Exhortation #1: The instinct, of course, is to start at the beginning. With “Star Trek,” this is not a good strategy. For one, the original “Star Trek” in 1966 is quite a different animal — tonally and aesthetically — from the Trek of 2022. Secondly, with the exceptions of “Star Trek: The Animated Series” and “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” none of the Trek shows started strong, often requiring at least a season or two to find their feet, establish characters fully, and start writing more interesting stories. The first piece of advice to “Star Trek” first-timers is, don’t start with any of the pilots.
Seriously. They will not do you kindness. They will be fine ways to introduce characters and locations, but Trek pilots rarely feature the show’s most intriguing stories.
Exhortation #2. There are many, many celebrated episodes of “Star Trek” that a casual observer might have heard about in casual conversation. “Mirror, Mirror,” for instance, is commonly cited as one of OG Trek’s better entries. That’s the episode with the “evil” parallel universe and with Spock (Leonard Nimoy) sporting a goatee. NextGen fans, meanwhile, might have recommended “The Best of Both Worlds,” the two-part cliffhanger episode that bridged seasons three and four. In that story, Capt. Picard (the indomitable Patrick Stewart) was assimilated by the indestructible Borg, and threatened to take over the galaxy. Without question, that is a stellar two hours of TV. But these episodes will have a greater impact on people who are already familiar with the shows in question. These are not really good entry points, as they involve too much pretense and mythos. Another good rule is to stay away from the most popular episodes.