Science fiction has always been a driving force in my life. There is no genre of film or television that can match it for me. The allure of sci-fi is the combination of real world issues and a futuristic setting, either here on earth or somewhere out in the vast universe. There is a sense of wonderment that I get every time I look into the night sky, gaze upon all the stars. There are worlds out there beyond our comprehension and that is what gets me. The great unknown of space. A true imagination is needed to capture it on film. A certain ingenuity and curiosity that only some people possess, like Gene Roddenberry, the creator of “Star Trek.”
Now, when I look up, I can add the voyages of the starship Enterprise to my imagination, as they boldly go where no man has gone before. I always had a curiosity to watch the show, as so much of the science fiction I love originated from there, or at least branched off from some of the theories developed on the show. Couple that with the fact that there are countless cultural references (“Live long and prosper” and “Beam me up, Scotty” to name a couple) from the original “Star Trek” crew (both show and movies) and you see why “Star Trek” is solidified as one of science fiction’s giants.
My journey into the “Star Trek” galaxy began 3 months ago, in February. I crammed the 25 years of “Star Trek” into those 3 months. My nerdom went to another level, as I ingested episode after episode, constantly kicking myself for not watching this show before. So much of what I love about sci-fi and space was captured in the original show. From parallel universes, to strange, new worlds, to warp speed, this show had it all. Then you combine the basic science fiction with the messages of each episode and you discover that this show actually meant something beyond just the stars and space. The crew members were an extension of human civilization, exploring the universe, but living by the principles we live by today.
The crew of the Enterprise takes on a life of its own. The trio of James Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy will live on as long as time itself. Their interactions together are the driving actions behind the show. “Star Trek” can essentially be broken down into anything. Yes, they were on a starship, but the characters could be on nearly any vessel, doing any task, and it would be worthwhile, as the friendships, and experiences that shape those friendships, are what makes the series tick, along with life lessons gained on their voyages. It is through these adventures that we see just how much a friendship can mean, and, isn’t that all that matters? Friends for life.
Kirk is the captain of the Enterprise, but his two shipmates, Spock and McCoy, provide the insight and knowledge necessary for Kirk to make his decisions. Spock, being Vulcan, derives all of his answers by logic and without emotion (even though many times it is quickly pointed out that Spock is half human too). It is hard to argue with him, as he is so precise in all of his calculations. But there are times you need the insight of McCoy, who is a perfect personification of human nature, emotions and all. The juxtaposition of Spock and McCoy is the most redeemable quality of the show. The trio, more times than not, ended each episode with a few poignant comments, that gave the show its light-hearted appeal.
There is a reassurance with the crew of the Enterprise. A feeling of accomplishment, a sense of stability. Kirk, sitting in his chair, his two reliable navigators, Chekov and Sulu, leading the way, Spock over to his right, always looking for any readings the ship’s computers are giving him, Uhura, the communications officer, and Scotty’s voice over the com as Kirk needs his information about how the starship is working. And more times than not, McCoy standing behind Jim, always quick to say what he feels. These 7 characters are the mainstays on the show, as they are carried into the movies as well.
The t.v. show was not initially popular, but gained popularity through syndication and it was due to this popularity that the movies were made. The movies only added to the allure of “Star Trek,” as the effects were drastically enhanced and many more references and ideas presented. The first movie came out 10 years after the original series ended, but had a huge following of “trekkies” by that point. When it was all said and done, the original “Star Trek” members have been a part of the journey for 25 years and their impact on the science fiction genre was complete. They morphed and influenced countless other movies and shows, let alone the subsequent “Star Trek” shows and movies that did not include Kirk and his crew. It is true. Science fiction would not be the same without “Star Trek.” I wonder what unfortunate parallel universe does not get the pleasure of having “Star Trek” . . .
And that brings us to 2009, where Star Trek was rebooted and reborn by J.J. Abrams. Abrams admits to not being a huge fan of “Star Trek” when he made the first movie. He wanted to create a film that appealed to both sides of the spectrum and it is shown, spectacularly if I may add. All of the original characters have many of their same characteristics and even classic lines, like, “I’m giving her all she’s got, Captain,” by Scotty and “I’m a doctor, not a physicist,” by McCoy. The writers do a great job creating a familiarity with this new crew, ushering in a new era of fresh faces to take part in the voyages of the Enterprise.
A parallel universe is created in the ’09 “Star Trek,” so it does not have any impact on the original Shatner-led crew. A relief to all, as those beloved characters and story lines cannot be tarnished. The whole idea of creating a parallel universe with the same original Trek crew is very apropos, a very “Star Trek” plot device. It leaves a lot for the mind to wonder about the infinite possibilities out there in the universe. That is why “Star Trek” has had such a lasting and meaningful impact. We all want to be intruiged by the vastness of space, and everything about “Star Trek” does a perfect job wetting our science fiction appetite, like no other series has done before and perhaps no other series will ever do again.
Now, I wait to see the next installment in the rebooted franchise, “Star Trek Into Darkness,” which hopefully builds on the strong foundations laid down by the 2009 film.
Mr. Sulu, ahead warp one.