Entertainment,  Television

Star Trek Sunday: Chronological vs Series Order

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I have a general preference for series order when it comes to watching Star Trek. Or I would if I were starting from the beginning for a re-watch at this point. At this point in my life, I’m more likely to take each series as a separate entity. My daughter and I are closing in on the final season of DS9 and I’m preparing to do an Enterprise watch of my own. More on that another day.

Most people seem to suggest that if you’re going to start a watch of the entire universe, you go in series order. That looks something like:

  • TOS
  • TAS
  • TOS Movies
  • TNG
  • TNG Movies
  • DS9
  • VOY
  • ENT
  • Reboot Movies
  • DIS
  • Picard
  • Lower Decks

There is, however, an argument sometimes made for a viewing order that’s in-universe chronological, which would go more like:

  • ENT
  • DIS
  • Reboot Movies
  • TOS
  • TAS
  • TOS Movies
  • TNG to DS9 to VOY with the TNG movies sprinkled in between
  • Lower Decks
  • Picard

I’m going to leave out all the things supposedly in development at the moment. The TNG-era line is a bit murky. I’ve come across the argument lately that you should break it out by season rather than series. So Season 6 of TNG should be immediately followed by Season 1 of DS9 and then you do this sort of alternating season thing, inserting the TNG movies at the appropriate junctures, until VOY is the only series left running at the beginning of Season 5.

I’ve even seen someone make the argument that you should go by the stardate in each episode across all three to get a better sense of the history of the Star Trek future of the time period.

Personally, I come down on the side of series order. Watch the evolution of storytelling, technology, and social issues. Breaking things out by season for the TNG-era shows would make more sense if there was any real crossover in storylines or background events. For the same reason, breaking it out by stardate seems excessive.

But that’s me. I also wouldn’t bother with the reboot movies again – once was enough for me – and I’d likely skip both Discovery and Picard. Actually, I mostly have skipped Discovery the first time around, but we’re not going to rehash any of those arguments again. If they’re bringing more people to Star Trek, I’m happy.

However, at this point in my life, Star Trek viewing takes two forms:

  1. Hey, Star Trek is on.
  2. Watching a series in order from beginning to end over time.

I’m doing the second of these with my oldest daughter and DS9. I’m about to start doing the same with Enterprise on my own, and for partly the same reason. I didn’t see nearly all of it first run and think I probably missed some good stories. Whether I missed some good Trek or not is a different question.

What’s the right way to watch Star Trek? While I mostly like to have some kind of order in things, I don’t know what the right answer is for anyone else. How do you want to watch it?

Live long and prosper.

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