In all seriousness, the mechanics of a story mission are very repetitive. Like in the shows, the vast majority of episodes consists arrival at some planet, an away mission, talking, and because this is a game, it always ends in shooting. Once in a while you get something different; those are the exceptions.
Some of the missions do have very interesting stories, mechanics aside. Former featured episode sequences also tend to have more exciting things to do -- Coliseum from the Reman episodes, for example. Do story missions for the story, not for the gameplay mechanics.
I would suggest doing the feature episodes and story missions, along with the foundary stuff. You can honestly skip half the exploration crap or just do space combat the entire game. I've honestly made it from RA 42 to RA 47 just by logging in each day for 10 minutes and accepting all my completed duty officer missions and then re-sending them all out again. The missions do get incredibly boring and repetitive, though some of the best content IMO is in the Romulan areas especially when you do The Vault and the arc where the Romulans are trying to use Borg tech.
Well, REAL exploration missions ( from the TV shows) are like "we are charting the _____ for ___ weeks" before the main storyline kicks in... Do you want to do that? Combat just adds excitement so we don't fall asleep at the helm...