45 Things I (Still) Love About Star Trek

45 Years ago today, an American icon debuted on NBC. Back then we hadn’t landed on the moon, but were trying like mad. Racial tensions were high. Kennedy’s assassination was still in recent memory and the Vietnam War was in full swing.

It was cutting edge then and I wanted to take a moment to look back at some of the many things I (and many fans) love about this franchise.

The List

  1. Cardassians – Paranoid, xenophobic, intelligent, and aggressive. Now that is an enemy to fear and respect.
  2. “Bride of Chaotica!” – The whole “trapped in the holodeck” thing had been done to death. Or so we thought. Along comes this homage to pulp sci-fi serials and gives a good long laugh.
  3. “In a Mirror, Darkly” – The Mirror Universe had become fodder for DS9, but it proved to be one of the best Enterprise episodes of its four-season run.
  4. Ferengi – They grow on you over time. They are so predictably greedy, it’s almost comforting.
  5. “Yesteryear” – While most of the Animated Series is complete crap, this one is surprisingly well written and very touching.
  6. “In The Pale Moonlight” – Gene would have never approved of this episode and personally, it shows how the shows have evolved from the 60’s to a more mature vision.
  7. The Dominion War – Never before had Star Trek wandered so deeply into a massive conflict and explored the many facets of war.
  8. “The Trouble with Tribbles” – Four decades later and I still laugh at it. Proof that Sci-Fi can have a funny bone.
  9. The Borg – Resistance is futile.
  10. The Battle of the Mutara Nebula – I could (and have) watched this over and over again.
  11. Kira Nerys – So what happens to the terrorists when the terrorist finally win?
  12. Vulcans – A perfect race to drop into the emotionally turbulent 60’s. A voice of calm in the storm.
  13. “Equinox” – Voyager didn’t have a lot of stand-out episodes, but when it came to ethical quandaries, this one went for the jugular.
  14. Chief Miles O’Brien – Veteran, engineer, and father. Not your typical hero.
  15. The Defiant – A ship that seemed to say “You nerds go and look for new spores and molds. I’m here to kick some a**.”
  16. “The Pegasus” – Skeletons in the closet there, Will?
  17. Lwaxana Troi – Sure she started in Trek as Nurse Chapel (and she married Gene Roddenberry), but Majel Barrett will always be remembered as Deanna Troi’s vivacious mother.
  18. “Darmok” – Think you have communication issues with people?
  19. “Well, a double-dumb-ass on you!” – Have to love a series that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
  20. Gul Dukat – Evil. No I mean it. Eeeeeviiiil.
  21. “Devil in the Dark” – Monster or mother? Also, the origin of the classic line “I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!”
  22. Captain Katheryn Janeway – I worried that, like most TV writers, the team behind Voyager would waste the first woman captain with pointless romance subplots. Thankfully they didn’t (she had some, but really no more than her fellow captains) and used her femininity to be a mother to her lost crew. A tough, bad-ass mom you didn’t want to piss off.
  23. “Inner Light” – No…I’m not crying. Shut up and leave me alone.
  24. Elim Garak – The most well-connected tailor in the galaxy.
  25. “Balance of Terror” – Das Boot: In Space.
  26. Jeffrey Combs – Weyoun + Brunt + Shran = Awesome
  27. “Chain of Command” – THERE..ARE…FOUR…LIGHTS!
  28. Klingons – Created as an analog to the Soviet Union & China in the 60s, they evolved in the 80’s and beyond into a proud, honor-driven, warrior race.
  29. “Best of Both Worlds” – The beginning of a long tradition of season-ending cliffhangers.
  30. The Rules of Acquisition – Words to live by.
  31. “KHAAAAAN!!!” – Why act, when you can overact?
  32. Data – Pinocchio was never this charming before.
  33. “Relics” – A great juxtaposition of the old Trek and the new.
  34. Deep Space Nine – Not the show, per se, but the station. While previous incarnations of Trek gave us gleaming ships named Enterprise and Excelsior, DS9 was the galaxy’s ultimate fixer-upper.
  35. Reginald Barclay – It’s comforting to know that paranoid and hypochondria are alive and well in the 24th century.
  36. “I have been, and always shall be…your friend.” – I was always touched by this line, but when it was repeated in the 2009 movie, I got choked up. And from the sounds the sold out theater, I wasn’t alone.
  37. “The Visitor” – Fathers and Sons, Star Trek style.
  38. Worf – Need I say more?
  39. “The Measure of a Man” – Sci-Fi courtroom drama? It can be done. And done really well.
  40. Jean-Luc Picard – He’s French, but with a British accent? He’s older? Bald? Who is this guy? But from his first “Make it so,”  we realized exactly who he is. The freaking captain, that’s who.
  41. The Music – Three freaking notes and I’m a giddy little kid again.
  42. “The City on the Edge of Forever” – Amazingly well-written and surprisingly dark for The Original Series.
  43. The Enterprise – Sure, you can change the letter on her serial number, but her soul is constant. The little starship that could. And did. Repeatedly.
  44. Kirk/Spock/McCoy – Star Trek’s ideology was always at its best when these three were at each others’ throats. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
  45. The Vision of the Future – In a dark time, this show was a beacon of hope for the future.

So I’m sure I missed one of your favorite things about Star Trek. So go ahead and comment and tell me.

12 replies on “45 Things I (Still) Love About Star Trek”

  1. In my opinion, you missed a whopper: John de Lancie as Q. Used sparingly, his character was awesome by personality, adding chinks to the armour of an omnipotent adversary.

  2. I’m disappointed by the lack of “Year of Hell.” Yeah, the whole episode got a big reset button at the end, but that is what Voyager should have been – a small ship, all alone in a big scary universe, with no supplies and no hope. (“Equinox” did touch on this, doing a better job in some ways where Space Ethics are concerned, but “Year of Hell” walked a fine line between ethics and desperation.)

    • I actually went back and forth on “Year from Hell” but that damn reset button at the end sort of negates anything from the episode.

      Still good, just fell apart at the end.

  3. Putting aside the things in your list I didn’t like* (that will happen in any show that has covered this much territory), and not repeating what I did,* this leaves:

    -The feeling of the first season, original series (first half especially). Despite a ridiculously low budget, they created a sense of what space exploration and distant colonies might feel like that later seasons and incarnations never quite matched.

    -The concepts of many of the aliens: Vulcans, Trill, Borg. Sadly, the Trill were never explored very thoughtfully, and the Borg were castrated (so to speak). And of course, the Horta, but you covered that, so I’m cheating. “Devil in the Dark” remains, conceptually, one of the best alien contact stories in mass-media SF, despite the obvious limitations of the show’s budget.

    -Number One. No, not Riker, but Majel’s original role.

    -For trying so hard to get half-decent SF on television, and keeping it before the public eye.

    *Here goes, with Spoiler tags for those who Don’t Care:

    Liked: Tribbles, City on the Edge, Kirk/Spock/McCoy. The concepts of the future. Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan! Worf. Many other things you’ve covered so well.

    Disliked: Most Q eps (even though I like the actor and the performance). Janeway. Lwaxana Troi, about whom the best thing I can say is she annoys me less than Jar Jar Binks. Abandoning of strong premises. “The Best of Both Worlds,” for not following through when it was all over

  4. #23. So, so much. That episode hit me so hard, I choked up when Picard brought that flute out again to play for his date. Just thinking about it all makes me *oh, crap, there I go again…*

    So, yeah, “Inner Light” is pretty much my favorite episode of any Star Trek ever.

    • Inner Light never really got to me the first time around, other than the awesome moment of Patrick Stewart acting with his real life son. Then it made my wife cry when she saw it for the first time, and I figured it out – and cried too.

  5. “Yesterdays Enterprise” for showing that saving the Federation isn’t always painless, and “Trials and Tribble-ations” for revisiting an already fun story and showing it from a different angle.

  6. Especially now that the films and TV shows are done, I’ve really enjoyed a lot of the relaunch novels – especially the more recent ones that really take the entire federation and turn it on its head.

    YMMV, but Star Trek: Destiny and Articles of the Federation are some of the finest trek stories I’ve seen.

    • I’ll look for Articles of the Federation, but I agree fully with Destiny. The Enterprise Borg novels that set it up were quite good as well. Now I’m just waiting with great anticipation to see where they’re going to go with the “Typhon Pact.”

      Another series I’ve quite enjoyed has been Star Trek: Vanguard, about a starbase with a secret mission set during the time of TOS. Good stuff.

  7. Four words:

    Green Orion Slave Girls.

    Oh. And all that ‘hope for the future’ stuff was pretty cool, too.

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