Monday, September 12, 2016

We Rank 'Em: Star Trek TV Series

It goes without saying that Star Trek is one of, if not the, most influential franchises of all time. In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the first episode, the team here at Nerds of a Feather put our heads together to determine the all time best Star Trek TV series. Naturally, no one person rated the series the same, so we resorted to our trusted group rating system, where we each rank to our liking and then take the group average.

6. Enterprise

Enterprise is no one's #1
- This is not Star Trek. There is no better world offered here, just a hodgepodge of the worst of the previous Treks: arrogant and paternal white dude captain, thin moralizing of us vs. them total war, confusing time travel bullshit, and a twist ending that...did not work in the slightest. This was the wound that killed Star Trek as I knew it. (Charles)

- Deeply flawed but finally found a soul in the fourth season, just in time to get canceled. I can't recall much of the series, but I'll never forget that it started the fourth season with alien nazis and that's when it started to get really good. It had the absolute worst opening theme. (Brian)

- Overall: 0/10. This is one of the worst shows ever. Bonuses: None. Penalties: ALL THE PENALTIES. IT IS THE PREQUELS OF STAR TREK. (Dean)

5. The Animated Series

TAS is no one's #1
- I know that limited animation (cost- and time-saving shortcuts, familiar from shows like Scooby-Doo: Where Are You?) isn't for everybody. But the original cast in stories that are at least as solid as an average TOS episode makes me tremendously happy. And the flashes back to Spock's youth in the episode "Yesteryear" I think formed the basis for a lot of the flashbacks in the 2009 STAR TREK reboot and at least one lyrical reference in a Weezer song, so consider me a fan. (Vance)

- I wish I had a cartoon like this growing up. It has not aged well at all, but the crew is all there (plus some interesting additions) and the adventures are pulled directly from the Original Series. While it doesn't stand well on its own, it has some big names attached to it and it certainly keeps the spirit of the Original burning bright. (Charles)

4. Voyager

Voyager is Dean's #1
- Overall: 7/10. I love Voyager because it is basically a pure adventure with great characters. Bonus: +1 for Janeway. (Dean)

- In the nature of Star Trek, Voyager embraces diversity in its cast. What stands out most to me are the female characters in more traditional male roles, like Janeway the captain and B'Ellana the chief engineer. I recently re-watched an episode the dealt with pregnancy and childbirth. Relatability is important in genre TV, and Voyager's diverse cast and overall premise - feeling trapped and lost but not giving up hope - is relatable to many. (Tia)

- This show took a complex political situation and then shot it to a remote corner of the galaxy, surrounded by deadly enemies. The hook was brilliant, and yet some of the complexity Trek was known for fell away in favor of looking at what these people would do to survive and to get back home. (Charles)

3. The Original Series

TOS is Vance's, The G's, and English Scribbler's #1
- There is some cognitive dissonance for me here because I don't think TOS is the best Star Trek show, but it is my favorite. I remember seeing WRATH OF KHAN in the theater, and I was only four years old when that came out, so Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the original crew simply are Star Trek to me. The hits on this show are some of my favorite sci-fi stories ever, even though the lows are just terrible. But "City on the Edge of Forever" more than makes up for "Spock's Brain" and "The Way to Eden." (Vance)

- The original boasted a delightful dynamic between Kirk, Spock, and Bones, with some episodes and a vision of the future that were revolutionary at the time. To say that the series has aged well, though...some episodes have, and some have most certainly not. (Charles)

- Watching TOS is like reading classic literature. At times the plot doesn't hold up well but hearing "to boldly go.." is like reading "wherefore with thee came not all hell broke loose." The dramatic acting is my favorite part of the show. It has the passion and feel of an old time movie and surprisingly deep themes and dialogue. And okay, I'll say it: Kirk is dreamy. But those pants. I just can't handle the pants. (Tia)

- It's the groundbreaking start of the franchise. The highs are very high, but the lows are real low. It's not the most even series, but it's still a classic. (Brian)

- Overall: 6/10. Bonuses; +1 maybe hindisght, but for doing what it did for SciFi. Penalties: -1 for only being OK when you really watch it. (Dean)

(It's worth noting that the difference in ranking averages between DS9 and TOS was one tenth of a point.)

2. Deep Space Nine

DS9 is Tia's and Charles' #1
- This show, more than any of the others, pushed the boundaries of how Star Trek could be told, spinning vast mythologies and character arcs that paid off in tremendous ways while weaving episodic mysteries and series-spanning storylines. It stripped away the pearly veneer of the Federation and yet still made it something worth fighting for, something worth dying for, in ways that I never felt the earlier shows managed to capture. Still my favorite show of all time. (Charles)

- I love DS9 so much because it feels different than the other Star Trek Series while still feeling like Star Trek. I really like the space station dynamic which gets us off the bridge and into the lives of civilians, but we still get the traditional upper level Star Fleet characters too. Bonuses: +1 for POC captain, +1 for Dax. (Tia)

- It broke the mold by focusing not on a ship, but a space station and the incredibly diverse group inhabiting it. It also escaped the episodic nature of all other series. (Brian)

- Overall: 6/10. Babylon 5 is the best show ever, and I love DS9 because it feels a lot like Babylon 5. That doesn't sound like the praise I quite mean it as, the trade and politics of the show are great. Bonuses: +1 for being brave enough to depart the standard formula. Penalties: -1 for just kind of being there sometimes, -1 for the cast not always being strong. (Dean)

- If I needed to recommend this show to anybody, I would simply have to tell them about the episode "Trials and Tribble-ations," and I think the show's greatness would be self-evident. (Vance)

1. The Next Generation

TNG is Brian's, Shana's, and Jemmy's #1
- Best crew, best stories, best ship. This is my generation's Star Trek for a very good reason. I rewatch it yearly. (Brian)
- Aptly named, this show took much of the promise of the original and offered more characters, more complexity, and a more vibrant and connected universe (and it lasted for more than three seasons). So much was established in this series, and yet it often suffered because of its strictly episodic structure and its unwillingness to question certain key problems with the Federation. (Charles)

- This was the series I grew up with on TV, and I readily admit it's a better show than the original. The crew is fantastic, the inclusion of Worf on the Enterprise speaks to the welcome optimism of the Star Trek universe, and I have never not wanted a holodeck. (Vance)

- Where TNG wins for me is when the cast are experiencing things that are foreign to them but normal to us. Right now I'm thinking of them being trapped in a Casino and them eating scrambled eggs. Other times I find this show kind of boring (gasp, I know) and can't really bond with the characters. Bonuses: +1 for Worf, Penalties: -1 for the ugliest Enterprise interior ever. (Tia)

- Overall: 7/10. Real talk: This is the best crew. Every single character is fantastic- I could go on, but you know it as well as I do. Bonus: +1 for Picard being the best Captain. -1 for every stupid episode where they get stuck in the bloody holodeck in some 20th century setting gaaaaah stop. (Dean)

Compiled by: Tia  inspiring couch potato and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2014