Last article to move over from the old blog so here we go. I actually gave this one to Jessica when it came to TNG.
A Rundown of the Star Trek franchise
I have been asked by a friend “How do I get into Star Trek?”. Or at lest something in that direction. I admit, it’s a hard question to answer. Star Trek encompasses five live-action tv shows, eleven movies (soon to be 12), one animated series and dozens upon dozens of novels and further material. Getting into Trek is a daunting process. So, how do you start?
Well, start at the beginning, some might say. I believe, that that answer is much more complex, so, what I’m going to do, is give you a rundown of all live-action series and the movies, why and why not you should watch them and some episodes I recommend, as well as my personal experience with them.
At this point I should probably mention, that I’m not a hardcore Trek fan. I’m no Trekkie, or Trekker, or whatever they want to be called. I’m not obsessed with Trek, I just happened to grow up with it. That also gives me the chance to approach some of the more… let’s say controversial aspects with some distance, though by no means by being objective.
1.) Star Trek: The Original Series
This is, of course, the Big One, the original, the one everything else was based upon. The classic 1966 series, the one that became a part of pop culture and the one most people know of.
Let’s get this straight: most of it has not aged well, at all. By that I mean the portrayal of certain… subjects and of course the women, oh the women (I’m looking at you, Janice Rand, captain’s doormat). If you go in it, you should do so with the mindset of “for it’s time”. It was progressive “for it’s time”, the portrayal of women was progressive “for it’s time”, even the miniskirts were progressive “for their time” (back them they stood for empowerment or something in that line, know you kinda feel uncomfortable when Uhura walks around and you can see her underwear in glorious 1080p).
And then, of course, the fact of quality material. I believe Philip J. Fry said it best: “[…]79 episodes, about 30 good ones.” A lot of episodes, while wonderful for fans and watching it for the kitsch, no doubt about it, are hard to sit through. That being said, there are some of the franchises best episodes in their and some of my favourites. So, if you want to watch some TOS, start with these, so that you get a proper introduction to the series and go back to others later. It’s way too easy to get a bad first impression.
“Where no one has gone before” – the second pilot and a good introduction to the series. If you have to start somewhere, you better start here.
“The Corbomite Maneuver”
“The Conscience of the King” – probably one of my favourite Star Trek episodes
“Balance of Terror” – another one of my favourites, it introduced the Romulans and is probably the most mature a Trek episode came to discussing the effects of war until DS9 came around, which owes much to this one episode.
“The Devil in the Dark”
“Errand of Mercy” – introduces the Klingons
“The City on the Edge of Forever” – the big one, pretty much universally considered Trek’s best episodes in the franchises history.
“The Trouble with Tribbles”
After these you can feel free to go back and watch some more, there are still some gems in there. Oh, and, if you can arrange it, watch the remastered version. Not only is it in HD, but it also put new effects in there, that replaced the cheesy old ones, that never looked so good. Hardcore fans may tell you otherwise, but they really enhance some really great episodes by showing what just wasn’t possible on a shoe-string budget in the 60’s.