To watch all of The Star Trek franchise, it would take you nearly a month of no-sleep-marathoning. Nearly 550 hours at this point. Twenty-four days. AND THEY'RE STILL MAKING MORE. You don't have that kind of time.
I've attempted to put together a much more condensed series of Star Trek. Dividing it into ten episode seasons. For the most part, these are My Favorite Episodes. I've left out some that are historically important episodes, in favor of things that I found fun to watch. If you're a Trekkie or Trekker, or just consider yourself a fan, I may have left off your favorite episode. Sorry. But this is more a list for people like me, who had seen an episode here and there, were interested in seeing more, but don't want to invest in the whole 530+ hours. I'm doing it, so others don't have to.
Now that we've finished with the original cast, it's time to see The Next Generation take over, as well as look back at the previous generation and how their actions affect the new crew. The theme of this season is What Constitutes Life in the future. We'll examine this from several angles. Much like TOS, we'll be jumping around the first couple of seasons, mostly because the first two seasons of The Next Generation are Awful. As bad to worse than the third season of The Original Series, so we're skipping most of it. It's logical.
Star Trek Season 4:
Episode 1: Coming Of Age
(Picard, Riker, Wesley, Crusher, Troi, Worf, Data, Laforge)
In the actual viewing order, this episode shows up about halfway through the first season, and one of the biggest criticisms of it, is that it has false consequences, as the two major storylines center on crew members possibly leaving the show, which was obviously not going to happen. But while this is not a great episode to endure after you've spent a bunch of time with the crew, it's a great intro.
As we learned last season, Starfleet is bastards (similar to "Timelords are assholes", I know, but equally true). We see them from two angles in this episode as an Admiral orders an annoying auditor to investigate Captain Picard's competency while Honorary Ensign Wesley Crusher applies to Starfleet Academy to become an official crew member. As you might expect, not much is at it seems.
Episode 2: The Last Outpost
(Picard,, Riker, Crusher, Laforge, Yar, worf, Troi, Data)
I almost made this the first episode, as it parallels the first episode of season one of my continuity, as The Enterprise follows a barely understood but clearly Up To No Good species with the intent to do battle. Unlike The Romulans from Season One, The Ferenghi are Super Annoying. So when a third party pits The Ferenghi against the crew of The Enterprise, the two parties are forced to work together.
Episode 3: Conspiracy
(Picard, Riker, Data, Crusher, Worf, Laforge, Troi)
A group of rogue Starfleet captains approach Picard about the possibility that Starfleet has been corrupted by an outside source. So when Starfleet orders The Enterprise to a star base, Picard is understandably concerned. When it turns out that the jerky auditor from the first episode, as well as the admiral who sicked the auditor on the ship in the first place, are involved, the crew of The Enterprise springs into action.
Episode 4: Datalore
(Data, Picard, Riker, Yar, Worf, Wesley, Laforge)
It turns out that Data isn't the only android like him. His "brother", Lore, is A Jerk. What happens is he replaces Data as an officer?
Episode 5: Borderlands
(Archer, T'Pol, Soong, Phlox, Sato, Trip, Reed, Mayweather)
Was the guy who made Data and Lore evil? We may never know. But the original crew of The Enterprise has to deal with a Klingon problem while they're transporting one of Dr. Soong's ancestors, who's been messing around with augmented humans who, as it happens, are wreaking havoc with the Klingons.
Episode 6: A Matter Of Honor
(Riker, Picard, Data, Worf, Wesley, Pulaski, Laforge)
Klingon culture is complicated, and the early episodes of TNG that focus on Worf and his relation with his heritage are Not Very Good. In this episode, we see the Klingon's through the lens of Riker, who is assigned as First Officer on a Klingon ship. Some chaos ensues when someone similar to Wesley's friend from the first episode fails to alert either The Enterprise or the Klingon that there is something on the Klingon hull that could destroy the ship.
Episode 7: Cold Station 12/The Augments
(Archer, Soong, Phlox, Trip, Reed, T'Pol, Mayweather, Sato)
Back to the original Enterprise's Klingon and Soong problem, The Augments take over the medical facility that holds thousands of augmented embryos. The situation causes Soong to have to choose between humans and Augments, doctors to choose between the potential for life and their already living colleagues, and The Klingons to choose between killing The Augments, killing the humans, or just killing everyone.
Episode 8: Measure Of A Man
(Data, Picard, Riker, Laforge, Pulaski, Worf, Wesley)
Another Starfleet Bastard tries to interfere with The Enterprise by ordering Data to be dismantled so that he can build more androids for Starfleet. When Data, and then Picard refuse, the issue of Data's status as a lifeform goes to trial with Starfleet's JAG (yea, like the court procedural TV show). This is probably the best episode of the season.
Episode 9: Simultude
(Trip, Archer, T'Pol, Phlox, Reed, Sato, Mayweather)
Once again, we're back with the crew of the first Enterprise. During repairs, Trip is gravely injured, and Phlox suggests a controversial technique, wherein a clone of Trip, with a fifteen day life cycle is created purely to harvest parts of its brain to help Trip recover. It is Dark and Emotionally Draining to watch, but well-written, and fast paced, and might be the final time we encounter this crew, at least for a while.
Episode 10: The Most Toys
(Data, Picard, Riker, Wesley, Laforge, Worf, O'Brien)
I had intended to end this season with the introduction of The Borg but, unfortunately, their first episode involves Q, my least favorite Star Trek character of all time. I'm not sure I'll ever include any episodes he appears in. So, instead, we end with a Data episode where he does become property, as a collector fakes Data's death to steal him from Starfleet, and he make a Very Human decision to try and escape. This has one of the few I Am Evil villains that I don't mind, as his motives are purely villainous but believable.
Five bonus episodes, if you like this season:
If you like Magical Wesley episodes, I'd put Where No One Has Gone Before between the first and second episodes. A Starfleet Bastard claims he can make The Enterprise run faster, but it turns out his assistant is magical, and he and Wesley take the ship further than anyone has gone before. We'll Always Have Paris gives us the Deja Vu factor, as one of Picard's exes has married someone researching other dimensions and his research threatens the fabric of time. I would place this after episode three, as it's sort of a Starfleet Bastard episode, except with no malice, and a totally overcomeable incompetence. It also pairs nicely with Too Short A Season when a Very Old Starfleet Bastard attempts to atone for his sins as a young officer by taking an experimental de-aging drug and bringing The Enterprise back to the scene of the crime for hostage negotiation. If you want to space out the Data storyline, I'd recommend putting 11001001 between episodes 5 and 6, to watch the little binary aliens take The Enterprise (which is empty except for Picard and Riker) to their home planet to save it. And, finally, Time Squared follows a similar trajectory as "Simultude" except, instead of a rapidly aging clone, we get a babbling time displaced Picard. So well slip it between episodes 9 and 10.