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ISO Star Trek: The Good Parts Version

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Wrote most of this a day or so ago, didn't get around to posting it 'til now.

Kam and I have been watching Star Trek: Enterprise on DVD; we're about halfway through season 1.

Unfortunately, I'm not enjoying it all that much. There are some nice moments, and some nice nostalgia bits, and I'm slowly getting over the impulse to say (approximately every three minutes) "Hey, how come this technology is more advanced, smaller, and cooler-looking than the equivalent technology on TOS, even though this is theoretically taking place a hundred years earlier?" And I like seeing the development of various things that "later" become Trek staples (as I noted several years ago when I first saw the pilot), and I enjoy joking that Archer's clueless but enthusiastic puppydog approach to contact is probably the reason the Federation later comes up with the Prime Directive. (If that turns out to be actually true later in the series, don't tell me; I don't think I want to know that for sure yet.) But the writing is often weak and the plots often have giant holes in them, and I don't like watching things primarily to mock them.

So I once again find myself wishing for a "Good Parts Version" of a Trek series. Or maybe I mean "Important Parts Version." We just saw "Cold Front" (the episode with the Suliban vs. Daniels), which is clearly an Important Episode in the overarching story; I'd like to get a list of episodes that includes all the best episodes (maybe the episode ratings at the Trek Nation episode guide would be a good start on that?), and all the major character-development pieces, and all the major overarching-plot pieces, without having to watch every episode. Oh, and maybe the major nostalgia bits, like seeing the Andorians in "The Andorian Incident."

And while I'm at it, I would also like such a list for the three previous series. (And a pony!)

For years, I've been thinking that I gave up on Next Generation after the first-season episode "Skin of Evil," in which the only character I especially liked was suddenly killed (even though, iIrc, it would have been easy enough to prevent the death), and that I only came back to the show much later. But on glancing through the episode guide at startrek.com, it looks like I saw more of the show than I'd remembered--I seem to have seen much of seasons 1 and 2, and most of the episodes from mid-season-3 through mid-season-6, though I think I missed most of the best-known Holodeck episodes. I did see a few exceptional episodes here and there, my favorites being "Darmok," "First Contact," "Ensign Ro," "Inner Light," and my all-time favorite (despite a big plot hole or two), "Yesterday's Enterprise." But I think I stopped watching again sometime around the middle of season 6, and I gather that I missed some good stuff after that. So an Important/Good Parts Version of that series might be nice.

With DS9, I think I watched most of season 1 and perhaps some of season 2, but I'm pretty sure nothing after that. I'm almost certain that I missed the entire Dominion storyline. I gather that shortly after I gave up on the show, it turned into exactly the kind of continuity-driven ongoing-story-arc series that I tend to like. I didn't especially like any of the characters (though I liked looking at some of them, notably Bashir and Dax), and I particularly disliked a couple aspects of the show (the Ferengi annoyed me nearly every moment they were onscreen), but that might've changed if there'd been stories I was more interested in.

By the time Voyager came along, I felt I was pretty much done with Trek. I watched a couple of episodes here and there, but it never caught my interest. But there, too, I vaguely gather that later in the series it became much more the kind of thing I tend to like--but I don't want to have to wade through twenty or thirty episodes that I don't enjoy to get to that point.

So: I realize it would be a lot of work to put together a list of important episodes out of the 140+ episodes for each of four different series (okay, more like 100 for Enterprise), and I don't expect anyone to do that just for me. But if you know of such a list, for any or all of the series, could you point me to it? And while you're at it, if you happen to have any specific recommendations of especially worthwhile episodes of any of the series, let me know. (In case this isn't clear to y'all non-US folks, I'm using "series" in the American sense (an entire show) rather than the British sense (a specific season).)

It also occurs to me that sometimes people say that any given Trek series "didn't really hit its stride until season n," but I'm not sure what n is for any of the series. If the answer to my question for a given series is something like "the important parts are all the episodes from the start of season 3 onward," that would be useful to know.

6 Comments

Well, both Voyager and Enterprise are pretty much ignorable. About the only Enterprise ep I can think got any real acclaim was the fourth season 2-parter In A Mirror Darkly which were both completely set in the Mirror Universe (i.e. not a crossover where good characters appear in it or evil mirror characters in the main universe; just two episodes of the evil Mirror counterparts). This may be because they went so far as to change the opening credits and theme song to invoke the MU, and there are definite points for getting rid of the show's usual theme song.

DS9 pretty much only got good circa season 3.


Thanks, Tom!

I had been under the impression that there was a lot of Mirror Universe stuff woven throughout Enterprise, which was one reason I wanted to start watching the series; if it's really just one two-part episode, then maybe I'll just skip ahead to that.


Two of my best friends from Swarthmore are HUGE Star Trek fans; I've watched (and enjoyed) a fair amount of each series, but I tend to enjoy it in casual social settings, not dedicated consecutive progress through a series.

So, the only thing I'll say is concerning Enterprise -- my impression from scattered episodes from various seasons is that S1 is weak but intriguing, S2 and S3 start messing with canon in bizarre and frustrating ways, and S4 (when I did actually watch several episodes in a row) has strong writing and attempts to fix the mess they made of canon. I'm not sure if it's worth it to you (or me!) to watch 2-3 seasons of weak or annoying episodes to get the backstory to a decent season, but that's my $0.02.


Eddie Izzard has a very nice précis of TOS, if you haven't seen it.


It's been a while since I watched Enterprise, but I remember it getting very good near the end (and then bombing the final episode because they let Braga write it). I seem to recall that they got some of the Trek novel writers to come in and start explaining things (like why the Vulcans in the beginning of the series are all so... arrogantly, annoyingly uptight), and they did some really cool stuff with the old races.

Unfortunately, by the time the good writers got to the series, it was too late: not even the pretty Vulcan girl was getting people to tune in. :P


There was a large gap in my viewing of DS9, but I watched the last several episodes; they were a pretty good arc (except for the Bajoran mysticism, but that was always the weak point of the series). "Necessary Evil" works nicely as a standalone.

I gave up on Voyager pretty early on, though I caught various bits as reruns. The only later episode that sticks out is "Tuvix," because it's not really a Trek episode (despite the "transporter accident" gambit) and in that respect kind of makes up for the fact that the very first thing the series did was put everybody in the same uniform and defuse the potential for internal conflict.


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