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Which Star Trek Series Is The Best?

An excerpt from page 224 of Glenn Reynolds's An Army of Davids asks us to look deeper at our sci fi fantasies.

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April 9, 2013 - 10:39 am

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While my favorite series must remain The Next Generation, the question is which series is the best. That title belongs to Deep Space Nine. Having just recently watched through it again, I was struck by how it stands alone as a single continuous narrative. The other series where highly episodic with fewer narrative through-lines. Deep Space Nine rewarded loyal viewing with season-spanning story arcs unlike anything seen in the other series.

More importantly, Deep Space Nine seemed to know where it was going early on and proceeded with confidence. TNG made things up as they went along. Remember the alien body snatcher conspiracy that went nowhere?

I also think DS9 was best because its vision of the galaxy was far more authentic than the utopian ideal presented elsewhere. The Federation of DS9 was imperfect and fumbling, forced to test its ideals against the grim reality of war. Kirk and Picard always seemed to find some way to have their prime directive and eat it too.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
TOS, of course.

All the other Trek incarnations sagged under the weight of moral relativism.

Sometimes you've just got to put on you best gold-colored velour shirt, set your phaser to high, take a long draught of Romulan Ale and put the moves on the blue-skinned Andorran chick in black leather.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I used to say ST:TOS was best, but as the years go by it gets cornier and harder to watch (apart from one or two of its better episodes). None of the later series is perfect, but I guess my choice for liveability is ST:DS9. Its Federation offices are still mostly jumped-up Boy Scouts, but everyone else is more or less human. Its people have real problems, real needs, and real conflicts - unlike the other series, where the answer always seems to be "Oh, we no longer have [insert 21st-century problem here]. Humanity did away with that YEARS ago!"

I'll throw some gasoline on the fire by stating that the Rodenberrily-correct future is boring and I wouldn't want to spend any time there. I'll also say that the series' "depiction of a hopeful future where mankind has solved its problems and learned to live together" is NOT the reason they are so popular. That's a canned answer - something Roddenberry-bots repeat on cue like trained parrots. It's what Roddenberry wanted, but it's not what he got.

ST is popular for the same reason any TV series is popular: good characters in an interesting setting doing interesting things to resolve interesting conflicts. Period. People don't care whether it's hopeful or not, as long as it's interesting. Perfect people living in a perfect future are boring.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (24)
All Comments   (24)
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Babylon 5
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
While my favorite series must remain The Next Generation, the question is which series is the best. That title belongs to Deep Space Nine. Having just recently watched through it again, I was struck by how it stands alone as a single continuous narrative. The other series where highly episodic with fewer narrative through-lines. Deep Space Nine rewarded loyal viewing with season-spanning story arcs unlike anything seen in the other series.

More importantly, Deep Space Nine seemed to know where it was going early on and proceeded with confidence. TNG made things up as they went along. Remember the alien body snatcher conspiracy that went nowhere?

I also think DS9 was best because its vision of the galaxy was far more authentic than the utopian ideal presented elsewhere. The Federation of DS9 was imperfect and fumbling, forced to test its ideals against the grim reality of war. Kirk and Picard always seemed to find some way to have their prime directive and eat it too.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well said. I got hooked on Star Trek during the second season of TNG so DS9 was the first Star Trek series I was able to watch from episode 1 to the very end, and it did not disappoint with a wonderful collection of characters and storylines. Plus when they did lighthearted "fun" episodes, they were actually funny!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My favorite is Voyager but I have to say the ending was not good and kind of thrown together and then chopped off. There should have been at least one more episode to tie up loose ends.

Next would be DS-9. It had one of the best endings of any of the Star Trek series in fact of any TV series as far as I am concerned. It would have been really great to have another series after Voyager and DS-9 that combined the two as they took place in the same time frame.

I liked TNG, especially the episode "The Inner Light" and I watched TOS as first runs way back there. At the time it was amazing but the later series were just more complex and had more depth to them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Concerning the Star Trek franchise, the best is TOS. Say what you want about special effects, Roddenberry did a great job channeling Foster, the acting was acceptable and the characters were inspiring. Likewise, I'd add the original Battlestar Galactica, for similar reasons though there was no connection to Hornblower, as far as I know. I'd also say Firefly, despite being a Western set in space, was realistic, but with characters that inspired as well as showcased human weaknesses and foibles blah, blah, blah.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
For me, I'd say it's a toss up between TNG and Deep Space 9. I wish someone would get all the Star Trek series and films under one roof. We need a Star Trek channel!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Netflix streaming has all the series (I think... not sure if the cartoons are currently available), and the movies come and go.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank god for Netflix streaming. But I always thought a Star Trek channel would be a win win. There's certainly enough hours of content. Plus they could do Star Trek related shows and specials.
I can dream can't I?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I bet a person's approximate age has more to do with which Star Trek they like best than the kind of world they want to live in. Which Star Trek did you watch when you were young? It's just like what era of music you think is best or which movies you like the most.

I'd like to think I'm a little more objective than that. I remember watching TOS episodes with my sister, but honestly...most of them were badly written and badly acted. For every good episode, there were four or five others that were downright painful to watch. I was in my teens when TNG came on the air. It hit its stride in seasons 3 and 4 (after Roddenberry turned control over to Berman). It's better than TOS, but it's not my favorite.

For my money, DS9 was the best. For the first time, the characters interacted with each other in realistic ways, they all had flaws, and were more fleshed out than the cookie-cutter two-dimensional TOS characters or the goodie-two-shoes, never-have-an-argument TNG crew. Throw in the Dominion War and the sacrifices Sisko and others had to make to their Federation ideals, and you have an excellent series.

And by the way...I thought Voyager and Enterprise were treated unfairly by a spoiled fan base that (incorrectly) assumed Trek would continue forever, and I enjoy watching both on Netflix. And the AJ Abrams movie sucked big time. He turned it into a bad CGI-effects action movie with plot holes a mile wide, no respect for continuity, and bad science, to boot.

However - to get back on point, I don't think my preference for DS9 indicates a preference for a compromised and dystopian world savaged by corruption from within and threats from without wherein a few struggle to survive and maintain their ideals against long odds - but it certainly reflects the world we actually live in far more closely than TOS, TNG, or even Voyager.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I never really watched any on the later incarnations but I have to say I still watch TOS and love the characters. I also love the movies, and I can't wait for the next installment of the prequel to come out in May.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Really? Can you actually say that you liked ST-V or ST-Nemesis?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Eh, not really. I never saw Nemesis in it's entirety and ST-V was pretty bad. I did like all the others though, including the newest one with the new cast.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I started watching TNG on syndication, DS9 on it's way out, and Voyager in the middle of its run. The characters of TNG are my favorite, mostly due to nostalgia, but if I was being honest, DS9 is my favorite. People struggling against impossible odds is always good.

My most hated Star Trek episode is the TNG episode where the Enterprise discovers several 21st century humans in cryogenic stasis. One man was in finance, who becomes despondent because none of his investments exists. I think this is the episode where Picard is asked why people do anything to help anybody anymore. Picard essentially says that future humanity just does whatever helps others. How they do this without profit motive or a massive, controlling state is never answered.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
TOS, of course.

All the other Trek incarnations sagged under the weight of moral relativism.

Sometimes you've just got to put on you best gold-colored velour shirt, set your phaser to high, take a long draught of Romulan Ale and put the moves on the blue-skinned Andorran chick in black leather.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I loved TOS, because long ago when the world was new, I was young, and it came out; it was the only thing on mass media that assumed that there was going to be a future and that it might be worthwhile. And admittedly, the inclusion of Sulu was the only thing that indicated that we Asians would still be around, too [I'm Chinese].

DS-9 introduced characters that were real and could develop. Loved it. And although it did not last long, and is universally panned; I loved ST:Enterprise. It covered the transition from the nasty, stupid, buggered up species we have now; to a slightly more sophisticated nasty, stupid, buggered up version that could hold its own amongst other different species who have their own problems and may not be all that friendly to us. That would be one of the major issues if we should find out that we are not alone, although they took a rather optimistic view of how it would be handled. The Vulkans, Andorrans, Klingons, et. al. would probably just have squashed us.

As far as where the franchise is going, J.J. Abrams is deliberately destroying it now; which seems to be the desire of the owners. Blowing up the planet Vulkan in the past changes the ST universe beyond recognition. I saw his first movie, and am deliberately ignoring anything he does further.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm often amazed by how often I see this expressed, because there were in fact people who looked just like you - they're called humans.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We’ve walked in different shoes. Up until ST:TOS the only media depictions of Asians were Charlie Chan, Hop Sing on “Bonanza”, Kwai Chang Caine on “Kung Fu”, and Kato on the “Green Hornet”. When I went to kindergarten in the 1950’s I had older kids literally stoning me [there is a scar on top of my head from it]; because back when I was learning to walk, Chinese troops were fighting American troops in Korea [I was born here]. When I was in high school for a dismal semester in Hastings, Nebraska I had to carry a gun [and demonstrate a willingness to use it] due to death threats because being Chinese was equated by my fellow students with being Viet Cong because 'all of us were alike'. Note that at the time I was a straight A student and aiming for the Naval Academy. So yeah, an Asian Star Fleet officer struck a chord.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So what? I was bullied and assaulted as a kid too. Children in America are cruel. Was the reason I was bullied by other white kids some completely different thing? Cruelty is cruelty. 5 black guys once assaulted me at my front door. Is that black people? I was tortured by police. Looked just like me. Nothing strikes a chord with me other than 5 fingers. I've seen "Orpheu Negro" 10 times, 100 kung-fu movies, Indian, ESPN Brazil, it's all the same. I had no favorites on Star Trek by race. I consider the idea depraved.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why are you so dismissive of someone else's experiences? Unless you walk in someone else's shoes you can never know what it's like.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Same would go for me then wouldn't it? Everyone has problems and the cruel is cruel. If you want to parse that as cruel is white, knock yourself out.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I liked Enterprise, too, and for some of the same reasons. Everything wasn't perfect, the humans made mistakes, they were caught up in issues (and other species) they didn't understand, the Vulcans thought they were idiots, etc. It was refreshing, seeing us bumbling around the universe for the first time. Sort of like the old TOS crew used to bumble around the universe. Much like we bumble around Earth today. Bumbling is interesting. Drinking tea and being perfect isn't.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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