Sunday, July 7, 2013

Star Trek: The Original Series

As a kid, when I would watch new episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation, episodes of the original Star Trek series preceded it. This meant to me that both series were new, and I got to compare them side by side. Now I don’t know why, but I always thought that the original Star Trek was the newer series, and the Next Generation was the older one. Maybe it was because there was a level of camp that as a kid I liked, or that I preferred Krik and his crew more, but regardless of the cause, to me Star Trek was better than the Next Generation. So after I watched Into Darkness this summer, I decided it was time to travel down memory lane and see how much these series stand up.

I, of course, started were it began, at Star Trek. A lot has been said about this series; William Shatner’s long pauses, how a red shirt always dies, Scotty blabbering on about how he’ll give it his best, McCoy always angry at everything Vulcan, and how damn cool Spock is. So there was a little bit of hesitation I had when I readied myself to re-watch the show. How would I react to a series written in the 60’s, a time period I have no affinity or appreciation to. Well, I’m glad I watched it, because man was the show good. Sure the special effects were dated, the fight scenes were slow bordering on painful, but the characters were spot on.
The classic crew, before they were recast as teens in the new movies.
Yes, Kirk got the girl, every time, but it’s not like he went out of his way to bed them. No! A lot of the time these women were attracted to him, because in all honesty, he was a brave pioneer who always strived to do what was right, despite the fact he always leaped before he looked. Yes, some red shirts died, but not on every mission. And when they did, it hurt Kirk personally. He would lament the loss of a single crewman, and considered the loss a personal failure. Kirk was a good leader, one I would want to not only to lead me in battle, but in diplomatic negotiations too, long pauses and all. He was smart, brave, caring, and thoughtful. The cloth he was cut from ran out a long time ago.
My captain has hair.
If we are going to talk of Kirk, we must talk of his ‘better half’ Spock. If there were a second in command more trustworthy, noble, brave, and smart, I’ve yet to see them. The man was dependable, and in a universe where finding someone trustworthy is difficult enough, knowing that you have a man like Spock behind you gives you the freedom to leap before you look. There was a regal calmness emanating from Spock that could steady the crew even in it's darkest of moments. If Kirk were the heart of the series, Spock was its brain.

This now brings us to McCoy. The good doctor was the cranky voice of caution the ship needed. If Kirk and Spock were the Superman/Wonder Woman of this trinity, then McCoy was the Batman. Not in physical skill or tactical mindset, but he was the most human character. He was worried (almost constantly), would rather play it safe than jump in head first, and seemed to go out of his way to disagree with Spock, but it was never out of malice. He was the necessary third wheel, the man who could rein in two larger than life characters. McCoy was a great deal of fun, and not just because he was mostly the fish out of water.
After 79 episodes, I really got an appreciation for this show, the actors, and the characters they played. It was a great deal of fun that was also unafraid of tackling issues such as race, war, genocide, and human frailties while putting a hopeful spin on our species. I fell in love with the Enterprise and her crew, and as I start the Next Generation, I go into it hopeful, knowing full well that what I’m about to get is a different breed of Star Trek, and I’m looking forward to it.
Who am I, to not give the Captain of the Enterprise,  some time?

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