My top five Star Trek characters (well today anyway...):
Miles O'BrienOften given labels like Star Trek's 'ordinary man' or 'working class hero', neither of which do justice to the Chief. Introduced in The Next Generation's pilot as an unnamed conn officer, he served on Picard's Enterprise in various departments in various episodes and over the years he garnered a surname, a role as transporter chief, a first name, a wife, a middle name, a daughter, an interesting history with the Cardassians and a fan-confusing rank. Promoted to Chief of Operations and regular status on Deep Space Nine he took on a new significance as the writers regularly made his character suffer to illustrate the darker tone of the show. His friendship with Bashir and the strain DS9 put on his marriage were a huge part of the show. Colm Meaney played him with an honesty that meant TNG kept bringing him back and DS9 couldn't do without him. Watch: TNG's The Wounded; Data's Day; DS9's Captive Pursuit; Whispers; Tribunal; Visionary; Hippocratic Oath; Hard Time; The Assignment; Empok Nor; Honor Among Thieves; Treachery, Faith, And The Great River; Extreme Measures
---Deep Space Nine's shape-changing security chief kept order as a calling that somehow enabled him to work for three very different regimes. Originally the only one of his kind with no knowledge of where he came from, he later discovered his people were the rulers of The Dominion and kept order in the most totalitarian of ways. His exile continued and was compounded by the war with the Dominion. His relationships with Kira and the Female Changeling and his adversarial friendship with Quark were wonderful, but the character was best as the tragic lawman. He was an outsider in a show full of outsiders. Rene Auberjonois gave him a depth that went beyond a simple yearning to go home and made the character fascinating. Watch: DS9's A Man Alone; Necessary Evil; The Search; The Abandoned; Heart Of Stone; The Adversary; Crossfire; Broken Link; The Ascent; The Begotten; Children Of Time; Behind The Lines; His Way; Chimera; Tacking Into The Wind
- - -The Ferengi that epitomises the Ferengi. A man with the lobes for business and a shade of grey on a station that meant Starfleet was required to operate a little differently. Owner of Quark's bar, grill and holosuites arcade. His Odd Couple relationship with Odo, his lust for Jadzia or Kira, his love for Ezri, his collusion with Jake and his family relationships with Rom, Nog, Leeta, Ishka and Zek put Quark squarely at the core of the show. He was the man that made first contact with the Dominion, was leader of a Klingon house and landed in Roswell in 1947. The 285 Rules of Acquistion made other men (and in a move that appalled Quark, eventually women) millionaires, while he remained on DS9 behind the bar. A character that could so easily have descended into caricature, but Armin Shimerman played him so that we could see that his flaws and tha he took pride in them. Watch: DS9's The Nagus; Rules Of Acquistion; The House Of Quark; Prophet Motive; Family Business; Little Green Men; Bar Association; Business As Usual; Ferengi Love Songs; The Magnificent Ferengi; Who Mourns For Morn?; The Siege Of AR-558; The Dogs Of War
- - -Never plain and never simple, forced into exile this former spy sought refuge in the bosom of the people that hated his race the most. A man for whom lying is an artform. His friendship with Bashir was a great example of a relationship that evolved over seven years becoming more and more complex, but Garak had fascinating relationships with Kira, Dukat, Odo, Quark, Ziyal, Worf, Martok, O'Brien, Nog, Sisko, Ezri, Damar all of whom found him distasteful for different reasons. This character could so easily have been over-exposed, but Andrew Robinson played this character with so many layers and his deceptions kept him fresh. Watch: DS9's Past Prologue; The Wire; Improbable Cause & The Die Is Cast; Our Man Bashir; In Purgatory’s Shadow & By Inferno’s Light; Empok Nor; Rocks And Shoals; In The Pale Moonlight; Afterimage; What You Leave Behind
- - -Few characters work equally well in both comedy and tragedy and it's testament to the talents of Robert Picardo that the nameless Doctor was one of those characters. At the beginning of Star Trek: Voyager the Emergency Medical Hologram was imprisoned in sickbay and therefore seemed like the most limited character, but over the course of seven years he became a character of unparalleled scope. His episodes covered medical ethics, holographic rights, slavery, historical responsability and hobbies galore. Watch: Voyager's Caretaker; Heroes And Demons; Lifesigns; Future's End; Real Life; Message In A Bottle; Livng Witness; Latent Image; Gravity; Someone To Watch Over Me; Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy; Blink Of An Eye; Life Line; Critical Care; Body And Soul; Flesh And Blood; Author, Author; Renaissance Man; Endgame
I'm also a big fan of Spock, McCoy, Scott, Sulu, Uhura, Picard, Data, Worf, Sisko, Dax, Jake, Bashir, Kira, Paris, Phlox, T'Pol, Mudd, Trelane, Q, Barclay, Dukat, Rom, Nog, Zek, Ishka, Weyoun, Sloan among others...
Ellie asks for a top five Star Trek episodes and/or films, and try as I might I couldn't not cheat. So instead I've chosen a favourite episode from each series and a favourite movie, and a clutch of other favourites as well. Here is my list:
Star Trek: The Original Series
A Piece Of The Action
This tale of cultural contamination is very funny as the Enterprise becomes caught up in a society which has based its entire society on a textbook about the Chicago Mobs of the 1920's. The joy of this episode is both seeing the Starfleet crew through the eyes of the native mobster-wannabes and Kirk and Spock's attempts to blend in with mixed success.
And five more: Tomorrow Is Yesterday, The Trouble With Tribbles, Mirror, Mirror; Assignment: Earth; All Our Yesterdays
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Star Trek: The Animated Series
If you ask me, Saturday morning cartoons don't deal with euthanasia often enough, but rarely have programmes aimed at adults dealt with the subject better than this episode.
And five more: More Tribbles, More Troubles; The Time Trap; The Jihad; How Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth; The Counter-Clock Incident
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Star Trek: The Next Generation
The crew of the USS Enterprise-D suffer a bout of amnesia and attempt to work out who they are. The inherant mix ups and subsequent embarrassment are very well handled.
And five more: Yesterday's Enterprise; Brothers; Clues; The Nth Degree; Parallels
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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Far Beyond The Stars
Sisko's vision of the life of 1950's SF writer Benny Russell is fantastic. The usual cast throw off their regular characters and play Benny's contemporaries with aplomb. The racial, sexual and political inequalities of the era are brought to life with more realism than in the rest of Star Trek.
And five more: Captive Pursuit; The Visitor; Little Green Men; Inquisition; In The Pale Moonlight
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Star Trek: Voyager
This episode is presented as a historical recreation, a gleefully inaccurate one with a brilliant performance from Picardo as titular witness who challenges the accepted version of events with far reaching implications.
And five more: Tuvix; Distant Origin; Worst Case Scenario; The Year Of Hell; Author, Author
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Star Trek: Enterprise
The Borg put in an appearance on the prequel show and they are back to their scariest best.
And five more: Broken Bow; Acquisition; Carbon Creek; Dead Stop; Judgment
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Star Trek: The Motion Pictures
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
The final voyage of the original Enterprise crew is a parable for the Cold War and the eventual fall of the USSR. It is excellent, I would even go so far as to say it is flawless. This movie is better than any Star Trek movie has any right to be and deserves your attention as soon as possible.
And five more: Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek IX