There is a buzz in the air in these parts of the world, and that buzz is largely because of the recent news that Star Trek will be returning to TV in a new series on CBS. And this is good news for everyone, whether you are a Trekkie or not. Mainly because it’s going to give the world an excuse to obsess over an entirely new TV series. So whether you have been watching Star Trek since its inception, or you just thought Chris Pine was super hot in the movie version (um, who didn’t?), then you are in seriously luck.
The new series is scheduled to launch in January of 2017, but, regardless of your fandom, there are a few ways to prepare yourself for the revival series. Thankfully for all of us, Star Trek has put out countless iterations and episodes since its inception in 1966. It ran off and on from 1966 until 2005, which means there is a lot of territory to catch up on. But you don’t have to watch 39 years worth of television in order to catch up. (I mean, you can; there is probably enough time between now and 2017 to make it happen.) Instead, check out these 11 episodes that will not only introduce you to the series as it was in the past, but are widely considered some of the best episodes of the series.
1. “Timeless” (Star Trek: Voyager)
In this episode, the timeline jumps 15 years forward (think: Lost but without smoke monsters) and shows Chakotay and Harry Kim as the sole survivors of a misguided attempt to bring Voyager back home. In this one episode, they are tasked with traveling back in time to undo the damage done in the original mission, even though it meant giving up the cushy lives they had found back on Earth.
2. “Sacrifice Of Angels” (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
An epic battle to retake Deep Space Nine, killer special effects that were ahead of their time, and a dramatic showdown are all at the heart of this one episode. Talk about a dramatic plotline with plenty to sink your teeth into.
3. “Broken Bow” (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Enterprise started out strong with a two-part pilot. This episode begins in the 22nd century and shows the evolution of the Earth of Star Trek. So this is an important episode for history purposes and just for, like, pure entertainment value.
4. “Darmok” (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Captain Picard finds himself stranded on an island with another species that he cannot communicate with. This episode shows Picard at his best, capable of forming a bond with someone he doesn’t understand and working together to face a formidable threat to their safety.
5. “Where No Man Has Gone Before” (Star Trek: The Original Series)
This first episode with Captain Kirk is full of action and raw emotion. He’s forced to decide whether to let his friend die on a desolate world or risk the safety of his crew and ship. (Do all of these episodes sound like some version of The Martian to you, or is it just me?)
6. “The Visitor” (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Another alternate timeline. Another look at how the main characters are changed. This episode was kind of heartbreaking in its look back on what might have been for the crew members.
7. “Chain Of Command” (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
In this episode, Captain Picard steps down and Captain Jellico steps up. He takes over in a major way, changing the well-run ship into something resembling a dictatorship. Cue everyone realizing what a great guy Captain Picard really is (as if they didn’t know that already).
8. “Family” (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Set on Captain Picard’s family’s vineyard on Earth, this is one of the rare episodes that does not take place in deep space. We also see Picard coming to terms with the truth and tragedy of what happened during a previous episode, which is equal parts moving and heartbreaking.
9. “The City On The Edge Of Forever” (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Poor Captain Kirk. Always doomed to be alone. In this episode, Kirk and his buddies return to Depression era New York via time travel, where he meets and falls in love with Edith Keeler. But, of course, Kirk realizes soon thereafter that by being present in her life, he has wiped his entire future clean from existence. The only way to undo the damage is to let Edith die in a preordained accident. Yowza. The tragedy of this episode is buoyed by the fact that the acting is pretty much flawless.
So there you have it. The perfect watch list for the biggest Trek fans or for the most innocent Trekkie virgins. Prepare to have your world blown by this incredible series and your mind consumed with thoughts of new episodes.