In the tone of The Last Star Wars Movie, every Star Trek thing ranked:
- The Original Series. Star Trek is, in short, Horatio Hornblower in space, the final frontier, exploring strange new worlds, and new civilizations. To boldly go where no (Hu)man has gone before. You know what works? Paying good SF writers to write good scripts about Science Fiction Ideas, and then getting good actors to read those lines, with adequate special effects to say “you are in space”. They didn’t always manage any of that, there’s a reason it barely made 3 seasons, but when it hits the right points, it’s the best art Humans have ever created. (Preferably pre “digital remaster”, but the CGI shit does improve matters in a few episodes, inoffensive the rest of the time.)
- The Animated Series. Yes, the “animation” is sub-Hanna Barbera level. The matte paintings are gorgeous. They could do real alien aliens since they didn’t need makeup. They continued to get real SF writers (including Larry Niven!) like TOS, unlike any other Trek show.
- Star Trek novels/novelizations by James Blish, John M. Ford, and Diane Duane. How Much for Just the Planet, The Final Reflection, and My Enemy My Ally are top of that group. I don’t remember the Greg Bear book, but he’s a great writer, should be acceptable if he didn’t phone it in.
- Star Trek Movies I-IV,VI. I’m not gonna nitpick which is better, I honestly like I and VI a lot more than the usual rankings, but all 5 of these are great. Why didn’t they make a movie V? Weird, huh?
- GalaxyQuest. This is the series finale Star Trek classic deserved.
- Lower Decks. Yes, it’s a very silly-looking cartoon. And there’s parts that are slapstick comedy… and parts are the kind of awe-inspiring, the Galaxy is a great place, let’s go explore, heroism that Star Trek used to be about. It’s like the lighter TOS eps, compressed to 22 minutes.
- Strange New Worlds. I’m already very tired of “Gorn” (they’re not Gorn as we know them from “Arena”, but knockoff Alien xenomorphs) eps. But I like most of the crew, the plots are generally good enough, they’re not trying writing techniques far beyond their ability, it’s just a good Trek show. Not best ever, but good so far.
- Star Trek Continues. Often exactly as amateur as you’d expect, and other times really manages to make A Star Trek Episode. Give it a try.
- Star Trek novels/novelizations by almost literally anyone else. I must’ve read dozens or hundreds of these, and most are junk, no better than slash fanfic.
- TNG. Not generally good, or well-written at all. It sort of finds the characters after 2 seasons of absolute crap. But there is occasionally exploration, adventure, Human spirit, all that. Eh.
- DS9, I guess. No sense of wonder. Very little exploration. Once in a while, it has a Science Fiction Idea and explores it for one ep, then forgets everything about that and hits the sitcom reset button. Implausibly promotes Miles O’Brien, most useless Human in the Galaxy, to a major character with a hot wife. Mostly it ripped off Babylon 5, and poached actors, because they had no writers, no direction, no ability to plot ahead. Later on it just got repetitive, then wrapped up a war with deus ex machina “let’s all be friends because we’re amorphous”.
- Garbage, do not watch: VGR, ENT, STD (“better dead than Disco”), PIC, all of the other Star Trek movies. Just has nothing to do with Star Trek at all.
- Crimes Against Humanity: JJ Abrams’ “Star Trek” movies. People who hate Star Trek and are soulless husks motivated only by explosions and lens flares shouldn’t be making Star Trek-named shows.
I’m not too familiar with the Star Trek comics to put them on this chart; as opposed to Star Wars, where the Marvel comics are among the best material. The Gold Key & Marvel comics were mediocre, gap-between-series fillers. I didn’t see any of DC, Malibu, or Marvel II’s runs. Wildstorm’s run was awful (and I liked their superhero comics, but they were bad at SF). The Tokyopop manga were hilarious, very off-model, off-character, not at all Star Trek except in the Futurama parody sense. I’ve only seen a few of the IDW comics, and while they’re a solid publisher, they do goofy crossover shit a lot.