Trekkies, what's next for me?
July 5, 2013 12:43 PM   Subscribe

I've seen the new Star Trek film and the 2009 one. What's the next thing to watch if I like what I'm seeing?
posted by wolfr to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (30 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I would say that First Contact is the only thing remotely close to the reboot in terms of feel and tone, but you might not get much out of it without having seen TNG.

TNG is a good place to start, but the first two seasons are a little hit-or-miss.
posted by supercres at 12:47 PM on July 5, 2013

TNG is the best Star Trek.
posted by Librarypt at 12:49 PM on July 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Addendum: they're fortunately pretty self-contained; I would check out the GEOS page and skip anything in the bottom 20-30% or so.
posted by supercres at 12:50 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wrath of Khan?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:53 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

What did you like about the reboot? If you really liked, say the colorful setting and the relationship between these specific character, you should start with episodes of The Original Series. The first two seasons are pretty good. The third one is more eh. Feel free to skip the ones that strike you as bad or boring.

After that, watch some of the movies. Skip the first one, watch 2, 3, 4, 6. Then, if you're still feeling it, watch some TNG. A lot of the first two seasons suck, and it's a lot dryer than what came before but still occasionally joyful and Patrick Stewart is just wonderful. Then watch Generations and First Contact. I'd definitely recommend picking up DS9 at some point, too. There's more compelling interpersonal conflict (a la The Original Series) and better writing than a lot of TNG. I give you permission to skip the episodes about Bajor, though. Snooze city.

At some point, after you've absorbed lots of Trek, please watch Galaxy Quest. It is the best Star Trek movie.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:03 PM on July 5, 2013 [25 favorites]

I've been re-watching the original Star Trek and Next Generation. TOS is actually much stronger than I remembered from periodic reruns in childhood.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:15 PM on July 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Next is watch it all, in order! Hence The Cage.
posted by Flunkie at 1:16 PM on July 5, 2013

It's not clear whether you're looking for Trek related material, so here's a few non-Trek, but Sci-fi films you might like:
The Fifth Element
The Avengers
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:27 PM on July 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

In the non-Trek vein, if you have Netflix, I'd recommend watching Battlestar Galactica next. A word of warning, though: I'd been working through Star Trek: The Next Generation when I took a detour to watch Battlestar Galactica, and it kind of spoiled me for the rest of TNG. Nothing in the Trek world comes close to the immediacy and grittiness of that series, at least for me, and I'm a longtime Trek fan.
posted by limeonaire at 1:36 PM on July 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Galaxy Quest.
Fifth Element,
Other space action movies.

I'm partial to Star Trek 4 (The quest for whales) and First Contact, but you may not like them, because i wouldn't call the 2 current movies trek-like in anything but name.
posted by TheAdamist at 1:36 PM on July 5, 2013

If you want something similar in tone and quality to the Abrams Star Trek movies, I'd recommend "Transformers" or anything by Michael Bay.

If you are interested in Star Trek and want to see the best of it, Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock are the best Star Trek films by far.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:37 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, watch the original series. I had a squabble with a friend who said that the character of Kirk was totally bastardized in the JJ Abrams films. But it's true. Kirk is a more thoughtful, caring and confident leader than I recognized as a kid.

Don't get me started on JJ Abrams, he butchered Trek.

On second thought, if you like his brand of Trek, don't watch TNG/TOS. Watch something else. He took everything that was trek and charged me $12 to watch him kill it.

posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:41 PM on July 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

Wrath of Khan, in particular, is what Into Darkness was patterned on. Considering that it's what you just watched and enjoyed, going back to the source material, especially if you've never seen it before, will be quite illuminating.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:52 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

To clarify I mostly like sci fi interfaces so I am a fan of movies like Minority Report, Iron Man, Moon, Prometheus. I saw some trailers of the old Star Trek on YouTube but it seems tough to get into with today's standards. Especially since all of the CGI looks dated. I imagine you'd have to go for the story and ignore the visuals. Not that I don't like a good story (2001; Moon) - but I do have a penchant for great visuals.

I suspected some Star Trek fans hate the newer movies.

Thanks for The Fifth Element and Battlestar Galactica suggestions. I'll also check out TNG.
posted by wolfr at 1:54 PM on July 5, 2013

So you're looking for great VFX in a SF setting? That kind of changes the equation.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:57 PM on July 5, 2013

Oh man, I have so many opinions about this! I'm not a full-fledged Trekkie because I've never gotten into TNG or anything later, but I'm super into both the reboot movies and TOS (anything with Kirk, Spock, & Co., basically—even though it's true that the reboot took a LOT of liberties with TOS). I absolutely recommend watching the original series (it's funny! clever! campy but fun! and surprisingly moving sometimes?), but not necessarily in order. The episodes are all self-contained anyway, and don't form any kind of arc, and the third/final season is the not-so-great one so if you watch the series in order you don't save any good ones for last. Here's what I'd recommend doing!

1. Watch "The Devil in the Dark," a really good intro-level Trek episode from season 1 (even though of course it was made on a budget of like $3.75).
2. Watch "The Trouble with Tribbles" and possibly "Amok Time" from season 2.
3. Watch "The City on the Edge of Forever" from season 1 (I saved it for late because it's generally considered to be the best one).
4. Watch "Space Seed" from season 1 before watching Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan for maximum context for the latter, or just skip "Space Seed" if you're not really feeling the show yet; it's not necessary (and is admittedly kind of grossly sexist, one of the consistent downfalls of TOS). Definitely also unnecessary: Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Just skip it unless/until you advance to gotta-watch-'em-all Trekkie-dom.
5. Keep (boldly) going!
posted by honey wheat at 1:58 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Abrams Star Trek movies are pure action porn, and the connection to Star Trek is incidental (if not detrimental).

The Star Trek TV shows are more character-driven (as are TV shows in general). All of the other Star Trek movies feature the same actors as the TV shows, so while they may be more action-oriented than the TV shows, they still feel like extensions of the TV shows.

So, it gets back to "what did you like about the movies?"

I'd watch the old show, then watch Wrath of Kahn, then ST IV: The Voyage Home, then the series The Next Generation. The other movies are pretty much duds with the possible exception of First Contact.

Then watch at least the first few episodes of Deep Space Nine so you can fully appreciate Larp Trek.
posted by adamrice at 1:59 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

@seanmpuckett Yes and no, I was also curious what else Star Trek had to offer.

To clarify further, the duality between Kirk and Spock appealed to me; I wanted to know more about the races (Vulcan/Klingons/...); immediately after the movie I looked up an article about the costume colors. So I am interested in "the lore". But also in being entertained ;)
posted by wolfr at 2:01 PM on July 5, 2013

Oh, now I see that the old TOS episodes might not be exactly what you're looking for after all. Well, I'd recommend "The Trouble with Tribbles" anyway, it's culturally iconic and goofily fun (although it doesn't really have the Kirk-Spock antagonism you liked from the movies…in the original series Bones is Spock's main philosophical antagonist; Kirk is more like the middle ground between them).
posted by honey wheat at 2:04 PM on July 5, 2013

wolfr, I think you'll really like the Original Series. Yes, the special effects are dated (though the episodes you'd catch on Netflix have been remastered, so aren't that bad) but other than in The Motion Picture, uses of these special effects were largely unobtrusive. The acting is really good (yes, Shatner is a ham, but a skilled ham), and Spock and Kirk particularly have wonderful chemistry. And the writing is often pretty damn good. Yes, easily better than Abrams, but even discounting that it manages to be both actiony and thoughtful, which is a hard spot to hit and hit well.

If you like the lore, you might pick up a used copy of the art of star trek. It will give you a deeper appreciation for the art direction and special effects, which were all really well conceived and pretty revolutionary for their time. Plus, it's just a pretty book. I enjoy just looking at the pictures.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:10 PM on July 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I liked the original series, though the effects are a little jarring after modern ones.

FWIW, I really got to hate the TNG (OMG the earnest PC dilemmas!) and I am enjoying the JJ Abrams versions as fun goofiness. I just have to not think too much about the actual plot (LOGIC= NO). I'm enjoying nearly all of the interpersonal relating, though I think Uhura's getting the crap end of the stick. I guess THAT'S true to the original, too.

JJ Abrams's version has character-driven humor, the original series has it in spades, and TNG has quite a bit of it, too. (As does Babylon 5, fwiw.) I only watched a bit of Battlestar Galactica because it was too damn grim; for grim I look to the news, not to my entertainment.

I also like how Abrams updated Kirk's womanizing- namely that he's not Manly-man because of it, he's a big dork.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:18 PM on July 5, 2013

The Wrath of Khan or all the old films it ties the new and old a bit
posted by irish01 at 3:02 PM on July 5, 2013

I think it depends what you like about what you've seen so far.

If you want more movies, First Contact and Wrath of Khan are generally considered the best of them.

If you want tightly plotted traditional TV and you like the 60s aesthetic and characters from the recent J.J. Abrams films, watch Star Trek. (If you go this way, don't start with the other movies, do the show first.)

If you're a millennial or younger Gen X and grew up watching occasional Star Trek in syndication on TV, you might like TNG. I adore it because it was the Star Trek I grew up on. But the first season is awful (but campy and kind of fun!), the second is tedious (but sometimes still campy fun!), and even the "good" seasons that follow have a reputation for being beige and bland and everything people dislike about the bad old days of 80's/90's TV drama. But, again, if you dig the whole Captain Picard and Data and sexy Riker with the beard and SHUT UP WESLEY, you kind of can't go wrong. And it is a lot of fun.

If you want something that is like the kinds of TV shows that are currently popular (especially if you liked Battlestar Galactica), you might like Deep Space 9.

If you're a masochist, you might like Voyager.

Can't advise on Enterprise as I haven't seen it.

IMO the other Star Trek movies I haven't mentioned are best watched along with their respective series. They're a mixed bag and more about catching up with beloved characters than anything else. (Unless you like whalesong?)
posted by Sara C. at 10:10 PM on July 5, 2013

I saw some trailers of the old Star Trek on YouTube but it seems tough to get into with today's standards.

If you mean the standards of dramatic narrative on TV, you may want to skip this entire project. None of the TV series -- with the possible exception of a couple seasons of DS9 -- are anything remotely like the better stuff on TV over the last 15 or so years. The vast majority of the entire franchise consists of stand-alone dramatic episodes with few continuing story arcs and virtually no character development. You might prefer to watch Battlestar Galactica or LOST instead.

Especially since all of the CGI looks dated.

I don't find this is the case, actually. For original Star Trek, the effects were all optical and not "CGI". Recent restorations have enhanced the original effects, and frankly watching TOS for the first time on Netflix in HD, I think it looks gorgeous. What tends to be more off-putting is things that the average TV viewer wouldn't have noticed in 1967, like ubiquitous garden supply plants spray-painted to look "alien", or hair extensions that don't match the actors' actual hair color. Sometimes in fight sequences you can see Kirk's tighty whities. If you hate that sort of thing, yeah, I guess skip TOS. But the actual SFX look great.

For TNG, most of the series was made in the pioneering years of CGI. The work is top-notch, and the approach is conservative. Also, it's extremely ambitious, and even when you can tell that an effect is rudimentary CGI, it's so well-conceived that it tends to inspire awe over what people were able to do in 1988 rather than derision at the chintzy effects.

I can't speak to the SFX quality on the later series, though it strikes me that, if any series is going to have cheesy special effects, it's going to be Voyager and Enterprise, as well as the TNG movies. Just because they were all made in the era of ubiquitous shitty CGI.
posted by Sara C. at 10:20 PM on July 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

I mostly like sci fi interfaces
TRON! TRON! TRON (Legacy)!
posted by ZipRibbons at 10:42 PM on July 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

TNG is my personal favorite, and it gets much better from season 3 on. The cast feels a lot more comfortable, and it can be surprisingly funny at times.

There's been a few introductory Trek threads here, and this comment in particular has a starter list of recommended episodes.

Along with the universally adored dramatic episodes, I had an affinity for the Twilight Zone-ish high-concept stuff like Cause and Effect, Timescape, and Frame of Mind.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:33 PM on July 5, 2013

Sara C., I'd take a bit of exception to the idea that DS9 wouldn't hold up to today's TV. The first couple of seasons are slow, to be sure, but one the Dominion war gets cooking a lot of the dramatic themes and continuing plots rival BSG for depth and topical relevance, even today. And considering Ron Moore was involved in both series, that's not really surprising.
posted by barc0001 at 1:27 AM on July 6, 2013

Not a movie or tv show, but if one of the reasons you like nü-Trek is the interfaces, you may want to check out Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction by Nathan Shedroff & Christopher Noessel. They have a blog, too!
posted by metabrilliant at 6:16 AM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

For TNG, most of the series was made in the pioneering years of CGI.

I think we're saying the same thing, but TNG was almost entirely optical special effects using physical models. Only the occasional CGI element.

If you're looking for great-looking VFX in SF, and especially interfaces, then:

District 9, which is also great movie
Prometheus, which is... not
Avatar, which is... not
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:21 AM on July 6, 2013

I'd take a bit of exception to the idea that DS9 wouldn't hold up to today's TV.

That's not what I said.

I feel like most Star Trek, in general, considering all series, definitely "holds up" to today's TV.

However, there was a huge shift in what kinds of storytelling were possible on TV in the late 90's and early 2000's, after most of Star Trek was off the air, inspired by cable series like The Sopranos and The Shield, and according to some people enabled by technology like DVR and the internet. DS9 anticipates this shift in storytelling styles, and the later seasons experiment with some of those innovations a little bit. But for the most part, despite being an AMAZING show, it's just a very different way of telling stories on TV than what people expect from great television in 2013.

The really interesting thing about DS9 and their later more innovative seasons is that Ron Moore, one of the producers on the show at the time (and once a writer for TNG), later went on to create the Battlestar Galactica reboot. If you like thinking about how television has evolved over the last 20 years, you could easily make a little historical workshop for yourself watching episodes of TNG that Moore wrote, then watching DS9 evolve, and then watching BSG, which is a much more modern-style show.

There's nothing wrong with watching series from before this Great Leap Forward, by the way. TOS and TNG aren't "bad" because they were made at a time when people expected different things from their television shows. They're just different. And a person who is concerned with "modern standards" in TV might not get it. But that doesn't mean they aren't good shows or worth watching. Star Trek episodes are all very watchable and are as well written and acted as anything on today. But it's a different style, and one that comes off as old fashioned for people who really love Game Of Thrones today. TNG isn't as consistently well-crafted, but it's a lot of fun, and when it's great, it's more affecting than anything on TV right now.

My comment on skipping Star Trek entirely if you want "contemporary standards" isn't about whether Star Trek is any good, it's about what Star Trek actually is. And as a franchise that has been missing from television for the last decade, it's kind of like a fleet of really beautifully crafted Tall Ships.

(Ahem, network execs who may be reading this -- THIS IS WHY WE NEED A NEW TREK SERIES.)
posted by Sara C. at 8:37 AM on July 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

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