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6 Shows like Star Trek: Bon Voyage

James Thomas itcherIn my opinion, ‘Star Trek’ established a whole subgenre of space faring operas, shows that took the original’s themes to some weird places. I think the reason these shows are so popular is that people have not left behind that dream of joining in on a voyage through space and into the unknown. TV shows like ‘Star Trek’ send our imaginations flying with every episode. If you want to go on a different kind of voyage, check out ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’, ‘Babylon 5’, and ‘Farscape.’ ~ James Thomas

The First Voyage

The story of ‘Star Trek’ is as elegant as it is simple. I found myself on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise traversing the galaxy under the wandering eye of Captain Kirk, who I am convinced only took this job for the access to strange alien women.

At his side is Spock, a Vulcan and the most intelligent person on the bridge, who no one will admit, should be the captain. Then there is Sulu navigating the ship to the insanely dangerous destinations on Kirk’s orders, and Uhura running the ship and not getting enough credit for it.

I always found the villains in ‘Star Trek’ to be one of the main attractions of the show, even if they were a bit one-sided in their cultural portrayals. But watching them challenge Kirk and his team I can tell that this was part of what inspired so many other works of rambling intergalactic fiction.

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Shows Similar to ‘Star Trek’…

‘Babylon 5’ (PTEN & TNT, 1994-­1998)

The reason I love ‘Babylon 5′ is the irony in the name, and because other series similar to ‘Star Trek’ are much less realistic. The show is named for the space station on which much of the action takes place. Babylon 5 is the fifth station because the first three went boom and the fourth…. well vanished.

But the most interesting part of the show in my opinion is the politics that led to the creation of the stations. There was this little intergalactic war between earth and an advanced alien species called the Minbari. So why would this terrible alien race seek to wipe out humanity? Because humans started the damn war in the first place!

That’s right, humanity saw an advanced race of what they thought were monks and decided “Yeah, I’m gonna kill it!” Well, because the universe is just, humanity lost, badly. The Minbari were just about to wipe out Earth and take care of the galaxies “human problem” when they decided not to kill everyone.

Fast forward a few decades and the Babylon 5 was created with the purpose of bringing together all the species in the galaxy, and there are loads, in hopes of achieving galactic peace……Good luck.

Similarity Match: 90%
Because of the realistic way it treats the relationships between alien species and the complex and dark history behind its narrative, ‘Babylon 5’ is a show that stands on its own.

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‘Farscape’ (Sci­Fi Channel, 1999­-2003)

After watching ‘Farscape’ from beginning to end, I can safely say it’s my favorite show similar to ‘Star Trek’, because it takes Gene Roddenberry’s ideas and gives them a substantial Muppet update that makes the weirdest and even the most villainous characters strangely endearing.

The show starts with an American astronaut named John Crichton getting lost in space and sucked into a wormhole. After blacking out Crichton wakes up to find that he is on a living prison ship, filled with all sorts of aliens, including a pilot who is physically bonded to the vessel for life.

The ship is a prison transport owned by a group of intergalactic Nazis called the Peacekeepers who happen to look a lot like Homo­ sapiens.

Similarity Match: 85%
‘Farscape’ is an imaginative departure from what you typically find in TV shows like ‘Star Trek’. However, it still has the same adventurous spirit you find in Gene Roddenberry’s first series, and John Crichton is a great stand in for Kirk.

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‘Dark Matter’ (Space, 2015 –)

As one of the newest shows on this list, there is still a lot mystery surrounding the world it takes place in and that’s what makes it exciting. This show centers around a group of strangers numbered “One” through “Six” who wake up on spaceship, with no memory of who they are, and why they are heavily armed and apparently ready to raid and pillage.

As the show progresses we learn that they are: mercenary space pirates, and the most feared group of mercenaries in the galaxy, so it comes as no surprise when they find that everything with a pulse or processor in the galaxy is after them. Oh…and that little memory loss thing seems to have be caused by a member of their crew. Talk about trust issues.

Similarity Match: 80%
As a show ‘Dark Matter’ touches on the same space hopping adventure as ‘Star Trek’, but this show has a much darker side and a much deeper mystery.

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If You Like ‘Star Trek’, You Will Like…

The following shows deal with intergalactic space travel, but depart form the utopia found in ‘Star Trek’. The first takes place after an intergalactic apocalypse and the second involves no aliens and shows humanity simply trying to survive.

‘Andromeda’ (Sci­Fi Channel, 2000-­2005)

As a show originating in the mind of the creator of ‘Star Trek’ I find that on the surface ‘Andromeda,’ is about spirituality as much as it is about space travel and nation building. In fact, I would argue that this is Roddenberry’s most philosophical show.

The show starts with humanity being part of an intergalactic constitutional monarchy called the “Systems Commonwealth” which controls the trade and the planets within the Milky Way, Triangulum, and Andromeda galaxies. When the leaders of the Commonwealth traded a planet belonging to the Nietzscheans, who believe they are the “Übermensch” Nietzsche wrote about, to an ancient enemy they start a revolt.

Caught up in the revolt is the crew of the Andromeda Ascendant, who are forced to flee and thanks to a cosmic anomaly, become frozen in time. When they break free, they find that the Commonwealth has been destroyed, and they are the only hope for order in a chaotic universe.

Taking its cues from TV series like ‘Star Trek’, ‘Andromeda’ does a good job of being a fun space­faring adventure. However, it deals more with questions of philosophy than the other shows created by Gene Roddenberry, offering a whole different kind of experience.

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‘Battlestar Galactica’ (Syfy, 2004-­2010)

When I watched ‘Battlestar Galactica’ I thought “This is a show that also starts with humanity causing their own destruction.” In ‘Battlestar Galactica’, the home planet of humanity has been wiped out by several nuclear attacks. Thankfully humanity has already been traveling through space for some time, and there are eleven other colonies they can… oh no, they’re blown up too.

The perpetrators of this genocide are the Cylons, a group of artificially intelligent robots that humanity constructed to do crap jobs and fight wars. The Cylons suddenly realized that humans were fleshy and incredibly susceptible to things like bombs and bullets. Despite being great at killing humans, some of them managed to survive and escape the destruction on a ship called…..wait for it….. The Battlestar Galactica. The show follows the trials of the survivors as they barrel through space avoiding the murderous Cylons.

Unlike in ‘Star Trek’, there are no other alien species for humanity to partner or contend with and though humans do travel through space, it is not to discover anything new, they are just running.

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‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ (Paramount First­run syndication, 1987­-1994)

I can understand why people see ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ as the smarter, younger sibling of the first series. The look of the ship was much sleeker and updated to the point that the original became quaint and hokey by comparison. Also, sorry Trekkies, I found the writing was much better.

The show begins with a new crew led by Captain Jean­Luc Picard, a much more stable, reliable and contemplative Captain. However, Kirk’s libido is encapsulated in Picard’s second in command, Commander Riker. Then there is Data the android taking the place of Spock, Geordi La Forge one of the smartest people on the ship, Tasha Yar (R.I.P), and the bad­ass of the voyage, Lieutenant Worf, that’s right a Klingon.

‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ took almost everything about the original and polished it into a much richer experience that took a serious look at space and the future.

***

The Journey Continues

‘Star Trek’ is proof that some ideas can be shaped into a thousand different forms.

Where do you think the next show about traveling through space will take us?

Let me know in the comments down below.

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