Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A surprising omission …

Its a bit surprising as I look back over this blog that I've made nearly 130 posts over a couple of months, and I've yet to make a post about Star Trek. I suppose the fact that Enterprise went off the air last year has something to do with it … for the first time in more than 20 years, there's no active Star Trek TV series in production, so there's little new to talk about.

But its still an omission … while Star Trek over the years has had its share of bad acting, hackneyed writing, and questionable special effects, it also represents a rather impressive 'canon' of creative material. Between the TV series, the movies, the comic books/cartoon shows, and the novels, the amount of creative energy expended in the Star Trek universe over the past 40 years.

The franchise has an anniversary of sorts this year … it was Sept 9, 1966 that the first episode of Star Trek was broadcast on NBC, so the franchise as an 'accepted' piece of entertainment is 40 years old this year. Of course, there was a pilot episode before the 1966 series start, in 1964, and by all accounts was in Rodenberry's head before that, but 1966 seems a good year.

I didn't see the original series when it first aired. In fact, I was born the Monday of the week that Star Trek first aired in 1966, so I was a bit young to have caught it the first time around. Regardless, from the first time I saw the show, in re-runs in the 70's, I knew it was something of interest.

It goes beyond the writing or acting, some of which were less than memorable. You can certainly point to classic stories and episodes from all Star Trek forms, but there's an ethic that has always run underneath the Star Trek universe. It was shallow, and weak in the original series, but if it hadn't been there, that original series wouldn't have survived its faults. Instead of succumbing to its flaws, instead of becoming the cliched 'wagon train to the stars' that it was originally billed as, it was able to rise above its limitations.

And rise above in spectacular fashion. After 4 more TV series (plus a cartoon show in the 70's), some 10 movies, and countless books, the official Star Trek universe has grown vast and diverse. What began life as the barely 2 dimensional world of Kirk and Spock, now spans space and time and culture. There are few parts of our culture … from the design of flip cell phones through medical scanning technology … that haven't had some tangential impact from Star Trek.

I think the reason for this ubiquity is that underlying ethic I mentioned before, the one that let that original show, and a few movies, rise above their worst moments. It started weakly, brashly, with a lot of style but little substance, but it was there … the notion that despite all the evidence to the contrary, humans were eventually going to work out how not to kill each other and focus on larger issues. Initially, this was little more than a technology cult, worshipping at the alter of the mechanization of the future. But as the series and movies progressed, the substance fleshed out.

The final triumph of Star Trek, the reason that it is still relevant 40 years after its first episode aired, is that there was always hope for the future. The underlying notion, however preposterous it seems from our perspective today, that we would all someday work together for the betterment of all people, instead of competing with each other for the profit of a few, is why Star Trek continues on today with talk of an 11th movie. Its worth noting that as we are 40 years after the first Star Trek episode, we are also some 57 years early for another important anniversary … in 2063, in Boseman, Montana, Zefram Cochrane will make the first warp flight, and bring Vulcan contact with earth for the first time. Or so the story goes, anyway *G*


At 10:22 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG Elron, how did i miss this post??
I love start trek, when the original series came out, i don't know who i liked more spock or Kirk and then there was "Bones" kind of had a thing for him too LOL

40 years huh, that amazing, i loved all the series, and movies. It would be cool if they came out with a new series.

Thanks for posting that

Live Long and Prosper

Your fellow Trekki

At 10:25 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

You Might be Considered a Trekkie if...

+++ After seeing a news story about a police shooting you wonder, for a moment, why they just didn't set it on stun.

+++ All babies start to remind you of Jean-Luc Picard.

+++ Deanna Troi can 'feel' your pain

+++ More than three original episode outlines are buried in your drawers

+++ Mr. Spock beamed down into your back yard last night and talked to you

+++ Phrases like 'sentient being' start creeping into your speech patterns.

+++ Sitting in traffic you seriously start wondering why you're using this primitive form of transportation.

+++ Someone tells a joke and your only comment is: "Humour, a difficult concept"

+++ The Outrageous Okona seems like a fine piece of writing and dramatic stylistics

+++ The Star Trek theme becomes background music for your dreams

+++ The UPS guy hands you his electronic clipboard and you're tempted to call him the "Captain's Yeoman" as you sign it.

+++ When you get sick you want Doctor Beverley to take care of you

+++ Whenever you start your car you take your right index finger and point it ahead of you saying "Engage"

+++ You've attended a convention wearing non-Terran vestments

+++ You've been Paying rapt attention during those endless special effects sequences in Star Trek: The Motion Picture

+++ You've figured out the stardate system

+++ You've had actual serious thoughts about buying that $300 model of the Enterprise from the Franklin Mint

+++ You've had experience playing fizzbin and understanding it

+++ You've lectured any science professor on how transporters work

+++ You've memorised the crew's authorisation codes

+++ You already know the name of every episode of season one of Star Trek: Voyager

+++ You always win the free slice of pizza at the local pizza place when they have Star Trek trivia questions.

+++ You answer your cellular flip-phone "Kirk here"

+++ You are able to use "variable phase inverter" in a sentence without excessive thought first

+++ You ask your broken computer to run a self-diagnostic

+++ You avoid all stores that carry Trek merchandise for fear that someone will find out about your 'addiction'. :-)

+++ You breed Tribbles

+++ You call your Psychic friends to talk to Mr. Spock

+++ You can name all 79 episodes of classic Trek--in order

+++ You can name alphabetically all the women Kirk seduced

+++ You can quote all of the Articles of the Federation

+++ You can trace your genealogy back to Surak

+++ You cannot use contractions in your speech

+++ You drive by a used car lot and start looking for Ferengi

+++ You experience indignation because the periodic table doesn't include dilithium and tritanium.

+++ You find yourself executing the "Picard Manoeuvre".

+++ You find yourself singing "Headin' Out to Eden" in the shower and you know all the words.

+++ You flip open your cellular phone and expect to hear it "chirp."

+++ You fly into a homicidal rage anytime people say "Star Trek? Isn't that the one with Luke Skywalker?"

+++ You get on an elevator full of people and have to catch yourself before you tell it what floor you want.

+++ You get upset when you go to get a vanity plate and find that WARP SPEED has already been taken.

+++ You have a copy of every Star Trek uniform shown on TV or in the movies

+++ You have a matter/anti-matter converter in your bathroom

+++ You have a shrine to Gene Roddenberry in your spare room

+++ You have a sudden urge to wear lots of Lycra

+++ You have inexplicable rock-climbing urges

+++ You have more than one pair of Spock ears on junk drawer

+++ You have no life.

+++ You have seen Star Trek The Motion Picture over 100 times

+++ You hire a private detective because you KNOW Guinan is here somewhere

+++ You join NASA, hijack a shuttle, and head for the co-ordinates you calculated for the planet Vulcan.

+++ You keep asking Scotty to 'beam you up'

+++ You keep forgetting that present-day elevators don't have a voice interface

+++ You know every word of Star Trek IV by heart

+++ You know the difference between "Live long and prosper" and "Nanu, nanu"

+++ You know Yeoman Rand's cabin number

+++ You know you watch too much Trek when someone asks you to quote some Shakespeare and you do it in Klingon.

+++ You make annual pilgrimages to the Paramount lot

+++ You name your cat Spot and feed it feline supplement #74

+++ You named your first child Leonard William DeForest

+++ You named your first child Tiberius

+++ You pull the legs off your hamster so you'll have a tribble.

+++ You quote the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

+++ You recognize more than 4 references on this list.

+++ You redecorate your living room to look like the bridge of the Enterprise

+++ You replace your Windows Program Manager font with "TNG Monitors"

+++ You save up money to send your kids to Starfleet Academy

+++ You scare your little brother by acting like a Gorn

+++ You see a car with a Starfleet Academy sticker and it seems perfectly normal.

+++ You send weekly love letters to the actress who played the Green Skinned Orion Slave Girl in episode number 7.

+++ You shave your head to look like Captain Picard

+++ You sing along with William Shatner's record album

+++ You sing Klingon Opera while showering

+++ You spend $150.00 at a convention on a piece of plastic that may or may not look like a phaser

+++ You spend the weekend decorating your friend's van to look like a shuttlecraft instead of going on a date with the Homecoming Queen

+++ You stand in line for 13 hours to get Gene Roddenberry's autograph

+++ You start making lists of the signs that you've been watching too much Trek!

+++ You start practising raising one eyebrow in front of a mirror.

+++ You start saying "make it so" in casual conversation

+++ You start scanning shelves at local liquor store for synthehol

+++ You start watching commercials because so many Trek alumni are doing the voice-overs.

+++ You talk to your computer (Hello, computer!)

+++ You talk... like... William Shatner--on purpose

+++ You tried to join the Navy just so you could serve aboard the Enterprise.

+++ You trim your angora cat's hair to make it look like a tribble

+++ You understand Klingon

+++ You use stardates on all your correspondence

+++ You walk to the microwave and start to order dinner.

+++ You want to have Worf's baby

+++ You went to San Francisco to see if you might bump into Kirk and crew while they were in the 20th century looking for a whale.

+++ You write love letters to Lursa and B'Etor

+++ Your college thesis was a Comparison of the Illustrious Careers of T.J. Hooker and Capt. Kirk.

+++ Your dream date is with Deanna Troi

+++ Your idea of a great evening is spouting Trek trivia for six hours with your friends

+++ Your major quote sources for thesis are Shakespeare, the Bible and The Omega Glory

+++ Your wardrobe consists of a lot of black slacks with interchangeable gold, red and blue tops.

+++ Your wife left you because you wanted her to dress like a Klingon and torture you for information.


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