I’m not going to lie, when I heard about the mere concept of the new series Star Trek: Lower Decks, I got REALLY excited.
For those who haven’t heard,
is the home for an animated show about the mundane tasks of Starfleet’s crew on a “non-essential” ship. I’ve always wondered what a comedy set in the CBS All Access Star Trek universe would look like, and the fact it’s coming from Mike McMahan, the producer of Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites, is fantastic news.
But it got me thinking about
Star Trek’s past. You see, Star Trek has always tackled some pretty out-there/super fun/wacky as hell ideas too, and in honor of the upcoming Star Trek comedy, we thought we’d look back on some of the Starfleet adventures you might not remember:
The one time the crew of Deep Space Nine had to play a board game… Or die! (“Move Along Home”)
During the first season of
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Commander Sisko, Dr. Bahsir, Major Kira, and Lt. Dax find themselves trapped in a board game after Quark tried to rig a game being played by a new species known as the Wadi.
The time the Enterprise had to fight Genghis Khan (“The Savage Curtain”)
Well, not Genghis Khan exactly, but an alien representation of him that’s part of a larger experiment being conducted by an alien named Yarnek who wants to see which human philosophy is superior: Good, or evil.
Naturally, Spock and Captain Kirk lead the fight alongside a representation of the father of Vulcan civilization, Surak, and… Abraham Lincoln?
The time the Enterprise-D gets addicted to video games (“The Game”)
Okay, no joke, I LOVE this episode of
The Next Generation. It’s gotten a lot more attention over the years as VR games and AR games have become a very real thing in our world, but the story concerns Wesley racing against time to figure out a way to free the crew from the addictive powers of a video game that directly stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain. If you’ve never seen this one, check it out.
The time Spock defeated a computer with math (“Wolf in the Fold”)
Actually, that sounds pretty straightforward for the original
Star Trek series, but I forgot to mention that it’s a computer that’s been possessed by an entity that feeds on fear that hops between bodies through space and time, and might be responsible for the Jack the Ripper murders.
You know, as entities tend to do.
The time the crew of Deep Space Nine accidentally caused the Roswell UFO crash (“Little Green Men”)
This episode has it all: Time travel, illegal smuggling, shapeshifting, and a ton of laughs. It has the rare distinction of being a
Deep Space Nine episode with basically no Starfleet characters, mostly leaving us with Quark and Rom trying to scheme their way into becoming the emperors of Earth in 1947. It’s a total blast, and that’s not just a reference to the literal atomic bomb featured in the episode.
The one where the crew of Deep Space Nine must play out a James Bond movie… Or die! (“Our Man Bashir”)
The explanation for how the
Deep Space Nine crew finds themselves in a 1960s-style spy story is actually pretty “easy” (by Star Trek standards): It’s a holosuite game being played by Dr. Bashir and Garak. But the stakes get raised immensely by circumstances outside of their control, forcing them to jump between scenarios like baccarat games and lava-filled lairs.
The one where Seven of Nine fights The Rock (“Tsunkatse”)
Hey, did you think we’d leave
Star Trek: Voyager out of this? Absolutely not, especially when the mere image of Seven of Nine fighting Dwayne Johnson is way too good to pass up, especially when Seven starts using Jeet Kune Do moves later on in the episode.
The one where Data learns how to do stand-up from
SNL cast member Joe Piscopo (“The Outrageous Okona”)
Admittedly, this episode isn’t necessarily about Data learning how to do stand-up comedy, it’s definitely the B-plot. That being said, it’s arguably one of the more fascinating B-plots Data was ever involved with, and despite how painful it is to watch Data try and be a comedian, his observations about humans and their sense of humor are… Weirdly profound?
The one where the Voyager crew find out where the dinosaurs went (“Distant Origin”)
Besides featuring one of the largest spaceships in
Star Trek history (the Voth City Ship, which is 6 miles long), this episode’s strange premise of an alien realizing that his species descended from Earth’s dinosaurs is actually a story about science vs. heresy. For as weird as it sounds, it’s one of the more ambitious episodes of Voyager.
The time the Enterprise was turned into an ornament (“Catspaw”)
Star Trek series definitely went out there at times, but when they hired Robert Bloch to write an episode (the author of the novel Psycho), they should have known just how weird things would get.
Because before the Enterprise is “trapped” in an ornament, there’s witches, a spooky castle, and a shapeshifting woman who takes the form of a cat from time to time.
The one time Captain Picard was Robin Hood (“Qpid”)
Look, having Patrick Stewart playing Captain Picard, who then has to assume the form of Robin Hood due to shenanigans from Q is literally a perfect setup. What follows is one of the most delightful episodes of
The Next Generation. Though, you might want to watch “Captain’s Holiday” first, just so you know who the character Vash is (it’s pretty important for this episode).
The time the Enterprise got pranked again and again and… (“The Practical Joker”)
Yes, we’re covering an episode of
Star Trek: The Animated Series. And this one, believe it or not, is actually important to the development of all Star Trek lore. It presents technology in the “Rec Room” that would morph into the now-famous Holodeck many years down the line as the Enterprise is plagued by a mysterious prankster.
It’s also an episode where “Kirk is a Jerk” is printed on a uniform, and that’s pretty great too.
The time Captain Janeway had to build a flying machine with Leonardo DaVinci (“Concerning Flight”)
If you’ve never seen “Concerning Flight” and that sentence alone doesn’t sell you on watching it, I don’t know what will. And if you need more convincing, DaVinci is played by the incredible John Rhys-Davies, whose career spans films from
Raiders of the Lost Ark to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The one where the Voyager crew has to fight a virtual clown (“The Thaw”)
Okay, this is one of the best episodes of
Voyager, and a notoriously creepy entry as the crew faces off against a virtual reality clown that’s trapped them in a program that feeds on their fears. Plus, the clown is played by veteran actor Michael McKean, who you may know as David St. Hubbins in This is Spinal Tap and… Chuck McGill in Better Call Saul. What can we say, the man has some range.
The time where everyone had to stop imagining things to save Deep Space Nine (“If Wishes Were Horses”)
What episode of any television show can claim to have a 2026 baseball player, Rumpelstiltskin, snow in a space station, and an ever-expanding void on the edge of space, all born from the power of imagination? Such is
Deep Space Nine (you know, in the process of putting this whole thing together, Deep Space Nine is so much profoundly weirder than I remember, it’s kind of awesome).
The one where the Voyager crew goes so fast in space, they turn into space salamanders (“Threshold”)
Yep, it’s as gonzo as it sounds, and the make-up for the transformations here is pretty damn noteworthy, earning legendary make-up artist Michael Westmore and his crew a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Makeup for a Series. It’s definitely the highlight of this supremely bizarre episode.
The one where space marbles can get you pregnant (“Unexpected”)
It seems unfair to leave
Star Trek: Enterprise out of this post, so what better episode to pick than one where poor Commander Tucker accidentally gets “pregnant” with a space alien. But hey, even the species that impregnated him sincerely didn’t mean to, so it’s all good.
The one where the Discovery just keeps blowing up (“Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad”)
…and we also wouldn’t dare leave out
Star Trek: Discovery, especially when there’s an episode involving a time loop and our dear friend Harry Mudd showing up to quite literally “crash the party.” And we can never get enough of Rainn Wilson playing Harry Mudd.
The time the Enterprise-D keeps blowing up (“Cause and Effect”)
…but if we’re talking about an episode where a
Star Trek ship keeps exploding in a time loop, we’d be crazy not to mention “Cause and Effect.”
This episode isn’t “fun” per se, but I have a personal history with this episode. By some cosmic coincidence, about 50% of the time my family and I have tuned into
Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns on TV, it’s been this episode. We jokingly refer to it as the time loop that none of us can escape either. If you’ve somehow missed this, it’s one of the best episodes of any Star Trek show ever, and it comes at the highest recommendation.
As a long-standing franchise, I love how
Star Trek hasn’t always taken itself so seriously. I don’t know about you, but I’m so ready for more hilarious moments like these within the Star Trek universe. And thankfully, by the looks of the trailer for Star Trek: The Lower Decks, we’re in for a lot more laughs. Be sure to subscribe to CBS All Access and join us for the series premiere of Star Trek: Lower Decks, streaming on 8/6!
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