I’ve been on a mission to watch every episode of Star Trek. So far, I’ve completed all of Voyager and Deep Space 9, and most of Enterprise. I’m up to date with Picard, half way through season 4 of Discovery, and half way through season one of Next Generation.
Before I began my fantastic voyage, the only Star Treks I was really familiar with were the original 1960s show, Next Generation, some of the movies, and the first three seasons of Discovery.
What fascinates me about Star Trek, apart from the world building and characters, is how different each show is to the others.
At the moment, my favourite is definitely Deep Space 9 (1993 to 1999). It feels like the most grown up of all the Star Treks. The characters live on a space station close to a planet that’s recovering from a 50-year military occupation.
I particularly like Deep Space 9 because of characters such as Garak the Cardassian tailor, Quark the ferengi barman, and Odo the shape shifting chief of security. Most major Star Trek characters look fairly human, whereas Garak, Quark and Odo don’t. I love how much time we get to spend with them and their stories.
It feels to me that Quark’s character might be lightly inspired by Rick in the classic movie Casablanca.
Watching Next Generation (1987 to 1994) straight after Deep Space 9 was a bit of change. The clothes and make up are very 1980s. In one episode I saw recently, the aliens looked like they were posing for a pop video. Watching Next Generation, I’m often reminded that the 1980s are closer to the 1960s than they are to 2022.
The other noticeable thing about Next Generation is how sexual everything is. Many of the female aliens are attractive women. The male aliens often make remarks about the female crew members of the Enterprise. Commander Ryker seems to be constantly looking at women. And let’s not forget how Captain Picard and Dr Beverly Crusher make eyes at each other.
Once I got used to the differences, I remembered how much I enjoyed Next Generation the first time around. The best thing about it is the characters. By now they’re probably as well known as Sherlock Holmes and Spiderman. Apart from Captain Picard of course, my favourite has to be the android Commander Data.
Star Trek Voyager (1995 to 2001) has a very different tone again. As with Next Generation, the characters live on a starship and explore other planets. The big difference is that the ship is over 75 years’ travel away from Earth. The crew have to treat the ship as their permanent home and soon become like family to each other. This gives the show quite a cosy, warm-hearted family feel.
I’m sure that watching Voyager is a parasocial experience for many viewers, it certainly was for me. I loved the characters and their relationships with each other. My favourites were the holographic Doctor, the rescued Borg drone Seven of Nine, and Captain Janeway herself.
The Voyager writers came up with some really interesting science fiction scenarios for individual episodes. The holographic doctor was at the centre of many of them.
Enterprise (2001 to 2005) also has a unique feel to it. It’s about the very first starship Enterprise and humanity’s first journey of scientific exploration into deep space.
Voyager and Next Generation have quite a smooth aesthetic. I’m sure many viewers would agree that both ships have interiors that look like corporate headquarters of the 1980s and 1990s. Enterprise has a much rougher, rawer feel. The ship is the first of her kind. She’s much smaller. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the set designers modelled her interior on the insides of ocean-going ships.
Sometimes, the film making has the look of a old fashioned Hollywood movie. I wondered whether this was a deliberate attempt to give Enterprise a first generation feel. Captain Archer and Trip Tucker were thoroughly American and could have been characters in an old time cowboy movie. The way they did T’Pol’s glamorous make up also looked like a nod to the past.
I keep saying that each Star Trek show feels different to the others. That is definitely the case with Discovery (2017 and still ongoing).
Discovery is my least favourite Star Trek. I loved the first two seasons. The story was gripping, full of tension and twists and turns. The special effects were dazzling, and the characters were great too. The adventurous empress from the parallel universe and Saru the Kelpien were particular favourites.
I started to lose interest in season three of Discovery. To me, it seemed that the plot lacked the brilliance of seasons one and two.
Season four of Discovery is turning into a truly parasocial experience because I keep telling the characters to shut up. They spend such an amazing amount of time talking about their feelings and processing their emotions while gazing at each other with big weepy eyes. Discovery has stopped being a science fiction adventure and has become something else.
The original Star Trek is very 1960s, Next Generation is very late 1980s, and I suppose Discovery is very early 2020s. I don’t feel that Voyager, Deep Space 9 or Enterprise can be dated in quite the same way.
Picard (2020 and still ongoing) is a show set in the Star Trek universe, but it feels quite different to all the other Star Treks. Yes, I’m saying that again!
Picard is a great show for fans of Next Generation and Voyager because it brings back some of the old characters, played by the original actors. There are also some really likeable new characters too.
I was very impressed by the tightly written, action-packed storyline in season one. Season two is half way through and also seems to be very well put together.
I have read complaints on the internet from people saying that Picard is as touchy feely as Discovery. It might be, but it doesn’t feel like a problem in Picard. In Picard, the characters’ emotional reactions are seamlessly woven into a well written story. In Discovery, the characters keep stopping to discuss their feelings with each other. As it turns out, the second way of doing it is less watchable than the first.