October 29, 2020
Here's a good way to rank Star Trek TV series — how many characters can you name from each?
My theory is that what people like most about any TV show, including Star Trek, are the characters. If they love the characters, they are willing to forgive a lot, including the occasional really bad episode.
This is especially true of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It had some of the best episodes in the history of Star Trek — but also some of the worst. Dr. Crusher's Harlequin romance with a ghost is found at the bottom of many episode rankings. But fans can overlook this because, well, we love Beverley.
There were also a lot of bad episodes in the original series, but we're OK with pretty much all of these — even the Halloween episode with giant cats — because they had Kirk and Spock in them.
Star Trek: Enterprise eventually managed string together a few good episodes, but it didn't matter. The characters were boring and forgettable. To this day, I can remember the name of just one them — Capt. Archer — and only because the name is cross-referenced elsewhere.
How about the ranking?
1. Star Trek: TNG — I can name all the characters, including those who weren't regulars. That would have to total at least a dozen.
2. Star Trek: TOS — I can name all these characters as well, but there were fewer of them.
3. Star Trek: Discovery — I'm watching the current season, but can only come up with five names, one of whom is new. Book is an easy-to-remember name and he is a cool dude. In the third season, they should be doing better in the memorable character count.
4. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine — I can remember a lot of the faces, but only four names come to mind. Worf doesn't count because he came over mid-series from TNG.
5. Star Trek: Voyager — I can remember four names, but one of them is The Doctor, so that doesn't count.
6. Star Trek: Lower Decks — I can remember the names of three of the main characters — more than I expected — after one season. This is why the show is catching on with fans.
7. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds — It hasn't come out yet, but I know three of the characters from their appearances on Discovery. This could be a good start.
8. Star Trek: Picard — The only names I can remember are the characters who appeared in previous series. Two of them — Picard obviously and Seven of Nine — are regulars. They need to make us love the newcomers.
9. Star Trek: Prodigy — Another one that isn't out yet, but already looks better than Enterprise because they signed up Kate Mulgrew. So that's Kate versus the guy who played Archer.
10. Star Trek: Enterprise — One. Poor, poor Enterprise.