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Each ”Star Trek” series distinctive

San Jose Mercury News

Here’s a rundown of the different “Star Trek” series:

“Star Trek” (1966-69, 79 episodes, NBC): The original that served as the template for all the series to come and spawned the successful theatrical film franchise.

Its catchphrases still echo in American pop culture.

The commander: Capt. James T. Kirk (William Shatner), the classic “Trek” hero.

Defining character: Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), the very cool Vulcan science officer.

The end: The series never had a finale, although the films “The Undiscovered Country” (1991) and “Generations” (1994) served to wrap things up.

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” (1987-94, 178 episodes, syndication): Set after the time frame of the original, this was the best series in the franchise and, in hindsight, one of the best TV shows of its time.

With a strong cast, good special effects, some terrific storytelling and the toughest Trek villains in the Borg, it holds up well in repeats a decade later.

The commander: Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), smart and fiercely loyal to his crew.

Defining character: Lt. Cmdr. Data (Brent Spiner), the android who struggled to become more human.

The end: A surreal episode in which Picard jumped back and forth across time as part of a test by Q (John de Lancie), a mysterious and all-powerful being who had challenged the Enterprise crew throughout the series. The poker scene that concludes the episode is a real tearjerker.

“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (1993-99, 176 episodes, syndication): Set in the same time period as “Next Generation” – Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn) and transport chief Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney) were regulars on both series – this was the darkest and most mystical of the “Trek” shows.

It also broke with “Trek” tradition by setting much of its action on a space station orbiting the planet Bajor rather than on a universe-cruising starship.

The commander: Cmdr. Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), a cerebral, philosophical man who became linked to the “prophets” of Bajor.

Defining character: Quark (Armin Shimerman), the ever-scheming Ferengi who not only embodied the show’s cynicism but also provided much-needed comic relief.

The end: Sisko leaves behind his wife and new child to learn from the prophets.

“Star Trek: Voyager” (1995-2001, 172 episodes, UPN): Set aboard Voyager, a smaller starship than the Enterprise, the show featured an uneasy alliance between members of the Federation crew and a group of Maquis terrorists they rescue in the first episode. The entire run of the series was one big trip home as the Voyager crew tried to return to Federation space after being thrown far off course.

The commander: Capt. Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), the first female lead in a “Trek” series.

Defining character: Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). Although she didn’t join the crew until Season 3, no fan forgets the sexy Borg.

The end: Unbelievably complicated episode involving two Janeways from different time periods, a big-time battle with the ever-nasty Borg, and Voyager finally getting home.

“Star Trek: Enterprise” (2001-05, 98 episodes, UPN): A totally retro take on the “Star Trek” canon, set in a time before the Federation and onboard the original Enterprise.

The commander: Capt. Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), a commander who really did have to lead his crew “where no one has gone before.”

Defining character: Vulcan Subcommander T’Pol (Jolene Blalock). Who knew Vulcans could generate such sexual heat?

The end: More “Next Generation” than “Enterprise,” it’s really a farewell to the franchise, not to one specific series.

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