I’ve spent these first few weeks of the Weekly Trek covering a few small aspects of the franchise, but I haven’t actually addressed a couple of big questions. First off, if you wanted to watch Star Trek, just what kind of commitment would you be getting into?
Short Answer: A lot.
I’m trying not to make this daunting, but the simple fact is that Star Trek has been around for 50 years. Now it hasn’t been on the air continually during that time, so the situation could be worse, but you are still looking at a big chunk of your life if you wanted to see it all. In answer to a question on Quora, commenter Cliff Gilley calculated that, minus the commercials, it would take just about 546 hours or about 23 days to watch it all. This, of course, does not include the upcoming movie Star Trek Beyond.
And what does “it all” entail?
79 episodes of the original Star Trek television series (known as TOS).
22 episodes of the animated Star Trek series (TAS).
178 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG).
176 episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9).
172 episodes of Star Trek: Voyager (VOY).
98 episodes of Enterprise (ENT. Enterprise started out without the Star Trek name attached, but added it for the third season.)
And 12 movies.
As a side note: If you’re someone who worries about “canon,” only filmed Star Trek counts as canon. While there are hundreds of Star Trek novels out there about the various crews, some of which have been created specifically for the books, and it’s officially licensed, none of it “happened” as such. The shows or movies could contradict it at any time. You do not have a situation like the Star Wars Expanded Universe which was recently de-canonized by Disney.
Still, as I said at the beginning, there’s a lot of Star Trek out there. Where should you start? The simple answer is with TOS. While it doesn’t come first chronologically anymore thanks to ENT, it was the beginning as far as Star Trek is concerned. A few weeks ago I talked about “The Cage,” which is the unaired pilot episode of Star Trek, but the series as we know it really begins with “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the second pilot episode. And even that wasn’t the first episode to air. That honor belongs to “The Man Trap.” But really if you want to go through Star Trek, starting with “Where No Man Has Gone Before” works nicely.
If the 1960s aesthetic is too much for you, though, you could go with the beginning of “modern” televised Star Trek (I used quotes there, since we’re still talking about an episode that’s almost 30 years old). “Encounter at Farpoint,” the first episode of TNG, kicks off a run of Star Trek that, when you factor in DS9 and VOY, went on for 14 years in the same era (ENT is a prequel that jumps back 100 years before TOS). Almost 20 years before Marvel was building a shared universe in its movies and shows, Star Trek was doing it on a regular basis, which events from the shows being mentioned in the films and vice versa.
You could also go for the chronological version and start with ENT before moving to TOS and so on. I…do not recommend this. Some people love ENT. I am not one of them, and, frankly, I’d hate to see that series sour viewers before they get to the good stuff.
One other option is just ignoring everything before the 2009 “reboot” film. This is a terrible idea. For one thing, the film isn’t a true reboot. All of the Star Trek that came before it isn’t cast aside; it just occurs in a different timeline, a timeline that kicks off the events of the film. Also, television is really where Star Trek is at its best. Yes, many of the films are entertaining, but it’s the week-to-week episodes that allow the series to delve into issues and characters.
But if you aren’t ready to dive into all of Star Trek and just want a sampling, I have you covered. Last year, I did a series of Picks of the Week recommending sample episodes from each of the television series. You can check those out for my Picks for TOS, TAS, TNG, DS9, VOY, ENT, and the movies.
There’s tons to choose from. Get out there and watch something!
- Alan Decker
@CmdrAJD on Twitter