoerjuan at 11:22 PM on November 26, 2004

The only thing I dislike about DS9 was the holo nightclub singer Vic Fontaine.
posted by Tenuki at 12:26 AM on November 27, 2004

The DS9 episode "Hard Time" was the episode that Daniel Keys Moran worked on (although it was changed a lot from his original). If you're not familiar with Moran, you should track down a copy of his novel The Long Run post haste.
posted by kindall at 12:39 AM on November 27, 2004

Another vote for DS9. And Netflix from the beginning, as the pilot DEFINITELY ties into the conclusion of the series, and you'll miss fantastic episodes like "Duet" and the three-part season two series opening if you don't start from the start.

The impact DS9 has had on the people that stayed on to make further series (later Voyager episodes and Enterprise) cannot go without comment. Notice that almost everything post-DS9 is in the form of a prequel (ie, pre-TOS) series or movie idea? That's because DS9 actually effected huge change on the fictional universe of Star Trek, shifted powers around, promoted officers, and hardly ever hit the reset button. The people producing Trek don't know how to deal with those changes. Which is sad.

While DS9 is definitely my favorite Trek, my perfect Trek would be a blend of the mind-blowing epic-ness of Babylon 5 with the rich, deep ensemble cast of DS9, which had like, what? 30 main and recurring characters to keep track of? I've shared B5 with many friends, and each time I watch it with them, the fact that the characters exist only to serve the plot becomes more and more apparent, especially late season 4 and all of season 5. Ivanova will still kick Janeway's ass, though.

DS9 should also be required viewing for any single fathers out there. Benjamin Sisko's relationship with his teenage son Jake is one of the most demonstrably loving father-son relationships in television history. Watching Jake grow from a 13 year old to a 20 year old through the series and how his relationship with his father matured yet still stayed loving and realistic, is one of the joys of appreciating the show, even though Cirroc Lofton kinda got the shaft once the Dominion war really heated up in the last two seasons...
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:30 AM on November 27, 2004

Response by poster: Sorry guys, (and gals?) but I've just been informed this is a Stupid Question. You can stop answering it now.
posted by hughbot at 6:55 AM on November 27, 2004

STNG. The writing was really good (for TV sci fi) and the show had good actors. One of the best episodes in ST was the two part 'Chain of Command'.
posted by orange clock at 8:28 AM on November 27, 2004

Madman, I'm with you & Farscape.
posted by Juicylicious at 8:36 AM on November 27, 2004


All subsequent series paled in comparison, with the smell of 'franchise!' stamped all over
posted by seawallrunner at 9:40 AM on November 27, 2004

The only Star Trek series I liked was The Next Generation. It may have had something to do with my age at the time, but I never liked subsequent Star Trek series, though I at least threw them a bone.

Perhaps The Next Generation invoked a certain, Age of Sail, Patrick O'Brian nostalgia in me. It even had a proper and prim British captain, a purely scientific naturalist (Data) and the coolest character ever invented, Q. We all know that all-powerful beings are more like Q than a Christian Jesus. TNG also had a lot more action it seemed. Or at least action that made sense. If anything TNG is the modern version of classical drama -- with some Deux Ex Machina at the very end.

Enterprise was a real bummer. It look like it had the makings of a good series then the first episode aired. For me, I don't like time traveling characters (really screws up your head). All that silly complicated techno-jumble they bring is frusterating. It would have been better if they made it gritty and just had futuristic capital ship battles. The latter Star Trek seires showed how clean and loving everyone is. The Enterprise should have showed how they got that way, with bootlegs and infighting.

Ugh, did I just enter a Star Trek discussion on the Internet?
posted by geoff. at 10:21 AM on November 27, 2004

I love TNG like no other show. I love the characters -- they may be flat, but they feel like old friends. I love the stories -- self-encapsulated, valuing exploration and diplomacy over war and violence. I love the humor of the show: "I am not a Merry Man." I even love the Holodeck episodes, but I won't try to explain that.

Thanks for this thread. I didn't think I'd ever watch any of the other series, but maybe I'll give DS9 a chance now.
posted by liet at 11:39 AM on November 27, 2004

dorian: You have no idea how close I came to adding it to the list... I decided I couldn't afford to alienate my audience that badly :P

I find it interesting to note how fans of certain shows feel the need to write paragraphs while fans of other shows tend to write a few lines...
posted by Chuckles at 9:58 PM on November 27, 2004

Way late to the party here, but I couldn't pass by without adding my voice in support of Deep Space Nine. "The Visitor" is the single finest hour of television I've ever seen.

mojohand: I would recommend watching from the beginning. At the very least, pick out some of the top episodes from the first few seasons to watch. There's too much goodness in there to miss. (From the first season, I'd recommend "Battle Lines," "Progress," and especially "Duet.")
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:07 AM on November 29, 2004

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