I have done a lot of searching online trying to put together lists of episodes that will create a comprehensive Star Trek experience. So far my searching has gotten me a lot of great suggestions but ultimately have not really achieved what I am looking for. So now I turn to you to help me make this list.
I have been a major fan of Star Trek since a very young age and I have seen every episode of both TOS and TNG as well as all of the films. However, my experience with DS9 and Voyager are somewhat limited and I have seen only a grand total of two episodes of Enterprise and no episodes of the cartoon. With all of the series on Netflix now I wanted to get into all the great episodes I haven't seen and revisit some of the others. However, rather than sit through 725 episodes and 10 films, roughly 556.5 hours of screen time, I wanted to boil it all down to something more manageable.
So what I would like for fans of each series is to help me come up with roughly 30-70 episodes from each series, less TAS obviously, that show the evolution of the series, plotlines, and characters. I want to see all about the Dominion War and the Xindi but I also want to see the evolution of Worf and Alexander or Tom and B'Ellana or even Barclay and... Barclay. I want to know the essential episodes in terms of plot and character. I feel that The Inner Light is every bit as important as The Best of Both Worlds because Picard really shines in both. These don't need to all be great episodes if they have some major development for the overall story. That being said I don't want to watch episodes just because they are bad, I'm looking at you Spock's Brain.
The Original Series
This list should start with The Cage, Where No Man Has Gone Before, and The Corbomite Maneuver obviously because that gives us a setup for the premise and introduces the characters. Beyond that there are some classics that should be included such as Amok Time, Space Seed (if for no other reason than to lead to Wrath of Khan), Balance of Terror, The Trouble with Tribbles, and City on the Edge of Forever.
The Animated Series
This is the series I know the least about. Are there any that stand out and really move the plots and characters forward. I gather that Yesteryear was pretty good. Wasn't the precursor to the holodeck introduced in this series?
I am very familiar with the films and own the special editions on DVD. Wrath of Khan is an obvious inclusion. While I was not a big fan of Search for Spock and The Voyage Home they show the destruction of the Enterprise and the conflict between Kirk and the Klingons. Final Frontier has the introduction of the Enterprise-A and the Uhura fan dance... wait, you mean that wasn't integral to the overall advancement of the plot? Generations, while I felt was a weak film, has the destruction of the Enterprise-D and Kirk's death. First Contact is a great film and a climax to the Borg invasion storyline in TNG and Nemesis, also not one of my favorites, gives some conclusion to the Romulan cold war episodes.
The Next Generation
There are a lot of stand out episodes but there are also a lot of storylines that developed over seven years such as the interactions with Q or Wesley and the Traveler. There are some great stand alone episodes too, such as The Inner Light which is easily one of my favorite Star Trek episodes period.
Deep Space Nine
This is where my knowledge of the franchise starts to break down. I was only able to watch a handful of the episodes when they first aired in the beginning of the series and missed out on the whole Dominion War. I happened to catch Little Green Men when it aired and loved it. This series is also where it gets tricky to try to make this list and the main reason I decided to come on here and ask for help. There are a ton of plotlines and short of just watching the entire series I didn't know how to separate out what was important and what was filler. There is, of course, the Dominion War but there are a lot of other things going on like Nog joining Starfleet, Section 31, and who knows what else.
I've seen a smattering of Voyager episodes from across the series run but don't really know where to start because there seems to be a lot going on here as well. I know the Maquis were created for this series and there is a plotline about a Cardassian spy that I caught part of as well as the travels through Kazon space toward the beginning and then the conflicts with the Borg later on. The handful of episodes that I saw I really enjoyed, such as Macrocosm which was a neat actioner, but I can't really identify the others.
I finally gave up trying to make my own list when I got here and the Xindi storyline. Memory Alpha simply told me to watch the entirety of season three and that wasn't helpful at all.
So in closing what would you list as the episodes to watch to get the comprehensive Star Trek experience?
Suffice to say, if you were not a fan of a particular series commenting 'voyager sux0rz' isn't particularly useful or productive. I am coming off from watching my list of comprehensive Doctor Who, which, despite having 26 years of episodes to sort, was actually pretty easy to compile. I am surprised that I had such difficulty making a list given the fact that I grew up obsessed with Star Trek while Doctor Who was a passing fancy I picked up as a kid on PBS and got renewed only a couple years ago with the revival series.