I discovered Star Trek when I was a young child, circa 1974, when I was introduced to the animated TV show that was running at the time. I soon "graduated" to the live-action '60s series, and have been a fan ever since -- almost.
I consider the original series to be a television classic, packed with more solid, thoughtful, exciting episodes than perhaps even seems conceivable today. Certainly it produced its share of dogs, but as an idea factory for science fiction on television, and as a study of a handful of specific characters, it is superb.
The movies managed to transcend even the best of the TV series with Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, which is absolutely stunning in every way: Its dialogue, character interplay, visuals, and especially the music. It's a film that doesn't let you down, and still remains very powerful for me today, after repeated viewings. I would pick it as the best SF movie ever made, even above Star Wars and the vastly overrated 2001: A Space Odyssey.
While Star Trek III: The Search For Spock was also solid and fun, the movies fell completely apart for me with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which is a weak morality play and really loses itself in that it just isn't funny, in my opinion. After upping the ante of Kirk's travails in TSFS, this film completely sidesteps any dramatic impact that the issue of Kirk finally and clearly disobeying a direct Starfleet order and destroying his
ship in the process. Why bother?
And then we get to Star Trek: The Next Generation. When this was announced, I was excited about it, despite the mediocrity of TVH. I thought that stepping back from the original characters was a superb idea, as it would show a new facet of the universe and perhaps even "go where no man has gone before" - at least in Star Trek.
Alas, it was not to be. TNG was, in my mind, a failure after two seasons. The original show ("Trek Classic") had been excellent from the get-go, and the people doing this one hadn't been able to put together even fair stories with any regularity. Sure, Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner were good actors, but the characters across the show were quite weak, cardboard even. I bailed out after the first few third season episodes.
Later that year, I discovered the USENET newsgroup rec.arts.startrek and became active on it. After assurances that the show had gotten better, I decided to tune in again and found that -- it had! The third season closed out with the great first half of "The Best Of Both Worlds", which was a riveting drama on both a visceral and a personal level. Perhaps things really had improved and Trek was once more back on track...
But that hope proved to be short-lived as well, as the second half of "The Best Of Both Worlds" was a great letdown, and the show slowly slid back into the abyss over the next year. By the end of the fifth season, there seemed to be no raison d'etre for the show. While I still watched, sporadically, I was losing interest, and also found my enjoyment of rec.arts.startrek to be flagging.
I did, however, produce several dozen reviews for rec.arts.startrek which can be viewed through links at the end of this document. I also started to write my own Star Trek series, entitled Federation Declining, but although I ultimately produced about 20 pages worth of material, none of it ever got finished.
Over the next few years we were given the terminally mediocre Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country which attempted to wring a few crocodile tears out of the old fans (it didn't get any from me), and the new Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, whose premise left me wondering what the "Trek" in the title meant. Finally, I one day saw the light and realized that Trek was now firmly a commercial entity, which existed solely to make money, just like any
other TV show. I didn't care any more, and I bailed out.
Eventually, of course, TNG ended its run on TV, and the film Star Trek: Generations was produced in 1994. As it had Kirk in it, I decided I ought to go see it. I was pleasantly surprised: Despite a fundamentally weak plot, the movie was impressive enough in its respectful treatment of Kirk and the great special effects that it accomplished what I'd thought Trek never could again: Made me wonder what they'd do next.
Still, I'd be lying if I said I were enthusiastic about Trek anymore. DS9 is drek, as far as I'm concerned, and I decided not to even bother with the latest series, Star Trek: Voyager, which has gotten lukewarm reviews anyway. So, I decided to call it a day as a Star Trek fan... almost.
I occasionally write some science fiction, although I'm by no means a pro writer. However, after Generations came out, I decided to write an "epilogue" to it as my "swan song" as a Star Trek fan; it's called Pilgrimage.
So, though I may consider going to the next TNG movie, I've basically bailed out. I have other shows I watch now, and plenty to keep myself busy. I do kind of miss not having new regular infusions of good Kirk-and-Spock stories, but I'm an adult now; I can live with it.
And probably even prosper!
Reviews from rec.arts.startrek
I wrote a lot of reviews throughout seasons four, five and six of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but not many for seasons other than that. The reviews which I still have copies of are listed below for your perusal.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
In 2002 I decided to write an essay on the first season of Enterprise, which I posted in three parts to rec.arts.startrek.current. Here are the three installments as I posted them:
Miscellaneous Star Trek Essays
Other Star Trek Pages on the Web
- All you really need is to follow this link to an amazing index of Star Trek-related pages on the Web
hits since 1 July 1996.