This post was inspired by my friend Megan Cutler’s series on must-watch Star Trek: The Original Series episodes.
I don’t know about you, but I crave certainty in uncertain times.
Star Trek has filled many niches over the years. Sometimes its stories are a reflection of controversial issues we deal with in the real world that don’t have simple solutions.
Other episodes might humorous, poignant, hopeful, silly, or any combination of these and many other themes.
There have been Star Trek characters and episodes whom I loved immediately, slowly grew to have a deep appreciation for once I got to know them better, or, in a few rare cases, honestly never connected with much at all. (Not everything appeals to everyone!)
Star Trek itself is comfort food for me, and it’s been this way since my first experiences with it through reruns of The Next Generation. No matter which episode or series you pick, there are some things that almost always remain the same in this franchise.
There are many excellent science fiction books, stories, and TV shows out there that do not necessarily hold a hopeful perspective of human nature or the future. This isn’t one of them.
While Star Trek writers have occasionally strayed from this theme in the more modern versions of it, this franchise in general takes a hopeful stance on what we are capable of and what our future might hold.
Perfection doesn’t exist in this or any other universe, but human society has changed for the better in so many different ways between our era and theirs.
Every time I see characters greet living beings from other planets, order a meal from a replicator, or be treated for an illness or injury that would be fatal in the twenty-first century, I feel another pulse of hope that we’ll someday create versions of these futuristic wonders for ourselves in the real world.
Yes, there are plenty of obstacles along the way in just about any Star Trek story arc, and they can be difficult to resolve depending on the series and the specific conflict in question.
Sometimes these conflicts are so complex they take up multiple episodes or seasons (see also: Deep Space Nine), but viewers always know there is a solution on the way eventually if they stick with it to see what the characters do next.
That certainty is a breath of fresh air now more than ever.
Call me an idealist, but I believe there’s something to be said for losing yourself in a storyline that will be resolved satisfactorily at some point.
By far the biggest reason to think of Star Trek as comfort food is all of the humour tucked away into it. No matter which series we’re talking about, there are reasons to smile when watching all of them. Yes, even Picard and Discovery if you look closely enough!
You may have noticed that I avoided mentioning specific Star Trek episodes in this post until now. That was done on purpose in order so that I could talk about the over-arching themes of this universe. Discussing a particular episode was less important than knowing there are many options to choose from when you’re a Star Trek fan who wants something warm and reassuring to watch after a long day.
With that being said, I’ll now provide a short list of my favourite humorous Star Trek episodes and provide one reason each for watching them. If you’re also a fan of this franchise, feel free to add your own suggestions below.
Episode: The Trouble with Tribbles
Series: The Original Series
Why You Should Watch It: Not only was it the funniest TOS episode in my opinion, it’s also aged the best since first airing. The idea of Kirk being outsmarted, if only temporarily, by what are essentially extremely fertile hamster-like creatures called Tribbles makes this a must watch for anyone who hasn’t seen yet.
Episode: Trials And Tribble-Ations
Series: Deep Space Nine
Why You Should Watch It: The only thing better than tribbles is revisiting them vis a vie time travel!
Series: The Next Generation
Why You Should Watch It: After being transported to a Robin Hood storyline, Worf dryly exclaimed, “I am not a merry man.” Watch the expression on his face below. It’s comedy gold.
Episode: Tinker, Tenor, Doctor Spy
Why You Should Watch It: The doctor singing for Tuvok is priceless regardless of how well you do or do not already know these two characters.