“I’m sorry Tom, I couldn’t remember if it was Star Trek or Star Wars.”

“It’s okay, Steve. I’m not angry, just disappointed. And more in myself than in you.”

Steve is from Syria and (COVID-permitting) he’s been living with us for around four years now. I showed him his first episode of Doctor Who, his first episode of Fawlty Towers, and two episodes of Columbo. I showed him The Wizard of Oz, I showed him Singin’ in the Rain and I showed him Star Wars. It’s fun for me to see these classics through someone else’s eyes and he now knows what people mean when they say “We’re not in Kansas anymore” or “May the force be with you.”

Star Trek slipped through the cracks slightly. I’ve always been interested in Trek, as a general student of pop culture and telefantasy, but I’m by no means a completist. As well as Target Doctor Who novels, I got a couple of James Blish Star Trek books second-hand when I was about ten years old. These were collections of short-story length renderings of classic episodes, so when I think of City on the Edge of Forever or The Trouble with Tribbles or Amok Time I’m far more likely to think of these prose versions and I couldn’t swear that I’ve ever even seen the TV originals (although I definitely did see some episodes repeated on BBC2 in the 1980s).

The original cast movies were my kind of thing, and again the novelisations of the first three were all on my bookcase. I also remember the outcry about the perceived poor quality of the fifth instalment. By this time, The Next Generation was on TV and that’s “my” Trek. I rented the VHS episodes as they were slowly released, I attempted to tape them all off the TV when they were repeated. I bought the restored Blu-rays and was astonished at how much better they looked when scanned from the original 35mm film (seriously, they look they were shot yesterday, it’s incredible).

I watched much of DS9, admiring the serialised storytelling but getting frustrated if I missed episodes. I was thrilled when Voyager started up and dismayed at how dull many of the episodes were. I lost track of Enterprise and then everything went away.

Berman-Trek having concluded, Abrams-Trek eventually arrived. The first movie works, kinda, but it’s not the Trek I remember. The second is genuinely appalling. The third also works, kinda, but by then the second movie had expunged any remaining goodwill. Meanwhile, however, Trek was coming back to TV. Picard is a bit slow and creaky (much like its leading man, ho ho) but not without interest. Discovery is a bit too keen to show you how iconoclastic it’s prepared to be (and far, far too interested in subtitled Klingons in season one) but the cast has grown on me. I haven’t seen any of Short Treks or Prodigy but I love Lower Decks which is cheeky, funny, knowing, heartfelt and exciting in precisely equal measure. It’s fantastic. (We’ll leave discussion of The Orville to another day.)

And then there’s Untitled Star Trek Project. Some of the minds behind Flight Through Entirety (a long-running Australian podcast which watched the whole of Doctor Who from 1963 and is currently up to Matt Smith) have started a commentary podcast where they watch a “randomly” chosen episode of Star Trek each week. But their Trek knowledge is far deeper and broader than mine.

I really need to start from the beginning.

So, a little spreadsheeting later, here’s what I discovered. If I watch Star Trek in transmission order, at the rate of one episode a day, treating feature length episodes later split into two for syndication as one episode, and each movie as one episode, and not counting The Cage at all (most of it I will see anyway as The Menagerie), and I start on New Year’s Day 2022, then I will be watching the final episode of Enterprise on Christmas Day 2023.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

Compiling this spreadsheet threw up a few points of interest. There are only 79 original series episodes, so I’ll burn through all of those in the first three months, and the 20 episodes of the animated series will take only another three weeks. Then in mid-April it will be four movies in a row, and we’re on to Next Gen. These are the episodes I know best, not least because I watched them all on Blu-ray during 2012-2015 as the discs were released (I actually stalled half-way through Season 7). But except for a couple of movies, it will be all TNG all the time until September 2022 when DS9 starts up and then they will roughly alternate. And once TNG finishes, DS9 will interleave with Voyager between December 2022 and July 2023.

I could have sworn that the same thing happened with Voyager and Enterprise, but no. DS9 finished its original run on 2 June 1999 and then Voyager was the only Trek show on TV until it finished in May 2001, Enterprise beginning in September of the same year. So for me, the final set of episodes will be the four seasons of Archer and co, which I will watch between 19 September 2023 and Christmas Day (interrupted only by Nemesis). And then what?

Well, first of all I have to stick to this, which is far from guaranteed. I will post a Tweet about each episode with the hashtag #trekaday. Searching for this revealed an account @trekaday which attempted the same feat in 2012 and stalled after 16 episodes, so currently my goal is to get beyond The Galileo Seven. There will be round-up blog posts every week or so.

Assuming I do stay the course, who knows how much more Trek will have been generated in the interim, so for the moment I’m leaving it open as to whether I continue in the same vein with the Abrams movies and the Kurtzman stuff or whether I close the book on this project.

Mr Scott. One to beam up.

"Flux" - Doctor Who's longest ever story?
Trekaday #000: The Cage