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Star Trek: Enterprise

A prequel series taking place well before The Original Series, Enterprise explores humanity’s first steps into deep space during the era leading to the birth of the United Federation of Planets.

Episodic or serial?

Variable. The first two seasons are mostly episodic, though some consequential events get follow-ups and there’s a two-parter bridging the seasons.

The third season has a story arc running the entire season (and actually starting with the final episode of the second season), though not all of the episodes advance it directly and many just have it in the background. The last several episodes of the third season are fully serialized.

The fourth season is a middle ground mostly made up of smaller arcs. There are a handful of standalone episodes but also several two- or three-part episodes, many of which build on each other and follow up on the consequences of previous episodes.

Idealistic or cynical?

Mostly idealistic, but the third season is noticeably darker than the others.

Worth watching?

Not especially. There are a number of pretty-good episodes, but the series consistently fails to live up to its potential. Some very ill-advised story arcs receive too much attention and other more-interesting ones are neglected. A new showrunner took over in the fourth season and there are some good signs that the show was finally headed in a good direction, but too late to save its ratings and the show was canceled after just four seasons.

Anything else that should be watched first?

The closest thing there is to a hard requirement is Star Trek: First Contact which lays some groundwork for Enterprise’s setting (and at least one episode can be considered a direct sequel).

It would also help to have some familiarity with The Original Series and The Next Generation, but this is mostly just to better appreciate some of the references that show up.

What should be watched after this?

This series has no films or direct follow-up, but if you’re going in order, Discovery came out next.