Watching Star Trek for the first time

I’ve been resisting this for the last 30 years, but the inevitable is the inevitable…I’ve never watched a complete episode of Star Trek (any series). I’ve seen a couple of the movies (the new one, the one with the whales and the one where they go to Russia) but had a hard time following them, and I’ve seen bits and pieces of episodes over the years.

I’ve purposely avoided the franchise mainly because of all the negativity that their fanbase gets. I’m a hardcore geek and I felt like I always had to have SOME kind of boundary, and something about Trekkies just seemed really OFF to me. And again, since I had a hard time following/enjoying the little bit that I’ve seen, it didn’t really motivate me to watch more.

On the other hard, I did really enjoy Firefly, BSG 2004, and Futurama (and I have a feeling that I’m missing about half the jokes on the latter due to me not seeing 99.9% of Star Trek content).

Anyway, my first question is - where do I start?

After doing a little bit of research, I see that the William Shatner generation starts with 3 seasons of the Original Series, then the animated series, and then the movies, which was also the chronological order they were released.

There’s also the Enterprise series, which takes place before the Shatner series, but I also understand that this is similar to the Star Wars prequels where you’ll miss half of the storyline if you haven’t seen the “later” stuff yet.

It gets even further complicated with the other TV series, since some of them overlap both in the timeline in the franchise, and when they aired…but I’ll get to that if and when it comes to it.

It gets even further confusing when I try to set a starting point for the Shatner series. There was a pilot episode “The Cage” which Shatner wasn’t even in, and then a second pilot called “Where No Man Has Gone Before” which was the third episode that actually aired, and then “The Map Trap” which was the first episode that did air. My experience with Futurama and Firefly tells me that I don’t want to screw up the watching order, even if the networks did. How many of these eps were aired out of order, and does it affect the plotline?

Also, I have at my disposal the Bluray remastered editions of the Original Series. Purism aside, is it better to watch the “remastered” edition, or the original airings? I don’t mind if they were cleaned up as long as it doesn’t worsen the plot.

Another fact I found - it will take 23 days, 7 hours and 7 minutes to watch the entire Star Trek franchise. Have most Trekkies watched EVERYTHING, or were some of the series/films blasphemous to the franchise? Lets see how far I get…

I recommend starting with The Original Series. It doesn’t matter if you watch it out of order. I’d just go ahead and watch it in whatever order is on the blu-ray. Of course for purism I dislike the remastered editions, but it doesn’t affect the plot at all; it’s all purely cosmetic.

I’ve seen a lot of TOS and TNG, and a little bit of Enterprise and even less of Voyager, and all the movies.

The even-numbered films (the ones with the original cast, anyway) are the best. The odd-numbered ones the quality is uneven. You can probably skip the very first one completely. The genesis of it was so mixed and convoluted that it just never gelled. It’s such a snooze it even dresses the cast in pajamas!

With TOS, the order you watch the episodes doesn’t matter very much. First of all, there was no story arc - maybe the concept hadn’t even been invented. So, every episode stands on it’s own (I know, I know - there are a few episodes that refer to other ones, but it’s rare). An experienced viewer can tell an early episode from a late one, because character development and cast interaction was much less well developed in the first season. So, I would watch them in the order that they were aired, if possible. The two pilots - Where No Man has Gone Before and The Menagerie (actually a well-done framing story around the actual pilot The Cage) are both very good, and you just need to ignore some of the cast changes.

If you enjoy TOS, skip the animated series, and watch Next Gen and DS9. Voyager is pretty dismissible, and Enterprise even more so, although both have some good episodes.

Next Gen is my favorite series, but DS9 is very good, and many fans think it’s the best of the bunch.

Keep in mind that TOS was filmed over 40 years ago - it’s cheesy and low-budget and sexist, but it’s still magical.

The Menagerie would make a FOURTH pilot mentioned for TOS? ARGH, I haven’t even STARTED and I still don’t know where to start!

Which ep should I watch first - The Cage, The Man Trap, Where No Man Has Gone Before, or The Menagerie?

After doing some further research, this same question has been asked before on other boards. All consensuses point towards following the release dates for the journey (and that Enterprise will be pointless if you haven’t seen all the other series/films first), but there’s some debate over how to watch TNG, DS9 and Voyager, whose runs overlapped.

AFAIK, other than cleaning up the prints, all that they changed in the remastered edition was SFX – new (CGI) exterior shots of the Enterprise and other ships, and maybe things like phaser fire in live-action scenes. I don’t believe that they made any material changes to the plots.

I agree with beowulff’s assessment on which series are more worth your while. The animated series was very enjoyable when I was 8 (when it first aired), but it does suffer from being a 1970s cartoon. While a few of the stories were pretty good, a lot of them weren’t, and its relevance in ST canon is debatable (ISTR that even Roddenberry didn’t consider it to be canon). Unless you absolutely fall in love with TOS, I’d avoid it.

The safest starting points are The Next Generation or the Original Series. Even with the remastered ones, the original series can seem a little cheezy without the nostalgia and history it gives to fans that have been watching it since they were little so I would start with The Next Generation. The problem with that though, is the first season of TNG was probably its weakest. Also keep in mind that at this point TNG is over twenty years old itself.

Deep Space Nine was probably the higher quality series but it also less accessible. You should become a fan before diving in.

Voyager and Enterprise are the weakest.

As far as watching everything. I am a Trek fan but there episodes of Voyager I have never seen because I gave up on the show and only came back to watch the finale. Since the show rarely plays reruns and I am not shelling out what they charge for the DVDs, I may never see some of those episodes.

I also gave up on Enterprise in the second season but came back for the third and stayed with it. The Fourth season brought in creators that were actually fans of TOS and the quality improved to the point where I wished it hadn’t been canceled.

Enjoy your project! The franchise makes for a good punching bag but there is a a lot of quality entertainment in there. It is like a spouse you have been married to for many many years. It is comfortable and familiar and thus can be boring but sometimes when you remember to look at it from a new angle you remember why you have enjoyed it for so many years.

Watch TOS, but forgive it. It’s like reading forty year old science fiction stories. A lot of the episodes were about a certain idea, and tried to explore it within the confines of a cheap-ass show. It’s fun. Sometimes it’s even educational (for the era) or transgressive. To be honest, I think it aged better than TNG. But there’s only three seasons, and almost every episode is worth watching.

TNG, you’re gonna need to weed out the crap.

I’d watch TOS by air date or by the closest approximation in the season sets. The Cage and The Menagerie are the same episode. The Menagerie is The Cage with a bit of extra added footage to make it fit in with Kirk.

I wouldn’t worry too much about which episodes of TOS you start with. It really doesn’t matter all that much. I grew up watching Star Trek in syndication and I certainly never saw them in their original order. Leonard Nimoy once said this at a convention and I find that it’s true. “The episodes that were good 30 years ago are still good today. The episodes that were bad 30 years ago are still bad today.” Even with the outdated special effects, direction and acting there are some genuinely good episodes of Star Trek.

I never got into TOS, but grew up with TNG and DS9 which I love, and I also enjoyed Voyager and enterprise, but they don’t hold a candle to TNG and DS9, IMHO.

I’m going to be a little heretical here and say watch the movies to catch up on TOS - the background of the Star Trek Universe. Specifically movies: I, II, III, skip IV and V, watch VI (my fave!). But skip TOS, or maybe watch a few episodes and see if it might be your thing. Personally, outside of the movies, I can’t stand it.

Then go watch TNG. Netflix the whole thing a season at a time. Then go back and continue the movies.

Finally start on DS9 and get ready, 'cause it’s the best of Trek, IMHO, specially after the first couple of season.

By this time, if you haven’t realized you don’t like Trek, you’ll naturally want to move on to Voyager and maybe even give TOS another chance.

In fact here’s my own personal suggestion on what to start with:

Movie - Star Trek VI The undiscovered country
The rest of the movies
TOS - maybe.

I am a genuine certified geek but had never seen TOS before last year when Himself and I started watching them - they’re shockingly good, really, even the shitty ones. I always assumed they were awful and hokey and just allover dumb, but they’re really not. Kirk is not as I assumed he was - he’s absolutely ridden with the burdens of Duty in a tragic sort of way, for example. There’s a lot of richness there that I didn’t expect. And Bones… god, I didn’t expect to adore Bones. He says every line like in his head he prefaces it with “GODDAMN IT YOU MORON”. Really, it’s good TV.

‘No beach to walk on.’

“The Cage” was the original pilot, with Jeffrey Hunter as Capt. Christopher Pike. AFAIK it was never aired as such.

“Where No Man Has Gone Before” was the second pilot ordered by NBC. It was aired as the third episode of the first season.

“The Man Trap” was not a pilot. It was just the first episode aired.

“The Menagerie” was a two-part episode from the first season that re-used much of the footage from “The Cage”.

Hope that helps. :wink:

“The Cage” was never aired with the original series (though it was recycled into “The Menagerie.”) “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was the second pilot, but the third episode aired. “The Man Trap” was the first episode aired.

I’d watch them in the order aired – “The Man Trap” first. You don’t have to watch “The Cage” until after you see “The Menagerie,” and mostly to see how they were able to recycle the episode. “The Cage” also has some characters who never appeared again. It’s a curiosity, but not a place to start.

TOS is still pretty good today, and overall the best of the series. There were some terrible episodes, but a greater percentage of great ones. TNG took several years to hit its stride (about the third season) but was far more sporadic (though it probably has as many good episodes only because they did four more years of it).

I agree. I watched the movies and TNG as a young child. I was a big fan of DS9 as a teenager. But I never got around to watching TOS until recently, and it’s really, really good. You have to forgive the hokey effects and sexism, but the characters (Kirk, Spock, and Bones) are interesting and have great chemistry and some of the stories are very compelling.

Since you don’t have to watch them in order, I recommend “This Side of Paradise” and “The Devil in the Dark,” two of my favorites.

The Cage - the version on the Bluray starts with an introduction/outro from Gene Roddenberry, where he explains his original concept was a “space western”…and much like Firefly, the pilot was rejected and the series got re-tooled. I realize this episode is different from the rest of the franchise, but it’s still interesting to see what COULD have been, before watching what actually developed. I remember Captain Pike being in the new Star Trek movie. Rigel 7 — first Simpsons reference! The Talosians were in an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon too. It’s too bad Laurel Goodwin doesn’t stay on for the series, she was cute as hell. I liked the twist at the end where they made it only APPEAR that the lasers weren’t working.

You know, whether or not I get “into” this show (the first episode was fun, but I wouldn’t say it hooked me), there’s so much pop culture here that it’s worth watching just for the historical significance.

You are right about both points. TOS has some great stories but many people just can’t get passed the old style FX. And yes, Kirk really is not like the stereotypes of Kirk. His character has reputation of giving the finger to authority and doing what he wants to do but really that is mostly from the movies. In the show he is a professional and an all around great captain.

He does bang a lot of alien chicks though. That part is true. :slight_smile:

Star Dreck. :smiley:

I highly disagree, but I might be biased, having watched TOS in 1966 when it was the ONLY Star Trek on the air, ever. But fusoya, if you skip over TOS or watch it last, none of the rest of it will make any sense. It is the foundation of the entire franchise, after all.

I watched it from the very first episode (Man Trap) and even had a weekly preview column in the first on-line newspaper, on the PLATO system in 1976.

While it is true that you can watch them in any order, the ST universe evolved slowly in the first few seasons. The Romulans were introduced in the very good episode “Balance of Terror” and the Klingons were introduced in the also very good episode “Errand of Mercy.” So don’t get confused by stuff they say that makes no sense today.

You might want to skip the third season, where they had mostly given up, and jump to TNG after the second.