I watched a lot of Star Trek back in the 90s and early 2000s. I’ve watched all of TNG, DS9, and Voyager, some of Enterprise, and all the movies before the Abrams reboot. I never got around to watching TOS. I gave up on Enterprise around the end of the second season. I got bored with the characters and the storyline was getting more and more bizarre. Here’s a few questions up for debate.
Do the older series, especially TNG and DS9, still hold up, assuming that you liked them the first time around? I’ve been thinking of rewatching DS9, which was my favorite, but don’t want to be disappointed and ruin my memories of all the great characters in that series. I specify the characters because that’s what, IMHO, made DS9 the best Star Trek. Not only were all of the main cast memorable, but the villains were well rounded and even most of the minor / recurring characters are good. Should I bother giving Enterprise another shot? What about TOS?
What about all the newer stuff? I read that there was now an alternate timeline, and that the Romulan sun had gone supernova. From what I’ve read, those are now the main source of drama. I haven’t wanted to watch any of the newer stuff because those things seem too dystopian for me in a series that’s supposed to be about what the best of humanity can be. IMHO this includes the Romulans and all the other sentient species. I had a soft spot for them after they joined up with the Federation and Klingons to defeat the Dominion.. Would you all recommend I give any of the new series a chance, or are they all doom and gloom?
I think TOS holds up as long as you can tolerate the 60s style of an action show. It helps if you can keep in mind how advance it was for the time. But the shows were fast paced with a mix of action, tension and humor.
I miss the Hope for the Future, this and some of the early follow-up series provided. I miss when Science & Engineering were our friends.
And keep in mind, Shatner’s much mocked acting was not in anyway out of place in the 60s except his odd pauses for “dramatic affect”.
I’ve rewatched TNG and DS9 within the last decade, and IMO they both hold up very well. Or at least the episodes that were good in the original run (which means only a bit of TNG in seasons 1 and 2, then most of seasons 3-5, and a bunch of seasons 6 and 7, and the majority of all DS9 seasons) are still good. The great episodes are still great. Some of the effects are dated, especially in TNG, but it’s still a lot of fun.
I also love Lower Decks. A wonderful show for 60s-90s Star Trek fans.
I’ll second lower decks for being a ton of fun. It has the advantage that it doesn’t take itself seriously, which is a huge problem in Discovery which is so GrimDark that it doesn’t feel like Trek at all.
TOS is still fun for me to have on for the dialog/background noise, but watching it can be somewhat painful. Not so much the acting, which was more or less on par for the time, but the extremely heavy makeup and soft focus on various characters just always sucks me out of the story, which while heavy handed, is often worthwhile. If you’ve never watched TOS, just be aware that the good stories can be very, very good - and the bad episodes equally so.
Of the more ‘modern’ Treks, I enjoyed TNG, even if it was also really uneven. I never liked DS9 because while it was fine, it just failed in comparison to Babylon 5 which was airing at the same time. Voyager . . . jumped the shark fast and regularly, so, just, no. And I already complained about Discovery.
Which leaves Enterprise. Which I really, really liked. Not because it was great, but because (for me) it captured some of the excitement and wonder of TOS. These people were going new places, sure, but they were also normally the first humans to go there. Communication isn’t easy, there aren’t rules or support to fall back on, so they often made it up as they went along - Screwups and all. Something that was missing in TNG - too sure, too skilled, too comfortable in a rather smug Federation: a point Q is making in Encounter at Farpoint.
Which isn’t saying Enterprise is flawless. It’s got serious issues with continuity, overplaying the human role because no one else is ‘neutral’, and the less said about Time Travel, the better. But it is a personal favorite for the reasons mentioned earlier.
I have not found any of the series hold up any worse than they were when I watched them back in the 90s. The main thing I notice is that there are TNG episodes that feel quite slow, especially in the first two seasons. There are some bits that hit differently due to more knowledge, but nothing major.
As for visual quality, I very much recommend the HD versions of TNG, which just look like the same effects done in HD. The new effects for TOS can be a bit hit or miss, but are mostly good, and there are some that are just amazing. (Still, when the CG looks dated, sometimes the models look better.) I also think the fan AI-upscaled versions of the other SD shows look pretty good, even if obviously not filmed in HD.
I can still watch TOS, and think that, for the most part, it holds up.
One thing the original series had was actual science fiction writers contributing, and works adapted fro or related to original science fiction literature.
Robert Bloch (“Wolf in the Fold”), Jerome Bixby (“Requiem for Methuselah” , “Mirror,Mirror,” “By any other name”, “Day of the Dove”), Norman Spinrad (“The Doomsday Machine”), David Gerrold (then at the start of his career – “The Trouble with Tribbles”, “The Cloud Minders”, a rewrite on “I’ Mudd”), and Theodore freakin’ Sturgeon (“Amok Time”) and Harlan Ellison (“The City on the Edge of Forever”), not to mention things like Arena, which gave the nod to Fredric Brown’s story. (The Animated series carried on the tradition, with additions by Gerrold, a story adapted from a Larry Niven story, and so on). But the later series generally didn’t solicit from established SF writers in the same way. I like TOS particularly for that reason – it feels closer to its SF roots.
The other difference is that in the first series they weren’t bound by the layers of creations and precedents set by earlier works, so they were free to invent things and take the shows in new directions. Sturgeon’ for instance, came up with that whole Pon Farr/Vulcan mating stuff. Gerrold realized while writing “Tribbles”: that no one had yet addressed the issue of money and commerce in the Star Trek universe. And so on. Star Trek, like any long-lasting franchise, eventually got strait0-jacketed by its own mythology, which stifled creativity.
I think TOS holds up better than TNG, which feels so ‘80’s’ it’s sometimes cringey. It’s probably the trek show most defined by the era it came from. But then I always liked TOS more anyway. The technobabble, for one thing, never reached the levels of stupid that TNG engaged in. And the dynamic between the oead characters was more compelling.
I can watch TOS anytime and still enjoy it. I am able to overlook the cheap sets/costumes/effects because I think the writing holds the stories together so well. I also like that it is “grittier” (people actually got dirty and bled !). The lack of gritty-ness is one of the things that I dislike about TNG, BTW.
I recently started re-watching TNG and I’d forgotten how painful the first season episodes were. Season 2 gets a little better, but they didn’t really hit their stride until about season 3. And the following seasons are much more enjoyable.
I tried DS9, but just couldn’t get into the “stationary” outpost theme. I liked Cisco, but there were just too many new aliens being thrown in. And the Ferengi just get to be too obnoxious.
I thought Voyager had promise, but they seemed to include too many annoying characters. Namely Neelix and the hologram doctor. I also didn’t think the writing was even on par with TNG.
I thought Enterprise was horrible. I could not buy into pretty much any of the characters except the Captain. It seemed for this first inter-galactic ship, they picked the worst possible crew. Let’s just say that these guys would never pass the psychological screening that submariners go through.
It only took the first episodes of Discovery to realize that they were taking the JJ Abrams “let’s just throw the past away, and re-write the whole history of the Trek universe (but use the same character names)” approach. So this turned me off. And to make matters worse, in the premier episode, the main character commits such horrible, mutinous actions (even makes Kirk look forgivable with his prime directive transgressions) that she should be locked up an never heard from again. (but of course she instead rises to command…).
If you’re willing to just “start over” with the Trek history/universe, then I suppose Discovery could work for you.
I think the issue with TNG that makes it most cringey for me is the obvious A side vs B side stories. It seemed endemic that you’d have the main story of the episode, but there was almost always some ‘personal interest’ story shoe-horned in as well in many episodes. I freaking hated O’Brien as a character for many years due to being burned out on all his matrimonial sub-stories.
Not that this didn’t happen with other series as well, but it was so forced in many TNG episodes that it far out-shadowed any issues about the magical Wesley/Data fix the world complaints.
You really need to start with Star Trek TOS to understand the Roddenberry universe. Production values were ‘60s TV level but mostly worked. Some of it is old and quaint, like the first inter-racial kiss on TV, and most of it was written before any sort of canon basis for the following series’ were developed, because after all it was just a TV show without much hope for a future, until it became popular in rerun syndication.
It is the foundation upon which the ideas for the later shows sprang. It is where the ideas for the future series came. It was quite a long time after TOS before even the first movie became a possibility and 20 years before the Next Generation. Both the first movie and TNG stumbled at first, but the fans kept wanting more.
Sort of like trying to understand Jesus without ever reading the Gospels.
Shows how good my memory is . I remember those episodes being from DS9, with his role on TNG being almost like a backup for La Forge. But I also liked O’Brien and getting to know him as a person, along with all the other characters from DS9 as well. That’s what I liked so much about DS9. The characters, even the minor and recurring characters, all seemed more real, even compared to TNG, much less Voyager or Enterprise. The only characters that are still memorable to me from those two series are The Doctor and 7 of 9.
I’ll put TOS on my list to watch. Is it streaming on Paramount, or does one have to go hunting for DVDs?
One thing that DS9 had going for it was that a lot of the regular characters, and even more of the recurring characters, weren’t Star Fleet personnel. We got to see more of what the ST universe was like for regular people just caught up in all the drama, as well as points of view from people that Star Fleet thought of as villains.
TOS and TNG were primarily about Star Fleet itself, and its adventures, and non-Star Fleet characters were usually just one-offs with little opportunity to express themselves.
Streaming rights move around frequently, but as I write this post, it appears to be available through Hulu and Amazon Prime.
BTW, my personal opinion: as others have said, I think much of TOS holds up if you make allowance for the era it was filmed in.
Of the newer series, I love Lower Decks. It’s kind of a parody of TNG-era Star Trek, but it’s a loving parody, and I thought in the second season, it really hit its stride. It started taking itself just a bit more seriously, and at its best it manages to poke fun at Star Trek while also actually respecting it more and embodying it better than anything in the last couple of decades, at least. I thought the Season 2 finale, “First First Contact” was one of the best TNG episodes ever, and the previous episode, “wej Duj”, may be one of the top ten Star Trek episodes of all the series.
Yeah, Lower Decks is set in the TNG era, shortly after the end of that series, in the original timeline. There are Easter Eggs for fans of TOS and the Animated Series, but it pretty much ignores everything that came after the first couple of TNG movies, and really the only plot element from those that comes into play at all is that Riker makes a couple of cameos as the captain of the U.S.S. Titan.