Thoughts on Star Trek

Abrams' Trek is Ready to Take Flight

Abrams' Trek is Ready to Take Flight

I haven’t said much on the blogs regarding my love of Star Trek. And I do love me some Star Trek! I don’t wander around wearing the costumes, and I’ve never made it to a Trek Convention. But I loved visiting Star Trek the Experience in Vegas, I’ve seen every hour of TOS, TNG, DS9 and Enterprise… and most of Voyager.

I love what Star Trek represents, a positive future for mankind. One where we’ve settled our own differences, while learning to respect each other’s cultural diversity. It’s a hopeful view of what we can become.

TOS was what I remember watching as a very small kid. Shatner’s bravado and swagger, Nimoy’s nuanced, but never bland portrayal of Spock and DeForest Kelly’s irascible Dr. McCoy was always good for a laugh. (Damn it Jim! I’m a Doctor not a brick layer!)

TNG was my first big series. The first drama I actually looked forward to every week. It was event TV for me and my entire family. Dad, Theresa, Laura and I made a weekly habit of watching TNG together. And in the later years, when I was in High School that weekly viewing included our good friend Fletcher McBeth and the post-show discussions between my father, Fletcher and I were some of the best memories I have from High School. (For those of you who know Fletcher you’ll understand just how “geeked out” those discussions must have been!)

DS9 was really my late 90’s Trek. Post-College (I didn’t watch anything in college really) I caught up on DS9 through repeats, and I found that series to be very fulfilling in it’s later years. The expansion of the Trek Universe into Bajoran and Cardassian space didn’t sit well with me at first. But as the Dominion War heated up and the story line followed how mankind handled the struggles of interplanetary diplomacy and warfare it became very interesting to me. It was also cool how they weaved the conflict of faith vs. science into the show. A balance that I feel Ron Moore finally perfected in Battlestar Galactica.

Voyager was promising at first, but ultimately a disappointment. I know Roddenberry had said that TNG was great as a syndicated show because he didn’t have to answer to the studio executives so much. I think Rick Berman may have learned that lesson the hard way by allowing Voyager to be the “flagship” production of the studio’s TV network UPN. And that lesson was further thrust upon him when they pushed him into rushing development on Enterprise.

I did, however, enjoy Enterprise after it had left the airwaves and I caught up with it on re-runs. It wasn’t as terrible a show as some of the internet chatter would have lead you to believe. I think season 1 had some great moments. For me, the problem wasn’t with the premise of the show… but in the execution. And I have a sneaking suspicion that, had the boys been given more time to develop it, a lot of the things that didn’t quite feel right early on would have been done correctly. By the end of that show’s run I thought they’d really found the voice they should have had from the start and the final season was really very good and did some nice jobs of tying together Enterprise with it’s predecessors.

Now, when Enterprise went off the air I agreed with a lot of people that Trek needed a break. I also felt that it needed some new blood. Berman had been doing Trek for 20 years. That’s a long time. He and his team did something like 800 hours of TV and what, 4 feature films? That’s a lot of storytelling from the same group of people. No, it was definitely time for a rest and then a revisiting with a fresh perspective.

That’s, now, where JJ Abrams has come in. When I heard that Paramount had tasked Abrams to write and direct the new Trek movie I was intrigued. I’ve been a fan of Abrams since Alias and a huge fan since LOST premiered. For me, Abrams is one of the most promising talents in Hollywood.

And suddenly he was given the keys to one of the biggest, but most tired franchises in the business.

And then the announcement came that he was doing a “prequel” or “reboot” of the original series. A sort of “Academy / Post-Academy / First Adventure” film. Oh boy. You heard it on the nets… “Star Trek 90210” and “Star Trek: The Phantom Menace”

Truly, I wasn’t enthused at the idea of a prequel. Mr. Lucas had done that to death. And only marginally well. (I still say they aren’t terrible… just not great! Although Revenge of the Sith kicked ass!) But this… this was even worse than the Star Wars prequels… this was like “Based on the movie” TV show type pre-quel. Oy! Only two shows in my memory have ever done that well, and it’s MASH (though not a prequel) and Stargate SG-1 (also not a prequel). Battlestar did a REBOOT… but it was a real reboot. No bones about it. But this Star Trek is going to be about Bones, Spock and KIRK! As youngsters. (Relatively speaking for some.)

That’s dangerous territory. And even in BSG there was an uproar about certain casting decisions before the series came out. (How can Starbuck be a woman!) Of course, eventually in the full context of the show it all made sense.

But with Star Trek? Really? The same guys, with new, young actors?

Were they crazy?

Turns out, the gamble seems to have paid off. The first full screenings of the film happened this week and by nearly every account I’ve read Abrams hit this one out of the park. The cast lives up to their new interpretations of these beloved characters. The plot device to reboot the franchise works, and makes sense for all the changes to canon that are about to come. And Paramount’s first REAL BUDGET for a Star Trek movie has paid off in a film that, apparently, has a great deal of depth and spectacle to it as well as character development.

I for one can’t wait to see it for myself.

Until then, Live Long and Prosper, now Boldy Go.

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