Yes, Star Trek Into Darkness was a big hit this year at the theater. Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch is dreamy. And yes, neglecting to put a colon in between “Star Trek” and “Into Darkness” is confusing and, most likely, grammatically incorrect. But again, that Sherlock guy…
But wouldn’t it be cool if this new film franchise we just discovered was actually based on some pre-existing material? Some rich history that, if you so chose, you could delve into and really immerse yourself in? Good news! There is. It’s called Star Trek and it was a TV show from 1966 – 1969.
Unfortunately, it kind of sucks.
But good news! There was a re-boot of THAT series called Star Trek: The Next Generation that ran for seven seasons between 1987 – 1994.
Unfortunately, a lot of that series sucked, too.
I say all this as a Star Trek fan so cool off. Believe me. I’ve been to more Star Trek conventions than you (come and get it, ladies!). But being a fan doesn’t mean you can’t be critical of a beloved franchise.
So what are we to do? You, the newcomer to Star Trek and us, the long time fans? Well, you can do what I did and re-watch every single episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix streaming. Or you can keep your job – and your hygiene – and just watch the very best episodes of that series. That second choice, that is what I’m recommending, just to be clear. The following episodes are the best of the STNG series, seasons 1 through 4. The remaining seasons will be in a following post. Obviously, this list is subjective. I compiled my choices with this is mind: assuming you have never seen the show, what do you need to know to have a decent grasp on the series while still seeing the most important and interesting episodes for the long-time fans? So here they are, without spoilers. Four seasons in 17 easy-to-digest episodes.
Episode 2: The Naked Now. Yes, by recommending the second episode of a series I am implicitly telling you to skip (now explicitly) the first episode. What can I say? Watching the first one makes you want to kill yourself, your neighbors, and never watch another episode again. I wish that weren’t the case but it is (apologies to the Fogelmans). The second episode is a remake of a fun one from the 1960’s series plus it has a robot having sex with a hot security officer. What more can you ask for?
Episode 21: Symbiosis. Uh huh. Skip all the way to the end of Season 1. Not much there. But this one is a great piece on drug addiction.
Episode 22: Skin of Evil. You must watch this one as something of great importance happens in it.
Episode 3: Elementary, Dear Data. The first Sherlock/Holodeck episode. Always fun.
Episode 9: The Measure of a Man. A spectacular episode debating the merits of life and self-determination.
Episode 16: Q Who? The all-powerful Q character is new to you at this point because I had you skip the pilot episode but believe me, you’ll catch up. Plus, there is an important discovery that has consequences later.
Episode 10: The Defector. A great episode about a Romulan defector.
Episode 11: The Hunted. Interesting take on the military and its debt to former members.
Episode 15: Yesterday’s Enterprise. One of the best episodes of the entire series with consequences surfacing later. Plus, Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald)!
Episode 26: The Best of Both Worlds: Part 1. The season finale and the first show of its kind to do a cliffhanger to end the season. And they did it really, really good.
Episode 1: The Best of Both Worlds: Part 2. The thrilling conclusion to last season’s cliffhanger.
Episode 6: Legacy. An intriguing story with implications for beloved crew members.
Episode 9: Final Mission. Wesley Crusher finally gets treated like an adult. Well, a little.
Episode 13: Devil’s Due. An interesting look at religion.
Episode 14: Clues. In my opinion, the greatest mystery episode of the entire series.
Episode 19: The Nth Degree. Lieutenant Barclay, even if you haven’t met him, goes through some fantastic character transformation with bigger implications.
Episode 24: The Mind’s Eye. Sure, it’s kind of (exactly) The Manchurian Candidate but it’s interesting.
And there you have it. One weekend of binge television. Stay tuned for Seasons 5 through 7!
These are my “best” episodes. Do you think I missed any? Let me know in the Comments.