by Jake on April 10, 2013

TOS_Mens_UniformThe new ‘Star Trek’ movie is getting a lot of attention lately. The last one was a great surprise for fans of the original series and a hit even with audiences who aren’t necessarily Trekkers.

Now, I’m a ‘Star Wars’ guy. I grew up with Star Wars and, like every guy my age, it completely dominated my childhood.

But, I also like Star Trek. A lot. Specifically, old school Trek – Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu, Nurse Chapel, Chekhov, even Yeoman Janice Rand, the whole bunch.

This is partly my Dad’s fault. See, he bought me a box set of all the Trek flicks, which then was six. These are the ones, of course, with the original cast. Plus, the show’s been in reruns pretty much constantly since the 60′s, so I have seen all of those.

Now, certainly, there were a whole slew of Trek series in the 80′s, 90′s and 2000′s, but frankly, I can take or leave those. Except ‘Enterprise’, which was a bitchin’ show.

Anyhoo, while I’ve never dressed up as a Star Trek character and I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of everything about the series or whatever, I certainly am a fan.

These new Abrams movies certainly are big budget extravaganzas, which is a far cry from the hilariously low-priced TV series (I swear, in one episode, the “alien creature” was a dog in a costume, seriously).

So the question is: what’s the deal with Star Trek?

The show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, believed he was making a thoughtful and mature saga of a hopeful future of peace and exploration.

I don’t buy that.

I mean, I see it as a buddy cop type of show. That’s why I like the original series and movies (and the new films) so much: to me, the best thing about Trek wasn’t the aliens or action or even the awesome ship; it was the camaraderie between the main characters.

Rodenberry also didn’t perceive Trek as an action show, which again is odd, because it totally was. Lots of fisticuffs, alien monsters, space battles and general peril.

The show only ran three seasons, but it REALLY has a huge fan base. I mean, some Trek fans are, well, let’s say “enthusiastic”. Because “crazy” is rude.

The series went downhill fast in the third season, which, in addition to the high costs, led to cancellation. But the fans would not let Trek die.

In the 70′s, a children’s cartoon version of Star Trek was produced. It was, well, a children’s cartoon. But it did have the cast of the series reprising their roles, which was pretty cool.

After that, it was another long dry spell for the franchise. It seemed like Trek was finally over.

Then, a small, obscure flick called ‘Star Wars’ happened. It was pretty popular, so Paramount execs suddenly remembered they had their own sci-fi property just laying around. So naturally, a Star Trek movie happened.

It sucked.

Decker_merging_with_V'GerYeah, I said it. ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ was, to be fair, not horrible, but it was a VERY LONG AND SLOW movie that just went on and on and on. The new outfits looked stupid, the plot was weak, there was a bunch of nothing going on for hours.

Still, it made money. So of course, there were sequels.

And NOW we’re talking!

‘Wrath of Khan’ is, hands down, the absolute best entry in the franchise. Ricardo Montalban returned as a really great villain, big stuff happened, Kirk met his son, Spock died (he got better) and, all in all, the whole movie rocked.

From this point on, the Trek films were a great cash cow that got milked fairly regularly. And for the most part, the movies were pretty good. Oh, they stumbled a bit, sure, but for a bunch of old folks, the cast really did a great job.

This led to new Trek on TV, specifically ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ and its spinoffs. The idea was to bring in a whole new set of characters and set the stories almost a hundred years later.

Because let’s be honest: William Shatner IS Captain Kirk. Leonard Nimoy IS Spock. And so on. The very idea of anyone else taking on those roles is just, just crazy, right?


J.J. Abrams brought Kirk, Spock and the gang back in a big way, with a new young cast taking over the classic roles and making them their own. Granted, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are not Shatner and Nimoy, but after more than four decades, it’s just great to see these characters back in action.

Now, the trailer and photos for the new movie, ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ looks like another home run. It’s got huge action and ‘Sherlock’s’ Benedict Cumberbach – one of my favorite actors – as the villain. It looks AWESOME. Which is as it should be.

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