A Beginner’s Guide to the Star Trek Franchise

For those who wish to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations in pop culture and science fiction, the Star Trek universe can be intimidating. Yes, there are plenty of people who haven’t watched Star Trek for one reason or another, but might if they knew where to start.

Star Trek is more than pop culture; it’s 20th century mythology with its own complicated mythos. “Beam me up” and “live long and prosper” may have invaded the cultural lexicon, but Star Trek is particularly intimidating for the uninitiated. Where to start and what to skip are up for debate even among the most hardcore Trekkies and Trekkers (the fandom can’t even decide on a name for itself). One thing is clear: It all begins with Gene Roddenberry, the visionary who created the original show in the 1960s and presided over the franchise until his death in 1991. The WWII fighter pilot turned TV writer would have turned 93 this August. He’s survived by a franchise that encompasses five live action TV shows, one animated series, and 12 films. Given that Star Trek will celebrate its 50th anniversary in just two short years, this the perfect time for new fans to jump on Roddenberry’s “Wagon Train to the stars.”

The A.V. Club has stepped up to the plate with a guide for Star Trek newbies, which includes a brief history and description of each series and recommends standout episodes to introduce the viewer. There are also recaps of the movies and miscellaneous information to make tackling Star Trek both easy and fun for a beginner. Baby steps. For the established Star Trek fan, it’s a walk down memory lane (or more likely, Memory Alpha), with plenty to argue about, which you’d expect.


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