I can’t in any way call myself a Trekkie. I’ve never been to a convention, don’t have a miniature Enterprise hanging from my bedroom ceiling, have never learned Klingon, and have never spent time in a Trek chat room.
But I’ve been watching the Star Trek TV shows and movies since the very first original episode showed up on my 13-inch GE portable color TV back in 1966 (or the twenty third century, depending on how you look at it). I first discovered the science fiction genre when I was about nine years old and my thinking about life was forever changed by a Brian Aldiss novel, Starship, which I read when I was thirteen. So my interest in Star Trek was a no-brainer.
I read on Wikipedia that Guinness World Records lists the original Star Trek as having the largest number of spin-offs among all television shows in history. And I’ve seen every incarnation of the mainstream, non-“fan” versions, including Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Star Trek: The Next Generation was the best series of them all as far as I am concerned. Of course by then the Star Trek franchise had been established, the original series had acquired a big cult following, and it was a lot easier to sell the idea of an ensemble cast of crew members lurching around in hyper-space! I loved every episode of its seven-season run and when it went off the air it was like losing a best friend.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine wasn’t bad either, and although I lost interest after the first few years, I enjoyed at least the first three seasons.
The attraction for me with all the Star Trek stories was the “human” element. Although there were Klingons, Vulcans, Romulans, and what-have-yous interacting with the earthlings, it was all about relationships. The technology was there, but just like horses and cattle were part of the TV series Rawhide, the basic draw was the different personalities working together and playing off each other to create the interest.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the subsequent spinoffs, Voyager and Enterprise, were just plain dreadful and painful to watch. I actually felt embarrassed for the actors who valiantly plodded through the trite and/or ridiculous story lines.
As for the big screen versions, I enjoyed every one. These characters were larger than life and played well in a larger-than-life venue.
So it was with great excitement that I greeted the news of a brand new 2009 Star Trek movie. But when I heard J.J. Abrams was re-inventing Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura, et al, my excitement changed to trepidation. Shatner IS Kirk, by golly, just as firmly as Nimoy is Spock, or Takei is forever Sulu.
I rarely cough up the big bucks to see a first-run movie at the theater, but as I was walking up to Trader Joe’s one day I decided to look at the movie schedule. Lo and behold, Star Trek was just about to start. I decided it was an omen, popped my credit card in the machine and went inside the theater. To say I was enraptured is an understatement. Ten minutes after meeting the main characters as adults I had totally forgotten about the original cast. The new actors took the best of the original characters but did not in any way try to imitate them. They were all completely believable as my old friends but with a fresh take.
I won’t go into the story—you can go see it for yourself if you haven’t already. The movie is over two hours long but there is so much going on it seems like half that time has passed. When the film moved to the cheapie theater across the street from the first-run venue, I saw it again three more times. Last night I saw it for the fifth time as it arrived on DVD from NetFlix. I’ll see it again before returning it. Should I buy the DVD to have and to hold until death do us part? I don’t know—there are a lot of other movies I still want to see. Maybe later.
But I am happy that Star Trek is back with a vengeance and I can’t wait for the next one!